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Life Shopping

I love online shopping

July 19, 2016

I have something to confess. I love online shopping.

I love it more than I love in person shopping. No lines, no parking lots to deal with, no worrying about how my toddler will handle the shopping trip. It’s easy and I can find nearly anything. I love buying handmade items on various online marketplaces, and I admit, I sometimes treat myself to silly little items from a certain auction site.

There are some things, like fancy clothes or shoes that need to be bought (or at least tried on) in a store, but for many basics, I prefer buying online.

Here’s another confession, which most people can probably relate to: I like saving money. I’m totally that person comparison shopping and searching the internet for coupon codes. A deal is a deal, you know what I mean?

My credit card offers cash back, 1% on most purchases with 5% in certain categories; it’s not huge money, but it adds up and every few months I cash that in and get some extra money back in my account. So now I’m going to say something…double cash back.

I’m going to stop for a second. What am I talking about here? I have recently become a Shopping Consultant with Distributor with Market America. Let me tell you a little bit about is owned by Market America, and it is a powerful shopping engine and shopping portal. There are three main ways to utilize this – and if you decide to follow along, be sure to start at so I’ll be your Shopping Consultant!

  1. Shop: That’s right, just shop. Visit the shopping portal at and search for your favorite online retailers. Your purchase is completed through the retailer’s secure site, and by visiting via the shopping portal, you get cash back from the retailer. Think of it as a referral bonus! Cash back can range from 1-50%, with 2-10% being the most common. For added savings, download ShopBuddy from your homepage (here’s a 1 minute video explaining how it works) and it will alert you when cash back is available, and automatically compile all the active coupon codes and deals available on participating sites.
  2. Compare: has a compare feature where you can search an item right from your homepage and it will show you where the item is available, the price, and if cash back is available from that retailer all on one screen. No more hopping from site to site to compare prices, you can easily see different options for purchasing a specific item all in one place.
  3. Buy exclusive items: Market America offers a selection of exclusive items that can be purchased on or from specific websites. These include high quality, natural cosmetics, skin care products, baby products, home cleaning products and isotonic vitamins.

Is there any risk or obligation?

No! Signing up for a account is completely free and there are no minimums to meet or requirements to fulfill. You sign up, you shop, you get cash. The only caveat is that you cannot cash out less than $10 at a time. Essentially, you earn free money for buying items you were buying already anyway. Plus, have a friend sign up using your referral link, or putting your email address as their reference and you get .5% cash back on his or her purchases, indefinitely!

What stores can I get cash back from?

The amounts and offers may change, but there are thousands of retailers to choose from. Just a handful are Macys, Aeropostale, American Apparel, Target, Sketchers, Ashley Furniture, Babies R Us, Barneys New York,,,,,, Kohls, Kmart, Groupon and many, many more. Some stores offer cash back on online orders with in-store pick up, including Barnes and Noble, Ace Hardware and Apple, just to name a few.

How do I maximize this?

shopHow do you get the most cash back? How do you make this make you a little extra cash, and your life a little easier?

First off, pay with a credit card that rewards you so you get double cash back. Second, use the comparison tool and compare prices and cash back to find the best deals. Also, leverage your time by shopping online; there are things you always buy, that you know you’re going to buy, that you can order and have delivered.

I order diapers for Little Miss online. I go to from my portal (2% cash back right now) and order the diapers, wipes and diaper genie refills. They have good prices and they often have useful coupons, plus free 1-2 day shipping. I order, I get credit towards cash back, and in a day or two a big box with everything I need arrives at the door.

I’ve started ordering paper goods and pantry staples from rather than trekking up to BJs. I start at my shopping portal and search (also 2% cash back right now) then I order my garbage bags, paper plates, etc. The site has good prices and offers discounts if you forgo the right to free returns (lets face it, I’m going to use those paper plates even if I don’t like the design) plus coupons and low flat rate or free, quick shipping. No parking lots, no carts, no travel time. A box arrives and I have my products.

On some purchases, the cash back I earn is only a few cents, but it adds up. By the end of the year I’ll have a tidy little bonus I can cash out and put towards holiday shopping.

Also important, the customer support is very responsive, and I am available to answer questions about signing up, how the website works, and exclusive products.

Want to learn more about some of those exclusives? I’ll share more in the future, but for now feel free to visit two of my favorites:

Thanks for reading! I’ll be sharing more about these products periodically, but only periodically! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. There are business opportunities available as well, but I’ll only discuss those if you ask.

Life Parenting

Why I babywear

May 13, 2016
why i babywear old fashioned modern living

A nearly 3 month old Little Miss apple picking in a ring sling.

You know how sometimes the simplest things seem to be the most difficult for people to understand?

This is one of them. Before my daughter was born, I decided to wear her; by wear, I mean carry her in a baby carrier meant for the purpose. She is now almost two years and almost 30 pounds and I continue to.

In the nearly 22 months since my daughter’s birth, I have used countless carriers (more about that later) and used them everywhere I go – at home, out visiting, at public events, at fruit orchards, in stores, at wakes and funerals. I’ve gotten some strange looks here and there, and heard plenty of whispered comments ranging from the appreciative to the concerned to the downright dumb. Only rarely has someone actually approached me about it, and even then, it was a reasonable conversation. Luckily, I don’t have any horror stories about babywearing in public.

What I see over and over, and what strikes me as so odd is that people just don’t seem to get it. Isn’t it hard? Does it take a long time to learn to do? Isn’t she heavy? Why not just use a stroller? Can she fall out? Did you invent that? The answers, in order, are not really; no, I watch video tutorials while I’m nursing; it’s no heavier than carrying her in my arms; strollers are bulky and unwieldy; not if I put her in right; no, even when I did make my carrier, I did not invent it.

