going au naturale

Monday, July 21

In an interview I read a little while ago, someone who I find to be effortlessly beautiful shared that she considered herself to be of the "skincare-as-makeup persuasion." It was a minor light bulb moment for me. Well duh! Treat the dark circles, treat the redness, and eliminate the cover-up FOR-EV-ER. Or that would be the goal, right?

I look back at photos of myself as an early teenager, and braces aside, I miss the days when my then-loathed freckles were my one skin concern. The first time I wore make-up, it was only a few swipes of mascara and I was out the door feeling all radiant and grown-up for the first time at 16. Now, if I were to just swipe on mascara and go, I would look in the mirror and indubitably analyze the darker uneven skin tone around my eyes and the redness around my nose. And who knows if these things are due to aging, motherhood and lack of sleep, or just becoming a harsher critic of myself over the years, but I would like to see them go.

As I mentioned before, my skin-care routine right now is lacking. After the completion of each day, normally I'm too tired to take an extra 15 minutes for myself before bed, and usually end up just wiping off my make-up, and throwing a little coconut oil on my face. Shrugging off the rest of my skin, and hair, and ... eye bags ... until tomorrow, when I'll be "less tired." But THAT never happens.

So! As part of the Made to Matter, Handpicked by TargetTM challenge, I set out on a quest to claim those 15 extra minutes at night for myself and run with them for a few weeks. First step: spending an exorbitant amount of time at Target (which as we know, is something I excel at) in their natural beauty aisle, picking up a few items that would enhance my daily regimen. Even though my main skin concerns involve my face, my goal was to try out the products that would benefit all the other parts of my body that are continually neglected. My hands for one! I have to laugh at myself when I'm hanging out with friends and someone scoffs at their hands and says something like, "man, I really need a manicure." I look down at my hands, unpainted, with their dry, uneven cuticles and the occasional hang nail and think," oh yeah. I guess a manicure would be good." I would just never think about it on my own! Same with my feet, and elbows, and hey, how about a nourishing mask for those split ends!

The great thing about this shopping trip was knowing that whatever products I absolutely loved at the end of this trial-run, I could afford to love them again, even after the product ran out. Everything was in my price range, and it gave me peace of mind knowing that I could choose anything in that natural beauty aisle, and it would actually be better for me, which is a concern since I’m pregnant. While my first instinct, as usual, was to get products that focused mainly on my face, I picked up some great body butters, shampoos and conditioners, face masks, hair masks, foot creams, cuticle/hand creams, eye creams, cleansers and make-up removers ... and for the following few weeks a new and improved routine was born. Starting with that night, when I obsessively tried all of them at once, ha!
Here’s a sampling of what I picked up:

Shea Moisture Healthy Glow Essentials Eye Makeup Remover
Burt’s Bees Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Creme
Burt’s Bees Herbal Blemish Stick
Shea Moisture Smooth & Repair Rinse-Out Conditioner
Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Kids Extra-Moisturizing Detangler 
Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream
Yes to Carrots Rich Body Butter

This post is sponsored by TargetThe Made To Matter line has been handpicked by Target to bring you brands that make things better for your you, your family, and the place we all call home.

harpers ferry, again


A summer afternoon spent in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia has become a bit of an accidental family tradition for us. I just realized today that we've been coming here every other year for four years now. Our first visit was when we moved to Virginia for the great summer internship of 2010. I'm pretty sure we skipped church that morning in favor of a long drive and just ... wound up there. It was August, hot and muggy, and we drove through a few really beautiful vineyards on the way, our windows down, pulling over every so often. The second time was for Memorial Day in 2012 when Everett was just a bald little squirt and we met up with some friends of ours for lunch. And now this weekend. Another afternoon in what I suppose was a Harper's Ferry farewell of sorts.
Everett walked along the bridge like this, with his hand running over the texture of the metal, fingers bouncing in that mesmerizing way that they do when grazed over the length of a gate. He's never done that before. Made him seem so instantly and heart-burstingly grown-up. 
A lazy river and mud rocks galore. He literally has dreams about this stuff. But usually there's a robot somewhere in there too.
We came across these two beautiful horses, Pete and Paul (actual brothers), and were invited over by their owner to come meet them. Everett was verrrrry skeptical about touching these guys once we got up close. Instead he focused in on Paul, who had a little smearing around one of his eyes that looked like a tear, which made Everett pretty concerned about why Paul was feeling so sad. After a minute or two, he decided that it would be alright to reach in and pet his soft nose, declaring solemnly that he was, "makin' Paul happy again."
A little later as we were walking away, he called out to their owner, "See ya later, cowboy!"
Since as we know, hats = one's personal identity for the day.
And of course, ice cream too. The always really good, bad idea.
Thanks for the love all these summers, Harper's Ferry. We're glad we found you that one time.

living in

Thursday, July 17

 Shoes: Carrini via Nordstrom Rack, Dress: Remain via Nordstrom Rack, Hat: Free People

Living in this dress. Living FOR this dress. Experiencing great happiness in this dress. Wearing this dress an inexcusable number of times. This dresssssssssss. I'm sorry, but at 8 months pregnant in July, ANYTHING that is this breathable, has no waistbands, and doesn't make me feel like a tent, is like a freaking unicorn to me.

