Friday, July 21, 2017

Local Lovin': PIA at Marketstreet Lynnfield

Hi Guys, so I discovered this cute little shop when I was at a blogger event this Spring and I've really been wanting to tell you about it. That being said, life has been a little crazy and then blog posts have come and gone... so here we are in July and I'm finally getting around to introducing you to PIA at Marketstreet Lynnfield! Having been on a few blogger tours of stores before, I know what I like and what's just not for me... when I stepped into PIA, I was totally vibing with all the brands that this store carried (Spiritual Gangster, Good Hyouman etc) and then I met Pia herself... and was smitten. She is a beautiful person, both inside and out. I am generally a good judge of character and hers shines through both her person and her business. And do you know what impressed me most about her business? It's truly a beautiful and highly curated store one where you may think, oh but can I shop there? And the answer is YES, OF COURSE- it's welcoming of everyone (and their children) and Pia prides herself in getting to know her customers and engaging with them on a personal level. I LOVE THAT! I headed in to the store to chat with her and take some pictures, and of course the Propah Toddlah ate her marshmallows and played with her toy bin because yes, she has toys for your littles to play with while you shop.

Give us a little background as to how Pia came about. What initially drove you to start your brand?

More than 20 yrs ago when I moved to America for the first time, one of my first jobs was at a very unique boutique called Drygoods in Great Barrington which is in the Berkshires. The woman who owned the boutique, Tracy, had a bigger impact on me than she will ever know. She was one of the greatest inspirations personally and proffesionally and she had the most beautiful, most ecletic store. Her persona mesmerized all her customers including me. People loved the store for its merchandise as well as it being a place where they felt welcomed, accepted with personalized customer service, a place where they felt acknowledged. It was very vibrant. very alive. I didn't realize my love and dream for a store was born back then and more than 20 yrs later here I am.

When curating the products for your shop, where do you take inspiration from?

My very own sense of esthetiques. My limited budget, yardsales, my mother, flea markets and my home: Europe (point of information: I love where Pia takes her inspiration from since it's pretty identical to me!)

I love the way that you have shaped your business. Fresh, fun, feminine... Why is this important to you?
My place is primarily for women. Often times it's hard for women to feel themselves, be themselves, trust themselves and be OK with who they are. I struggle with this too but I want it to be different for us all. Women are amazing and beautiful, in every shape and form. I hope to be a place where that can be celebrated and honored.

What do you love to do in New England, when you aren't busy running your business?

I am an endless lover of the ocean, nature and flea markets. I also love to dance. My greatest treat is to dance at Greg Coles Dance ad Drum in Salem with Greg Coles and his assistants.

You have certainly found some fantastic early success! Where do you see Pia headed in the future?

There is a lot more room to grow. I am still very much tending to strenghtening my roots. I am endlessly grateful to Marketstreet for giving me the opportunity to be at their beautiful property in Lynnfield, MA. I am filled with gratitude to whom ever supports and enjoys Pia. I couldn't do any of this without the amazing women working with me.

So do you love Pia already? Yeah, me too. I asked these questions and was so interested to hear her thoughtful responses. This is the type of business that I like to shop. I want to feel special and loved and I want to be able to bring my kids if I need to (which is more often than not). If you are ever in the area, please stop in to see her beautiful store to meet a beautiful person to shop for beautiful things. You won't regret the trip.

You can follow Pia on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ginger Peach and Carrot Biscuits Recipe + A New Whole Foods + a Sweet Giveaway!

*This post was in collaboration with Whole Foods and their New England Stores. All opinions are 100% mine and my opinion is that I adore Whole Foods.

Whole Foods, it's pretty much one of my favorite stops as a "Mother of Two Hungry Dragons." When I have to go shopping but don't have the time to look at every label, every ingredient and want to leave grocery shopping with my sanity intact, Whole Foods is the place that helps me have peace of mind that whatever I am choosing on the fly, is going to be good if not great. The standards and practices that they have in place make me feel all the good feels. Another thing that I really appreciate about Whole Foods is that with each new store they build, they are looking to improve and added cool, new things! I was invited to the new store opening in Sudbury, MA this month and to say that I was floored, would be an understatement. The kids area alone had me all heart eyes because you know those kids areas are life savers for Moms, just ask them!

Boston favorites Clover and Pressed have popped up in the new Sudbury store so in addition to their legendary hot and salad bars, you can pretty much be all set to hunker down with lunch, the kids and whatever program they're playing in the kids area... to those who don't know, this is called "down time" hehe. Also to those who don't know, my only activity in a day may just be taking a trip to Whole Foods so the fact that they are making the store experience better and better? Well, that's better and better for me.

