5 Maternity Must Haves and What Not to Waste Your Money On

The maternity industry, like many others, is a cash cow (no pun intended). Slap a maternity label on something and you can be sure you’ll get an ad for it during your 9 months of pregnancy. Everything from maternity tees to maternity underwear to maternity shoes – if you use it pre-pregnancy, someone somewhere has made a maternity version. But what items do you actually need and what items can you skip and save money on. I wanted to make this list because as a first time mom, I was completely overwhelmed at all of the options at first. It felt like I had so much to buy to prepare for pregnancy and beyond and it made me anxious seeing all the money I would have to spend to be comfortable. But luckily, this is not the case. There are really only a handful of items, in my experience, that you should absolutely buy for pregnancy. Please note that this is from my own personal experience, and it may be different for everyone depending on your pregnancy. Please also note that I am not compensated for any of my opinions shared here. These are all my own opinions based on my own purchases and experiences.

  1. Belly Bands
Maternity Bellaband Support Belt - Isabel Maternity By Ingrid & Isabelâ„¢ :  Target

One of the first items I suggest buying within the first couple months of pregnancy are a couple belly bands. I bought a black one and a white one which worked perfectly for my wardrobe, but you can also find them in nude and other colors. What is a belly band? It’s basically a stretchy tube of fabric that makes it so that you can wear your pre-pregnancy bottoms during pregnancy. This is awesome because maternity clothes are not cheap, especially when you consider the short amount of time you’ll get to wear them. These belly bands have made it so that I can wear my favorite jeans, shorts and skirts over my bump and have saved me so much money. You simply wear your pre-pregnancy bottoms unbuttoned and slide the band over the top. The band hides the opening of your bottoms while also smoothing the creasing of the opening. The brand that I found to work best and be most cost effective is the Isabel and Ingrid Bellaband. They have a sticky plastic border on one end that helps hold the band in place, and they can be worn up over your belly or folded down. Sometimes I even wear these under dresses for a little extra support. They are super comfortable, and at only $17 a piece at your local Target these are a must have for pregnancy. You can find other colors on the Isabel and Ingrid website here.

2. Bra Extenders

Women Elastic Back Bra Extenders 3 Hook and 2 Hooks Bras Extension Strap  6pcs at Amazon Women's Clothing store

If you’re like me, you’ve experienced a little (or ALOT) of growth in the girls during pregnancy. Sometimes this growth can make it feel like your pre-pregnancy bras are trying to squeeze the life out of you – or at least that’s what happened to me. My bras still mostly fit cup-wise, but the band around was starting to feel like it was strangling me. Again, I didn’t want to go out and buy all new bras for just this occasion so I found these bra extenders on Amazon. These have made it so that I can save my money for nursing bras (because, yep, that’s a thing too) and keep on wearing my favorite pre-pregnancy bras throughout my pregnancy. The pack that I bought came with black, white and nude which is perfect for most bra collections and was only $5 for a pack of six – can’t beat that!

3. Body Pillow

Sleeping in your new body shape can become a bit of a challenge towards the middle and end of pregnancy. But this doesn’t mean you need to go spend hundreds of dollars on a fancy “pregnancy pillow”. I found that a simple body pillow worked just fine for me. It was long enough to hold my belly and also to wedge between my legs to give my hips support. It also is the perfect size to have in bed, where as the pregnancy pillows are so huge I’m surprised anyone can sleep with them and still keep their partner in bed with them at the same time. Want something a little fancier but still don’t want to take over the entire bed? You can find body pillows that are made of memory foam or higher support materials for less money than a crazy pregnancy pillow. Most major retailers that sell home goods will sell a nice body pillow. Another tip is to make sure whatever cover you buy is appropriate for the weather and that elevated body temperature you might experience while pregnant.

