Taking 30 Minutes For Me


Now, more than ever, I’ve found that taking 30 minutes to relax and rejuvenate each day allows me to be the best version of myself. I was told by multiple parents that it’d be hard, especially during these first few months, to find time to do much more than shower each day but, if possible, take 30 minutes to invest in myself. I took this advice to heart, and thanks to Bo’s support, have been able to enjoy at least 30 minutes each day the past few weeks to relax and disconnect. This is the one time each day when I allow myself to be free of a to-do list, any household chores and just indulge in my favorite things.  After seeing a few other people share their self-love or self-care routines, I thought it’d be fun to share mine.

By 9:30 most nights Katie is fast asleep in her bassinet and I am able to transition my mind to relaxation. I head downstairs and pour myself a glass of wine, before going back into our bedroom. I often reach for an oaky Chardonnay or a fruity Pinot Noir and am working my way through the bottles we bought during our Babymoon in California. Once I’m back upstairs, I light my favorite Diptyque candle and then change into something more comfortable. After wearing a nursing bra and clothes that are nursing-friendly but not necessarily the most feminine or flattering, I spend my nights in something a bit more feminine. When Lively offered to send me a pair of set of their matching bra and underwear, I laughed, thinking that there could be no worse time to offer lingerie to a woman. In fact, I dreaded taking them out of the bag, fearing the way my post baby body would feel in the black bra and underwear. Much to my surprise, I’ve started wearing them multiple nights a week as the silky, soft bra and underwear set is feminine but comfortable. The bralette is a perfect sleeping bra while the mesh trim makes it more fun than anything else in my drawer. Want to try Lively? You can use code AMB-healthyhappier to receive $10 off your order! 

The next order of business is trying to get my skin in order with a combination of brightening potions. A few nights a week I apply the Beauty Counter Brightening Face Mask while the other nights I apply the Brightening Facial Oil followed with a night moisturizer and eye cream. While I’d love to use one of the many stronger brightening products (specifically Rodan+Fields Reverse) you all recommended, most of them aren’t recommended for use during breast feeding due to the retinol. If you have another recomendation, please let me know as I’m tired of this pregnancy mask! I have also started using a moisturizing hand cream each night since the daily bottle scrubbing has started to wreak havoc on my hands.

Finally, I squeeze in 15 to 30 minutes of reading before going to sleep. While I initially found myself reading parenting and baby books, I have decided to switch gears and save those for daytime while my evening reading is strictly reading for pleasure. The stack of books next to my bed is embarassing and clearly points to a naive new mom who thought she’d spend all her nursing hours reading, only to realize that her baby currently requires two hands to hold and cuddle while nursing.  These are the books I’ve renewed multiple times at the library and am finally finding time to read now that Katie’s sleep is allowing me this nightly routine.

What books are you loving right now? What is part of your self-care routine?

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Natural Body & Beauty Products

These days, it seems everywhere you look there are articles discussing the number of chemicals we put on or in our bodies. While I’ve focused over the past few years on eating less processed foods, it wasn’t until I found out that I was was pregnant with Katie, that I truly started to think about making changes to my daily routine.

I read numerous articles which shared unbelievable facts regarding the number of chemicals women put on their face and body on a daily basis. There are a number of websites and apps that rank and review products, most notably EWG Skin Deep site and the Think Dirty app.  Keep in mind, my personal philosophy with natural products is to take everything that I read with a grain of salt, realizing that many articles are influenced by other factors. In addition, I am focused on making small changes not a radical change. The change did not come overnight, nor have I moved to a fully natural lifestyle. My favorite under eye cream is definitely not natural and I still believe that a certain level of chemicals are needed to cut through tough grease. I fully believe that similar to diet, the choices we make are very personal. So far, it seems that each month we slowly increase the number of more natural products that we use, ranging from hand soap to shampoo. But, after receiving multiple requests from you all following some Instagram Story posts, today I am ready to share a few products that I personally love.

Natural Beauty

Below are a few products that I’ve discovered through recommendations, meandering through the aisles, research, and friends. None of these products were provided to me through sponsored posts or blogger samples. Since I’ve had a few people ask, I often buy online via Amazon and Thrive Market (save 15% with that link) or I look during my Whole Foods and Target shopping trips as both have a very good assortment of natural products at various price points.

