How “clean” are your beauty products?

A few months ago, my daughter began collecting “pocket bacs,” the small, hand sanitizers from Bath & Body Works. Personally, I’m not a fan of the store- I feel like I get a headache from the scents just by walking in- but since she wasn’t actually using them (don’t even ask), I didn’t give it much thought.

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But then the obsession quickly grew to include their body washes and lotions, as well as body washes, lotions and bath bombs from other stores. I decided it was time to do a little research to see just what was in all of these products.

My first stop was Skin Deep, a great site where you can type in a product and get a rating on how good/bad it is based on the ingredients.  The only problem was most of the products I was looking up weren’t on there. Hmmm. I needed to do a bit of digging.

Have you heard of the “dirty dozen” for fruits and vegetables? Well, apparently there’s a list for chemicals too!

1. BHA and BHT– Used mainly in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disruptors and may cause cancer (BHA).
2. Coal tar dyes: p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as “CI” followed by a five digit number
In addition to coal tar dyes, natural and inorganic pigments used in cosmetics are also assigned Colour Index numbers (in the 75000 and 77000 series, respectively). Look for p-phenylenediamine hair dyes and in other products colours listed as “CI” followed by five digits.1 The U.S. colour name may also be listed (e.g. “FD&C Blue No. 1” or “Blue 1”). Potential to cause cancer and may be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain.
3. DEA-related ingredients– Used in creamy and foaming products, such as moisturizers and shampoos. Can react to form nitrosamines, which may cause cancer.
4. Dibutyl phthalate– Used as a plasticizer in some nail care products. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant.
5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives– Look for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15. Used in a variety of cosmetics. Slowly release small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer.
6. Parabens– Used in a variety of cosmetics as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disrupters and may interfere with male reproductive functions.
7. Parfum (a.k.a. fragrance)– Any mixture of fragrance ingredients used in a variety of cosmetics — even in some products marketed as “unscented.” Some fragrance ingredients can trigger allergies and asthma. Some linked to cancer and neurotoxicity.
8. PEG compounds– Used in many cosmetic cream bases. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Also for related chemical propylene glycol and other ingredients with the letters “eth” (e.g., polyethylene glycol).
9. Petrolatum– Used in some hair products for shine and as a moisture barrier in some lip balms, lip sticks and moisturizers. A petroleum product that can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer.
10. Siloxanes– Look for ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone.” Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant (cyclotetrasiloxane).
11. Sodium laureate sulfate– Used in foaming cosmetics, such as shampoos, cleansers and bubble bath. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Look also for related chemical sodium lauryl sulfate and other ingredients with the letters “eth” (e.g., sodium laureth sulfate).
12. Triclosan– Used in antibacterial cosmetics, such as toothpastes, cleansers and antiperspirants. Suspected endocrine disrupter and may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

Pretty scary stuff, not to mention overwhelming. I decided we’d start by going paraben and BHA/BHT free.

Needless to say, my daughter was not thrilled when I began confiscating her products to analyze the ingredients. To include her in the process, I used this very cool, FREE app called Think Dirty. With this app, you can scan products with your phone and it will give you a score (much like the other website I mentioned but the scanner makes it fun!). Within moments, she was scanning away and screaming when she came across a 10 (“OMG! Get this out of here!“). I love that she could see that the items weren’t good  for her so she didn’t resist. She even joked she could become a “paraben hunter” 🙂

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Her products that she will no longer be using.

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My products that didn’t make the cut.

Do you have any favorite “clean” products? I’d love to hear about them!

 

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What’s your MISSION?

A Mission Statement

 In most businesses and schools, a mission statement is developed to help ensure that everyone is focused on a uniform goal. It’s always been my belief that if we don’t know what we’re working towards, we’re standing still. I’m a mover and shaker so standing still isn’t my thing.

