Upside Down Braided Topknot.

It's practically a jungle here. The beating sun and sweltering humidity are quite a force to be reckoned with. Georgia is just so hot. I've vowed not to cut my hair off even though my baby yanks on it whenever he can grasp a handful. Which leaves me to my imagination for finding different ways to get it off my face. I can't have a sweaty neck or keep getting my hair pulled out - I am already losing so much hair with all these postpartum hormones swirling around in my bod. Please, I need to keep all that I have!

This is my latest favorite updo, and I thought I would share it here since I've been wearing it so often. It's a twist on a regular topknot, and it's best styled with extra dirty hair. I usually do this on day 3 or 4 after a shampoo :)

Upside Down Braided Topknot:
1. Starting at the nape of your neck, gather three sections of hair and start a dutch braid.
2. Begin the braid at the bottom of the head and continue gathering hair (as you would a normal french braid), and braid upward.
3. Once you've reached the crown of your head, do a few extra turns of the braid without adding any extra hair.
4. Twist your hair, as you would for a normal top knot, and secure with a hair tie.
5. Gently pull at the sections of the braid to loosen and give it a fuller, more lived-in look.
6. You shouldn't need to secure anything with bobby pins - the messier the better!

Are you all interested in more hair posts like this? If so, I can work on photographing a few more looks, especially updos for summer. Let me know in the comments! xx

Going Green with my Beauty Routine.

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My sister has been telling me for years now. She's the queen of trying new products and has been slowly transitioning over to an all-green, non-toxic beauty routine. It's super inspiring but also intimidating. I am almost 30 years old - that means I've been doing this beauty thing for a while now. I've found the products that I like, that seem to work for me, and honestly... it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks. I haven't wanted to embark upon a taxing journey of finding new, cleaner products because, ugh. The expense. The work. The research. I'm a tired woman, yall. My babies exhaust me.

I've done this in other areas of my life - my pantry is stocked with healthy staples and my cleaning products are mostly non-toxic and free of harsh cleaning agents. Though I admit, there is a time and a place for bleach. But my passion for greenery hasn't extended to the beauty-licious part of my life, until now that is.

What changed? Well, there's the aging.

Graying.

The wrinkles, they're appearing.

I've had this epiphany lately. I am living in the time of my life where the most aging occurs. I think that these years of running on lots of adrenaline (and coffee) and very little sleep and taking care of everyone else's needs before my own - I think these are the years where aging begins to take its toll - even if it starts showing up a little later in life. I am doing my best to drink lots of water and exercise regularly and eat (relatively) healthy. Most of my household products, from cleaners to air fresheners and detergents are all composed of non-toxic ingredients. But the next step is cleaning out my bathroom cabinet and makeup bag from the products that are downright bad for my health. At the encouragement of my sister, I've started looking up my tried-and-true products on the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database and the Think Dirty app - these rate the ingredients found in millions of products and offer research, education and guides on how to make cleaner choices.

I'm testing a few new products and I will keep you all updated on what actually works. I am a little apprehensive about this whole trial period but I finally feel the conviction that this is important. I am kissing all over my kids every day - do you know how many toxins are found in regular lipstick? It's appalling that this stuff is allowed on the market. It's appalling that I've spent so much money over the years on chemical crap. So here we go, friends!

Currently testing:
Makeup:
Ilia Multistick in At Last
Ilia Lip Crayon in Red Coral
Loli Lolo Mascara
100% Pure Liquid Eyeliner in Black Tea
Galaxy Milk Illuminating Beauty Oil

Body:
doTERRA Essential Oils (for face, hair and skin - I've been creating my own concoctions)
Aveda Shampure Composition Body Oil
Piperwai Deodorant

Any of you have non-toxic beauty products that are outstanding that you recommend? I would love to hear from you!

P.S. - The Nordstrom Anniversary sale is going on right now and there are some seriously good finds on super sale if you're looking for Fall staples. Just sayin'. :)

Lakeside Picnic.

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It's been a weekend staple for us - riding around our little town on the golf cart (there is more golf cart road mileage here than actual street mileage), and finding parks to picnic in. With Stevie switching job positions last month, he is gone a lot more these days, so the weekends have become even more precious to us. These boys love time with their Daddy, and I am struck by just how important he is to them. To all of us!

We have an ongoing joke, me and Stevie. We've had several occasions in our life together where we are walking down a pier, walking down a beach, or in this case, having a family picnic... and random people just invite Stevie onto their boat. It's happened more times than I can count. On this particular day, we decided to picnic near the local lake and someone was getting ready to load a boat onto their truck. Stevie said to me, "I'm not sure he can do this by himself, I'm gonna go see if he needs some help." Well what to you know, of course the guy invited Stevie for a ride on his ski boat. So what did we do? Loaded up our humans and went on a quick lap around the lake! I know what you're thinking - why would you go out on a boat with a stranger?? It's a super safe area and we know people who live in the neighborhood (plus there were other people in close proximity out on their boats), so we felt good about it. Our boys loved it! It was all of 10 minutes and then we were back in the grass, eating cherries and pickle potato chips and watching the birds flock over the water.

