On 40 and winging it

Birthday cake

I recently turned 40 and like any good narcissistic Gen x-er I feel as though all the world is turning 40 with me. Every where I turn there are books, op-eds, blog posts, TV shows and films about this wondrous new chapter in life. It’s like we invented it. Which makes sense if you consider that our parents perfected the mid-life crisis, so maybe we can lay claim to the anti-crisis. Most days, I feel so terribly stable and (almost) happy, but there is also an overwhelming sense of relief that I can’t seem to shake. I suspect the following revelation has a little something to do with it.

“There are no grown-ups. We suspect this when we are younger, but can confirm it only once we are the ones writing books and attending parent-teacher conferences. Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently.” – Pamela Druckerman

EVERYONE IS WINGING IT. Truth bomb if there ever was one.

This link to Druckerman’s delightful New York Times opinion piece via Whoorl could not be more spot on. Part of me wishes I had understood that passage in my 20s – when I was mastering the art of self-hatred and comparison. But something tells me some lessons simply aren’t learnable until you’ve lived a little.

I’m so thrilled to be here, at this stage in life. I remember at 18 thinking that I probably wouldn’t live to be 40. Which sounds pretty morbid as I type it, but it’s true. I had no vision for anything past my mid-20s and just couldn’t really imagine any path to grown-uphood. And now I realize there is no path. We’re all just winging it – together.

So, I’m keeping a few things I loved from childhood, like my collection of porcelain figurines that graced my birthday cakes and ditching the crap that never worked in the first place. Broken assumptions that everyone else had it figured out and I would never quite catch up. Here’s to finally getting it. Happy day, my loves.

Happy nontoxic Valentine’s Day: chocolate

clean chocolate

I love nothing more than a bite (or three) of high quality, dark chocolate at the end of the day. I’m happy to spend a little more on a product free from preservatives, artificial colors or flavors. Once you taste good quality chocolate you won’t even bother with the junk your kids come home with – no thanks to that jumbo bag of miniatures. Total waste of time. Sometimes I get really dirty and  scoop a spoonful of peanut butter on to my bites. It’s such a reliable happy maker. I’ve rounded up my favorite bars that I keep in rotation. I also love that spending money on these brands means that I’m supporting the hard working folks who grow the beans and often other well-deserving nonprofit organizations. All of the chocolate makers listed here have heart. Happy Valentine’s Day, loves!

Endangered Species Chocolate, they make my current favorite bar with 88% pure cocoa and 5 grams of sugar. Pretty good when I’m looking for a little boost.

Kakao Berlin, my girlfriend from second grade started this company with her dad and they are making amazing chocolate. I’m so excited to see her dream job take off.

Tcho, tour their facilities next time you’re in San Francisco.

Theo, learn all about their bean to bar process.

Raaka, unroasted chocolate. I just tried the vanilla rooibos and it’s amazing.

This healthy hot chocolate recipe looks pretty cozy. I’ve yet to try hemp seeds, but I’ve got everything in my pantry so this is going on my Valentine’s weekend menu for sure.

Sign me up for this healthy(ish) hot chocolate smoothie from The Chalkboard. Plus, they’re giving you 10 reasons to eat chocolate. As if  you needed more than one.

Do yourself a favor and whip up a batch of these raw chocolate brownie bites found on Mind, Body, Green. They look and sound amazing and I’ll be making some tonight!

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Stay tuned all week for beautifully nontoxic Valentine’s tips and suggestions for a nontoxic love day.

Monday: Give the gift of a rose bush – the gift that truly keeps on giving.
Tuesday: Spray a little clean perfume, it’s true! There are plenty to replace you old toxic favorite.
Wednesday: Clean bubble baths, plus my favorite DIY gift idea for any of your loves.
Thursday: Clean, kissable lips. Enough said.

Happy nontoxic Valentine’s Day: bubble bath

Is there anything more indulgent than a bubble bath? Hands down, my favorite place in my home is the soaking tub. It gets a ton of use. Even a quick foot soak after a long day is enough for me to feel nourished and refreshed. I stock up on bubble baths to   care for every mood and beeswax candles (they purify the air) like it’s my job. That way, bath time always feels like a retreat and a reset. Whether it’s for me or my 5 year old, I make sure tub time is rich with everything needed for a soothing escape. Here are a few of my favorite nontoxic bubble baths – all perfect for gifting your beloved or yourself on Valentine’s Day.

