My 5 Beautycounter must-haves

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen recently that I’ve embarked on a bit of a new venture: I’ve signed up to be a Beautycounter consultant!

I’ll be the first to admit that this decision has been a long time coming — to the tune of almost three years coming. I started using Beautycounter products after getting pregnant. My friend (and now BC mentor!) Madison had been posting about this new safe skincare brand on Instagram and the amazing effects she had seen it have on her skin and overall wellness (especially after dealing with some serious infertility complications), and the idea of products that were safe for me and my baby was seriously appealing. (You can learn more about what makes them safer than so many other products on the market here.)

After using (and loving) the products for a few months, I even hosted my own Beautycounter Social. Every six months or so, Madison would reach out to me asking if I had ever considered becoming a consultant myself. And while I continued to use the products almost exclusively, something always held me back.

I was nervous to have to “sell” anything. I was nervous I would never sell anything. I was nervous about the time commitment. I was nervous I would come across as annoying.

In short, I doubted. And I always passed on the opportunity.

Until…a couple of weeks ago. I’ll probably never know what really shifted in my brain to suddenly make this seem like a good idea, but whatever the reason, I decided to take the leap. I told myself that the buy-in wasn’t that big of a deal since I could use the products anyway, and I figured that even if I just sold enough to make my money back, that would be an okay experiment.

So I told Madison, “Yes.”

And while I don’t exactly think I can chalk myself up to a Beautycounter success story just yet, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my first two sales came within the first 24 hours of signing up. And I was pleasantly surprised when a number of other friends and acquaintances reached out for more information.

I never want to feel like I’m forcing anything down anyone’s throat. For me, Beautycounter is what I actually use for my skincare and makeup. And it’s what I actually see making a serious impact on my skin. And I actually believe that making safer, cleaner choices in skincare and makeup has a big impact on overall wellness and in helping you look and feel your best.

So I hope that genuine feeling comes through — because it’s genuinely how I feel.

Anyway! I didn’t start this post intending to give you my soapbox speech. Suffice to say, I feel comfortable selling these products because I really believe in them, and I think they can have real, amazing results.

Of course, one of the first questions I get from people is, “But what do you actually use?”

Which I get. The product assortment is constantly growing, and it can be tough to know where to start. So I wanted to share a quick round-up of my five all-time favorite BC products + why I love them for anyone looking to get started swapping in safer products in their skincare bag.

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Favorite cleanser: Countercontrol Clear Pore Cleanser
I’m pretty fortunate that for most of my life, I’ve had decently clear skin. But that doesn’t mean that it’s always perfect. This cleanser is a recent addition to the Beautycounter line, and I love how it treats my hormonal pimples (thanks, pregnancy) as well as cuts down on overall oiliness the more I use it.

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Favorite mask: No. 3 Balancing + Charcoal Mask
This mask has been one of my all-time favorites from the very beginning! Whenever my skin is breaking out or just needs a bit of a reset, I apply it, let it dry, and then marvel at every tiny pore’s worth of gunk I can see it sucking out. Dontcha just love knowing something is working because you can see it? It’s also a great spot treatment for single blemishes.

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Favorite lotion: Countermatch Adaptive Moisture Lotion
Meet the combination skin girl’s dream. I’ve always been someone with an oily T-zone (by the end of the day, you could basically see your reflection in my forehead if I didn’t blot). But ever since using this lotion (which adjusts hydration levels throughout the day to create a more even appearance), it’s like I’m suddenly one of those girls who say, “Blotting? What is blotting?” (I’m sure there are girls who say that, right?) I also really love the eye cream from this line — it makes me look like I got a lot more sleep than I did. #momlife

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Favorite concealer: Touchup Skin Concealer Pen
While I really love a lot of Beautycounter’s makeup options (especially the Dew Skin Moisturizing Coverage), I’ve honestly found that I wear hardly any makeup these days because the skincare has made my skin so happy. The one exception? Concealer for my undereye circles. (Did I mention #momlife?) In the past, I’ve struggled to find concealers that cover without creasing, but this super creamy formula glides on, dabs in, and doesn’t budge. I’m always amazed at how it instantly brightens my face even more.

