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Mommy Must-Haves: The First Months

In honor of Mother’s Day I thought I would write about a few of my most-used and most-beloved baby-related gear!

#1 Down Under

Here again is that old “put on your own oxygen mask before you help someone else with theirs” theory!  Caring for our precious mini-mes can practically become an obsession, I know, and while I hate to sound like a parrot, it really is so important to remember our own self-care.  This is especially important after giving birth.  Talk about an experience, to me someone might as well have celebrated the Fourth of July down there, firecrackers and all.  I have heard tell of women whose recovery from a vaginal delivery went simply hunky dory.  I myself am still wondering if there is in fact a true recovery yet to come in my story.  Honestly, this is definitely an area I intend to be much better prepared for next time…

Some things I personally appreciated were:

~A sitz bath

~A soothing perineal spray (I thought New Mama Bottom Spray smelled as nice as it felt)

~Witch hazel

~Hydrocortisone cream (can you say f#@% hemorrhoids?!)

~Very soft seating or a pillow to sit on (think Boppy-style)

~”Don’t care” underwear (big, comfy, and not afraid to catch a leak)

~Postpartum, aka extra-long with wings, pads (my favorite is Natracare)

#2 Look Mom, No Hands! 

When I received a Moby wrap at my baby shower I immediately thought “okay, I am now ready for this baby.”  It was that one thing I did not know I was waiting for and it magically flipped a switch for me.  Baby-wearing is da bomb.  I will admit there was a slight learning curve in the beginning but truly not an overwhelming one.  For me, baby slings, wraps and carriers are on the expensive side so I do not have a wealth of knowledge with regards to a variety of products, but overall I totally think they are a fabulous idea for most everyone.  Like I said, I have the Moby wrap and I think it is wonderful.  Cooking, cleaning, watering the garden…together we are the chore conquerors.  We even managed a bit of nursing while using the wrap and taking a hike last weekend – so proud!

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#3 Order Up  

My own “girls” have never been something I have needed to pay much thought to.  Small, easy to dress, really no effort required.  Yeah until about three days postpartum.  I was worried throughout my pregnancy about my physical ability to breastfeed – no specific reason why, I just was worried.  Thankfully there was no need to fret about keeping the baby fed.  There was, however, the issue of keeping us both dry during those first few weeks of learning how to feed a baby.  The biggest problem, you see, is that both boobs seem to like to work simultaneously…This is where breast pads and a nursing bra come in handy!  Really I would forgo the bra except for that it helps keep the pads, which are what keep you dry, in place.  I had about twelve pairs of reusable breast pads and they worked marvelously for me.

#4 Scrub-a-Dub-Dub There’s a Baby in the Tub 

Showering with your baby works, but it is pretty darn slippery.  Using the regular bathtub also works, but I think it uses an awful lot of water for one little baby.  The sink is also an option, but I just get wigged out and it seems gross to me for some reason.  I favor the baby bathtub myself.  Having a large bathroom counter to set it on is ideal (no crouching!), but I do not have that so I just set it in the regular tub and sit on the bathroom floor.  The baby tub I have has a removable lounge-thingy/support so once she outgrows it she can still use the tub to sit in with plenty of room (I really cannot figure out what to call this so I will just post a picture).  Finding bathing equipment you think is convenient and efficient is especially important if you plan on using bath-time in your sleep/bedtime routine!  This lovely tub was a gift from my mom and it works perfectly for us.  It even has a mini-sprayer attachment that works great for rinsing baby’s hair.

#5 Baby It’s Cold Outside

Where I live there is a possibility of snow from at least October through May, and even June if we go visiting an hour into the mountains.  Since baby spends their first year riding in the rear-facing infant car seat I found it to be worthwhile to invest in more than just blankets.  My preference for keeping baby cozy was a quilted carrier cover.  It stretches over the seat but leaves the handle free and has a zipper down the middle and face flap with Velcro.  I can use blankets under the cover as well as add a blanket over the entire seat if I need to.  It is like a coat for the carrier seat, and since it uses elastic to stay in place there is no wrestling required.  Perfect!

#6 Are You Calling Me a Worrywart?!?

Okay, so maybe I am a bit of a worrywart…but you really cannot argue that having a good thermometer on hand is a bad idea.  One of the things I had on my baby shower registry was a temporal thermometer and my aunt (who may or may not also be considered a worrywart) was sweet enough to get it for me.  Maybe it was a strange thing to put on my registry but I am super thankful to have one.  Of course a good ole rectal temperature is going to be the best way to assess a baby, but I figure why bother them like that unless I have a reason to really worry – which I can get from my temporal thermometer with ease!

Of course this is not an all-inclusive list but these are some of my for-sure favorites.  Let me know if I have dorked out and missed something obviously essential because that is not totally unlikely 😉

~Christine xoxo

And Then It All Went To…You Know.

I love making plans.  Like really, planning can probably be classified as one of my passions.  Planning the bigger stuff such as birthday parties, trips to the zoo, holiday activities, family outings – totally my thing.  Planning the smaller stuff such as grocery shopping, trips to the bank, dinners, what the kids are going to wear – also totally my thing.  If a list can be made, it will be.  If an alarm can be set, it will be.  If something can be done ahead of time to help an event go smoother, it will be.  The truth is that attempting to get my ducks in a row consumes most of my day and I usually enjoy it.

And in comes God.

