Monday, January 30, 2017

I Tried It: Bottega Organica + a Giveaway!

You know I have so much love for the W.E.L.L. Summit and something that was a treat upon little treats was a sample in the luxe gift bag, a little sample of the Bottega Organica face balance. The stuff is what dreams are made of. I had to know more about this brand so I totally reached out to them. The great thing about green/clean/eco beauty is that it is becoming easier and easier to find but now that there are more brands offering these safe, non-toxic options, you've got to be interested to see what they are about! I'm super happy that I discovered Bottega Organica for a multitude of reasons. First of all, they're creating their products on a farm in upstate NY, not far over the Massachusetts border, like, hello dreamy. If I didn't have a newborn, I'd take a day, make an appointment and see what they're doing all over there. And then there are the fantastic products. Seriously.

They were nice enough to send me some products to try out. In my rotation now are the Bottega Organica Nourish Face Oil, Calm Face Mist and the Body Contour Formula. Each fits into my current beauty lifestyle seamlessly. Post pregnancy motherhood has been different this time around and so I've sort of been searching for new items that fit my new needs. I have to say that I love each and every one of these products for different reasons.

The Calm Face mist is definitely something I use daily and would recommend for general use. It's a cucumber mist that cools and soothes, something I have needed for my face's tendency to dry out during the day and the most recent occurrence, post partum blemishes and blotchiness. I haven't been wearing a ton of makeup lately so this spray has been on hand for use whenever I feel like I need it.

The Nourish Face Oil is on par with the quality face oils/serums that I've tried and use regularly. Rosemary, lemon balm, grape leaves and French lilac deliver skin-purifying and soothing antioxidants to the skin. The smell is delightful. If you know me, you know that scent, or lack thereof depending on the product, is a big deal to me. I don't like something on my face that I will smell all day and inevitably annoy me. The nourish face oil has a light lavender smell with a hint of herbiness which pleases this Mama. Moreover the oil doesn't sit greasy on my face. It soaks in nicely, allowing me to move on with my face routine, moisturizer then makeup (if I'm feeling adventurous) with no problems with absorption.

I specifically requested the Body Contour Formula because the thing that I've most been searching for in the eco-natural-green beauty realm is a product that I can use to combat my cellulite prone areas. This product touts "Pure organic chili peppers are rich in capsaicin molecules that enhance micro-circulation in cellulite-prone areas while peppermint stimulates and energizes the skin. This synergic action favors deep tissue penetration and rejuvenation from the activity of prawn sage and natural vitamins from carrot and apricot." I was intrigued. The smell is killer, like I love it, so good. I've been using it after my morning showers and it works as a basic body oil. The only difference to what I might daily use is that it is a darker orange color and does include chili peppers which could sting if you get it in your eyes so I would caution that. That being said, I really do feel like this is going to be one of my faves, if not my favorite body oil. It's really a high quality product and I'm already dreading running out of it!

Bottega Organica wants to share what they're creating with Prim and Propah readers! Are you excited? Well, you should be! One reader will be able to win the following Bottega Organica products: one bottle of Nourish Face Oil, a bottle of Comfort Hand Balm and also a sample strip of some of their most popular products (Cleanse face oil, Morning face oil, Redefine eye contour serum, Cherish face balm, Comfort hand balm.) all a value of over $130! Enter in the Rafflecopter below. US residents only!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 27, 2017

Local Lovin': Thorn & Bloom

I was first introduced to Thorn & Bloom at this past W.E.L.L. Summit and actually purchased a fragrance from them (Savage Garden, Thank you!). Finding a fragrance that isn't filled with chemicals is as important to me as finding a face oil that is safe and non-toxic so as you can imagine, I was really drawn to Thorn & Bloom for their dedication to using natural ingredients to provide a long lasting, quality scent... when I found out that they were out of Somerville, MA I knew that I wanted to reach out to the founder/creative mind behind the brand, Jennifer Botto, to catch up and give her some Local lovin'. She'll be hearing from me soon, since I regret not grabbing the Orange Blossom scent as well... I mean, a girl has to have options! OK, now let's chat!