After becoming a stay-at-home mom three years ago, I struggled a lot with my purpose. Now by purpose, I certainly do not mean the day-to-day to-do lists that fill all of our lives. Go grocery shopping. Drop off dry cleaning. Get a car wash. Ughhhhh. Yes, these things have to get done but they definitely do not provide anyone with a sense of true accomplishment. I was looking for more. I felt I was blessed to have this time with my children but wanted to have a clear understanding of my goals related to myself and my family. Hence, the idea of drafting my personal mission statement.

Now, what goes into your personal mission state is, you guessed it, personal but I’ll share mine with you.

Mission Statement

To nurture myself, my husband, my children, and my pets with wholesome food, kind words and positive energy. To contribute to my children’s schools and my community with my own unique gifts. To be the woman I want my daughters to be~ active, educated, and cultured. To continue to read, learn, grow and be reflective and to surround myself with positive people who share the same goals.

I took this mission, typed it up and printed it and put it in a pretty frame. It now sits on my desk where I look at it often.

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It’s always a good idea to have a clear focus on what you’re working toward, especially within in your home. Have a lovely day!

xo,

Tanya

Dinnertime Organization

When I first got divorced, I vowed to continue to have sit down family dinners every night. This was a staple in my home growing up and I wanted my girls to have the same great memories of sitting around the table and discussing their days, while enjoying a good, home-cooked meal. This was no easy task given I was a single mom to two young children while working full-time and tutoring most afternoons until 5pm. I would then rush to pick my little one up from pre-school and get home around 6, just in time to face the ever-stressful dinnertime dilemma. Necessity is always the mother of invention so I developed a process of meal planning that helped me considerably. Even though I now have more time on my hands, I still use this system because hey, it works!

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On a Saturday or Sunday morning, I sit with my cup of coffee, my folder full of recipes I’ve torn out from magazines, my personal cookbook (more on that in a minute), and my computer so I can pull up recipes I’ve pinned on pinterest (follow me here!) and plan my meals for the week. I make a quick list- M, T, W, T, F and plan full meals (usually adding one or two desserts for the week) for each of the five days. For each meal, I list all of the ingredients I’ll need on my running grocery list which I keep on my phone.

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Recently, I’ve taken this one step further by listing all the meals on this great chalkboard I found at Home Goods. I also add a quote of the week that we spend some time discussing (it works great for discussing literal meanings versus the deeper meaning most quotes have). We also do something called “high/low” where each of  us talks about the high of our day and the low of our day (the lows are always interesting…I have found that here you’ll hear things that wouldn’t normally get brought up).

Now about that personal cookbook- it’s really important in my house! This blank cookbook was given to me by my grandmother when I first moved to college. She told me to fill it with the best recipes I could find and I take that task very seriously. Since I enjoy cooking and like to try new recipes, I scour recipes online, on pinterest and in magazines and try them out on my family. If the comments are “it’s ok” or “it’s good but it’s not great” we toss it. If everyone loves it, it goes into the book. The book is now filled with my family’s favorite recipes and both girls have asked numerous times about getting the book when they move out. I figure I’ll convert it into a hardcover book when the time comes and I already know how much they’ll cherish it. Find something similar here.

I usually make two to three recipes from the book that are tried and true and two to three new recipes each week. This way the girls always have a few dishes to look forward to and new dishes and foods to try.

So that’s how I do it and I have to say, dinner is one thing I don’t stress about. 15 minutes on a weekend morning and a few minutes here and there looking for recipes is all it takes to have 5 well-planned dinners throughout the week.

xo,

Tanya

Can We Train Ourselves To Become More Optimistic?

If someone were to ask me if I was an optimist or pessimist, I’d answer that I was a realist. I have a good attitude and try to look on the bright side but some of my experiences have left me a bit jaded. Studies show that being optimistic is healthier for us and that optimists actually live longer. I like to be around positive people (who doesn’t?) so becoming more optimistic seems like a good plan for the week.

Can I become an optimist? I know the power of thought is strong so can I shift my thoughts and create even more happiness in my life? Sounds good to me!