This is how it goes, either:

  1. I make this glorious plan, I work my derriere off to complete the plan, it works, and I feel awesome! And completely exhausted.  Or…
  2. I make a glorious plan, I work my derriere off to complete the plan, it fails, and I feel excessively frustrated. And completely exhausted.  Or…
  3. I make a glorious plan, I work my derriere off to complete the plan, it fails, GOD takes over and does something beyond my ability to comprehend that is SO much better than I ever could have pulled off, and I feel incredibly blessed and humbled. And completely exhausted.

Of course the majority of the time #3 is what happens, and while I can get frustrated in the moment, I ALWAYS find myself thanking Him profusely in the end.  God is so much better at this than me.

Here is one of my favorite examples…

The summer of 2012 I was working in the fitness center at my college.  If you have ever compared a college campus during the summer to a college campus during the fall/winter you will understand how bored I was most of the summer.

I had finished my prerequisites for nursing school and was on the wait list to start the program. The wait list was two years long and I had previously decided I wanted to continue taking classes so I would not “get out of practice” with regards to being in college. I do not know if this made sense or not but at the time it did to me.  Anyway, I took two years of classes while on the nursing program wait list and in the summer of 2012 I was looking at my transcripts when I realized I was really close to having earned my A.G.S.  If I adjusted my fall semester classes I would finish the requirements and have something to show for my two years!  Exciting!  However!  Registration for fall semester had already opened a couple of months prior.  The way I did things all throughout college was to register at 12am the day registration opened so I could get into the exact classes I wanted.  This is what I did every semester without fail.  If I wanted to complete the requirements for earning my A.G.S. I would have to change my schedule and register for classes I never would have registered for before.  Such as a College Algebra class that started at two o’clock in the afternoon.  Now this may not sound like a big deal to the average Joe, but to me this was craziness!  I did not know what to do, and in the end it took one of my coworkers convincing me that it was a “great idea” to change my schedule.

So fall semester started and I show up to my first College Algebra class shortly before two in the afternoon (this was the first time I had taken a math class any later than 10am).  I always prefer to sit towards the front of the classroom for math but since I was running a bit behind that day my options were limited.  There was one seat remaining in the front row.  It was in-between two guys…not usually my style to sit with dudes…  I scanned the room a second time and did not find a better option.  I sort of knew one of the guys because we both worked on campus.  The other guy I did not know, although I later figured out I had helped him register for the Fitness Center six months earlier.  Little did I know that I would one day get to know that other guy well enough to marry him.

Thankfully God has a plan and although I may stray or throw a tantrum when He steps in I always manage appreciate the twists and turns in the end.

Okay, so the entire reason I started writing this post – I absolutely wanted to complain about the not-so-pleasant winter season we had this year!  Then I remembered that someday I will look back and find the hidden gems in it all.  It absolutely could have been so much worse and I am incredibly thankful it was not.  Honestly I have been writing this post for weeks now and if it ever gets published it will be an accomplishment for sure!  But at this point I have realized that as much as it sucks to be right in the middle all the mess and chaos it will all turn out alright in the end and I have so much to find joy in.

~Christine xoxo

Oh THANK Goodness!

It is November and that means we all get to write about and share the things for which we are grateful, hooray!

Latex gloves

Oh the mysterious and adventurous places we put our hands.  Oh the unpleasant, atrocious, and malodorous substances we encounter with our fingers.  Oh the diseased, peculiar, and sometimes just too private objects that cross our palms.  Thank goodness for gloves.  And yes, this comes from the perspective of a nurse.

Yoga Pants

Need I say more ladies (and perhaps gentlemen)?  This particular piece of apparel is one that so many of us, I am sure, are so thankful for.  Got your period?  Yoga pants.  Feeling under the weather?  Yoga pants.  Nothing else fits?  Yoga pants.  Laundry day?  Yoga pants.  Just having a bad day? Yoga pants.  These black, stretchy, simply genius pants are the answer to all your questions.

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Also known as heaven.  I have sincerely missed this insanely amazing dessert since going gluten free.  Lucky duck that I am though, I have found an almost as good gluten free replacement recipe.  Thank you Pinterest!

Mascara

I am thankful for mascara because I like to look awake and alive sometimes.  Why is it that without proper eyelashes I feel like I could be mistaken for a deep sea fish?  You know all pale, creepy, and weird like.  Hey I would probably even wear falsies (eyelashes, not boobs) if gluing them on did not seem like the biggest mishap just waiting to happen millimeters from my, very sensitive, eyeball.

Here is a short, maybe even a tad humorous, story for you.   The one time I did wear false eyelashes was for a ballet performance.  So you know I am up on stage, tons of people watching, blazing lights in my face, little bit of nerves distracting me, pointe shoes on for Pete’s sake.  BAM!  Huge, black, hairy fake eyelashes are all I can see.  Literally the world is a fuzzy black blur.  “Just keep smiling!  Keep your head upright and your feet on the ground if it is the last thing you do.  Do not fall on your a** like you did during dress rehearsal.”  It did end positively which is why I am here to tell the tale.

Hot Stuff

Heating blankets, heating pads, ovens, furnaces, water heaters, camp fires.  Back off Elsa, I do not care to be made stiff, uncomfortable, chapped, shivery, or otherwise pained by your frozen “magical power” baloney.  Keep me warm and cozy and I will love you forever.  Hot chocolate, hot tea, hot showers…tis the season.

