Posts filed under Beauty

Feminine, Functional, Modest {Lularoe Review}

LuLaRoe! You've been teasing me on FB for so long and now I can finally know for myself what women mean when they say:  "Aaaah... the butter soft leggings! Must have more!" I like clothes. I like soft clothes. I even like direct marketing because I love supporting small business and buying directly from individuals. So, I was already inclined to like LuLaRoe. All that remained was for me to actually try the clothes for myself. That was easy enough through an online pop-up store and through Megan who gave me the opportunity to review pieces from her shop. And now I am thrilled to share my experience with you.

(Before I go on... I want to invite you to join her online FB pop-up tonight 11/15 at 8:00pm through tomorrow. Coupon code and details at the bottom of this post.)

So... My fashion perspective is heavily influenced by my preference for athletic apparel and pretty skirts. I am an odd mix and confess utter fashion ignorance outside what I find personally appealing. I like modest but flattering, pretty but functional, and the ability to layer. Having said that...

I'm now firmly a fan of LuLaRoe. It's comfortable (like pajama comfortable), functional, feminine, and suites a modest wardrobe. And although my budget is limited, I'm happy with a few pretty items to improve my usually drab daily "uniform." Let me walk you through a few items with comments...

The RANDY shirt and MAXI

Maxi skirts are my all time favorite article of clothing (followed closely by the hoodie) so I made a beeline straight for the LuLaRoe maxi selection. I was not disappointed and would be happy to have a closet full of these. The drape is beautiful. The fit is perfect (and flexible). Many of the patterns and colors are quite pretty and timeless.

Sizing is flexible (attention post-partum moms!!) because of the fabric and broad yoga waist band - perfect for women who tend to go up and down in girth. I could easily wear this maxi through pregnancy beyond. (I am currently 5 months postpartum and in between waistband sizes.) I am a true size small and this maxi is a small. I think my next purchase would be an XS so that I could wear it at a little higher at my true waist for more styling options. But I love it either way.

Maxi with the Randy for a casual feminine look...

The Randy shirt really appeals to the hoodie and t-shirt lover in me while still allowing me some hey-I'm-dressed-in-big-girl-clothes-today dignity. I am not a fancy gal and would live in sweats and sweatshirts if it wasn't a completely pathetic way to advertise vocational joy. Also, my husband prefers that I wear grown up clothes now and then so that's important. 

So the Randy/Maxi pattern completely wins over the girly-girl-comfort-lover in me. Notice the Converse. If it feels like PJ's and running shoes, it's a win. LuLaRoe is a win. 

I would call many of LuLaRoe's pieces "Feminine Casual" because they really dress up the girl without being fussy. But many of the pieces can also be quite dressy and I love that flexibility. I chose simpler colors and patterns but the options are endless. The pics below I will call:

1) "Tying my shoe to showcase the beautiful maxi drape"

2) "Chunky scarf for the win"

3) "LuLa dressed up." This was a post-Mass pic and yes, I know you can't see anything. But notice the back of the head of the very handsome seminarian I happen to know and love? He has nothing at all to do with LuLaRoe but I love him and consequently, this photo.

IRMA shirt and LEGGINGS

As far as LuLaRoe goes, this is a very boring picture. I am not a loud girl so all of the crazy and colorful prints are something I have to work my way into. My idea of adventurous leggings is the pink ones I'm wearing in the picture below. High adventure I tell you! 

The Irma shirt is one of the most comfortable items I have ever worn, especially with the super soft leggings. The arms are more fitted with a soft, roomy body. The tail of the shirt is longer so it covers the behind. 

I have a small frame so I need to wear an XXS Irma. They run BIG. The one above is a size Small and I really love the style and the comfort (so soft!) but I'm going to share this one with size medium daughter since it fits her perfectly. 

So... yes... the leggings. Have you heard them described as "butter" soft? They are. They really are. I want to live in them. FYI... I do not wear leggings in a way that flashes my bum but many LuLaRoe shirt and dress styles cover nicely.

