Chicken Skin Begone

Ever since I was in high school, I’ve struggled with what some call “chicken skin”, but is actually a condition called keratosis pilaris.  This means that I get inflamed bumps on the backs of my arms that look like zits. If I ever pick at them, they become huge and unsightly. I always felt super self-conscious about them, because if I left them alone they looked like zits (GROSSS), and if I tried to get rid of them I looked like I had welts on my arms (also GROSSSSSS).  It was a no-win.

I have tried everything to get rid of them.  Eventually I settled on a regimen of exfoliation and moisturizer, because it seemed to help lessen the amount, but they were never truly gone.  I HATE THEM.  Particularly in the summer.

One day, my husband asked me to pick up some affordable simple face lotion that he could use in the winter months.  A few weeks later, I ran out of my normal lotion so I used a pump of his face lotion on my arms.  When I woke up the next morning, my pumps were gone. No joke. I’ve been using this sweet little bottle of awesomeness on the backs of my arms ever since.

Do I have your attention yet?!  What if I told you that the lotion only cost $6?  And it is fragrance and paraben free?  And it is full of antioxidants?  It is the REAL DEAL, folks.  Here it is:

.

For those of you lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe’s, this can be found with the health and beauty items.  It’s a small bottle, but a little goes a long way.  For those of you who don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby, you can grab a bottle from Amazon.com.

Trust me, I’ve tried it all.  This bottle is worth it.

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Madewell Sale – it’s so good.

About two years ago, I read this book, and it was a game changer:

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My closet and drawers were STUFFED with clothes I never wore, but was hanging onto for all the wrong reasons:  great designer, got for an insane price, was gifted but haven’t worn (yet), will fit into someday (ha!) . . . you get the picture.  I got rid of everything I didn’t absolutely love, and it changed my life.

I rarely buy clothes, but when I do, I only buy things I love.  I noticed this morning that my summer staples are looking a little sad, so I was happy to see that this Madewell sale is alllll the right things, and at the right prices.

Whisper Cotton Scoop Tank Top in Suzi Stripe

whisper cotton scoop tank top in suzi stripe- $9.99 (reviews say it runs big so I got an xs, for reference)

striped afternoon dress – $24.99 (based on the size chart I picked up a s)

magnolia tie-back dress – $29.99 (again, I ordered a s – this dress looks like it should be loose)

central long-sleeve shirt in lansford plaid – $19.99 (reviews say it runs large so I ordered an xs)

convertible ribbed gloves – $4.99 (I KNOW.  It’s June.  But they are $5 and in December I will be so happy to see these!)

plaid cozyweave scarf – $4.99  (So great for layering and accenting!)

Have fun shopping! xoxo

Hair Story

A long time ago in a blog far away, I told you about cowashing and my little hair experiment.  Here we are, over a year later, and this is how my hair looks . . .

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I went in a month or so ago to have it trimmed, and my stylist commented that i had almost no split or dry ends, and that my hair was INCREDIBLY healthy.  Clearly, the elimination of shampoo was the right move for me.

Here’s my winter hair routine:

I “wash” my hair once every five days.  When I do so, I get it thoroughly soaking wet at the beginning of my shower, then I coat it with Living Proof Perfect Hair Day conditioner.  **yes, it is expensive, but it seriously rocks and when you only wash your hair every five days you can splurge a little bit.

When I say “coat”, I mean that I use six pumps of conditioner on my scalp alone.  Then, I use another six pumps on the middle section of my hair and my nape.  Another six pumps goes onto my ends.  I use my fingertips to really scrub my head and get the conditioner on every little bit of hair.  Then, I do the rest of my shower duties, and rinse the conditioner off last thing.  When I rinse it, I again scrub like mad, using my fingertips to really work the water into my scalp and get it rinsed.

Next, I wrap my head in an old t-shirt to absorb the extra water for about five minutes (this trick is amazing).  I gently comb out the tangles and apply Living Proof Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Treatment, then air dry for about fifteen minutes.  Then, I blow dry, using a ceramic round brush and alligator clips.

My hair has serious volume and shine the first two days.  On the third day, I might need to apply a little hair BB cream to my ends (the picture above is day 3).  On the fourth and fifth day, I can do some great ponytails and braids using some dry shampoo at my roots to get serious volume.

My hair does not smell, nor does it get greasy when I work out.  I think my scalp is regulating itself really well and overall, my hair is far healthier than it has been since I was a child.

Where has Aldi been all my life?

You all know Aldi, right?  That stand alone store with the blue A logo?  We didn’t have Aldi in the small town where I grew up, and the first time I saw one was when I was married and trying to do grown-up life stuff.  I didn’t go to Aldi because I didn’t know Aldi.  I went to Kroger because it was set up the same way as the Kroger back in my hometown, which meant I knew how to find items I needed.

