Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Sharing My Mom's Beauty Secrets with My Own Daughter (+ A Neutrogena Giveaway!)

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I remember being absolutely infatuated with my mom's beauty routine as a little girl. My mom has never been big into makeup, but I loved watching her swipe a blush brush across her cheek or a mascara wand onto her eye lashes - and couldn't wait to do the same when I got older. One day I asked her how much longer it would be before I could wear makeup, because I "wanted to be pretty too." And my mom sat me down right then and there and shared with me what I vowed to share with my own daughter if I ever had one as well. She explained that beauty was about much more than putting on makeup or styling your hair - that being kind and taking care of yourself and finding simple ways to enjoy life were the most important elements of true beauty. She also told me about her own beauty routine (from favorite products to ways she cared for herself from the inside out), much of which I went on to do myself, and have even started to share with my own daughter Essley. Today I'm partnering with Neutrogena Rainbath - one of the products to which my mom first introduced me as a young girl - to share with you some of these beauty tips, as well as to give away a pretty amazing prize pack of Neutrogena goodies.

1. Eat healthy foods. One of the most important beauty secrets my mom taught me that I've been already instilling into Essley is how nutrition can genuinely make or break your appearance. I grew up eating a lot of clean, whole foods, and I try to set the same example for Essley that my mom set for my sister and me. When she asks for a cookie, I hand her an apple or orange instead (she loves oranges something fierce). We make smoothies together everyday, and focus on healthy, organic foods as much as possible. I could admittedly live on candy and french fries if it was acceptable, so this doesn't always come easy. But I notice a huge difference in my skin, hair, and overall appearance when I'm eating well, and just as my mom talked to me about how much what you eat affects how you look and feel, I talk about it to Essley. She is still very little but she gets it!

2. Move. Speaking of taking care of yourself in an effort to look your best, my mom was also big on getting us to move our bodies. We didn't go to the gym and still don't (although I sure do wish I was motivated to be a 6 AM gym person!), but we did a lot of walking and playing and dancing and just moving in general. While Essley may be too young still to comprehend that working out and moving our bodies affects every aspect of our appearance (and how we feel, which my mom always said directly influenced our looks as well!), I include her in my work outs everyday. And man does that kid love her dance class.

3. Drink your water. Drinking lots of water was a huge beauty secret of my mom (and still is), and like my mama did to me, I tell Essley on a regular basis how magical water is to looking and feeling our best. She and I carry our water bottle with us everywhere, and have fresh water with every meal.

4. Enjoy the little things. I mentioned how when my mom first sat me down to define beauty, she talked about how finding bliss in life's simple pleasures and everyday moments was key to looking and feeling beautiful. Through the different stages of my life I have found this to be intensely true on so many levels. Periods of time that have been challenging or stressful, especially when I haven't allowed time for myself, have presented themselves loud and clear on my skin, in my eyes, in my hair, and in my overall energy. I looked forward to being able to talk about this to Essley when she's a little older. In the meantime, we spend a lot of time picking flowers, looking at the moon, and paying attention to our surroundings in a positive way.

5. Find some really great beauty product staples. And finally, my mom told me about all of her tried and true favorite beauty products that had become beauty staples for her, some of which I still use today and will undoubtedly share with my little girl as well. One of these products has been around since the 1970s, and I consider it to be iconic - Neutrogena Rainbath bath and shower gel. My mom has always been big on creating rituals when it comes to beauty and self-care (I think she may actually be the biggest fan of baths to have ever lived), and that's something I look forward to passing on to Essley as well. Rainbath is a key ingredient for these rituals - it has an incredible spicy scent that reminds me of a spa, and has the ability to both relax me after a long day and invigorate me in the morning. It also creates the most luxurious lather (I even use it to shave) that conditions my skin but rinses clean without leaving a residue. Although the Original Rainbath is my jam, Neutrogena also made several other scents - Rainbath Replenishing Shower and Bath Gel: Ocean Mist, Rainbath Rejuvenating Shower and Bath Gel: Pomegranate, and Rainbath Renewing Shower and Bath Gel: Pear and Green Tea. I love that we share this beauty product staple throughout our different generations!

And now that I've shared the beauty secrets that have been passed down in my family, it's time to give away some amazing prize packs of Neutrogena Rainbath and Rapid Wrinkle Repair goodies! This giveaway includes four Rainbath Shower & Bath Gels (one of each delicious fragrance) and the Rapid Wrinkle Repair Collection (Rapid Wrinkle Repair® Serum, Rapid Wrinkle Repair® Eye Cream, Rapid Wrinkle Repair® Night Moisturizer and Rapid Wrinkle Repair® Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30). Ten packs will be given away, valued at $120 each. See the Rafflecopter entry form below for more details and to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'm so grateful for my mom's beauty secrets and hope Essley appreciates them as much as I have. And good luck to those entering the giveaway - I'm genuinely jealous!