“Tinkle in Your Trousers” Movies

I really love to laugh, and not just at movies.  Funny movies, jokes, comedy skits, some people, some people’s kids…clean, corny, dirty, silly, pun-y sometimes even gross…it is all so fun.  I would like to express my affection and gratitude to, and for, all the amusing individuals in my life – you know who you are (I hope).

Public Restrooms

Last but not least, and speaking of tinkling, the communal potties.  As nasty as they can be, imagine if we did not have these conveniences.  Think about the all the times (hopefully few) you have found yourself without the use of a nearby place to rest and relieve yourself!  What would we all look like if we had to be out and about knowing, with such anxiety in our hearts, that we had to make it home before the time to “you know what” inevitably came around?  And let me throw toilet paper out there too.  Thank you to toilet paper for being one of my closest friends.

 

Obviously this is not an all-inclusive list, even for everything I am thankful for today alone.  I could go on and on with thankfulness but you would eventually become bored and that would be such a shame.  Please leave a note about what you are thankful for in the comments below, or on Facebook, or email me, or something!

Much love to you all and thank you for reading.

Christine xoxo

Easy 9 Minute Day Face


I have to admit I do not wear makeup all that often.  Part of this is because there is a not lot of time to get ready most mornings; usually I am happy if I have on clean clothes and have brushed my hair and teeth.  The second part is that buying makeup regularly can get pretty expensive.  I have sensitive skin so using cheaper brands is not always an option.  On an average day the world simply has to deal with my naked, born this way kisser.

For me and my makeup skills there are three types of faces – “Day Face,” “Fancy Face,” and “Stage Face.”

Day Face

Like it sounds, this is an everyday kind of average makeup technique for me.  It’s simple, easy, and quick.  I like to use lighter colors and light coverage.  The most important part to me is the eyes.

Fancy Face

For me this means getting a little more artistic about my makeup.  Bolder colors, more coverage, and makeup techniques that take more time and more products (e.g. winged eyeliner, contouring, highlighting, etcetera).

Stage Face

I do have some experience with stage makeup as I dance ballet and have used it for a number of performances.  Stage makeup is heavy, as in do not go out in public like this lest you be mistaken for Lady Gaga heavy.  This face requires lots of contouring, highlights, thick application of everything.  It is more of a mask than a face.


So if you are like me, with limited time and resources, but would like to look a bit more presentable and less “just returned from the dead” before you go out into the world then let me share with you my fast and easy 9 minute face!

Step One – Tinted Moisturizer

I have quite dry skin so I like tinted moisturizers for everyday wear. If I have just washed my face I will also use my normal moisturizer before I put on the tinted moisturizer.  My favorite tinted moisturizer right now is the Origins® VitaZing (SPF 15).  It is a “sheer tint release” cream so there is no specific color; it adjusts to your own skin tone when you apply it – magic!  The tube is 1.7 fl. oz. for $37.00 and I usually buy mine at Macy’s.

Step Two – Concealer

I use the Physicians Formula Gentle Cover Concealer Stick in “Light” under my eyes and over any blemishes.  I think this blends and covers quite nicely without being too thick.  The stick is 0.15oz for $5.19 and I buy mine at Target.

Step Three – Eyeliner

Right now I am using Origins® Automagically™ Eye Lining Pencil in “Jet.”  Honestly I do not care for it at all.  I think it is too waxy making it hard to apply evenly and straight.  My favorite eyeliner was a Physicians Formula simple black eyeliner, but last time I went to Target to buy one I could not find it!  Sadly, I cannot remember exactly what it was called either.  Next time I am in need of eyeliner I plan to try out something new from Physicians Formula and I hope it works as well as the other one did.  I only line my top lid for a Day Face.

Step Four – Mascara

Let me tell you, I have tried many a mascara.  In the end I have decided I much prefer mascara that is not waterproof.  This is because I can never get the waterproof crap off and I end up losing eyelashes because of it – definitely not a great thing.  I am not much of a crier and I do not typically have sweat dripping into my eyes so non-waterproof mascara works pretty well most of the time.  My favorite mascara, hands down, is Maybelline® Great Lash in “Blackest Black”.  Seriously, this stuff is the bomb diggity.  I get mine at Target for $4.49 for 0.43 fl. oz.

Step Five – Eyeshadow

Eyeshadow is one of those things that can be easily played with even when doing a 9 minute face.  The color can be changed up to match my mood or whatever color I am wearing.  Yes as a brown eyed girl I get to wear pretty much any color eyeshadow I want, ha!  The color I just absolutely adore right now I think I swiped from my mom for my wedding – it just ended up in my makeup bag somehow and she has not asked for it back…yet.  It is called Shimmer & Glow Luminous Powder from Avon® in “Shimmer Plum (C) Prune Satin (F).”  It might not even be specifically an eyeshadow but oh well!  It is beautiful and I love it.

Step Six – Blush

I have two types of blush I really like.  The first one is the Origins® Pinch Your Cheeks™ Powder Blush in “01 Rose Dust.”  I use this one most of the time because it is easier to apply.  The color is absolutely lovely and looks perfectly natural.  The other one I like is the Origins® Pinch Your Cheeks™ It’s Enough to Make You Blush in “01 Raspberry.”  This is a gel so it is a little harder to apply evenly, but it looks even more natural which I love.  I buy both of these at Macy’s.  The gel is $16.00 for 0.1 fl. oz. and the powder is $25.50 for 0.14 oz.

