The title says it all. I have had to take a break in posting, but I expect to be back to it after some of the dust has settled. This weekend, perhaps? Definitely by Monday. I just need some time to get re-organized. I’m posting this from my phone (I can do that!?!), as my computer isn’t yet comfortably set up. I have been book-marking so many great MoFo posts. As soon as I get the kitchen stuffs in order, we are going to have a blast experimenting with all the new recipes.
I can’t believe it took me this long, but I finally did it: I placed an order with Lush. I had been curious about their products for quite some time, but I was hoping to make it into a store at some point before buying anything. They are a vegetarian company with lots of clearly labelled vegan products, they have a great deal of transparency about their ingredients and their processing and go light on the preservatives (most products sport an expiration date as a result), they actively fight to end animal testing, and they use recycled materials for their minimal packaging. I think the closest store is in Chicago, though. I’m impatient and at this point, I rarely travel. Enter the wonderful world of online shopping! I set out looking to solve a few problems: post-baby skin woes such as blackheads, occasional breakouts, and the reappearance of keratosis pilaris as well as needing some serious hair help as I have been hitting the bottle pretty hard lately.
I picked up quite a few things (I wound up placing a second order after trying some smaller-sized bars and samples), but these are the stars, and have fast become central to my grooming routine. And by “routine” I mean hopping in the shower for a full five minutes as often as I can but not as often as I need while I keep my fingers crossed that that delightful, bubbly, now creeping and crawling and climbing adorable beast doesn’t manage to cast off the shackles of pack ‘n’ play solitary while I’m covered in soap.
First up is the Buffy bar. This is the best exfoliating bar I have ever had, and it is so loaded with moisturizing butters and oils that I can skip lotion. Bonus points awarded for helping me streamline my bathroom time, and this has really helped with the keratosis pilaris.
Next is R&B, a hair moisturizer, which I am pretty sure is heaven sent. After trying to bleach the blue out of my hair (twice, and I am currently aqua and white!), my strands were suffering. And breaking and I think possibly even melting there for a minute. I was certain that a pixie cut would be in near future, but in walks R&B with it’s ridiculously powerful floral scent (bonus points: it makes my hair smell fantastic for up to three days without washing) and crazy heavy duty moisture. If you have fine hair that is in good shape, don’t even think about this product; you’ll be a grease ball. Are coarse, curly, over-processed or prone to breakage? Just buy this already. It’s pricy, but it only takes the tiniest amount, so I imagine my current tub will last me through its expiration date. Keeping on the topic of hair, Blousey is the most gentle shampoo I have ever used that still manages to be effective. It smells dreamy, and while it can be a little messy getting it out of the tub, it lathers up really nicely and is packed full of bananas which apparently help seal in moisture.
Note: Lush did not provide me with any products or compensation. The reviews are my own opinions and based on my experience.
This spring break has been a whirlwind of roller skating, making art with friends, catching up with my sister, hot chocolate/tea dates with Miki, parties at the library, and baby showers. I’d been floundering a bit lately, getting stuck in unhealthy cycles likely brought about from exhaustion and stress, and I feel so much more content and connected to my friends and family than I have in ages. My cabin fever broke just in time for me to get out a bit before we are blanketed by a snow storm.
Just a few things to post about this lazy Sunday. I discovered a new (to me) blog called Grimmricksen, and Jennifer from that blog and Jennifer from Grits and Moxie have started up Feminist Book Club. They are currently reading The Awakening and Other Stories by Kate Chopin, which I happen to have on my shelf and have been meaning to get to for well over a year. I read The Awakening some years ago, before becoming a mother I do believe, and it is something I think I would do well to revisit. So, I’m jumping on the bandwagon!
Google Reader. I can’t even. How could you? Not to be overly dramatic, but I’ve had my Reader for years; it provides me news, entertainment, and fills my head with ideas, and I spent hours organizing the categories to get them just-so. And now I’m told Reader is leaving me!? Well, fine! I’ve decided to move on, and I finally checked out Bloglovin’. I really like it. It’s well organized and a very clean design. And, you can follow my blog on there, too, just click below!
“…all haste is of the devil” – Carl Jung
Taking the time for friends, family, and reflection. The past week in photos:
I hope everyone has enjoyed their extended weekend, and many thanks to those who fought hard to win workers’ rights.