  • Deodorant – Anyone who has worked out with me or followed me on social media knows that I sweat A LOT.  Since giving birth, my hormones inbalances have just made me sweat more. It’s the worst feeling to smell your armpits while attempting to nurse your daughter. At the same time, since my armpits are so close to where she breast feeds, I wanted to find a more natural deodorant option, at least while breast feeding. Luckily, within a one week period three different people recommended Schmidt’s Deodorant. The citrus scent is perfect for Summer and the formula effectively keeps me dry and fresh smelling all day. I’ve been using the deodorant non-stop for the past month and have been very pleased with the results, even in the hot, sticky weather we had last week.
  • Body Wash – Alba Botanica Very Emollient Honey Mango Shower Gel – After seeing this large body wash bottle in Whole Foods and Target’s natural beauty section, I decided to give it a try after reading rave reviews on multiple websites. A sucker for scent, I love the refreshing, fruity smell and the formulation leaves my skin soft and hydrated.
  • Shave Cream – Alba Botanica Mango Vanilla Moisturizing Shave Cream – During pregnancy, anytime I shaved I found that my legs were scaly and dry. Never a fan of using body lotion, I tried to find a more hydrating shave cream instead. This thick cream contains aloe vera and vitamin E which leaves my legs and underarms smooth without irritation. I will admit that some people may get annoyed with how thick it is, but I’m happy to rinse my razer a few times during the shaving process to get super smooth and hydrated skin.
  • Face Wash – Amara Organics Facial Cleanser – Since discovering this natural face wash through Julie’s blog back in early April, I’ve been a loyal fan. The face wash contains 15% Vitamin C as well as aloe, rosehip oil and tea tree oil. It’s strong enough to remove my makeup while gentle enough to use both morning and night without leaving my skin feeling dry. In fact, I found that it has gradually helped brighten my skin especially as I’ve dealt with pregnancy mask or skin discoloration related to pregnancy.  If you don’t believe my review, check out the more than 500 five-star reviews on Amazon!

I’d love to hear your recommendations for more natural products, especially shampoo, conditioner, counter cleaner and mascara.

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Holiday Gift Guide – Gifts Under $25

This year, I have four different occasions calling for Secret Santa gifts. Even though I should be accustomed to this aspect of the holiday season, each year I feel clueless. After searching the internet for ideas, I’ve pulled together my top picks of under $25 gifts.  You won’t find any gift cards included in this post as I do my best to avoid gift cards. Even though they can make the perfect gift, I find them a bit too impersonal. I’ve done my best to include at least a few items that can be given to males, majority of items which are workplace appropriate and of course the four items I’ve picked for this year’s Secret Santa gifts.

Secret Santa Gifts Under $25

  • We buy both the traditional peppermint back and the cup version in bulk on Black Friday as it’s the perfect gift for neighbors, co-workers and family alike. If you’ve never tried it, they give out samples during the hoilday season in all the William-Sonoma stores. Trust me, one sample will turn into five if you’re like me. $12-$25
  • This Ole Henriksen On-The-Go set is perfect for that friend who is always dashing from her workout to the next social commitment or spends a lot of time jet-setting. $15
  • Over 8,200 consumers have made the KMASHI External Battery Bank the best selling iPhone batter pack on Amazon! The compact power bank can charge to iPhone, iPad, and Android at rapid speed and contains 6.5 hours of charging when full! $11.89
  • This Sephora Perfume Travel Sampler is perfect for any female as she is sure to like one of the seven scents featured in this mini set. Even better, she can exchange the included voucher for a FREE rollerball or travel spray of her favorite fragrance! $25
  • This Contigo 20 oz snap seal travel mug makes the perfect gift for anyone on your list! A spill-proof way to carry a smoothie, coffee or other favorite beverage to the office, this will quickly become their favorite to-go mug! $12.99
  • This candle brand has a cult following and now that they’ve made a mini size in six different scents, it will make anyone’s home smell delightful during the holidays and beyond. $12.00
  • This tiny Bluetooth speaker will allow everyone on your list to enjoy great sound quality wherever they go. Perfect for beach weekends, home office, cooking in the kitchen or at the park, this delivers up to 12 hours of sound! $15.85
  • This Jack Black Lip Balm set is perfect for anyone on your list! The hydrating and SPF protecting lip balm comes in four delicious flavors ranging from mint to mango. The brand makes it masculine enough for a guy but the benefits make it perfect for everyone! $25
  • This scarf will keep both men and women alike warm and cozy regardless of whether that’s in their freezing office or on the commute. $16.50
  • An ornament that is personalized to their hobbies, interests or their city is a great gift for anyone on your list who decorates a Christmas tree each year.  I typically find great ornaments at Anthropologie, Macy’s and Paper Source!

Your turn: What’s the best Secret Santa gift you’ve received or given? 

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