As much as I’ve been lamenting the never-ending winter we’ve had here in Massachusetts, a small part of me dreads one part of summer. And that part is sweat.
There’s no getting around it: I am not a dainty person who never perspires, and this has butt heads with my desire to use natural products for pretty much my entire life. Picture a scene: tween Amanda approaches her mom for deodorant after realizing that all the cool girls with straight hair and Co-Ed Naked t-shirts are using Teen Spirit, and not only am I not blonde OR tan, I do not have this essential product. Cut to the next day when my mom comes home with Tom’s of Maine … and eternal embarrassment, plus a not-insignificant amount of crying, ensues.
Nothing against Tom’s or any of the other natural brands I’ve tried over the years, but apart from being horrifyingly dorky for a pre-teen to sport at soccer practice, it just didn’t work that well for me at ALL. Fast forward to today, when many (many) years of trial and error later, I’ve finally landed on a product that smells really good, doesn’t bother sensitive skin, doesn’t require me to dip my hands into a jar of gunk, and most importantly WORKS AMAZINGLY, even on the hottest days. Even for power yoga, or the T without air conditioning, or that moment when you have to ask for a raise or tell off a mansplainer. I’m talking about Schmidt’s Naturals, from (where else) Portland, and it has finally made me a believer in vegan hygiene products. I use it every single day, and have stocked up on multiple scents and formulations so I always have what I need.
My hands-down favorite scent is Bergamot Lime, but I am REALLY fond of both bergamot and lime, to a degree that I don’t think is anywhere near normal. Got sensitive skin? My favorite gentle option is Schmidt’s Coconut Pineapple stick (again, two flavors I borderline freakishly love. See pretty much every post while I was pregnant). Of course, they also have plenty of fragrance-free options, too. They offer a subscription program and select scents are also sold in stores nationwide, including the Target near my house (woohoo!) Their deodorants are free of aluminum and instead use natural ingredients — plant-based minerals like magnesium and baking powder — to neutralize odor-causing bacteria and wetness. I love that it was founded by a mom who was just looking to improve the personal products she used while pregnant!
Now through Saturday, June 3, take 30% off your order at Schmidt’s in celebration of their 7th year in business with code “ANNIVERSARY!”
In closing, I’ll leave you with this fairly unfortunate snapshot of my 90s self at a neighborhood block party. Hopefully, I had some kind of deo on alongside my sambas and bad bangs, but you really never know.
Makers Monday is today, November 30, 2015. Launched by Shinola two years ago, it’s an effort to prompt holiday shoppers to buy local and buy American on the Monday after Thanksgiving. The concept has evolved into a massive, crowd-sourced guide to well-crafted, artisanal products, curated yearlong on social media. It’s an idea I can get behind! So I’m sharing my favorite local and/or American-made products today, in time for some Cyber Monday shopping. Many of these are made by friends or friends of friends! I hope you enjoy the ideas.
Boston-based knitwear designer The Third Piece
If you’ve noticed turban-style hats and headbands on all the cool kids this year, chances are the two Boston-based designers from the3rdpiece.com were behind it. They employ artists from throughout New England, and if there’s a crafter on your holiday shopping list, they also sell kits to make their designs yourself, at ridiculously reasonable prices. And their children’s accessory line will have you and your mini-me styling together in no time.
Leather goods, textiles and jewelry: these are the categories on the navigation bar of Michelle Liebmann’s website, but it doesn’t convey the wide variety of handmade items she offers at michelleliebmann.com — from hand-poured soy candles in flavors like hot cider and red cedar to hand-dyed scarves, repurposed watches and framed linens. She’s a fellow foodie and New Englander, and her food & travel blog and etsy shop are worth a visit, too.
unisex baby bloomers from Billie Blooms
OK, OK — this isn’t Boston or even New England made. But they are a shout-out to my Florida family, because they’re made down in Miami as a city- and heat-friendly pants option for tots birth to age two! Who can resist these?? At $28 for 100% cotton, made-in-the-USA bloomers, I dare you not to pinch the heck out of your baby’s thighs in glee over scoring these. Available at billieblooms.com.
