Tips and Tricks Category Archives

Amber Beads for Teething Woes

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For starters I want to clarify that I am no expert on amber beads or teething in general. But, since getting so many questions about how I chose mine, how they help baby, and how to tell if they are genuine, I thought I would share my experience here on the blog.

I’m not sure where I originally heard about genuine Baltic Amber Beads and their supposed relief for teething babies in need, but they have been on my radar for quite some time. It is believed that when worn on the skin, body heat causes amber to release an oil containing succinic acid, which if absorbed into the skin, might act like a natural Ibuprofen, blocking pain and reducing inflammation. This is how wearing a strand of amber beads can help fight teething woes. Of course, when I finally had a baby of my own, I was eager to try a strand for myself.

Was I intrigued by the potential for natural pain management to help my sweet baby get through what can only be a deeply uncomfortable and distressing time? Yes.

Was I also excited to see how cute my baby would look in a tiny necklace? Absolutely.

IMG_0425IMG_0422IMG_0428I am happy to report that we did, indeed, see a difference in Leo since he has begun wearing his amber.

Firstly, the amount of drool that soaked through his shirts while he determinately and indiscriminately chomped on objects noticeably decreased. Drool of course being a huge indicator that your baby is teething because the increased saliva helps to cool-down swollen gums.

Also, his mood was markedly sour when he wasn’t wearing his necklace as he got more deeply into teething. For example, if I would forget to replace his beads after a nap (baby should never wear his strand unsupervised and especially not while sleeping) he would be fussier than his normal post-snooze self.

The above points considered, as well as the fact that Leo cut two teeth before Thanksgiving with little more than stage-one crankiness, has led me to believe that the amber beads work for us.

IMG_0962But how do I know that my beads are authentic Baltic Amber when there are so many fakes on the market?

I did a simple home-test. Here’s how:

  • Mix together a solution of 1 part salt to 2 parts water. (For example, use 1/3 cup salt to 2/3 cup water)
  • Dissolve the salt completely.
  • Drop your beads in the mixture. Plastic and glass will sink, true Baltic Amber will float.

Ta da!

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DIY Natural Disinfectant

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Watching our baby learn how to crawl before our eyes is exciting, but it’s also hair-raising when I imagine him crawling through the grime of these New York City streets that has been tracked into our house. All germaphobia aside, we are pedestrians in one of the worlds yuckiest cities.

To prevent Leo from rolling around in the muck (and to prevent a never-ending anxiety fest for me) I began researching DIY natural disinfectant sprays that are strong AND safe. While there are many “all purpose” cleansers made for hard, non-porous surfaces on the market (re: my beloved Seventh Generation sprays and wipes), there are few that are suitable for fabrics. I really wanted an anti-bacterial solution that would work for our rugs, couches and pillows as well as our countertops and hard floors.
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Essential oils have powerful cleansing properties, but they can be harmful to the skin (lungs, eyes, etc.) if used at full concentration. Naturally, it makes sense to cut the oils with water, which you’ll find in most recipes, although you’ll then need an additional disinfectant agent to strengthen the mixture.

I found recipes calling for hydrogen peroxide, but further research revealed that peroxide may also abrasive to the skin in high concentration. Many other recipes called for pure vodka…which I thought was strange and assumed would make my living room smell like my college dorm.

Finally, I found a mixture calling for witch hazel on Live Simply. Having fallen in love with the magical healing powers and endless uses for witch hazel through my postpartum recovery, it was the perfect addition.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup witch hazel (alcohol based)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 25 drops lavender pure essential oil
  • 25 drops tea tree pure essential oil

You can use any mixture of the cleansing essential oils, including lemon oil. You can omit the tea tree oil if you dislike the smell. Lemon, Tea Tree and Lavender oils are all safe for use around children.

Mix the solution as follows:

  1. Pour witch hazel + desired essential oil mixture into a spray bottle, shake vigorously to blend.
  2. Then pour in the water and shake again.

Be sure to use a glass bottle for the mixture rather than plastic to avoid any risk of the bottle breaking down. Always spot test your fabrics before use on a larger area!

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Pom-Poms on a Rainy Day

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I bought this wide brimmed Panama hat in the Hudson River Valley at the end of last summer and never had a chance to really wear it because it was the end of the season. As it hung on the wall in my front hallway all winter, reminding me that warmer days would again return, I thought about how I wanted to add some fun color to it to celebrate the coming sunshine. Since its a nasty weekend in Brooklyn, I thought that the best medicine against the indoor-blues would be to create sunny pom-poms on a rainy day.

I love how pom-poms have been showing up on everything from beach baskets to gladiator sandals to straw hats. But instead of buying a piece of the trend, I wanted to learn how to make my own. The overwhelming urge to nest seems to have spilled into the mood to craft, which is great because it is something that I had rarely made time to do—depsite the desire—in the midst of working full time.

