The Cool Moms’ ToteSavvy

Once you get pregnant the search is on for all of the cool baby accessories that will not only make your life more comfortable but retain a bit of your own style. Nowadays, baby swag is unlimited and each thing is cooler then the next!  Unfortunately, when it comes to diaper bags, the options are limited if you are looking to stay within a reasonable budget. Even within the known designer names, the options are skim, with cheap finishes like vinyl replacing leather and the actual design of the bag being subpar. No thank you, at a price tag of over $400!

Why are you going to carry around a bag that just doesn’t feel like you? In the same instance, your old totes are just not going to cut it. You need to be fully armed while doing adventure diaper changes and dealing with public outburst. 

I recently ran into a concept that I LOVED! ToteSavvy will save you from settling with a diaper bag you feel partial to, at best! Why not just turn your favorite tote into your ideal diaper bag? ToteSavvy sells an insert in a variety of colors and sizes you can put into any one of your bags. The insert features tons of pockets that can be used to store all of your baby essentials. The concept is genius, and I think we will be getting a few for the next baby!


Must Haves for Babymoon

There are many pregnant ladies out there, and I know this is when you start thinking about your last mini getaway or vacation before your huge bundle of joy arrives. Unfortunately, with the risk of Zika Virus in majority of the Carribean, South and Central America, and even some parts of the US, our options for our babymoon were limited. Even if the risk seemed to be so low, we weren’t willing to take any chances.  We decided on Palm Springs since its relatively close to home and we wanted to maximize our time together to reconnect as a couple while having fun with Jonah, who was lucky enough to join us for the trip.

Many people were really surprised to see us in the pool with a toddler and a pregnant belly, enjoying time together, while seemingly having very little stress. A few people mentioned that they really admired our efforts to still do the things we wanted to do regardless of the potential hurdles that children may bring.  There’s nothing more fulfilling then to watch your kids absorbing a world outside of their world, to see new places and people. 

After having Jonah, the spontaneity of our vacationing life has dwindled, but with good planning we have still been able to see a few cool places even with a baby in tow. If your a mama like me, you can pack everyone’s bags blindfolded and your hands tied behind your back. Unfortunately, This baby growing inside of my belly is making things increasingly more difficult. Here are a few essentials I think will be helpful for every mama to throw in her bag or prepare before taking off: 
1. The Panama hat is great for a mama on the go. If your taking a few days off, you don’t want to be stressing about doing hair and makeup. The wide brim gives great sun coverage and helps solidify a look without taking hours of getting ready.

2. Chances are, with all the blood, water and hormones flowing through your body, your Bikini tops will no longer fit you. Avoid the discomfort by heading to the store for something new. When pregnant, I stay away from anything Victoria Secret, which I feel doesn’t give me appropriate coverage with the excessive push-up in all their swim tops. I really liked anything that was triangle and had great support, like the Kupala top from Pantagonia.

3. If you are going to be in the sun for any amount of time Rosehip Oil is essential! Rosehip Oil helps to repair the skin cells that have been damaged by sun exposure. Also, it has naturally occurring Vitamin A! Trilogy has an amazing Rosehip Oil that is organic.

4. Get a fabulous Salon look while your on your getaway with The Luster Lock treatment from Joico. After a few days in chlorine and sun your hair may resemble a frizzy lioness. Tame the beast with this easy 5 minute treatment you can do anywhere you go.

5. The Travalo is one of those things you never knew your life was missing, but after discovering it’s the perfect use, you don’t only throw it in your travel bag but have one for every day use. I always forget to spritz a little scent on myself before running out of the house. I used to have a bottle of perfume in my car for this reason but felt like the constant LA heat was ruining my best scents. Travalo allows you to fill up your favorite scents in a fun handheld case that is TSA approved so you can also take it on the plane with you. Let’s get real here, we have enough things in our bag!

 More Water, Please!

 Water is great for so many reasons, but it just gets boring. And This little voice in the back of my head is repeating all the daunting facts about dehydration, from toxins to wrinkles. I get the picture, and believe me I don’t want to go there! So to spice things up, some amazing doctors and anti aging experts from NYC, gave me some natural elements that can be thrown into a glass of H2O for some flavor explosion along with some added benefits.

