Monday, December 22

Dance Party, King Julien, Merry Christmas!

This post is part of a year-long partnership with the Netflix #StreamTeam. I received a one year Netflix streaming subscription and an iPad mini for participating. I've been a paying customer of Netflix for 8 years--I'd be lost without her.  Thanks for reading!

In honor of "All Hail King Julien" coming out on Netflix this month (it's available now!) I wanted to share a little peek into one of Carter's dance parties. If you've seen Madagascar then you're probably already familiar with King Julien. If not, you have some catching up to do!


(I apologize for my less than stellar videography skills)

So, Christmas. Three days away. For the first time in forever (hello, subconscious Frozen soundtrack playing in my brain...still) I have almost all of my gifts wrapped already. Total weight off my shoulders. Things are slowing down here as we're getting ready for Christmas and that's my favorite. Tom starts his vacation tomorrow and we're going out to breakfast while Carter's at preschool. Holy excitement. This is our THIRD breakfast date since school started. It's possibly the best thing to have happened to us in 2014. 

So, question. Who has a hard time falling asleep at night? Oh, everyone? OK. My sister enlightened me with the greatest foolproof way to get to sleep super fast (and I'm not trying to sell you any fancy essential oils either). haha! Read the Count of Monte Cristo before you fall asleep. Why?

1. It's free on iBooks
2. It's a classic and everyone should read as many classics as possible in order to be a whole, real person
3. Tip: Watch it on Netflix first. No, I'm serious. Break the rule with this one. Watching the movie first will get you all into the Count of Monte Cristo spirit and then the book is even more dramatic. And it's exciting, but a little bit hard to read when you're tired. It's that perfect balance of attention-holding, but sleep-inducing (thanks to its wearily long length and wordiness).

So Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah (yay, you still have two more days!) Drink coffee with a splash of egg nog and build Lego sets until your eyes cross. I'll see you on the other side. xo

Sunday, December 21

5 Natural Deodorants to Try

So everyone who's even a little concerned about the ingredients in antiperspirant is always on the lookout for a good deodorant, am I right? Well I've tried a bunch and I've decided to grade a few based on my experience. I'll try not to be overly subjective, but it's deodorant, so it's a pretty subjective subject.

I thought it would be nice to have a little guide to help you navigate the failure-wrought waters of natural deodorant trial and error.

To keep things simple, ratings are 1-10 (10 is best).

Natural Deodorant

1. Tom's of Maine, Lavender

Feel: --3-- Super sticky, stays sticky.
Scent: --5-- Mild, not over-powering, but definitely there
Effectiveness: --6-- worked ok for me, but I couldn't get over the sticky feel
Price: $9.99 on Amazon

​2. Herban Cowboy, Forest

Feel: --7-- Slightly sticky. Not as sticky as Tom's.
Scent: --9-- strong, unisex, definitely good for men; I want to try their superstar scent for women
Effectiveness: --7--
Price: $5.99 on on Amazon, awesome value

3. Crystal Rock (name?)

Feel: --5-- Not sticky. Can pull the skin a little if it's not wet enough. Not ideal for sensitive skin, in my opinion.
Scent: ---10-- unscented, I personally love this, but fragrance might be your thing
Effectiveness: --7-- It works, but feels like it needs to be reapplied more often than others.
Price: $6.31 on Amazon

4. Lavanila Laboratories, Coconut

Feel: --10-- Not sticky, not chalky. Perfect. Best feel.
Scent: --10--
Effectiveness: --9--
Price: $14 at Sephora. The coconut scent does not seem to be available anymore. I'd go with vanilla grapefruit.