4. Maternity Leggings

black

Staying active during pregnancy is a must. Whether it’s full exercises or walking it’s important to have clothing that works for this type of activity. This is where maternity leggings come in. In a pinch I’ve found that I can wear my pre-pregnancy leggings folded under my bump, but there’s something so comfortable about having a nice supportive pair of over the belly leggings that just makes exercising easier on your pregnant body – bonus points if they have a little compression to help with blood flow. Keep in mind though, not all maternity leggings are created equal, and this is the one area where you might want to splurge a little bit to make sure you’re getting the bang for your buck. I made the mistake of buying cheap maternity leggings and actually ended up buying new leggings and changing in the car while running errands – I hated them that much. They kept falling off and provided no support whatsoever to my growing bump – I digress. My favorites during pregnancy have been the Blanqi Everyday Maternity Belly Support leggings, which are super ultra supportive and stay in place all day. These are a bit more compressing feeling so if you don’t like tight then they might not be for you. They have sales regularly and will often sell out so make sure you follow them on social media or check their website regularly for deals. I just ordered another maternity legging from them in another style and got two pairs for under $50 which is a major steal. They make these in a wide range of colors which is also fun and makes it so that you feel like you can still be fashionable. My other favorite leggings are from Ingrid and Isabel and come from Target – the Maternity Crossover Panel Active leggings. These are actually the ones I bought and changed into in the parking lot! I love the lower cut back on these for our hot California weather and the material is super soft and breathable making them super comfortable to wear all day long. Both brands make bike shorts as well that I highly recommend if you are pregnant during warmer weather. Having comfortable active wear is great for staying on track with exercising, but it’s also nice to have clothing that is similar to what I wore pre-pregnancy (2020 basically changed my entire wardrobe into active wear). Leggings and bike shorts are also great for later in pregnancy when everything feels too tight but you also want to look cute. You can pair them with almost anything and not feel like you’re wearing pajamas. (Here’s a $20 credit for Blanqi for anyone who might be interested: http://fbuy.me/q6Mp_)

5. Reusable Water Bottle

YETI Rambler 36 oz Reusable Bottle With Chug Cap

If you don’t already have a reusable water bottle (or two!), pregnancy is a great time to invest in one. Staying hydrated during pregnancy is one of the best ways to avoid aches and pains, curb morning sickness, keep your skin soft and overall improve your health. I have a few different options depending on whether I’m on the go or at home. My home bottle has a stainless steel straw which is super nice for lounging around the house. I also have an on-the-go hydroflask style bottle that seals completely so I can throw it in my bag and it keeps my water nice and cool especially if I add a few ice cubes. Reusable water bottles are also just a great item to have in general and will keep you happy and hydrated throughout pregnancy and beyond. There are so many different options these days available at most retailers. Bonus is that you can customize most of them with fun stickers if you want something a bit more personalized.

I hope this list is helpful for all you first-time mommas out there like me. The world of maternity shopping can feel so overwhelming and it’s tough to know if you need to go out and purchase all brand new items to make life easier. I’d definitely skip certain items like the special underwear, shoes, and heck even the crazy outrageously priced clothes. Stick with what you have for as long as it will work for you, and worst case if you end up needing to spend more money you can always order those items later. Good luck and happy baby growing!

DIY Dried Herbs

Having a garden can be so fulfilling. From picking to preserving the process can be as long or as short as you want it to be and you can reap the benefits of your hard work for longer than your gardening season if you plan it. When I first started gardening, I started out small with herbs, but quickly realized that I couldn’t use enough fresh herbs to completely use up what I was growing. This became a problem year after year, and I’d feel so discouraged letting my herb plants die feeling like I didn’t get their full use. Jump forward to this year, when I finally took the time to preserve my own herbs so I could enjoy them for the months ahead.

Drying herbs is really quite easy with the bulk of time spent waiting for the herbs themselves to dry out. Other than that it’s just harvest, hang, and store. I’ll outline the steps briefly below. These steps can be followed with all herbs so that you can enjoy them before and after the season is over.

  1. Harvest Herbs – using shears or scissors, snip long stems of whatever herb you’re harvesting. Make sure the stems are long and even enough to put together in a bunch for hanging. The images that I took here show the process with my Oregano plant.
  2. Hang Herbs – pull your harvest into a bunch and secure at the ends. I used a rubber band, but you could also use string, a hair tie or ribbon to secure. Make sure whatever you use is nice and snug around the stems, because as the herbs dry out they will lose some of their girth and could slip and fall out of the band. Then use string or ribbon or whatever you have lying around to create a way to hang the herbs. I used a rubber band to secure and then slipped string through the rubber band to hang by a loop. Hang the herbs in a dry, cool place (I chose an armoire closet in my dining room). Some of the leaves may fall off during the drying process. If the mess concerns you, you can wrap a paper bag around the herbs to catch anything that falls. Leave in cool, dry place until herbs dry out – this will vary by location – just make sure not to remove the herbs until they are nice and crispy. Once dry the leaves should fall off super easily, sometimes with even just a slight touch.
  3. Harvest Dried Herbs – now this step may seem redundant, and I guess it sort of is, but now that your herbs are dry you need to pull the leaves from the stems for storage.

