Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Natural Hair Conditioner

You use hair conditioner don't you? Most people do. We've been conditioned to think our hair needs it.... sorry, I had to ;). Using it is second nature to us. Want silky smooth hair? Use conditioner.

I got rid of my conditioner a few months ago. And now my hair is silkier, smoother and more manageable than it ever has been. How?

It's 100% natural apple cider vinegar. And it's a miracle in a bottle. To use, mix equal parts water and apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle. After shampooing, spray all over hair and leave on for a few minutes before rinsing. Style as usual. You'll notice a difference, I promise.

I don't know why it works, but it just does. Along with conditioning hair, apple cider vinegar is also an amazing detangler. I have extremely tangle-prone hair. When I was little my mother would spend upwards of an hour brushing all the knots out. My head is hurting just thinking about those times! Since switching out my conditioner for the apple cider vinegar I have noticed a huge decrease in the amount of tangles I get. That's been the biggest benefit for me and the reason why I won't ever go back to traditional conditioners.

When I first switched I just bought regular apple cider vinegar. It's brown tinted but clear like regular vinegar. It worked fine, but the organic apple cider vinegar Vitacost sent me works way better. It's kind of cloudy looking and has "mother," a nutrient rich sediment. Since using the organic stuff my hair has been a lot softer. But beware, the organic apple cider vinegar has an even stronger vinegar smell than regular.

Next week I plan on doing a post on a natural alternative to shampoo, so stay tuned!

Disclaimer: The products in this post were given to me free from Vitacost. I received no other compensation. All words, photos and opinions are 100% my own.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Week in Review

Stepsister's graduation/birthday party. Harry loved running around and interacting with everyone. There were a couple little girls there (2.5 and 1 years old) and the three of them had fun together.

The part was at my dad's house and their dog, Caesar, is kind of obsessed with Harry. He's a big dog, a doberman, and Harry isn't always sure what to think about him. He likes petting Caesar, but really doesn't like when the dog sneaks up behind him.

Nothing exciting. (See Monday)

Ant's 29th birthday. And the start of his new shift at work. Which is kinda funny considering he started his job on my birthday 2.5 years ago. Sunday I took Harry to the Dollar Tree so he could get 10 little birthday presents for his Daddy. I got the idea from another blogger and think it's such a cute tradition. Obviously I chose most of the gifts this year, but Harry picked out some Elmo soap for Ant all on his own.

Ant came home with cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery. I had every intention of baking him a cake, but didn't. I might make it this weekend. We also ordered takeout from our favorite local Mexican restaurant. A low-key birthday, but we did even less for my birthday back in January, I don't think I even mentioned it here on my blog.

Harry got his first big boo boo. A scrape on the knee while playing outside. He didn't cry, but he bled quite a bit. And we learned he hates Band Aids. He kinda freaked out when I put one on his cut and kept shaking his leg and walking with a limp for a bit afterwards.

Returned a baby gate to Walmart. We're going to block off the kitchen so we bought 2 inexpensive gates, but one of them wouldn't work in our doorway. We're going to block off the entry way with a bigger gate instead. We ordered this one and it should be here Monday.

For dinner I tried a new recipe, Recipe Girl's enchilada casserole. A friend posted it on Instagram last week. As usual, I used ground turkey instead of ground beef. I didn't layer it right, but it was tasty!

Went craft shopping in the morning. I'm working on a new freelance crafting project so I had to pick up supplies. I'm excited to get started!

Once Ant got home I headed out to a doctor's appointment. I needed a refill on my hypertension meds and needed to follow up with an echocardiogram I had a while back. I've been having chest pains and we're trying to figure out why. Fortunately everything came back normal and my doctor thinks the pains are caused by costochondritis, which is inflammation of the rib cage, and isn't something I need to be terribly concerned about. But with my high blood pressure she wants me to get a stress test to rule anything else out.

My doctor also said a mole on my back should get checked out. I haven't been to the dermatologist in a couple years so I'm definitely due for a melanoma scan. And I have to go back next week to get some blood work. I was supposed to fast, but watching a rambunctious toddler all day with no food wasn't working. My dad agreed to watch Harry for me so I can go in the morning to get it done.

Today! Harry and I will probably just chill around the house until Ant gets home this afternoon and then we'll go grocery shopping. And maybe out to dinner. Who knows, we don't have anything excited planned.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Natural Cures for Keratosis Pilaris

Welcome to the first Let's Get Natural post! I've been wanting to do a series focusing on natural products, remedies and household alternatives for a while now. The awesome people at Vitacost agreed to help out and provided me with some great natural products to try and feature in ways that I hope can be helpful to you!

