review

Things We Love and USE // 04

June 9, 2016

Throughout the year, bloggers (myself included) often share gift guides. I tend to like these guides because they give me ideas; introduce me to new brands & products; and frankly, I’m a voyeur — I love to see what other people are buying. However, gift guides often give me pause for a couple of reasons. First, does the blogger only want me to buy an item because she is going to make a commission off of the sale? And second, in the age of Pinterest & Etsy, just because a blogger “loves” an item doesn’t mean that she has ever actually used it or even seen it in-person.

That said, this is my series called, Things We Love (and USE). The emphasis being that these are things that we both love and actually use on a regular basis. Here are a few things that are currently making our lives a little bit easier, comfier, and more beautiful.

Note: This edition consists of all beauty products. After three years of just not spending much time on myself and my appearance, at all, I’ve finally started to take care of me again. I’ve been experimenting with some new products, because — let’s face it — the definitions of “beauty” and “prep time” change a lot once you’re a mom. 😉

Things We Love and Use // livelovesimple.com

1. Big Sexy Hair — Root Pump Spray — I am obsessed with this stuff, I can’t even explain it. I should, however, note that I bought it accidentally and I don’t actually use it for its intended purpose. I must have been in a rush when I grabbed it from the shelf. I was actually looking for a regular hair spray. I’d heard good things about this brand so I guess I just grabbed the first thing that looked like hairspray to me. When I used it for the first time I realized that it comes out as a spray but then it turns into a mousse. I also realized, upon looking at the label, that it’s not hairspray at all. I really had no clue what “root pump” was anyway so I just went ahead and used it the way I had intended to, to style and scrunch my hair after the shower.

Well, low and behold, the miracle of all hair miracles took place. After it had dried completely, my hair basically transformed into the most beautiful wavy coif imaginable. I don’t even know how to explain it. It almost turns my hair into ringlets as if I used a curling wand or something. It’s still soft, but it’s beautiful and voluminous. I’ve been using it for a couple of months now and the results are magic every time, even on the grossest, humid days it makes my hair beautiful and frizz-free. Hallelujah. This can of… hair stuff(?) is my new best friend. That said, I can’t really attest to its value as “root pump” because I just use it as mousse. Here are a couple of Instagram selfies to illustrate: one // two // three.

2. eos Lip Balm — I am such a lip gloss/lip balm addict. I never leave the house without something for my lips in my pocket. I’ve tried lots of options over my lifetime and I’ve had a few favorites. At the top of my list currently are the eos balms which you’ve probably heard of or seen. They work really well. They give my lips just a little bit of shine and color. They smell and taste amazing. And best of all — my number one requirement for lip balm — when you apply it lasts for hours and hours. I also find that the eos formula nourishes my lips so that even if I don’t put anything on them the day after, they stay hydrated which is pretty incredible as my lips used to get chapped if I didn’t put balm on them every day.

3. MAC Concealer — Unfortunately I was one of the lucky ones that inherited dark under eye circles from the gene pool. Blah. I spent years searching for a concealer that actually, effectively covered them. I tried recommendations from lots of friends and beauty experts. However, for me, nothing has ever worked except for this particular little pot from MAC. It’s a damned miracle. I’ve been using it for, gosh, maybe close to ten years now? And I’m committed to it for life. It works like a charm and the little pot lasts me for about a year because it’s so incredibly effective. I do find the formula to be a tad bit drying, so I put a bit of moisturizer under my eyes before I apply it and that works perfectly. I also love the fact that it is SPF 35 so it’s also working to protect the delicate skin under the eyes from the sun. I can’t recommend this stuff enough.

4. Neutrogena Makeup Remover Wipes — I’ve finally started wearing makeup again! It’s really been awhile. Especially during Marina’s first year, there just wasn’t time for me to worry about things like eyeliner and concealer. Now, however, I try to “put my face on” at least a few days a week or more. I feel so much better after I do it, as evidenced by the ten-thousand selfies that I post to Snapchat each day. 😉 With that said, however, evenings are always mayhem for me and by the time I finally get the babies down, I just don’t have time or energy for a nightly skincare ritual. Still, my makeup needs to come off at the end of the day otherwise I wake up with raccoon eyes and breakouts. So I went out in search of makeup remover wipes, the easiest way to get makeup off, ever. Even my exhausted ass can manage it at the end of each day. These Neutrogena ones are amazing. They really take the makeup off without a struggle.