Plastic Free July: 5 Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste

July is Plastic Free Month so I thought it would be a great idea to share some ideas on how to easily reduce how much plastic we’re using. It can be difficult in this day and age to avoid plastic. It seems that everywhere I turn everything is wrapped in plastic – even vegetables! Sometimes using plastic is unavoidable because of this but there are some easy ways that you can reduce your plastic usage that we can all do not only for Plastic Free July but every month of the year.

Swap Your Plastic Utensils

This is probably one of the easiest swaps you can make – instead of using the plastic utensils at work for your lunch (or anywhere when you’re eating out) carry your own reusable utensils. This can mean you have an extra set at work that you use, wash and reuse, or maybe you have a set you keep in your purse. Whatever method you prefer, this is a quick and easy way to reduce your use of plastic every day. And really, who really likes using plastic utensils anyway. You can find loads of silverware and utensils at your local thrift store, or if you’re looking for something new I suggest checking out Etsy for some of the cutest reusable sets you’ve ever seen. Both options are inexpensive and a great way to reduce your plastic usage all year long.

Reusable Bags

This is a no-brainer in California, since our free plastic bags are no longer allowed, but in other areas it may be an important switch you can make to reduce your plastic waste. Reusable bags can be anything from grocery bags, produce bags, zip-up bags to lunch bags. Whether you’re reusing your stockpile of plastic bags or purchasing washable replacements this can be a quick and easy way to lessen your plastic footprint. There are loads of options that can be purchased at local grocery stores for fairly cheap and of course Etsy always has cute and unique options that you can have shipped to you. Stock up on grocery bags, mesh produce bags and even reusable snack bags for lunches. Also, did you know you can wash zip-up bags and reuse them? I’ve been doing this for months now and have even been putting them in the dishwasher. Simply flip the bags inside out and place on the top rack of your dishwasher. Wedge them between a few cups to keep them in place and before you know it your zipper bags will be good as new!

Plastic-Free Produce

This tip can be a bit more difficult to follow depending on where you shop, but it’s also important to let our grocery stores know that we’re tired of all of our food being wrapped in plastic for no reason. I like to try and do my best to purchase only those produce items that come without any added plastic. For example, often times there are english cucumbers wrapped in plastic wrap at my local grocery store, instead of purchasing those, I’ll buy the regular cucumbers that are plastic free. Same goes for bagged salads, herbs, and things like broccoli, carrots or green beans. The easiest way to avoid plastic produce? Shopping at the farmers markets! This is also a great way to get organic produce locally while supporting your local farmers and community. Avoiding plastic wrapped produce can have a big impact per trip depending on what you normally buy and can be also be a great way to encourage us to support our local agricultural businesses.

Buy in Bulk

Buying in bulk means that you can use reusable containers or bags to purchase things like rice, pasta, flour, nuts and other dry items. This greatly reduces waste and is usually cheaper too! Most grocery stores have a bulk area and if you’re lucky you might even have a dedicated bulk store in your area. Simply weight the container or bag you are using before you fill it up and subtract that from the total weight of your purchase before you buy. Sometimes this can be tougher to figure out depending on where you shop, but if you speak to your local grocer they should be able to help. I’ve seen people use everything from cloth bags to mason jars to purchase items in bulk. Not only is it easy but they look better sitting in your pantry too!

Quit Single Use Water Bottles

This tip is probably the easiest and most impactful of all – purchase a reusable water bottle to refill instead of using single use plastic water bottles. This tip is huge because it can reduce a crazy amount of plastic being thrown into landfills. It’s inexpensive to purchase a nice water bottle, whether you like stainless, glass or another plastic option. Most airports, gyms, public events etc. now offer water refill stations for your reusable bottle so it’s easier than ever. Don’t like the water from your tap? That’s easy. You can either buy a filtered pitcher or sink attachment, OR purchase your water in larger amounts to fill up your reusable bottle. There are over 50 billion water bottles purchased each day that end up in the garbage. Purchasing a reusable bottle can make a difference and help greatly reduce our plastic footprint.