1. Mango Ginger


This combo might seem weird, but adding the health benefits of ginger and the antioxidant power of mangoes is a surprisingly tasty mix! “Mangoes contain so many vitamins that help boost your immune system. It has antioxidants that maintain youthful glowing skin and aid in the production of blood cells,” says Dr. Christopher Calapai D.O. a NYC anti-aging expert. “Ginger is also helpful in fighting infection, has been linked to lower cholesterol levels, may reduce muscle aches, and helps digestion,” adds Dr. Calapai. 
 
2. Grapefruit Rosemary


Recently rosemary was found to be the main ingredient eaten by residents of an Italian village with one of the highest populations of people who live past 100! “Rosemary improves circulation and sends more blood to the brain which is linked to greater concentration and potentially reduces risk of Alzheimer’s,” says Dr. Calapai. Grapefruit is not only delicious but it’s a natural fat burner, boosts metabolism and cleanses your liver. 
 
3. Melon Mix


Cut up watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe chunks and throw into your water over night. “This melon variety tastes great and is amazing for your skin,” says Dr. Kally Papantoniou board certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York. “Melons are immensely hydrating, meaning more hydration per cup of water. They are also chock-full of antioxidants that keep skin clear plus they contain vitamins that promote collagen production which helps skin cell turnover.”

 4. Citrus Mint 

Pick your favorite citrus fruits, cut up into slices and add some crushed mint. “Adding mint to your water is not only extra refreshing but also improves digestive health and can speed up your metabolism,” says Dr. Calapai. “Mint actually contains salicylic acid, a potent acne fighter,” says Dr. Papantoniou. “It’s also well known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties which work to calm irritation both on your skin or internally,” she adds. 
   
5. Cucumber Lavender


“The reason so many spas use cucumber based treatments is because it contains many skin friendly minerals like magnesium, potassium and silicon,” says Dr. Papantoniou. “This mix is especially healthy,” says Dr. Calapai “Cucumbers are powerful detoxifiers, flushing out any waste in your system. Adding crushed lavender to the mix not only adds a beautiful aroma but can also help digestion as lavender contains polyphenols that reduce bad bacteria in your gut, making your system run smoother,” he explains.    
 
6. Pineapple Coconut Water

This one is almost cheating… almost. Get your favorite store bought raw coconut water and refrigerate over night with large chunks of pineapple. The coconut-pineapple flavor combo is delicious and reminiscent of a piña colada without all the sugar and calories. Although this is not pure H2O, coconut water contains electrolytes which plain water does not, which rehydrate you in record time. “Pineapple is yet another fruit that aids in collagen production,” says Papantoniou “This is not just great for beautiful skin, collagen also has a major role in bone health and tissue repair.”

STK LA Introduces Chicken 

From LA to NYC, who doesn’t love STK. It’s a classic you know will be the perfect fit for any occasion. STK has just introduced a delicious new Chicken dish to their menu called Mary’s Free Range Chicken with Organic Farro, Baby Summer Squash and Grilled Lemon Jus. 

Just in case your not in the mood for going out, we were able to snag the recipe for this fresh summer dish. I love trying new recipes and this is a combination of everything my family needs on a daily basis.


Mary’s Free Range ChickenOrganic Farro/ Baby Summer Squash/ Grilled Lemon Jus

 

For the chicken:

1 ea whole organic free range chicken

1 ea garlic clove

1 ea thyme sprig

3 tsp kosher salt

1 ea lemon (sliced)

 

For the farro:

1 c farro

1 ea shallot

1 sprig thyme

1 bay leaf

1 ea clove garlic

 

Baby patty pan squash:

2 c of mix baby squash

1/2 ways shallot (diced)

1 ea garlic clove (chopped)

2 tsp Olive Oil

1/2 ea lemon

¼ c mint leaves

 

For the grilled lemon jus:

2 ea lemon (grilled)

2 c chicken stock

1 ea bay leaf

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp peppercorn

1 ea garlic clove

2 tsp unsalted butter

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F

Chicken:

Place Chicken in a roasting pan, with a food processor pulse/mix salt and garlic and herbs. Season chicken generously inside and out. Stuff the cavity with sliced lemons and more thyme. Tie the legs together with kitchen string.