Knife rolls, chef aprons & leather goods from Weft & Warp
“Made for cooks by a cook” says seamster and leatherworker Erik Desjarlais of the goods for sale at his Portland, Maine-based e-tail shop weftandwarpmaine.com. After retiring from the kitchen himself five years ago, he started hand-crafting knife rolls, aprons and waxed canvas bags that the pros now rely on. Got a home chef, handyman (or woman) or anyone else who would appreciate timeless, rugged stuff like this? Here’s your last stop.
Crane & Lion yoga and lifestyle wear
Designed in Boston, Crane & Lion is a brand I first saw on the yoga teacher who comes to my office to teach an in-house class after work once a week. The colors and fit are really stunning, and I love that all their pieces can go from workout to street with ease. It’s so impressive that this business is only a year old and killin’ it, while also giving back 5% of profits to three Boston service organizations.
Use code CYBERSWEAT40 for free shipping and 40% off through tomorrow at craneandlion.com.
Hand-dipped truffles from chocolatier Dean’s Sweets
Portland, Maine based confectioner Dean Bingham is a former architect who brings an artist’s eye and attention to detail to his chocolate creations. I’ve purchased his bacon-covered chocolates for Mark as a stocking stuffer, and sent boxes to friends and family for Easter and Christmas. With flavors like chocolate stout, lemon apricot Chevre, Moxie soda and his own special “boozy mix,” there’s something for everyone, and all of it is 100% handmade and nut free. Order online at deanssweets.com.
Handmade ceramics by Elizabeth Benotti
I recently met Elizabeth at a local artisans marketplace, and seriously could have bought everything in her display. Her entire aesthetic is so calming and stylish, and I loved hearing about her process of slipcasting, handbuilding, wheelthrowing, drawing and painting each unique item. A Massachusetts native, she currently resides and keeps a studio in New Hampshire.
Hand-painted porcelain + bead jewelry by Rapt Stonewear
A beautiful collaboration between two designers (who happen to be my colleagues!) based in Boston, Rapt Stonewear marries the work of ceramicist Jenn Erickson and jewelry & knitwear designer Jessie Partridge. Combining painted porcelain with colorful hand-wrapped cord, these designs are both bold and different, delicate and clean. In other words, perfect for any stylish and creative person on your shopping list.
A few more artists and creators that I’d like to quickly highlight: Rhode Island-based BABS fine handmade handbags, featuring leather and felt in unexpected colors and combinations; Hemlock Springs Soaps, out of New Hampshire, with scents and textures that are simply intoxicating; Albertine Pressfrom my former home of Somerville, with stunning city-themed letterpress designs inspired by world travel; Cheeky Monkey Home accessories, of Belmont, MA; and hand-folded origami fabric gift boxes crafted by Berline Chao of The Perfect Box.
I hope you visit these and more this holiday season! Check out the web deals I’ve highlighted above, since most expire today or tomorrow; and if you are looking for more in-person opportunities to buy local and meet the crafters and designers behind these products, find an upcoming show below.
UPCOMING LOCAL BOSTON-AREA FAIRS
Looking to support Boston-based artisans and businesses by buying local beyond #MakersMonday? Here are a few excellent shows to check out.
The patch of time between summer and the holidays can wreak havoc on hair, skin and nails. The days of sunscreen, swimming pools, salt air and getting a tan are far behind you, and the deep dehydrating cold of winter has set in in full force. If you’re anything like me, your hair and complexion do NOT like this transition, and protest loudly (or should I say visibly) with itchiness, dry spots, flakes, dullness and fly-aways as soon as the heat comes on and the coats come out. I found this twice as challenging immediately post-partum, because it felt like I was working with a different set of skin and hair than I had before Georgia came along! Now, two years out, I’ve accepted the “new reality” and have a system that works for me.
In my experience, it’s a combination of what you put INTO and ONTO your body that makes a real difference. And finding time to exercise — even for 15 minutes — makes a discernible impact on your overall health and ability to cope with changing seasons. Sometimes that just means walking home from the T or doing a quick yoga video in the morning before work.
walking the mile home from daycare: totally counts as exercise when pushing this lady uphill!