I wanted to create a delicious recipe for you all using some of the fresh produce that I grabbed at Whole Foods this week. The folks at WF has given me a tasty Maple Ginger Grilled Peach recipe but to be honest, I really was feeling some carbohydrates LOL so I thought what better to do than to combine the two! A flavor combination that I have always had an affinity for is the maple, honey, ginger, carrot combo. There's a sweet and a zing that always leaves me and my family very happy so I decided to take my basic biscuit recipe, swap out the shortening with butter and create something with a little of that sweet and zing! Check it out...


2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of cold or frozen butter
3/4 cup of milk
1 fresh peach, peeled and chopped to desired size, I did mine medium for bigger chunks
1 fresh carrot, shredded
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 cup of brown sugar
a drizzle of maple syrup

Preheat your over to 450 degrees

In a large mixing bowl, sift together your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, ginger and cinnamon).

Cut butter in with a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly. I like to freeze my butter and then grate the butter in using my cheese grater. Works like magic!

Add in your carrots and peaches until the mixture is well blended. Add your milk and maple sugar and mix until the dough is well combined and a touch sticky. You can always add a little more flour if it's too sticky to handle.

This recipe can make six huge biscuits or about 10 smaller sized ones. Just be sure to line your slightly greased baking sheet with even sized biscuits so that they cook evenly. Before baking, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, watching for the biscuits to get slightly golden brown. You can eat these while they are warm with a little butter or they're perfect in the morning for breakfast as well. The peaches burst with flavor and the carrots add a nice textured crunch!

Do you want to hit your local Whole Foods for some fresh ingredients to whip up something yourself? Whole Foods has generously offered one Prim and Propah reader the opportunity to win $50 to shop in their store! You know you could make one glorious dinner and snack and dessert with that gift card! Entries are in the rafflecopter below. Giveaway open until July 28th at midnight and is open to United States residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 17, 2017

I Tried It: Kaliks Collective + a Giveaway!

Branding is important to a degree and if I were to judge a book by its cover, Kaliks Collective calls to me with it's packaging. My initial thought when receiving some of their products this month was to totally swoon over how pretty their frosted glass bottles and labels are. You could totally say that I was vibing with them! But obviously you can't judge a book by its cover and you have to give products a try before you can recommend them to your friends and family and you guys too! I gave some of their products a whirl: The Balance Glow Facial Oil, Revive Lavender Hydrosol Mist and the Renew Facial Cleanser.

Balance Glow Facial Oil: the sheer amount of amazing oils that make up this facial oil was enough to get me excited. Marula, Neroli Essential Oil, Baobab, Rose Geranium Essential Oil, Carrot seed and more, I couldn't wait to try this even thoough I certainly don't have a need for a new facial oil. This oil goes on velvety smooth and doesn't leave a greasy film which is one of my biggest pet peeves, facial oil turn offs. Kaliks actually recommends combining this with the Revive mist and I gotta tell you that I love this at night time, after my wash and before my dreamtime oils. I guess it goes to show that if you like something enough, you can make room in your beauty routine.

Revive Lavender Hydrosol Mist: Most definitely my favorite out of the bunch because I LOVE A GOOD FACE MIST! This is the perfect mist for Summer if you ask me my opinion- hydrating and softening. Just place it in the fridge and it becomes the most wonderful after sun mist, seriously. I happen to love Lavender so if you vibe with that relaxing scent, this is definitely for you. The bottle is very generously sized as well, which you gotta love. Plus, it's certified organic!

Renew Facial Cleanser: This is one of those versatile products that you can use as a cleanser, face scrub or mask. With all sorts of yummy ingredients like marshmallow root, rosehip seed, lavender, nettle leaf and more, this cleanser really feels like more than your average face wash. I'll be completely honest that what I had been using to exfoliate for years had been actually very bad for my skin. The small granuals in the Renew cleanser get the job done but are very gentle; I don't feel like they were scratching me up rather then gently removing the dead skin.

I think if the Kaliks line were to expand then I would be there with bells on. This indie brand is one to watch because what they are producing is quality, organic skincare that you can feel good about using both literally and figuritively.  I'll be keeping my eye on them and what they're doing in the future!

You can find Kaliks Collective in their shop, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Bonus time! Want to win some Kaliks Collective products for yourself? Visit my Instagram post for an easy entry giveaway!

Monday, July 10, 2017

I Tried It! Aimee Raupp + a Giveaway

Aimee Raupp is a wellness and health expert who has helped women be inspired to take their wellness into their own hands, improve their vitality, celebrate their beauty and even works with those looking to encourage their fertility. If you check out her Youtube videos, it's kind of hard not to like her and her positive energy. She's got the good vibes of someone who's helping people and is good at it. In addition to being an author, acupuncturist, and wellness coach, Aimee has created a line of skincare products that are organic and free of the type of chemicals known to disrupt hormones (gross) so of course when Aimee's team reached out, I was totally interested in getting a peek at what they're working on. They were kind enough to share some of their gorgeously created products to try and I'm thrilled to be reporting back to you all.