Step Seven – Powder

Physicians Formula Mineral Wear® Airbrushing Loose Powder is pretty neat stuff.  It can be applied as a foundation, awesome for lazy days, but I use it as a finishing powder.  I like to lightly brush it all over everything except my eyes.  It provides a little more coverage as well as SPF and it is talc-free!  I buy mine at Target for $10.79 for 0.49 oz.

Step Eight – More Eye Business

One of the last steps is to apply Smashbox™ Photo Op Under Eye Brightener to my, you will never guess, under eye.  My friend gave me a sampler of this once and I have been hooked ever since.  I believe it could be used almost as a highlighter if you wanted to, although probably not for something heavy-duty like a Stage Face.  I put a small dab under each eye and pat it gently in.  I buy mine at Sephora for $20.00 for 0.24 fl. oz.

Step Nine – Lips

Last but not least, the lovely lips.  I like to wear a moisturizing lip product as often as possible.  If I am not just wearing chapstick then I like to use Neutrogena® MoistureSmooth Color Stick in either “Soft Raspberry 60” or “Bright Berry 40.”  These are absolutely AMAZING.  They smell SO good, they feel SO nice, and they look SO pretty.  I like to buy mine, again, at Target for $7.99 for a 0.11 oz stick.


Okay so I probably do not use all of these products “properly” and I bet I apply them “out of order” in someone’s opinion.  It works for me and I think it looks pretty dang good.

Please leave your thoughts and/or suggestions in the comments below or via the contact form and if you would like more pictures or maybe a video let me know!

Christine xoxo

My [Long] Hair Care Routine Part Two

Greetings brave readers!  Have you returned to continue the trek through my hair-y blathering?  Welcome then and let us begin part two…

Brushing/Detangling – This is serious business. 

Oh the knots I work myself into.

I first saw the love of my life on a YouTube hair tutorial (I love you torrinpaige!).  My beloved Tangle Teezer©.  This hand-sized plastic beauty performs like no other.  Really, I have not dreaded detangling once since I started using it.

As in part one, gentle is the key.  I start detangling from top to bottom and push the tangles about ¾ of the way down my length, then I switch to working from the bottom up to get the tangles and loose strands all the way out.  Gently.

Another tool I have used for detangling and would recommend you try if it sounds like fun is a wooden comb.  Wooden combs are good for detangling because they do not have seams like other combs may have.  The seams on a comb can catch your hair and cause damage.  In addition to that wooden combs are beautiful and just nice to look at.

Products.  Cha-ching!

My hair can sometimes misbehave and be prone to frizzing.  After I detangle my hair and while it is still wet I like to apply a small amount of anti-frizz serum.  My favorite serum is the John Freida Frizz Ease.  It can be expensive but it lasts me a long time, smells good, and works well to keep my tangles and frizz away!

I  rarely use other products.  When I do it is mostly for special occasions – my wedding, ballet performances, and the like.   My goal in using many products is usually to very strictly keep my hair in a style.  If I use a product I am not messing around ya’ll!

Aussie Miraculously Smooth Gel is one that I like to use.  I have actually been using it daily on the stepdaughter for school and it is great because it gives a pretty good hold without being stiff and chunky!  There is no scent to it so that can be a plus if you are sensitive or do not want to be wearing too many different smells.

Garnier Fructis Style Full Control Anti-Humidity Hairspray Ultra Strong (4) is another one I like.  It works to keep things in place without getting crunchy.  Light but strong is how I would describe it.  At the moment I use this hairspray the most on my eyebrows actually.  This one smells nice and is not too strong or overwhelming.

Aussie Mega Hairspray is another I have used for dance performances and it holds very nicely; this one can definitely be applied to the point of HAIR DOES NOT GO ANYWHERE if you are looking for that.  Very good for dance performances.  This one has a distinctive fragrance to me.  Maybe it is just because we used SO blasted much of it during “The Nutcracker” but it is definitely there and very recognizable in my opinion.  It is not a bad scent though.

That is all I have sitting on my bathroom counter at the moment.  I will definitely continue to go through more of the products I use or have tried and write up some more thorough reviews!

Protective Styles

If you have long hair you would like to keep nice or if you are trying to grow your hair out long it can be nice to use “protective” hair styles on a daily basis.  These hairstyles keep your hair up and out of the way so it can grow without being excessively damaged along the way.  If you are using protective styles to keep your hair nice or to grow it out longer you will want to change it up from day to day and not just use one hairstyle all of the time.  If you use any hairstyle day in and day out you will be putting stress and pressure on the same parts of your hair over and over again causing damage!

Some protective hairstyles I use frequently are:

Braids – English, French, Dutch, Rope

Buns – Pencil, Cinnamon, Nautilus, Rose, Braided

Styles that keep your hair up and out of the way without too much rubbing and that do not cause excessive damage while trying to achieve the up-do are what you are going for.

Trimming and S&D

I cut the husband’s hair and anyone else’s hair who wants me to, but I will only trim mine.  I have no plans to cut or have anyone else cut my hair anytime soon.  If I did plan on having my hair cut I would probably have someone else do it because I am not confident that I could do a good job, not being able to see the back of my head and all.  I think the longer your hair is the easier it is to trim by yourself, though.  I will also cut my own bangs (because that is the front of my head!) but that is also really just a trim for me right now too.