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

I'm very sensitive to synthetic perfumes and could never wear them without experiencing discomfort. When I switched to natural perfumes, I found many 'aromatherapy' style blends on the market but nothing that really spoke to me. I missed the complexity, sophistication and longevity of synthetics but could do without all the harmful ingredients and 'synthetic' olfactory qualities. I started Thorn & Bloom as a way to bridge the gap between aromatherapy and fine fragrances, naturally. Since then, I've found that many of my customers have gone through the same search and are thrilled to see a brand that addresses these issues. Perfume is often the very last item in a person's beauty repertoire to be replaced with a natural formulation because wearers are so reluctant to give up on the qualities they've grown accustomed to in synthetic perfume. Thorn & Bloom strives to make that switch easier, offering truly fine 100% natural fragrances that rival the very best synthetics.

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

I often rely on memory and nostalgia when formulating. For instance, Stranger in the Cherry Grove is an homage to my father's cherry pipe tobacco that I remember so vividly from childhood. Scent can be such a powerful trigger; it's very satisfying to recreate those memories in the form of an ether, almost like bottling a memory.

I love that you have shaped your business to be authentic and ethical in the creation of botanical perfumes. Why is this important to you?

Integrity is extremely important to me. So much of what is on the market is misleading when it comes to the terms 'natural' and 'ethical', especially in the world of perfume, as labels don't require full disclosure. This is why I joined the Natural Perfumers Guild and became a Guild Certified Natural Perfumer. The Guild defines and identifies natural perfume and has the strictest certification requirements of any organization in the world. For instance, the Guild does not approve the use of GMO isolates, which are commonly found in many 'natural' perfumes. These isolate are often derived from a complex genetic modification procedure in which bacteria are designed to produce a certain aroma. So many commonly known brands that consumers trust as 'natural' are using these isolates without having to explain their GMO origin status to consumers. When formulating for Thorn & Bloom, I knew that I wanted to keep the ingredients as pure and whole as possible. While we do use isolates derived from fractional distillation (stopping the distillation process at different times to collect various stages of an essential oil), we do not use GMO isolates. We also choose not to use animal musks and source endangered aromatics from ethically harvested sources (our Sandalwood comes from cultivated groves in Australia).

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

I love to eat! I'm constantly find new and interested places to dine out and love trying 'strange' food. My passion for fragrance spills over into taste and mine is insatiable! 

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

I'd love to expand the line into body care and candles. Scented bath salts will be available in the spring 2017 with scented body oils to follow. I'm currently getting my certification in aromatherapy and will use this knowledge to formulate more therapeutic blends for the body, mind and soul.

You can find Thorn and Bloom online, on instagram, facebook and twitter!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Scenes and Signs from the Boston Womens March

You all know by now that I attended the Women's March this past Saturday with over 125,000 other people, joining together in Boston to stand up for many issues, all of which are super important. I could go into detail about the amazing energy, the diversity that showed up but I think the signs were really indicative of the types of things you could see people "showing up" for. The march itself wasn't just symbolic, it was an event that showed the type of people who are going to help us get through the next four years. I'm looking for ways to keep active and I think it's important that we all, who feel it's important to act, find our "issue/s" and attack them!

Did you attend a march? If so, where? I'd love all the details!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Classin' It Up with Basic Invite

I was recently introduced to Basic Invite and well, they invited me to try their site and go wild! Wild is an overstatement because I'm a Mom of two now but when I get to create something custom, I'm always excited. Given that they've got a crazy assortment of online baby shower invitationscustom birth announcementsfirst birthday invitations and graduation announcements it was kind of hard to choose what route I wanted to take but I thought since I was going to talk about Basic Invite on the blog, I would gear it towards this "business". In addition to the invitations and announcements, Basic Invite has business cards and personal stationery!

What I think was my favorite thing about the process, and not something you can do on every site like this, was that you could change almost every part of the design to almost any color of your choosing. It really meant that I could tweak my business cards and matching stationery to be almost a match to my blog and design (well, not too matchy-matchy). I tinkered for a couple of hours until I found the design and color scheme that seemed to be the look I was going for. I placed my order complete but something I think is pretty cool is that Basic Invite offers you the opp to get a sample of your print order before you place it complete. For those of you who like to "measure twice, cut once", that's a great option to take advantage of.