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Favorite treatment: Overnight Resurfacing Peel
But seriously, if there was only one product I could tell you to buy? It would be this one. Whatever magic they have put in this bottle has the power to sink into your skin and help you wake up looking like a glowy goddess every morning. It’s definitely the biggest reason why I wear so little makeup anymore. It won’t actually make your skin peel, either — instead, it uses botanically-derived acids to exfoliate dull skin, leaving you with smaller pores, almost no blackheads (seriously, mine have all but disappeared), and fewer fine lines and spots. I cannot say enough good things about it!

So there you have it — my five must-haves. Of course, the beauty of the line is that there are so many products tailored to solve specific skin (and hair and makeup!) issues in a safe way. Not sure where to start? I hope you’ll reach out — I’d love to help you shop!

Here’s to our best — and healthiest — skin ever.

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My woodland baby shower

Life has been so full the last few months. In some ways, this second pregnancy has flown by — except when I stop to remember that there are still three to four more weeks to go…then it feels a little longer!

This busy year has made for plenty of distractions, so I’m excited when anything happens that lets me stop and savor our second bub’s impending arrival.

Case in point, I recently had my baby shower! It was thrown by my fabulous event planner pal, Cynthia (who also planned my first shower), along with help from her incredible team (who all happen to be very close friends of mine as well). Cynthia planned it with a gorgeous woodland theme that totally spoke to my neutral/greenery-loving soul. Here are the details!

me-with-flower-crownme-with-mom-baby-showerbaby-shower-table-decorCynthia filled her home with all kinds of greenery to set the mood. Then she whipped up a flower crown for me — because every new mama should get to feel like a princess, right?

vivi-in-fairy-dressvivi-and-me-flower-crownsvivi-opening-shower-giftIt was really important to me that Vivi felt involved and special at the shower — I even referred to the party as a celebration of the new baby and Vivi becoming a big sister. Several of my friends were also kind of enough to bring Vivi presents to open so she didn’t feel left out. And I gave her a “gift from the baby” — an Anna dress from Little Adventures that she adored. Cynthia’s mom also got Vivi the most beautiful fairy princess dress  — she unfortunately only wore it long enough to get pictures, but, hey! That’s a toddler for you!

baby-shower-food-overallchicken-salad-sandwichesbrussel-sprout-saladbaby-shower-drinksThe menu was designed around all my favorite foods, so naturally I loved it! There were chicken salad sandwiches on croissants, pasta with meatballs, deviled eggs (which I’ve been craving!), and two salads. The drink bar featured a pink and a blue option since we’re waiting to find out what we’re having (recipes linked!).

onesie-gift-at-baby-showerfavors-overall-shotbaby-shower-favors-detailbaby-shower-giftsCynthia organized a couple games to keep everyone entertained before gifts (including a celebrity baby name match and an updated take on “what’s in your purse” called “what’s in your phone”), and winners took home bottles of sparkling rose. Favors were these adorable potted succulents with pretty thank-you notes.

All in all, it was as perfect as all of Cynthia’s events! Not only did it make me feel so loved (those girls know me so well), it was also a reminder of just how close we are to meeting our little rabbit!

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Photos by Figment Art Photography

Review: Raised Real baby food

Food and feeding have always been a part of motherhood extremely close to my heart. From nursing my daughter moments after she was born to introducing her to her first spoonful of pureed carrots, I’ve delighted in watching her voracious appetite and helping to develop her sense of taste.

The more we ventured into the world of real food, though, the more I was surprised to learn how few resources there were supporting parents. It shouldn’t be, but first foods can be a really stressful time for parents. Babies are messy and still learning how to control their tongues, and it can be easy to interpret this as distaste or “picky eating.” Plus, there are myriad rules and restrictions for parents if you want to dive down that rabbit hole, and it can all feel incredibly overwhelming.

I was extremely fortunate that our pediatrician was very helpful with feeding. Not only did they encourage me to try a variety of foods multiple times, but they never seemed fazed by the idea that she might not like something right away. I had also read a book that mentioned that a baby needed to try something up to twenty times before you could really be sure they didn’t like the food, which was helpful for me mentally on the days it seemed like she was being overly picky.