Average hair growth is about 4-6 inches per year.  So when you go to trim off “only 3 little inches,” just remember that is six months of hard-earned growth.  Sometimes though you have got to do what you have got to do, boo.  I always mourn the tiny bits I manage to trim every so often.  Honestly the frequency of my hair trims is based on my mood.  If I am feeling good about how my hair is looking I will just let it be.  If I feel like the ends are starting to look too scraggly and a good conditioning does not help I will probably opt for a wee snip.

S&D stands for Search and Destroy.  I found out about this technique, used to get rid of split ends, on a hair forum I frequent.  Basically you sit in good lighting with a pair of hair scissors and Search for split ends then snip them off (Destroy) one hair at a time.  The advantage to this technique is that you can get rid of split ends without, hopefully, losing too much length.  The disadvantages are that it can be time consuming and you need to have decent enough eyesight to accomplish the task.

How to Measure Hair

Another funny thing you might not know is that there is a “proper way” to measure your hair!  It can be fun to track the length of your hair when you are growing it out.  When I started growing out my hair it was already quite long.  My starting length was about 35 inches and as I stated in part one my current length is about 45 to 45.5 inches.  Over six years only 10 inches of growth is not a ton, but sadly I have definitely trimmed off many, many inches over this time.

To measure my hair I use a soft measuring tape like the kind used for sewing.  I brush my hair straight back and place the end of the measuring tape at the edge of my hair line in the center of my forehead.  Then I carefully align my hair and the measuring tape so neither is bunched up strange and make my way down to the bottom of my hair to read the results.  Gosh, I hope this makes sense.  Let me know in the comments on via the contact page if you need pictures or videos because writing out some of these things is questionable in my opinion!

To get comparable measurements you will want to make sure you measure your hair in the same “condition” every time.  This means if you measure your starting length when your hair is wet, you will want to measure your progress length when your hair is wet.  Or if you measure your starting length when your hair is dry, you will want to measure your progress length when your hair is dry.  Hair is a bit more stretched out, “longer,” when it is wet.

Sleeping In Style

My hairstyle while sleeping is very important to me.  This is because I do not like to have nightmares about being strangled nor do I like waking up unable to move because the husband is laying on my tangled mess of a do.

My preferred sleeping style is a braid.  I have heard of others sleeping in a bun but I do not know how they manage it.  A single braid is more comfortable to me, but I have also slept in two braids (one on either side).  English, French, Dutch, rope– any braid will do.   Because I braid it every night for sleeping I try to change the position of my hair tie on the end so I am not causing too much damage in the same spot.

 

Well my lovely friends I think that just about does it with regards to my basic long hair care routine, thank you for sticking with me!  I hope you found something fun or at least interesting along the way.  Please leave any thoughts, suggestions, and questions in the comments – especially if there is anything you would like to see in the future!

Christine xoxo

My [Long] Hair Care Routine Part One

Happy Sunday everyone!  As I got about 2/3 of the way through writing about my hair care routine I realized it was getting pretty long.  This is a bit scary to me as I thought I was just writing about my “boring” basic hair care and not even any of the fun stuff!  My apology if this brings you to tears, but here I present to you part ONE!

One of my passions is long hair.  Locks of every length are beautiful and hair care is an essential part of keeping your tresses looking healthy and presentable.

My long hair journey has consisted of 6+ years of trial and error so far.  I have not come close to trying every brand of hair product let alone every product that may be appropriate for my hair.  And, unfortunately some of my favorite products have been discontinued.  However, after much time and money I feel I now have a routine that works quite well for my hair type.

Speaking of hair type, did you know there is such a thing as hair typing?  You can do an internet search and learn how to type your own hair.  This can be helpful when learning about hair care from other people, especially via the internet, as using products and techniques that work for one hair type may not necessarily work for another.  When you are figuring out your hair type make sure you are not analyzing with products in your hair as this can definitely throw you off.

My hair type is 2a/M/ii.  This means that my hair is “somewhat wavy” in texture, “medium” in individual hair diameter, and “normal” in thickness overall.  More thorough explanations/definitions can be found online and there is more than one system of hair typing that can be used.  I like to use the hair typing method I have found to be the most common where I find hair care information and such.

Today I am sharing my personal hair care routine!  I cannot say how this routine will work on different hair types, so if you would like to try it out please share your results in the comments below along with your hair type!

Deep Conditioning

If I feel like my hair needs some extra TLC with a deep conditioning treatment I like to do it the night before washing.  My favorite technique is to heavily apply virgin coconut oil all over my scalp and the entire length of my hair.  I then braid it and sleep with the oil in overnight before washing it out the next day.  Yes, the oil will get on the pillowcase during the night – it washes out very easily leaving no staining whatsoever, so do not worry about it!

My preference is to oil my hair overnight but I have heard that as little as 2 hours of oiling can work.  I do not think there is an amount of time that is “too long” to leave the oil in your hair.  Mine has sat there all oily for up to 2 full days without any issue at all.

Another option is to use olive oil if your hair is especially dry.  Olive oil is very heavy so if your hair is not too terribly dry or if you have finer hair I would recommend sticking with the coconut oil.

Washing

Washing is probably one of the trickier parts of caring for my hair because of how long it is.  My hair is 45 inches or down to the middle of my thigh when wet.