Of course, I got the Aldi advertisement in my Thursday mail every week, but when you have babies, grocery shopping is NOT the time for experimentation.  One week, I saw that Aldi had baby trees for $10 each, so I decided to give it a go.  It was a total failure.  I had a baby and a toddler with me and didn’t know about the cart deal, so I was stuck trying to carry baby trees and manage two tiny people.  Then, because you have to walk through the entire store to get to the checkouts, I walked past 800,000,000 things that my toddler wanted to eat. Plus, they are all stacked on the floor so my toddler could totally see the options and help himself.

So, I was carrying baby trees, managing a baby and a toddler, and also carrying boxes of snacks by the time I got to the checkout.  I didn’t know about Aldi’s payment rules, so after the clerk had run everything up, I didn’t have enough cash and had to take items off my bill, one at a time, until I had enough to pay.  Then, I didn’t have any bags, so I had to try to negotiate all my stuff, and the toddlers, through the parking lot.

When I sat down in the front seat, I was hot and sweaty and tired.  I swore that Aldi was NOT a friend of mothers and that I would NEVER EVER go there again.

Fast forward seven years.  My friend Jen blogs about Aldi regularly.  She shops there multiple times a week.  She sings the praises of Aldi – the MILK!  The MEAT!  The PEOPLE!  The DEALS!  For real, Aldi should be paying her advertising dollars because I bet she has brought in a million dollars of revenue for them.  I have been spying on these posts for a while . . . and then, I heard around the holidays that Aldi was eliminating all artificial dyes from the store-brand foods.  This was huge for me – I am constantly trying to dodge food dyes, which show up in the most curious (and unnecessary) places.  The peace of mind of knowing that everything Aldi-branded in the store would be free of dyes?  So cool!  Then, I did a little internet research, and found out that Aldi and Trader Joe’s are sister companies.  I LOVE Trader Joe’s, so I started thinking maybe I should give Aldi another chance.

However, the holidays are not a time for grocery experimentation.  I was too busy making awesome memories and delicious food and wrapping gifts to venture out of my comfort zone.  But then, Aldi struck again – I read an article that the organic and natural food offerings at Aldi are completely awesome.

This was clearly a sign.  I needed to get my bod to Aldi and check things out, now that my children are in school and I use reusable bags on the regular and I actually have quarters in my car.

What you need to know before you go:  Bring a quarter for your cart.  Bring your own bags, and plan time to bag your own groceries.  Aldi only takes cash or debit cards.  The way Aldi keeps prices low is by not stocking things on shelves – most items in the store are still in a cardboard carton that has been cut open.

The good:  I was able to find almost everything on my shopping list.  The prices on organics, natural food, and produce were beyond belief.  I can’t even process the price on organic milk – SO GREAT.  I remembered my quarter so I could use a cart, which has double baby seats in the front.  Way to go, Aldi, for making space for multiple kids.  I brought cash and my reusable bags, so I was able to checkout with my dignity intact.  The beer and wine selection was super; I just hope it tastes good.

The bad:  The organization of the store is not intuitive to me.  I spent a lot of time wandering, scanning up and down the aisles, trying to figure out where items could be found.  Aisles have random cardboard boxes of stuff in them, which makes navigating your double-wide cart around other people and carts tricky.

Overall impression:  promising, bordering on great.  While I could find almost everything I needed, it was NOT a quick stop.  I wandered a lot, and waited for people to move their carts a lot.  I am not sure Aldi will be place I go for just a few items right now, but maybe as I become more comfortable, that will change.

Your turn – what items do you love to get at Aldi?  Are there types of beer or wine or coffee or something that I should try?

 

 

 

Obsessed: Spaghetti Squash

You’ve seen these guys at the store, right?  I am telling you, spaghetti squash is where it is at – healthy, filling, and super easy to prepare.  I have been making this dish once a week ever since Thanksgiving.  The water content and fiber are exactly what my body needed to get me through the holiday season.  It is ready in a snap.

BAKED SPAGHETTI SQUASH (1 hour), serves 8

Ingredients:

one spaghetti squash

one jar of pasta sauce (or make your own!)

one lb of protein (I like ground beef, ground turkey, or sausage)

frozen spinach

chopped onion

two diced garlic cloves

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375.  Slice the squash in half lengthwise, and scrape out the loose seeds with a spoon.  Put a centimeter of water into the bottom of an oven-safe pan and place both halves of the squash in, face down.  Cook in the oven for 40-50 minutes.  Check on it every so often – when you poke the rounded backside of the squash with a fork and it is tender, pull it out of the oven.  Use a potholder and a fork to flip the halves out of the pan and rest them on a cutting board to cool.

