Slowing Down with Rituals TryaBox from Tryazon

We do little things every day, automatically, without thinking about them. As a mom with very little time to stop and think about anything, I sometimes exist in a constant mom brain buzz just “getting things done” and moving on to my next task. So when applying for this Rituals TryaBox from Tryazon, I wrote that my idea for reviewing this product would be take a moment every day for a week and enjoy using the product and just enjoying the moment of a simple ritual like taking a shower or putting on lotion.

All the moms reading this are probably now laughing at me since you can probably figure how this went. I also gave this a try during the summer, while my husband was out of town, so I had no relief from the constant kid-induced state of chaos that comes with parenting. But you know what? I still enjoyed trying.

On the first day, I invited my friend Effie and her son over to help with the unboxing. It’s always more fun to do with a friend! And we took an everyday playdate and made it an event. We unboxed, ooohed and ahhhed over the nice smells and products, tried a destressing ritual on the kids and just embraced the general chaos that is our daily lives. Click here to watch our unboxing video on YouTube.

The two products I got to sample were the Foaming Shower Gel and the Natural Dry Oil for skin and hair. Both smelled wonderful – light and slightly herbal/floral but not overpowering for a sensitive nose like mine. The Indian rose and himalaya honey used in the collection are supposed to help create a balancing effect.

I tried to take photos of Effie spraying on the dry oil. According to the website, the dry oil is to be used to “discover the magical world of abhyanga (self-massage) … Enriched with nourishing herbs and specially designed to balance the Vata dosha, this 100% natural dry oil nourishes the skin according to Ayurvedic tradition.

This is how that went:

After our initial hectic product testing, it was up to me to try and make the time to stop and enjoy the little rituals. I’ll be honest and say it took me three days before I got to try the shower gel. I kept forgetting to put it in the shower. Also that was the only time in three days I managed to fit in a shower.

 

img_2623-1I got my son to watch an episode of PAW Patrol so I knew I had a good 20 minutes to enjoy my shower. The gel comes out pretty fast, so you just want to do a little squirt at a time. It comes out clear and then foams up into a nice lather. It also doubles nicely as a shaving gel. I was all sudsed up when I heard squealing from the other room and the thump thump thump of little feet running by. I quickly rinsed off and jumped out of the shower soaking wet, to discover the dog had stolen my son’s entire lunch plate off the couch and he was quite upset about it. So I made another hot dog, put on a new episode and got back in the shower to finish “relaxing.” Five minutes later there was a knock at the bathroom door. It was my son, letting me know I got the floor all wet. Thanks kid!

img_2624-1While the shower gel was a bit of a challenge, I did manage to fit the dry oil in every day. Sometimes more than once, just because I really enjoyed the smell and the way it soaks right in so you don’t feel oily. I have dry skin on my arms and legs and can always use a little more moisture. I kept the bottle out where I could see it so I wouldn’t forget to stop, spray, smell and take a moment. On one evening I decided to sit down and follow the massage instructions on the little tag that came with the bottle. I put my son to bed, put on a movie, sat down on the couch and took a moment to relax. About halfway through the experience, a little head popped up from behind the couch. My son decided he couldn’t sleep and then proceeded to scream, cry and flop around on the couch for the next hour. He was also not cool with me trying to spray him and massage away his obvious toddler stress.

On Sunday my husband finally returned home and I got a little break. That evening I took a nice long hot shower and enjoyed the luxurious shower gel with my scrubby sponge from head to toe with no interruption. After toweling off I sprayed the oil all over and was able to appreciate the lovely smell and the way it soaked in, leaving me moisturized and with a slight sheen, but not like an oil slick. I was finally able to really slow down, just for that moment.

And then the banging on the door began and I snapped right back into mom mode…

 

Slow down and enjoy the chaos of motherhood

 

 

Bring the Noise – Using Sound Machines for Sleep

I never tried a sound machine until after my son was born. To be honest, I thought “white noise” was a little creepy after seeing the horror movie with the same name. I got over my apprehension after discovering all the different types of white noise beyond the spooky static in the movie. From crashing waves to the sounds of a thunderstorm, it’s all great background noise to help lull you to sleep and block out other noises that might keep you awake.

Your brain is wired to respond to any kind of stimuli, so in a very quiet room, even the slightest creak of a floorboard might get your mind racing and wake you up. A white noise machine helps quiet your restless mind and sort of dull your senses so you won’t respond to all the little noises around you.