My cleaning and self-care products are legendary… well, the ingredients are, anyway.
When I started making my own cleaning sprays, I was a bit intimidated by the vast world of essential oils and stuck to two main oils: tea tree and lavender, the former for its antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, the latter because I think it smells nice and the scent really does seem to decrease my anxiety a bit. HOWEVER, tea tree oil is toxic to cats! This is especially bothersome to our already neurologically-impaired little companion, Mo Vox. I wish I would have put together that my tea tree oil cleaning supplies were possibly raising her toxicity and exacerbating her condition sooner. Unfortunately, a great deal of essential oils are toxic to cats (and dogs, too, but I’ve mostly researched cats) so avoid using these in products for cleaning floors or areas that your pet likes to hang out. Believe me, the irony in making my home less toxic for me and my family only to make it more toxic for my kitty is not lost on me. ASPCA has a fantastic list of toxic/non-toxic plants, and I advise looking into possible adverse affects from all oils/ingredients for every member of your family, even the fluffy ones!
At this point, I have developed a veritable essential oil arsenal. Even so, there is one bottle that stands out, and is the workhorse of the lot: Thieves oil. Yes, it is pricey, but my concoctions never take much, and I still save money over buying “eco-friendly” or mainstream cleaning products. Besides, backed by a mythology so full of intrigue, I’ve got to say, if it can fight the plague for a band of medieval grave-robbers and offer protection to plague doctors, then it can certainly pass muster in taking out my body odor and cleaning my sink. So, what do I make with it? Well, yesterday I made deodorant and an air freshener.
2 Tablespoons Baking Soda (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
2 Tablespoons Arrowroot Powder (again, Bob’s Red Mill brand)
2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil, warmed to liquid (I use Dr. Bronner’s)
20 Drops Thieves Oil*
In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add coconut oil and essential oil, stirring until mixed. Transfer to a small jar, and, if desired, refrigerate to create a more solid texture. I find this step necessary during the summer, as coconut oil has a very low melting temp (76 degrees Fahrenheit). Separation may occur, especially in the heat, and can be remedied with a quick stir. And that’s it. So easy.
*I started out using 10 drops tea tree oil and 10 drops lavender, to good results. Any combination of oils will work, although I recommend using one that is antibacterial and antifungal (thyme, mint, cinnamon, and clove are all excellent choices).
Easy-Peasy Pretty Air Freshener
To make an air freshener, I just grabbed an extra Ball jar, tossed in 2 tablespoons of baking soda (to absorb odor) and five drops of Thieves Oil, cut out a bit of card stock to use in place of the metal canning lid, poked a few holes in it, and that was that! I think it looks rather elegant for being so simple. This will work with any essential oil, and more drops = more scent (I’m into fairly subtle rather than perfumey cloud).
Additionally, I also use this oil in my All-Purpose Cleaning Spray, which is just 2 cup white vinegar, 2 cup distilled water, and 10 drops of oil. It’s a great disinfectant, and the vinegar scent vanishes once it dries. Also, I use it in my homemade toothpaste. I follow the recipe from Bonzai Aphrodite, and then toss in 15 drops of Thieves in addition to the peppermint. I’ve got a few more non-Thieves-based items to share in the near future (Hey, I make my own diaper wipe solution for my cloth wipes now! I’m feeling like a pretty crunch mama these days!).
He’s here! He’s here! He’s here! On August 4th, which happens to be my birthday, we welcomed little Ciaran into the world. In his four days of life, he has proven himself to be mostly calm and quiet, alert and sweet. While he is not technically unruly, he does have fuzzy red hair!
Miette is thrilled to be a big sister, lending her hand as much as possible as she finishes off her summer with yoga camp and prepares for kindergarten.
Speaking of babies and yoga and the end of summer, Amara Yoga & Arts is hosting a special class to benefit the Crisis Nursery on August 11 from 2:30-3:30. Here is the description from the Amara website:
“Unwind tension and build functional strength with Corrie in this donation-based yoga class. Your body will be rejuvenated and your spirit will be refreshed. As a bonus, you’ll learn some key elements for an effective home practice. Come one and all! What have you got to lose? This special Karma Yoga class is by donation of your choice (cash or check) to benefit Urbana’s Crisis Nursery. No experience necessary, beginners welcome! Kids 4-11 can build a fairyhouse with Kathryn Fitzgerald while parents enjoy the yoga class. Sign up online or at the studio before class.”
