Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I'm Really Into Essential Oil Blends, You Guys

I have been really into essential oils lately and have been diffusing a combination of vanilla, grapefruit and ylang ylang in our living room. At first we were like, what the heck? How do you use essential oils? ...but now we actually really do feel calmer with different blends wafting through the rooms, like our own aromatherapy blends. I really do feel that there are benefits to using essential oils in our every day life. I am no doctor, nor do I claim to be but I am loving what is happening when I use the oils, people! You'll probably see a lot of people hocking essential oils out there but I think it's worth it to do a little research and find a brand that works for you. Because I am attending the WELL Summit in November, I received a sneak peek of some great natural and eco-friendly beauty products that the folks over there put together. One of the little treats that stood out most to me was the little sample vile of 21 Drops "Sleep" blend. Someone is out there creating essential oil blends for specific uses, y'all!

The #18 (out of 21) SLEEP blend of essential oil therapy touts the following: helps quiet an anxious mind, soothing feelings of restlessness and encouraging relaxation in preparation for a good night's sleep. Using Ylang Ylang to relax and encourage peace, Vetiver to sedate and reduce anxiety and Sandlewood to quiet the mind, 21 Drops would have us believe that this blend will help us sleep better... and you know what? I am a believer. I really do feel calmer when I apply it a touch before bedtime.

#01 Invigorate is a blend that I use before I go for a run or do something fitness related. Black Pepper enlivens and motivates, Cedarwood maximizes endurance, Juniper energizes, and Rosemary stimulates the mind. All is blended with 100% Jojoba Oil (a carrier oil if you're interested).  This is a good blend to motivate myself to get my butt in gear. I would like to think that it'a just my sheer will that keeps me moving but we all know that fitness isn't my most stellar area of expertise. I will take any help that I can get.

Another blend that I keep in my work space is #9 Focus blend. Focus, well, it can help you focus. It's a great way to jumpstart your mind. I use it every few hours while working and it definitely has proven to provide that little pick me up when I need it. Frankincense induces clarity, Peppermint stimulates the mind (so true) and Rosemary reduces fogginess. If you really give it a shot, you'd be surprised how your body reacts to essential oil scents. I was sort of skeptical at first but I really have been converted and no long scoff at the idea that oils can improve your environment and personal space.

Not only has 21 Drops really impressed me with these different blends, they are super charitable to boot. When I was talking to them about writing a post on their brand (all because of that little Sleep blend sample!), I mentioned our Boston Bloggers Jimmy Fund Walk fundraiser. They were on board immediately to donate to our raffle and the gift bags, without hesitation. That is the kind of brand that I like to support, one the puts good energy out into the universe.

What are your favorite essential oil blends? Do you use them in your home or beauty products?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

7 Ways to Get Started on the Path to Eco-Beauty, a Guest Post from Cameron of Boston Green Blog

This year Prim and Propah turns Five years old and with those five years have come a lot of changes around here at the ol' blogstead. One of the most recent, and most welcomed, changes has been the decision to make the Propah household more eco friendly, which includes the products that we use on our body. The change can seem daunting at first but I swear, you can do it and you will be so glad that you did! This coming week will be all about natural + eco beauty; tips and tricks, guest posts, DIYs and even a fantastic giveaway... it's all to shed some light on the road to natural beauty and hopefully help you make the change. To get us started, I asked Cameron of Boston Green Blog to zone in on some tips that are easy to adopt in your life right away...

As a green living blogger on BostonGreenBlog and a beauty and wellness columnist at JUGs, I get a lot of questions about cosmetics. People understand the importance of eating right and clearly see food’s connection with the environment. But oftentimes, the link for other consumable products isn’t so clear. Its tricky to know what cosmetics are good and bad for you and the earth, and even harder to find the right products in stores without going broke. The best thing to do, is ease into eco-beauty with these starter tips!

  1. Take Care of Yourself
First and foremost, remember that your skin is an organ. Its wellness not only depends what you put on it, but also what you eat, if you sleep well, and how much you exercise. Your skin serves a lot of major functions and interacts with the rest of your body. So, the first thing to do in a journey to eco beauty is to be conscious of how you treat yourself.