Note: If you’re unfamiliar with babywearing and getting upset over people “wearing” their babies like accessories, slow your roll, please. “Wear” in this case is just a variation on “carry”, from the original German term. We don’t think we’re putting on our babies like we stack on bangle bracelets.

The short answer to why I babywear is because it works for me.

If you don’t know me, let me start by telling you that I am a hair under 5 feet tall. Carrying a 20+ pound bucket seat in and out of the car was never an option for me. And lugging even the smaller strollers in and out of the trunk was not something I wanted to do. They’re heavy and I’d rather not push a stroller around everywhere. Plus, wait for it…I wanted to hold my baby!

Now, if you prefer the bucket seat or the stroller, good for you. I have no problem with that, it’s just not my thing.

Since becoming a mommy and meeting mommy friends, more and more articles cross my Facebook feed about parenting. Thanks largely to these articles, I know that babywearing can help with colic and reflux and can lower the risk of SIDS. I know that holding baby can help stabilize breathing and heart rate, improve sleep quality for baby and reduce crying (and consider I had a newborn fresh out of NICU, I’ll take all of that, thank you!), plus baby being up and moving helps build neural connections. I know that more and more babies have flat spots on their heads from spending too much time in “containers” – play pens, cribs, car seats, etc. I know that babies who don’t like spending time on their tummy (mine didn’t) can develop the same muscles by being upright in a carrier. So there’s science to back it up.

But that’s not why I decided to babywear. I decided to babywear because it felt right. I wanted to hold my baby and be able to monitor her breathing. I wanted to be hands free, not chained to a stroller or cart, worrying about someone bumping into it or touching my infant’s face with their dirty hands. She was safe, and calm and happy, and it very much worked for me and my husband (who will also occasionally wear the carrier).

Oh, and discreet breastfeeding on the go, safely tucked into a carrier is the best tool in my mommy arsenal.

I asked some friends why they babywear and answers included because it makes mommy and baby happier, convenience (both offering a hands free alternative with a little one, and easily carrying a tired toddler), and necessity. Some babies are more comfortable upright, or just don’t like being in a stroller or car seat.

These brief answers summed up many great reasons to choose babywearing.

To some, babywearing is a lifestyle. And that’s fine. My mother has told me many times that 20-30 years ago, she didn’t call it “babywearing”, but she carried all 3 of her kids in a carrier that had front, back and hip carry options. It was more of a tool and less of an identifier.

For me, it’s mostly convenience. When my daughter was small, it allowed me to keep her close and safe. Now, it’s a way to comfort and calm, and when I need to, confine those rowdy toddler limbs. Little Miss will ask to be carried when she just wants to be close. Mama gets to cook/clean/work, and toddler gets to snuggle up on mommy’s back. It’s beautiful.

These days she mostly sits in the shopping cart when we’re out and about, but I always have a carrier in the car for if she’s sleepy or grouchy or just needs some snuggles. Yes, she’s slightly more than half my height. Snicker if you must, gawk if you have to, but drink it in…maybe take a second to appreciate this content, quiet toddler instead of whispering and shooting me funny looks.

why i babywear old fashioned modern living

Nearly 28lbs of sweet toddler, happy and secure in an Emmeline Textiles woven wrap.

I’ve been asked if I think that continuing to babywear and breastfeed is going to make my daughter too dependent on me. Well here’s science again, letting us know that breastfeeding never loses it’s nutritional benefit for a toddler, and that these “coddled” children not only become independent, they sometimes become even more independent than children who “learn independence” because their secure attachments let them explore with the surety of a solid base of support to return to.

Babywearing made a huge difference for me. When Little Miss was small, it meant I could hold and comfort her while answering emails; it meant I could easily nurse her while walking around a store; it meant I could do things around the house without her losing her mind. I don’t put her in a carrier every day and never have. But when I need it, it’s available and it’s perfect.

There are a lot of carrier options out there from reasonably priced to quite expensive. There are structured styles with buckles like the Tula, Connecta and the ubiquitous Ergo (available in Target and Babies R Us), there are woven wraps which are essentially a long piece of cloth that you learn to tie, there are ring slings which are slightly easier than woven wraps for some, and there are carriers that fall somewhere in the middle like the mei tai and onbuhimo. I’ve tried nearly all of these. The number of carriers I’ve tried is almost embarrassing. Maybe they haven’t all been my favorite, but they’ve all gotten the job done. If you’re interested, give it a shot! Find yourself an ergonomic carrier, read the instructions well and go for it – safe babywearing is good babywearing.

So, not that you asked, but if you’ve seen me in the past 2 years, odds are you’ve seen me with a carrier. So if you were wondering, this is why I babywear.

Life Parenting

She’s not terrible, she’s a toddler

April 24, 2016
toddler terrible two babywearing old fashioned modern living

If you can’t tell, this is all 28lbs of Little Miss on my back for a recent walk.

My daughter is pretty awesome. She’s about a week past the 21 month mark, and she’s bright, sweet, friendly, funny and compassionate. Armed with only a handful of signs and a few handfuls of words, she communicates more effectively than some adults I know. She notices every detail and is an alarmingly fast learner.

She’s remarkably well behaved the vast majority of the time. She’s energetic but not wild. She likes to walk around and explore, and sometimes I don’t want her to. She’s stubborn. I’m stubborn. We butt heads sometimes (stop snickering). But isn’t that how it’s supposed to be?

Ever since my daughter hit roughly 18 months, I’ve been hearing about “the terrible twos”. Any time she isn’t 100% cooperative, I’m warned that the terrible twos are coming, or maybe they’ve even arrived early!

She’s not terrible. She’s a toddler.