*See below for a refresher on why it’s good to go nontoxic with your fragrances this Valeninte’s Day and beyond.

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EO Nighty Nite Blue Chamomile and Lavender,  $12

I just can’t say enough about EO’s bath products. Their bath salts make me crazy happy and the bubbles come in every scent you could possibly imagine. Next up, I’m trying the rose, geranium and citrus for BALANCE – of which, I need some in my life.

Everyday Shea Calming Eucalyptus Mint, $14

This is my go-to for Emerson, but I often add it to my own baths. She loves the packaging (we have a thing for elephants) and I love the nurturing scent and you just can’t beat the company’s commitment to doing good in the world. They are fair trade certified and proceeds from the bubble bath benefit the Alaffia Healthy Baby Program, which provides nutrition and health care for babies in central Togo (where they harvest the shea butter) during their first 18 months of life.

Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Travel Size, $4.25

Technically, not a bubble bath, but still completely awesome. The peppermint scent is so pure and bright. I love it for a foot soak along with some bath salts. It won’t bubble or foam, but it’s still a delight. It’s also a great shower gel and then, of course, it’s the best aphid solution EVER. Pick up travel sizes in a variety of scents like orange, lavender and rose for a fun gift for a friend. You’ll find endless uses for this stuff throughout your house.

California Baby, $14

Can’t go wrong, here. I’ve loved all their clean products since having a baby of my own, but the bubble bath has remained a fixture in our house well beyond babyhood. I love that each bottle comes with a bubble wand and their formulation actually makes the strongest and biggest bubbles. We have spend years testing this theory. This is always a treat for my girl and when it’s mama’s turn you better believe I add a dash for the added bubble factor.

DIY Scented Bath Salts

Big bang for your buck, here and the easiest gift you’ll ever make. Buy a bag of unscented bath salts. I get mine at Whole Foods Body. Divide it up into small mason jars or Weck jars. Add a couple drops of a high quality essential oil to each. Mix it up with the end of a wooden spoon. Add some tried lavender or rose petals to match your scent. Maybe throw in a small crystal for some hippie power. I’m always partial to a little clear or rose quartz in my life. Seal it up, label it, tie a festive ribbon on it and start making friends. I’m serious, give these out to friends, neighbors and family, but be sure and save one for yourself.

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*Any personal care product that includes the word “fragrance” or “perfume” in it should be treated as a major red flag. This is a catch all term for an endless combination of trade mark protected and often, toxic ingredients – hormone disruptors linked to cancer, sperm damage and thyroid disfunction. Also, common reactions include asthma, wheezing and skin reactions. Not to mention a strong odor that can be just plain offensive to those around you.

But don’t take my word for it, check out what the Environmental Working Group has to say about perfume. And then there’s this study from The President’s Cancer Panel from 2010 where they recommend that pregnant women avoid hormone disrupters found in common perfumes. Manufacturers do not legally have to disclose the chemicals that make up their signature scent so, you really have no idea what’s lurking inside that bottle.

Stay tuned all week for beautifully nontoxic Valentine’s tips and suggestions for a nontoxic love day.

Monday: Give the gift of a rose bush – the gift that truly keeps on giving.
Tuesday: Spray a little clean perfume, it’s true! There are plenty to replace you old toxic favorite.

 

Happy nontoxic Valentine’s Day: flower oils, serums and perfumes

 

Yesterday we established that mainstream, found in your mall or your drugstore perfumes are a thing of the past. Even your fancy pants Chanel #5 needs to go. *See below for a quick reminder about why it’s best to avoid ALL personal care products that list “fragrance” or “perfume” in it’s ingredients. Today I’m loading you up with tons of indulgent options. Whether it’s citrus, vanilla, spice or rose notes you are sure to find a new, clean signature scent – sans synthetics.

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1. Tata Harper Love Potion, $80

Tata Harper’s mission is to “create products that contribute to our health, wellbeing and peace of mind.” She makes beautifully crafted oils and fragrances on her Vermont ranch that feel luxurious and smell great. Bonus points for packaging up that Love Potion in an adorable throw back bottle.

2. Honore Des Pres Vamp, $98

This is the gold standard of clean fragrance. Made in France without any synthetics? Impressive. There’s a scent for everyone available at Spirit Beauty Lounge, one of my favorite clean beauty stores.