  1. Brush out all tangles before getting hair wet.  If the hair is not detangled before            washing then brushing it out afterwards will be much harder and more damaging.
  2. Wet hair thoroughly.
  3. Apply shampoo to top of scalp and also to length.
  4. Massage/gently scrub shampoo into scalp and just “squish” it down the length – no scrubbing the length unless there is something terribly nasty that will not come out otherwise! Do NOT pile the hair on top of the head for scrubbing.
  5. Thoroughly rinse hair.
  6. Apply shampoo to top of scalp and length again then flip head upside-down and apply shampoo to underside of head as well.
  7. Again, massage/gently scrub shampoo into the scalp and “squish” through the length while keeping the head upside-down.
  8. Thoroughly rinse hair again.  This can be done with the head upright.

Squeaky clean!  Because my hair is so long the weight of it, especially once it is wet, makes it difficult to get the shampoo all the way through all my hair.  This is why I wash it twice, once upright and once upside-down.  If you have significantly shorter hair you may only need to wash it once.

The shampoo I use on my hair 99% of the time is an easy homemade recipe and it works beautifully.  It keeps my family’s hair so clean and it is so easy to make.  The shampoo is a liquid, not gel-like in consistency as you may be used to, so you will want to use a bottle you can pour from and not a squeeze-y bottle.

In an approximately 16 ounce bottle combine:

1 part Dr. Bronner’s Baby (Unscented) Castile Soap

1 part warm water

1 to 2 tsp of oil (liquid) of your choice

A few drops essential oil of your choice (optional)

Put on the lid and turn the bottle a few times to mix – do not shake.  Some oils I have tried that work well in this recipe are grapeseed oil, avocado oil, and apricot oil.  I would not use olive oil unless you have excessively dry hair, and even then I have not tried it so it may still be too heavy.  Some essential oils I have tried include orange, lavender, tea tree, rosemary and eucalyptus.  The essential oil is mainly for smelling yummy and therefore is optional.

Conditioning

I do not use conventional conditioner unless I am washing with conventional shampoo and I recommend that you do not either!  If I were to use conventional conditioner after washing my hair with my awesome homemade shampoo it would look greasy and tangle too easily.  Instead, I like to rebalance the pH of my hair by using a rinse.  This works so well to keep it soft and tangle-free as well as to show off the natural texture.

The rinse I use is very simple.  In a water bottle mix:

1 part apple cider vinegar (ACV)

3 parts water

After the hair has been washed:

  1. Poor prepared ACV rinse all over the hair focusing especially on the scalp, but not forgetting the ends.
  2. Let the rinse sit in the hair for about 5 minutes.  I just let it sit while I shave and wash everything else.
  3. Rinse hair thoroughly.

Using the water bottle makes it easy to pour the rinse through the hair.  The ACV does smell quite strong while being used in the shower, but once your hair is dry it should not smell at all.

Drying

When I finish washing my hair I gently squeeze the excess water out.  Never wring your hair out like an old towel or it will start to look like one. After washing my hair I do like to put it up in an old (clean) towel to absorb a bit more moisture before I detangle it.  To avoid tangles even further I like to wrap my hair like this instead of the “traditional” way:

20161106_150236

I never use heat to dry my hair.  I let my hair air-dry after detangling and it does not take longer than an hour as I live in a pretty dry climate.  If I did live in a very humid climate I may consider drying it on a cool setting if I really needed to.

I also will braid my hair while wet and let it dry that way instead of down.  This way I get some nice braid waves.  Again, this works great for me in the dry climate and it might not work as well if I lived somewhere really humid.

 

Well there you have it, part one of my basic hair care routine!  I hope you did not end up drooling on your keyboard before you made it to the end.  Next up will include Brushing/Detangling, Products, and Protective Styles!  I am thinking that some of this content might work better as a video or pictorial tutorial so please feel free to leave any thoughts or suggestions in the comments below.

Christine xoxo

“Pumpkin Patching” – Picking with the Kiddos

As I have said before, I think pumpkins are one of the BEST parts of fall!  Every year I look forward to pumpkin picking.  Being outdoors for the last few comfortable days before the colder weather sets in is a great way to spend family time.  Who doesn’t love a little adventure?

Another great thing about going outside to pick your own pumpkins is that there is so much space!  I like to invite along as many family and friends as we can because out in the patch there is plenty of room for everyone.  The kids get to run amok in the open fields while the rest of us enjoy the fresh air and a brief moment, even if only a very brief moment, of not really having to worry about what they are up to.

I prefer to go pick my pumpkins as close to Halloween as I can, so usually the weekend before.  I feel like it perks up my spirits at the end of the month, gives us a Halloween related activity to do close to the holiday, and also our pumpkins are nice and fresh for the celebrations.  One year they even gave us a discount as it was so close to Halloween and their season was ending.  No discount this year but there were free carrots with every purchase – score!

This year our pumpkin picking party included myself, the husband, the stepdaughter, the baby, two of our best friends, and two of the husband’s nephews.  Honestly I was hoping for a bigger turn out but I guess not everyone was in the holiday spirit.  Oh well, not everyone has to enjoy a couple miles stroll through a dusty field while soaking in the sunshine on a gorgeous October day like I do.

As with any adventure, I assume, it is inevitable that something will be forgotten that would have made the trip that much more pleasant (I immediately think of a certain fellow who forgot a pocket handkerchief in his rush to get out of the house…).  In an effort to spare you from exclamations from your children of how hard life is during your “pumpkin patching” adventure I have listed below a few pointers that might ease the difficulties of childhood and make for a happier mommy and daddy at the end of the day.