She’s exploring her world and starting to understand how things work. She’s not a little machine, programmed to follow orders and never slip a toe over the expectation line. She’s exploring her world and starting to understand how things work. And she’s largely very well behaved. So do me a favor, if she doesn’t want to finish a puzzle with you or give you a hug, or if you see her whining to get out of the wagon and walk around Target and I’m refusing, don’t tell me I’ve got some terrible twos on my hands. Because I don’t. I have a toddler on my hands.

Is this just one of those “things people say”? Is it an excuse? I’m not saying that I get terribly offended by this or anything, I just don’t get it. I feel like it expresses an unrealistic expectation. 6 months could change my mind, but I doubt it.

One of the major things I remember from preparing for my daughter’s birth is a passage from one of my books that warned that we, as humans, are more likely to experience what we expect. So if we expect something to be painful, scary, etc, we are more likely to experience it as such. In the same way, does defining a period in our child’s lives as “terrible” set us up for it to be? Our words may not change the behavior, but are we likely to be less patient when we’re expecting rowdy behavior?

Aside from everything else, toddlerhood is uncomfortable! Adults get a toothache and are useless until it’s fixed. Toddlers have all sorts of teething and growing pains going on and we think nothing of it. Just because a tooth isn’t actively cutting doesn’t mean it’s not uncomfortable in any way. They do need to move from where they start to where they cut (and then continue coming out), and it isn’t a quick process. Add in the struggles of trying to communicate with limited verbal skills. I don’t know well adult moods would fare, if we all had these same considerations on a regular basis.

Now, I like being a mom. I really enjoy spending time with my little sidekick. Do I get tired and worn out? Yes. Do I sometimes feel like I’m going to lose it? You bet. Do I occasionally wish I had just a few minutes to myself? Absolutely (though only a few, I start missing her nearly immediately).

I’m pretty even kilter, most of the time. I feel like my whole life is a balancing act. I work from home part time, which I like to say is both the best and worst of both worlds. It gets frustrating sometimes! Trying to do everything isn’t easy. Some days we don’t leave the house, even to walk around the yard. Then other days we run errands, I get work done, we do all sorts of fun things together and I make fresh pasta.

When I spend 80% of my day catering to a tiny dictator, and the 20% that I’m trying to get things done is interrupted every 5 minutes, I’m not going to lie, it’s freaking annoying. But it’s part of the job. I’m the adult here, not her. I want her to explore and experience. I want her to try things and learn things; admittedly, climbing onto chairs and unlocking the front door aren’t my favorites, but they’re to be expected!

For the record, I’m not terribly permissive. I expect her to behave decently. I expect her to greet people in some matter. I expect her to sit at the table to eat with the family. I don’t feel like I need to allow any and everything to let her get the full experience. I’m still in charge here, not her. But I like to think we do it as a team. There’s a lot she can do, but also a whole lot she can’t do. As adults, I feel like it’s up to us to model the behavior we want to see in our kids. You can’t be rude and condescending and expect a child not to pick that up. So, we’re a team. Yes, I say “please” and “thank you” to my toddler. No, I don’t allow her to ignore me.

I don’t enjoy when my daughter gets upset. Who does? But it allows her to learn what is and isn’t okay, and how to cope with it. She doesn’t always want to follow instructions? Fine. It’s a balance. She doesn’t have to finish a game as long as she helps clean it up; she does have to hold my hand in the front yard or walking around in public. She can climb on our couch; she can’t play on steps or near the road. Safety and manners rule around here. You will be safe, and you will not behave like a little jerk. You want to baby-babble argue with me sometimes? Fine kid, you’re entitled to that.

I feel like I see a lot floating around on social media that makes it seem like its “in” to hate on being a parent. It’s tough sometimes! I’m not going to lie. That being said, I don’t feel the need to read posts and blogs about how categorically awful our kids are. I also don’t need to be told my child is made of stardust and moonbeams, who inhales the air around her and exhales perfection. Let’s just each embrace our own experiences, shall we?

My daughter can be clingy at times. I’m typing with one hand because she wants to sit with me right now. She’s hilarious. She’s adorable. She’s headstrong! And you know what, I’m okay with that. She’s a toddler.

People tell me she’s got a mind of her own with that tone in their voice that says, “oh, you’re in trouble.” They tell me I’ll have a handful.

Good. Let her be headstrong. Let her be independent. Let her make me crazy sometimes, and let me use my position as her parent to teach her to use these traits for good rather than for mischief.

So sure, she doesn’t always follow instructions and she’ll sometimes put up a fight when I tell her she can’t do something. But no, she’s not terrible.  And she’s going to grow up to be a strong, sweet, kick ass little lady.


A Quick Drop In

April 22, 2016

Hello friends, Kristen here. Ilana and I have had a super busy few weeks, and we both caught the germs that have been going around recently:( We hope to be more active on the blog soon with some crafting and cooking goodness!

What I’ve been up to…I’ve been doing some spring cleaning and baby prep! I think that our last amazon order has been placed…until I remember something else that seems essential. We finally ordered our diaper sprayer, monitor, and white noise machine. I plan on making our reusable flannel baby wipes soon. I’ll share that project if I am successful, or maybe I’ll share it either way and we can laugh about it!  So far, we have four meals frozen: chili, lasagna, sausage and peppers (vacuum sealed), and a meatloaf! I am hoping to freeze enough to get us through one week of dinners. Perhaps we’ll make enchiladas or veggie frozen pizzas next. I know some folks freeze a month’s worth before baby, but I do not seem to have the energy for that right now. Work is winding down as I have recently reduced my hours. The plan is to work until the baby comes, or until I feel done- whichever comes first.