I took a romantic floral design and created a gorgeous set of business cards and notes for Prim and Propah. This is the year of the hustle after all and I plan to try to get more freelance gigs and attend some conferences so I thought these would come in handy, since I almost never have them on my person! What do you think of my design? I took what was a green scheme and brought it purple! I wanted something sweet, to the point and memorable... and I think I found it. I'm so happy to have found Basic Invite, and plan to bring my business back to them. I do have a newborn-ish that needs some birth announcements created before he's off to college! 😂

You can find Basic Invite on FacebookPinterestInstagram and Twitter!

* This post was sponsored by Basic Invite. All opinions are 100% my own. As always, thank you for supporting brands that help support Prim and Propah.

Friday, January 13, 2017

On Self Esteem + What Shoes and a Dress Can Do

Post pregnancy, boy, does it do a number on pretty much every area of your life. Having the newborn living with/on you aside, there are hormones and the sleep deprivation and the dreaded post-baby body. I had sort of set my expectations on what the ol' bod would be like after this second baby but let's just say that if #1 did a number on me, well, #2 certainly pushed the envelope. The last three weeks have been an exercise in keeping my expectations of how fast I get my "body back" in check and trying to boost my own self esteem... self esteem. It's a tough one. No matter how confident you may think that you are, there's always a moment when you question yourself, how you look and how you behave. I'm just going to put this out there, I gained over 50lbs with this last pregnancy, a full 20lbs more than I gained in my first. From my last two doctors appointments, I had gained 10lbs in two weeks... it was kind of devastating, especially with some surging hormones. Once the baby came, I lost almost 30lbs of it in the past 3 weeks and I'm sure the last 20lbs will be an uphill battle. I'm trying not to think about the numbers but rather boosting my self esteem with positive thinking and now, guess what? The resurgence of what was once an "outfit post" but now it's going to serve as a reminder of what a little effort, some cute clothes/shoes and a lunch date can do for a Mom nursing a newborn. It's not about the numbers on the scale but rather how I measure myself in strength and smiles and happy things in my life, living well.

I love being a Mom and am excited to be raising another spirited boy who will make me proud some day but one thing I have to be sure of is that I'm not neglecting myself in the process. It's so easy for a Mom to be the martyr, selflessly giving up her shower to ensure that everyone else's needs are met. Guess what, this time, I'm taking my shower every day, getting dressed(ish), putting on a little makeup and ensuring that I feel good about myself, even if I'm just taking the kids to the park. I may not be in my pre-pregnancy jeans yet but there are things in my closet that will allow for the extra padding and these humongous, well, you know. Eshakti sent me this dress before I had the baby and I was kind of hoping/praying that I'd be able to wear it this century... and I did. Just this week, the man and I took PropahBaby2 out to lunch, I donned my new dress (that I altered in length and sleeves) and new boots that White Mountain Shoes sent. Not only did the dress fit but the boots also pulled up over my calves, which I thought was impossible. Seriously, this was an instant self esteem boost!

Sure, I still have some hangups when I look at these pictures. I see what I view as flaws and even hesitated to hit publish on this blog post. That being said, I think I may do more of these types of posts as I navigate post-pregnancy and beyond because my body is changing, my outlook on things is as well. I am hoping that more often than not, I'll give myself a pass, not stressing too much about my body image. We're often our own worst enemies and I plan to treat myself like gold and enjoy this new chapter of life with a positive twist whenever possible.

Do you have any tips and tricks on boosting the self esteem? Does a pretty dress and new shoes do it for you?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Create an At Home Meditation + Relaxation Nook

*This post is sponsored by Cost Plus World Market. They are super psyched to help us relax more this year!

I am no expert on meditation and I need help relaxing more but one thing that I do know is that setting intentions and creating a quiet meditation space are great steps to making 2017 and more goal oriented and focused year! With the help of Cost Plus World Market, I've been working on creating this space in a sweet, quiet corner of my home. It's in this space that I can take a few moments a day to focus my energy and hopefully find a little more peace/happiness by finding that focus. I've put together some of my tips and tricks on setting intentions, setting up a comfortable area and finding inspiration in the process. Whether you supplement with spa products or by bringing a cup of tea, relaxing your way should be an important part of every day. Though these are my tips. the beauty of it is, you can tweak to create exactly what is right for you!