Organic Cocoa Butter Eye Cream: I just turned 35 and I'm the mother of two young children so as you can imagine, the wrinkles are coming and the delicate skin around my eyes is showing a little bit of age. I embrace aging for the most part but when there's a great product that nourishes while promoting collagen, all while keeping it organic and natural, well I'm here for it. Also, if you know me, a killer scent will get me every time... and this eye cream smells like a cocoa dream.

Organic Balancing Facial Oil: I am not sure this will be my every day facial oil and not because I don't love it but I think that I'll be saving this for when I'm blotchy and my skin is irritated (kind of like it is right now, because of my Summer sweat issues!). When I break out or have redness, I don't necessarily want to use the my everyday oil. What I love about Aimee's Balancing Facial oil is that it provides anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects through its oils (sweet almond oil, argan oil and blue chamomile essential oils). It's not greasy at all, absorbs quite nicely and isn't an overwhelming scent.

Organic Coconut Sugar Facial Scrub: A sweet treat for exfoliating your face and feeling radiant. You know how after a cleanse and a good scrub your face has that shiny, effervescent glow? Yep, this is that kind of stuff.

Chill Aromatherapy Roller: I love a good "relax" roller and this one is no exception. It's not a super strong scent like some "chill-esque" or "sleep" rollerballs so you could keep this in your purse and apply without scaring people off who are sensitive to smells.

You can follow Aimee Raupp on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube!

And if that wasn't enough, hop on over to Instagram to win a great package of Aimee's products because they want to share the love!

A post shared by Amanda (@primandpropah) on

Friday, July 7, 2017

Three Ways to Buy Feel Good Accessories

You hear me talking all about fast fashion and making mindful choices when it comes to purchasing and caring for our clothing. What a lot of people don't consider, or at least I didn't at first, was that our jewelry, scarves, hats, sunglasses... all the accessories, well, they need to be thoughtfully shopped as well. It can be hard to think about it all, really, but if you keep a couple of things in mind, you can generally make good choices and feel great about your purchases even if you're making them somewhat on the fly (one of my weaknesses!)
Accessories from Fatface, ethically sourced and created 
Find Brands with Values: If you do your homework, you can find the brands that have values. Those are the type of brands that I enjoy patronizing and will recommend to my people. Take FatFace for instance. New to the US, they take pride in taking care of their employees, customers and taking responsibility for their supply chain. They know where their products are made and where their materials come from. Similarly, I love Synergy Organic Clothing, Faherty, Tapered Collection and Zanni LA. If you poke around a brand's website, you can usually tell pretty much right away if their business is transparent. Also, don't be afraid to message brands on social if you have questions. You might just get a (good) answer!

There are also brands who will make a donation to charity for every purchase. Personally, I think it's great to be able to feel like your money is going to a couple different places; a brand that you love and a worthwhile organization. Take for instance, I found a brand at Wanderlust, I love Gurus. They have a sustainable mission and plant trees for purchases.

Shop Local and Handmade: When looking for a little something special, whether it be a gift for a loved one (or yourself!), I love to shop local and/or handmade. There's something so lovely about knowing that someone made something with their hands, especially for you. Shopping local ALWAYS makes me feel good because #1 you're putting money into your local economy #2 you can see the actually people you're supporting and #3 you might start getting hugs if you come back enough!

Some of my favorite creators right now are Kelly Horrigan Handmade (a Wanderlust discovery), Linkouture, always Salem Style, Wildflower Society, Papavier, Aniram Revah and Kathy Bransfield

Second Hand Shopping: If you don't have tons of moola, never fret my pet. There's always the opportunity to go to a thrift store, vintage clothes shop or consignment shop to pick up a little something new (to you). This is a great way to keep your footprint small, keep accessories out of the landfills and also, it's nice to give a second chance to something that just didn't work for another person. Seriously, I love to get a thrifty good deal! Pro tip: Don't be afraid to pick up a cool skirt or linens with a great print. You can always head on over to Pinterest to make your own scarf, headband or really anything, because Pinterest will leave you thinking you can conquer the world!

Vintage Costume Pieces Gifted to me
I think that if you make it your mission to be mindful, then in the very least, you're thinking about your purchases before you make them. I'm not perfect and being as blessed as I am, there's often the opportunity for me to make an impulsive purchasing decision which I then make a squished disappointed face at myself... but there's something to be said about making that "fast" purchase last for a very long time, which I make it my goal to do!

Do you have any tips on thoughtful shopping? What brands resonate with you?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Masking with my Girls

Putting a face mask on is one of my favorite self care rituals. I love to take a hot shower, maybe after I hit the gym (I said maybe) and then do a little masking before hitting the hay. I have tried many a mask in my day but wondered what my girls were using on the regular or if they had any favorites right now. So, I asked them plus requested all the selfies they could send because, if you didn't take a selfie did it even happen?