As a result, Vivi has always been a kid who eats just about everything (some of her favorite foods are raw bell peppers and raw onions, which always blows my mind). Despite our good experience, though, I know feeding and especially first foods can be a difficult transition for a lot of parents.

That’s why I was really interested in the company Raised Real when I first heard about them. Raised Real is a baby food delivery service that provides flash-frozen, organically sourced meals for parents to prepare at home. Not only are they on the same page as my former pediatrician when it comes to what kids can eat and when, they also live by a pretty simple philosophy: There’s no such thing as a picky eater baby.

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When they asked if I would be interested in trying a box in exchange for a review, I jumped at the chance.

Each delivery box comes frozen on dry ice and has 20 pouches. The meals themselves are put together by Raised Real’s co-founder and registered dietician Dr. Michelle Davenport, which means they’re not only rich in vitamins and nutrients, but the ingredients are paired in a way that makes them most effective to digest (for example, iron is always paired with Vitamin C for easier absorption). Plus, there’s no added sugar, preservatives, or funky ingredients you can’t pronounce—just like the meals you make at home already.

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As much as I love the food, though, I really love the Raised Real Meal Maker. I used a different steamer/blender when Vivi first started eating solids, but it was fairly cumbersome because it had a separate steaming basket you had to empty when you were ready to blend (AKA, more dishes to wash!). RR’s version steams (most recipes take 20 minutes), and then you simply flip the switch to blend to your desired consistency. New eaters will most likely prefer smooth purees, whereas toddlers can enjoy steamed ingredients whole.

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Parents will like that there’s no need to source, clean, or prepare the food before you start to cook. And clean up? The steaming/blending cup and blades go right in the dishwasher. (Cleaning up your baby is another story, but you probably already knew that.)

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What I love most about Raised Real‘s service is the empowerment it lends to parents. Even if you only used the service for a few months, you would learn so much about nutrition (what your babies could eat and when) as well as get tons of inspiration for recipes you could then make on your own. Plus, every subscription comes with unlimited access to the Raised Real Help Hotline, a number you can call or text to get help from a real RR staff member if you’re feeling overwhelmed or confused by any part of feeding your little one.

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Convenience and peace of mind for parents + nutrition and delicious options for babies and toddlers? Now that’s something I want to dig into.

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Dance like a two-year-old who doesn’t care if anyone is watching.

A couple of nights ago, my parents were in town and we took them to one of our favorite local restaurants. It’s an Irish pub, and every Sunday a few musicians set up camp for an hour or two and play traditional Irish music.

They were just setting up when we arrived, so we were happy we’d get to hear their whole set.

Vivi has always loved music, but the moment they started to play a little jig, she instantly started to dance. For the next 20 minutes, she stomped and kicked and jumped with complete abandon.

I was transfixed by her incredible confidence. The room was filled with strangers (who were very much watching her little display), but my daughter danced on, unafraid of what anyone thought of her. It embodied this remarkable age, where self-esteem is arguably at an all-time high.

It nearly took my breath away.

Beneath my joy, though, there was a small catch in my throat. Because I wondered, “When will she start to care? When will she start to worry what other people think? When will she lose this magical confidence?”

I’ve written before about how motherhood makes me want to be braver, if only because it will hopefully lead to braver children. Vivi’s impromptu dance recital was a sharp reminder to me of that promise I made to her and to myself.

Because I nurse a bubble of hope. That while she will probably start to care what other people think, she will always be confident enough to be herself regardless of her critics. That the conviction she now reserves for refusing to clean up her toys will one day help her stick to her guns over much more important issues of character.

At the risk of sounding too much like a country song, I hope my sweet girl will always dance when the music moves her. I promise I’ll do my best to be there to cheer on every step.

What they don’t tell you about two

The terrible twos carry a lot of noteriety. They’re called “terrible,” for goodness sake.

Everyone tells you the same things, but they all carry the same message:

You’re in for it now.

You’re warned of tantrums and fights and struggle. You’re warned that you’ll just have to bear through them.