So wait... what is keratosis pilaris? Also known as "chicken skin," KP are those bright red bumps and dots typically found on your arms. In doing research for this post, I found out about 50% of the world's population has it, but no one really knows what it's called or that it's so common.

(If you're still unsure, you can see a picture on the Wikipedia article HERE.)

KP is unsightly, but doesn't cause any lasting harm. I've suffered from KP for as long as I can remember. I don't ever remember not having it. There's no cure for it, but there are ways to manage it. When I was in 8th grade I got a prescription from my dermatologist for a special lotion that was supposed to help. I'm sure it was filled with all kinds of nasty chemicals (I remember it smelled pretty gross), and didn't do much to clear up my arms.

For the past 15 or so years I haven't done much to keep it under control, but as I've gotten older my KP has gotten worse. So a couple months ago I started researching ways to treat it. I found a few products specifically made to get rid of KP with reviews that were hit or miss.

One thing that caught my attention was coconut oil. A blogger claimed it got rid of her KP almost entirely. So I bought some and used it as she directed in her post. Rub it on your arms in the shower, let it sit for a few minutes and rinse off. I was doing this for a couple months and while it wasn't the miracle cure she had promised, I did notice about a 50% improvement in the look of my skin.

But since then I've found 2 ways to use coconut oil that has cleared my KP up to 90%. Seriously. My arms have never been as smooth as they are now in my entire life.

Ingredients you'll need:

A cool thing about coconut oil... it's solid at room temperature. Kind of like Crisco or Vaseline. It has a melting point of 75 degrees so as soon as you touch it the oil melts into a liquid. 

Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub

Exfoliating skin with KP is essential in managing it. For a while I was using a basic Neutrogena scrub on my arms. It seemed to work while I was in the shower but as soon as I was dry those pesky bumps started showing up again. No bueno! I recently made this homemade scrub and it is amazing. It exfoliates and moisturizes at the same time, which is key for anyone with KP.

To make a small batch, I combined 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon raw honey and 4 tablespoons coconut oil.

I use it in the shower and let it sit on my arms for a few minutes before washing it off.

Coconut Oil Lotion Bar

A super easy way to keep your arms moisturized is with a homemade lotion bar. Regular drugstore lotions aren't great to use because the chemicals can actually irritate KP more. To make the bars, just melt equal parts beeswax beads and coconut oil (I did 2 tablespoons each). When it's all melted, add a few drops of essential oils, and pour in to a mold.

It made enough to fill a small silicone baking cup. Next time I make one I'm going to use an empty deodorant container as a mold. I apply the lotion when I get out of the shower and before bed. And any other time I think about it.

Like I said, with these 2 easy homemade beauty products, my KP has been kept at a minimum. Both the bumpiness and redness on my arms has significantly diminished. And the best part? The scrub and lotion bar made a huge difference the very first time I used them. I'm so thankful to have finally found a natural, chemical free solution!

A few things to keep in mind:

  • This isn't a cure for Keratosis Pilaris, but a way to manage the condition.
  • Keep up the routine. The scrub and lotion bar regimen keep my KP under control for about 24 hours. If I go longer than that without a shower I'll make sure to apply the lotion often to keep my arms hydrated, but it's really the scrub that seems to nip the bumps in the bud.
  • Remember, I'm not a doctor and this post shouldn't be used as a substitute for proper medical treatment. 
Disclaimer: The products in this post were given to me free from Vitacost. I received no other compensation. All words, photos and opinions are 100% my own.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Night Shift No More

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you might have come to the conclusion that Ant works overnights. For safety reasons, I never explicitly said he worked the graveyard shift, and just alluded to his "weird" schedule.

Sittin' at Daddy's desk

For the past two and a half years he's been working midnight to 8am. At first the schedule was rough, but we got used to it and have a pretty good routine going now. Well, as good as it could be with trying to keep Harry on a "regular person's" schedule.

Today is a big day in our house... it's officially his last day on the night shift. It's just after 7am now, so he's got less than an hour to go! A couple months ago one of his coworkers was promoted and he was offered her hours. It's not 9-5, but it's not too far off.

With the overnight shift he didn't get to interact a whole lot with the other people in his office and corporate. Now that'll he'll be working later he'll get to meet everyone and attend morning meetings. Oh, and food trucks. He's oddly excited to be able to buy food off a truck for lunch now.

