Wednesday, August 31, 2011

And the Doctor Said...

This is a post about facial moisturizers/sunscreens. 

The title is evidence that I have read "The 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" too many times in recent days. ;-)

Ok, so for years I have been promising myself that when I hit the big 3-0 (which happened February 2011), I would go to a dermatologist to see about wrinkle prevention/general skin care for someone my age. I mean, I don't have any wrinkles yet, and most of the advertisements you see are for repairing bad skin, not keeping good skin good. So, I didn't know where to begin other than seeing a professional.

It worked out well, too, because since I'd birthed a child in that insurance plan year, I had met my out-of-pocket maximum and thus every doctor visit/situation was free. Well, free to us because we'd been paying full fees prior to meeting the maximum (which is several thousand dollars, I might add). But, this is not about insurance costs/types/plans, it's about skin care. Back to that... 

So, after doing an all-over skin/mole check (which is very humbling, I might add), she asked if I had any questions (after telling me that all my moles were fine--which, after what Seth went through last year was a HUGE relief!). I asked her about skin care for someone my age. I explained that I want to know what to do to prevent wrinkles, not get rid of them, and all the advertisements seem to only sell to the older population that already has wrinkles. 

She said, first of all, none of the OTC products you can buy really do anything. Because they are sold OTC, they can't have the main ingredient be strong enough to really do what they claim. She did say there's one Olay product that comes close (is the strongest level on the market), but as that's for repairing damaged skin, I didn't pay much attention to the name of it. She did give me a prescription for a cream that is to be applied nightly to the main areas of concern--forehead, corners of eyes, around mouth, etc. This is to help keep the skin fresh and less likely to develop wrinkles. I apply this about once every two weeks because I can't seem to remember to do it.

However, the second thing that she said in response to my question was the one that really struck a chord with me. She said it very emphatically, very convictingly, and I was left thinking that I had to get my act together ASAP! She said that if I (and other people my age) were to do one thing for our skin, it wouldn't be those millions of products you can find near the makeup section in any department store, it's not makeup itself, it's not what you wash your face with or how often you wash it, etc. It's wearing sunscreen. Every. Single. Day. Hand's down, it's the number one thing you can do for your face, she said.

And as she said this, I thought back to my bathroom closet and how I had virtually nothing that has SPF in it, and I certainly didn't wear it every day. So, I began the journey... the journey to finding a facial moisturizer with SPF that I could commit to wearing every. single. day. This is the documentation of my journey over the past 6 months.

I started off cheap. I went to Target and bought the cheapest thing I could find that seemed to fit the bill. I wasn't sure where to begin, so decided to use cost as the determining factor. It even says "helps protect skin from premature aging" right on the bottle. I thought I'd found The One.
Boy, was I wrong. This product, as evidenced in the picture by it sliding off my finger within seconds, was very greasy. I guess I didn't have any expectations when I started this journey, but I quickly found that 1) the greasiness resulting a super-shiny face all day long and 2) the strong sunscreen odor prevented me from wearing this every day. I did NOT look forward to wearing it, and if I wasn't wearing it, then it was a waste of money. I decided to love my skin enough to keep searching. (I should add a disclaimer here that I have normal-oily skin to begin with, so this was a bad product for me for that reason, but might work fine on someone with dry-normal skin. I would also add that if I'm going to the pool or something, I do use this on my neck, shoulders, arms, etc. Mostly just to use it up, though, not because I love it.)

I then decided that perhaps I should look for something with some tint in it. If this was something I was to wear every day, I reasoned, perhaps I could replace my powder foundation with this, and after slapping some mascara on, be ready for what my SAHM day might throw at me. My makeup routine would be shortened and yet I could still look (somewhat) pulled together.

