I’ve never described myself as particularly “crunchy” of a gal. I appreciate modern medicine, I don’t always buy organic, and I’ve made peace with the fact that I live in a big city and probably consume a million pollutants a day. That being said, I do appreciate when I can cut out any harmful chemicals from my life, and that goes double while I’m growing another human.
Recently, a friend and her mother started a company that produces more natural pharmaceutical and skincare products called Branch to Nature. I had never had the opportunity to try their goods before, but they recently launched a Mommy Collection, and my friend asked if I would be interested in trying their natural deodorant in exchange for a review.
Total confession: I have always been skeptical of natural deodorants. One time, in the seventh grade, our science teacher told us that regular deodorant would give us alzheimer’s because of the aluminum, so I scoured the drugstore shelves for one that didn’t have the metal ingredient. Two days later, I was running back to my chemical-laden version because, folks, I was a sweaty beast. I have never strayed since then.
But I have always felt a twinge of guilt using the regular brands. And, as I said, guilt is twofold when you are eating (and, I guess, deodorizing?) for two. So I readily accepted her offer.
My first impression of the deodorant was that the smell is very strongly herbal. I actually came to like the smell in the next couple of days (the lavender and chamomile smell much fresher than what I was using before), but initially I was a little concerned about smelling like potpourri. Fear not, though, the smell doesn’t linger.
The Branch to Nature Mommy Collection Deodorant is not only aluminum-free, it’s also without parabens, sulfates, and triclosan — in fact, it’s made virtually exclusively with natural oils, herbs, and butters.
Of course, it’s not as strong as that prescription-strength bottle you picked up at CVS. But it does work pretty well. You just might have to apply once in the morning and once in the evening. I did this on days I worked out and had no issues. And it is nice knowing that you’re not putting anything harmful in your (or your baby’s) system.
To my readers with kids: Did you switch a lot of skincare products when you got pregnant? I also switched out my facial regimen for products made for pregnant women (AKA, no more anti-aging products…sigh.)
To my readers in general: Do you use (or have you tried) natural deodorant? What did you think?
It has been a while since we’ve had a good, ol’ fashioned how-to on the blog. Lucky for you guys, a fresh move is rife with possibilities for DIY. (I know, don’t you feel lucky?)
Before I begin the how-to, I have a confession: Joey and I are one of those horrible American couples who eat most of our meals in front of the TV. I know. We’re single-handedly breaking down humanity. I’m sorry.
We started our marriage with good intentions. The first couple of weeks, we ate dinner at the dinner table. Like grown-ups.
Then…we got cable.
And then we became your worst sitcom nightmare, slowly drifting closer and closer to the tube, plates in hand, promises that “it’s only this one time” drifting from our lips. By six months of wedded bliss, the “dining” table was used mostly for holding paper work or as a surface for whatever craft I was working on at the time.
RIP, dining table.
By our second apartment, we downsized to a small white kitchen table mostly for the sake of appearances. After a year of little to no use, I sold it and used the space for kitchen storage. I had no regrets.
So when we started looking for our next place, I made an agreement (with myself)(in my head): I would only buy a dining table if our apartment had a designated dining space. Otherwise, why bother with the pretense. And then…we succeeded in getting pregnant.
And when we found our sweet little 2-bedroom, definitely lacking in specific dining space, we were faced with a choice: pass on our bad habits to our offspring, or get creative with our furniture arrangement. Because, really, what kind of grown-ups are we if we can’t manage a family dinner at a table like the surgeon general has begged us to do?
But no amount of good intentions was going to expand our apartment, so we needed to think small. I started looking for tables on Craigslist that either came petite or had the ability to be folded down in some way. After a couple of weeks of scouring, I came upon a sweet little round number with fold-down sides — perfect. The only problem? While the legs were white, the top was that pale tan wood that I associate with farm tables from the early ’90’s. Definitely not going to work in our strictly white-and-dark-wood household. (Furniture colors is a household divide worthy of fair Verona, in my humble opinion.)
And so, after roughly one calendar year of preface, begins our how-to.