August 11th also happens to be the Sanctuary Century 10% fundraiser day, with lots of businesses (online and in-person) donating 10% of their profits to a few animal charities. Our Hen House has a fabulous post outlining the details.
It just occurred to me that I’ve never posted about the North First Street Farmers Market on Thursday evenings in Champaign. Since we live so close to the Urbana market, we rarely make it to this one, but the extreme heat managed to keep us away this past Saturday, so I think we may be venturing out this afternoon. According to their Facebook, the I.D.E.A. Store will be there providing entertainment for kids, and there will be Garden Club at 3:30 and a cooking demonstration at 5:30. Admittedly, I have no clue what either of those things entail, but it all sounds really fun for a Thursday evening, regardless. Here’s hoping I’m not too exhausted by 3 pm to waddle my way over!
Sorry for the terrible pun, but I’m just too tired to come up with anything more clever or apt to title a post centered around my recent flash sale site scores. So, flash sale sites may or may not be all the rage, I have not a clue, but I follow a few of them, and I have been getting great deals on things that fall all along the spectrum from want to need. In case you don’t know, a flash sale site is a website that usually has a ridiculously good bargain on a select amount of goods for a very limited time (usually a few days or less). One site that I have relied on heavily throughout the past year has been Eco Baby Buys, and by holding out for the right sales, I’ve managed to get cloth diapers at up to 60% off, 40% off stainless steel baby bottles and other tableware, and organic cotton clothing and blankets for almost as cheap as the stuff you can grab from a big box store.
The past two days, however, have been particularly good at two of my favorite sites. I’ve written about Vegan Cuts before, as they were carrying a discounted Chickpea subscription at one point, but today, they are offering the lowest price I’ve ever seen on shoes from Colorful Grass! This shoe company makes vegan, sustainable, ethically produced shoes that have had me drooling since I came across them about a year ago. The price tag wasn’t so budget friendly for me then, but when I saw today that the exact pair I had my eye on were now 50 dollars cheaper? I POUNCED!
Another flash site boasting a multitude of ways to shop depending on your personal ethics (little icons tell you what is fair trade, organic, vegan, etc), Pure Citizen, has BOA organic cotton clothing on super clearance right now! I scooped up a top and a pair of pants, and while I was at it, noticed that Me Soap was available as well! It’s best if you go to their website to read the details of how their company works, but essentially, you buy a bar, and they get a bar to someone in need because hygiene is one of the simplest and most important ways to fight disease. Additionally, Vegan Cuts is featuring Me Soap bundles right now, which I may have taken advantage of, if I had not just purchased a couple of bars a day earlier.
So, there it is, my little shopping spree. Ethics done on a budget! And just for good measure, I’ll leave you with this picture I snapped of my darling Mo Vox this morning. It is truly difficult to get a decent pic of a black-furred animal, and this was taken with my cell phone no less. Even so, it may be one of the best photos I have of her!
The unrelenting heat is taking its toll, as is the ever-growing baby bump. I have a few weeks left with these mighty extra pounds, and I have to say, this is possibly the worst time to be in the middle of a sweltering 100 degree-plus heat wave. We took a small road trip up north for the holiday, to spend time with my in-laws (who happen to be the most wonderful bunch of folks imaginable) before we start the official, full-term labor watch. I am desperately awaiting a surge of nesting hormones, as I would like to get the house a bit more organized before Ciaran comes into existence, but the weather is devouring all motivation at the moment. For those of you that can muster up the will to be out and about in this weather, there are some interesting things happening this weekend:
R. Ring, featuring Kelley Deal of one of my favorite 90’s bands, The Breeders, will be playing in-store at Exile on Main at 6 pm, and later this evening at Mike ‘n’ Molly’s. The website Smile Politely has a nice interview up, and, for the sake of nostalgia, here’s the video for “Cannonball”
The Art Theater is still showing Moonrise Kingdom, which Casey and I managed to see last weekend. It was quirky in the way that all Wes Anderson movies are, which isn’t completely appealing to me, but aesthetically I find his works really charming. The library books, felt animal costumes, and Francoise Hardy-backed beach dance party were delightful. Also, the co-op has almost reached the goal of 100,000 shares! Currently, there is an owner incentive contest on, through July 9th, so if you haven’t bought a share, this is just the time to do it! According to my newsletter, here’s what’s going on:
- We will have four prize drawings from among the people who buy new shares over the next month (June 9th through July 9th). Two names will be drawn from among the new owners who buy shares in that time frame, and two names will be drawn from among the current owners (those receiving this update) who buy additional shares. Names will be entered in the drawings based on the number of shares purchased.