So, how do I stay somewhat energetic, organized, and (fingers crossed) professional-looking without breaking the bank up here in chilly old Boston? There are a few things I can’t do without. My tips:
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Don’t leave the bathroom post-shower without slathering on a rich, hydrating body cream. I always used to skip this step and then wondered why my entire body felt so itchy and uncomfortable! If your skin is really driving you nuts, try an in-shower body oil wash like this, too. I’ve become a big fan of Bath & Body Works lotion for scented body lotion, and the Body Shop’s body butters are my favorite natural-ingredient option. Their Vitamin E mist also does wonders to refresh dry, fatigued facial skin throughout the day.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Allow me to introduce you to my new best friend: this flavor-infusing water bottle by UncommonGoods. I’m always tossing limes, lemons, basil, berries, you name it into my water at home, but until recently I hadn’t found a good way to take these healthy flavored waters on the go. I get bored really easily with plain old water, and yet I know how important it is to stay hydrated in the dry winter months, so I really want to find ways to overcome that hurdle. This week I tried adding apples to my water and it was delicious! I love that this bottle seals tight, won’t spill in my purse on the train, is easy to clean, and looks chic enough on my desk at work that three people asked me where I’d gotten it. It’s definitely on my gift-giving list for this year, and if you are looking for more gift ideas, they have great handcrafted presents for men and women, as well as lots of personalized gift options. You can feel good knowing they incorporate recycled and up-cycled materials into about a third of their products, and that most are made in the USA by artists and designers.
Taking a mental break from work for a little photo-book designing with Artifact Uprising. Bottle c/o Uncommon Goods.
Wanting to step up my water intake with meals, too, I’ve also started keeping a pitcher of tap water in our fridge, purified with charcoal, which reduces chlorine and balances PH while mineralizing your water for up to six months. In addition to prompting me to drink more water with meals at home, it’s helped me kick another bad habit: buying huge packages of bottled water out of pure laziness.
charcoal filter c/o Uncommon Goods.
Beyond just hydrating and moisturizing your system, it’s important to think of what you eat in winter as fortifying yourself from the inside out. Sure, there are lots of parties and holiday gatherings this time of year, and plenty of reasons to celebrate. But if you start overdoing it on wine, candy and dessert almost every day, you won’t be fueling yourself with the right energy to make it through the season. I’ve learned the hard way that too much wine every day after work actually disturbs your sleep and saps your energy, making you tired (and tired-looking!) in the morning. Same goes for sweets! When the clocks “fell back” and it started getting darker earlier, I noticed a more pronounced sugar craving around 3:30 or 4 every day. I indulged that sweet tooth until I realized it was making me crash (hard) during Georgia’s bedtime every evening, and as an added bonus (ha) it was making me break out, too. I stopped the sugar binges and put a halt to the breakouts and cycle of fatigue almost immediately. And once you empower your body to rest more deeply when you sleep, you can work on making sure you go to bed and wake up at a consistent time every day, which is easy to do if you don’t have kids, work, or a spouse that wants to chat right when you were hoping to go to bed 🙂
In all seriousness, I wouldn’t make it through the holidays each year if I didn’t get enough sleep, and the only way I can do that just happens to have the added benefit of helping your hair and skin recover from harsh winter winds and temps…and that is showering every other day.
How can you get away with showering every other day? Two words: dry shampoo. I’ve found that using a higher-quality shampoo and conditioner to begin with helps extend my blowouts to two days, and the dry shampoo gives me just the extra bit of freshness I need to feel polished enough for work. Since Georgia goes to daycare every other day, I make those days my “no shower/dry shampoo” mornings, unless I have a big meeting or presentation requiring a bit more effort. This routine, while not as doable in the summer, gives my skin’s natural oils time to replenish and heal my nails, hair and body head to toe. In the summer, I take the blow-drying break my hair really needs to stay healthy over the long term. Investing in a high-end hair dryer can also help, since it will reduce overall drying time. I also recommend spraying hair with a lightweight conditioning detangler for added moisture year- round, and my personal favorite (which I share with Georgia) is from the Honest Company.