I'm excited for him. It's a step in the right direction professionally and personally.

The change in schedule will take some adjusting, but will allow Ant to get a lot more sleep I think. When I was pregnant Ant slept from like 11am-6pm, 7 solid hours. Now he doesn't get to sleep until at least 1pm, usually later. Harry and I wake him up between 6 and 7 for dinner and he'll sometimes squeeze in an extra hour after Harry goes to bed. With the new schedule he should get 6.5-7 hours of uninterrupted snooze time.

And sleeping in the same bed is going to get some getting used to, we've both slept like single people for so long!

Congrats, boo!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Turner Park Splash Pad

Late Friday afternoon we headed over to the Turner Park splash pad for the first time. We've been wanting to take Harry for a while and Friday was the perfect day for it. 

Turner Park is one of two splash pads in our area we hope to check out this summer. Splash pads must be a new thing. I don't remember ever hearing about them until I was pregnant. Us 80s kids definitely missed out on some serious fun, it's a great idea!

Since this was Harry's first time at a splash pad we weren't sure how he'd react. He hates getting water on his face during bath time (a trait passed down from me, I still can't handle getting water in my eyes!) so I thought the shooting water might be a bit intense for him. 

But, Harry enjoyed it. He made sure not to get too close to the water so his face stayed pretty dry. He kept trying to grab the sprays, something he does in the bath, too. 

We were at the park for about 45 minutes when he started getting bored. So we packed up and headed back home. 

Here are a few more shots at the splash pad.

(His rash guard is this one from Water Wear and I got his swim trunks on clearance a while back. The sun glasses were a gift last summer. Not sure of the brand, but they're the only ones Harry will keep on! They're a bit small now but he enjoys wearing them.)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Shedd Aquarium

Ant took Thursday and Friday off of work. The only thing on his summer bucket list this year was taking Harry to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. So Thursday morning we hopped on the CTA train and made our way to the Museum Campus to visit all the fishies and marine life at the Shedd.

It took what felt like forever to get down there and by the time we finally got inside we were all starving. We made a beeline for one of the restaurants and ordered sandwiches for the three of us. We chose to eat at the sit down restaurant in the Aquarium and the service was so slow. The food was good, so that made up for it a bit, but we still spent way more time in there than we had anticipated.

Once we were all fed and happy we moseyed around the aquarium for a couple hours. The place was pretty crowded so it was a little difficult to really enjoy the different exhibits at times.

Here are a few pictures. Flash photography isn't allowed inside the aquarium and most rooms are kept pretty dark so the quality is pretty bad.

You could reach your hand in and touch the giant sturgeon fish

Sparkly rainbow colored piranha 

Colorful coral


Part of the coral growing exhibit

I think I'd been to the Shedd just once before, but my memory's a little hazy on it. If I have, it's been at least 20 years so it was neat to go back. Harry pointed out a few of the fish but was more interested in people watching it seemed.

Hope you had a nice weekend!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Yolk for Lunch

Yesterday Harry and I took the noon train down to Chicago. It's been nearly a year since his first Metra ride and I knew he'd love it. We live super close to the train station so we hear all the trains going by. Every time Harry hears one blow it's horn he stops whatever he's doing and exclaims, "Choo choo! Choo choo!"

I was a bit nervous taking him by myself with his new found love of temper tantrums. But he was perfect the whole ride! I kept him in my mei tai carrier and he never once tried to wiggle his way out. He was fascinated by everything whizzing by and even took a short nap.

We got to the train station a little before 1 o'clock and Ant met us there a few minutes later. The three of us then hopped on a bus to the South Loop and found our way to Yolk, a breakfast and lunch cafe.

(I forgot my camera so all photos are from my phone)


I ordered a skillet with turkey sausage, mushrooms and broccoli. It was huge and came with a side of pancakes, oy! Ant got an egg sandwich and we ordered Harry some eggs and fruit. He also helped himself to some of Ant's hash browns and and my pancakes.

Over all our meal was really yummy. I wish the broccoli in my skillet had been cooked a little longer though. I love raw broccoli, but only in a crudité. There was a woman eating alone at a table next to ours who kept Harry entertained the whole meal, it was adorable! He kept flirting with her and she was kind enough to play along. He also got a Yolk silly band that he wore all day.

After we finished we walked over to Ant's office. His company moved to a new building a couple months ago and I hadn't seen the new space yet. It was a bit of a hike, but it was the perfect day for it. Breezy and cool! As soon as we got inside Harry took off running like he owned the place, it was pretty cute. He also had a blast "typing" at the computer.