Roast uncovered for 1hr and 15min in the preheated oven. Minimum internal temperature 175F. let rest for 15 min before cutting.

Jus:

In a sauce pot sauté garlic and spices with butter add stock and reduce to ½, add grilled or roasted lemons and reduce for 10 more min, set aside.

Farro:

In a sauce pot cook farro (rinsed) to brand specifications with the added aromatics.

Veggies:

While roasting, quarter summer baby squash, toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Set Aside.

 

To serve, sauté summer squash to desire tenderness, add farro, season to taste and fold in mint to finish. Slice the chicken onto a plate on top of summer squash and farro, finish with jus and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Baby Spitsin: Number 2

Mark, Jonah and I are over the moon to be announcing the coming of our second blessing from above! It is such a priveledge to be able to carry this child inside my body for 40 weeks. Feeling the growth and change in my personal life as I understand another being is also rapidly growing inside me. Something that is hard to understand until your belly begins to expand!

Today will mark my 26 weeks of pregnancy and the day I am ready to make this public announcement. 

The news of this pregnancy came right before my mother was diagnosed with cancer and at the time I felt that it was so inappropriate to be sharing joy when I was experiencing an overwhelming wave of grief. Mark and I were waiting and ready for another child to come and feel regretful to say that in our human understanding we thought it was a “bad” time.  

Over the last 6 months I have been learning to deal with joy and grief simultaneously. We have no control over many circumstances but with humility and gratitude we can accept everything that comes our way. 

I have included some photos from our recent shoot with Olesja Shevchuk, an amazing friend  from Australia who was able to capture our family so well. Taking photos with toddlers is way harder then it looks! Jonah is actually really happy about the coming addition, expressing it with extreme attachment to me. 

Being A Woman- Fertility

The past year has brought me to my knees time and time again. All of my effort to maintain any ounce of normalcy was halted when my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 Cervical Cancer. I have been unable to write
about anything happy or sad. And now I feel like the time is right to reconnect. Its like meeting with a friend you haven’t seen for years. The beginning is awkward because you just don’t know where to start but once you do its like you were never apart.The only logical place to begin is the beginning. When my amazing husband and I were married in March of 2012, we weren’t in any rush to have children because we both thought that when it’s the right time to have children, we will just have them. We compared it to baking a cake, you put all of the correct ingredients together, you have a good nonstick baking dish, a working oven, and the result is a delicious cake. Unfortunately, I came to find out this was not the case for me. I always assumed that fertility issues were connected to factors such as age and specific medical conditions. Everyone seemed to keep any such issues secret, probably to avoid the stigma of being marked an inadequate woman. There is so much guilt associated with not being able to conceive. Society puts this notion in your mind  that being a woman means you should have the ability to pop out babies on demand until menopause. Maybe for some people this is the case, but not for us.

After 9 months of actively trying, we conceived our son Jonah. It was an incredible feeling. I felt so grateful to our Heavenly Father and God for creating this life inside of my womb. The joy overshadowed any pain and suffering we experienced along our path of conception.

Mark and I of course wanted more children, but were expecting to have a similar experience in the conception process for any other pregnancies, if we were to have them. We were amazed to find out that I was pregnant, last May when Jonah was just 11 months and still breastfeeding! Unfortunately, I miscarried at 15weeks. My heart was broken and I had no understanding of why this was happening to me. I never considered that this was an option. It was hard enough not being able to get pregnant when you wanted, but not being able to carry a pregnancy felt even worse. 

I was comforted to find out I became pregnant a few months later, only to hear some familiar bad news at the initial ultrasound. I miscarried again at 6 weeks.