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There are many tutorials online showing how to make pom-poms. You can buy kits or make cardboard rings, but the easiest solution I found was using a kitchen fork. I used the steps below to try my hand at making my own:

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The key is to wrap the yarn to the right thickness so that your pom-pom has enough fluff. After you’ve tied-off the yarn ball and you’re done snipping the strands, it’ll be an oblong shape. You’ll need to trim it all the way around to ensure you have a round pom-pom. Tip: if you want bigger poms, use your fingers instead of a fork.

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I opted for warm colors—yellow, pink & orange—to adorn this summer hat, but I have already been thinking up designs for other projects, like a branch wall hanging in the nursery that will feature some blues, greens and aquas. I guess it will be back to the craft store as soon as this seemingly endless rain comes to a stop.

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I’ll be sure to post about the nursery soon, as we’ve been working almost daily to bring it to life.

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Travel Tones

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Even though we are in the boring renovation phase of spackeling + scraping, I am gathering ideas for how to paint the perfect dream space to share with our future house guests.

We have been tossing around the question of which colors to use in the upstairs bedroom, hallway and kitchenette without much luck. But, while taking a walk last week with Joe, I came across the most beautiful flowering tree, with luscious blooms in a deep, full, purply-crimson. The best possible color to paint a little kitchen nook where guests will sit to sip tea and gaze out the window, I immediately thought. And this got me thinking about how to encapsulate all of my favorite elements of nature and design—my favorite travel tones—and joyfully let them loose inside our home.

After we returned from our Scandinavian springtime, all I could think about was bathing our home in minimalist, warm whites, contrasted by modernist black and vintage woods. It was only the colors themselves, but the clean, calm feeling that the colors created. Our previously bright turquoise and blood-red sheets were swapped out for simple, charcoal-gridded, white bedding…that matched our new laundry basket. I wanted to pull everything off the walls—photographs, wall hangings and candle-adorned shelves—to make way for vast, blank walls and single, bold statements. But, as Joe so wisely noted, this would all change as soon as we returned from our next travel…perhaps Mexico or Thailand or South Africa…when wild colors would again reign.

Without having to commit to one style choice for your entire home, single rooms can embody a certain spirit from abroad. So how to you convey your favorite travel memories simply in hues? I started poring over my archived photos from trips past, and used the Benjamin Moore Color Gallery to match my favorites. Summers in Maine, the minimalist interiors and ancient exteriors of Norway, and the regal, West Coast greens are all translated below into paint colors.

I hope these stirring colors draw something out in those future travelers to 509 3rd street and inspire vivid memories of their stay with us.

Rose-Parade

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snow

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Mojito Watermelon How-To

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One of my best friend’s favorite stories to tell is from five summers ago when we were in the midst of a classic New York City heatwave. Back in our airconditioner-less Bushwick apartment, Joe and I were at each other’s throats; the infernal heat thickening our blood and making us crazy. I sent my friend an S.O.S. and she demanded that we drop everything and come to her apartment, a 5 minute walk away. We did as she said and rambled through the streets, dripping with sweat—he in cargo shorts and a well-loved Jordan jersey, me in cut-off jean shorts and bandanas worn as both shirt and headband—to her front door, where we were greeted by a wave of frozen air and a plate of watermelon salad.

Cut to the summer of 2016 (not quite as hot and in which we have an air-conditioned bedroom). It was last Tuesday night at the Beirut concert in Prospect Park, sitting with our other best friends and enjoying a perfect evening outdoors. Just as the show was drawing to a close we were approached by a sweet-faced stranger, holding a platter of salmon-colored shapes. “Do you guys want some mojito watermelon? I made it for the picnic, but I’m not going to take the leftovers home. I’ll just throw it out if you don’t want any.” Of course we wanted some. Not only did she have me at “mojito…” but, as paragraph one of this post describes, I have a very positive history with watermelon dishes. We all took quick bites and gushed over how good it was. Our benefactress rattled off the ingredient list and then disappeared into the sunset. I was hooked and wanted to make it myself.

A Google search yielded mostly recipes for watermelon mojitos (which, OK, also look DELICIOUS), but after some digging I did find a recipe from Country Living that describes how to make this dish. It calls for sugar, which I don’t think it needs at all, so I experimented a bit and came up with my own, similar version. The fact that I can use the fresh mint from my garden really appeals to my farm girl fantasies…here it is!

+ Ingredients +

  • Watermelon
  • Limes
  • Sea Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Mint

+ Directions +

  • Cut up watermelon in nice chunks.
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and lime juice.
  • Drizzle with olive oil.
  • Top with fresh, chopped mint.
  • Enjoy chilled

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Ta da!

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Enjoy! xx

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GROUPON Your Life!