  1. Be Wary of Labels
The beauty industry makes billions of dollars. Marketers and designers put a lot of work into conveying a message about their product through the packaging in order to sell as many units as possible. Green and beige packaging and the word “natural” do not a safe product make. Instead, look third party certifications like USDA certified organic, Eco cert, Fair Trade, etc. However, keep in mind that these third party certifications are expensive to get, so many small companies don’t have the resources to get them. But for eco-beauty newbies, certified products are the way to go until you become more familiar with natural safe ingredients.

  1. Ban the Bead
Microbeads - or tiny pieces of plastic in scrubs and exfoliants - are reeking havoc on the environment. These beads are so small that they aren’t removed during the wastewater treatment process and end up in our waterways. Fish and birds are eating them and they are also contributing to the great pacific garbage patch. The worst thing about this environmental catastrophe is that these beads are totally unnecessary! There are plenty of biodegradable, safe materials that provide the same function. Try a sugar scrub instead!

  1. Embrace Oils
We all grew up being told to purchase “oil free” skin products. But it turns out that the right kinds of oils are really great moisturizes and help balance out our skin. Olive oil, coconut oil, argan oil, avocado oil, and many others are super effective moisturizers that don’t make you break out and can also be used in hair, on cuticles, and as makeup removers.

  1. Ditch Deodorant
Traditional deodorants are full of chemicals like aluminum and parabens which have been loosely linked to some scary health problems like Alzheimer’s and breast cancer. Plus, those pit stains in your favorite blouse are from deodorant - not sweat! Switching to a natural deodorant takes a little getting used to, but is one of the best eco-beauty switches you can make.

  1. Forget Fake Fragrances
Fragrances are made up of any number of chemicals, which due to an FDA loophole, do not need to be put on a product’s ingredient list. Perfumes are considered proprietary so companies do not need to disclose their chemical recipes to the public. Fragrances often contain allergens and sometimes small amounts of carcinogens as well. Going fragrance free, or only purchasing products scented with essential oils, is a great way to decrease your exposure to toxic chemicals.

  1. Get Resourceful
The ins and outs of eco beauty can be overwhelming. There are a lot of chemical names to remember, certifications to understand, and ingredients to discover. Luckily there are some great resources to help you on your mission to detoxifying your makeup drawer. One of the best is Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database which rates more than 60,000 consumer products on safety. The next is ThinkDirty, an app that shoppers can use to scan barcodes of products while they’re shopping to compare the safety of products available. Lastly, Goodguide rates companies on their environmental, social, and human health impacts. These tools are a great way to become familiar with the products you're using and the companies your are supporting with your purchases!

See? Totally doable! Thanks to Cameron of Boston Green Blog for taking the time to share some of her tips on getting a new and healthy beauty routine kick started! You can find BostonGreenBlog on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Cost Plus World Market

I was at BlogHer this year when I happened upon the gals from Cost Plus World Market and their booth. I excitedly told them that we needed a World Market in the Boston area. I had been to one of their locations in Seattle and was absolutely enamored. Sooooo, you can imagine my excitement when they announced just recently that there was a new location opening at Shoppers World, 1 Worcester Road in Framingham, MA, 01701, just a mere half hour away from me. If you've never been to a World Market, they carry amazing and affordable finds from around the world. If food is your thing, they've got international favorites. Want home decor for days? Yep, they've got that too. I am just wicked excited to see this location! They've got a ton of fun things planned for their opening weekend so if you're local, I suggest you mark your calendars for some shopping fun not too far out of Boston!