A couple of side notes: These wipes do tend to leave my skin feeling a little dry after use, so I apply a thin layer of the NIVEA moisturizer mentioned below and everything works out perfectly. As another point of reference, I also tested out the Alba Botanica Clean Towelettes, which are advertised as a 3-in-1 makeup remover + cleanser + toner. I loved the packaging, the fact that they’re natural, and they smell incredible. However, they just didn’t do a great job at removing my mascara or eyeliner at all. So I will not be repurchasing them unfortunately.

5. NIVEA Soft Moisturizing Cream — I think I’ve written about it here before, but my skin tends to be extremely dry, year-round. Whenever I have time after a shower, I cover my body in coconut oil and it soaks it up like a sponge. I always need extra moisture on my face because every time I get out of the shower my face feels tight and dry. Regular lotions don’t do a thing for me, I’ve tried countless brands and most of them leave me wanting more. Some are even irritating. However, about four months ago I tried out a jar of this stuff that my mom had been using and I fell in love with it. It’s amazing. It’s not irritating at all. It leaves my face feeling completely moisturized and the moisture stays locked in until the next time that I shower. It’s powerful but not heavy and it doesn’t cause me to break out either. I’ve already gone through two jars of it and I’ll keep going back for more.


That’s all for this edition of Things We Love and USE. Click here to check out my past lists in this series.

What are a few of the things that you are using and loving right now? I’d love to hear!

Holiday Gift-Giving with MyRegistry.com

December 22, 2015

gifts // livelovesimple.comTypically, I try to get home before dark at this time of year. Lugging the babies and all of their stuff inside in the dark is a challenge. But these past few weeks, I just can’t help but to stay out after the sun sets. Driving through town and looking out at the twinkling Christmas lights fills my heart with bounding joy.

The holiday season brings with it the sweetest, golden warmth. One of my favorite parts of the holidays is gift-giving. I’ve gone through love/hate cycles when it comes to giving gifts. When I was younger, I cherished the act of exchanging gifts with friends & family. I really enjoyed receiving gifts back then. The anticipation of unwrapping something picked out especially for me was always a thrill. Later on, when I was hardcore into my minimalist phase, I fell out of love with the idea of gift-giving. In fact, I loathed it. I hated buying into the consumerism frenzy that the holidays can sadly become.

Today, however, I have finally found a balance. I started my holiday shopping early this year. It gave me a lot of time to pick out meaningful gifts. I also put effort toward buying handmade, local, or sustainable gifts. Buying meaningful gifts from businesses that I’m happy to support has made holiday gift-giving joyful for me once again.

Speaking of gift-giving, myself and a few of my family members have decided to start using registries for the holidays, birthdays, and special occasions. Last winter, when we received an invitation to my nephew’s birthday party, I saw that my sister-in-law had tucked a registry card into the envelope. I was so excited to see it! Picking out perfect gifts can be a struggle, but browsing a registry gives me a great idea of wants, needs, and likes. I still like to pick out some off registry surprise gifts, but being able to include something that I know the recipient is sure to love, is a relief and it makes shopping on a deadline such a breeze.

My favorite online registry is My Registry. It allows you to add gifts from any store in the world. You just put the “Add to MyRegistry” button on your bookmarks bar. Then, click the button to add a gift to your registry or wish list. They also have an app that lets you use your phone as a barcode scanner to find the best price before buying or adding any item to your gift list — even when you’re away from the computer. The world becomes your virtual department store.

I have a bunch of friends who are currently pregnant — yay! finally! — and I’ve been recommending the “My Baby Registry” to all of them.

And with that, I am off to go start wrapping. Wish me luck. Happy gift-giving & receiving, friends. xo

This post is in partnership with MyRegistry.com. Thank you for supporting the companies that help to support my creative endeavors.

portraits 04 // roman + marina {featuring LAYOP Kids}

October 2, 2015

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LAYOP Kids // livelovesimple.com

Along with this month’s portraits, I’m really excited to introduce you to LAYOP Kids. LAYOP stands for Live At Your Own Pace — a sentiment that I wholeheartedly support. It’s perfect for my little Roman who is constantly reminding me to slow down and enjoy life at a comfortable speed.