Why am I writing this? Why is it important. I felt like in the beginning of this struggle I was looking for answers everywhere, unfortunately no one seemed to be having the same issues. My friends would just get pregnant as soon as their husband touched them and other childless couples didn’t seem to be trying anyway. It took me some time to be able to find other women to connect with, but in the interim I just felt so alone, helpless, and plagued. “Why ME!” was something I recall hearing often in my head as I was going about my day, noticing that others don’t have these struggles. 
All of this brought me to my knees in prayer, going to the only One who is in control of all things, my Creator and God. I asked Him this same question, just in a different way. I wasn’t asking from a place of entitlement, as if I am such a good person and deserve so much better, and I cannot believe this is happening to ME! Instead, I came to Him in all of my Humility seeking any ounce of grace He would be able share with me. I asked Him: Why is this happening to me? How can I use this for Your good? 

At this point, the veil was lifted and I was shown time and time again the answer to my worries. Why my fertility issues were not in vain. I came to realize there are so many others who are struggling and too scared to speak about. I would share my story and women would share their pains with me. My experience gave me the ability to understand their pain, to cry with them and pray for them knowing how difficult it is. I can’t tell you how many times I have been walking my son to the park while sobbing and praying for other women. Praying for their comfort. We don’t have control over the creation of life, no matter how easy it is for you to have a baby. No matter what we plan or how we plan it, we have to rest everything in Gods hands.

Ultimately, it’s ok if things aren’t working out as planned. We have trust in something so much greater then us. And more importantly, “perfect” is in the eye of the beholder! Instead of sulking in pity for yourself, use the opportunity you have been given in a positive way.

Once I was able to finally give up this control over my whole situation, I did get pregnant.  My doctor advised that I should give my body a rest after my 2nd miscarriage and we agreed with him. We were wiped out, emotionally, physically, mentally. I didn’t want to risk another loss and let down. And that was it. So of course, God put a little baby in my womb a few days later, and I was shocked to find out that I was pregnant. I am 26weeks pregnant now, and taking each day as it comes. 
It’s sad to say that after all of this, it’s so difficult to be happy and excited. I just know that anything is possible and life is not in my hands. Regardless, I am so grateful for my difficulties, for the things that bring me to absolute humility, because it makes me appreciate what I do have so much more. My beautiful family, my loving husband, my crazy toddler, all of it! And when I do hold this new baby in my arms, I will appreciate the moments I am given even more! 

 ‭

Dress to Kill

To love and be loved…. There’s nothing like celebrating the most romantic day of the year while your in the blissful haze of love. Valentines Day demands us to pull out the big guns, look our best, hypnotizing any man who should lay eyes on us. Whether you are waiting for bae to pop the ultimate question or sampling the potential of such love, you need to be dressed in the 9s for this occasion. Inevitably, it’s Friday and you still haven’t even begun to look for that perfect dress.

Don’t fret, we scoured the net and found the prefect outfit for all the possibilities Valentine’s Day holds for you. 

Scenario 1:

Mr Amazing is sweeping you off your feet to warmer time zones for the holiday weekend. Score! Keep it casual with the ability to dress up or down depending on the vibe. You also want something that you can keep on wearing, if Mr. Amazing turns out to be not so amazing. Cover your bases, spend under $30 with the chic striped jump suit that you can wear well into the summer. You have a perfect look on the big V-day paired with your favorite pump and a statement necklace you already own.

Forever 21, Contemporary Striped Jumpsuit $29.90

Scenario #2:

Met Mr. Amazing, and you want him to keep running back for more. You already hooked him with your charm and wit, now you need to reel him in and show him what your made of. Keep it classy, feminine and sensual with this off the shoulder frock that’s well under $100 from Nasty Gal. Believe me, he’s seen every bondage dress he could possibly see. Keep him interested by being bold and different.

Nasty Gal Off The Shoulder Cap Dress, $58
  
Scenario #3:

Tonight is the night. Mr. Amazing is going to pop the big question and you need to be effortlessly flawless. Your grandchildren will one day be looking at these photos of this magical evening thinking one thing “grandmas got it going on!” For Love And Lemons Vivian dress is the perfect frock for you to say “YES!” in. And Mr Right won’t be regretting anything when he greets you at the door.