From top Left:

Jessica of Oh I Design is loving the the Tata Harper's Resurfacing Mask. "It leaves my skin with a nice glow when it's feeling extra dull. I typically use this at night right before bed and follow with an oil and eye cream."

Rachel of Healthy Chicks is using Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay- "I love that it's super simple and made from just bentonite clay. It really helps clear out your pores and gives you a nice glow. You can mix it with water or Apple Cider Vinegar. Best Part? You can get it for like $5 at Whole Foods, and a huge tub lasts forever! "

Sarah of Salty Girl Boutique has a bunch of favorites! "So I am into a few masks right now. I love Josh Rosebrooks Hydration mask around my eye area, my skin can be a bit oily in the T zone so I don't use it on my the full face. I also love his enzyme exfoliator and use that often. BUT currently started using Violets are Blue Soothing Clay Mask. The name got me. And I needed more Soothing and relaxation in my life....and it really does offer that. The smell is so relaxing, goes on easily and adds a nice feeling of exfoliation. And my skin feels so soft and clean after. After I Add some serum and Josh's new vital balm around the eyes and I feel good as new."

Cameron of Just Us Gals and Boston Green Blog is all about The Problem Solver by May Lindstrom - "It's great at pulling all of the toxins out of my skin in a healthy, nontoxic way. Plus, I love the tingling sensation when I wear it - makes me feel as though it is really getting work done."

Tricia of Ni Hao New York adores the way that the 5Yina Divine All Seasons Mask is treating her during her pregnancy! She highly recommends to her friends and her readers!

I have just started using the Black Molasses Mask from Earthwise Beauty. You keep it in the fridge so when you apply it, literally there is a cooling effect. I also really love the Violets are Blue Soothing clay mask and alternate between them currently!

Elizabeth from On Tap for Today is a huge fan of Andalou Naturals' Turmeric + Gold Clay instant luminous face mask. "It comes in a super convenient one time use pod, which is perfect for travel, and leaves my skin feeling toned and looking brighter. I imagine this is what one might look like after a good night's sleep... for now, a weekly mask will have to do! ;)"

Alex of Literally-Everything uses the May Lindstrom Honey Mud to keep her skin hydrated, nourished and freed of the day's pollutants!

Kerry of Nothing Without Yoga uses Jacq's Organics Green Smoothie Scrub & Masque. "It was something I found at my first Well Summit Ever. It feels fantastic! I love how it is slightly cooling and when it hardens it isn't too much. Not to mention my skin feels fantastic after putting it on."

So tell me girl, what you masking with these days?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Don't Sweat Summer Event Sweat

*This post was written in collaboration with the wonderful people over at Follain.

It's wedding and Summer event season and well, I have got to be prepared for those afternoons into nights out, because believe it or not, this mother of two does have some actual nights out on her calendar. The one thing that I sweat about Summer events is, well, sweating. Eh, I'm not 100% the most glamorous girl you're ever gonna meet but at least I'm honest. I sweat and, gasp! even at fancy events where dancing and perhaps a little drinking is involved. Pro tip: Always drink lots of water because hydration is everything. When I am game-planning my overnight bag or even my purse, there are a couple of things that are the necessities that I must have to keep me so fresh and so clean when I'm out and about, keeping life interesting. Skincare is important, and catering it to your specific needs during specific seasons is a must.

Ursa Major Hoppin' Fresh Deodorant: Ursa Major is my favorite brand that both my husband and I can use. He likes that the scents aren't too floral or citrusy and I like that you can trust that they'll work without all the garbage chemicals in run of the mill deodorants. Pro Tip: Deodorants combat sweat.

RMS Beauty "Un" Powder: Sealing in makeup is key to getting through an afternoon or evening in the Summer heat. A safe alternative to talc based powders, this is a great option to keep the shine to a bare minimum.

Josh Rosebrook's Hydrating Accelorator: I'm sure my friends and family are sick of me telling them how much I love this product but dude, do I love this spray. It's refreshing, it smells like a dream and I know that even if I'm sweating profusely, this will make me feel renewed, at least until the last dance!

SW Basics Makeup Remover: Safe, Effective, Affordable. Hands down my favorite makeup remover. Absolutely, no way, no how, should you be leaving that heavy event makeup on, especially combined with sweat! This does have a sweet almond-y smell that I adore so be aware if you are sensitive to scents.

OSEA Ocean Cleanser:  After a sweaty night, it's important to wash your face, getting rid of all the gross residue and gunk from your makeup. I absolutely love this cleanser. It smells sweet, almost like Skittles and leaves the skin feeling so fresh.

Please tell me what you use to combat the Summer sweat! I'm always looking to build my natural beauty battalion into the best that it can be.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Trust in Your Gut (Health)

I received this product for free from Moms Meet ( to use and post my honest opinions. 