And while it’s true that two comes with an abundance of challenges and steep learning curves, there’s so much more to be said about two.

No one tells you that this is the age you get a person. This is the age you get a side kick, a partner in crime, a fellow adventurer.

This is the age of silly, nonsense conversations, stories of horses and planes only she seems to see. This is the age of requests for tickles and cuddles and cookies, for serious chats about pretending to be bears and pies made out of pancakes.

This is the age of mischevious, toothy grins and dancing with abandon. Of singing made up lyrics at the top of lungs and crayon scribbles that are actually people and pets.

This is the age of belly laughs and whispered secrets never told. This is the age of the sweetest “dank you, momma” and the sassiest “I gon ticko you, mommy!”

It’s also the age you enter a new season of mamahood. When you start knowing the solution more often than you don’t. When you catch the sippy cup before it hits the ground and stop the speeding toddler before she knocks the plate off the table.

It’s the age when you carry less and sleep more. When you find yourself relaxing more often than you leap. When you start to trust yourself as well as your child. (Okay, your toddler isn’t still probably lying about not needing to use the potty, but #winsomelosesome.)

Two is the age when you start really parenting, which is great timing because you actually start to feel like a capable parent at the same time.

There’s a lot they don’t tell you about two, and there’s a lot I can’t tell because it would take ten thousand words. But suffice to say, it’s a special, frustrating, magic time.

And I wouldn’t trade two for the world.

Recipe: Cauliflower “Fried Rice” with Grilled Chicken and Crispy Brussel Sprouts

Vivi is almost two, and while most of the time I would confidently say that no one knows her like I do, I also have moments of feeling like, “Um, hi? Who is this child?”

Parenthood is such a wild ride of uncertainty and hard-won moments of confidence. When you finally find something you feel like you’ve figured out, often times, the rug is very suddenly ripped out from under you just weeks or even days later.

With Vivi, I’ve long felt like the two things we had down pat were eating and sleeping. We sleep trained at an early age (something I am a proponent of and happy to discuss further with anyone who wants to know!), so getting Vivi to bed and having her sleep through the night has always gone fairly smoothly.

We also started exposing Vivi to a variety of healthy tastes fairly early on, which eventually turned her into a little gal who loved vegetables, fruit, and other healthy flavors.

All that is to say, I actually felt confident in both things.

But, as we know, motherhood is a constant exercise in humility. As Vivi has gotten older, she has gotten more expressive and her desire for some degree of control over her life has increased.

Hey, I get it! I hate having someone tell me what to do all the time. I love getting to make my own choices. Which isn’t to say it’s not a pain in my backside when Vivi regresses in something or deliberately disobeys, but we’re all learning here, right?

Yesterday, Vivi started crawling out of her crib every time we put her in, so we decided to make the switch to a “big girl” bed today. I had been planning to transition her at the end of the month, but I was feeling anxious because I loved our easy-breezy bedtimes and was worried the extra freedom would bring them to a crashing halt. But once those seemed to be stopping anyway, I at least wanted her to be able to crawl back into bed when she finally decided she was tired.

Tonight was our first night with the new bed, and Vivi cried for about 20 seconds before putting herself back in bed and passing out per usual. *phew*

As for eating, she still has a pretty open-minded palate, and most of her favorite foods are nutritious options. That being said, getting her to try new things has become more and more of a struggle. Which is why I’m always on the prowl for simple ways to incorporate more and new vegetables in familiar ways.

Tonight’s recipe was an experiment gone right, so I thought I’d share. Happy toddler feeding! (Note: Also good for grown-up taste buds.)

Cauliflower “Fried Rice” with Grilled Chicken and Crispy Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients:
2 cups brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
avocado oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 head cauliflower, pulsed in food processor to rice-like consistency
3 T amino acids or soy sauce
2 T white vinegar
2 grilled chicken breasts, roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Toss brussel sprouts in 2 T avocado oil and salt and pepper and spread onto a baking sheet in one layer. Roast for 30 minutes or until crispy.

Heat 2 T avocado oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Once oil is hot, add garlic, onion, carrots, and salt and pepper. Stir until onions are translucent.