So there you have it! 5 Tips to reducing your plastic footprint for Plastic Free July. All of these tips are so easy and don’t cost much if anything to implement. I hope you’ll be inspired to make small changes to help our environment not just for July but for every month of the year!

Garden Check-In

One of my resolutions this year was to become more sustainable by growing some of my own food. I started mostly everything from seed and I am finally starting to see some of the fruits and vegetables of my labor! Here’s a quick recap of my process: I germinated most of the seeds to start. The only ones I started straight from seed were the sunflowers and the green beans. After germinating I started the seeds inside the house to make sure the weather didn’t beat them up. The beans were the only seeds sown directly outdoors. I did have a few plants die which I replaced with organic seedlings from Green Acres Nursery & Supply. The ones I replaced were the yellow squash and one of the cucumbers (only one of mine survived). I also ended up purchasing a butternut squash plant and an eggplant along with some herbs. The herbs I bought were basil, sage and oregano. I even ended up planting some green onions in a garden bed that were from the grocery store. I think I had a very successful turnout overall and am so happy that things went so well with my first season starting from seed.

Enough recap, let’s show you how everything is looking!

Here is one of three sunflowers. The first image is what the sunflower looked like when it first bloomed. The second shows the seeds forming inside of the sunflower. Stay tuned for a post on how to harvest the seeds.

There are green beans galore in the garden right now! I picked this handful last night and have many, many others waiting to ripen. I can’t wait to use these as a side dish or in a salad. I ate a couple of them raw while I was picking and they are so delicious. Even the ladybugs love them!

Since I bought the squash plants and eggplant later in the season they haven’t produced yet, but the zucchini has not disappointed. This is one of two zucchs I’ve harvested so far, and they are so delicious! And even though only one of the original cucumber plants survived it already has a baby cucumber hiding in the trellis. I can’t wait for the other to start producing too!

The tomatoes haven’t ripened yet, but the plants are loaded with babies! I just know they are all going to ripen at the same time and I am going to be overloaded with tomatoes. I am going to use this as an opportunity to learn to can them into fresh tomatoes and sauces so stay tuned for that! I have cherry tomatoes and larger tomatoes that are coming in – 6 plants total – which is going to yield me a huge crop!

The only fruit items we were looking forward to this year have either already produced or have been taken by the heat. The apricots survived and were delectable. Unfortunately, the peaches seemed like they may have gotten too hot and started falling off the tree while they were still green. I didn’t expect our trees to produce this year at all since it was their first year, but happy that at least the apricot gave us some fruit. What will be sort of cool is picking our neighbors fruit off the limbs overhanging into our yard – figs, plums and grapes oh my!

I’m so thrilled with how everything has been going and can’t wait to see more growth. Stay tuned for more posts on sunflower seed harvesting, canning, pruning and more! Until then, happy gardening!

MelissaRose

5 Unexpected Thrift Store Finds

Since starting my No New Things Resolution for the year 2019, I’ve learned that I’ve needed to become quite resourceful in the things I buy second hand. To date, I’ve only purchased new toiletry/makeup items, a vacuum cleaner, and a hat from Nashville which was a reward to myself for doing so well so far. It’s felt pretty amazing to see not only all the money I’m saving, but to see all the things I’m able to find at the thrift store as well. Sure, some items have been challenging and have maybe taken a few trips to find, but overall has saved me probably hundreds of dollars in just under 6 months alone. In this post, I want to show you all the surprising things I’ve found in hopes of inspiring you to shop these types of items secondhand as well. The thrift store isn’t just for clothes!