Gut health. It's a kind of a "buzz topic" in wellness these days. I've been working on it myself, doing research, drinking kombucha, looking into probiotics. It can be a little confusing to look into what works, what you should use, what can work for your lifestyle but one thing is for certain, gut health is very important for overall wellness. Your gut is responsible for proper digestion and if the bacteria in your gut is all out of whack, you can have gas, bloating,  diarrhea, constipation, and sometimes worse... so yeah, it's important to keep things in line there.

When I was offered the chance to try Restore, I was kind of on the fence about how I felt about using something like this but I'm glad I gave it a try, especially the nasal spray. Restore helps to holistically strengthen our gut barrier with no probiotics and sort of creates a firewall from the everyday exposure in our environment. RESTORE nurtures the body’s protective membranes in the gut and in the blood/brain barrier, enabling these membranes to keep us healthy. A diet loaded with highly-processed foods may cause the tight junctions of the intestinal wall to open from the gut into the bloodstream.

It's kind of a lot to think about but RESTORE makes it easy. I went to Wanderlust in Vermont last weekend and it was so fun but pretty dirty and of course in nature, there are allergens. I am seriously so glad that I brought my Restore Sinus Spray to clean my nasal passage of allergens, dust, dirt and other things that may have been clogging up. Squirt and immediately my entire head felt clearer. I may have received this first bottle for free but I'll be purchasing another to get me through the Summer. I was also able to bring my travel sized bottle of RESTORE with me so I could keep my regimen on track. I like what they're doing over at RESTORE and if you're looking to improve your gut health, I think you should definitely research them and see if their the right product for you. They're also offering a great discount code if you'd like to try for yourself, see it below and let me know what you think!

Monday, June 26, 2017

All the Olive Oil Please

*I received this product for free from Moms Meet ( to use and post my honest opinions.

I love olive oil. If you love olive oil, then I think we could be the best of friends. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is in my house at all times because I use it in my cooking multiple times a week. It's just my favorite way to cook. When Flavor Your Life offered to send me some EVOO as well as information on using the best from Europe (in this case Zucchi), I was like yes, please and thank you very much. What they sent was the most amazing package of not just olive oil but also some fantastic recipes for me to try at home with the fam. I rocked out the chunky sweet potato turkey chili and I don't think we'll ever look back.

Flavor Your Life is a campaign funded by The European Union and a consortium of European olive oil growers. The program aims to educate consumers on the benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Europe, including: Taste, Health, Functionality, Heritage, and Quality. Today, most consumers purchase and stock only 1 bottle of EVOO in their pantry at a time, compared to Europeans who have an entire cupboard of EVOOs for different occasions. The folks at Flavor Your Life want to encourage consumers to see EVOO in this way—different oils to complement different meals— just as we do with wines. 

I'll be completely honest. I'd never looked at olive oil that way before. I only had one bottle and that's basically how I would have probably spent the rest of my days unless someone educated me on the joys of different types of olive oils, especially those from Europe. The Europeans do have some of the most delicious foods and also appreciate the ingredients that they're using so why not take a closer look at the types of olive oils that they use for different foods, cooking and how it enhances your experience and the results. Like look at this Carrot Cake made with fruity extra virgin olive oil... I need to make that, like, yesterday. Olive oil fudge brownies? Yup, add that to my list of things to make. Not just for savory foods, olive oil is way more versatile than I originally thought.

While I might need to do some more educating myself (I just signed up for a Tuscan cooking class at the Boston Public Market Kitchen!), now that I'm aware of more types of olive oil and all the uses, I am definitely going to be more cognizant of what I'm buying and how I plan to use it. Turkey chili is a staple in my house but Mama can and will branch out because variety is the spice of life, which also goes for Extra Virgin Olive oil as well!

What's your experience with Extra Virgin Olive Oil? I'd love to hear all about it!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Back to Basics: Non-Toxic Options Delivered

*This post is in collaboration with the folks at Back to Basics. All opinions are 100% my own.

Honestly. sometimes it can be a bit daunting when I am trying to help people in my life understand how many products we use that contain harmful chemicals. It's not that people don't want to change their ways but it can be super hard when you don't know where to start. I get it and that's why I love people like the folks at Back to Basics. They want to help people make a health makeover. Eliminate the toxins from your life, replace the bad stuff with the good stuff, and celebrate as your health improves... that's what they aim to do!

When you're looking to change your ways, it' OK to ask for a little help. What I love about Back to Basics is they they offer full size products for you to try based on your choice of three boxes: the Eco Chic Chica (June's shown here), Go Green Gent (Men's self-care and cleaning products) and the Household Combo (Men, Women and cleaning products). You can trust that the products are much safer alternatives to the products you likely have been using. The boxes are carefully curated, researched and put together by a homeopath and wellness expert, Ashleigh Frager.