I’ve taken a little break from reading about labor and baby stuff and have been delving into a few fun reads. I recently read Remembrance by Meg Cabot- one of my favorite authors in high school. Next up, The Girl on the Train, which I have heard good things about! My husband and I have been going on a ton of dates. I think it is sinking in that we are going to have a new little person to take care of soon, so we have been spending extra quality time together. We just tried Pho Queen, a new Thai place on State Street in Schenectady and loved it. The food was so good, but I think they are underestimating how busy they are and need to hire more staff!  We saw people turned away because all of the tables were full.

What I’m looking forward to… The arrival of our son in about a month! We are also loving the weather and trying to get our yard ready for cookouts and lawn games. I’m planning on doing an inexpensive patio makeover under our carport. I am on the look out for bargain outdoor string lights, pillows, and a carpet. If we are going to be stuck at home for a lot of the summer, I really want our outdoor spaces to be comfortable and functional. We are also extra excited for the Schenectady Green Market to move back outside in May.

Thant’s all for now! I hope everyone is doing well and avoiding spring colds and stomach bugs.

Life Parenting Uncategorized

Hi, I’m Kristen, and I’m planning to cloth diaper my baby boy. Here’s why.

April 13, 2016

When I first heard of cloth diapering years ago, my first response was, “Eww why?” I guess college Kristen was blissfully unaware of the cost of living in the world as an adult, as well as the environmental factors. My only worries were student loans, homework, and how come my boyfriend won’t text me back (It was because I ran out of minutes on my Virgin mobile flip phone).  I also had never laid eyes on a cloth diaper. When I actually saw a cloth diaper while working in childcare, I was surprised by the bright colors and easy to use snaps. I’ll admit, I still rolled my eyes a bit-after all, don’t daycare workers already have enough to do? My friend who was a teacher in the toddler room at the time explained that really, the parents do all of the hard work. Her job was simply to remove the cloth diaper and put it into a bag for the parents to wash when they got home. It’s not like she was washing diapers at daycare! Not so bad after all!

A few years later, I happened to reconnect with a college friend who cloth diapers, and I made a new friend who also happened to cloth diaper her daughters. They explained that it really was not that difficult at all, and that they were really pleased with how it was working out for their families. I was definitely intrigued, and asked my husband what he thought about trying it once we had our own little one. He was surprisingly interested as well! When my good friend recently gave birth to my unborn child’s future best friend (no pressure boys!), I had yet another experience observing cloth diapering up close. After a few weeks of trying it, my friend confided- “It’s easier than I thought. The biggest complaints I’ve heard from people about it are from those who have never tried it.” I can relate, as I’ve definitely gotten some criticism when I’ve mentioned our choice to people as well. However, it  hasn’t bothered me much because I remember my opinion of it all not too long ago! If you don’t know what it’s like today, the phrase cloth diaper conjures up the image of a white towel and safety pins.  Although my mom is never one to criticize, I think she felt relieved when a friend from her church showed her the cloth diapers she uses for her daughter. My mom liked that they looked easy to use and thought that they were very cute! There are definitely way more options available now than there were years ago! If you haven’t seen one, google “cloth diaper” or the “Green Nursery”. Be prepared to be overwhelmed by the different terms and types. I still am! The silly brand names had Ilana’s husband amused. He was like, “Bumgenius, Rumparooz, Thirsties…really?”


My pup Hamish is investigating the cloth diapers and wet bag! He has been very curious about all of the baby gear we’ve brought home recently!

So, why the decision to cloth diaper?

Well, first of all, its definitely a way to save money. After I have baby boy, I will be working very minimally doing billing, or possibly not at all if baby is too grumpy to take into the office (as my boss has generously offered to allow me to do). My income isn’t much, but we will be essentially adding a person to our family and living on one salary- so I am going to do whatever I need to in order to budget so that we can still save money. I’ll admit, the initial cost of cloth diapering is expensive- you can spend around $350 building a stash- but if you do the math about how many disposable diapers you’d use over the course of around 3 years- you are absolutely saving money! To me, best kind of cloth diapers are the ones that grow with your child so that you can use the same diaper from infancy to potty training. Plus, if you treat them appropriately, you can use them for future children- and they have great resale value. There is a huge market for gently used cloth diapers. You can shop the sales and giveaways, and you can look into buying a gently used stash. It sounds gross- but diapers that were washed and treated appropriately will look like new. I know, because I was recently gifted a large stash from a sweet friend of Ilana’s. My husband thought they were brand new! I also recently got two brand new Bumgenius Freetimes from a good friend of mine! As you can see from the picture above- I practiced using them on my son’s teddybear!

Our second reason for cloth diapering- we also like the idea of not filling up landfills with years worth of diapers. I in no way criticize those who use disposables, in fact, we plan to use them when baby boy is an infant- unless he happens to weigh enough to fit into cloth right away.  We also plan to use them when we are traveling. I think that the only way this will work for us is if we are flexible. This is supposed to be a small step to help the environment, and our finances- not an excuse to feel like a failure or lay on that “mommy guilt” when I put my kid in a disposable. Baby steps, guys. This is just one way to help that works for our lifestyle. I fully recognize that this is not for everybody! There are always a million decisions to make about parenting and childbirth.  Cloth diaper, disposable diaper,  epidural, home birth, formula feeding , breastfeeding- don’t hate! You never know what someone else is going through. Don’t feed into the mommy wars! I recently learned about this when I joined, and unjoined a cloth diapering Facebook group!

Right now, I am still a newbie and in the learning process! There is a ton for me to learn as far as types of diapers, and the washing routine. There are detergents that are cloth diaper friendly, and ones that are not. There are also certain diaper creams that can be used and creams that will ruin your diaper’s ability to absorb. I’ve recently learned that coconut oil is safe for cloth diapers.  I’m also currently shopping for a diaper sprayer. As I learn more from experience and friends, I’ll update you on how this is going. I’ll share the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Do any of you cloth diaper? I’d love any feedback or advice if you have it!