I will proudly share that this find is straight from the all new Nordstrom Rack.com. The site is powered by HauteLook which is a company I love and have used many a time in the past. Makes things easy when there are two good stores, and just one checkout. And free shipping over $100 to US, Canada and Australia!

Luckily, the dress isn't maternity so it's super versatile whether you're pregnant or not, and will be great for after this baby comes too. Hopefully. Assuming the fabric can bounce back from that humongous bump. Ha! The test of a true jersey.

Here are a few of my favorite picks from the site right now!

nordstrom rack

1   2   3   4   5   6   7

This post is sponsored by Nordstrom Rack. Thank you so much for supporting the companies that I love and that make this blog possible.

niagara falls

Tuesday, July 15

What the hey, let's go to Canada, is what was said about this last weekend. We were already going to be traveling in upstate New York with Tyson's parents, so we figured we'd just go all the way and check Niagara Falls off the ol' bucket list too. Now, here are the perks of aggressive weekend road-tripping when you're eight months pregnant. If you go with your in-laws, there are 6 extra hands besides your own to haul in and out of hotel rooms. If there are no queen/king sized beds left at your European-esque hotel, you get two, TWO, full sized beds instead. And this is great news for you and your six pillows. And if your in-laws happen to have a suburban, then you're in for a real treat because your husband will be sitting next to your two-year-old in the middle seat, taking care of snacks, games, and all other requests and exchanges, while you get the pillows and the entire backseat to yourself, for all of your adjusting and readjusting needs. And a book and a magazine. You get a book and magazine and hey, a nap too, like it's your very own personal 8-hour vacation.

After we checked-in to our hotel, Everett pulled himself up to the window and was absolutely thrilled watching the falls from a distance. We walked down to the view-decks and he watched all the boats going back and forth on the water and under the falls, and when we told him that we were going to ride on one the next morning, we heard of nothing except for that boat ride the rest of the day.

Niagara Falls in July feels like Virginia's version of a non-humid day in May. In other words, heaven. We spent the first afternoon walking around the city, grabbing some excellent fish and chips, and swimming at the hotel pool. And they had those little spa sample pack things, you know? With an essential oil spray that's supposed to make your pillows put you into the deepest beauty sleep of your life, and a cooling gel for making your pregnant legs, or "shopping legs" relaxed and soothed, etc. And these ones really worked, man. The next morning we got up early and felt like the only souls awake, walking the city streets to breakfast and then down to the docks. It was perfect. If you ever do the boat tour at the falls, I would highly highly recommend taking the off-hours tours in the morning. There were no lines, and only like two other families on the boat besides ours at 9am. The tour after ours at 9:30 was stuffed full.

So back to Everett and his excitement over this ride. That morning he woke up at 5:30, a new record, singing the ABC's and whispering, "Mama! Mama! Wake-up Mama! Let's ride the boat!" Turns out, the IDEA of going on a boat ride next to a big waterfall, and ACTUALLY going on a boat ride next to a big waterfall are two very different things. Getting on the boat was a majorly exciting moment. Looking at the water churning below as the boat started to move, was slightly less exciting. And getting closer and closer to the pounding falls was about the end of all excitement. He kept his head tucked under my neck for the whole trip, stunned into silence by the overwhelming experience of nature so up close and personal. When you get to horseshoe falls {the largest of the falls}, the boat stops for a few minutes and lets you just FEEL what is happening around you. The parts of us that were not under our ponchos got soaked. I wish I could have recorded the majesty of what it felt like to sit under the mist and wind and thunder of so much roaring water, but we kept our camera under our ponchos and took it in. It was beautiful, honestly. Just completely overwhelming. Everett felt a little less strongly about the beauty of the experience, but agreed about the overwhelming part. He kept totally silent, tucked under my arms, clutching his poncho hood to his head, only piping up every few minutes to say, "wanna go home." I felt reallllly bad, he was so brave. Back on solid ground though, he recovered quickly after finding a waterfall snow globe in the gift shop. He's completely mesmerized whenever he watches our iphone video of the experience, and now swears that the ride was both, "Sooooooo fun. And a little scary." Bout sums it up.
I stopped to take a shot of the gardens that we were walking through, when my dear, sweet father-in-law wanted to make sure that he was included, jumping up and down, asking if he was in the shot yet. Am I in it now? How bout now? Can you see my head?
After the boat ride, Nana and Papa took Everett back to the hotel room for some snacks, while Tyson and I walked up to the Niagara Sky Wheel for a view of the falls and the city. We hadn't originally planned on going alone, so it felt very spur-of-the-moment and awesome to get a little bit of alone time. We topped off our walk back to the hotel with a trip to the candy store to get rid of the last little bit of our Canadian bills. Very romantic and stuff, picking out Swedish fish together.

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