As someone who has been trying to live a cleaner, greener life, it's also great to get a box like this. I need help discovering my new favorite products, am I right? I am a lover of Erbaviva Baby sunblock so was psyched to get a new tube for my trip to NC (closer to the equator than MA) but I had yet to try the Radius Floss Sachets (Vegan! and Biodegradable!), rareESSENCE Aromatherapy Sleep (give me all the lavender-y roll ons, please!) and Molly Suds Oxygen Whitener (hello, I have kids, things get dingy so forget the OxyClean!). I was thrilled to be able to discover new brands to support and love via the Back to Basics box. Plus, if you love something, you can always purchase something individually from the shop, at a great deal.

Not only am I happy to have discovered Back to Basics but I am thrilled that they'll be joining us at this year's W.E.L.L. Summit! I feel like the W.E.L.L. Summit tribe is going to really embrace what they're doing and perhaps discover their new favorite products in the process.... I can't wait to meet Ashleigh, the founder, in person to thank her for helping me (and others) continue the good fight in leading a non-toxic life!

Have you tried Back to Basics yet? Check them out online, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

I Tried It: Violets are Blue Skincare

You know when you hear about a brand or a product and think to yourself, man, I gotta try that... but then months, sometimes longer goes by and you still haven't? That's what happened with me and Violets are Blue Skincare. I had heard about their products through the wellness grapevine and had always been interested in trying to work them into my beauty routine. You see, Violets are Blue Skincare is a company that not only makes clean beauty products. they are also do-gooders and those are my favorite types of people. After a Breast Cancer diagnosis, Violets' founder Cynthia Besteman discovered not only a love of creating safe skincare products but also a love of supporting a cause. The team at Violets are Blue are creating quality products for us and also contributing to their community. They are currently working with Mount Sinai's Dubin Breast Cancer Center proving women undergoing treatment a care package on their first day. They also invite their customers to contribute as well... but I suppose I should talk about the products, right? I'll give you a hint as to what I though: *thumbs up*

I was able to try a handful of some of the Violets are Blue products and was super pleased with the quality, especially the facial serum and the lip balm. I mean, I've tried A TON of lip balms and I have to say, this is on my tippy top of favorites. Priced at $12 it's a little expensive but it's good stuff. It's smooth and soft, smelling of lavender (which is my fave!) and really, really works to moisturize. Their Signature Line facial serum is top notch as well. Also somewhat lavender-y with a hint of carrot seed, this oil absorbs quickly and doesn't leave a lasting, obnoxious scent. It's also very light on the skin which I appreciate, because it keeps my routine moving faster rather than waiting on it to be less greasy.

I've tried a lot of clay masks and the iteration from Violets', the Smoothing Clay Mask, is on par with some of the better masks that I've used. It is a powder, which some people do not care for, but I am not opposed to making a little paste for myself. Using powdered coconut, Rock Rose, and White Clay, it's a pretty gentle blend that really left my skin glowing. Plus, I feel like this jar will last me for quite some time based on how much I've used so far. I would most definitely recommend to those looking for a nice clay mask option to keep in their Selfcare Sunday rotation.

I'd love to get my hands on the deodorant to try as well as their facial scrub, so those may be on my "to try next" list and now that I've gotten the chance to experience Violets are Blue Skincare, I may not wait so long before snagging another product.

*The folks at Violets are Blue sent me products to try but all opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

FatFace, Ethically and Responsibly Made Fashion

*This post is in partnership to my new besties at the FatFace store at Marketstreet in Lynnfield MA. Though this is one of those posts where I got something in exchange for writing, you bet your butts that my opinions are 100% mine and true and sometimes wacky.

You may remember that I took a little siesta brunch time break from reality last month with a bunch of bloggers and influencers and was introduced to the brand FatFace. They have a beautiful store at Marketstreet in Lynnfield. The clothes are adorable and obviously, I love to shop... but when I learned more about the brand from Spenser and the team there, I fell in love with their company's culture, thoughtfulness and the way that they offer slow fashion at an affordable price. FatFace is, simply put, washed in happiness.

Originating in the UK, the brand has recently launched in the US with stores in the Northeast and I've been lucky enough to find a convenient and moreover, crushworthy location in Lynnfield. When I had my first visit to their store, I was given the low down on what was important to the brand when bringing their products to the consumer. Designed in England and produced ethically, sustainability and responsible sourcing of materials and labor is tippy top on the priority list for the FatFace brand. If you check out their code of conduct, it's VERY specific and leaves you feeling extremely confident that you are supporting a brand who cares about their supply chain. They are nothing like what you'll see on your run of the mill mall brand's site, which is usually vague and leaves you questioning who made your clothes and using what kinds of materials. The fashion industry is one of the biggest pollutants in the world, so if we can make more mindful choices about where we are purchasing and making those purchases count (ex: FatFaces "hero" pieces), we'll be doing our part to keep clothing out of landfills and overall, just feel good about supporting brands that care.