- The first two names picked will each receive a BluRay of Take Shelter (which played both at the Art and at this year’s EbertFest), signed by star Michael Shannon, and a DVD of Leading Ladies (which was filmed in Champaign in 2009 and played at the Art in 2010 & 2011), signed by the directing team and cast members.
- The second two names picked will each receive a DVD of Big Fan (which played at this year’s EbertFest), signed by director Robert Siegel, and a signed DVD of a local/regional film featured at the New Art Film Festival in April of 2011 or 2012.
And, of course, there is the Market tomorrow morning. I’ll probably just send Casey at the crack of dawn and avoid the heat and crowds. I hope everyone is staying cool!
A top ten list of what has me feeling light as a feather, even though I am doing little more than lounging around like a bump on a log in this terrible heat.
1. The summer issue of Chickpea magazine is out! You can read it for free here.
2. The nectarines at the Market are incredible! I’ve never been a big fan, mainly because I’m not really sure I had ever actually had a nectarine until just this past week, and I am hooked! Raw, grilled, or even drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and roasted with some brussel sprouts and bok choy (yes, I did this, and yes, it was incredible), I declare this the summer of the magical stone fruit!
3. Prehistory! I found the above beautiful dilophosaurus brooch on Etsy, as well as these delightful letterpress cards which were originally created for the Academy of Natural Science. Also, dinosaurs may have been warm-blooded, and Jurassic Fight Club may be the greatest show on television.
4. Speaking of fight clubs, the late night film this weekend at the Art Theater is Fight Club, based on the book of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. Also opening tomorrow is Moonrise Kingdom, the new Wes Anderson offering. And while I’ll probably waddle my way out of the house to take in at least one of these films this weekend, the Art is on my summer hits list because it is turning into a co-op! I got my share quite some time ago, and I’m excited to see how this develops. This theater is a local treasure, you guys, so go buy a share for yourself and/or a loved one!
5. Dark Chocolate Coconut Bliss, perhaps the most important food-related discovery of my pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is back for me, and I struggle with stabilizing my blood sugars (I’m diet controlled, no insulin) sometimes. I don’t want a bunch of artificial chemical sweeteners, and the ingredients list on this stuff is very reassuring. It’s low on the glycemic index thanks to agave syrup– in fact, my sugars fair better after a serving of this stuff than they do a slice of the most wholesome of breads. Also, it is made with fair trade cocoa! You can get it at Common Ground, and possibly Strawberry Fields.
6. I finally got my own library card. Of course, I used the U of I library quite often, and I usually just made my husband check out books for me from the Urbana Free Library on his card. But no more! Part of my post-partum get-back-in-shape-while-bonding-with-the-kids routine is undoubtedly going to involve hiking over to the library to take advantage of some of the fun children’s activities they offer. Not to mention my current do-nothing-but-gestate-and-read lifestyle will be facilitated by the fat stack of books I carted home yesterday.
7. Twitter! I finally figured out how to make it work for me! I’m following most of my favorite news sites, and I go through my feed in the morning, clicking on the stories of interest. Then, I use a toolbar tab from Instapaper to bookmark everything and come back to reading it when I have time throughout the day. What was about a week ago another useless social networking site has now become yet another way for me to read! Hurray!
8. Homemade popsicles. While the internet is positively littered with recipes for all manner of frozen treats, I’ve taken to just pouring smoothie leftovers into molds and ice cube trays. That one shown is peach strawberry.
9. Making deodorant, foot scrub, toothpaste, and perfumed oils from kitchen/household ingredients. I’ve been making my own cleaning products for a while, and it wasn’t until this pregnancy that I started making my own bath, beauty and personal care items as well. I’ll share some recipes in an upcoming post.
10. Finally, the best thing about this summer? Not seeing my feet 🙂