This post is in partnership with Neutrogena Rainbath. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Bring May Flowers

1. Avenue Lifestyle  //  2. Lalalovely Things  //  3. Clementines and Tulips  // 4. Homeyohmy  //  5. Martha Stewart  //  6. source N/A (anyone know it?)  // 7. Ruby & the Wolf

May is one of my favorite months. I love than it's the link between spring and summer - there is something exciting about that for me. And aside from the obvious (warmer weather, duh), there is nothing that gets me more pumped for May than flowers. So today, in honor of the first week of May, I'm sharing some especially inspiring flower images I've come across recently. I can't wait to watch all the May flowers continue to bloom outside as the month progresses.


Monday, May 2, 2016

Spring Cleaning As a Family (+ 2 DIY Cleaners)

Thank you Viva® for sponsoring this post. Visit your local retailer to pick up your own Viva® Towels and share how you #UnleashClean.

I wish I was one of those super organized mothers who kept her house nice and spotless just by the sheer nature of her innate ability to stay on top of things - and that this post was going to outline for you all my fancy tips for keeping everything this way in your own home. But alas, I am a very messy, disorganized person who admittedly doesn't clean beyond the bare minimum level of necessity until things get pretty close to out of hand. Thank goodness for spring though, because as soon as the weather gets to a place where we can open the windows I am suddenly possessed by a foreign instinct that tells me there would currently be nothing more gratifying than a good deep house cleaning. And thank goodness my equally messy, disorganized husband gets the spring cleaning bug too. And furthermore, thank goodness our also messy, disorganized toddler thinks that spring cleaning is the most fun game ever and loves joining in. And finally, thank goodness for the fact that I legitimately only need a few things that we already have on hand on the regs in our house to get the whole place back to a condition that doesn't make it appear to be overrun with slobs (even if we really are). So while I may not be sharing the perfect mothers' guide to a constantly sparkling home today, I am sharing how we get into spring cleaning mode as a family, and exactly what we use to make it happen - including two great DIY cleaners that only use a few (all natural) ingredients and cost next to nothing to whip together.

The first, and most important part, of course, of spring cleaning days here in the Baswell Williams house is motivation - something we don't often have when it comes to cleaning. To get motivated, we open all the windows, turn on music, and pull out the cleaning supplies. I'm telling you guys - if you can pick days that are nice and sunny and breezy-warm as your spring cleaning days, when you can open all the windows and literally smell that fresh spring air, you're going to want to to get that house in tip top shape. Trust me on this. Music is a great motivator because, duh, music. Really though, having some energetic music playing in the background just makes the vibe more upbeat (and you can also play fun games, like "I'm going to have the stove spotless by the end of this song.") And having all the cleaning supplies sitting out and ready to go creates a "no turning back" sort of head space. On spring cleaning day, we put our homemade lemon spray cleaner, homemade lemon baking soda scrub, and rolls of Viva® Towels and Viva® Vantage® smack dab in the center of the dining room table (which is right in the middle of our downstairs, where you can see it). Then we get to it. If you're in the "cleaning = meh" camp like we are but want to give your place a nice spring cleaning session, try these tips. They work.

And now for the DIY cleaners! These are both so simple to make, cost next to nothing, contain only natural ingredients, and work so well - especially when combined with Viva® towels (more on that in a minute).

DIY Lemon Vinegar All-Purpose Spray Cleaner

juice of 1 lemon
1 cup of distilled white vinegar
3 cups of filtered water
optional: pinch of baking soda

Combine all of the ingredients into a spray bottle and shake to combine. That's it, guys. This is an incredible all-purpose cleaner. Both the vinegar and lemon are acidic so they get things nice and clean together, but I really only add the lemon because it makes everything smell so fresh. I spray on surfaces and then wipe clean with Viva® Towels for more delicate areas or Viva® Vantage® for tougher jobs. This works well on glass, countertops, appliances, and even floors. (Just make sure to test a small area of each surface first since it is an acidic cleaner.) I usually make this with just the first three ingredients, but I'll add a couple pinches of baking soda if I have a job that requires a little bit of abrasiveness. Keep in mind though that baking soda is a base and will neutralize the acidity of the vinegar if you add too much, so keep it to a pinch or two.