LAYOP started out as a clothing line for adults and this autumn they’ve launched a line for kids. LAYOP offers simple, clean designs on quality, timeless products. They sent us a few pieces from their children’s line to try out and we are impressed. In fact, Roman asks if he can wear his “turtle shirt” every morning.

The sketch turtle shirt that he is wearing in these photos is the softest shirt that he has. It has that comfy, worn-in feeling that you can usually only find in truly quality vintage t-shirts. I want it for myself! We also got a couple of adorable pieces for Marina that I’m just loving at the moment. My babies will be getting a lot of use out of these pieces.

LAYOP Kids // livelovesimple.com

LAYOP Kids // livelovesimple.com

LAYOP Kids // livelovesimple.com

LAYOP Kids // livelovesimple.com

Marina Grace // livelovesimple.com

LAYOP Kids // livelovesimple.com

LAYOP Kids // livelovesimple.com

Marina Grace // livelovesimple.com

LAYOP Kids // livelovesimple.com

Best part? LAYOP is generously giving away two (a boy style & a girl style) of the adorable shirts from their new line to one lucky reader. Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The LAYOP kids line features four adorable characters and you can learn all about them here. You can also connect with LAYOP kids on Instagram and Facebook, too.

You can see more posts in our portrait series, here.

This post is in partnership with LAYOP clothing. As always all thoughts & opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting my blog & my family.

Staying Healthy Naturally // with Maty’s

September 22, 2015

healthy naturally // livelovesimple.com

healthy naturally // livelovesimple.com

It’s “Back-to-School” time and every mama knows that along with “Back-to-School” comes a lot of germs. My two-year-old nephew started preschool last week and after just his first week, he already brought home a nasty cold. It’s a neverending cycle. Sickness isn’t exclusive to little ones in school, either. Roman has never stepped foot in a daycare or a preschool, but he’s picked up germs at birthday parties, at Target, and even at the pediatrician’s office!

As parents, we do everything in our power to keep our little ones healthy — vitamins, balanced diets, hand cleaning, and so on — but, no matter what, sickness happens. With cold & flu season just around the corner, I’m so excited to introduce one of my newest partner’s — Maty’s Healthy Products.

Maty’s is a family-owned and operated company that makes all natural health products. After seeing solutions to today’s health issues go hand-in-hand with side effects outweighing their benefits, Maty’s wanted to offer families a safer alternative.

Maty’s began when its owner, Carolyn Harrington, was determined to help her daughter who was born with severe heart defects. As a result of her efforts, she developed many health products that are so safe and natural, they have absolutely no side effects.

Maty’s sent us three products to try out and I’ve been so impressed with them. Maty’s products are 100% natural, which is exactly what I want to use to heal my babies when they are sick. The Maty’s products that we have are kids cough syrup, baby chest rub, and baby ointment.

Check out the amazing, natural ingredients in the cough syrup:

  • Buckwheat Honey – One of the most antioxidant rich honeys produced in the United States
  • Cinnamon – Promotes healthy breathing
  • Zinc – Clinically proven to shorten the duration of a cold
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – Promotes healthy mucous flow
  • Cayenne Pepper – Aids circulation
  • Sea Salt – Naturally neutralizes toxins in the body
  • Lemon Balm – Has a calming effect
  • Lemon Peel – A natural antioxidant
  • Cloves & Marjoram – Has antimicrobial properties

Our household actually got struck with the preschool plague while I was working on this post and I’ve been giving Roman the cough syrup twice a day to help his body fight off the sick!

I’ve also been dabbing some chest rub on his chest before bed. It contains a unique blend of natural ingredients including: Eucalytpus Radiata, Lavender and Chamomile. It’s free of petroleum, menthol, drugs, chemicals, and parabens.

