Month: July 2017

Creating Clean Beauty Care

Family Inspiration Self-care Simplicity

Creating Clean Beauty Care

It feels unavoidable, everywhere I see stories about the dangers of using beauty products that are full of known toxins and hormone disruptors. Perhaps that’s because I have an interest in that topic and seek it out – who knows? Regardless, I thought it might be worth sharing some good resources in this area in case you have it on your list of things to research. It’s actively been on my list for years and that’s essentially why I began making my own lip balm and soap. If I’m already doing the homework, might as well share my notes.

I choose not to use fragrances in my lip balm, soap and bath salts because I started making these products to avoid those very things. I prefer plant based scents that essential oils provide and clay for natural colorants.

Mother's Day Gift Set
Peace Gift Set

I enjoy making a lot of personal care and cleaning products for my family, some of them don’t work well but many of them are exactly what I needed and all I did was scrounge up a bunch of ingredients around my house that I already had. *Special note, I do not enjoy the actual cleaning part.     : )-

It helps if I remind myself that I don’t need the perfect mason jar bottle with a cute label to get the job done. An old spray bottle or random jar has more often than not been the trusty container. And it doesn’t need to be instagram worthy, it just needs to make my family healthier. (I save the mason jars for my bath salt orders!)

Some good resources on this topic include:

If you’re more of a listenerThe Living Experiment

This episode goes into good detail on parabens, phalates and SLS and why to avoid them.

If you’re more of an online researcherThe Environmental Working Group

This website has been a go-to for me for years. They have a feature in the app where you can scan a barcode of the product and, if they’ve researched it, the score and details come up. They also produce a worthwhile sunscreen guide that I use every summer for my family.

If you’re a book in hand typeThe Honest Life, The Natural Beauty Solution, and Pure Soapmaking, and Kinder Homes: 50 Ideas for Creative Living are on my bookshelf.

I hope some of the resources shared above are helpful to you. Please share your favorite resources on the topic if you have any goodies!

xo,
Marjorie

 

Now What? On Choosing Authentic Self-Expression

Identity Inspiration

Now What? On Choosing Authentic Self-Expression

I remember vividly the emotions I felt in the wake of graduating from college. I used to dutifully do my work to come home often feeling totally empty. I was on the edge of my seat wondering when the awesome feeling of “I did it, I’m HERE, WORLD!” would hit me. Sometimes I waited for this feeling on my porch drinking beer. Or I waited for it while I watched Lost. I waited for it while I bounced around like a ping pong ball doing all the things that everyone asked me to do – the things I thought I should be doing.

The more I read peoples stories, have conversations and just look around, I see that many of us share this feeling of now what? at some point in life. For some, it permeates our whole life. For others it seems to come and go.

For me, the shift came with the transition to parenthood while finding my voice through therapy concurrently. I became aware of how automated most of my decisions had been up to that point in my life and my awareness grew as I learned to follow my curiosity in every aspect of life.

Authentic self-expression can help us make choices again and again that are in alignment with our top strengths. And that is what I understand the core of Positive Psychology to be.

You can take the character survey here for free to help you identify your top 5 strengths. Once you have them, use that information to generate opportunities for exercising those strengths daily as a foundation to leading an authentic life – one that is true to you and not the automated shuffle of everyone else that we can easily get stuck in like ants in honey.

For more on this, here’s a brief article on fostering authentic self-expression as a parent, teacher or supportive human.

My top 5 Strengths from the survey are: Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence, Love of Learning, Love, Humor & Curiosity.

Go get yours! And let them make you smile and look inside of yourself. Share yours if you feel inclined. If not, you might record them in a notebook and ponder ways to cultivate activities that are in alignment with them.

Be well,

Marjorie

 

Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

Herbal Joy

Creating Inspiration Simplicity

Herbal Joy

Last year for Mother’s Day, I asked for an indoor herb garden in the kitchen. Sean took the kids to ikea alone (a gift in and of itself) and gathered the pots and racks and then actually HUNG them on the wall for me. It took many hours, this gift I asked for and he did it with love and grace. It was the best.

We planted herbs and watched them sprout and we were all so giddy. Then I neglected them and they all died. The end.

Plants dying has been a theme in my life until this summer when I declared that would no longer be the case! It’s not unusual to see me leaving the library with gardening books…that never get read. This time, I found a great book on homesteading and their herb section was short and sweet. I was determined to grow and nurture herbs this summer. I feel really connected to small herb plants, they bring me so much joy whenever I am in their presence. I need them in my life and I realized no one can make them stay alive for me except for me.

Potted thyme

I took some notes from my homesteading book in the late winter so when spring rolled around, I’d be ready. Honestly, the only thing I took note of was the importance of having holes in the bottom of pots and I learned how to drill a hole in them on youtube because many of my ikea pots didn’t have holes already. I know, this is basic but was big for me.

I also learned about adding gravel to the bottom of the pots for extra drainage, before the dirt goes in. So I walked out back to my gravel patio, grabbed a few handfuls and threw it in the bottom of my basil pot – because for that one I was using an actual metal pot with no holes. I’m also blessed with daily encouragement from my beautiful green thumb neighbors, Lynn and Yvonne.

And then I just had to remember to water them.

Mint and Rosemary

That was all a few months ago and I’m happy to report all of my green babies are still alive and thriving! The original crew: Lavender, thyme, mint, rosemary and basil have brought me so many smiles in the past couple of months. I bought all of them except the basil, which I grew from seed (!!!), at the Meadowbrook farm.

I like to throw some thyme, basil and mint in my scrambled eggs. I use the thyme and rosemary for skillet chicken at least 2x a week. I’m loving herbal water – adding mint and/or basil to our water and letting it sit for a few hours or overnight, it’s so refreshing!

