July 17th Post Update!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

On a much lighter, less introspective note for today...HAIR!

In July, I mentioned in this blog that I was growing out a pixie cut. Although I am not a fan of hers, I do love Victoria Beckham's hair! My goal was to grow it out and have a cut of similar style.

Last week I lowlighted my hair to welcome Autumn and my hair was finally long enough to get Posh's "short" do! It is not exact but it is simple and fun and I think it really reflects my style and lifestyle in terms of time in the AM (or lack thereof). The result can be seen in the pic on this page. The back is cropped much closer to the back of my head and it really is versatile!

To keep the one side that always falls in my face off my eyes, I am using some great handmade hair accessories from Bella Jean on Etsy! Check out her shop: http://bellajean.etsy.com.
While we're on the subject of hair, here are some raves for what I am using now in my hair:
Burt's Bees Green Tea & Fennel Shampoo
Burt's Bees Raspberry Brazil Nut Conditioner
Nexxus Designing Butter
Garnier spray to add shine...

Preschool has helped this mom learn a great deal; a LONG entry today!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

So many subjects to touch on, so please bear with me!


Nick has now been in preschool since just after Labor Day. He goes three days a week for 2.5 hours a day.

In this time I have watched him become a leader, rather than a wallflower. I am amazed. He is such a sensitive, affectionate child, but that has often resulted into other children (especially his little brother) walking all over him. Nick has never been assertive, which we have been working on with him.

I am pleasantly surprised at his accomplishments. We know how bright he is...he counts to 100, can write several words, spell at least a dozen, and had the Pledge of Allegiance memorized after learning it one day in school. He has my brother's Ivy League intelligence, and sometimes this has affected his ability to be on the same page socially as other children his age. This is the key reason we enrolled him in preschool: for the socialization.

Nick is a leader; a social butterfly. How did this happen in a matter of 3 weeks? I am not sure. He absolutely loves going to school. He wakes up with a smile, arrives there with a smile, and walks out of class laughing and talking with his new friends. I am so proud of him! He just goes to school and tells me, "Mama, I am going to ask so and so if he wants to play tag." He is so outgoing now, and always has a warm smile for the others.

In these 3 weeks, however, I think I have learned more than he has.

It truly seems as though I just gave birth to Nicholas. It seems impossible that time has passed this quickly. I just didn't realize it until he started going to preschool! The fact that the baby is 27 months old is hard for me to believe. He is so wild--so active and independent--a real ham. Where has the time gone?

What I have learned kind of goes along with a blog post from a couple of weeks back. I have learned that you have to let the little things go. In the 2.5 hours Nick is at school, I am in the yard pushing Ben in his swing rather than doing another load of laundry. Those towels waiting in the dryer are of no importance; watching Ben collect bugs or swing or play Ring Around the Roses solo are more moments I hope last just a wee bit longer. Before I know it, Ben will go off to preschool and that will mean both of my babies have grown up.

We are not having more children. While I am so happy to be passed the newborn baby stage, and thrilled not to spend yet another pregnancy on bedrest or have more worries going into labor at 32 weeks, I am realizing that my babies are growing up fast and there is nothing I can do to stop time (except by snapping pictures, but it is not the same). These moments are so fleeting. I wish they would just last forever.

If you would've told me when I was in high school or college that I would have ever felt this way, I would've laughed my head off. Being a *gasp* stay at home mom, driving a minivan and being a room mother were far from my life's desires at that time...Of course that all changed after I met Tom, but that is a story for another day.

Anyway...back to learning. I have learned more from being a mother than I ever did throughout high school or college. The boys have been my greatest teachers. One of the most profound lessons they have taught me thus far is to do what you want to do, not what other people want you to do.

The boys are masters at this...

For them, it is not such a good lesson to learn, as their idea of not doing what others want them to do involves ignoring my directions (such as time for bed, time to brush teeth, stop playing outside, etc). For me, it has been wonderful!

Some business lessons learned....

These past weeks since I have scaled back in terms of my business, I have found true happiness. Every now and then, I get an instinct to do it all again--"just this once" making soaps for a few customers who have been asking me about a long time favorite...and I planned to do so. I told my sounding board/my voice of logic/my darling hubby about this plan and he gave me that look...the one that says, "Good Lord, now what are you getting yourself into again?"

