Monday, April 27, 2015

A Business with Heart, Littlest Warrior

I "met" Michelle of Littlest Warrior the way that I have met so many lovely people that I admire... through stalking the nets! Some people, I am fortunate enough to meet in person, due to convenient geographical distance but others, I have to depend on words and photos to paint a picture of their personalities. I found Michelle and her family through their Instagram account via Nothing Down About It, a blog about one Mom's new journey having a child with Down Syndrome. Oakley's little Welles was wearing a Littlest Warrior tee in an recent Instagram post. The tee said "Be Kind" with the words spelled out in graphic letters but also sign language. Spreading joy, awareness and inclusion, one rad tee at a time... now that sounded like something I could get my arms around for a big hug. Fast forward to about an hour (and a few touched tears) later, clicking through Instagram photos, bouncing back and forth between Michelle's account and all her dear, sweet, empowered supporters. I was like "Man, the Internet can be amazing."

I bought one of the "Laughter is my Favorite Medicine" tees even though I was on a self imposed spending ban. From what I could tell, all the designs sell out fast and I didn't want to miss the opportunity to support her brand new business and show people that I wanted my family to be one that represents kindness, inclusion and joy... but wait, I couldn't stop there. I needed to help get Littlest Warrior out to a few more people, because I know that with one person telling another, good things have a tendency to spread. I emailed Michelle (because meeting up in Orange County was out of the question) and discovered she is pretty much my new favorite person. Here are a few reasons why:

Friday, April 24, 2015

Ladies I Love: Summer Land, Summerlandish + a Giveaway

I was introduced to the super funny lady, Summer Land, by a super sweet lady, Miss Emily of Shell Chic'd. She said that Summer was one of the funniest people she had ever met. Obvi, I did a little digging. I love funny people. Let's start with her hilarious video series on YouTube called Confessions of Another Blonde on the Internet. Then add in her just as funny blog. Yep, she is as funny as we'd expected. When Summer offered me the chance to read her book and ask her a few questions, I lept at the chance. It's hard to explain exactly what I thought of Summerlandish, Do as I Say, Not as I Did, but I know that I really liked it. To say that her book both horrified me and made me laugh hysterically, would be no lie. This woman likes to share and is not one to shy away from telling a good story, even if it's embarrassing. The book is about her life but not in one consecutive stream of thought; rather the book is a group of small (and hilarious) stories about everything from using the litter box to Halloween costumes. She refers to her mother by her first name, Donna, and let's just say that when Donna is involved, it's sure to be amusing. There is a lot to love about this book and at it's foundation is Summer herself, a woman with personality in spades, wit to rival the best and sure, she's pretty but that's just the icing on the cake. I got to chat with Summer for a bit, let's see what she had to say...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

5 Easy Ways to Make Your Home Earth Friendly

Yeah, it's Earth Day, which is wonderful! I love that we spend a day (or week or even month) recognizing that we have to take care of our planet, to keep it healthy for all time. In my opinion, every day should be Earth day; we should make the effort every day if we can. Here are some quick/easy/cost efficient ways to make your home eco-friendly with minimal effort. Every little bit counts, am I right?

Recycle/Reuse/Repurpose/Refurbish: This seems like a given but it's a simple way to limit the amount of waste that your home contributes to landfills. Set up bins in a convenient area of your home for recyclables (paper, cardboard, aluminum cans, glass bottles and some plastics) and make sure they get where they need to go. Have things that can be reused? Well find a way to reuse them. Image isn't everything. If I need to use that plastic container my rice pudding came in, for leftovers... well, you can bet I am using it.  Find ways to repurpose furniture and other household items instead of throwing them away. Try to fix things before you toss them. The more you contribute in the home, the less that ends up in landfills.

Conserve in Your Home: Another one that seems like common sense but it's also easy to be wasteful if you're not mindful of the space that you live in. There are so many SUPER easy ways you can make changes.

  • Turn off lights when leaving the room. 
  • Replace your incandescent with Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs.
  • Unplug your TV. TVs use energy when they are on stand by, which can be up to 17 hours a day.
  • Turn down your thermostat and cuddle up with loved ones.
  • Use Low Energy appliances, they use 10-50% less energy!
  • Compost Kitchen scraps and organic matter. It's less garbage in the landfills and also eases the costs/efforts of trash removal.
  • Clean with vinegar, it's nature's way of killing bacteria, germs and mold.
  • Use the microwave, it uses 50% less energy than a conventional oven. If you're going to use the over, why not multi-task by using all the oven racks to warm multiple dishes at once.
  • Always run a full load in the dishwasher.
  • Don't let water run unnecessarily in your home. Washing dishes, brushing your teeth, watering your plants. Only let water run for what is needed.