LLR leggings are known for their fun and sought after prints. If you love prints, you're bound to find something! If I ever take a leap out of my comfort zone with patterns, I'm sure that my Instagram friends will be the first to know. But for now... I'm sticking with boring solids.

CARLY dress

I was not sure which one of the darling LuLaRoe dresses to choose for this review and ended up going with the Carly since it seemed to provide great Winter nursing access (with leggings). I first selected a small and ended up exchanging for an XS. My frame was swimming in the small and it was not redeemable even with strategic knots and belts. The design is roomy so even the XS is a bit big for my frame. But... I found some great video tutorials for styling and liked the rosette tie in back in which to gather some of the fabric. See pics below to see how I tied up the "tail" and bring the waist in a bit. If I don't tie it, the back scoops down to my mid calf. Cute on others, not so much on me.

Before I bought this dress, I scoured the internet for an idea of how it fit. It can truly look like a different dress on different people. Check out Bonnie's blog for her review and pics. This dress looks adorable on her and dressy enough to wear to a wedding. I really like the print which changes the whole look.

Again... notice that I picked gray. But my little pink pocket screams "adventure," no?

Since drafting this post, I've also had the opportunity to try the Cassie skirt and the Amelia dress, both of which I love (a shallow kind of love not an agape kind of love, you understand). I'm very happy with some of my wardrobe adjustments and am pondering the idea that a nice piece purchased occasionally through friends is not a bad way to stay updated.

Shop with me tonight! 

I am a hosting a LuLaRoe Facebook Pop-Up with Megan tonight (11/15) starting at 8pm EST which will be open through tomorrow. Use the coupon code: blossomingjoy15 for 15% off!

If you've never shopped on Facebook, it's super simple. Simply join her shop page, be the first to comment "sold" on any item you want to buy, and fill out the linked purchase form. See you there!!

Megan's LuLaRoe Facebook Page
Megan's LuLaRoe Instagram

Posted on November 15, 2016 and filed under Beauty, fashion.

Environment: The Forgotten Pillar of Health

This is the final post in my Rising to Joy wellness series... but I find it's subject the most difficult to share... And certainly the most neglected. After the first two pillars of wellness (Nutrition and Movement), the subject of environment almost seems excessive. Or nutty. Or maybe just overwhelming.

Stay with me for a couple minutes while I make my case. I'll tell you why I must prioritize it... and why it is making a difference in my journey to health and joy.

A couple things before I dive in...

  • I'm not a doctor. Please don't use my opinions to replace those of your physician.
  • This is not a journey of perfection but of wellness. Small forward steps are still victories. 
  • Our bodies are different... our journeys are not going to look the same.
  • There are affiliate links in these posts which means I earn pennies if you click and buy. But I don't link unless I love and use the product and would recommend it to you over a cup of coffee. Exceptions will be noted.
  • Above all, remember to submit everything to Christ... so that any perceived failures, sufferings, or victories will all be for His glory and your sanctification.  

ONWARD!


ENVIRONMENT

It has become so commonplace to hear about the toxins in our food, air, water, shampoos, etc. that most of us either ignore it or give a brief nod to our concerns by occasionally buying "green." We are desensitized, tired and busy. 

We all get it. We want to do better. We wince when we recognize known (or probable carcinogens) in our personal care or cleaning products . So we buy a "natural" product, don't love it or can't afford it, and decide the greater of two evils is the present difficulty and not the remote possibility of fatal disease. We care but...

We're surrounded by toxic chemicals anyway. Really... how much control can we have?

I'm going to tell you my story as a way of answering that question. And then I'm going to tell you my plan for taking my health journey another easy step forward...


MY BODY SAID "ENOUGH"

Many of you have already read about the decades of chronic pain and illness that drove me to undertake a dramatic dietary overhaul. It changed my life. Brought me back to life. But in addition to the major systemic symptoms that I experienced for most of my life, I also have sensitivities to other environmental factors as well.