Once we were done we headed to the car and drove home. Not the most exciting trip into the Big City, but it was a nice one none the less, and shaking up our daily routine is always fun.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Weekend Warriors

After Friday's late night at the fireworks we expected Harry to sleep in, at least until 9:30 or so. Nope, of course not! He was up bright and early Saturday morning. Oh well. We hung around the house in the morning and headed out to Once Upon a Child in the early afternoon. Their $1 clearance event was going on, always a great time to go shopping if there's a OUAC in your area. We paid $31 for everything we bought, originally it would have cost $62 (obviously not everything we got was $1).

2 pairs of jammies, 6 shirts, 4 pairs of pants, 1 hoodie and 1 fleece jacket.

On our way home we stopped for frozen yogurt at Yumz. We got Harry his own cup with a small swirl of peach and strawberry froyo topped with pineapples and blueberries. It was gone in a matter of minutes.

Saturday night I converted Harry's crib into a toddler bed. That was a weird experience. Psychologically speaking. I remember buying that crib. Having the pieces sit on our living room floor for months before we built it not long before he was born. I remember putting him in the crib and how he used to fit width-wise with room to spare. I remember how well he slept there for so long and I of course remember the night he decided he no longer wanted to sleep there. And now? Now it's not a crib.

Sunday I spent all afternoon rearranging the furniture in his room and doing a deep clean to get him ready for the transition back to his own bed. Not going to go in to specifics yet, but I will write a blog post soon about how we got him back in his own bed after 7 months of cosleeping.

Sunday night I made the most delicious dinner. Angel posted this recipe on her blog last week and I picked up the ingredients on Friday. I followed her recipe pretty closely, but I used turkey instead of chicken and whole wheat rotini instead of angel hair.

Seriously, it was so good. A little time consuming, so I probably won't make it very often. And next time I make it I'll probably do 2 heads of garlic instead of 1. You can never have too much garlic in my opinion.

And one more cute thing...

Harry loves his piggy bank. And dropping coins in. We've been letting him do it a lot lately and he gets a kick out of it. The other day I spread a bunch on the ground and let him have fun with them. Obviously under close supervision since we don't want any money deposited in the tummy bank ;).

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Roselle Fireworks

Friday night was a special night for our town- the first fireworks show in at least 3 years! Before we moved here the show was canceled due to budget cuts and the city solicited residents for donations to keep the celebration around. It took them 3 years to raise enough money, but they finally did it! Yay, Roselle!

I absolutely love firework shows and was really looking forward to the event, the last time I saw a proper display was 2009 I think. Harry goes to sleep about 8 o'clock every night and the show Friday night wasn't scheduled to start until about 9:30. We debated taking him all week. But were leaning towards going.

Then Friday morning happened. Harry had his first ever full-on temper tantrum at Target. He's had some at home before, but this was the first outside the house. Exhibit A and Exhibit B. We figured our firework dreams were dashed. But he was fine after we got home and wasn't terribly fussy after dinner. So, after talking over the pros and cons, we decided to drive over to the event around 8 o'clock to check it out.

Never having been to a Roselle fireworks show before we weren't sure what to expect. We parked at one of the high schools and walked around the building to the back fields. There was a Beatles cover band playing and the place was packed already. We found a spot on the grass and set up our blanket. There was a booth nearby offering free samples of the Diet Snapple Half 'n Half, which I hadn't tried before, and is delicious!

 We also bought a few glow bracelets to be festive.

Harry wasn't too keen on staying in one spot, so while the band was playing we walked around with him. We could tell he was getting tired but wasn't acting too grouchy thank goodness. The fireworks caught his attention as soon as they started. At first I think he thought they were neat, but about a minute in to the show he started whimpering. Some of them were very loud and I just think he got scared. Lately he's been a mama's boy and only wanted me to hold him during the show. As soon as he got on my lap he was fine. I eased his nerves by talking about how pretty they were and what a fun American tradition going to the fireworks is, haha. Whatever works, right?

We were very impressed with the show. Roselle did the town proud and put on a nice event. We watched for about 25 minutes before heading back to the car. We figured we'd get a few minutes head start on everyone else. But the finale didn't start for another 10 minutes, just as we got to the parking lot.

We got home a little after 10 and put Harry right to sleep.

I'm so glad we decided to go. It was a beautiful night and the show was great. And who knows when we'll catch another fireworks display. Plus, it had been a while since we checked a "first" off Harry's list, so it was about time :).

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