First, a little background on optimism…

Humans have something called “negativity bias” which basically means we tend to fixate on bad news. Not surprisingly, negative encounters leave stronger impressions on us so we tend to develop a bit of a selective memory concerning our failures and bad experiences (it’s also easier to form a bad opinion of a place or a person; something that makes sense when you think about it…I know I can be quick to make harsh judgements if I’m not careful).

All of this makes perfect sense but how do we change the patterns of thought that are already swimming around in our heads?

  • Plan- By staying organized, we can ensure our bases are covered and that things will run smoothly (the realist in me is screaming, “But what if they don’t?!” See the next bullet…
  • Banish fault and walk away with the lesson Ok, so sometimes, even with all the planning in the world, things still go wrong. Know that. Accept that. And really be OK with that. Create an environment for you and those around you that doesn’t fault people when things go wrong. Only when you and the people around you are comfortable taking risks, does the potential for really amazing things exist. When things don’t go according to plan, learn the lesson and make changes. No dwelling!
  • Change your thoughts and your language I used to have a quote in my classroom that I need to put up somewhere so I can read it everyday. “Thoughts become actions so choose good ones!” It’s even been scientifically proven that new patterns of thought can actually change the physiology of our brains. One way we can do this is by becoming alert to positive information. Next time someone compliments you, soak it up! Even random thoughts like, “the sun is shining” or “the coffee smells good,” are good places to start. I already have a gratitude journal (if you don’t have one, check this out) but that’s another way to shift your thinking. The day may not have been great but there’s usually a few things we can be grateful for.

This week, I will pay close attention to my thoughts and ask myself why? if there’s negative chatter going on my head. I urge you to do the same! The energy we put out returns to us so lets all put more positivity into the world.

Wishing you a week filled with sunshine and laughter,

Tanya

Book Review- French Kids Eat Everything

Have a picky eater? Or are you a picky eater? If so, you simply must check this book out! The title caught my eye in the window of a bookstore. I’m notoriously picky and, unfortunately, my youngest is taking after me. I was ready to do something about it and this book came at just the right moment.

In this book, French Kids Eat Everything, the married, mother of two, recounts her experience of living in France for a year. She has come up with ten food “rules” and goes into great detail about how she formulated them, as well as her experiences, challenges, and successes.

I happened to be smack in the middle of this book when we took a trip to St. Barth’s. Primarily a french island, I had tons of opportunities to put into practice what I was reading all about. “You don’t have to like it but you do have to taste it,” applied to all of us (I tried tuna tataki, lobster risotto, and even foie gras!). Will I be ordering any of these any time soon? Probably not, but I set a great example and my little one ended up devouring fried shrimp. I said no to quite a few snacks and look forward to implementing le goûter (a scheduled, afternoon snack) once the school year starts.

Most of the rules are common sense when you stop to think about it, but the problem is, we often don’t stop and think about our eating habits and the habits our children are forming. I know snacking isn’t good for my daughter’s dinner appetite but I didn’t connect the dots that it may be the reason she’s not open to trying new things. And I certainly didn’t realize how many times she needed to taste something before she accepted it! This book definitely opened my mind on how I eat and how I feed my family.

Bon appetit!

Tanya

Keep It Simple

This is how I looked Saturday morning…

This is how I would like to look while cooking…

Last weekend was B’s birthday and I began his special day by spending close to three hours in the kitchen. I made his favorite dessert, a carrot cake, from scratch. Yes, I shredded carrots. Yes, I crushed pecans. And yes, I drove myself crazy! (Probably due to the fact that I was also attempting to make his favorite breakfast, Eggs Benedict). It was just too much.

The cake fell, the hollandaise sauce was runny, and I was frazzled. B explained it perfectly- he would have been just as happy if we would have went out to breakfast and if I would have picked up a carrot cake.  I had an ah-ha moment. The people I am doing these special things for do not care if I’m slaving away in the kitchen for hours- actually, they would prefer it if I was more present with them.