3. One Love Organics Body Serum Gift Set, $110

I love a great serum for soothing winter weathered skin. A gift pack is fun for playing with different scents. Lavender on the neck and hands at bedtime. Neroli all over for date night. There are so many options. I also love treating my daughter to a foot rub at bedtime with the scent of her choice and I’m pretty sure she’d happily take this over a box of conversation hearts on Valentine’s day.

4. Lotus Wei Infinite Love, $45

Lotus Wei serums, mists and perfumes were my gateway into clean fragrance. Once I smelled Infinite Love and Inner Peace the transition to honestly natural and pure scents was easy. I cannot say enough good stuff about their products. I can recommend any thing on their site with confidence.

In the words of Tate Harper, “beauty products should contribute to your health, not compromise it.” Preach it!

Have you made the switch to a clean fragrance, yet? Do you have a favorite product to recommend? I’d love to hear about it so please share. I’d also love to hear which brand you might be thinking about giving up in honor of Valentine’s Day.

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*Any personal care product that includes the word “fragrance” or “perfume” in it should be treated as a major red flag. This is a catch all term for an endless combination of trade mark protected and often, toxic ingredients – hormone disruptors linked to cancer, sperm damage and thyroid disfunction. Also, common reactions include asthma, wheezing and skin reactions. Not to mention a strong odor that can be just plain offensive to those around you.

But don’t take my word for it, check out what the Environmental Working Group has to say about perfume. And then there’s this study from The President’s Cancer Panel from 2010 where they recommend that pregnant women avoid hormone disrupters found in common perfumes. Manufacturers do not legally have to disclose the chemicals that make up their signature scent so, you really have no idea what’s lurking inside that bottle.

Stay tuned all week for beautifully nontoxic Valentine’s tips and suggestions for a nontoxic love day.

Monday: Give the gift of a rose bush – the gift that truly keeps on giving.

 

 

 

Less is more, always

The older I get, the clearer I become on the value of simplicity. I’d rather have one or two great fitting pairs of jeans than a closet full of trendy, ill-fitting, or someday-I’ll-loose-five-pounds and those will fit pairs of space hogs. When I focus on quality versus quantity of anything my overall experience of that item becomes expansive, deeply satisfying and rich.

Same goes for food. Don’t  get me wrong. I love seeing the sheer abundance and variety at my farmer’s market, but I’m happier when I return home to review the considered items I selected and I can think clearly about how I’m going to enjoy that food throughout the week. Like a toddler, I am easily overwhelmed. Less is always more. I get it.

Over the past few months I’ve made massive changes to my own personal diet and thankfully it’s started to trickle down to my daughter’s eating habits. When she complains of hunger I give her a few simple choices. Some nuts, a few olives, cheese, an apple, perhaps? This usually gets her thinking about whether she’s really hungry or just bored and looking for something to fill an existential void. As a treat, she gets a yogurt tube. We can debate the issue of cultivating a fast food culture through tubes of liquid food another day. These are treats in our home and it’s a modern convenience I’m happy to live with.

PMD yogurt tubes

But, all fast food is not created equal. I knew these little tubes were filled with sugar and I tried to sooth myself by saying that at least I wasn’t buying brands that are filled with artificial colors and hey, there’s protein and calcium in there! The Trader Joe’s brand is colored with beet juice, but why does it need to be colored in the first place? But to top it off, it also contains “natural flavors” – a huge red flag. And carrageenan – a very common additive in organic and “natural” processed foods that I am working to avoid. (Check your labels, friends. It’s everywhere.) Not to mention, the TJ’s brand has 11 ingredients, which seems a little excessive in something as simple a yogurt.

Enter Siggi’s. It’s got four ingredients, no added flavors or colors and has six grams of sugar (compared to 9 grams in the TJs brand). From their packaging to their formulation, they are keeping it simple and for that I’m grateful. Emerson is happy and I’m happily throwing out the last of the icky TJ’s brand. The one downer is that they are not certified organic. But for now, I’m accepting this as one of our only non-organic dairy and produce items. I’ve emailed Siggi’s through their website to ask about this issue and am awaiting a response.

P.S. I have not been paid to write about this brand. I simply felt it was time to talk about kid-related food choices and so far, I’m really happy with the switch in my household. I would love to share some of your stories. Have you made any lasting changes to your children’s eating habits that you’d be willing to share, here? Let me know and maybe this could become a regular feature.

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