When all else fails and the heat is cranking at home and at work, I bring out the big guns: my humidifier! We love the Crane drop shape model, but any brand is fine as long as you make sure to buy cool-mist only, especially if it’s for a baby or toddler’s room. This alone has helped us to soothe Georgia’s dry, raspy nighttime cough, which seems to resurface every winter.
Last but not least, I have a Friday night ritual that helps save my winter-ravaged skin: making a food-based facial mask! Here are three recipes using ingredients you probably already have hanging around the house:
Option #1: mash 1/2 cup avocado with 1/2 a ripe banana until smooth. Spread the mask on your face for up to 15 minutes and rinse with warm water for a soft, creamy treatment! This mask is hydrating and soothing, and bananas in particular will help reduce breakouts and reduce past discolorations.
Option #2: Combine 1/2 cup oats, 1 banana, 1 TBSP coconut oil, and 1 TBSP honey. Blend in a food processor and slather on your face for a rich, restorative mask in the dead of winter. See a how-to here! It’s inexpensive, unclogs pores and fights bacteria, and the coconut oil is especially good at de-gunking.
Option #3: Plain old honey. Works great by itself! This you can even do twice a week if you like.
Turmeric also works to lighten and brighten skin, so you could add that to either of these masks as well. Refrigerating any of these masks is a great refreshing option, too! Follow them up with a nice hydrating moisturizer and go to bed for some skin-saving rest. I have two favorite nighttime winter moisturizers: one from Clinique and another from RoC with retinol for sensitive skin.
Georgia shows us how it’s done. Just don’t stay up all night watching Netflix!!
I hope this inspires you to care for your sensitive skin in winter. Thanks for Uncommon Goods for partnering with us to create this post! Have a safe, happy Thanksgiving.
This is random, but it’s 90 today and it’s so stressful if you need to get dressed up for a baby shower, wedding, birthday party or — you know — WORK, in this kind of humidity. I don’t know what I’d do without these two items on days like this, one pretty cheapie and one more pricey, but both 100% worth it!
I buy the Baby Skin primer at Target (but you can also find it at Ulta and Walmart) and the Urban Decay setting spray at Sephora in-store or online. I don’t like to wear lots of makeup any day, but when it’s steamy and you have no choice, you really can’t go wrong with these for preventing slide-off. Urban Decay also makes an amazing eye shadow primer and NYX makes the best knockoff version of it.
I used to think these kinds of items were a waste of money, but when I realized how much longer they make makeup last, it made sense — no more reapplying midday or wasting product, especially pricey ones you’ve invested your hard-earned money into.
These aren’t affiliate links, just a couple products I can’t do without in summer. Since nobody can think about cooking in this kind of weather, this is what I’m doing instead. And, if the heat is getting you down, a few inspiring images to remind you why summer in New England is worth waiting for all year: the Fourth of July, lobsters, fried clams, picnics, splash pads, and sparklers. Have a great week, everyone 🙂
Us? We were in the throes of baby flu all weekend: high fever, snot, throwing up, the works. But luckily Little G is on the mend, and took a trip out with daddy today on his day off. Look how big she’s getting!
Thanks to Auntie Diana and Uncle Brian for my awesome Georgia onesie:)
I’ve got major spring fever now that it’s warm out finally. Who can work in an office under these conditions? I just want to go get a pedicure, apply some self-tanner and sit outside reading.
Naturally, I’m obsessed with warm-weather clothes, and in particular I am dying to go shoe shopping. How beautiful are these from JCrew:
I also just picked up this one piece bathing suit from Old Navy, which I just love. Can’t wait for a beach day:
I also discovered a new website that I’m a fan of for buying hard-to-find makeup.It’s called Beautylish. I almost had a meltdown last week when it seemed as if Korres had discontinued its mineral makeup line (which I can’t live without). Sephora stopped carrying it, and the sales rep in the Burlington store told me the entire makeup line was no longer being made. MERDE!
Thankfully, it’s not true. It’s just that Sephora is no longer carrying it! I asked @KorresUSA about the rumor and they reassured me their natural line of cosmetics is still being made, so I ordered two packages of the Wild Rose foundation just to be safe. If you’re interested in their environmentally-friendly, plant-based, certified organic product line, I also love their anti-aging primer (which comes in a matte version as well), refreshing pomegranate cleansing wipes and petrolatum-free lip butters.