Again, he reminded me about the time spent, the fact that I don't love it anymore...and this brought me to another decision I have not wanted to come to but have...my facial items. Last week I decided I would just sell them online at a wonderful consignment boutique. After I send my newest batch, though, this is going to be it.

Part of what I love most about my facial products is the fact that I ask every single person detailed info about their skin...I then customize serums and moisturizers for them. In order for me to keep this business, I would have to drop that aspect...and since every single person has different needs, I wouldn't be 100% happy knowing that someone is buying a serum that really should have an extra essential oil or two to be most effective. Does that sound silly?

Instead, I will post my recipes for my products in my blog so that you can make them yourself at home! I will post my recipes for my eye balm, eye serum, facial serum, face cleansers, lip balms, lip glosses, mineral makeup, etc...as well as where to find the supplies!

I am not giving up my interest in natural skincare....that passion will always be here as long as there are unsafe products on the market.

I will continue my passion for natural skincare and for corporate accountability when it comes to product ingredients. I will keep writing letters to government agencies about how dangerous it is not to follow the lead of the EU when it comes to ingredients used in cosmetics and skin care sold in the United States. I will continue to write to companies like Bare Escentuals who claim certain products are all-natural and preservative-free (see my post about parabens in Mineral Veil) and offenders like Philosophy, who sell products to "benefit" breast cancer research when those very products have cancer-causing agents. Companies care about dollars and cents, for the most part.

Something about me that only a few people know is that I am a Reiki Master/Teacher, having been certified in early 2005. This is a very important part of my life. Mastering reiki has brought a sense of calm and inner peace to my life. It helped me deal with the grief of losing my father. It helped me to become more interested in holitic health, reflexology and herbology (after reiki, I became a certified herbalist), and has just kept me centered. Reiki is powerful and wonderful and is something spiritual. The connection of mind, body and spirit is of great importance to me personally. I used to give attunements and also self-treat daily. When I became so busy with Flour City Bakery that it took over a chunk of my life, I no longer had the time or discipline to maintain Reiki as a key part of my life.

I am thrilled that I am able to be back practicing Reiki regularly; it is really about personal growth, relaxation, discipline, self worth and spirituality. Practicing Reiki is just a part of my day, much like making sure I drink the water I need, eat enough colorful fruits and veggies, walking, washing my face at night, etc...

I am also having fun exploring my more creative side. It is lots of fun. Last night I made a decoupage shabby chic picture frame...it looks great! I also made an altered art shabby wall hanging. That looks cute, too. Best of all, and something I will never forget, is that this is something that brings me joy. It does not take time away from Nick and Ben...I am able to watch every Yankees game with my hubby and cuddle on the sofa every night. I can spend an hour brushing the dog. My time is 100% on my family when it should be, not worrying about turnaround time or driving to the post office in 2 feet of snow (hey, it'll be here soon enough since this is upstate NY)!

I will, in the next month or so, be launching my dot.com site (northfieldroadgifts.com) and will feature my cards, artwork and soy tarts/candles. I enjoy Etsy. It is a great community and I have met some wonderful ladies there! I'm going to have my own site again so that I can avoid the listing fees, final percentages, etc...and be able to list every tart I offer.

Another main factor in deciding to stop with the facial care is something that just happened...The store where Flour City Bakery products were sold here is now going to be carrying my cards, so that is great, and I have LOTS of cards to make for the holiday for them. The gift shop features a great deal of shabby chic, primitive and Victorian items and I know Northfield Road Gifts will do great there!

My friends and hubby know that my long-term goal is to open a brick and mortar shop with an in-store coffee/tea bar. I say long-term because it will all depend on my children and what is in their best interests. I know that this will come to fruition. If I have a dream or a goal, I am not one to say "It will never happen"...I am one to go out and make it happen, and know this will be the same...much like Nick told himself he was going to go out and make new friends at preschool...another lesson my son has taught me.

Some random midnight thoughts..

Saturday, September 22, 2007

My friends are always asking me about products...now that I am only making facial care and not bath and body stuff, I am back to buying retail (so much fun) and would like to talk about some of my favorite goodies...

Before I do, I have a couple of other things to talk about-

First off I would like to publicly thank my husband, Tom, for taking over my workspace! You see, I had the finished lower level as my office/workshop...two rooms of bath and body ingredients....mini kitchen, cabinets full of oils, boxes full of jars and bottles, etc.