In addition to the feel goods when you know who made your clothes, it's important to feel good wearing them. This here is going to be one of my Summer Mom uniforms. The Irish linen pieces at FaceFace right now are just so thumbs up. I should know, I was raised on linen. Soft, flowy and the highest quality, you can see right on the tag that they're using the best materials. Baird McNutt has been creating the finest linen for 100 years and these shorts are proof that they're doing something right. Breathable, comfortable and fantastic texture... perfection. Don't even get me started on all the fun prints that they have going on right now. They've got some jungle themes that I'm totally swooning over!

Follow FatFace Lynnfield on Instagram to get sneak peeks at what they've got going on this Summer as well as keep updated on events they are taking part in. In talking to the store team, they are setting up shop for adventure on the North Shore! Also stay tuned for more peeks at what kind of fantastic stuff that you can pick up on your next trip to Marketstreet!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Local Lovin': Ser Verde Shoes

Shoes Shoes, Glorious Shoes. You know I love 'em, you know I wear 'em and you know that I am always on the lookout for new pairs to come home and live in my home. I was perusing my Instagram one day, as I often do, and a joint event between my buds at Urban Grape and a brand I'd not come across, Ser Verde Shoes popped up in my feed. A shoe brand that's local and I hadn't heard of them? For shame on me, a lover of shoes. Well, I knew I wanted to know more about their brand and since I'd been skulking on the 'nets I decided to reach out and get the lowdown on what Ser Verde shoes are all about! I caught up with Amy Lambroukos-Silva, owner and designer with some of my Local Lovin' questions!

Give us a little background as to how Ser Verde Shoes came about. What initially drove you to start your brand?

I was traveling five years ago and found these beautiful Spanish style shoes. I bought a few pairs and initially fell in love with them. Years after that I searched all around the US for similar style shoes with the same quality and did not have success in finding them here. So I got in touch with the factory through where I bought the shoes and started the business with my husband, Chris. Ser Verde means be green which just really came to me.
When creating your products, where do you take inspiration from?

I love our customer feedback and definitely take note of that. Everyone of course has a different styles, which makes designing so much fun. I love the beach and the ocean so we designed our shoes with a boat friendly natural colored rubber sole so it does not scuff a boat's deck and the natural color is really pretty and matches every leather that we work with.

I love the way that you have shaped your business. Plus it's no secret that I love shoes and I would assume you do too. What's it like to have shoes be your bread and butter? (as you can see, I'm very, very jealous!

I have always love shoes myself so this has been so much fun for me and I feel like it makes you work harder when you have a deep passion about what you are doing. We are still only a year into this business so we are hoping to make the bread-and-butter soon but it is a process. But we are very positive that it is going in the right direction.

What do you love to do in New England, when you aren't busy running your business?

We are both born and bred New Englanders. We are both more summer people than winter. We love New England beaches and spending time with our three-year-old son Preston who is also very much a beach person, yay!!! We love traveling up to Kennebunkport and going to Goose Rocks Beach. We also love lobster so any summer travels around New England definitely include that. We also love Nantucket and are selling our shoes over at SkinnyDip on South Wharf this summer. So we are hoping to make some more trips over for a little business as well as pleasure. 
You have certainly found some fantastic early success! Where do you see Ser Verde Shoes headed in the future?

We see ourselves expanding outside of New England because we are focusing this business around primarily a summer type of shoe. And hope to do more wholesale around the country as well as some trunk shows which have been great so far. We are also collaborating with Calypso St. Barth this summer starting soon. We are extremely excited about that. 

 You can find Ser Verde online, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Zoo New England + the Nature's Neighborhood

Hey guys, it's Amanda here... the Amanda that is always looking for things to do with an energetic three year old lover of all things outdoors and running loose and wild, much like an animal. When I heard about the new Nature's Neighborhood Children's Zoo at Franklin Park Zoo (a part of Zoo New England) I knew that it would be the ultimate in what the kid is interested in these days and to boot, I love visiting the zoo dating back to when I was young. I met up with my friend Jessica and her little peanut on the first warm and sunny day we could get our hands on to check out the new Children's zoo as well as some of their tried and true exhibits as well (I see you gorgeous gorillas!)

Some things to be excited about at the new Children's Zoo:

  • *Bamboo Climber, incorporating live bamboo plantings and an array of vertical, tilted, crossed and intersecting “bamboo” poles
  • *Eagle’s Nest, a giant eagle’s nest built around an oak tree offering an “eagle’s-eye” view of the Zoo
  • *Grass Maze: perennial grasses make for a perfect maze in which children explore looking for sculpted elements representing animals that live in the grasslands.
  • *Prairie Dog Pop Up: The new prairie dog town provides a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with these adorable little critters
  • *Safe environment! Well, this is for the Moms and Dads to be excited about 😉
  • *Beautiful landscaping... also something more for the Moms and Dads!
  • *Different neighborhoods/ecosystems to explore (the Zootopia fans in us LOVE this)
  • *The Blanding's Turtle Project + more!