Use Earth Friendly Products in Your Home: From great brands like Seventh Generation and Green Works, there are ways to stay Green and Earth Friendly with the products that you purchase. We use Seventh Generation toilet paper and paper towels in our home, which are made with recyclable paper. We need to use toilet paper so make an educated purchase when choosing the brand. This goes for cleaning products and what we clean our skin with as well. Good for the Earth = Good for You.

Grow Houseplants: Be green in your home and improve the air quality in your home by growing (and keeping alive) house plants. Plants remove toxins from the air and make your home a fresher and more healthy living environment.

DIY instead of BUY: Have that touch? Make cleaning and beauty products at home with all natural ingredients. Not only will you save money but you will save the packaging of buying in stores, which is often not easily recycled.

What do you do in your home to make it more Earth friendly?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Have you ever seen a shirt that you were immediately like, "that's the cutest!" That is exactly how I felt when I saw my girl Emily of Shell Chic'd wearing a Cinder + Salt tee on her Instagram feed. I mean, pretty much everything Emily wears is super cute but this tee caught my eye because well, they are local and that means they deserve my love even more! I reached out to Rachel, the owner and creative director over at Cinder + Salt to get her take on entrepreneurship, design ideas and what drives her vision for her sustainable and eco-friendly business practices. She really has something great in Cinder + Salt and I can't wait to see what is in store for their brand! Check out the deets after the jump, because this is an apparel line that you won't want to miss learning about.

Give us a little background on how Cinder+Salt came to be. What inspired you to start this brand?

I've always wanted to be self employed, ever since I was a little kid. I have a strong background in the arts and come from a very DIY-spirited family. My dad taught me to screenprint when I was 10 years and it was a trade that really spoke to me. So, I've been printing ever since and cinder + salt just evolved from employing the skills I had and the life I wanted to lead.

You have a passion for eco friendly and sustainable products, which is awesome! What/When/How/Where/Why did this become something you strived for in your own business?

Being a good steward of the Earth has always been one of my top priorities. In fact, most of my earliest childhood memories revolve around the Earth- specifically a memory of walking around with my family at an Earth Day Festival; watching the animated cartoon of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss; and a visit to the Trash Museum on a school field trip in 4th grade when I learned the true importance and value of recycling. Its not a question of if we should be keeping the Earth in mind- it's a question of how much we can actually do. And I think, as one person with a small business, I can make a pretty big difference. I'm uncompromising in my values when it comes to running an eco-friendly business- I don't really even think about it. Its just a way of life.  

You cover all the bases with Womens, Mens and Kids apparel (loving the ties BTW). As far as the creative element of your products, where does the inspiration come from?

Honestly, ideas just pop in my head. I don't know where they come from or why I decide to make any certain designs, but I often just envision a shirt with an image in a certain color- I sit down and draw a sketch and then stow it in my purse until I can make a prototype.

I do however get a lot of requests from my customers and for those I do research. Pinterest is helpful in building out my vision around an image. For example, I've had a lot of requests for elephants so I started pinning images of elephants in profile, in the wild, straight outlines or sketches. I looked at origami elephants and baby clothes with elephants. Ultimately it helped inform my drawing as to how I wanted the elephant to stand or move on the shirt and gave me an idea of the feeling I wanted to capture through my color choices. I ended up using a deep merlot ink on a burgundy tee because the red/purple color feels regal and important, but the tonal value of the print is humble and understated- just like elephants!

I'm also a huge fan of color. Each season I order new color cards from my distributors and samples of all the new colors they're carrying in shirts I like. I often just come up with ideas based on the color selections.

When you aren't running your business, what do you love to do in New England?

I love walking around small New England towns. I love the architecture and the old-timey feel of New England. I also like to be near the ocean or in the mountains- which New England has plenty of. Unfortunately, I'm almost always working so fun-time is rare these days. 

It looks like you've got something good going here, Rachel! Where do you see Cinder + Salt headed in the future?