For Love and Lemons Vivian Dress, $268

Healthy Snacks for Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday is fast approaching, and with that your New Years resolution to live a healthy and better life is slowing drifting away. Most people struggle to fit this plan into a busy, eventful life. The whole point of changing your eating is to transform the way you perceive healthy foods and specific events. 

You can easily create delicious snacks and items without compromising your goals. 

Below are 5 simple and delicious recipes for:
Wings

Ten-Minute Chili

Kale Chips

Meatballs

Diet-Friendly Vegetable Platter (because not all veggies are created equal!)

And remember – for those drinks: Water should always be the first choice. But for those who really want something stronger, go for wine or hard liquor. 
**
  Wings
Boil hot water

Boil or poach the wings and drumettes for 5 minutes to release excess oil from skin

Take the wings and air dry for 10 minutes

 Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper

 Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F

 Lay wings and drumettes on baking sheet

 Bake in oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown, then flip

 Bake for another 20 minutes until other side is golden brown

 Drizzle hot sauce over wings or serve the hot sauce on the side

  Ten Minute Chili
In a saucepan, add 1 pound of ground turkey, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp ground cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste

When meat is cooked, add 1 cup of chopped tomatoes, 1 cup of chopped green bell peppers, 1 cup of chopped onions

Let it simmer for 5-7 minutes.

  Kale Chips
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F

Cut kale leaves from stems and tear them into bite size pieces

Wash and thoroughly dry kale with salad spinner

 Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with salt

 Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until edges are brown but not burnt

  Vegetables Platter
Use celery, broccoli, red bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers

Serve with a healthy dip of yogurt, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, pepper and spices such as curry or dill on the side

  Meatballs
 Preheat oven to 375 degree F

 Using a skillet, over high heat, heat 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

 Sautee ½ large chopped onion in the skillet for 5 minutes, until softened

 Add 1 ½ tsp minced garlic and cook 1 minute more, remembering to stir frequently

Transfer garlic and onion to a bowl; mix in the ½ lb. ground beef and 1 lb. ground turkey with 4 egg whites, ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp of black pepper

Roll into golf ball-sized meatballs

Place on jelly roll pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until brown

Detangling Your Kids Hair

Whether it’s howling screams from soap in the eye or a knot that just doesn’t want to come out, hair care can be difficult for kids. If it were up to them, they would roll out of bed and be on their way. But hair needs to be taken care of just as much as your teeth need to be brushed and hands need to be washed. Kandoo has created some hair care tips to help make parents lives easier when brushing tangles out of what feels like a rat’s nest. To get the kids involved, there are fun facts about hair such as how fast it grows, how much hair we have and why we need to take good care of it. 

Hair Care Kandoo Tips –

 

• How frequently your child washes their hair is up to you. If their hair is oily, if they’ve been swimming, playing sports, or even rolling down a grassy hill, a good hair scrubbing may be in order. If their hair is dry, washing may occur less frequently.

• Teach your child to use their fingertips vs. fingernails when washing their hair for a gentle yet effective clean.

• If your child doesn’t like getting their face wet, help them wash and rinse their hair so as to avoid getting their face too wet. Using a tear free conditioning shampoo so you only have to wet and rinse hair one time (vs. two with traditional shampoos and conditioners) is a comforting and time-saving option.

• For longer hair that has a tendency to tangle, use a gentle detangler after washing such as Kandoo Detangler. Comb through hair beginning at the ends (in a downward motion) and gradually work up the hair shaft. Remember to clean your combs and brushes every few weeks.

• Teach your child that the most important thing they can do for their hair is to keep it clean and treat it gently regardless of their hair type (dry, curly, straight, or oily).

 

Here are some interesting facts about human hair that you can share with your kiddo(s).

 

• Hair is made of keratin, the same stuff fingernails are made of.

• Hair grows at the rate of about ½ inch per month.

• The hair on your head has a purpose. It helps to keep your head warm and provides some cushion for your skull.

• People have more than 100,000 hairs on their head.

• About 50-100 hairs fall out of your head each day but new hairs are constantly growing and replacing the hairs that have fallen out.

• Hair comes in many colors and textures and is determined by your genes.