There are lots of different sound machines to choose from! So how do you narrow it down? Sometimes you don’t – I use four different ones! Here are my favorites:

Fan Sounds Machines – I’m a fan of the sound of a fan (or air conditioner) but it’s not always the best idea to keep them constantly running. And my bedroom fan has started to make a weird squeak that actually keeps me awake. That’s where fan machines come in. The E2 Fan Sleep Therapy Machine by AuCuTee is a really simple device that sounds like a fan and can be made louder or quieter just by twisting the top. It has the added bonus of a USB port to charge your phone too! It also has a timer, but I like to keep mine on all night.

Baby Sounds Machines with Light Projector – For my son, our favorite has been the Munchkin Nursery Projector and Sound System. It has waves, rain, static, heartbeat and soft music plus an optional light show that projects on the ceiling. It comes with different disks to change out so you can have different light shows. It also has a voice activation option so you can set it to come on when the baby cries.

Travel Sound Machine – Regular size sound machines can get a little bulky when packing, so we always travel with our MyBaby Sound Spa On-the-Go. I should have added this one to my recent toddler travel tips article! It’s easy to pack, has waves, music, heartbeat and white noise plus a timer. It tends to turn on pretty easily when the front is pressed, so I recommend removing the batteries before packing. Also, always pack extra batteries! The light will turn color and start to flicker when it runs low.

White Noise Apps – When I’m traveling, I always use my White Noise Ambience iPhone app. I use the free light version and it still has lots of options. My favorite sound is called Sandstorm. I actually even use this one at the gym if I want to block out all the gym noise while I’m checking my email and slowly pedaling a stationary bike.

These are the four I have tried and use, but there are plenty more out there. You really just have to find the right noise for you! The apps have a really wide range of sound, while the machines will have anywhere from one to ten options.

So how about you? Have you tried a sound machine? What’s your favorite noise to drift off to?

 * All Amazon links are affiliate links  *

Back to School Shopping for Pre-School

lisa frank trapper keeperI used to LOVE back to school shopping! I would get so excited to have all that fresh notebook paper (maybe I’d get fancy with college rule this year!) and pick out a new Lisa Frank unicorn folder and put it all in my awesome Trapper Keeper. Then I’d pick out pencils, take them home and make them extra sharp. And of course I’d need a really cute eraser to go with the pencils.

My son is heading back to pre-school in August and it seems my school supply shopping enthusiasm will need to be tamped down a bit. At least until he actually starts using school supplies.

So here’s his big back-to-school shopping list:

  1. Labels for everything
  2. Lunch box
  3. No wait, we have a lunch box, go back to step 1 and get a label for it

Pre-schoolers need labels for their clothes, bags, lunch boxes and if they are in the 2/3 class then also for diapers and wipes and maybe a sippy cup. We are heading into real-deal have to be potty trained pre-K this year so I guess I’ll be labeling underwear now instead.4679208

You can go with the Sharpie option and write it right on their stuff, but since this is really the only school supply I get to pick out, I figure why not get something really cute like custom labels?

Bright Star Kids sent me their Designer School Labels Value Kit ($42.95 for 200 labels) and the Transport Bag Tag ($6.95) to test out. The labels are waterproof and dishwasher, microwave and laundry safe. There are tons of cute designs to choose from too.

labels for school
We are ready to get labeling!

They are easy to put on and come in both stick-on and iron-on styles. This is a nice upgrade from my Sharpie scribbles I did last year. If you order now you’ll have them in time for the first day of school! Use code THANKUS and save 15% until Aug. 31, 2018

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Shop the website: Bright Star Kids and visit them on Twitter & Facebook!

A Review: Desert Essence Anti-Breakage Shampoo and Conditioner

I was sent the Dessert Essence Anti-Breakage Shampoo and Conditioner along with the Anti-Breakage Hair Mask from Moms Meet to try for free in exchange for posting my honest opinion on my blog.

I’m going to do a rare straight-out review, because I can’t think of a funny story or way to turn talking about shampoo and conditioner into an engaging tale. I accepted this blog campaign because I have a thing for hair products and am always trying different stuff and hoping for miracles. I have kind of frizzy, damaged, color-treated, half curly, half straight hair that drives me crazy most of the time so it’s always up on a ponytail.

The Dessert Essence anti-breakage products are formulated with Country Life Maxi-Hair® plus Biotin and are supposed to reduce breakage up to 61%. I feel like there must be a product around boasting 60% and they were like, let’s push this to 61! Because that 1% just might make all the difference. According to their website, “Country Life Maxi-Hair®, rich in a multitude of B-Vitamins and Biotin, has been one of Country Life’s best-selling supplements and a consumer favorite for more two decades.”