Sneak Peek of the Framingham location
  • On Thursday October 1st, Join the World Market team for a ribbon cutting at 9am with the store opening right after. If you're there, be one of the first 100 customers in the door and you'll receive a $10 Cost Plus World Market gift card! Suuuuuweeeeet!
  • There will be free tastings and live entertainment throughout the weekend (Thursday + Friday 4-7pm, Saturday 1-4pm) plus be one of the first 100 customers in the door each day and you'll get a free World Market tote bag for your adventurous shopping excursion!
  • Join the World Market Explorer Rewards Program and earn TRIPLE CREDITS. (Psst. See associate for details)
  • Plus, SAVE AN EXTRA 20% on your next purchase. Offer valid Valid at the Framingham, MA Cost Plus World Market store only. Click HERE for the awesome coupon!
  • For all you HGTV fans, you can meet Jonathan and Drew Scott, Hosts of Property Brothers on Sunday, October 4th from 1-3pm! The first 200 customers who bring 5-non-perishable, non-glass food items for HOPE Worldwide Framingham Food Pantry will get to meet Jonathan and Drew plus receive an autographed photo... You can literally say "Hi Guys!" in person!
I'll be headed to the new store later this week; I don't even know which department to shop first... will I grab some wine for entertaining or will I head straight to the international spices for some cooking va va voom? I won't know until I get there, people but I will certainly keep you updated after my visit! Will I see you at any of the grand opening events?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Harpoon Fundraiser Recap + BIG Thank You's!

With the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk happening this coming Sunday, I am reminded that I was remiss in thanking all the wonderful people, places and brands that helped to make our Harpoon Fundraiser last month, a huge success. We had an amazing time at Harpoon Brewery, tasting all of their old favorites and Fall treats (umm hello cider all night long) while also raffling off some amazing items all to benefit the Boston Bloggers Jimmy Fund Walk team. We raised over $1000 dollars and our team met it's fundraising goal, so it was an amazing night!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Soul Pose Boston

On Saturday, I kissed the baby Goodbye and made my way to Gore Estate outside of Boston to hit up the Soul Pose Boston, a yoga party that promised to be unlike any other, Soul Pose brings the party to your mat. Fresh music, colorful confetti, happy bubbles, and thousands of your new yogi friends posing together – this is Freaking. Awesome. Yoga. ... and it was unlike yoga I had done before, in more ways than one. They offered a morning and an evening session so my friend Elise and I signed up for the morning since it seemed the right fit for us... well, we may have misjudged how warm it was to be in the midday sun but we still certainly enjoyed the (sweaty) experience. Bubble, confetti, body paint and lots of energized people. Check out some of my snaps from a day with lots of yoga lovin' folks on one of Greater Boston's loveliest spots of land!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Great Craft Swap, Tablecloth to Tote

This month, I have been lucky enough to participate in a craft swap with some of the other Wayfair Homemakers! I excitedly signed on because I love a good reason to craft and tbh, I had never actually done a craft swap before. Sure, I had bestowed my gorgeous creations on other people but to receive something in return? Well, it just doesn't happen as often.

I was given this Violet Linen Eurpoean Damask tablecloth to revamp and send over to Jenna of Wife in Progress. I was really happy at the challenge. Something I love to do is to repurpose old linens and clothes to give them new life. Sure, this tablecloth was brand new but I am here to tell you that you can make a tote bag with old tablecloths, sheets, blankets... you name it and you can use it!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Boston Common Yoga + BIG Thank You's!

If you follow me on any of my social media platforms, you know that I have been working with a Boston Bloggers team to raise money for The Jimmy Fund and Dana Farber Cancer Institute. One of our fundraising events was a Donation Based Vinyasa class on Boston Common led by Ali Singer, creator of Yoga Hub Boston. At 7pm on a late August evening, it was pretty much the perfect time to practice yoga with some like minded people while also raising money for an amazing cause (we raised over $250 FYI, which is awesome!)

Not only did we have an amazing turnout but we actually had people walking by, wondering what we were doing, some even stopping to practice in plain clothes. I thought that was just pretty special. We had a women who was dropping her son off at college for the first time and was quite emotional. She had never practiced yoga before, so I grabbed an extra mat and she joined us. She loved it and I think that just speaks to the awesome energy this event gave off.

We had some pretty cool people involved with helping us to make this a special event! 