DIY Lemon Baking Soda Scrub 

1 cup of baking soda
1-2 tablespoons filtered water
half a lemon

Pour the baking soda into a container (I use a ramekin because I'm weird). Add water until it's a paste consistency. Squeeze a few drops of lemon (again, I do this for the scent). This make a killer scrub for sinks, stoves, and bathroom surfaces, removes grease and scuff marks off floors, cleans grimy patio furniture, and even helps get stains out of carpets. I take a piece of damp Viva® Vantage®, dip it into the paste, and gently scrub. The combination of the gently abrasive paste with the scrubby texture of the Vantage® makes for the perfect deep cleaner.

Oh and psssst... When you're done with your lemons, cut them into pieces and put them down your garbage disposal. It will clean the disposal and make your kitchen smell divine.

As for the Viva® Towels and Vantage®, we love using them with our homemade cleaners for several reasons. First, although it's not necessary to have both products on hand at the same time since both work like cloth to tackle tough messes, we really like how each has a unique textures for cleaning different items. Viva® Towels are soft and smooth - like an undershirt cloth. Viva® Vantage® has a scrubby texture, like a terrycloth. Second, their uses are practically endless, guys. Viva® Towels are incredible for cleaning delicate surfaces (glass, countertops, tables, baseboards) and for spills. They're also super strong and hold up to multiple rinses, so you can use them for things like washing dishes. They're even soft enough for the hands and face, so we use them to wipe off our toddler's mouth and hands on a regular basis. We use them as dinner napkins as well. Viva® Vantage® is perfect for getting stainless steel appliances and glassware to shine, for scrubbing toothpaste off bathroom counters, for removing grease and grime from stovetops, and even for getting winter build-up off outdoor furniture. We also keep a roll in our car. And while I may not be that super organized mother of the year type I talked about at the beginning of this post, I do feel like a badass babe combining my DIY cleaners with Viva® for our family spring cleaning days (and everyday!) because they get the job done, and they get it done well.

Before I go, and while we're on the topic of spring cleaning, I have to mention this incredible clean-up event for which Viva® Brand and actress and home/DIY expert Monica Potter (oh hey Kristina Braverman) teamed up to host, as a benefit for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Ventura. Held at Avenue Thrift and Vintage Store in Ventura, CA, it demonstrated how Viva® Towels can transform used, forgotten items with just a thorough cleaning. Donated household items - from kitchen appliances to outdoor patio furniture - were cleaned and then donated to 22 deserving families across the community. Pretty great, huh? You can read more about it here, and check out the Facebook video of the event here.

Okay, now you have to tell me - are you one of those amazing people I envy so much who is naturally organized and keeps your house clean as you go? Or are you a messy person like me who lets the ick build up before finally tackling it? Do you have family spring cleaning days too? Oh, and if you're in the mood, you can check out a fun little homemade video of Essley and I showing how we clean stainless steel over on my Instagram.

Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Links I Love, Right Now

Oh hey, Friday. Anybody else feel like this week went by really fast? I mean, Monday dragged (as always), but I guess because my schedule was pretty intense this week, it just flew by. Normally 'Links I Love' posts are saved for weeks when I've had at least a small amount of downtime to spend wandering aimlessly through the internet. This week didn't allow for much of that, but I guess a lot of cool things appeared out of nowhere when I was online. And here they are.

Like my fellow children of the 80s (and pretty much everyone else), I was so saddened by Prince's death last week. His music provided a good portion of the music I first started listening to as a kid, and he was way too young to die. (2016, you can suck it as far as music legends are concerned). I knew he was talented, but I had no idea he was also such an incredible philanthropist. Pretty great.

The scientific reason why rainbow colored food is so tasty.

There's no way my nursing boobs could do a dress designed to be worn without a bra like this one (also shown in image above), but that doesn't stop me from staring at it dreamily. It's like fancy boho. I love it.

For someone who chooses to both wear and be surrounded by a whole lot of white, black, and gray, I am an unwavering fan of yellow and always have been. It's the cheeriest color in existence you guys. And it's majorly underrated.

The cutest bathing suit cover-up I ever did see.

21 people share their favorite movies to watch when everything seriously sucks.

First of all, this link is neither safe for work nor something you'd want to view in the company of minors (I figured putting that in bold would create an extra warning, because I'm considerate like that). That said, it is also hilarious. This woman turned her collection of unsolicited, ahem, male organ pictures into an art show. Amazing.

Awww. This cow breaks into her home just to wait for her family. I love her.

I want these sandals in every color.

I  would also like this top, please.

These badass Bolivian women take mountain climbing to new heights.