On the stove, warm olive oil over low and sweat the onion and garlic until fragrant.  Then, add the protein and cook over medium until brown, seasoning with salt and pepper.  Add the frozen spinach and the pasta sauce, and lower the heat to low.

While the sauce comes together, use a spoon to remove the remaining seeds in each squash half.  Then, use a fork to gently pull the flesh of the squash out of the rind – it usually comes out pretty easily – and put into a large bowl.  Use two forks to shred the squash into “noodles”.  The more you shred it, the more it seems like real pasta.  Add the warmed sauce, and stir it up.

This dish is super healthy, filling, and kid friendly.

According to Wikipedia, one cup of spaghetti squash contains:

Spaghetti squash, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 130 kJ (31 kcal)
6.91 g
Sugars 2.76 g
Dietary fiber 1.5 g
0.57 g
0.64 g
Vitamins
Vitamin A equiv.

(1%)

6 μg

(1%)

64 μg

Thiamine (B1)
(3%)

0.037 mg

Riboflavin (B2)
(2%)

0.018 mg

Niacin (B3)
(6%)

0.95 mg

(7%)

0.36 mg

Vitamin B6
(8%)

0.101 mg

Folate (B9)
(3%)

12 μg

Vitamin C
(3%)

2.1 mg

Vitamin E
(1%)

0.13 mg

Minerals
Calcium
(2%)

23 mg

Iron
(2%)

0.31 mg

Magnesium
(3%)

12 mg

Manganese
(6%)

0.125 mg

Phosphorus
(2%)

12 mg

Potassium
(2%)

108 mg

Zinc
(2%)

 

Natural deodorant

I have been experimenting with natural deodorants for years, ever since I read a few studies about antiperspirants and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and breast cancer.  (Here’s one report – “may” and “more research needed” is enough for me to find an alternative.  You can web search and find more.)

However, the elimination of aluminum, parabens, and antiperspirant has been a tough one for me.  I work out, HARD.  I don’t always have time to take a shower immediately post-workout.  Sometimes I need to be near people, and I don’t want to smell bad.  I tried Tom’s of Maine, which I heard good things about.  It made me smell nice after my shower, but it couldn’t hold up during exercise.

I made my own natural deodorant for a while – just baking soda and coconut oil.  Easy breezy.  This worked really well, but I couldn’t get the mixture just right.  The baking soda irritated my armpits easily, and then when I would sweat things would really hurt.

I read a blog review recently, and I took their advice.  I am telling you guys, I have found the holy grail of natural deodorants.  Primal Pit Paste.  The name is funny, but the stuff is amazing.  I bought some two months ago, and it WORKS.  The basic ingredients are the same as my home recipe – baking soda and coconut oil.  However, they add essential oils and a few other ingredients to keep it from being irritating.  Also, the smells are fantastic.  I finish my workouts and I do not smell.  I can run a few errands post-PiYo and not feel self-conscious.

I bought the Pit Paste Sticks, because I went the jar route when I made my own deodorant and it was pretty messy.  I like the stick method because I am not getting deodorant all over my hands.  The sticks work great – just hold it under your arm for a few seconds to warm the coconut oil, and the product glides on.  I am a huge fan of the coconut lime currently.  I smell like a margarita.

Plus, sign up for the e-mail list to get 10% off!  I did, and then stocked up.  Life changer, ladies.

 

 

New Year? New workout clothes!

It’s January, guys!  Know what that means?  Awesome workout clothes on super clearance at our favorite stores!  I was just in Athleta, Lululemon, and Lucy and there was so much inventory on clearance – it was heaven!  Here are some of the items I scored:

Athleta Ponte Skinny Pant on sale for $39.  This pant is so good it’s ridiculous – looks like skinny jeans, feels like yoga pants.

Athleta High Rise Bloom Chat Tights for $28.  I love the high rise, as it keeps all my stuff covered and warm.

Athleta Frost Chat Tight for $28.  These are so COOL.

Splendour Bra

Lululemon Splendour Bra for $39 online (but I got  mine for less in store!)  I should note that I got five different tops at my local Lululemon for under $30 each, but I am not seeing those prices online.  It is worth checking the sale rack if you have one in town.

It is January, after all, so how about a few options to cover up with post-workout?

This cashmere cowl neck is 75% off ($85!) at Nordstrom Rack.

I love the slouchy V-neck in this 360 Cashmere sweater, also on sale at Rack.

I love the lean look of this Quinn Cashmere sweater, on sale for $70 at Nordstrom Rack!

Vince cashmere for $150?  YES.