More back-story: When I was 25, I started breaking out like I never had before. I had finally graduated from grad. school, had my first full-time job and thus actually had money coming in, so I decided to treat myself to a series of facials to figure out what was going on. I had previously been an admirer of Aveda from afar, and so I booked several sessions with a wonderful woman who turned my skin around. She explained that 25 is a huge hormonal shifting period for women in general and given the climate change of moving from MI to GA, the combination was the problem. She set me up with some products aimed at my specific skin type, and within months, my skin was cleared up. I am now a HUGE Aveda fan. I use only Aveda hair and skin cleaning products, and have told Seth that if money gets tight, everything else will go generic before that does. Or I'll get another job. It's that important to me. It's that important to me because I've seen what it does for my skin and hair if I use something else. I'm sold for life! (Whew! long back story) And oh, I now get a facial at least once a year, just to even my skin back out from the previous-year's 'damage.'

So I decided to check out what Aveda had in the way of tinted facial moisturizer/sunscreens. (Did you know that if you go to the Aveda website, there's an instant chat feature where you can ask all sorts of skin questions? Well, now you do. Seriously, check it out, it's great!) Side note: Aveda currently does not make an untinted facial moisturizer/sunscreen which is the reason I didn't start out with Aveda. I hadn't thought I wanted tint when I began this journey.
What I'm about to say almost hurts my heart. I didn't like this product. At All. Not one bit. I dislike it so much that I'm pretty sure the entire tube will expire before I use it even one more time. The main problem with it is that it's SO heavy! I mean, it's not just tinted, it is like full-on foundation. I almost felt like my pores were suffocating it was so thick. I was afraid to touch my face to anything for fear of it rubbing off, and couldn't wait til I could wash my face to take if off! It was also quite greasy and left my skin pretty shiny. (The disclaimer here is that I don't like liquid foundation. I have only worn powder foundation for as long as I can remember. I hate the thick coating/mask feeling of the liquid foundations. I like my natural skin--I pay a lot for it to look good--so to completely, 100% cover it up is not of interest to me. But, if you don't mind that feeling, or don't like your skin, this product might work for you.)

So, I felt like maybe all tinted versions would be like liquid foundation and so I decided to go back to Target and do more research in The Aisle to see what non-tinted versions exist. After literally about an hour and reading all of the labels of all 30+ products, I decided to go with this one: 
I liked that it was Neutrogena. I have been using their powder foundation for years, and figured that they were a trustworthy company that makes good products. I also liked that it says "oil-free" on the bottle. However, I wasn't in love with this product. I did wear it most of the time, but the strong sunscreen smell made me feel like a walking advertisement for our local pool. It was also quite greasy, despite it's claim as "oil-free," which is evidenced by it also sliding off my finger after just a few seconds. I realized, after some time, that the smell honestly, literally prevented me from wearing it every day. Since I was looking for something I could wear every day, and be 100% happy to do so, and I was also concerned about it plugging my pores with its grease, I was back on the journey.

Then I saw an advertisement for this:
I had swung back to the opinion of having a product that has tint in it so as to make my morning routine fast, so I was back to searching for products in that category. When I saw the advertisement for this, I was intrigued! (I even went so far as to ask Seth if I would be 'fair to light' or 'medium.' To which he had zero answer. ;-)

The only experience I have had with Aveeno is a really wonderful smelling bathwash that I bought to use in the hospital after Austin's birth (which I still use and still love), so I wasn't in the fast lane to purchase this, my next product in what had become a long line of products! My friend Christina happened to come to town that next week, and as I had still not found my perfect product, I relayed what my doctor had said and asked what she uses, if anything. She replied that she uses an Aveeno daily moisturizer, but after further clarifications, I discovered she didn't use this tinted one. But, her happiness with hers made me bite the bullet and buy it.

I LOVE IT! I absolutely love this product and have used it every single day since I bought it. I can only count the ways, I love it so much! First of all, it's just the right amount of tint. It blends into my skin and looks very natural, but does cover up some redness/marks that I have. It does not leave a weighty feel on my skin, but covers me just enough. Secondly, I love that it doesn't smell like sunscreen. I hadn't fully put together the strength of the negative feeling I had towards the sunscreen smell until this product didn't have the smell. It actually has a nice scent, floral-ly almost, which disappears soon after it's applied. Thirdly, it's not greasy! It makes my face shine a bit at first, as I'm applying it, but minutes afterward my face looks normal, but better! I HIGHLY (highly, highly, highly, highly) recommend this product.