What are your plans for the weekend? We have a playdate/pizza party this evening with some other little ones (that thankfully, will also involve wine and beer for the adults), tomorrow I have a lunch date with a girlfriend and some shopping fun planned for Essley and me, and Sunday morning Robbie gets home and we're having a family day (which never happens on Sundays anymore because if he is home, I'm usually working). Robbie and I will have been together for a decade this year, and looking back ten years, I would have laughed so hard at the weekend plans I have these days. Gone are the days of watching the sun rise from city rooftops with cocktails in hand, often in different cities each weekend. The intense hangovers are gone too. I certainly never would have looked at my current life as living the dream back then, but now I'm pretty sure I am. And with that deep thought I'll say goodbye for the weekend, friends. Enjoy it!


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Celebrating Motherhood. With Wine.

A little over two years ago, I became a mother, and my world instantly changed. Suddenly everything was better. Watching the world through my daughter's eyes made me relearn how to appreciate the bliss of the smallest things in life. A year ago almost to the day, I found out I was pregnant again (this time with a little boy). I couldn't wait for my heart to grow even bigger. Then... my daughter turned two. And less than two weeks later, I gave birth to a newborn. And, um, wow. Yes, my heart grew. Yes, I love my kids more than anything in the world. I mean, anything. But man am I exhausted. My hair usually smells like baby vomit and there is either a cheerio or the indented mark of a Lego stuck to my foot at all times. I get about four hours of broken sleep a night, and the sweet sounds of my favorite music have been replaced by the tune of newborn screams and toddler whining, in stereo. Did I mention that my husband works for a band and had to go back on the road for their winter tour two weeks after the new baby was born and is only home to help two to three days a week (pretty sure I've mentioned it quite a few times around here but we'll pretend I haven't)? What about the ten days at the beginning of this month that were completely overrun with multiple alternating child barf and phlegm filled coughing episodes, day and night - did I mention those? How about my two year old's newfound love for the words "no" and "why," always said in a (not pleasant) sing-songy voice? Or my baby's favorite recent trick that involves pooping right up his back? Should I go on?

Last week I was talking (complaining) on the phone to my mom about the less-than-wonderful parts of being a mother, and she gently (with a large grin on her face, I'm sure) reminded me that not only did I put her through the same exact thing, but that I basically had no idea what was to come when the kids hit the teenage years. Uggggh. She went on to also remind me that this was just part of motherhood, and that there was more than enough goodness involved to counteract the crappiness - and that this was why motherhood needed to be celebrated. And that gave me an idea. I told her that we were going to have an early Mother's Day celebration with the three generations of girls (my mom, me, and my daughter). I said we were going to share our war stories, tell jokes, and drink wine. We could eat all of the stereotypical pretty Mother's Day brunch goodies we wanted (give us all the fat-filled flakey croissants, please), but that this wasn't going to be your typical frilly Mother's Day celebration - we were going to get real. And so a few days later, Essley and I went to her house, and we did just that.

We had so much fun just sitting around and talking about the hilarious parts of motherhood (while my daughter ran around the house and visually reminded us of all the things that make it both blissful and exhausting), sipping on delicious Butter Chardonnay from JaM Cellars (more on that in a minute), eating, and doing Mother's Day our own way. My mom reminded me of the time when I was around Essley's age and approached a stranger in a grocery store to say to her, "my what big, beautiful breasts you have." (I am literally turning red just thinking about this. Mortifying.) There were lots more stories too, the majority of which are probably too inappropriate to share here. We sure did laugh though. Wow. And at the end of our mama hang out session, just to make the celebration complete, Essley loudly proclaimed that she had to "go to poo poo's house," then grunted and did her thing. (Can't wait to start potty training in a couple of weeks. Insert terrified face emoji.)

After we cleaned up, I gifted my mom another bottle of 2014 JaM Butter Chardonnay with a note that said, "I got you Butter for Mom's Day; after all, I'm the reason you drink." She was stoked. I can't even tell you guys how good this wine is - it basically melts in your mouth. It's rich and bold and creamy and buttery, and would pair just as perfectly with a Mother's Day dinner as it did with our croissant and strawberry brunch. For those not familiar with JaM Cellars, they use great winemaking traditions to make easy-to-love, everyday California and Napa Valley wines. "JaM" is actually short for John and Michele (how cute is that?), second-generation vintners who own and run JaM Cellars. They have a passion (and gift!) for making exceptional quality wines that everyone can enjoy. My mom and I are fans and if you like a quality 100% Chardonnay, grown in sunny California spots with just the right touch of cool from the coast, I know you will be too. I mean, we all know that  everything is just better with Butter. (Get it? Get it?) You can find Butter Chardonnay at select stores across the nation including Whole Foods, Bevmo, Total Wine & More, Kroger and HEB. Be sure to check the JaM Cellars WineFinder to find a store nearest you.

I'd love to hear your nontraditional ways to celebrate Mother's Day - with your mom and/or as a mom yourself!

Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.