Life Uncategorized

A Few More of Our Favorite Spots in Schenectady

April 7, 2016

Hi there! Kristen here. Remember a few months ago I wrote a post about my favorite spots to eat and drink in Schenectady? No? Well, not only did that happen, but I also promised a Part Two. So here it is for your reading and hopefully eating pleasure. This post will focus mainly on coffee and dessert! And breakfast.

Perreca’s – I first discovered Perreca’s when I went there for breakfast with friends for our book club. It’s a church book club, because we are cool like that. It’s located on a small block that is called Schenectady’s Little Italy. A few years ago, Hillary Clinton made that official. There is even a sign on an archway that says so. Anyway, initially I was not super thrilled with the choice because I could not find breakfast anywhere on the menu. I’m the kind of weirdo who likes to look at a menu ahead of time because I really love food and planning what I am going to eat. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised when we walked into the restaurant. Its a cute little Italian place with a bakery where they make their famous bread right next door. The menu includes complicated dishes, like Eggs in Purgatory and various breakfast pizzas, as well as simple breakfast choices. I ended up being so impressed with Perreca’s that for months I bugged my husband to go there with me. We finally went about three weeks ago, and he liked it so much that we went again on our Friday off together. We both got the breakfast special-coffee, eggs, potatoes, sausage, and that famous toast! Our bill was a grand total of $11 for a breakfast so large that we had trouble finishing it. Somehow, we managed. Afterward, we went to the bakery next door, and got a loaf of bread for Easter Sunday. We ate it all in two days. So much for that. It was awesome, though. Go there.

Villa Italia– If you are looking for a large selection of gelato, and a ton of Italian pastries, Villa Italia is the place to go! It is a bakery, but it also has little groupings of tables so that you can sit inside or outside with a cup of coffee and an authentic rainbow cookie. They do have a lunch menu as well that I have not tried yet- but everything I’ve had there is good- so it seems promising. It is one of the best places to get dessert in the area- or to grab a snack before walking over to the movie theater. My husband and I take turns surprising each other with boxes of their pastries after important life events. I got him treats after he passed a final, and he got me a box when I started teaching preschool.

The Happy Cappuccino– I remember shortly after we moved upstate and discovered the wonders of Jay Street, I was dying to try this place due to the name alone! It’s a cute little coffee shop, kind of dark inside and filled with estate sale furniture and board games. When you go there, a Jay Street hipster will most likely be serenading you outside. It’s a nice place to sit and talk, or just a good place to grab a coffee before walking down to the Green Market. They offer a few baked goods at the counter, but this really is a better place to get a latte than dessert. My drink of choice is an iced green tea matcha latte! It’s pretty amazing if you are into that sort of thing. Apparently The Happy Cappuccino just opened up an Albany location, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Puzzles Bakery and Cafe– I get extra excited about Puzzles because they train and employ adults with developmental disabilities. I worked as a job coach right out of college, and I’ve seen this exact type of endeavor very poorly run- but Puzzles seems to be the real deal! The Schenectady bakery is the first of what will hopefully be many locations. Every time I have gone into Puzzles, all of the staff members were courteous to customers, and seemed to be friendly and respectful to one another. The food was also delicious! I have tried their desserts, and their chili during the Schenectady Soup stroll this past winter. I’m definitely looking forward to going back and trying more items on their menu!

Top’s– Top’s Diner is about three minutes from my house, so we find ourselves going there pretty often! It holds a special place in my heart because we ate there with my in-laws, including Ilana, the first weekend we moved into our house. I remember sitting there, dead tired after moving boxes all day and eating dinner at 9 pm. The guys were even more tired than us because they all started tearing down plaster in one of the bedrooms. Remember how I recently wrote about how we decided to restore the damaged plaster in our home? That’s why! Anyway, back to Tops.  They offer a huge menu and make just as good breakfasts as they do dinners. All of their omelets are huge and delicious, with the most amazing home fries. I also love the Eggs Florentine- kind of like Benedict, but with spinach. I’ve also committed the sin of ordering Italian food from a diner- and guess what? I have not been disappointed yet. You can get just about anything there from wraps to risotto or a nice steak- and it will be delicious. They also have an assortment of cakes and pies. We end up taking home pie or a slice of rainbow cake to eat almost every time we go. I can’t wait until Key Lime is back in season!

So there you have it, more recommendations for places to eat in Schenectady! We’ve had fun eating out a little bit more because we know tiny baby boy will most likely have us cooped up at home for a bit! We’ve already started a little freezer meal prep! So far, we have frozen chili, next up- lasagna! Does anyone have any good freezer meal ideas? We’d love suggestions!

At least the weather should be warm by then. I say SHOULD BE because we just got about four inches of snow on Sunday night- and it’s STILL HERE. I’m dreaming of eating gelato and taking the baby for long walks in the stroller next month! Unless baby comes in June instead. Who knows:)


Decor Health & Home Life

Cracked Popcorn Ceilings and Plaster Walls #veryoldhouseproblems

March 22, 2016

We are elbow deep in all things baby prep right now- and that includes getting baby boy’s room set up! He’ll be in our bedroom in his co-sleeper for a few months, but we don’t want to be worrying about renovating a room and making a mess with a newborn in the house, so our goal is to have everything completed soon. With about 9 weeks to go, I know that we do have time to get it done- but everything does feel urgent. We have furniture from various rooms all in the living room right now as we shuffle things around to see what new arrangements make sense now that we are eliminating the office (that will be baby’s room). We are also eager to put away all of the adorable baby gifts that we received at our showers, and hang up the art that we have been collecting for a few months now. I received a beautiful print from a friend, and the things that I have bought myself have all been on Etsy! For example this, and this. If you have never shopped on Etsy- please do! It is a fantastic company to support- you will find  nearly anything you can think of- and they treat their employees like gold.  I am super impressed that they have recently extended their Parental Leave Policy so that new parents are eligible for 26 weeks paid leave for up to two years after the birth or adoption of a child! It’s just cool to see a company that is so motivated to keep parents in the workforce without sacrificing family life.