I do like to bake but maybe I’ll use a use a mix or bake the day before and buy frosting. Same thing with pancakes and waffles. Do I really need to shift flour at 8am on a Saturday? Won’t the kids be just as happy with pancakes made from the Hungry Jack mix?! I think so. I’ve decided I’m going to take some shortcuts that will allow me to save time and enjoy the process.

My goal of simplifying is beginning in the kitchen but I’d like to make everything in my life easier. Do you have any tips that make your day to day life less stressful and more enjoyable?

xo,

Tanya

Juicing For Health

It’s been 19 days since the “big day” and I feel like I’m finally breathing again. So many good things in such a short period of time! My thank-you’s were completed today and I unpacked all the boxes that have been sitting near my front door.

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One of the amazing wedding gifts we received was a juicer (thank you, Larry and Michele!). Now, I love fruits and B loves vegetables but neither of us have ever juiced before. When strolling through the isles in Bloomingdales, filling out our registry, we said, why not?. Now I have the task to figure out the why, in addition to the how and when!

So why are people crazy about juicing? What’s the difference between the apple juice and orange juice that I buy at the store? I began there…

  • Juicing has a very high nutritional and vitamin content. The juicer breaks up the cells of the produce and, because it’s liquid, it goes into our bloodstream instantaneously. Juice is also easy to digest so our body isn’t working as hard.
  • Fresh juice is not pasteurized. Juice that is sold in a store is heated and, during this process, most of the nutritional value is destroyed.

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Ok, so fresh juice is better than store-bought, pasteurized juice (makes sense!) so onto the how and when…

When– First thing in the AM or anytime you need an energy boost (for me, that’s around 2pm). Make sure to drink the juice as soon as possible after juiced as it starts to lose its nutritional value as soon as it’s made. Also, because there are no preservatives, you’ve only got about 24 hours, max (make sure to store in a glass, airtight container if you can’t drink right away). Make sure to drink fresh juice on an empty stomach and don’t eat food for about one hour after consuming juice so the juice can do it’s magic.

How– Get yourself a juicer. Go shopping for organic, seasonal fruits and veggies. Use a vegetable wash to clean and then prepare your produce for juicing the night before. Pull up some juicing recipes if you’re like me and need a recipe for everything in the kitchen or play around like my hubby did (oh my, he’s my hubby!)

Here are some recipes I found to get started. If you are a juicer and have recipes to share, PLEASE comment and share the love!

http://www.healthy-juicing.com/juicing-recipes/

http://www.all-about-juicing.com/Fruit_Juice_Recipes.html

xo,

Tanya

Revel in the beauty and wonder of spring

Ahhhhhh…it’s spring in New York and there’s no where else I’d rather be (well, maybe Paris but New York will do for this year). I cannot begin to express how much I adore the change of seasons. It’s only my second spring and I feel the wonder like a child. In order to take advantage of all spring has to offer, I have made a Spring Bucket List (find the template here). Listed below are a few of the ways my family and I plan on making the most of this season of renewal.

  • Spring Cleaning- what is it about this time of year that makes us want to clean and organize? I found this handy checklist on the one and only Martha Stewart’s website.  I also change my air fresheners to a new, lighter scent and check the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms to make sure everything is working as it should. The hot tub will be drained and cleaned and the patio furniture set back up. Enjoying my morning tea outside is a simple luxury I’m eager to begin again.
  • A spring nature hunt- I can put a check by this one already! My little one loves the outdoors and I love taking pictures so we took the camera and searched for signs of spring in our yard(a lot of the pictures here were taken by her!).

  • Picnic in the park- Doesn’t this picture make you want to pack a picnic basket and set off to the closest park? We are lucky enough to live in walking distance to a lovely park and duck pond so a picnic to celebrate the season is definitely in order. Don’t forget to pack a blanket and some toys for the kids to play. I’m thinking a frisbee and bubbles…I’m sure my girls will complain they’re too old but will then delight in the beauty of the bubbles floating everywhere~ I always do!