I started by lightly sanding (seriously, you’re mostly just wiping it down with a very fine-grit sandpaper) the table’s surface.
From there, I used a small mohair roller and Glidden Duo Paint + Primer in a semi-gloss. When it comes to picking paint, I always refer to the expertise of whoever is working in Home Depot’s paint department. But in general, you want something with a semi-shiny finish for easy wiping, and a roller is better than a brush for the smoothest finish.
Also, don’t go crazy with your coats. It’s so much better to do 3-4 thin coats of paint than to glob on one or two thick coats that will never fully cure. Be patient. (I’m saying this mostly to myself, but it’s probably good advice for you guys too.)
I ended up doing three full coats and one touch-up coat. Don’t freak out if you feel like your roller is leaving a spongy texture in the paint — give it a few minutes to settle and then decide if your equipment is faulty.
You also want to not do what I did and make sure to bend down the sides before the paint finishes drying. This will enable you to paint those surfaces (which will be visible any time the table isn’t fully extended) without have the surface paint dry together over the cracks.
I had to sand my edges down a bit and then repaint them. Learn from my mistakes.
Anyway, once you’re done painting, it’s a good idea to let the table sit for at least 24-48 hours before putting anything on top. Mine dried fast enough that I could at least attach the legs and move it inside (since the weather forecast originally predicted rain), but I had to touch up the top when I got overambitious and added a vase of flowers so I could take the below photo. Darn me and my incessant staging! But the point is, now it really looks like this:
Pretty, right? And it takes up very little space, especially with the sides folded all the way down.
I hope this baby appreciates all the work we’re already putting in to being good parents, ya know?
Was anyone else particularly industrious this weekend? Tell me what you’re working on!
I have a feeling I’m going to jinx myself by even saying this out loud, but I feel like maybe, just maybe, I’m getting pretty good at this whole moving-and-starting-over thing.
In the past when Joey and I have moved, it has taken me months to years to get our apartment sorted out. This time around, I feel like I’m making much swifter progress. It helps that I spent an inordinate amount of time planning each room before we moved, but the fact is, things are gettin’ done.
I start the process by making a very in-depth to-do list every Friday. And when I say “in-depth,” I’m not messing around.
List in hand, I can dive into the weekend with a very specific plan. Fortunately, enough, the last couple of weekends have been pretty open, so I’ve gotten most of each list done each time.
Now, enough talk! Show, don’t tell, as they say. Keep in mind, it’s not done-done, but it definitely feels a lot more like a living room than it did a few weeks back. You know, when it looked like this:
Or even when it looked like this:
And now, for those of you who keep asking me for pictures, here is what I’m coming home to this week:
As I said, not totally done. Joey and I also set up the desk this weekend, but all the cords and wires are still a little too unruly to be photo-ready — stay tuned.
All in all, I’m pretty pleased with how it’s coming along. We officially have no more boxes in the living room, so that alone is reason for celebration.
Coming up next, the how-to for our pretty new dining table. See ya tomorrow!
I’m quickly learning that with motherhood comes a hefty dose of not really being in control of much.
Today I had my ultrasound that was supposed to tell me our little bub’s gender. We wanted to have a little party to celebrate the big reveal (y’all know I’ll take any excuse to party), so we had planned to hold it this Sunday.
Of course, even as I planned I was nervous about setting the date. I have heard enough stories of shy babies concealing the goods on an ultrasound or two, but nearly everyone I asked seemed confident that it wouldn’t be an issue.
Apparently they had forgotten what contrary genes I’ve passed on to this child.
Despite being his or her usual wiggleworm self on the monitor, my baby kept his or her legs resolutely shut for the whole scan. On one hand, I’m happy my baby isn’t flashing its goodies for just anyone. On the other, come on, baby! Your type A mother needs to plan a nursery over here!
But, as I said, I’m pretty sure this is the least of my worries in the list of “things I can’t control about my child”. So maybe I should just get used to it.