Tom will be working from home beginning in October....same position, just from home, so he has evicted me from my space. This is actually cool because I am going to totally redo the space for him so he has a cool office! I am quite sure he doesn't want a space full of pastels, and I have nixed the sports bar-themed area I know he would really like. It is going to be fresh, bright and modern and that is my latest project. It is one of those tasks I have decided to do, but know I will be working on it until 2am the morning he will need to be in there, LOL.

This is much like the rest of the house. When we moved into this house in 2004, all of the walls were off white. I painted the living room "Pecan Sandie", which lasted for 2 years, and after the holidays I decided to paint it "Nantucket Blue". Tom refuses to paint. I like to feel like I can take on the world, so instead of calling a painter, I decided I would paint it myself. Since 2004, I have painted our bedroom twice, the kitchen twice, dining room 3 times, and both bathrooms (again, twice). I swear they should come out with a paint that is comparable to a slipcover because I change my mind so often!

Anyway, I always have to have the room finished before a major event...Tom and I were going to re-tile the kitchen floor and re-paint it as well. I thought we could do on a Friday night knowing that Nick's birthday party was that Sunday. I painted and Tom helped do the floor tiles. We finished one hour before guests arrived...

Then there is the dining room. I wasn't keen on the sage green anymore, so I deiced two days before Thanksgiving to paint the walls navy blue with all of the trim crisp white. I finsihed that before our overnight guests arrived...just in time!

The living room is huge...I thought I could do it myself while Nick and Ben took naps the day before my brother came to visit. I was doing the trim an hour before he arrived....

I always have the best intentions to budget my time....however, this has always been my weakness. I specifically remember doing a major term paper for my Latin American politics class at 3am when it was due at 9am. Keep in mind I had 3 weeks to finish it...I must say that I do some of my best work when it is a high pressure situation, but each time I swear I will never be in that situation again.

Next topic....my "online sisters". Yes, the RP Moms group. If you are reading this, I want to send a big hug your way and tell you how much you all mean to me. Once upon a time in 2003, I came across a message board called American Baby. I was pregnant for the first time and couldn't sleep. I met some great ladies, may also pregnant, the others already had babies. Since 2003, and (some moms even before) a group of us (40+ in our "clique") has been together sharing life's ups and downs and all things related to marriage and motherhood. The first mom I remember getting to know is Holly, mom to a little boy and baby girl....and Angie, who is now in Japan. There are so many of us who have shared so much...happy moments and sad. I know that they were a wonderful source of support in October 2004....

What a bittersweet time: on Saturday afternoon I found out my dad had terminal pancreatic cancer (at 55), and 4 days later I found out I was pregnant with Ben. The moms on that board were always there for me. The close moms, and there are actually 45 of us across the US and even 2 in other countries, have been together on a board I started just for us and I cannot tell you how great it is. We talk often--daily during the week. Many moms have met each other, and next year we plan to meet in Las Vegas sans kids and hubbies for a long weekend.

We are "online sisters forever", and I love all of you!

Now, onto BEAUTY..............here is what I use that I make myself to get that out of the way---mineral finishing powder, mineral bronzer....soap, all facial care and scrubs.

What does a girl use who has been able to try almost everything?

Let's start with makeup. I am a mineral makeup gal. I started with everything Bare Escentuals. Then after much trial and error with other brands, I found Everyday Minerals (http://www.everydayminerals.com). I highly recommend them! I use my own powder, bronzer and rosy blush. I have tried their whole line and love it. I have been using EM for foundation for over a year. I wear the Intensive Formula in Fawn. I also use the Intensive Light Concealer. For other blushes, I like their colors called: Snooze Bar, Email Me, Chit Chat and Morning Cup.

My brows are ALWAYS done with a great brow powder from Bare Escentuals. This is the only product I use from BE now. It is Dark Blonde Medium Brown and it goes on flawlessly and lasts all day! This is a color identical to a pencil brow filler I used to use by Lancome (shade was Taupe), but on a humid day, I could touch my eyebrow and wipe it off (not pretty)!

I am a lip gloss girl on weekends. I make my own. This is fun because I have about 20 metal pots half filled with my experiments trying to get the perfect color...

My holy grail lip gloss is MAC Spite, but I can no longer find it....I don't think they make it, and we don't have MAC here.