  • Shop at the local Farmers’ Market- Why not get your fresh veggies from your local farmers’ market instead of the grocery store? I can’t wait to take my dog and peruse all the goodies and then go home and make a meal of it. Remember, eating seasonally has so many benefits!

  • Opening day at Yankee Stadium- What says spring better than baseball? B’s love for the game has rubbed off on me and the girls and we all enjoy going to games. We’ll be there next Friday, April 13th to root for the Yankees. Why don’t you show your support for your team and enjoy a hot dog while you’re at it? I can almost smell it!

  • Get ready for the rain- Polish up those wellies and make sure you have a fabulous umbrella. I have to admit, I don’t like the rain and have never went for a stroll (by choice) in a downpour but I’m going to give it a go. I can only imagine my little one’s delight and joy when I suggest a walk next time it rains. Life is short; dance in the rain!
  • Make fashion and beauty updates- I would normally be making quite a few spring purchases but I’m on a shopping hiatus until after the wedding (which, by the way, is in 36 days!!!). So instead I created my fantasy shopping list on my pinterest board. One thing I will be doing, however, is sampling all the great spring nail colors. Essie’s Spring Collection and Resort Collection are so much fun! A Crewed Interest in currently on my tips and Orange, It’s Obvious is on my toes. Nail polish is such an easy way to keep up with the trends and who doesn’t deserve a mani/pedi after a long week?
  • Attempt, again, to grow herbs and tomatoes (my daughter’s request)- I don’t know why I can’t seem to keep anything alive. It’s really quite frustrating. I will try again and keep the manicured fingers crossed that something grows.

And that’s it. Well, in addition to planning an Easter Brunch, my daughter’s 13th birthday, my other daughter’s first communion, and, of course, the wedding! Summer will be here before we know it. Time is ever so fleeting so make sure you find ways to enjoy the now.

XO,

Tanya

Stand Up Straight

Certain women seem to embody the term of a “lady” perfectly…

Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy come to mind but there are many out there.

So I began thinking,

what makes these woman seem

more elegant and more lady-like?

One of the first things that popped into my mind was their statue, their posture. Yikes! This is an area I struggle with (I like to blame a slight case of scoliosis) and I began to wonder how others perceive me. Could my posture be sending un-ladylike vibes?

I decided this week, I’m going to work on my posture and I encourage you to notice yours as well.

Posture refers to the body’s natural alignment. Good posture means we are distributing our weight evenly and properly so that no one area is overwhelmed. Bad posture can lead to the obvious neck and back aches and headaches. I’ve also learned that poor posture can lead to problems with digestion, breathing, and issues with your muscles, joints and ligaments. And I was just worried that it looked bad…how vain am I?!

Ok, so my posture sucks and now I know it can lead to major trouble down the road. Here are a few strategies I’ve rounded up that I plan on implementing now.

Sitting~

  1. Align your back with the back of the chair.
  2. Avoid slouching or leaning forward.
  3. Make sure your neck, back, and heels are all aligned.
  4. Keep both feet flat on the floor (this is going to be very difficult for me!)

Standing~

  1. Stand with weight mostly on the balls of the feet, not with weight on the heels. Avoid locking your knees.
  2. Keep feet slightly apart, about shoulder-width.
  3. Let arms hang naturally down the sides of the body. (My arms are constantly crossed so we’ll see how this goes)
  4. Tuck the chin in a little to keep the head level. Stand straight and tall, with shoulders upright.

While sleeping~ (B says I have the absolute worst sleeping habits; I often find myself in the fetal position)

  1. Sleep on your back to help straighten your shoulders
  2. Put a rolled-up towel under the neck and a pillow under the knees to better support the spine.
  3. If  you must sleep on your the side, place a pillow between the legs to help keep the spine aligned and straight.

Strengthen Your Core

1. Stretch your back muscles.  (I found some great stretches here that I’m going to add to my morning routine)

2. Exercise. (I’m pretty good about remembering my back when working out but I think I need to revisit yoga, which I LOVE, not sure why I haven’t been going, and maybe try a Pilates class, which everyone raves about.