I haven’t used the lavender yet, but I touch it and talk to it all the time. Maybe that’s all I need it for, I don’t know yet. When the first purple flowers opened, I was so proud of myself.

Cute herb spoon

And to reward myself for doing so awesome, last month when I was selling my soaps at the Morris Arboretum, I bought these CUTEST little spoon signs from a fellow vendor and added them to my little beauties. These things honestly had me looking up hand-stamped jewelry machines because I want to make a million of them!!!

To further reward myself, I added two new herbs to the family: lemon verbena and roman chamomile. I chose lemon verbena to add to water and possibly make tea with and the roman chamomile is such a soothing smell, I had to have it.

Rosemary Herb sign spoon

I get a lot of inspiration from the nerdy farmwife, so maybe someday I’ll start making herbal infused waters/teas to use in my soap recipes, but for now the main focus is to remember to water the plants daily and sit next to them and enjoy them.

Some other awesome herbal resources that I found include: thyme herbal and avivia romm md.

What’s your favorite way to use fresh herbs?

Happy Summer!

xoxo

Marjorie Sarah

 

Mexico = Vacation

Adventures & Travel Inspiration Self-care

Mexico = Vacation

“Willing to relocate,” was a phrase I put at the bottom of my resume in English class when I was 16. My mom and sister thought it was hilarious, but I was not joking. I’ve always been a wanderer, and if it’s not in the physical sense, it’s through hearing other people’s stories of their travels, books and dreams. Sean, my partner in this life, has the same desire to wander, it’s something that we share and talk about often. We enjoy taking adventures together, just the two of us, and it has been a while.

Riviera Maya Resort
Walking to dinner!!!

I never imagined we’d be ready to go anywhere without the kids until we were finally ready. Three nights in Mexico (!!) alone! It was a bit surreal, so so fun and everything I’d dreamed it would be.

I wouldn’t say we traveled often before kids, but for a while we took some pretty great trips during our dating years and early marriage. I’d studied in Italy and Sean was later stationed in Italy and Germany with the Air Force so we got to spend some time abroad together. Then in the 6 months before I was pregnant with Brady, we got to travel to St. John for my best friend’s wedding and then we did a 2 week journey from London to Rome.

Then we had kids. : )

Riviera Maya Resort
Grand Princess Sunset Resort

I’m an advocate of traveling with kids if that’s what you want to do. And it has been what we have chosen some of the time. We’ve ventured to Portland, Oregon, the Jersey Shore, Charleston and the Hudson Valley. Nothing too wild, but just enough for us to satisfy our cravings to discover new land, food and people.

We both love to travel and really enjoy it together so to be able to take a mini adventure with just each other was a huge gift (thank you to Sean’s parents and my mom).

I truly enjoy travel research and poking around to find a location and a place to sleep that is unique and fits our tastes. I like to build trips for our family.  So when we decided that we may be ready to spend 3 nights away without the kids (I originally proposed 2 nights and Sean countered with, “If we say three you have a deal.”) I got to work searching any and all direct “islandy” flights from Philadelphia. Our tropical destination awaits!

But then reality set in and the prices of airfare were nowhere near in our price range. I searched and searched and used all my travel notes and favorite resources to no avail. I concluded the search and told Sean, “If we’re meant to go, the right trip will find us.”

Grand Sunset Princess Resort Beach Mexico
The beach!!!

I kid you not, that evening we were watching something on TV and a commercial for Apple Vacations came on. I don’t remember the specifics, but the ad was something about $550 per person for 3 or 4 nights in Cancun including airfare, lodging, food, airport transfers and taxes. We paused the TV and were like, “Huh? How can this be real???” Well, I opened up the vacation search again and after some quick emails with Apple Vacations we were booked and going to Riviera Maya for 3 night getaway!!!!

Our contact at Apple was amazing, the process was ridiculously easy, the price was great and the trip was outstanding.

We flew Frontier (no complaints, actually really enjoyed it because the plane was new and the crew was super friendly), we stayed at the Grand Princess Sunset Resort in Riviera Maya. It was picture perfect. I honestly didn’t expect to be wowed because of the price, but we totally were. The grounds were gorgeous, the rooms were clean and pleasant and the staff was great. For an all-inclusive, the food was good, never great, but that is what I expected.

If you are considering this resort, here are my notes. If not, skip this paragraph.

  • If you go with kids, there is a kid building with pool and cute little kid lounge chairs. They have push cars to borrow and other fun things. Kids are welcome everywhere but this area really caters to families. We checked it out for future reference. We also talked to families and they all loved it.
  • The Platinum rooms are closest to the beach and are an upgrade that we wanted but were not available. Honestly, I’m not sure if it’s even necessary because our room category (Junior Suite Deluxe) was perfect as it included the extra restaurants.
  • There is a shuttle that takes you to Playa Del Carmen daily for $4 per person each way.
  • One night a week they bring in local merchants and have a market in the hotel square. It was so cool.
  • Don’t go to the steakhouse. We enjoyed the Mexican Restaurant and La Fleur.
  • They stock your fridge daily with plenty of bottled water (and beer).
  • At the pool bar, try the Alexander if you like Baileys, try the Mango Tango if you like rum.
  • Dance at the nightclub.

The first two days were rainy and it was still a party. We went swimming in the rain, drank at the pool bar (excellent people watching) and went dancing at the resort night club. The energy at the resort was awesome and everyone was so excited to be on vacation.

Nearly everything went right for us on the trip and it was so fun to just sit and talk with my best friend for hours uninterrupted.

Grand Sunset Princess Resort Mexico

Top photo credit: Pineapple Supply Co.