I love lip stick--always have! My first lipstick was actually one my stepmother bought for me at the age of 13. It was a Lancome one called Raisin and it was a brush tip pen applicator. I loved that!

I actually do the best with L'oreal Colour Riche lipstick. I wear Mystic Mauve all the time. Bronzine is wonderful for fall! I also like mark. Fresh Kiss lipstick in Kiss Upon a Star, but alas it has been phased out.

I never get rid of lipsticks...I have tubes from college. I do not wear them--some of them smell so "off" I cannot believe I have them in my possession, but I like to go back and see what I was wearing. For example, Gala is a Lancome color I wore when I was freelancing as a junior in college. Looking at it now, all I see is a really unflattering bright rose that I had no business wearing as a 20 year old!

I love bath and body items....when I am buying retail bath and body items, I only buy from 2 brands which have never failed me: Perlier and Burt's Bees.

My love affair with Burt's Bees began when I was pregnant with Nicholas. I decided to go the natural route during pregnancy and bought everything Burt's Bees. My favorite scent of all time is actually Burt's Bees Milk and Honey Body Lotion. It really doesn't smell anything like milk or honey, but it is a blissfully fresh, yet comforting scent. I could wear this and only this until I am 100 years old. I also use Burt's Bees Shampoo. My favorite is the Green Tea & Fennel shampoo and conditoner because it smells exactly like Lancome Aroma Tonic. I use these 3 days a week. My highlights don't fade nearly as fast and my scalp is super healthy! Also, I am doing myself a favor by avoiding sulfates and parabens!

I have tried all of the BB haircare items and also like the Raspberry & Brazil Nut, although no more than once a week or I find that it weighs my hair down.

I also use the Peppermint Bar Soap from Burt's Bees....I love it. No one can make a peppermint like it--I won't even try to duplicate this because it is perfect!

I also like the Baby Bee line. I have used this on both boys. NOTE: this contains buttermilk, derived from cow's milk. My son had a severe milk allergy until age 2, and when I used this on him, it made his eczema flare up and I immediately had to discontinue use....that is actually when I became so interested in goat's milk because there are hardly any goat's milk allergies out there....

My second most favorite scent EVER is Perlier White Almond. I believe this is impossible to duplicate. I have tried to find a "dupe" of this from oil suppliers and the one I came across smelled nothing like it. It is a unique, mature almond. This doesn't smell at all like your traditional almond cookie or honey almond. It is a lovely, feminine scent. I just love it! Everything from Perlier I have tried has been great. Just watch our for the ingredients, as some contain sulfates. I do like Perlier (and their sister company, Elariia) because they are made in the E.U. where so many evil ingredients are banned. My favorite scents from Perlier/Elariia:


*White Almond
*Chocolate Vanilla (avoid their Dark Chocolate--it smells like milk chocolate)
*Banana (Nick actually loves this)


*Double Latte (a powdery scent--great for babies)
*Mango Coconut Milk
*Shea Butter with Sweet Almond Oil
*Cucumber Mint

This will have to be it for now....I planned to write much more, but time has gotten away from me and I am exhausted!

Superwoman I Am Not....

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Have you ever had the feeling as if something just clicked and you instantly had the answer to a question you didn't know you were asking yourself?

Sort of an "A HA!" lightbulb moment...

I love my children more than anything on the planet. They make me laugh each day, they make my heart feel warmer, and they truly are the loves of our life.

When I was pregnant with my oldest son, now 4, I stopped working because I was having some complications. My last day of work was around Memorial Day of 2003. So much has happened since then: the birth of our boys, a near-death tragedy for a close and dear relative, moving to a new home in a new suburb, the illness and death of my dad...

In that time I never "missed" work. I didn't miss the idea of pointy toed shoes and dressing to the nines to stand on my feet for 10 hours. I didn't miss working on weekends and holidays...dinners missed with my hubby...new goals from corporate each day. In that time, though, I really did not think of myself at all. All of my energies were focused on getting through one thing to the next and plugging by day by day.

One night in July 2006 I was sitting on the sofa with my hubby watching the Yankees play (I am a huge Yankees fan, and an even bigger Andy Pettitte fan). It dawned on me that I had become so focused on everything else that I was no longer doing things I enjoyed. I had been making soap since 2000. The last bar I had made until 2006 was in December 2001--I made bars of soap with dried rose petals from a bouquet my husband had given to me and I included those in the favor bags at our reception.