  • Bring a cart, wagon, stroller – something with wheels on it for Pete’s sake.  Sometimes the farm we like to go picking at is so busy that they run out of wagons…I will sit my happy little self down and wait half of an hour for someone to finish piling their loot into their trunk before setting off into that field without a proper way to carry my own family’s orange prizes back.  Seriously, if where you are going does not provide a produce transportation device then I strongly recommend bringing your own.  We met one poor lady all by herself a mile out in the fields this year who had been sent by her church to collect fifty “small” pumpkins and she had only brought a crate to carry, as in it had no wheels, her fifty pumpkins back in.  She voiced her regret to me and I expressed my pity to her.
  • Don’t go into the long grass!  Watch out for those corn mazes or fields (something commonly found around pumpkin patches). Yes they are fun and if that is something you want to do for fun then go for it!  However, do not forget that a maze is made somewhat for getting lost in and that tall stalks of corn are really good for this purpose and if your intention is not for your children to become lost…  Are you getting where I am going?  Do not let the kids go into the long grass if you do not want them getting lost.
  • Use appropriate footwear.  Aren’t I a clever girl?  I thought, boy wouldn’t it be unpleasant to go tromping around in the dirt and prickly dead plants with my ankles exposed???  The answer is yes.  If you decide to wear a pair of shoes that are not so activity appropriate and bring along a change of shoes which will be much more practical and comfortable, please do not do what I did and forget the practical pair of shoes in your car only to realize your mistake over a half a mile into the fields.
  • Water.  “I hate pumpkin picking!” is all the thanks you will get from your kids if you neglect to bring this little essential.  Even the happiest of campers become grumpy when parched.
  • Bring extra money.  Dough.  Funds.  How does it go “money can buy happiness”?  Something like that.  The patch you decide to go pumpkin picking at may very well have a bunch of other fun activities as well!  And usually they get to charge a nice chunk of change seeing as you have driven out into the middle of nowhere with a car full of kiddos who you would hate to disappoint.  Hay rides, petting zoo, corn maze, haunted house, pumpkin canon, kettle corn, hot dogs!  Oh yeah, and pumpkins.

I sincerely hope that you enjoy your pumpkin picking experience as much as I do every year.  I think it is a very worthwhile activity for families and individuals alike.  My husband points out that it is also a good opportunity to teach the little ones the value of hard work; they all have to help push and pull the wagon-load of pumpkins out of the field if they want to bring home their pickings!  Have a blast and, of course, do not forget to take pictures.

Christine xoxo

A Little Introduction, Please

Hello and welcome to my blog The Mrs and The Mom!  Not to be too repetitive as you can also read a bit of an introduction on my “About” page, but here I will give you a little information about myself.

My name is Christine.  I am a wife, stepmom, RN and now birth mother.  Originally born on the west coast (USA), I have throughout my life so far lived in the south, on the east coast, and in the Midwest.

I met my husband in a college algebra class in 2012 and we were married in July of 2014.  I have been in the roll of a full-time stepmom since fall of 2013.  In December of 2014 I graduated Nursing school and soon starting working part-time as an RN in a wonderful long term care facility.

In September of 2016 I became a birth mother and we decided it was time for me to stay home and take care of the family.  I have decided to start blogging in my “spare time” with the hopes to collect and share some of my favorite as well as interesting and/or helpful things.

I have many personal interests including:

  • parenting
  • homemaking
  • gardening
  • hiking
  • cooking and baking
  • ballet/dance
  • cake decorating
  • exercise
  • hair and beauty
  • natural health remedies, and so many more.

I will try not to go too crazy but you can probably expect this blog to have a little bit of everything.

One hope I have for keeping things fun, interesting and up-to-date is to use social media and other fun sites in combination with the topics of my blog posts.  No matter your preferences I hope to have something for you!  Again, I welcome you to my blog and I hope you enjoy your stay.

Christine xoxo

Homemade Pumpkin Pie

The leaves are changing colors and drift gently from their lofty boughs, there is a hint of chill in the air, the cozy sweaters and warm socks are starting to appear!  Fall is upon us and what is the best part of fall? Pumpkins of course!

Okay I fibbed.  This is how I really feel about fall…the smell of rot in the air, the impending doom of winter to come, the lousy, stuffy, itchy layers of clothing to protect against the biting wind.  I weep over the loss of warm days and the joy of summer and I pine for the hope that next spring will bring.  I grit my teeth and brace my soul for the dark and icy months of winter.  Christmas is nice though, wonderful actually.  I cannot wait for Christmas!

Pumpkins really are the best part of fall!  Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pancakes – the list is endless.  My husband and I grew five beautiful little pumpkins in our garden this year, it is our first garden together actually, and he requested pumpkin pie for his birthday treat.  Being the lucky duck that he is, homemade pumpkin pie made from our own pumpkins is what he got.  Although it was my first attempt at making a pie from an actual pumpkin and not a handy-dandy can, we all thought it turned out pretty tasty – hooray!

I was fortunate to have a friend who advised me via text on the basics of pumpkin roasting.  I found the process to be just about like cooking any other squash, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, butternut squash, etcetera…Surprise!  Honestly, I laugh at myself because what did not actually occur to me that it would be like cooking any other squash and initially I was fairly intimidated to embark on this venture.

