birthday wish list.

Ok I know I said I was going to take a blogging break, but when your husband asks you what you want for your birthday you make an exception and do a little wish list post :)
I'll be honest it was kind of hard for me to come up with a list of things I wanted for my birthday this year. These days I find myself more focused on Violet and things I want to do for her -- I guess that's being a mom right?!  But I guess there are a few things that I've had my eye on lately... 

I recently purchased a new record player, so I really need a place for it -- I'd love another 2x2 for our living room. I also think this silver mirror tray would be perfect for our dresser in our master bedroom. And I've been searching for the perfect summer tan crossbody bag forever -- this one is really cute. These books are on my summer reading list: when breath becomes air modern lovers - we should all be feminists - the girls. And I'd love some of my favorite beauty products that I rarely buy for myself: smith & cult diary of a beauty junkie nail polish set - shiseido eyelash curlerand whish shaving cream. Of course no birthday is complete without cake, and I'm already craving chocolate cake from Portillo's!



summer break + link love.

Hello there! The weeks have flown by since we moved back to Illinois, and we've been keeping busy with family and friends. It's been so much fun taking Violet to the library, and the park, and she loved visiting the DuPage and Chicago Children's Museums, Blackberry Farm, and Brookfield Zoo. I almost forgot how wonderful summers in the Midwest are, and my baby won't be little forever -- so I want to soak up every minute I can with Violet. She is such a curious toddler and I love taking her to new places. And I don't want to spend that time worrying about blogging, so I've decided to take a little break for summer. I might pop in here and there, but for now I'm going to focus on enjoying summer with my baby boss and the warm weather while it lasts!
Here are a number of links and things that I've been loving lately:
Feel good travel destinations 
- I wish we visited Asheville, NC when we lived in South Carolina - it looks so beautiful!
- I'll be checking out this list for kid friendly activities in Chicago
- I love the concept behind Naja - a luxury line of lingerie that empowers female employees, contributes to charities, and is eco-friendly. The line offers nude underwear for all skin tones and beautiful bras (I want this bralette!) AND if all of that wasn't enough Gina Rodriguez is a co-founder! 
- I just started reading this book and this one is next on my list
- Beautiful wanderlust instagram accounts to follow
- Vi really loves this book and this play house
mmmmm best new burgers
- I bought this adorable two-piece romper set for a friend. hello #babyfever !!


natural beauty products hits and misses.

Ever since I became a mom I've become more conscious about the things that we eat as a family -- more produce and less processed foods. And I've decided to make major changes in my beauty routine after I read this on Beautycounter's website:

"The United States has not passed a major federal law to regulate the safety of ingredients used in personal care products since 1938. The European Union has spent the past two decades banning or restricting more than 1,300 ingredients, the US has only banned 11 to date."  

Crazy right?! So I drank the kool-aid and I tried a number of natural beauty products in the past few months, and some were great and the others were total flops. But before you read my review here's are 10 ingredients and chemicals that I am trying to avoid: Parabens, Synthetic colors, Fragrance, Phthalates, Triclosan, Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), Formaldehyde, Toluene. See more about these toxic ingredients HERE.


Beautycounter - Their mission is "to get safer products into the hands of everyone."  Beautycounter has a full line of skin care, makeup, bath and body, and baby/kids products. I purchased the Body Collection and I loved two of the products in the set (see below for the second part of my review). The hydrate everyday body lotion is a bestseller and it's one of my favorite body lotions. It has a great light citrus scent, and it works well to moisturize my skin without being greasy. I also like the everyday body wash which has the same natural citrus mimosa scent. It lathers well and it's hydrating.
Tata Harper - This is my favorite natural beauty line, with 100% natural and organic ingredients. I purchased the Tata Harper Skincare Daily Essentials Set so I could try a number of products at a reasonable price. So far I love the Regenerating CleanserRejuvenating Serum, and Reparative Moisturizer. I wash my face with the Cleaner, and then apply the Serum and Moisturizer afterwards. Everything smells great, and my skin looks bright and feels really clean and moisturized.
Whish Shave CreamThis line is all natural, paraben free, sulfate free, TEA & DEA free, and petrochemical free. I first tried Whish products two years ago for a review post and they are still one of my favorite brands for shaving cream. I never get razor burn or irritation when I use this line, and it comes in a ton of great scents (almond and pomegranate are my favorite).

Tom's of Maine Long Lasting Deodorant in apricot - This was the third natural deodorant I tried (see below for the other two). I was ready to give up, and I was very reluctant to try Tom's because I read a really bad review about it on Cup of Jo. But I loved this deodorant! It's the only one that kept me smelling pleasant all day long and kept my armpits dry. I also love that it was the cheapest option I tried -- under $5!


Beautycounter Clean Everyday Shampoo and Conditioner - I was NOT a fan of Beautycounter's hair products. As a busy mom I don't wash my hair everyday, but when I used these products I had to or else my hair would get very greasy and gross... which has never happened to me the day after a shower! Thankfully Beautycounter has a great return policy and I was able to return the products I didn't like.

PiperWai Natural Deodorant- You have to apply this deodorant on with your fingers, which I didn't think would be a big deal. But trying to get ready in the morning with a one-year old running around my bedroom throwing out everything out of drawers I quickly realized the convenience of a roll on deodorant is not something I want to give up. Using your fingers to apply the product also made it difficult to know if your whole armpit area was covered. Application aside, the product also didn't work for me -- after a few hours it felt like it wore off and my armpits didn't feel dry. 

L'OrĂ©al EverPure Repair & Defend Shampoo + Conditioner - I received these products free from Influenster. They are sulfate and paraben free which I totally appreciate -- but they had a really weird smell and I couldn't get past that. Plus they didn't leave my hair feeling very soft.

LaVanila Deodorant - I was soo excited to try this deodorant because it received a ton of rave reviews, and I liked the packaging. I tried it out for two weeks to give my body time to adjust to a new product. The deodorant worked to control body odor, but my pits always felt wet which wasn't very pleasant. In the end it wasn't worth the $14 price tag.

What natural products are you loving lately? 

p.s. I have a review post for Honest products that I loved and didn't love.
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