All photos are by the amazingly sweet Kelly Pfeister. Not only was she as sweet as they come, she also made me feel encouraged about people willing to help through service. I am so happy to have met her and am looking forward to tapping her for collaborations in the future!

Temple Flower (seen on both Ali and I) is an American made yoga and active wear company that launched this year. Not only do they make their duds in the USA but they also support charitable endeavors in India through Barefoot College. For every purchase made, they make a donation toward helping to educate women in impoverished communities. Gosh, that makes my heart warm. On top of all that, they gave all attendees to our event a special discount, which you can use too! Use code ALISINGER30 on any purchase and receive 30% off your order + free shipping! donated over $150 worth of yoga gear to our event to be raffled off, you know, to help get butts on the mats/grass. With almost 40 attendees, I would say that it worked! is one of my favorite places to grab anything and everything you might need to practice yoga at home, in the studio or on Boston Common. They really do have it all.... the girl who won the raffle emailed me the next day. She had just moved to Boston and didn't know anyone but had found our event somehow. We chatted about the local yoga scene, where she could find Ali teaching classes and I would like to think that I will see her around town sometime soon.

Biggest thanks go to Ali Singer who answered an email with such enthusiasm that I just couldn't help but be charged up to work on such a special fundraising event. She was willing to volunteer her time, invited her friend Norman to play the congas and told me that I needed a permit for the Common (which I didn't know! eek) Without Ali's help and guidance, this event wouldn't have been a success. I am looking forward to working with Ali in the future because I think it was kismet that I happened into that class at lululemon in June, where she gave my abs a workout and gave me the idea!

Thank you to everyone who came out and helped us raise money to kick cancer's butt!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Brimfield September 2015

We made it to yet another Brimfield full of finds and things to look at. This trip, me and the kid sister took the Propah baby to look for jewelry, vintage, costume, exotic... you name it and we were on the lookout for it. We found some beautiful pieces and even haggled a little bit and guess what? No baby meltdowns. It was a pretty successful day and we had such a fantastic time exploring. Did you get to go at all this year?

What did you find at this season's Brimfield?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Primark Hits Boston

This past week, I was invited to visit the new Primark store in Boston's Downtown Crossing. I had seen a Primark store on a previous visit to Europe but kind of forgot about them until all of Boston started a buzzing about their new store. I had never been so really didn't know what to expect but when I arrived, it was like an assault on my shopping senses. It was close to 8pm when I arrived (only an hour away from closing time) and the store was still being ransacked like they would never restock the shelves but I would persevere on this evening of shopping without a baby...

Like a lot of other fast fashion retailers (H&M, Forever 21, Zara etc), their offerings were plentiful, well, plentiful actually doesn't do the four floors of fashion any justice. There is something for, literally, everyone. Women's apparel does take up the majority of the store but there are also sections dedicated to children, men, shoes and accessories. If you need a breather, I'd suggest taking a respite in the men's section as it did seem to be slower. In addition, the Men's registers were also more bearable... but I will say, that there won't be a slowdown any time soon. The prices are kind of unreal and with Boston's poor college students back in town, well, I know where their expendable income is going. *money flying away emoji*. I spent a good deal of my sweet moola on the activewear, which while very affordable, is still a pretty great quality. I snagged a couple shirts for the little stud in my life, plus grabbed some shoes. I was pretty happy with what I left with, but the trouble with such cheap fashion is that you leave wishing you hadn't left anything behind, even though you had already spent a ton of money (though with a lot to show for it). I will definitely head back a little later this season when I have a game plan and a little more time.

Will you visit the Primark in Boston's Downtown Crossing?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sponsored Video: TRESemmé at New York Fashion Week

There was a TRESemmé commercial that played a lot when I was a teenager... it went something like TRESemmé,TRESemmé Ooh La La. To this day, every time I see a TRESemmé product, I have to sing it a little. Talk about a jingle that sticks in your head for an eternity. But seriously, kudos to the ad team at TRESemmé for keeping a brand at the forefront of our minds for years + years, in an ever growing beauty and hair care industry.  