We have been hard at work for the past few weeks, first with clearing out the office and repairing some of the damaged surfaces.  Plaster walls, man. Its a messy, crumbly business. Although we do appreciate some of the charming, original characteristics in our home, plaster walls and ceilings that have not been properly cared for are a pain. When we first moved in, we tore out most of the plaster in our bedroom, but it ended up being much harder work than we anticipated, and it was months before the room was sheetrocked and ready to be lived in. Since that experience, we have worked on repairing the existing walls and ceilings in the other rooms. In this particular room, my husband took down all of the wallpaper border, while I patched cracks and holes in the plaster walls. There is something satisfying about doing home repairs yourself. I was pretty confident about the spackling because I did some in our living room over the summer. We had been taking down some crooked molding, when we discovered that it was not tacked in, but glued on- and we  accidentally took down part of the wall with it! It was up to me to spackle and sand the damaged walls and I am happy to say that you can no longer tell a piece of the wall was ever missing in that spot.

In the nursery,  my husband then sanded the walls, and together, we used joint compound and a sea sponge to cover the cosmetic cracks in the ceiling and recreate that bumpy look. I’m only allowed on the ladder when someone is standing right there. Its frustrating when you are used to being able to do things yourself, but I don’t want to put th the baby at risk, so it makes sense.  In this particular room, we were very lucky, the cracks were all minor. In the guest room that we repaired a few years ago, parts of the ceiling were actually falling down! We had to insert giant screws in several places just to make it safe before we could plaster over it. In the baby’s room, we were able to cover all cracks with one coat. Unfortunately the ceiling is old and has clearly been repaired more than once over the years, so there are certain areas where, due to the difference in elevation, it looks like it is still cracked despite the repairs. I am confident that a fresh coat or two of white paint will camouflage most of these flaws though!

That’s what we are up to now- the painting part. The tan will be an accent wall, and the white is going on the other walls. It’s a small room, so I did not want all of the walls to be dark. The other colors are being considered for the peg board diaper holder that we are building next! If you haven’t seen one before, check this out!

IMG_2346  IMG_2349

I wish I could help more, but I can’t be breathing in those fumes, so my husband has been priming on his own and will begin actually painting today. I’ve done the taping and tarping of the room, a process that always makes me feel a little bit like Dexter (if you’ve ever seen that show), and I’ve been finding other ways to help out where I can! The goal is to spend our Friday off together assembling furniture and getting our house somewhat back to normal. We are hoping to get so much done that we can spend Easter lounging around after church. How is this Sunday Easter already? And what am I going to make for brunch?

Happy Tuesday Friends!

Life Review Uncategorized

Quick- read these books before you see the movies: Room, Brooklyn, Me Before You

March 9, 2016

I am lucky enough to have spent a week with my sister in Virginia recently! I tagged along for my husband’s business trip, rented a car, and drove out to her dorm (more like an apartment) every day while he was a work. We spent time going to the mall, visiting puppies at the pet store, watching Married at First Sight, and eating Chick- fil- A. My sister also walked me around her beautiful tree lined campus, showing me her classrooms, as well as the on campus coffee shop, Cafe Moka. That’s where I spent part of my time when she was in class. The PB Moka Frozen Latte was amazing! Plus, the college kids did not snark at my complicated soy and decaf order…that time. Luckily my sister had a few classes canceled that week- so we got to spend even more time together. Sister time is the best. It was also fun to travel with my husband. I love taking adventures with him. I’m so glad I got down to Virginia Beach before the baby is born!

Although seeing my sister was the best part of the trip, I also enjoyed a freshly made hotel bed and a tidied room every day- as well as a yummy (and expensive ) room service breakfast. It was nice not to cook or clean for a week. I’d say that I spent most of the time that I was in my hotel room reading until my husband would roll over and mumble, “Turn off the lights. Go to sleep!” Between the plane, the hotel room, and the coffee shop, I read more than I have in a very long time. It was so, so nice. I also got lucky with my book choices, so now I am here to review them for you! It just so happens that they have all been made into movies that have been or will be released soon. I cannot speak for the movies, although I have heard good things- but I do recommend these books.

Here’s What I Read:

Room, By Emma Donoghue

This book is told from the perspective of 5 year old Jack.  He chronicles his and Ma’s days spent in Room, which to Jack, is the whole world. They spend their days playing, reading, exercising, and once a day, they climb onto the table and scream up at the sky light- the only window that exists in Room.  The reader quickly comes to the sinister conclusion that Ma is actually a young woman being held captive by a man Jack calls Old Nick, and Jack is the child who was born to her in captivity. Although the premise is horrifying, the story is riveting and is ultimately one of survival, and the love that connects a mother and her child. I could not put this book down. I do not want to say more and give anything away!

Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin

Eilis is a young woman living a fairly contended, if predictable life in Ireland with her mother and an older sister Rose, whom she adores. She goes to dances with girlfriends, and works a job below her education level to help support her family. Rose and her friend, Father Flood, a priest visiting from America arrange to send Eilis to America, where they believe more opportunities for her to succeed await. Eilis goes along with this plan, although it is very clear that she was never asked if she wanted to leave home. At first, Eilis is crippled by homesickness and has trouble making friends. However, once she starts taking night classes to move up at work and falls in love with a young Italian man, Eilis’ confidence begins to grow. When circumstances bring her back to Ireland, she faces the decision about where her heart and her home actually lie.  Eilis is a frustrating heroine, continuously letting life happen to her, instead of taking a more active role. It is a constant struggle for her to take charge, although there are times when she does manage to stand up for what she wants. By the end of the story, it does feel as if Eilis is painted into a corner, although she does face the choices that she has made, leaving the reader just as torn as she is.  It is a beautiful story with an imperfect heroine. Perhaps that is what makes Eilis so relatable.

Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes

So, I actually read the sequel to this book on my trip- but I am not going to tell you anything about it because I loved this book so much more and don’t want to give anything away! This book tells the story of Louisa Clark, a young woman killing time in her small town because she is afraid to ask for more out of life, and because she believes she doesn’t deserve more. When she finds herself suddenly unemployed, Louisa takes a job caring for a quadriplegic man named Will Traynor.  Although Louisa is intimidated by his sarcasm and haughty attitude, the two eventually forge a strong bond, and Louisa realizes there is more to Will, and her job than she initially thought. They both manage to change one another’s lives, and Will helps Louisa to come to terms with an abusive past, and let go of old demons so that she can begin living again.

So there you have it- three  book recommendations! Have you read any of these or seen the movies yet? If you are a real life friend or family member and would like to borrow one of these books- I am happy to share! However, you must promise to sit down and discuss it with me over good coffee and maybe this bread. I made it this morning and it is quite delicious:)


Health & Home Life

My favorite more natural health and beauty products

March 3, 2016

natural beauty products old fashioned modern livingIt’s not surprise that there are a lot of health and beauty products in my house. I’ve bought them, made them, kept them. Considering how many I would probably find if I did a round up, the number of them that I use is surprisingly small, and the number I get fired up about is even smaller.

Considering the vast variety of health and beauty products available, what does it take to be a favorite around here?

  1. Price – needs to be well within a reasonable range
  2. Effectiveness – does the job and des it well
  3. Scent/feel – doesn’t have a gross texture or consistency, or an overwhelming smell
  4. The more natural, the better – if we could tone down the chemical content, that’d be great

You may have noticed in the title that I said “more natural” – not every product I use on a daily basis is as natural as it could be. I’d love it if they were, but there are some things you just can’t replace, so I do the best I can. Ready for my review of a few of my more natural health and beauty essentials? I’ll start with the least natural, then get into the really good stuff.

Urban Decay Naked Skin Beauty Balm

I am a big fan of Urban Decay makeup, and my hands down favorite item is their Naked Skin Beauty Balm. It’s a very light BB cream formula with a very faint, pleasant minty smell. It’s great for everyday, and I use it when I don’t want to put on much makeup but just want a little something to smooth out my skin tone.

At $34 for a 1.18 fl oz bottle, this may be the most expensive product I use on a regular basis. When I finished my first bottle a couple of years ago, I tried several drugstore brands (a la Maybelline, L’Oreal, etc). Greasy, shiny, thick, heavy. Put lightly, they were gross. The Urban Decay formula is oil free with a velvety feel, and I can feel good about using a vegan product from a cruelty free company.

Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer is another really good product, making eyeshadow look brighter and last longer. Both products can be purchased at, and retailers like Sephora.

Note: If you’re wondering why it matters that the product is vegan, know this; cochineal is crushed bugs that make a brilliant red color, and guanine is made from grinding fish scales, and many cosmetics use these and other animal-derived ingredients. Sometimes the alternatives are plant-based (yay!), sometimes they’re synthetic (meh). Regardless, I’ll take it.

Perfectly Posh Tea Tree + Neem Hair and Scalp Mask

Everyone has heard of face masks, but a hair mask? I was skeptical when I first came across this product, but I know tea tree oil works wonders, so let’s give it a shot! I was ordering anyway, and for $19, I was willing to see if this made a difference for my boring hair and kind of dry scalp.

First off, a little about Perfectly Posh. All products are made in the United States and use oils, butters, fruits and flowers and largely natural ingredients with no fillers, and they don’t test on animals. Every product listing on the website gives a list of key ingredients, and a description of each for if you’re curious – I think that’s pretty great!

Before a shower, just wet your hair and run a dollop in, focusing on scrubbing it into your scalp a bit, then let it do it’s thing for 10-15 minutes and wash it away. It’s recommended to use 1-3 times a week, and I generally fall into that range. It makes your scalp feel tingly and cool while it’s on, but not overwhelmingly. In several months, I can’t say that I’ve seen a huge difference, but when I use it I see a definite change in my hair and scalp. I’m actually just about needing to order a new bottle!

This is available only through, but you rack up loyalty points when you shop, which is pretty cool. I’ve also tried their chapsticks (nice, but don’t last long), In The Clear Face Mask (love it), and The Healer skin stick (nice moisturizer/healing cream, great for on the go).

Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap

The Dr. Bronner’s Company has 5 generations and over 150 years of soapmaking experience, so they’ve got it pretty nailed down. The products are eco-friendly and fair trade with ethically sourced ingredients. On the website at, you can see a breakdown of the ingredients and where they come from.

But anyway, the soap. The castille soap comes in small, medium and large size bottles and is an amazing liquid soap. The bottle is covered in the “All-One” message, essentially a message of unity inspired by the ideology of one of the original family soapmakers. It could easily be dismissed as psycho-babble, but is actually pretty interesting. My favorite is the almond scent, though there is also peppermint, eucalyptus, citrus rose, lavender, tea tree and a “baby” unscented.

The almond scent is not overwhelming, but sweet like marzipan or amaretto. This is my face washing soap, and my husband uses it instead of body wash. It’s utterly all purpose, I’ve even washed my hair with it. It’s called an 18-in-1 soap because it  can be used for face, body, hair, pets, cleaning, dishes, etc. We buy the 32 oz monster bottle, which is usually in the mid to high teens in price at Trader Joe’s, Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond, but is worth every scent. Seriously, my final review here is Best. Soap. Ever.

Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant

I hate that I wear chemical anti-perspirant; especially with a toddler always up in my grill, I’ve been really wanting something more natural. I’ve tried 4 natural deodorants previously and have left them all behind. The Traders Joe’s and Melaleuca didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. The Nourish Organics smelled like baked goods, but was very gritty and hard to use and didn’t do much – I just smelled like a sweaty baked good. And don’t get me started on the Jason all natural deodorant that you need to apply to the entire underarm area and is so sticky you need to walk around topless with your arms up in the air like an excited Kermit the Frog for 10 minutes before you get dressed.

Then I found Schmidt’s, from a Facebook ad, actually. The company is based in Oregon and is only recently hitting a national stage. The products are all natural, cruelty free and vegan. Natural oils and baking soda eliminate odor, and arrowroot powder absorbs moisture, so unlike a conventional antiperspirant that clogs up your skin so you don’t sweat, you sweat and it gets absorbed.

I’ve only used it a few times so far and not on hot days or doing heavy listing, but I am SOLD. I’m a believer people, this stuff works. I chose the Ylang-Ylang+Calendula scent in the stick form, very mildly floral and pleasant. The deodorant goes on clear and smooth; you don’t need to use much and it isn’t sticky. AND IT WORKS. I put it on yesterday morning, and it is now 24 hours later and I have not yet showered today. In addition to everything else one typically does in a day, I have cooked, lifted a 27 lb child 30,000 times, cooked with said 27 pounder in a woven wrap on my back, and used a micro torch, then slept under an impressive pile of blankets and I don’t smell even a little.

The only slight negative I can say is that oil based deodorants can get gritty. I’ve noticed a slight grit, but by holding the product against my skin for a moment before applying warms and smooths the top layer of oils so it’s not too bad.

This stuff. This stuff. I don’t have words for how delighted I am. I ordered from, and with shipping this cost me about $12. Worth every penny. There is also a website at, and some retailers have started carrying the stick version in addition to the tub version (which you apply with fingers or an included tiny spatula). Just an FYI, I’ve read that some people get irritated by the baking soda, so if you’re one of those people, steer clear. Otherwise, go go go go!

Homemade products

Everyone buys their health and beauty products! Except when they don’t. You may well already have these things in the house. Here are my current favorites:

  • Coconut oil – coconut oil is always my favorite. I use it for moisturizer for me, for diaper rash cream for Little Miss, for cooking and baking (all separate jars!) My standard facial moisturizer is coconut oil in an upcycled glass yogurt jar microwaved until soft, then mixed with a few drops of lavender essential oil; plain coconut oil is great too, for moisturizing and minor skin irritations. It goes on greasy but absorbs right in with no residue. I also like to make sugar scrub with some white sugar and coconut oil. Wet face, rub in and rinse off, just be careful if you have sensitive skin, this stuff has grit.
  • Baking soda – a simple paste of baking soda and water is great for tightening skin and minimizing pores, and it also whitens teeth! I use it on my nose, then rinse off and clean my face well with some Dr. Bronner’s soap and my scrubby facial brush, then use the remainder of the paste on my teeth. I brush first, dry my front teeth, glop it on and wait a minute or two, then rinse and brush again. It feels a little weird if it gets back into your mouth, but way less weird than trying to keep those gross tasting white strips in place for 20 minutes. Teeth feel super clean after, and while I wouldn’t claim dramatic results, I definitely think it removes surface stains, so I do it periodically to keep things bright.

So that’s it! Do you have any favorite natural, or natural-ish products or tips?


Out of the darkness and into the light and life in general

February 10, 2016

Today is Ash Wednesday. Following the church calendar is something I have only begun doing the last couple of years. It is not something that I grew up doing, but I have found order and meaning in these practices as an adult.  Throughout the year, these seasons keep me aware of my place in God’s story. Instead of Easter sneaking up on me, and getting so caught up in the materialism and busyness of the holiday that the true meaning is lost, lent gives me the reminder to prepare my heart and really ponder the greatness of what God has done for this sad, sorry world. I can remember that even though life can be full of sorrow, it is also full of joy and that death is not the end. I find this thought to be just what I need to pull me out of the darkness of winter and the sadness of losing someone very important in our family last week. Although there is a time for mourning, and that is where we are right now, it won’t be forever. Spring and Easter will come, God is moving in the world , even when times seem the most desperate, and one day, we will be reuinited with those we lost. I am looking forward to Ash Wednesday service tonight and the beginning of the lenten season. I feel that these seasons help keep me awake throughout the year.

At our house, we are weary and a little under the weather, so only the simplest, most comforting foods will do as we catch up from being away and recover. I made a variation of this breakfast frittata, topped with some creamy avocado so that breakfast is taken care of for a few days. We also baked a bunch of sweet potatoes and white potatoes and chopped up some toppings for easy lunches and dinners. We can eat those, along with a salad for a few days. My husband will be working overtime pretty often this week in preparation for a few presentations he needs to give, and I’ll continue my organization of each room.

I’ve been doing some interesting reading this week. Me Before You will keep me busy during my wait at the doctor’s office for my one hour glucose test. Ilana recently loaned me Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, and while it is intimidating, I’m letting it sink in slowly. It’s so important to be prepared for what will happen to your body during the labor process. Knowing what to expect is crucial to staying calm. I am trying to be as open and as prepared as I can, with the knowledge that anything can change at any time when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. I am also hoping to order The Divine Hours, by Phyllis Tickle on amazon soon. I have been hearing good things about this book of prayers for several years now.

That’s all for now. It has not been a week for big projects or baking. It’s just been a week for getting through, clearing away a little snow, and trying to be kind. If that makes any sense.