All the products have a very herbal scent, like tea tree oil. It leaves your hair smelling fresh and clean, not overly perfumed. I first tried the shampoo and conditioner on its own, then next time I added the deep conditioning hair mask.

I noticed a difference on the first round, although I will admit that often happens when you switch shampoos at first. So I made sure to use these products for two weeks before reviewing. My hair seemed smoother and easier to comb, which inspired me to actually style it and try wearing it down for the day.

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After a few heavy sun/pool/beach days, I gave the hair mask a try. The instructions say to leave it in for 20-30 min. and to maximize benefits, wrap it in a hot towel. It was kind of hard to squeeze in a shower, plus 30 min. of hair conditioning, and then a short shower to rinse it out, but a few extra episodes of Paw Patrol kept the kiddo entertained long enough to pull it off.

The hair mask is a nice thick formula with the same clean herbal scent. It made my hair easy to comb in the shower, but the real anti-breakage test came when I got out and tried to comb it wet. I have a few spots (the ones with the lightest highlights) that get a little snarly. I’ve even had to just chop some pieces off because they look terrible. I could still see a couple of weak spots, so before combing them I took the tiniest bit of the hair mask and put a little extra on those strands. After that I was able to comb everything through nice and smooth, no snags.

Overall I thought the products did a nice job of taming my frizz and making my hair look healthier, even when it was up in a ponytail. It took some getting used to the herbal scent. At first I thought it was more “medicinal” smelling, but it grew on me. I will definitely keep using these throughout the summer, while I’m trying to grow out my hair and see if they do reduce the usual breakage that results from the harsh summer environment of sun, chlorine and salt water.

Right now you can save 20% off all Anti-breakage and Smoothing hair care products on Desert Essence with promo code DELovesMomsMeet

 

Spicy Peanut Crusted Chicken with Coconut Peanut Dipping Sauce

I’m always looking to do something a little different with plain chicken and love adding a little spice to things, so I decided to try making a Spicy Peanut Crusted Chicken with a Coconut Peanut Dipping Sauce. I used chicken thighs for this recipe, but it would work great for chicken breasts too.

The Fresh Roasted Almond Company sent me a great sample box with a variety of their nuts and flavors. I ate some, shared some and still had a lot left so I got the idea to try using their buffalo flavored peanuts instead of the usual plain peanuts I use when I make this dish. They have a sweet and spicy taste (not an overtly a “buffalo wings” kind of flavor) that I thought would go well with the sauce I usually make with Thai peanut chicken.

I started with 1/2 cup of flavored peanuts. I usually just crush them with a mortar and pestle but I found these a little harder than the plain nuts due to their flavored coating. After a few rounds I gave in and brought out the food processor so I could grind them up better. You still want them to be a little crumbly though, so don’t grind them to dust!

Buffalo Peanuts by the Fresh Roasted Almond Co.

I combined the peanuts with 1/2 cup of panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) that I gave a few extra crushes to so they were a little smoother than usual. You can use regular breadcrumbs, but all I had was the panko or seasoned breadcrumbs and I didn’t want to throw the flavor off with the extra seasoning.

Next beat two eggs in a separate bowl and mix together your peanut and breadcrumbs in their own bowl. First dip the chicken in the eggs, then the crumb mix. Press the chicken into the crumb mix really well on both sides so you get a good coating.

I baked them on a Copper Crisper, but you can also just use a baking sheet or pan. Put them in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 min. I always check after 30 minutes and see if they need more time. While the chicken is cooking, it’s time to make the sauce!

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Really Easy Coconut Peanut Sauce:

1/2 can of coconut milk (Give or take depending on how thick you want it. I usually pour a little in, mix, then pour more in. You will probably have to stir the coconut milk in the can first because it usually separates)

1/3 cup of peanut butter (At can be creamy or chunky. And again, you can add more or less depending on taste)

3 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. lime juice

1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

Dash of red pepper flakes if you like it a little hot.

Stir it up until it’s bubbling, then lower the heat and keep warm until ready to serve.

Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.

All done and ready to serve!

img_0677.jpgThis meal goes great with plain white rice and green beans. You can also pour some of the sauce on the rice or drizzle it on the chicken. I like to put it in a little bowl for dipping but my husband takes the bowl and just dumps it on everything.

You can make this with any kind of nuts too! The Fresh Roasted Almond Co. even makes nut crumbles so you can skip the food processor part and just go straight to the dipping.

You can check them out on Facebook and Instagram, as well as their website Fresh Roasted Almond Co.

*There’s a Buy 2 Get 2 Free special on their website right now, where if you buy two of any item, you get another two products free – details on the site.