And while I was super bummed when the nurse first gave me the non-news, I’ve made peace with waiting another month. It gives me more time to get the apartment ready for company, and at the end of the day, the only thing I really care about is that the little bean is healthy and happy in there. Besides, my mother tells me that I did the exact same thing when she was pregnant with me, so I can’t really blame the kid for taking after its mother.
Do you ever stop to think about the little things in your life that make you you?
I don’t. Or, at least, I didn’t used to. Which is funny to me because, as you’ve probably worked out by now, I’m a fairly introspective person. I think a lot about what I feel and why I feel it and what do I wish would have happened and why is that important to me and what does that say about me as a human being.
It can be exhausting.
But as much thought as I put into those things, it’s really not until I suddenly don’t feel like myself that I start to analyze who (or what) exactly I am.
For example, we moved a few weeks ago. (Yuck.) Not on the list of my favorite ways to spend a weekend, but the real worst part of moving to me is that your life is in complete disorder for at least a couple of weeks. Clothes are in random boxes in random rooms, dishes are buried under boxes of towels, and the thought of cooking at home (and thereby increasing the already overwhelming mess) is enough to induce tears. (Or maybe that’s just me?)
So for a few weeks, you wear boring outfits because God only knows where your accessories (or even your favorite jeans) are. And you eat takeout for every meal until your Seamless delivery guy starts to call you by name. And you shuffle and sidle around boxes so much you almost forget what it’s like to walk in a straight line through your own dang living room.
Hypothetically, of course.
Of course, I know that these things bother me, but it wasn’t until this weekend that I really started to analyze why. It wasn’t until I finally cleared away the majority of the boxes, set up our kitchen, and organized my clothes. When Joey and I had finally blocked off the living room and tossed the mound of cardboard molding on our patio. And suddenly…we could actually live in our apartment.
And immediately I started to feel more like myself.
Which…is weird? Because it’s not like you ever stop being yourself. But I had stopped being me in the way I define it. As someone who stays very organized. Who plans their outfits and puts some effort into their hair. Who can make their own breakfast before leaving the house. Who can walk from the kitchen to the bathroom without risking life and limb.
And maybe these are silly, surface things. So maybe I’m a silly, surface person. (See what I mean about the dangers of introspection?)
Now, I’m of course being a bit dramatic here. When I say “what defines me,” I am perfectly aware that there are myriad other things that make up who I am besides the fact that I appreciate a well ordered linen closet and shoes that perfectly mismatch with an outfit. But there’s something to be said for how having those things makes me feel — about my life and myself.
Which made me wonder…what are your things that make up you? Look at it like a desert island game: If you could only have five things every day to make you feel human, what would they be?
Judgment-free zone — there’s no way your list is shallower than a 1-inch curling iron.
If you’ve been pregnant or thought about being pregnant for even fifteen seconds, you’ve probably realized that there is an abundance of things to read about the topic. Some might say too much to read.
But regardless your thoughts on Google-induced panic, I still think there are a lot of things people don’t tell you about the process of creating another human life.
Namely, how revolting a lot of it is.
Don’t get me wrong — there are wonderful things too. But the biggest thing I’ve learned about pregnancy in the last couple of months is that for everything amazing and miraculous thing, there is an equaling disgusting part of the process as well.
Take, for example, the effects baby has on your body. On one hand, I’m finally starting to develop the tiniest of bumps. Adorable! Amazing! Also giving my tummy a rounder look? Welp, turns out babies will also have a pretty solid effect on your regularity. (No pun intended.) Call me crazy, but it’s hard to find anything miraculous to see in constipation.
But don’t worry, the baby isn’t leaving all the disgusting side effects to me. Oh no, the bean has its own host of vom-inducing abilities.
For example, as of right now, our baby is completely formed (it’s just the size of a lemon for now). To me, that is completely incredible. But the funny thing about having all your organs is that they also start to work. Meaning the baby is digesting. And urinating. Into the amniotic fluid. Where it then reabsorbs its urine. So it can urinate it out again later.
It will repeat this pee, rinse, repeat cycle for the rest of the pregnancy. Glamorous, right?
The point is, it’s not all miracles and fairy dust. But, at the end of the day, I guess it’s still pretty cool.