5. Celadon Road, Coconut

Feel: --5-- Too chalky. Difficult to get it warm enough to apply. Possibly might be better in the summer or warmer climates
Scent: --10--
Effectiveness:-- 9-- when I can actually get it on!
Price: $18

Some things to keep in mind:
-All natural deodorant options need to be re-applied during the day. One application just isn't going to cut it with any product.
-It's always changing. Just because one deodorant works for me, doesn't mean it will work for you. You might find that a certain brand works for a few months, and then one day that's no longer the case. That's why I have 5 on hand! Moral of the story--mix it up. 

Thursday, December 11

How to Make Water Kefir

So let's talk water kefir for a second.

What is it?
In short: fermented sugar water--but don't worry. The water kefir grains eat up the sugar and the longer you ferment the water, the more sugar is eaten up; so it's not like you're gulping down teaspoons of sugar (gross).

What's the benefit?
BILLIONS of bacteria. You know the pricey probiotics you buy at the store? They have only a fraction of the probiotics in homemade water kefir.

Basically, you're supposed to have about 6 POUNDS of good bacteria in your gut. If you're filled up with good bacteria, the bad bacteria aren't able to colonize because the good guys outnumber them and the good guys shall prevail! AKA, you won't get sick.

Why not milk kefir?
You've probably seen this at Trader Joe's or maybe you've tried the Lifeway brand at your regular grocery store. Milk kefir is awesome (and you can make that at home too)! But some people can't have dairy due to an allergy or sensitivity (Carter!) so water kefir is a great alternative. Also, if you have a picky kid who doesn't like yogurt--water kefir is much easier to disguise.

So how do I get started?
Order water kefir grains from a reputable place like this one (it's where I got mine). They include really easy instructions for activating your grains. Once you have activated grains, you:

1. Dissolve 1/4 C organic cane sugar in 1 quart hot water (in a large glass mason jar)
2. Let the water cool to room temp
3. Add the grains and cover with a cloth (I use cheesecloth and a rubber band)
4. Let the mixture sit on the counter for 3-5 days
5. The fun part! Add fruit, fruit juice (or I like coconut water--not from concentrate!) and let the mixture ferment for an additional 2-3 (or more) days in swing top glass bottles (like these). At this point, the drink will become fizzy AKA even more delicious
6. Drink it up and do it all again! You only buy the grains once and use them over and over. If you're lucky and your grains keep on multiplying, share with friends!

Let me know how it goes!

Thursday, December 4

Amy's Anti Gift Guide

So right now is a season where you're being inundated by blog posts telling you, "buy this fur vest!" "you NEED this lipstick," go get yourself over to [insert any online store] RIGHT NOW for all these xyz deals.

Aren't you just a little bit sick of it all?

I am. So I did the opposite. Also known as the worst things I have tried/bought in the last few weeks. I'm not trying to spew negativity upon you, but let's just be real for a second in a very consumer-focused environment.

Untitled #14

1. Garden of Life Raw vanilla chai protein powder

So the vanilla chai flavor is super alluring, right? I thought so too. I've had it in my Amazon cart for eons, but never bought it. Enter Natural Living Expo that I went to recently and I got a sample packet of the stuff. I was stoked because I really, rreeaally wanted to love it. I tried it today. Imagine a non-smiley emoji with x's for eyes. I have tried (and endured) a lot protein powders and green drinks that most would probably hate, (I LOVE me some Green Vibrance) and usually I can stomach them. It was chalky. It was clumpy. It was awkwardly thick. I thought I could power through, but then I made the worst mistake ever and I let it just sit there in my glass for about 60 seconds. Maybe 65. Then I took another sip of the most congealed concoction and had to spit it out. Sorry for that mental image. You've been warned.

PS I love the Garden of Life brand so don't ditch them all together. I think their vitamins are awesome, but I just can't even pretend to like this protein powder.

2.  MAC Mineralize Skinfinish highlighter in Soft & Gentle.

So I was looking for a new highlighter for my kit (not that I don't have 19 billion already). And basically every YouTuber in the world recommends this highlighter. The thing that stood out to me most was that several people said "it's not glittery at all! it's so subtle!" WRONG. It is the most glittery highlighter I have. I have started using it as an eye shadow instead of highlighter beucase I wouldn't put this thing within 75 feet of a bride. Unless she wants bright sparkly north stars on her cheekbones in her wedding photos.