Camping Items

Spring and Summer are the ultimate outdoor seasons – at least here in sunny California. My family participates in a week long full-family camping trip at the end of May every year, and every year it seems like there is something that needs to be purchased or replaced. This year, I went with the intention of finding some rain gear (which I’ll outline in another section), and what I was able to find was even better. Did you know the thrift store carries everything you need for camping from ice chests, to tents, to lanterns and chairs? Sure, you can get these items from the big box stores for fairly cheap, but how long do they really last? And spending the outrageous prices at the outdoor specific stores – forget it! You can get the same name brand items at the thrift store for much less. I’ve seen Coleman tents (be sure to check for all items inside the bag!), camping lanterns, TONS of folding chairs (again, open them all the way to make sure they are functional), camp stoves and of course you can stock up on all of your outdoor cookware. You can find all of these things for a fraction of what you’d pay at the store, and usually you can find much cooler looking items too. My recent find was a very cool fish cutting board (I don’t know what else to call it). It’s basically a fillet board with a big clamp on one end. This clamp holds the fish tail in place so you can fillet the meat or remove the bones – so cool, right? We fish a bunch when we camp so it was awesome to find such a specific piece and be able to bring it home for only a few bucks.

I also found this awesome crate full of cast iron cookware. It was super heavy duty and unique! The cast irons even came with zip-up covers! Unfortunately, I’m not too familiar with cast iron and it was $40 (they knew what they had here!) so I had to leave it behind, but I just know that someone else was so stoked to find that. I’ve also scored ice chests in the past. My favorite of our ice chests is actually a vintage Coleman ice chest. it’s fairly small but is in this really cute olive green color and has a great sturdy drain on the bottom. I found it on a half off sale day and paid only $2.50 for it. The other is a rolling igloo ice chest that we had contemplated purchasing at Costco for $40, but ended up finding at the thrift store for only $13. You may have to dig a little more in these sections to find the good stuff, but if you’re like me, you enjoy the thrill of the hunt just as much as the excitement of finding a good deal.

Outdoor Clothing

This goes along with camping (sort of), but I think can also use it’s own section – outdoor clothing. This year before camping we knew it might rain a bit. Instead of slushing around in sweatshirts and jeans, my husband came up with the great idea of looking for some lightweight rain gear to go over our clothes. Off to the thrift store I went and what I found did not disappoint. I was able to score a Jones New York rain coat and a pair of waterproof North Face pants for me (Yes! North Face!) and some Columbia water proof pants and a couple vintage waterproof overcoats for my husband. It all ended up being around $25 which is much, much less than what we would have paid for these brands in the store. Among rain gear I found snow suits, scuba suits, hiking boots, rain boots, snow boots, ponchos, trench coats, snow coats, rash guards, swim trunks and pretty much anything else you would need for any type of outdoor weather. Not only that but hello, bathing suit section. Now, years ago I would have passed over this section, but as I’ve gotten older (and maybe more desperate for a deal), I’ve actually found some amazing suits at the thrift store. My most recent being a sport suit made by Body Glove. It has short bottoms and a zip up style tank top. This may seem gross, but if you just check the crotch area for stains, you can always wash the crap out of these items to make sure you’re not getting any heebie jeebies. Also, sometimes people donate BRAND NEW and NAME BRAND items (hello, VS!), so it’s always worth a look. Make sure to check everything for holes and stains of course, but the savings you could score are endless.

Random Kitchen Gadgets

Trying out a year of not buying new seemed so daunting in the beginning. Especially when I realized that my can opener had broken. You know that annoying things can openers do when you turn and turn and turn but it doesn’t actually break open the can?? SO FRUSTRATING. This happened to me at the end of January. I didn’t want to break my rules so quickly by buying a brand new can opener so I searched the aisles of Goodwill. What I ended up finding was a Kitchenaid can opener for $3 – say wha? This particular can opener sells for $13 on Amazon so that’s an automatic savings of $10, plus I saved a can opener from potentially going to the landfill to sit and stew for hundreds of years. Other cool gadgets I’ve found include a lime press – which is actually vintage, completely metal and amazing – an all-metal ice cream scooper, a stainless fondue set, barbecue tools and so much more. Some of my favorite finds have also been a bullet blender (which I actually ended up using so much I burnt the motor out – oops), a vintage bundt cake pan and several matching marble items including a salt and pepper shaker set, a marble tray with a cloche top and marble coasters.