One of my biggest goals is one I don't talk much about, but I'd love for cinder + salt to have a vast, captive audience so that we can create a greater impact for the Earth. I'm a big fan of Jack Johnson's All At Once Campaign which is all about small steps multiplied by millions, creating great change for the environment. I'd love for cinder + salt to have a voice that loud and an impact that can reach that far.

I'm currently spending a great deal of time and energy figuring out how to grow the brand without compromising the things that are most important. Reading, researching, learning, growing, figuring it out, thinking big, networking, hustlin', making moves. I don't want to look back and think that I wasn't doing enough to accomplish my goals. I'm looking at creating more jobs this year and expanding our retail presence in other stores, which are pretty exciting steps in their own right.
You can find Cinder + Salt online, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Tasty Tidbits

The grey and pink checkered Gymboree shirt has certainly paid for itself over and over. The Propah Baby looks like a little ham/ handsomest baby ever, from pictures at the Mall, to brunch to this past weekend's Post Easter lunch at my Aunt's.

In case you were wondering which live action reboot that Disney is working on after the success of Cinderella and the forthcoming Beauty and the Beast, wellp, it's Mulan! Can't say I am upset that this is the new direction for Disney. My husband is always quick to remind me that Disney and Pixar are two different studios so I can't continue to lump them together as successful. I am happy that the Disney studio is seeing success on it's own. (via The Hollywood Reporter)

This photographer is trying to change how we all view males as a the primary caretaker. If nothing else, it's a great series that has made a case for paternal leave being important just as maternity leave is. (via Cosmopolitan)

I'll keep reminding you, especially since there is less than two weeks left!  Yoga Reaches Out New England Yogathon is taking place Sunday April, 26th at the Field House at Gillette Stadium. I joined my yoga studio's team and am raising money for Yoga Reaches OutBen Speaks Louder than Words and Boston Children's Hospital. I have never done two 2 hour sessions in a day but I think it will be super fun and for a great cause! Want to help me secure a mat space and also help these awesome charities? You can visit my personal page here to make a donation of any size!

People with Down Syndrome pose for stunning portraits meant to raise awareness and show that people with Down Syndrome are diverse and unique just like everyone else in the world. (via Sigella)

When my spending freeze is up, I think I may welcome the warm weather with something along the lines of these Unionbay floral sandals. I am certainly not going to spend willy nilly but these may be a nice treat for this Mama.

48 Summer Movies We Can't Wait to See ... perhaps I want to see them all because I have a baby and would have to get a sitter and I can't go to the movies whenever I please anymore.... but I WILL see Jurassic World. (via

Friday, April 10, 2015

No Longer a Slave to Cable

This past week has been our first full week without cable TV. We made the decision not lightly. You see, my husband and I have many "programs". There are our cable favorites like The Walking Dead, Gotham, Bates Motel and Last Man on Earth. Then there is HBO for Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, Veep and more. I mean, we like to watch a lot of programs... but this March marked our second year in the house and like Cinderella at the stroke of midnight, the magical spell called the Verizon Fios "Triple Play Bundle" was going to jump in price. Now believe me, I talked to many a Verizon associate to try to finagle the same pricing that we were accustomed to over the past two years. We just wanted to keep what we had, after all. Unfortunately, cable television does not work that way. At the very best deal that they could "help us out with", we would be spending over $300 more per year. After doing some quick math, if we ditched the cable (and home phone), keeping only the internet, we would save $1000 year on year. C'mon, was there any question?

With subscription services like Netflix ($7.99 a month), Amazon Prime with streaming ($99 per year), Hulu Plus ($7.99 a month) and the forthcoming HBO stand alone streaming service, we can get literally any show that we want to watch, except for The Walking Dead (darnit!). We can listen to podcasts and npr through the TV if we need a News fix. The set up is working so far and we have been pretty happy with the amount of TV that we are able to watch, and for much less than we had been spending.

This past week, I have been going through slight withdrawals from Bravo TV. Bravo limits their content streaming so I have only seen snippets of the RHOBH reunion and that has KILLED me but I will tell you something... it's nice having more quiet in the house most of the time. If the TV goes on, it is with a purpose, not just for background noise. I think that this one of the best decisions that we have made in a long time. I will be curious to see how long it takes for streaming to become the main source of TV consumption and when will prices catch up with that trend. Until then, we will be a streaming, reading, peace and quiet type of household.