3. Earth Science Almond Aloe Moisturizer (lightly scented)

First of all, this is a brand I REALLY like. And I've used this moisturizer in the fragrance free version and it's an all-time-favorite. But the scent in the lightly scented version? To me it smells like some combination of crushed flowers, baby powder and car air freshener. I know fragrance is pretty subjective and someone else might totally disagree, but I would at least like to say that the title is misleading and it's definitely not lightly scented. It's just straight up scented.

But I'm not all humbug about Christmas. We  decorated the day after Thanksgiving. We have our countdown to Christmas calendar up. We have Christmas tree and cranberry scented candles. It's getting real.

standing guard just in case the squirrels get any ideas about trying to inhabit our tree

Also, I hereby bestow upon you permission to not go uber-crazy on your Christmas shopping this year. It's just stuff. It doesn't equal happiness, or Christmas cheer, or anything that will bring you joy for more than a week. Make memories. Drink mimosas. And have fires. The end.

Monday, November 17

What We Watch: Netflix and Veggie Tales Live!

This post is part of a year-long partnership with the Netflix #StreamTeam. I received a one year Netflix streaming subscription and an iPad mini for participating. I've been a paying customer of Netflix for 8 years--I'd be lost without her.  Thanks for reading!

So I talked about it a lot in the past, but we haven’t been cable people for a while. Technically, we still have basic cable, but other than a random Kelly & Michael when I have the time (twice a year?) it’s obsolete in this house.
Netflix is our go-to and has been for years…and since it’s something I legitimately use every day or at least multiple times a week, I’ve decided to partner up with Netflix to be a part of the Stream Team because it felt natural and it’s something I like talking about anyway (did you see my last post?).
So onto what we watch. I am a documentary-ivore. I devour them. All types, but mostly health related ones. Here's a little list of what we're watching currently. If you're in need of a "mental health day" (where you don't get out of sweatpants and just sit around binge watching shows and movies all day--let this be your guide).
Amy's Favorites
Documentaries: (from the past year): Blackfish, Bridegroom, Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, and that weird alien conspiracy one for it’s ridiculous/awesomeness. Also GMO OMG (this made me cry 3 times--emotional much?), TINY (I want one!!!!) and Forks Over Knives/Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue (basically I like any health documentary with Dr. Fuhrman in it. He's my celebrity crush. haha!)
Drama: Obviously OITNB, Scandal, Call the Midwife (ah! Even with no medical interest whatsoever you will still love this show) and Parenthood (addicting and you will relate even if you don't have kids)
Classics: North & South. When I read this novel, I wanted it to be a movie. And then I realized it was five years later and I’m so happy I found it. I watched all four “episodes” in one sitting. If you don’t watch them in one sitting and stay up until 3am, you are nuts.
Comedy: Our Idiot Brother (if you need something stupid and hilarious to watch)

Tom’s current favorites

Dexter, The Blacklist (I love this too)

Carter’s current favorites

Veggie Tales anything, Phineas & Ferb, Jake and the Neverland Pirates. 

I find Phineas and Ferb to be hilarious. There has been more than one occasion where Tom and I have watched a couple episodes after Carter has gone to bed. I know, we are so exciting it is mind-boggling.

But back to Veggie Tales; they're starting a Netflix series on Thanksgiving! We are knee-bouncing excited. We took Carter to Veggie Tales Live a couple of weeks ago and it was maybe the most exciting thing to ever happen to him. Veggie Tales to him is like Sesame Street to other preschoolers. He's IN LOVE. I love Veggie Tales too because every little movie is very morals-based and there's always a good lesson to learn (for adults too!)