I missed that. I also missed studying up on ingredients, drawing, painting, and doing altered art with papers and photos. I quickly thought of my business plan mentally while eating some Ben & Jerry's watching a baseball game.

I do not always think things out. I do not really hold a logical thought in my head when I need it the most--I am a "fly by the seat of my pants" kind of woman. I think that is why my very logical, numerical husband and I mesh so well. We are somplete opposites.

Right away he had graphs and charts up on the computer. I was supposed to keep track of things. I am not good at this! I can tell you that a woman named Karen in another state likes baby powder candles and the smell of lavender and lemon. I can remember to add a little less cinnamon in my Signature scent for Fran in Dallas...those things are fine.

My husband asked me if I thought of everything. He was the one helping with all of the legalities and "boring" loose ends. I was the one asking him which color of pink in a dye looked better in a cupcake scented tart. He asked me if I could handle growing as fast as my business was while remaining firm in my commitment to working only when the boys were in bed. He asked me so many questions and I assumed I could handle everything.

By December I was working until 2 or 3 in the morning 5 nights a week and being SuperMom all day. You see, as a stay at home mom, I am blessed. I am blessed to be able to be home with the boys. Being SuperMom is not about plunking the kids in front of a tape while I sit in pjs. I continued to be up before the roosters crowed (OK, maybe that is an exaggeration...there are no roosters in this neighborhood), all dressed and made up before my husband left for work. I continued to bake cookies from scratch with the boys, do arts and crafts, play tag and sing nursery rhymes.

Somewhere between feeling so run down I was getting ill and realizing I could not keep up anymore is the time I realized that something had to give.

In June, after holding another successful fundraiser for the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research in my dad's memory (it was the weekend of Father's Day), I closed up shop.

All of a sudden I could SLEEP. I could sit on the sofa again with my husband and speak to him. And then I started, 2 weeks later, to miss the daily chats with some of my customers via the internet. I thought I'd just sell 5 or 10 things on Etsy...my facial products (which rock, by the way). I did it to myself again...I thought I'd introduce my mineral makeup...and more. Before I knew it, I was spending more time in my workshop making up different recipes than I was with my wonderful husband.

Just before my birthday in August, I took a vacation from Etsy. I spent lots of time with my hubby and tons of time making up greeting cards while my oldest son colored and my youngest son napped. I hadn't made cards in so long! I aslo made up my favorite fall tarts to get ready for a great smelling autumn in our house. I though, "Hmmm, it doesn't take much more time to pour out 10 tarts than 2" and started making more.

I was set to re-open my Facial Care Boutique on Etsy Sunday. Friday night while we were enjoying a drink together, I mentioned a thought that had come into my head. I told him how much fun it was just walking Nick to preschool and talking to the other moms along the way. There will be plays, classroom parties and so many more things I want to fully participate in. I would not be able to keep up the SuperMom pace of being everything for my boys, the wife my husband deserves AND keeping up my scaled back skincare business. I asked for his advice. I told him how I wanted to still be on Etsy and have a hobby for myself that will give me a bit more of "my own" spending money for shoes, handbags, etc...I asked his opinion, and he said that I already knew the answer. And I did.

The answer isn't about making more money, having another product featured in a magazine or another cool review. The answer is to look within yourself and discover what really makes you happy and brings you peace.

Ten years ago, I was a working woman who spent her checks on dinners out, new shoes and great handbags...I really didn't have a care in the world.
My life was really just beginning, and everything that followed has been a learning experience.

Last night I felt true happiness again, which many may find laughable when they hear why. At parents' night at Nick's school I became the "room mother". You know--the one who comes to school and bakes cupcakes, plans the parties, organizes all of the events, etc. Being a makeup artist or a cosmetics account manager or being an entrepreneur is not the key to my happiness. Having the time to sing "Baa Baa Black Sheep" for the 14th time in a row to Ben is my contentment. Walking Nick home from school as he tells me about the pictures he painted with apples in true happiness. Planning his preschool Halloween party is a project I will tackle as though I am holding a soiree in the Hamptons.

Today the boys and I made snickerdoodles and played with our mammoth dog. Moments like these--the everyday moments--are really, truly what matter the most!
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