Creating a calm and serene area can be as easy as finding a quiet corner of your home, lighting candles and taking a moment to yourself. If you're anything like me, you want to make that little area your "own". We have a spare bedroom that I've always found relaxing, from the color we painted it to the way that the light hits each corner of the space at certain times of the day. Finding the decor to match the space was easy, since my aesthetic already swings toward Cost Plus World Market's eclectic and funky decor. I chose a small wood slice accent table, an aqua suti floor pouf and a chenille throw as the centerpiece items to my nook. I think that choosing calming, yet fun colors helped me make the space my own but if you're more into neutrals, then you can do just that. Remember, make it your own!

Adding small touches is just as important. You'll notice that I've got a sort of yoga/meditation vibe so I went with that when adding little trinkets to my nook. An amethyst druzy chunkflameless candlescrystals (amethyst, rose quartz and raw quartz), lavender + sage smudge stick and a lotus stone votive  helped to pull the small space together and encouraged a peacefulness.

This year, I've decided that setting intentions is a much better idea than having New Year's resolutions that may or may not come to fruition. Setting intentions is a great way to set your day, week, month and even year off on it's best trajectory. It can be a small intention (be kind to everyone you meet today) to something much larger (I want to see myself excel in my work this year). 

I think a great idea for setting intentions, then keeping them as reminders, is to use a jar or something similar to keep them for easy access. I snagged a jar from Cost Plus World Market, quickly hand painted the word "intent" and started filling my jar with intentions for better living. This isn't something to stress about. Your intention for the day can be a word, a phrase, a quote from someone else... the point is that you're setting a path for what you want to see for yourself. If you need inspiration, one of my favorite kickstarters is the Art of Attention: Yoga Deck from Elena Brower (a thoughtful Yoga instructor). Each card can speak to you on a different day and perhaps strike the cord that you needed to think about. The Hamsa card holder is ABSOLUTELY PERFECT to keep a meaningful card at eye level for as long as you need to see it.

If you take the time to relax, breathe and make time for yourself you might be surprised how you're more apt to be inspired in your every day, rather than succumbing to stress. When you're constantly worrying, it's hard sometimes to let the good in... or at least in my experience. Meditation or even sitting with your thoughts for five minutes a day can make all the difference in resetting your mindset and improving your attitude. Find joy in the area that you create for yourself. Your corner of the house can be off limits to the kids or you can share; just find what makes you happy!

What are your tips and tricks for finding your happiness at home? Do you have a relaxation nook? Snag some of my faves for your personal space below!

Monday, January 9, 2017

I Tried It: Boston Public Market Cookbook

I was lucky enough to get a copy of the First Edition of the Boston Public Market Seasonal Cookbook in the mail recently. I've been really all about the eating lately but truthfully, it should be a lot healthier (dang it pregnancy!) ... wait, let me start over. Are you local to Boston or New England? have you been to the Boston Public Market (located at 100 Hanover Street at Haymarket Station)? It's a fantastic year round market (no worries, it's indoors) where you can find all sorts of awesome fresh and local food sourced from Massachusetts and around New England. We're talkin' produce, eggs, meat, fresh flowers, CHEESE... and the list goes on. In any event, they've just recently released a seasonal cookbook with accessible recipes for every season using fresh ingredients that you can pretty easily find.

Being that it's been hella chilly in Massachusetts this month, I wanted to whip up one of the Winter recipes that looked manageable and toasty yummy. The Gingery Carrot Soup recipe was the perfect choice and did not disappoint. I'm going to share it here so you know what kind of tastiness lies in wait in the cookbook, to entice you to pick up a copy of your own!