Here are a couple of photos of our Veggie Tales Live trip. Carter was so involved in the show that he barely moved a muscle. He sat stiff as a board for 2 hours straight. That has never happened before (and very likely will never happen again). We were super lucky and got to sit in the front row (had to splurge for VIP tickets since this was the first time VTL was in New England--at least that we know of!) Worth it. Especially since we got some bubble-maker action too.

Thursday, November 13


I've been making some (good) changes lately. Remember how I used to say I hate to cook? Ever since doing the Whole 30 I haven't wanted to stop! I've been making a lot of recipes from here lately and once I get through those I'm going to grab her book from Amazon. If you make anything at all from there, make the whole wheat tortillas for Mexican night! You will absolutely not regret that choice. And if you do, feel free to send me hate mail/comments.

Also I feel like a rock star for reading this right now and making bone broth on the regular. My sister-in-law and I went to a talk last night by Gary Taubes and Sunday we're going to the Natural Living Expo in Mass! It's so fun to have people who can go to these things happily with you.

Other things I've been doing lately:

Ordered some water kefir grains for making water kefir (since Carter can't have dairy), ordered some whole wheat sourdough starter because I made homemade bread for my first time ever about a week ago! So proud. This from a girl who basically could "cook" salad and tacos before.

If this makes you want to throw internet daggers at me, that is totally fine. But I feel motivated right now so I don't really want to talk about anything else! Let's check out my bread, shall we:

This was the honey whole wheat from 100 Days of Real Food.

Lately I've just been trying to do things that make me happy. I worked fewer hours last month than I usually do and while there were some days that I thought to myself what am I doing with my life??? the rest of the time it felt really productive and happy to make healthy dinners for Tom and Carter, to actually maintain the cleanliness of the house (I mean, it's not perfect by any means, but a huge improvement from the typical tornado-style weeks!), have candles burning, get rid of a bunch of clothes and junk we don't need, and actually taking the time to have regular dance parties with Carter Boy. Those are our favorite. Usually we start with the Gummy Bear song, move on to Geronimo, add a little Taylor Swift (Shake it Off, obviously) and end it with some loud singing to Steal My Girl and Journey (Carter's favorite). Anyone else super into dance parties for indoor exercise with kids? Tons of fun, I tell you. Other times we run in circles around the house and make Gemma chase us. It's always a good time (but take off your socks or wipeouts and stitches will likely follow).

Do what makes you happy! I don't know why we (in general, and our family personally) make our lives so busy that we can't enjoy any of it. We're trying to slow down and I think it's a good goal to have.

Tuesday, October 28

Gandolf Spider Shoes

Am I the only one who hates talenti gelato? It's SO sweet. I mean there's good ice cream sweet and then there's so-sweet-I-want-to-gag sweet. Why does everyone love it? It's really not that good.

Carter whipped an old curtain rod out of the closet the other day and told me he is Gandolf. He's so awesome.

My worst fear happened the other night. I was lying in bed staring into the darkness that would be the ceiling if I could peer directly through the darkness...when a super fast, scurrying spider crawled up my shoulder and across my chest when I violently flicked it away and snapped on my bedside light. And then it scurried UNDER the sheet under my duvet and I almost heart attacked as I whipped the blankets back and slammed the &!?@"$#*! spider with a book. 

What was he thinking? Had I been 40 years older and my arteries 80% more blocked I could have DIED. Then how would he feel? I showed him. Have fun scurrying around in spider heaven (hell).
Also, we have a lady bug epidemic in our house right now. I wish them all a grizzly, slow death of spinning in my vacuum cleaner. Not the biggest insect fan currently. 

On a brighter note, check out my shoes. These were from my grandma and now that I've displayed my current little collection, I can't wait to hunt for more at the flea market next year. They're all over the place. I collect these little shoes (and tea cups!) and Carter collects little porcelain salt and pepper shakers. I know. Best flea marketers ever. 

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