But whichever product you decide to go with, use it. Decide that you are worth it enough, that your skin is worth it enough, to wear sunscreen every. single. day. I'll be praying that you find something that you love enough that putting it on each morning isn't a hassle, and that you're not disinclined to put it on for any reason. You owe it to yourself and to your skin to start your own facial moisturizer/sunscreen journey. Here's hoping your journey isn't as long as mine was!

I feel like I must issue a disclaimer for the cheesy-over-the-top pictures I took of the above products. Our bathroom counter top is granite and created a massive shine effect when I was taking the pictures, thus the towel behind as a back-drop. It wasn't done to look professional. My point-and-shoot camera doesn't 'do' professional. ;-)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Making Baby Food: Corn

Here's how I make Corn baby food:
-steam frozen corn until well done (about 20 minutes)
-wash with cold water to cool down so as to touch easily
-blend in Magic Bullet
-freeze in cubes
-reheat as needed

This was actually my first time making corn baby food as it's on our pediatrician's 10-12 month food chart, and he just turned 10 months. I enjoyed it as much as one can--steaming veggies on the stove while the temperature outside is a steamy 105+! The corn was steaming, and I was steaming. :-) The smell of steaming corn filled the house and took me down memory lane which was both nice and sad. I wished for years gone by, making homemade sweet corn with my extended Mattison family. My heart aches even now, just thinking of it. Anyways, I didn't find corn much different than the other frozen veggies-turned puree and will definitely make it again.
my supplies: ice cub trays, Magic Bullet, foil, Sharpie, measuring cup, and a spoon
This is my second-biggest pot, with the steamer inside.
Two packages of frozen corn. Beware of the brand you use because some companies add salt. Make sure the ingredients list includes just the vegetable and nothing added.
After putting several inches of water in the bottom of the pot, I add both bags to the steamer, and let them cook for about 20 minutes (from the time the water is boiling). (The yellow splotch you see on the cover is not butter, it's a reflection of the hood light.)
the cooked corn, in my big colander, which is sitting in the sink... I do this so I can spray it down with cold water.
I scoop it out with the measuring cup and put it into the Magic Bullet container. 
I then add some water to the container and puree it.
This has been one of my best investments!
I scoop it out of the container with a tablespoon and put it into the tray.
I would have gotten a little over three trays, but I was making two veggies this day, and needed the two other trays for that veggie. So I froze some in these bowls we have.
sealed, labeled and ready to freeze
what it looks like straight from the freezer..
and right after I take the foil off..
Corn has so far been THE hardest veggie to get out of the trays. I normally let them sit out at room temperature for just a few minutes (like 2), twist, and out they come! But, the corn had me sweating and nearly swearing they were so challenging! I finally caved in and ran some water over the back of the tray to get them out. I don't typically like to do that because it makes the outsides just ever-so slimy/smudgy that they don't freeze as nicely.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Making Baby Food: Green Beans

Here's how I make Green Beans baby food:
-steam frozen beans until well done (about 20 minutes)
-wash with cold water to cool down and preserve color
-blend in Magic Bullet
-freeze in cubes
-reheat as needed

Easy, Easy, Easy!
my supplies: ice cub trays, Magic Bullet, foil, Sharpie, measuring cup, and a spoon
This is my second-biggest pot, with the steamer inside.
Two packages of frozen green beans. I prefer the ones that are already cut because it makes them easier to fit into the Magic Bullet, and quicker to steam. Beware of the brand you use because some companies add salt. Make sure the ingredients list includes just the vegetable and nothing added.
After putting several inches of water in the bottom of the pot, I add both bags of green beans to the steamer, and let them cook for about 20 minutes (from the time the water is boiling). (The yellow splotch you see on the cover is not butter, it's a reflection of the hood light.)
The big metal colander sits in the sink, and after spraying them with cold water to preserve the color and cool them enough to be easy to handle, I scoop them out with the measuring cup, into the Magic Bullet container. I then add some water to the container and puree them.
I would have gotten a little over three trays, but I was making two veggies this day, and needed the two other trays for that veggie. So I froze some in these bowls we have.
seal and label
This is straight from the freezer after being frozen for over 24 hours.
What they look like once you peel the foil off,
and what they look like after coming out of the trays.
Labeled, sealed, and ready to go back into the freezer. Ready to reheat as needed.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Making Baby Food: Sweet Potatoes