• Boy’s hair grows more quickly than girl’s hair.

• Human hair grows faster in warm weather (vs. cold).

• Regular haircuts keep hair healthy by protecting the ends from becoming split or damaged.

• Our diets can affect our hair. When we eat a diet rich in nutrients like protein, iron, and vitamin E, our hair looks, feels, and is healthier.

 

Where Kandoo comes from…

Kandoo is part of the Nehemiah Manufacturing family of consumer brands. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, Nehemiah is committed to introducing products that come to the rescue of busy moms and dads. Nehemiah designs, manufactures, markets and sells brands including Boogie Wipes®, Kandoo®, Downy® Wrinkle Releaser Plus, Febreze® Laundry Odor Eliminator and Dreft® Home Products. To learn about Nehemiah and the products it creates for families, visit NehemiahMfg.com.

 

6 Foods That Will Save Your Skin

Just as an unhealthy diet can have a negative effect on your skin and health, a healthy diet high in antioxidant-rich foods can help protect your body, even from the sun. Since antioxidants help reduce inflammation and free radicals, loading your diet with them will go a long way against sunburn and skin damage as a result of UV rays. Dr. Nicholas Sieveking is a Nashville, TN board certified plastic surgeons and the director of Ageless Solutions, a comprehensive anti-aging and wellness center.
To be clear, Dr. Sieveking is not saying you should completely replace your daily sunscreen with food, but what you eat can offer additional protection for your skin. So if you’re looking for some ingestible sun protection, add these six sun-friendly foods to your next shopping list.
  
1. Berries & stone fruits
Strawberries, blueberries and cherries contain high levels of vitamin C, which can reduce free radical damage caused by exposure to UV radiation. Vitamin C also stimulates collagen production, important for skin’s youthful appearance. As a bonus, cherries contain melatonin, which protects skin from UV radiation and repairs sunburn damage.
2. Leafy greens
If it’s green and it’s got leaves, chances are it’s good for sun protection. According to one study, spinach, kale and swiss chard can reduce the risk of squamous cell skin cancer by 50%. Broccoli is also a good choice: it’s full of sulphoraphane, an antioxidant that helps your cells protect themselves against UV radiation.
Fresh herbs like parsley, basil, sage and rosemary are also packed with free radical-fighting, skin-protecting antioxidants. Not sure where to start? Check out our guide to cruciferous vegetables.

   3. Red & orange produce
The antioxidant lycopene has been shown to protect the skin against sunburn and is at least twice as effective an antioxidant as betacarotene when it comes to blocking UV light. It also helps rid the body of free radicals. Chow down on tomatoes, papaya, guava, red bell peppers and pink grapefruit. Watermelon is an especially good choice: it contains 40% more lycopene than tomatoes.
Betacarotene is another antioxidant that has natural sunscreen properties: it’s been linked to reduced reactions to sunburns. You can find it in carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkins, mango and apricots.

   4. Micro-algae
Spirulna has been dubbed “the next great superfood,” and for good reason. This micro-algea — along with chlorella — contains the antioxidant astaxanthin, which has been shown to protect the skin and eyes against UV radiation. It also fights free radicals and inflammation to prevent sun damage by preventing UV-induced cell damage.
If micro-algea isn’t exactly your cup of tea, you can find this powerful antioxidant in shrimp and salmon.

   5. Chocolate
As long as it’s dark chocolate you’re eating, you’ll be ingesting plenty of flavanoids, which can improve your skin’s ability protect against sun burns and other UV-induced issues.
Research found that people who ate about one ounce of high-percentage dark chocolate every day for three months could withstand twice the amount of UVB rays before their skin started to turn red, compared to those who didn’t.

  
6. Green & black tea
The myriad health benefits of tea are well-known, but it’s nice to know that the cups you’re drinking can also help protect against sun damage. Green and black teas are packed with polyphenols that can help stop cancer development by limiting the blood supply to the cancerous area.

Green tea can even help prevent non-melanoma skin cancer by enhancing DNA repair.
Bon appétit!

The Cool Girls Guide To All Things Loved