The sheer amount of children enjoying the zoo on our visit was amazing. I guess it had been awhile since I had visited a zoo and had the opportunity to see it through a child's eyes. I mostly see things on the run with a three year old and a 5 month old in tow but the beauty of the Franklin Park Zoo is that there is plenty to see, room to roam and it's a great environment to just let them be kids/stare down camels.

I can't wait to bring my pygmy hippopotamus back to experience the nooks and crannies that we didn't get to explore this time around. I think that's the beauty of visiting the zoo: each trip can be a different and special and memorable... also, my kid just loves to play hard and have fun which is encouraged at the Franklin Park Zoo- and car naps afterwards are almost guaranteed.

Do you want to win a 4 pack of passes to visit the Nature's Neighborhood Children's Zoo this Summer? Just comment below with your favorite thing about visiting the zoo- A winner will be picked at random on Friday June 9th!

*I received a membership in partnership with Zoo New England. All opinions are 100% mine.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sun Basket, an Organic and Non-GMO Meal Box

“I received this product for free from Moms Meet ( to use and post my honest opinions. Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links.”

There are a lot of meal box services out there and I've tried almost all of them. I really liked the first one that I tried a couple of years ago but the needs of my family have changed and I've been looking for something more mindful, enter Sun Basket an organic, non-GMO meal basket with paleo, gluten-free and vegetarian options. It's a more thoughtful approach to the meal box, which is something that's important to me. It's the best food from the best farms, sustainable both raised and sourced. I was lucky enough to try this meal box service through Moms Meet but they pretty much had a return customer when I opened the box and saw Vietnamese Steak Stir Fry with Jasmine Rice... and it was delicious and just as importantly, it was quick and easy to make.

Having two kids at home, dinner is sometimes fly by the seat of my pants. If I've got time, I try to make us healthy meals, and often our best meals are slow cooker ones that I was able to launch before my husband leaves for work. What I love about Sun Basket is that they've got great ingredients, the kind that I often let die in my veggie crisper, it's got them portioned out into little containers and are labeled for me, especially if there is an ingredient I've never used before. They also give you the full recipes, like here are all the ingredients and the spices you will need to recreate this. Other meal boxes that I've tried have noted "Special Spice Blend" which is no help to me if I wanted to make the meal again.

Both my husband and son approved of the meals that I put together, which goes a long way, especially when they'd both prefer a burger a fries but we most definitely needed this opportunity branch out. They've got a return customer in me, especially since using this special Moms Meet link, you can get 50% off of your first box, which is a pretty good deal compared to other meal boxes starters.

*I received complimentary meals from Sun Basket but all opinions are 100% mine.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Plant Outside the Box Sponsored by Wayfair

I always jump at the chance to work with Wayfair, especially when they want me to create something fun. You may remember my meditation table last Fall so when they reached out about a planter challenge, I was game. Basically, I chose something that is NOT a planter and then turned it into one. Fun, right? I chose the Mikasa 3 Tier Metal Basket from their website and aimed to make my own herb garden with swinging baskets... I'm very pleased with the outcome!

So don't tell my husband but I totally did this inside. Let's just say that between the two of us, I am the mess maker. It's been gloomy and rainy in my neck of the woods and when you want to get stuff done, well, you just do it! I toddled between my sun room and the deck to create this three tier, swinging herb garden. The transformation is so super simple that I would recommend this to literally anyone. It took me less than an hour from putting the baskets together (very easy) to planting my herbs. When I was at the garden center picking up my herb plants (dill, basil, thyme, pineapple mint, spearmint, peppermint, rosemary and cilantro) and potting soil, I grabbed some natural fibered plant liners for inside the basket as well as some planter pads to keep them from heavy duty leaking after watering. I planned to have this piece outdoors and would make some changes if I ever decided to use it indoors.

After forming the liners inside the baskets, I planted my herbs while the baskets were hanging. Since they are at angle I wanted the plants to hang in a pretty way and in one in which I believe they'd be happy growing. I tiered them out and added some vinca vine for an aesthetic choice because FYI, I love vines and will use the every year no matter what. Isn't this basil swoon worthy?!

The baskets of this piece swing on little hooks and it's going to be really cool to see how these herbs grow out and down.  Since I added the planter pads, these will be able to have a little help with keeping moist. While this is admittedly an experiment, I have a really good feeling about this herb garden thriving over the course of this Summer. Who knows, I may be looking to bring it inside once Fall comes around, though like I said, we'd have to rethink the drainage as in there would be too much!

So an hour's worth of work and I've got myself quite the fancy looking herb garden with everything I'll need for my favorite Summer dishes, Fresh basil on caprese salads, cilantro in yummy guacamole, pineapple mint in refreshing mojitos... you get the picture! I can't wait until these plants grow bigger and the baskets really start filling out. After these May showers, there had better be some lush looking greenery on the other side of the gloomy days!

Have you ever created a planter out of something unexpected? I would love to see it!