Among those challenges are migraines, asthma, allergies, and contact reactions. Annoying and disruptive. Even before I ever thought about changing my diet, I was already changing my environment just to survive my reactive days. 

For the past 10 years, I have only been able to wear handmade make-up that I purchased on Etsy. I have been unable to use any commercial lotions, moisturizers, or perfumes. I avoid Bath and Body Works like the Bubonic Plague and once, in high school, I spent an hour in the bathroom hiding and crying after applying a friend's Victoria Secret moisturizer to my dry face. (Picture a sun burn covered in bee stings and you've got it right.) As an adult, I still have a mini panic attack when I have to sit next to a highly synthetically scented person in a public waiting area. My frequent plea: Please God, get me through this without wheezing , hives, or unsightly grimaces.

I never thought this made me a health freak. It was pure survival. When your face breaks out into painful hives after applying a commercial "natural" product, you learn pretty quickly what ingredients to avoid. For me, it was pretty much everything synthetic. But I never thought about it as a "health" issue... only vanity and annoyance. 

When I changed my nutrition habits and became a food label reader, the connection between environment and systemic health began to make sense to me for the first time. Here I was scouring labels like the food detective that I needed to be... just like I had been a product label reader for a decade. And the toxic chemical connection began to click...

My body hates this stuff. All of it. Beyond that, much of it is known to harm the body... so what I am I doing? If I won't eat it, why I am smearing it all over my skin where it leaches into my blood stream? Why am I using toxic products that are known to cause cancer AND cross the placenta? I recently read that tests done on newborn cord blood revealed the presence of over 200 chemicals.

Okay then...

I began to make some of my own products...

  • Laundry detergent is one of the most toxic household respiratory dangers in the house? And the number one health related disease in those who work at home is respiratory? Call me a chemist... I'm mixing up my own soap.
  • Face cleansers burn and cause me hives? Okay then... I'll use the oil cleansing method.
  • Lip balm causes my lips to peel? Heat up the double boiler... we're making our own.

My response was primarily reactionary. But now I'm transitioning to the intentional. Does it matter if I can't see or feel the results? Shouldn't I still pay attention? There are so many things about our environment that we can't control. But if I can clean some of it up, why don't I? 

This pregnancy has dealt my body a very hard blow and as I focus on rebuilding my shattered immune system, I know that I have to make lifestyle changes across the board. There was one recent lesson that really hit home...

To save time and energy after running out of my homemade laundry soap, I used the back up bottle of commercial (dye free, scent free) detergent that I had sworn off. The result ended in a painful and terrible two days for my daughter who, like me, has a body that quickly says ENOUGH. And so I said it, too... ENOUGH! And I started over...


SOLUTIONS

I'm going to stop my story there and move on to solutions since that really is the big question. Who doesn't want to be toxin free? No one wants cancer or endocrine disease. Most of us do care but...

1) Don't realize the cumulative negative affect toxic chemicals have on our body's ability to thrive. and
2) Find the cost or time of pursuing a better environment prohibitive. 

I know that some of you are going to say: "Look. We live in a toxic world. We can't escape it. I've got things to do... priorities. I don't have the time or money to be a control freak about this stuff."

I hear you. I hear you. In a culture where corporate marketing drives our consumer habits, living simply with healthy ingredients has become a privilege for the wealthy. Bizarre.

We also live in a culture that is plagued with disease because of our dietary choices, sedentary lifestyle, and fixation on pleasure, convenience, and gluttony. Sometimes, we need to just say... I don't want to buy in. God made me for more. 

I can't pretend that this topic and it's solution don't involve STUFF... because they do. This is about what we use on a daily basis through choice or necessity. But it is pretty much about stuff. We wear make-up, wash our hair, clean our floors, lotion our legs, apply deodorant, wear perfume, burn candles, spray air freshener.... we shop and consume. A lot. 

The sad truth is that just because a bottle in the store says "natural" or "green" and has a leaf on it, doesn't mean that it isn't toxic. FDA regulations only cover so much. We have to be smart consumers. 