So that’s what I’m going to be working on this week. Hopefully I’ll be able to make a few changes now that will keep me healthy and feeling good way into the future.

And for my fellow moms out there, add one more thing to your list of things to nag your kids about. They’ll thank you one day!

Have a fabulous weekend and make every moment count,

Tanya

If you only do one thing this week…become a red wine connoisseur

As most of you may know, my fiancé is in the wine business so, over the last two years, I have had an opportunity to drink some unbelievable wines and tour some of the most breathtaking vineyards here in the U.S, as well as in France and Italy.
At this point, one would think I’d know an awful lot about wine, right? Ummmm, not so much…

I’m ashamed to admit that I know what I like but that’s about the extent of my wine knowledge. I fell in love with Rose so I made it a point to educate myself and now this week I’m going to tackle red wine and next week, champagne. Then I’ll do a blog about which glasses to use (I’m constantly confused) and what you need to have a well-stocked bar (this would be necessary as I realized I didn’t have shot glasses the other night- I still don’t know how that happened).

Lets start with the basics~

Red wine is usually named for the primary grape that is used to make it in most new world wine regions, such as the U.S., South America, and Australia (Cabernet is a type of grape!). However in old world wine regions, such as Italy, France, and Spain, wines are typically named for the region in which they are grown (Bordeaux comes from the Bordeaux region in France).

The grape’s skin is what gives red wine it’s beautiful, rich red color. Red wine’s colors vary due to the particular type of grape used, as well as how long the skins are in contact with the grape’s juice during the fermentation process.

The most common red wine varietals are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandal, Shiraz, Petite Sirah, and Malbec. Familiarize yourself with these and you’ll do just fine ordering from almost any wine list.

So what’s the difference between all these wines? Lets see if you’ve followed along so far…

It’s all about the grapes!

Take Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s originally from Bordeaux but now is all over the California coast.  Cabernet grapes need to mature a bit longer than other grapes so their flavors mellow beautifully and blend nicely with other grapes, usually Merlot. Cabs range from medium-bodied to full-bodied and are characterized by their high tannin content. They’ve got structure and rich fruit characteristics. Flavors you may pick up on include plum, cherry, blackberry, blueberry, warm spice, vanilla, tobacco and sometimes even leather aromas.

Merlot is another grape that originated in France. Merlot is more of a “fruity” wine, not as strong-bodied as a Cab.

Now on to my favorite, Pinot Noir. Similar to a Merlot, Pinot Noir is a lighter-bodied wine with lots of fruit flavors. You may find Pinot Noir to be a bit more expensive than other red wines and this is because the grapes are not has hardy and abundant as some of the other varietals.

Next up, Zinfandel. Admittedly, I thought this was a white wine and it can be, but the grape itself is red. Who knew? For White Zinfandel the skin is quickly removed so you’re left with a rose/blush colored wine. The grape, which is known for its rich, dark color scheme, makes a wine with medium to high tannin levels and a higher alcohol content. Zinfandel’s flavors include raspberry, blackberry, cherry, plums, raisins, spice and black pepper.

Here are a few bottles at various price points to get you started~

Cabernet Sauvignon

Jordan (Sonoma, California $50)

Franciscan (Napa Valley, California $22)

Merlot 

Duckhorn (Napa Valley, California $40)

Jacob’s Creek Reserve Merlot (Australia $10)

Pinot Noir

Flowers (California (personal favorite!) $45)

Veramonte (Chile $12)

Zinfandel  

Gnarly Head (California $10)

Ravenswood (Sonoma, California $25)

Finally, although you don’t need a reason to enjoy a glass of fabulous red wine, Dr. Oz recently did a segment on how a glass of red wine a day can help you lose belly fat. Red wine also contains antioxidants that may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of “good” cholesterol and protecting against artery damage. I’ll drink to that!

xo,

TFab