I love when spontaneous things like this happen - it's one of the reasons I loved living in NYC. There was always something unexpected happening, always impromptu musicians on the corner or people waiting in a long line for a hot treat or some amazing exhibit showing at one of the zillion museums. I remember riding on the subway and realizing that the gal sitting in front of me was a famous actress. I just love that crazy city. I miss it terribly, although I am glad I'm not raising my kids there. Luckypalmtree sent us a few goodies from the new NYC collection and I thought, "This is my chance to match my boys while they still think it's cool." I know that the time is coming when Everett will realize this is a very dorky thing, to match Mommy, so I'm gonna milk it while I still can. He shares my love for New York, and begs to read books about the city all the time. Our favorites are A Walk in New York and In New York, he especially loves all the buses and tall buildings. He wants to ice skate at Rockefeller Center, because that is a page from one of the books :) Anyway, all this NYC talk has me itching to take another trip before summer ends - school starts in a month for this little boy and I want to soak up all the summer fun before routine strikes again! Although I admit, a little routine will be nice. If only I can get Daxton to agree to one, AKA not waking me up 3x a night.

Happy Tuesday, everyone! xx
 


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Coin Jar Date Night.

It litters the bottom of your purse. It hides in the couch, lurks in the junk drawer, and waits in the nooks and crannies of your car. It accumulates. It gets shuffled around. It's rather filthy.

It's change. And you have more of it than you think.

We've been collecting our coins for a few years now. There is a glass jar in our pantry, and we toss coins in every now and then when we actually think about it. Otherwise the change filters into the recesses of our home and lies in wait like Gollum's ring. Since I have an almost-crawler on my hands, I am frantically trying to clean out my house and get rid of anything excessive that my little boy will most definitely want to put into his teething mouth. This decluttering sparked a great idea. I'd like to be able to take credit for it, but I'll admit that it was Stevie's brilliant idea:

Why don't we take all the coins in the jar (which had turned into two jars), and use the money to go on a date?

We set the rules - we could only use the cash in the jars. No extra spending. So if it was $15 or $50, that was all the money we could use on the date. We drove our golf cart (no gas needed, so no $ spent there), and we went to the local Kroger where there is a Coinstar. If you aren't familiar with Coinstar, it's one of those kiosks where you can dump your change in and it counts it for you and then gives you a ticket to take to the cashier, where you collect your moola. Of course, Coinstar takes a pretty percentage (almost 12%!!!), but I wasn't going to take the time to roll all the coins and take them into the bank. Hello, I have two children. So Coinstar took its commission and I was very fine with it.

So we went on our coin jar date! Coinstar counted our two jars of change and awarded us $43.81, which we decided to use at our favorite local Mexican restaurant. Thankfully, our waitress was a doll and let us ask her really annoying questions about the pricing of everything - we just wanted to make sure we weren't over-ordering so we could still leave enough to tip her 20%! Oh math. It wasn't my strong suit in school. Thank goodness for Stevie's brain - he calculated up front and we were able to order everything we wanted! Guacamole, drinks (margarita for him, sparkly water for me - I'm not drinking alcohol right now), and then fajitas for the two of us. It was sooooo good. And really fun and funny.

This date reminded me of the early days when we were married and living on very little. Our first year of marriage we were both in ministry school in California and working part-time jobs, so we lived on a tight budget and there was obviously very little extra for extravagant dates. Back then one of our standard Friday night dates was go to Chipotle, split a burrito (but we each got our own chips and guac - I don't share guac), and then go next store to Jamba Juice and each get our own smoothie. We would take everything to go and then head home and binge-watch Jack Bauer saving the country on 24. This was in the days before Netflix, and certainly before the practice of "Netflix and chill". Those times were challenging in a lot of ways, but now when I look back, I am so glad that we had those experiences. We were super budgeted and we still found ways to laugh and date and enjoy our life together, sans shopping and extras. Nowadays we aren't living that tight, but this date reminded me of those sweet early days when we were just kids, starting out and trying to live responsibly and take good care of each other. Now we have babies and a mortgage and we are pretending to be grown-ups - life has gone by so fast!

This was a really fun idea and I think we are going to try to make it an annual thing - our coin jar date night! I dare you to join me - if you decide to give it a try, make sure to post about it on instagram and tag me, along with #coinjardatenight. It will be fun to see what you're able to do with all the money found in between your couch cushions, don't you think?

P.S. - Just wanted to mention that this post isn't sponsored by Kroger or Coinstar (although I wish - I spend half my life at Kroger).

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Outfit Details:
Gap Midi Skirt, Banana Republic Tank, Lucky Wedge Heels, Banana Republic Scarf c/o, Banana Republic Clutch c/o,
Stella & Dot Alila Cuff