Seriously, the possibilities are endless here. Currently on my thrift list are silicon inserts for my instant pot, a microplane grater, and a lemon press (as the lime press is a little small for lemons). I have no doubt that I’ll eventually find these items and end up paying much less for them than I would if they were brand spankin’ new. Also check these aisles for party-ware. These are less used kitchen items you can often find at the thrift store. I’ve found adorable mason jar style drink dispensers, cake pedestals and sometimes even decorations. It may seem random, but eventually we spend money on stuff like this, so wouldn’t it be better to spend less?

Pet Supplies

We have three dogs and two cats so sometimes replacing bowls, brushes and leashes can get pricey. Luckily, we can find all of these things at the thrift store. Usually the pet items are grouped together in an area, but sometimes we find great metal bowls for food and water in the kitchen area too. We’ve also purchased brand new collars and leashes at the thrift store which is great because when we had a puppy she grew out of stuff so quickly! I’ve also found unopened boxes of dog poop bags which are great for camping and for walks – I think I paid around $.50! Sometimes you can even find unopened cat scratchers and cat toys for only a couple dollars. We don’t typically buy toys for our dogs at the thrift store unless they are in brand new condition. We just don’t want to take the chance that another dog may have played with them and transmit any sickness or icky germs. Our animals are like our children so that’s how we approach that – like psycho over protective parents haha. But it is great to be able to find bowls and things that would cost much more at the pet supply store.

Yard Games

Lastly, one of the surprising things you can find at the thrift store are yard games. Things like dart boards, croquet sets and even golf clubs usually get donated fairly often. I recently found a brand new croquet set that had never been opened for only $12 – it still had the original price tag at $39.99. My husband has found a brand new dart board, which is still hanging and getting use in our garage and we often see loads of golf clubs and tennis rackets as well. Sometimes you can even find cool homemade game sets like ladder ball – which I’ve never played, but it looks like it could be fun! Currently on my thrift list are bocce balls and a cornhole set, and while a cornhole set may be more difficult to plunder, I’m hoping to run across some bocce balls soon. This section can get a little crazy and require some digging as well. It’s almost like the better items hide in the back, or someone is hiding them in the back, so be sure to take a good look before giving up.

Overall, I obviously love thrifting. I love it even more now that I’m restricting and forcing myself to only buy second hand. It’s really opened my eyes to the possibility of what I can find. It’s always helpful to keep a list of things you need so that you can stay focused. You may not always find everything on your list in one trip, but it can also be encouraging to check things off as you go.

I want to hear from you! Have you ever found anything super unexpected at your local thrift store? If you did, what did you find and how big of a score was it when you found it?

Until next time,

MelissaRose

All Natural Deodorant

A few years ago, I decided to make the move to all natural deodorant. After learning about the ingredients of my usual antiperspirant, I wanted to give something else a try to avoid putting unnecessary chemicals into my body. I won’t go too much into depth about the effects of typical antiperspirants. Unfortunately, not much research has been done on the subject to clearly address whether or not there are seriously adverse affects on the body. However, I will say that I have noticed an improvement in the quality of my underarm skin as well as an improvement in coloration. All in all, I tried four different all natural deodorants, giving them all time to settle in and see if they would mesh well with my body. And here is what I learned…

Starting out using natural deodorant can be a little uncomfortable in the beginning, especially if you’ve been using antiperspirant for a long time. You’ll sweat ALOT and probably notice that you smell worse than usual. A quick Google search told me that my underarms were actually detoxing the chemicals that I had been inserting into my pores for so long. It took several days for the detox to complete, however I found that using a charcoal mask on my underarms helped to speed along the process. The charcoal in the mask helped to draw out the impurities and made my skin feel pretty nice too! Another thing to keep in mind with natural deodorant versus antiperspirant, is that antiperspirant actually blocks your pores to keep you from sweating. Deodorant is made to simply mask the smell throughout the day, not to necessarily keep your pits dry. This took some getting used to as I was noticing that I was actually sweating, but after a while it no longer bothered me and I felt better about not stuffing unmentionables into my pores.

The first all natural deodorant that I tried was from Tom’s of Maine. I purchased their coconut lavender scent stick since I am a fan of lavender and though the coconut properties may be good for my skin. Unfortunately, I did not find that this one gave me enough coverage. Thinking back now, it may be an unfair review since I was using it through my detox period, but the scent was a bit overwhelming for me. I did enjoy the stick application. There are different types of natural deodorant from sticks, to pots, to rollers, but I found the stick to be the cleanest and most convenient way to apply. I ended up moving away from Tom’s for the scent factor alone, but would be open to trying some of their other scents, now that I know I am out of the detox phase. The price is relatively cheap at about $5 per stick – so around the same as conventional deodorants and antiperspirants and was easy to find at my local Target or drugstores.