Fellow mamas who lost a lot of hair postpartum, I’m wondering:did you ever try Living Proof hair products, which claim to have some special science behind them? They were developed at MIT and some people swear by them. I got a sample recently and I’m not so sure I’m sold, but I’m willing to try anything for my still-thinning locks. I only tried the shampoo and conditioner, so I may try some styling products as well and see what I think.
Finally, on a less superficial note, I read about an inspiring crowd-funding platform called Kangu, which provides newborn care and a safe birth for women who lack access to adequate healthcare. Get matched with a mama and baby and potentially save a life. In addition to high-quality healthcare for the mom, you can also donate toward immunizations for the wee ones.
This year, I decided to finally make a Christmas list on Amazon, and in keeping with my new life philosophy, it’s what I would call carefully edited. Most of the items are designed to help me organize myself or get back into fighting shape after having this (beautiful) baby. Such as:
These are designed to look like real jewelry, but they give teething babies something appropriate to put in their mouths, instead of your expensive diamond necklace (or your hair, which you should probably cut above shoulder length).
A novel, because some day I’d like to read for pleasure again
Jhumpa Lahiri is seriously one of my favorite authors. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve read her other books, especially Interpreter of Maladies, which made me love short stories again.
Two cookbooks that I think look awesome
Button-down pajamas for easy night nursing
I know, I’m the last person on the planet to buy a tablet. (My Nook Simple Touch doesn’t count, but I do love it). I should never have tried this one at the Apple store…but Mark insisted! And now I can’t stop thinking about it! (PS what do you all think of Mark’s new website design? I’m still tweaking it, but that was one of the few non-baby things I got done during my maternity leave. That and selling a bunch of old furniture on Craigslist).
Of course, what I really need this year is a LOT of new clothes.
My wardrobe wish list includes slimming & stretchy jeggings and leggings, long sweaters that won’t ride up on love handles, feminine blouses that can be tucked in to hide a post-preggo pooch, comfortable yet pretty cotton underwear, low boots that add a bit of height without making me unstable while carting around Georgia, and plenty of skirts and dresses for work, because (ahem) I still haven’t reunited with most of my pants yet. I’m employing the same sartorial tactics I used to conceal my morning sickness (read: diversion) to distract from my as-yet-undefined post-baby body. Where I once used scarves, earrings and patterned tights to draw attention away from my sickly pallor and bloated mid-section in early pregnancy, I’m now making sure that I look my best even when I feel like a whole different person by keeping my hair trimmed, getting my nails manicured, and having fun with the bold lip colors and chunky necklaces. Oh, and I’m buying lots of flats. Lots and lots…and lots…of flats.
I also decided to buy a couple of my favorite jeans in a size larger on consignment to save some money until I lost the baby weight, and I found TWO pairs in my size on the site ThredUp. Each pair was like 10 or 15 bucks, so for less than $20 including shipping I was able to replace two pairs of pre-pregnancy pants that cost $70 new at The Gap! You can also send things TO this site by pre-ordering a free “clean out” bag from them, and I plan to do this for the clothes that just don’t work for me post-baby.
But back to Christmas shopping.
Here are a few other fun finds from Etsy that I’d love to get for myself or someone else on my shopping list this year:
I actually made my mother-in-law a chunky cowl like that for Christmas two years ago. It’s a super easy pattern — maybe I’ll post about it in the future! I love making Christmas gifts. This year, I designed a few ornaments and photo books on Shutterfly, and I should really solicit them for a commission with all the mentions I’ve posted on here lately 🙂
How about you — what are you asking for, and giving, this holiday season?
Back in July, I convinced Mark to have some maternity portraits taken. Though he was hesitant at first, I think he’s glad I convinced him to do it. Now we have a record of this very special time in our life, and even better, we can show it to Georgia some day when she’s older!
At the time, I was about to no longer fit in any of my shoes or jewelry, and I felt awkward and clumsy. Now, when I look at these photos, I think: “what shiny hair and clear skin!” and, “How well-RESTED we look!”