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The number one great unifier of all entrepreneurs, freelancers and up-and-comings is the need for affordable health coverage. If we haven’t dealt with it ourselves, we’ve had a dear friend lament their lack of healthcare and their forgone checkups, and even trips to the emergency room. I don’t mean to enter the complexities of the argument in American Health Care here, I am merely on a mission to share with you an incredible life hack that I’ve just been taught: How to GROUPON Your Life!

I was openly complaining in the office about having to book a dental cleaning for what was sure to cost me no less than $300 with my lack of dental coverage. (I should say here that I thank my lucky stars and moons {and my dear boss and mentor} everyday that I have medical insurance). When my friend and co-worker told me to use GROUPON.

Oh, you mean the online coupon website featuring two $100 massages for the price of one and 87% off wine of the month club memberships? Yes.

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Apparently, what I happily discovered upon further investigation, GROUPON offers full dental check-ups including x-rays and cleaning for a fraction of what it would cost to walk into your regular dentist (you know, the one you haven’t seen since your insurance ran out two years ago…). I found a GROUPON for a dentist’s office around the corner from my house in Brooklyn that offered a consultation, cleaning and x-ray for $60.

That’s right, folks. An amount of money small enough to pay in cash.

Of course, I did a quick YELP search to ensure that this outpost was reputable and hygienic and when I felt confident enough that I was getting the DEAL OF THE CENTURY I bought the GROUPON, called the office and made an appointment with the effusively kind and helpful receptionist.

I encourage all of you to check out GROUPON for those practical never-thought-it-could-be-possible deals like this one. I sure plan to. And please let us know should you find any other life hack bargains on the site.

 

Happy Weekend! I’m off to Las Vegas for the week and will return with my photo round-up next Friday!

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Astrology for the Creative Entrepreneur

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This weekend past was last ever installment of The Blogcademy, held for its final class in Midtown, Manhattan where it all began, which I feel so lucky to have been a part of. For all of those who know me well, they know that I am a person that loves to live with purpose, which is what taking classes provides me. It gives me direction, focus and a fresh perspective on whatever the task at hand. So, being able to delve more deeply into the business behind blogging was a perfect way to spend a weekend. For all you creatives in your post-grad-daily-grind phase, I recommend participating in as many classes, seminars and workshops that you can fit in to your schedule. It provides you with the concentration and the network to get closer to your goals. But, aside from the knowledge we (pay) for, what is so special about getting back into the student’s seat is that we encounter an entirely new cast of characters outside of our daily routines, that inevitably serve to open us up to some reinvigorated points of view. For example, I was not expecting to learn so much about my self and the amazing benefits of astrology for the creative entrepreneur by way of my unique star chart during a weekend devoted to content creation and target audiences. But that is exactly what I did, during the hours before class started, the short breaks during the day and in the days since the seminar closed.

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My amazing classmate Colin was the catalyst in this self discovery. A student of The Blogcademy with aspirations of bringing his fresh new blog to the market—the content of which is so inspired that I won’t even share the specifics here, for fear of it being poached—dealing with astrology, self love and individuality. You’d think that being the only male in the class (and I believe one of 5 in all Blogcademy courses ever) would be the reason that he stood out, but it was his delightful energy, his humor and his eagerness to speak—and make true connections—with everyone that did it. Needless to say, I felt energized and so positively influenced when he began schooling me in the complexities of my individual star chart.

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My take-away and advice: don’t just say “I’m a Leo” and leave it there. There is so much to take into account, as we artists and creatives can be especially affected (and benefit from) astrological alignment. After reading my in-depth personal analysis via Astrolabe (as recommended from the pro himself) I have such a clearer understanding of the little nuances in my personality and how to really hone in on my particular talents in building my business. It all makes so much sense. And, there was even a salient tidbit pertaining directly to my creative work from my Jupiter-in-Aries-self :

 

The way that you grow and develop is by being an uncompromising individualist. You have a great need to be yourself and to explore your latent talents and abilities. Do not be afraid to let yourself go and develop self-confidence and pride in your accomplishments. But try not to become so self-centered that you ignore the needs of others. Also, you may have to build up your self-discipline in order to focus your energies properly.

 

From the gal who works from home with Netflix always a click away, I can totally relate and take heed of the final sentence in that quote. Likewise, I need to remember to close my MacBook sometimes, even when I am totally engrossed in my latest piece of writing, and strike out into the world for some personal connection. The needs of my loved ones are super important and I can’t forget that. Moreover, my next source of inspiration (and perhaps a new special friend) is out there somewhere. So hey, creatives, get your stars aligned and move onward. And stay tuned for Colin’s site.

Here’s to a weekend of learning and the happy surprise of life affirming circumstantial knowledge!

 

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Featured photo via Unsplash, Leo astrology image via Commons.