What you'll need:

6 Large Carrots, diced
1 Large Onion, diced
1 Quart of Vegetable, Chicken or Turkey Stock (I used Chicken, my fave)
2 Cloves of Garlic
2 Inches Long Piece of Ginger, Finely Grated
2 Tbsp of Butter
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Super Easy Instructions:

In a large stock pot, melt butter (I used my cast iron dutch oven stovetop). Add onions and carrots, saute until tender but not brown. Season generously with salt, pepper, adding garlic and ginger, continuing to saute for 30 seconds. Add stock and simmer until mellow and flavorful, about 20 minutes. Using a blender or food processor, carefully blend soup until smooth. Careful, it'll be hot!

I literally made this soup in the midday, had it for lunch and then heated up seconds for dinner! It's delicious and makes you feel warm and cozy. For my next batch, I'm going to make sure that I have some fresh crusty bread on hand for dipping because #Bread. This recipe also lends itself to a little tweaking so if you love your meat, I can totally see tossing some chicken in during the saute phase. I love to experiment and can't wait to dig into more of these recipes as the seasons change and I'm able to pick up different ingredients locally. You can snag this cookbook and utilize your own local farmer's market if you're not local to Boston, but I'd urge you to visit if you've got the opportunity!

What's your favorite way to cook with fresh, local ingredients?

*Boston Public Market provided me a copy of their cookbook for review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Setting Intentions + Goals for 2017

You may have caught my post last week where I basically complained about my plight in life even though I have a ton to be thankful for. As intended, it was a cleansing breath so I could flush out the negativity that I had been feeling for a couple of weeks with the purpose of bringing a new outlook to my 2017 for me, my family, our mutual goals as well as my individual ones. I took some time to just think about what my resolutions would be for 2017 and decided that meh, resolutions are not for me this year. What I want to do is to set intentions and attainable goals for the year so that I was living with some purpose rather than say Oh well, I want to lose weight (obviously), drink more water (should be every day of my life) and eat healthy... those shouldn't be resolutions, those should be lifestyle adjustments. I think I will be in for a more successful and happy year if I just live by some intentions set out of the gate.

I always seem to let this one fall by the wayside. When I'm busy or moody or generally unhappy, instead of doing something that I enjoy (sewing, painting, baking etc), I always do more of what I don't enjoy (knock things off the household to-do list ie: dishes, organizing etc). I am in a constant battle with my urge to be productive versus my urge to be a creative individual. What happens is that I end up trying to get everything done so that I can sit down and be creative, and that list is never ending, so I don't end up investing in the things that I enjoy. This year, I want to be better about balancing my responsibilities and my creative priorities.

This year, I want to be better at saying no to things that won't be beneficial to me on a personal level. Will I go to every blogger event that I'm invited to? Likely no and not just because I have two kids at home now. I want to make sure that if I am going to spend time outside of my home, that I am investing in quality time with quality people. Brunch with good people with trump a shopping party with people that I may not know. This isn't to say that I don't want to get out there to network and meet new people but I think it's going to be important for me to spend my time cultivating good relationships with the good people in my life. I have a lot of worthy people in my life already that I may have let those relationships slide. I intend to change that this year by investing again in this strong foundations.

This is going to be a tough one since I'm pretty sure that I was hardwired from birth to worry about anything and everything... that being said, it's worth a try! I spend a lot of time worrying about things that are out of my control and if the election season last year taught me anything, it's that I can beat my drum the loudest that I can and worry 24-7 and the outcome of things may still not change. I am going to try to compartmentalize my worry and channel it into action and/or flush it out so it doesn't cause me to have unnecessary heartache.  Again, this one is going to be an intention that I will have to work on actively because "worry" is a default for me in many situations but is one that I'm working to change.

This one is important. I already try to do this but having been so tired the last couple of months, it certainly has been hard to keep positive and therefore be kind no matter the situation. Sometimes, when you're in a sucky situation yourself, the last thing that you want to do is to go out of your way to make someone's day better. Whether I was in the end of pregnancy exhaustion or the beginning of postpartum with a newborn, I think it's helpful to look beyond myself and how I'm feeling and look to how I can make an impact around me, whether it's with my children, people I meet or friends in my life. Being kind isn't always convenient and you won't always be thanked for it, but more now than ever, it will be important to treat everyone with a tender attitude and understanding even if you have to put in a bit of extra effort.

What are your intentions for 2017?