Add cauliflower, 3 T avocado oil, salt and pepper, amino acids, and white vinegar. Stirring frequently, cook mixture for about five minutes.

Add chicken and cook for additional five minutes.

To plate, spoon cauliflower mixture into a bowl and top with crispy brussel sprouts. I find it’s helpful to continually tell your toddler about the “yummy rice!” you are about to eat.

Enjoy!

The good and bad of small town living

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I really thought moving would give me a lot more to talk about on this little blog. And, well, it probably has. But I’ve also found that I’ve become so busy with getting settled (on top of my already packed schedule of mom-ing, pioneering, working, et al., I rarely have time to sit and work my thoughts into something coherent.

But this morning, Vivi woke up extra early (yayyyyy…) so I was able to knock out breakfast, a workout, and cleaning the kitchen to settle in for our daily viewing of Zootopia and work on a post from my phone. I’m also waiting for a box spring to be delivered, so it’s not like I can run any errands anyway.

Captive blogger syndrome! Great for creativity! Who knew?!

Anyway.

I realized I had been I intentionally cagey about our recent move when a few people remarked to me that they were so curious where we had ended up.

So today, I’m throwing back the curtain: We’re officially Virginia residents. We live in a small town about an hour and a half outside D.C.

And when I say “small,” I mean it.

I’ve lived in smaller cities before. I’ve even lived in small suburbs outside smaller cities. But this is the smallest town I’ve ever lived in.

For the record, I love it almost all the time. I was mentally prepared and oh-so-ready to leave the big city and relax in a slower-paced lifestyle. But that doesn’t mean small town living doesn’t come with its share of challenges.

Con #1: They’re serious about that slower pace thing.

In NYC, you could decide you wanted to redecorate your bathroom and have a contractor over within 24 hours and your new towels shipping from Jet.com that afternoon. Here, I’ve spent three weeks trying to find a handyman willing to make the 20-minute trip to come paint my staircase. And if he wakes up the morning of our appointment not feeling 100 percent? He’s not coming after all. Sorry not sorry.

Pro #1: But people are so. nice.

The checkout ladies chit chat, the town hall clerk calls me “hon,” and the guy delivering my dining table compliments our floors about four times. In short, people move a little slower, it they also use that time to treat you like an actual person.

Con #2: Not everything is quite so convenient.

We’re currently in the market for a second car because very little is walkable around here. My friend lives less than a mile away, and the only way to walk to her is to skirt a major road without any sidewalks. If I want to go to Target, Lowes, or a major grocery chain, I’m looking at a 20- to 30-minute car ride. I can still get most of what I can’t drive to delivered, but I have noticed it typically takes about a day longer than it used to. To switch our water bill into our name, I had to GO to the town water building in person and I couldn’t pay the deposit with a debit card. So I had to walk a block to a nearby bank, but the only ATM was outside in the drive-through. So I had to wait in line with a car, in the 90-degree heat, and then walk back to the town building to get my hand-written receipt. So, yeah.

Pro #2: Convenience is relative.

Life in NY is “convenient.” Meanings, yes, a million things are geographically nearby, but getting to them (let alone enjoying them) is a never-ending struggle. I couldn’t do laundry without strapping a baby on my back and lugging my dirty clothes a block away in a cart. I couldn’t get my hair done without a 30-minute train ride and walking half a mile. If we drove anywhere, we had to factor in up to an hour of time to find parking. Here, I may have to go farther, but there’s rarely traffic and there’s always parking.

Pro #3: More SPACE.

We’re renting the sweetest little townhouse, and I’m totally in love with it. Besides the natural light and extra bedroom for guests, we also have three bathrooms, a basement for storage, and a laundry closet. Basically I feel like a princess. Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our two glorious parking spots right outside.

Con #3: …actually, I’m tapped out.

Okay, okay, I know it’s not actually perfect here. But I was so burnt out on city life, it’s hard not to get a little *heart eyes* when I look around the gorgeous landscape I live in now. Because, yeah, there’s actually a landscape here. And it’s pretty stunning.

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Will I tire of small town living? I really don’t know. For now, though, I’m soaking up the smallness.