So what I'm going to do here is share my absolute favorite resources for purchase for those of you who are in a position to buy (or who, like me, are forced to prioritize spending for health reasons). There are other resources but these are ones that I spend money on and use daily so I have zero qualms about recommending. I will also share resources for those who can afford the time to make your own (or who, like me, have a secret dream of being a soap maker when I grow up).

Enjoy... and please feel free to contact me with any questions.


MY HANDS-DOWN FAVORITE 'CLEAN AND HEALTHY' PRODUCTS


ESSENTIAL OILS

I know... It's a fad. But when undertaken with care, it's a pretty amazing fad. Give me your ear for an hour or two and I'll tell you how these little brown bottles have improved my (and my family's) days, weeks, and life. Magic? No. But REALLY good. 

There are two primary ways that I use essential oils to improve my environment...

1) I diffuse to improve air quality and to derive essential benefits aromatically, and
2) I use them topically and in my homemade products (bath and body, cleaning, immune support) to real benefits and a gorgeous scent (that doesn't set off my asthma).

I can go on all day but I'll just share a link here where you can find out more about why I love them, which ones I use, and where to get your own. Yes, I am a representative for my favorite company. And if you know me, you know that means I'm willing to stake my reputation on them. READ MORE HERE about my approach (and how to buy)...

Any Blossoming Joy readers who end up purchasing with me will receive a free "RISE" bracelet from my shop, free bottle of orange essential oil, roller bottles, and education support package. We're in this together and I want you to know how much it means to me. (Make sure to drop me a note so I know you're a reader!)

(And please don't buy oils from Walmart just because they're cheap. The market is saturated with oils that say "pure" but neglect to inform you of the synthetic fillers. Pure essential oils are very costly to distill and... Synthetics are cheap. So that's why some oils are cheap. Bad for the body. I would feel terrible if you went and did that and I hadn't warned you!)


BUY FROM GOOD COMPANIES

Sometimes I don't have the time or inclination to play chemist. I have tried to DIY my make-up and... I didn't excel. I have done my fair share of cleaning DIY... but the results are not always as safe as I would like or as effective. My make-up supplier is temporarily closed (huge bummer) so I will share that as soon as I'm able in another post. But here is my recommendation for basic cleaning when I don't have the time or inclination to make my own...

DR. BRONNER'S  

There's not a whole lot you can't use this soap for. It's basic, it's versatile, it's safe. I like to buy the larger sizes and use small amounts to fill scrubbing buckets, all-purpose sprayers, and various other needs like laundry or hand soap. These are the two varieties I buy:

Dr. Bronner's Fair Trade and Organic Liquid Castille Soap

My favorites to use are the almond scent and the unscented soap. A little goes a long way! The unscented allows me to add essential oils for any extra benefits or scents that I like. Gentle but effective. Friends of mine even use this soap for teeth brushing! For more ideas...  18 Uses for Dr. Bronner's Soaps

Dr. Bronners's Sals Suds (Cleaning Soap)

This soap is still mild but with more cleaning power than the liquid castille. It has a light pine scent that is nice on it's own but faint enough to add your own essential oil to without issue. Use diluted as a laundry pretreatment or add a teaspoon to a quart of water for most surfaces. Available in 16 oz, 32 ounce or Gallon sizes. A little goes a long way!


DO IT YOURSELF {It's not that hard}

If you do nothing else in the way of homemade loveliness, please do make your own lip balm. It's almost fool proof and you will have enough for a year in under an hour (if that). Use your favorite gorgeous essential oils (mine are orange, grapefruit, and peppermint) and have the satisfaction of just knowing you did it. Aside from that, I'm going to step aside and just give you a few amazing links that will keep you occupied with recipes for as long as you like. If you want me to let your husband know that you'll be busy for a while, just give me his email... I'll handle it.