Being that they are a trusted brand for your hair, it should come as no surprise that they are a favorite of the fashion industry. TRESemmé is the official hair care sponsor of New York Fashion Week for the 15th time this year, and to celebrate this milestone, the beauty brand will have a few distinct spaces at NYFW. TRESemmé’s working with a ton of cool partners this fashion week. I am most excited about Rebecca Minkoff and DVF but that doesn’t mean that I am not a fan of Carolina Herrera, BCBG, Hervé Leger, Rachel Zoe, Banana Republic and Misha Noonoo. Not only will they be on site during fashion week, you can access their happenings via their Style Setters series to catch behind the scenes business (the good stuff), professional tips (the really good stuff) and runway footage (the really, really good stuff!). They’ll be your guide to everything TRESemmé, fashion week, hair care and the whole lot! It’s interesting to follow brands in situations like this so I am looking forward to how TRESemmé continues to remain with “the times”!

*This post has been sponsored by TRESemmé, but all thoughts are 100% my own.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

First Time Family Farm Fun

This past weekend, we had plans to hit up Belkin Family Lookout Farm in South Natick, MA, one of the oldest working farms in the country. We had never been before but the amount of activities that they tout, well, we were excited. Plus, the baby had never been to a farm or apple picking so we obvi knew this was a great opportunity for a little family photo shoot. Very last minute, we got news that some extended family were coming in to town and we thought that it was an even BETTER idea to hit up the farm with all the kids, you know, so we could keep them busy. We couldn't have been happier to have happened upon Lookout Farm (unless it had been about 10 degrees cooler!)

The amount of activities that you can participate in are more than I have ever experienced at a farm near us so we may have found our new Fall favorite destination. We literally fit the following into about three hours on a Sunday afternoon.

The kids were out of their minds excited by the train rides to pick apples, then on to the children's play area, where they were greeted with farm animals (pigs and goats and emus, oh my!), face painting, camel rides, gelato, live music and a playground. I can't wait until the Propah Toddlah is old enough to be just set free to run around and be a kid. My cousins and their children were living it up. There is a little something for everyone, that is for sure. We came home with golden delicious apples, yellow peaches and plums, a wicked tired child (score!) and a four pack of the Lookout Farm Cider to mellow out with on Labor Day weekend. Check out our snaps, since our photo ops were countless!

You can find Belkin Family Lookout Farm info on their website, Twitter and Facebook!

*Lookout Farm gave my family free admission to their farm but we paid for our weight in fruit! Even though we got some special treatment, all opinions are 100% my own!

Monday, September 7, 2015

How the Phantom Gourmet Failed Me

Hey local folks, so it's Labor Day and whether you're planning to head out there or have still yet to make plans for your day, please do yourself a favor and skip The Phantom Gourmet's Junk Food Jam at the Mendon Drive in. The Phantom Gourmet has whipped up some tasty food events in the past. We ate our weight in hot dogs at The Hot Dog Safari. We bathed in BBQ at the BBQ Beach Party. There is the food festival outside of Fenway... We loved them all so why would we pass up the chance to hit the Junk Food Jam with our family on Labor Day weekend? If the Phantom Gourmet is involved, we are game! Heck, I was so excited, I told the baby's daycare teacher about our weekend plans and she even wrote down the info... but I hope and pray that she didn't drag her whole family to the Junk Food Jam on my misguided recommendation.

Here is how the event is posed to the general public.... seems tasty right?

We’re excited to announce a new food and fun event:  The Phantom Gourmet Junk Food Jam! Saturday, Sunday and Monday of Labor Day weekend at the Mendon Twin Drive-In, we’ll serve up the craziest, tastiest, phattest menu ever!  Potato Heaven will features several kinds of fries from German to Hamburger; Cheese Fries.  Pig Plaza is everything bacon.  Fried Sensations include fried mac & Cheese and Deep Fried Corn.  Fried Indulgence is frying up all your favorite candy bars…and Twinkies.  And there’s more:  Ice CreamFried Dough, we could keep going and going, but we don’t want to make you salivate any more than you already are.