With the baby tucked up in her rocker, my sister and her toddler for company, and my cellphone with pumpkin-roasting instructions in hand I began.

Preparing THE PUMPKIN(S):

Step 1: Wash your pumpkin, honey.  I just wanted to make sure there was no “fertilizer” (horse poop in my case) or dirt clinging to my squash before I started preparing it to eat.

Step 2: Off with its head.  Chop off the top/stemmed portion of your pretty little pumpkin(s).  And a little tip from my friend: know that your knife will slip and be sure not to cut/chop anything other than the intended pumpkin.

Step 3: Quarter it.  Chop that squash into four wedges like you were born to do.

Step 4: Get those guts out (+BONUS).  Scrape the inside of your pumpkin with a spoon to remove all of those seeds and strings – just like you were going to carve it for Halloween.  Save the seeds! Well, only if you like to eat yummy snacks.  You can separate the seeds from all of the other gunk (or have your sister separate the seeds from the gunk), spread them on a cookie sheet, lightly salt them, and bake in the oven at about 375°F for about 20 minutes or until light brown.  You could also burn them a little bit like I did if you would rather bake them at 400°F for about 30 minutes – the choice is yours.

Step 5: Greased Lightning. I mean pumpkin.  Slather a bit of oil (I used vegetable oil) onto the flesh of your pumpkin quarters and place them flesh-side down onto a cookie sheet (I lined mine with aluminum foil first).

Step 6: Roast it in the oven.  My handy-dandy text message instructions did not specify an oven temperature so I pulled 400°F out of you know where and went with it.  I let the cute little pumpkins roast away for an hour.  They probably were a SMIDGE overdone as the edges of some were a little dry and dark, but in the end it did nothing to the taste of our pies. Basically your pumpkins should cook until a fork stuck in them proves that they are tender.

Step 7: Scoop and Pulverize.  The last step to ending up with what you could otherwise buy at the store and scoop out of a can (but who wants to do that when this end product is so much more satisfying and delicious?) is to scoop the roasted pumpkin flesh out of the skin and puree it in a food processor or blender.  You will want to pulverize it until the consistency is smooth and creamy with no strings to be found.

Now, there was another step I followed but found to be unnecessary for my pumpkin puree.  The step was to place the pumpkin puree in a colander and that colander into a bowl and all of that into the refrigerator overnight in order to drain any extra liquid and ensure the proper consistency of my pumpkin puree. However, I did not end up with any liquid drained from my pumpkin puree after leaving it sit overnight.  Maybe this just had to do with my particular pumpkins?  Maybe it is because they were ever so slightly overcooked?  I’m not sure.  If you would rather be safe than sorry or if your puree is looking a bit too moist, by all means drain your pumpkin puree overnight.

TA-DA! You have made for yourself a delicious orange base for many a pumpkin recipe!  That wasn’t so hard now was it?  I myself roasted three of our pumpkins which were probably a medium-sized pie pumpkin and I ended up with about 10 cups of pumpkin puree in the end.  Be sure when you are picking the pumpkin(s) you will be making pie out of that they are not just any old pumpkin(s)!  They must be a pumpkin specific for making into pie.  The pumpkins you typically carve will not do as they will not be sweet enough.  You should be able to easily find pie pumpkins in the produce section of the grocery store.  Pie pumpkins are smaller and more round than the usual carving pumpkin – if you are unsure what the heck kind of pumpkin you are looking at/for just ask!

collage-of-pumpkin

Now for the PIE:

I have a large family and therefore require a lot of pie.  It is a rare occasion when I prepare a recipe using the “normal” quantities; typically I at least double, maybe triple, or even quadruple the recipe in order to make enough for everyone.  On this occasion I quadrupled my pie recipe in order to make four pumpkin pies – I actually ended up with five pies but I believe this is because my two gluten free pie crusts were normal size and not deep dish (boo).

Obviously you can use your lovely homemade pumpkin puree to make any pie recipe you deem worthy, but here is the one I used this time in its single pie format as well as the four-pie version…

1 Pie = 8 Servings

Ingredients

2 Cups Pumpkin Puree

¾ Cup Sugar

½ tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

½ tsp. Ground Ginger

¼ tsp. Ground Cloves

2-3 Eggs

1 Can (12 fl oz) Evaporated Milk

1 Unbaked Deep Dish Pie Crust

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2. Whisk your eggs. Combine all ingredients except the evaporated milk in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Slowly stir in the evaporated milk.
  4. Pour mixture into the unbaked pie crust.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  6. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF and bake for another 40-50 minutes. Insert a knife into the center and if it comes out clean then it is done.
  7. Place the pie on a cooling rack and cool for a couple of hours and serve or cover and refrigerate.

4 Pies = 32 Servings

Ingredients

8 Cups Pumpkin Puree

3 Cups Sugar

2 tsp. Salt

4 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

2 tsp. Ground Ginger

1 tsp. Ground Cloves

10 Eggs

4 Cans (12 fl oz) Evaporated Milk

4 Unbaked Deep Dish Pie Crusts

collage-of-ingredients

This is a fairly standard pumpkin pie recipe in my opinion, no fancy-pants ingredients like molasses, sour cream, or brown sugar.  I really enjoy pumpkin pie so this works for me at the moment; however, I do plan on trying out some of the fancier or not-so-standard pumpkin pie recipes in the near future in order to hopefully find the Perfect Pumpkin Pie and share it with you all!

Christine xoxo