  • Pinterest - Welcome to my ever growing board of "Handmade clean and healthy"... and my newer "Essential Oil DIY." Tons and tons of resources and easy, beautiful recipes. You could spend your entire earthly life following gorgeous links on Pinterest... ask me how I know. ;)
  • Mommypotamus - Tons of DIY recipes and information
  • WellnessMama - Many beautiful options for homemade goodness.
  • HumbleBee and Me - For those who want to dive a little deeper, this gal has an archive to drool over. Her ingredient lists are often longer and more complex but not always. I often find great ideas here and look for simpler solutions elsewhere based on what she is making.

Questions? Suggestions? Comments? Please share here or send me a note. We're all on the same journey and I'm eager to learn from you!

 

 

Posted on January 25, 2016 and filed under wellness, nutrition, fitness, Beauty.

Good. True. Beautiful. Miscellany. {Links and Pics}

I've gathered a few of my favorite links and Instagram pics of the last months to share with you. A little bit of Good, True, Beautiful all mixed in... to inspire you (and remind me) to love well, make positive changes, and rise to JOY!


DOMESTIC CHURCH: CROSSES AND JOYS

This is a hard hitting article by Elizabeth Foss about the reality of Catholic motherhood. This is not really about homeschooling or not homeschooling... but the carrying of the Cross of motherhood. And that troublesome thing called free will. Doesn't mean we should stop fighting for holiness in our homes (quite the contrary) but that the long view involves a suffering love that crushes our fixation on formulaic victory. Victory will always always look like the Cross... and Joy only blossoms from the seeds of that eternal love ... 

What I'm Never Going to Tell You About Homeschooling

Capturing the little moments of Catholic joy in the Domestica Ecclesiae. In the midst of first trimester pregnancy misery, I managed to pull together our first official celebration of St. Lucy's Day. It won't guarantee that they never stray... but it is an investment in Love... which is enough in the moment. 


MOTHERHOOD TRANSITIONS

My first baby turned 18 last month. That does weird things to a mama's heart and mind... especially when she's simultaneously carrying her youngest son in her womb. Mothering doesn't get easier when they grow older... it just changes. In some ways, it gets harder. Because we're no longer just defending little knees from concrete but their very souls. My oldest is going through the early years of vocation discernment and has been writing about it. I'm a bit biased and a bit fond of him but I encourage you to read about how he is approaching his journey...

Discernment Through Experience

While some of my kids are dreaming about the biggest questions in life and preparing to fly the nest, others are experiencing their first Christmas presents and popsicles. The needs of both need to be considered. I had to Instagram my cherished fabric Christmas bags that save my sanity and sleep on on Christmas Eve when the excitement of Midnight Mass and the busyness threaten to keep me up until dawn. I don't wrap, I stuff. And I sleep. It's wonderful. 


WELLNESS JOURNEY

People sometimes assume that my years of severe chronic pain were just a freak thing totally unique to me, and that most other people don't have to worry about a link between food and pain. This article does an amazing job of explaining why arthritis (or arthritis-like symptoms) have a whole lot to do with what we eat. 
Thank you to Gina at Someday Saints for the link ...

The Joint-Gut Connection: How Rheumatoid Arthritis Originates in the Digestive Tract

Recording my frugal healing adventures on Instagram. Systemic inflammation has been a chronic battle for me and the benefits of turmeric are well know. I had a great time listening to podcasts and putting my turmeric into my own capsules!


SILENT SUFFERING AND THRIVING

This article really hit home with me and I know with so many women I know. The author expresses one of the strong reasons that is driving me to reach out deliberately and purposefully with my wellness journey on the blog this year. The emails and messages and comments I'm receiving... so many... tell me countless numbers of us are walking this same journey to different degrees and with varying different details. Mental, physical, emotional, spiritual sickness... we carry these crosses. But I still believe that we can rise and thrive ...

When No One Thinks You 'Look' Ill

Gym.jpg

I don't get out a lot lately... sticking close to home growing a baby and healing. But when I do get out, I like to prove I was there... and take some grainy pics to remember the beautiful journey. When little boys grow taller than many men. And learn to fly a little more... a little more.... a little more...

Posted on January 15, 2016 and filed under Beauty, Family Life, motherhood.