Lastly, the baby ointment — which we’ve been using for the past couple of months — contains olive oil, coconut oil, beeswax, jojoba oil, and vitamin E. Does it get simpler and cleaner than that? (I may be slathering my own legs with this magical stuff after the shower, too. Shhh.)

healthy naturally // livelovesimple.com

healthy naturally // livelovesimple.com

healthy naturally // livelovesimple.com

healthy naturally // livelovesimple.com

healthy naturally // livelovesimple.com

healthy naturally // livelovesimple.com

healthy naturally // livelovesimple.com

healthy naturally // livelovesimple.com

Here’s hoping that this awful cold leaves our household really soon and that we’re all in for a healthy, happy autumn.

This post is in partnership with Maty’s Healthy Products. Thanks for supporting the companies that help to make my blog possible. You’re the best.

healthy naturally // livelovesimple.com

Currently // Taking Stock {featuring the Amy Carinn Collection}

September 15, 2015

currently // livelovesimple.com

Last time I did a “currently” post, I was pregnant with Marina! My goodness how much has changed since then. Time to take stock once again.

Making :: arts & crafts with Roman every day and enjoying every moment of it.

Cooking :: not much these days. The extent of my culinary creations has been fresh-from-the-garden cucumber sandwiches.

Drinking :: a smoothie made with with kale, watermelon, cucumber, peanut butter, and strawberry yogurt.

Reading :: a few new blogs here & there, but not much time to pick up a book these days, sadly.

Wanting :: to get a few more hours in the day which might happen soon, as we are about to embark on some gentle sleep training with Marina.

Playing :: outside, collecting newly fallen autumn leaves, acorns, and berries.

Wasting :: a bit too much time lamenting lack of sleep/lack of time, instead of enjoying these precious days while they’re here.

Sewing :: a few projects for Marina’s 1st birthday party. It’s awhile away, but time moves quickly and I’m the opposite of a procrastinator.

Enjoying :: the briskness in the air on our morning walks. After months of sticky humidity, having to walk with a small jacket on is refreshing. Sweater weather soon!

Waiting :: for this house to be free of the terrible preschool plague that has seized us this past week.

Liking :: the adorable, beautiful, and creepy decorations that are starting to go up in people’s homes & yards.

Wondering :: how sleep training is going to go. It’s at the forefront of my mind/worries these days.

Loving :: on my sweet babies who are constantly loving on one another, too.

Hoping :: that we will survive the upcoming season with far less sickness than we’ve seen this past week.

Needing :: more time and more sleep. More grace. More acceptance.

Smelling :: nothing. This is important because it means there is not a messy diaper waiting to be changed. (For once!)

Wearing :: pajamas and a cardigan — the first time I’ve had to throw a cardigan on in the house this year.

Noticing :: that the epic declutter that we did last winter has managed to slowly slip back into clutter. Time for a big fall cleaning.

Knowing :: how blessed I am.

Feeling :: grateful & excited for the joy that is to come in the next few months.

Bookmarking :: a few sweet Halloween projects that I hope to complete with Roman in October.

Giggling :: at how determined Marina is to start getting around. She’s not sitting up yet but she’s become quite the wiggler and it won’t be long now until she is sitting up and then scooting!

Opening :: lots of packages of wonderful things lately. Most recently our new crib mattress covers from The Amy Carinn Collection which I just adore.

Speaking of the lovely Amy Carinn Collection, I want to take a few moments to introduce you to it. Amy sent us a couple of her mattress covers to review and we’ve been loving them. That beautiful, soft quilted cover that Marina is lying on in these photographs is one of the pieces from her collection.

currently // livelovesimple.com

currently // livelovesimple.com

The line currently contains three pieces — the Pack ‘N’ Play Mattress Cover, the Standard Crib Mattress Cover, and the Bamboo Crib Mattress Cover. The covers are waterproof + dryer-friendly.

Most waterproof mattress covers have a tendency to melt in the dryer. For this reason, Amy’s Collection was developed with an exclusive heat-protection layer which protects the waterproof membrane from dryer heat. They’re also hypoallergenic, fitted, absorbent, and very soft.

A good, waterproof crib mattress is a must-have for every new mother and this line is a perfection option. Amy is presently offering 25% off any product with the code MOMBLG25. You can shop the collection on Amazon. You can also connect with the collection on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Amy Carinn Collection

currently // livelovesimple.com

To see the other posts in my ‘Taking Stock’ series, click here. This post is in partnership with the Amy Carinn Collection. Thanks for supporting the businesses that make my blog possible.

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