The Andleman Brothers would have you believe that there are TONS of food vendors for you to sink your teeth into! I mean, look at all that food that they list. You want to have fun with the family? They have got you covered!

Here is how the event actually played out for us: You pay $5 per car to get into the event. You know you'll be paying more for the food but not a bad deal if there is a lot to choose from because you know they have to cover their costs (even though the Andleman brothers do own the Mendon Drive In but I digress). You walk from one side of the drive-in, where you parked, to the other side, where there are literally four tables across the tree line with signage that gives you an idea of what kind of food they are offering. In the blazing sun, this set up looked pretty pathetic but we were hungry and not willing to get discouraged right off the bat. My uncle excitedly went to the "Pig Plaza" table because he had a hankering for pulled pork. But much to his dismay, they were out of it, at 1pm on Saturday, the first day of a three day event. We forged on.

Everyone decided on some manner of fried food that was not prepared to order but rather was being pushed out of one single food truck set back behind our four food tables then left to sit on said tables waiting for some poor schmuck to pay way too much to eat the mediocre food. They had a decent sized tent where you could eat your sad food and I have to give them props, at least, for having beer. The only reason we remotely enjoyed ourselves was because we were with each other not because of anything that The Phantom Gourmet did. Do you want to spend $6 on five lukewarm mozzarella sticks, then this is the food event for you. Can you stay home and get some frozen mozzarella sticks from the box and enjoy the same quality? Yep. 

My husband and I looked at the way this event was set up and would have changed a handful of things that would have made it marginally better. A couple of notes for the Andleman brothers if they choose to embark on a Junk Food Jam again next year: 
  • Bring in more than one food vendor- the people of New England have come to expect variety from The Phantom Gourmet events and this one was seriously lacking. 
  • Prepare- If you're only going to bring in one food vendor, then be prepared. You shouldn't run out of pulled pork two hours into an event, when nearly every man I have ever met is pretty much obsessed with pulled pork.
  • Provide entertainment for kids that is not only affordable but maybe even included in admission- Hey, I am a parent and if I am paying to get in, shouldn't I get something for it? If you're going to charge admission to the event, provide something worth paying for.
  • Make food to order. It was pretty hot on Saturday yet even as our fried pickes sat in the sun, they still weren't warm when we went to eat them. Nothing like overpaying for food that is the opposite of fresh.
If you're planning to wing it today, please don't waste your time on the Junk Food Jam. I am sorry that I even talked to people about it before I had experienced it for myself. I am also sorry to The Phantom Gourmet and the Andleman brothers for being compelled to write this post but I just can't believe that we spent so much money on admission + food this past Saturday and were left just wanting so much more from the event.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Why I am Adventurous with my Hair

As some of you may have seen in some recent Instagram snaps, my hair color has gone from bleached blonde to pink in recent weeks. It's something that I have been thinking about doing for awhile and when a stellar opportunity arose, I just couldn't let it pass me by. Now you're probably thinking (although I hope you aren't), "she's a mother of a young child, why would she go to such lengths to make her hair pink? She's in her (early) 30's!" My response to those types of thoughts are, I gotta be me and that means being adventurous with my hair.

The only time that I have ever been patient enough to let my hair grow well below my shoulders was in preparation for my wedding updo and even then, the struggle was real. I love to try new things and when my hair gets long, it's the ultimate in PAIN IN THE @$$ERY. My hair is thick like a horse's mane, my friends and it takes a quarter century to dry with a hair dryer. I get impatient and I am impulsive. I have had really bad haircuts from cheap chain salons because I just "have to get my hair cut today". But by the same token, I have had some really exceptional haircuts on a whim as well. At the end of the day, your hair grows or can be cut again to fix a bad haircut. My hair is my way of expressing myself and trying new things. You only live once, am I right?

I have to give it to my girl, Courtney at Mitchell John Salon in the Financial District who took such care with my color and cut. I have NEVER had someone so excited about how it came out and I couldn't be more excited to help her grow her clientele. If you go see her? Mention my name and you'll get 20% off your services. That's a pretty great deal in the heart of Boston!

How are you adventurous with your appearance?