Did you quit cable TV? Are you thinking about it?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

I met Julia at the Wholefoods Hello Beauty! event and was immediately pretty smitten with her outlook on making the overhaul of your body's wellness needs. She made mention that it was never too late to start making changes and I really took that to heart. The Propah Baby and I took a moment to chat with her after the presentations, and I am not going to lie, we had a small crush! Thesis Beauty, out of Somerville, MA, offers a pretty rad line of Bath, Body, Skin and Home products that are created in small batches (right here in the USA) to keep things fresh and potent. They also want everyone to be able to afford to use all natural products, which is why they work on making vegan, eco friendly beauty accessible. They are beauty purists over at Thesis Beauty and I am most certainly picking up what they are putting down. I was able to ask Julia a couple of questions about Thesis beauty and where they are headed!

Give us a little detail as to how Thesis Beauty came about. What initially drove you to start Thesis as a brand? 

It all started when we were setting on a path to detoxification (as a part of preparation for our future children) and natural well-being which spread into every aspect of our lifestyle, including skincare. It became clear that things we put on our skin can be detrimental not only to the appearance but also contribute to the long-term, serious health issues (what? your lotion or deo??). I was looking for natural & organic products that would be completely preservative and synthetics free which actually was a definition of natural and organic to me, but I I couldn't find any. Most products contained something harsh and not so natural in them, while something really good and pure was unattainably expensive. It was also important for me that things that I buy are vegan and eco-friendly, but most stuff I found either contained animal-derived products or was packaged in plastic. Out of desperation and not wanting to settle for anything less, I decided to whip up my own skincare products that would combine all attributes that are important to me - organic, vegan, eco-friendly, synthetics-/preservative-free, and of course affordable (otherwise how can you really make a change?). 

When creating your products, where do you take inspiration from?  

The inspiration comes from old-world apothecaries, Victorian era of exploration and beautiful, lush aesthetic. Formulas are inspired by my family's tradition of creating and using home remedies. My Mom and Grandma were able to whip up a mask out of anything and they also used alternative healing methods to remedy various aches and pains and even manage serious, chronic conditions. Nature's bounty and hidden powers fascinate me like nothing else. The creative side of me also finds a lot of inspiration in classical art, music, history and philosophy which reflects in our branding. On top of all the important, practical attributes, as a skincare user I make it a point to create beautiful packaging. Lovely, beautifully decorated bottles which make you smile may have their own therapeutic effect :) 

Oh my, you have a Mom and Baby line! As a new mother, I am always concerned about what I am putting on my baby but not always as thoughtful about what I am using on myself. What makes this line so great for Mom and Baby alike? 

Great question! As you know, your skin is your body's largest organ and it participates in metabolism just like the internal organs do. That's why some medicines, nicotine patches, birth control and other things are applied topically - because absorbed through the skin, they get into the blood stream and circulate in our system. Since stuff gets into our blood stream, while you're pregnant, your baby is sharing everything you put in and on your body. That's why organic, healthy diet, properly filtered water and generally healthier lifestyle are so important for your child's early development. And so is skincare - all the chemicals that you will be absorbing through your skin have a chance to ultimately travel through the blood stream to your baby. If they are dangerous for adults, they are probably no healthier for babies either. That's why we created a clean, pure, unscented line that has no synthetics, no preservatives, no fillers or substitutes. It's all organic, cold-pressed ingredients that are powerful moisturizers and truly nourish mother's skin which is going through a lot of changes - all without any harm to the baby. When the baby is born, these products will gently protect the skin from moisture loss without stirring up or inducing any allergies which scented products can trigger.

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

Love-love New England! Rich culture, history, stunning architecture and natural beauty - all in one place, that's priceless! We love exploring all the big and tiny cities and communities around Boston and in the neighboring states, soak up as much as possible and channel this inspiration into our lives and products. It's also a lot of fun to discover various community events, for example Somerville porch fest and other spontaneous or organized local happenings around here, which give NE it's unique, awesome flavor. A special note about the incredible sense of community that we are witnessing here. People are so supportive, friendly and warm, it's so very touching and fills our hearts with immense gratitude. There is also a large, devoted vegetarian/vegan community here which we hugely appreciate. 

You seen to have been super successful so far! Where do you see Thesis Beauty headed in the future? 

Thank you for the kind words :) In the future we're definitely sustaining all the principles and philosophy that we started with. Since inception, the company's mission has been to help people switch to healthier living and thus help the planet to avoid chemical pollution through supporting organic agriculture and cruelty-free, vegan ingredients. We have new products in development constantly and would love to be able to offer our customers a great one-stop-shopping experience for many things holistic, organic and eco-conscious. 