Here's how I make Sweet Potato baby food:
-wash the potatoes
-puncture several times with a fork, all over--up and down the length of the potato
-wrap in foil
-bake at 400 degrees for an hour on a cookie sheet
-once cool, unwrap, cut, peel, and cut into sections
-blend in Magic Bullet
-freeze in cubes
-reheat as needed

This is actually one of my favorites to make as it's so easy to cook them. Other foods that I make are harder because I have to monitor the stove the whole time, but these are easy to cook, easy to blend, and I get a large quantity of food for the effort.
Here's what they look like after cooling down and being unwrapped.
Then I cut them in half.
They peel right out of their skins once completely cool (and well-cooked).
I hack sections off with a spoon and drop them into the Magic Bullet container.
I add some water and blend.
Those five potatoes were huge, so I got four full trays out of the effort. 
(These are just regular ice cube trays though I know they make trays especially for making baby food. I just couldn't justify the price of those when these work just fine for me.)
I put foil over the top of the tray, label them, and stick them in the freezer for 24 hours.
This is what they look like frozen, straight out of the trays.
Then I put them in labeled freezer bags to store in the freezer. They're ready to use whenever I want one.
It's that simple! The worst part about making his food, right now anyways, is that it heats up the house, and when it's 105 outside, the last thing you want is something heating up your house. Except for that factor, I love making his food. It's a lot cheaper than buying it all the time, and I know he's getting exactly what I want--pure food rather than a bunch of preservatives/chemicals. I highly recommend making baby food if you're so inclined. It takes a smidge of practice, but comes easily to me now and is time well spent.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Domestic And Loving It!

I make my own laundry soap. I never thought I'd say that. The craziest part? I love doing it! I decided to document what the process looks like for me as a way of encouraging you to try it yourself. 
the ingredients
The first part is really easy: I pour 1 cup of one powder and a 1/2 cup of the other powder into the container.
1 cup
1/2 cup
Here's where the real work begins. I open the bar, cut it into pieces and then stick the pieces in the Magic Bullet. It takes me 3 or 4 batches to get it all ground up.
1 bar

The Magic Bullet is wonderful for this project!
I combine the two powders from the first two steps with the powder from the Fels-Naptha bar, and this is what it looks like:
The finished product. (of a double batch)
The recipe is from The Dugger Family recipe. If you look at the recipe, you'll see their single batch recipe. I always make a double recipe. I feel like if I'm going to go through the hassle of getting out the ingredients and of grinding up the Fels-Naptha, then I'm going to make enough to last me quite awhile. 

The single batch is supposed to do 40 loads. I, however, because of the extra large capacity of my washer (perhaps I should do a whole post on why I love my washing machine....), almost always wash what would be considered an Extra Large load. Therefore, I use two scoops rather than one, and a double batch then lasts me about 40 loads. Which is about 3 months, give or take some spit up. 

Seth and I have calculated the cost to be less than 10% the cost of Tide, so even though I'd consider myself a sale and coupon shopper, we are certainly saving money on laundry these days. Which is an even bigger deal than normal when you have a Super Spitter Baby like we do! All told, I think the process of making a double batch takes me approximately 20 minutes. That's 20 minutes well spent given the cost savings! 

I use a plastic sherbert container to keep it in. It's a half gallon container and holds a double batch perfectly. I use a scoop that comes with baby formula which is a good tablespoon scoop, and as I regularly have these scoops in my house, I'd be happy to send you one if you'd like.