You can catch Thesis Beauty on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!  

Monday, April 6, 2015

Our Easter Brunch at Nashoba Valley Winery

Yesterday we had one of the best days we've had in a long time. The weather has been weather for what seems like months upon months upon months. Though there was a definitely chill in the air for Easter, and yes, it was a touch gloomy but it was nice to just get out with my new-ish little family for a well deserved Easter brunch! We joined other lovely folks at the Nashoba Valley Winery in Bolton, MA for fruit wines, Spring flowers and what the baby thought was the best day of  his entire life (it had a little something to do with shiny plastic Easter eggs)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Hello Beauty!, Natural Beauty and a New Outlook on my Beauty Biz

I went to a beauty event at the Wholefoods in Lynnfield, MA a couple of weekends ago. I haven't written about it because dang it, I've been really busy, guys! Along with the 21 Day Fix and my spending freeze, I have been trying to make our family unit better and more healthy. Being that this event was at Wholefoods, I popped the baby in the car and made a Sunday afternoon out of it. Since then, I have been really (I mean REALLY) inspired to start cleaning up my act as far as my skincare and beauty routines are concerned! My eyes were opened up to a whole new world of brands that keep your skin and body happy, without pouring on the chemicals, which happens all too frequently.

I mean, I am mindful of what I am bathing my baby in, I should be mindful of what I am putting on my own body right?  I know some of my friends have made changes in their skincare due to sensitivities and allergies, which is a great catalyst to make a switch up in your beauty batting order. Unfortunately for my inner motivator, I haven't had much of a need to break the status quo, Until now...

There were some local brand on hand at the Hello Beauty! event, Laughing Tree Organics, Shamanuti and Thesis Beauty, all with the women behind the lines on site (which was awesome)... These gals put on some great presentations about what natural and organic skincare can do for you and how it helps the environment, all the way from conception, to creation and even the packaging. These women are thinking about everything, bottling it up and giving us the opportunity to live a little more healthy. I am thinking you might be hearing from a couple of these gals in the near future, here on Prim and Propah! 
I guess what I am trying to say is that I am going to try to turn over a new, and more natural, leaf. I can make changes which will then become habit. I grabbed my ticket to the 1st Inaugural W.E.L.L. Summit Tickets (being held this November in Boston, MA) this week and am really looking forward to connecting with other like minded and well seasoned natural living people, since this a journey that I am just starting to take. I am not saying that everything in my life is going to make a complete turnaround right away or even ever but I can make some easy changes now that should help in the long run.

Do you make an effort to include more natural things into your every day? Was it a choice or do you have allergies? Do you have any recommendations for me?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Month of Spending on Necessities Only... Wish Me Luck

I was reading my friend Molly's blog this past week and was completely inspired by her post documenting her month long journey in not spending excess money. Her goal, to sum it up, was to spend money only on food for an entire month, then document what she wanted to spend on and then what she actually did. I think it was a great exercise and so obvi, had to take a go at it myself. Imitation is the best form of flattery, right Mol? Starting today, and continuing through the month of April, I will be doing my darndest to put money in the bank and keep it there and this ain't no April Fools Joke!

I'm laying out the rules as follows:
  • I can only buy food (including pre-arranged meals out), gas, necessities for baby such as diapers, wipes, bum cream etc. 
  • I can pay set monthly bills- Car pmt, Internet, Cell etc
  • I cannot ask my husband to pick up anything besides food, though we are on the 21 day fix so I do most of the shopping anyhow.
  • Trips to Dunks, Starbucks, Fast Food etc should not be considered food purchases

Things I had already pre-paid for/have on the books in the month of April:

I will keep track of the following:
  • What I wanted to buy but didn't
  • What I wanted to buy and did/didn't for the baby
  • How often I wanted to shop out of boredom, if I could pinpoint the feeling
  • When did I succumb to the urge to purchase for something unnecessary and did I put thought into this purchase before pulling the trigger.

I think this is an exciting challenge/exercise to become more aware of what I am spending and where I am spending it. My end goal is to make more mindful purchases and far fewer impulse ones. At the very least, I can make it through a few weeks keeping my shopping urges under control! *crosses fingers* Catch me on the flip and I'll let you know how I did!

What do you think? If Molly can do it, so can I!