The second brand of deodorant I tried was from Schmidt’s. This brand gets rave reviews online and costs right around the $5 mark, and are available in most drugstores. They offer a wide range of scents, and even sell mini-packs so you can try different scents on different days. I went with the charcoal magnesium scent since I knew I was down with the charcoal ingredient and it had more of a musky scent versus a flowery scent which I prefer. However!! This deodorant gave me a horrible underarm rash. I only used the stick for a couple of days, but I soon found little red itchy bumps growing all on my armpit and surrounding arm and side areas. This was so incredibly uncomfortable! I quickly learned that I may be allergic or have an adverse reaction to applying Sodium Bicarbonate (otherwise known as Baking Soda) to this sensitive area of skin. The stick I bought from Tom’s did not contain this ingredient and so did not produce a rash. The difference in consistency between the two was also plain to see and feel. The Schmidt’s felt much rougher against my skin, and took some warming and coercing to get it to spread evenly on my underarm area. Even so, since producing a rash, I decided it was time to find some alternatives that did not contain baking soda. Sorry Schmidt’s – I wanted to love you, I really did!

The third all natural deodorant I tested is called Meow Meow Tweet. I was instantly attracted to the name, the bright colors in their packaging and the fact that their product does not contain baking soda. Another cool factor is that the tubes the stick come in are completely biodegradable which eliminates any of the plastic waste found with most stick deodorants. This product worked great for me for many months. I loved the lemon eucalyptus scent and the tiny stick it came in since I could carry it in my purse and reapply later. However, at $14 a stick (even for the tiny one – 1.8 oz) it was beginning to feel like I was spending way too much for way too little. Sure, it felt like a cute little boutique item made just for me, but it is still going on my armpits after all. They do however offer a cream version in a 2 oz pot for $11 at Target. If I was a fan of applying my deodorant with my fingers I may have tried this cheaper route, but alas, I enjoy my stick too much. If you think you can hang with the price or the pot version I would definitely recommend their product. I just didn’t feel like it was enough product for me to spend so much money on, especially when I was reapplying throughout the day in the summer.

My fourth and final choice for a deodorant stick came from an Instagram story from a cousin of mine in Texas. She was telling her followers about this new website she found with a $10 trial offer for all natural, baking soda free deodorant. It comes in a reusable plastic case and the pods the stick deliver in are also recyclable. The website was MyMyro.com. This has been my favorite find so far! You get to pick the color of your plastic holder, which is great because if you live in a hot place like I do, it’s important to be able to bring your stick with you just in case you get sweatier than normal. They offer a wide range of scents from flowery to fresh to a little manly. And the packaging you get with your first order is just the cutest ever! They even send a cute enamel pin with your first order. I’ve been using this stick for about 4 months and couldn’t be happier. The other cool part about this is that it’s a subscription based service, so you sign up, pay $10 and then you can set delivery preferences for the next time you’ll need a new one. They allow you to adjust your shipment times, and then send you three refills at once, either all the same scent or in a variety. I’m currently using their scent called Cabin No. 5 and just love how it smells. On the hottest days, or gym days, I may have to reapply once or twice, but I’m finding that even with the heat the deodorant does a great job of releasing the scent throughout the day to keep me smelling great.

So that’s it! Those are the deodorants I’ve tried so far. Right now, I’m pretty happy with Myro, but would love to know if there are other brands I should try. I should also mention that all four brands above are cruelty free, however Tom’s is owned by Colgate Palmolive who does test on animals with their other products. The last three are also vegan products and do not use any animal products or byproducts in their products. This is pretty important to me, so I’m happy to say that the two I liked most also align well with my values. It’s cool to see companies becoming more aware of that these days!

Let me know in the comments below if there are any deodorants that you like or have had experience with. I love hearing about how people are making the switch to living more naturally and healthy not only for ourselves but for our planet!

Until next time,

MelissaRose

Top 5 Reasons to Thrift

Thrifting has been a huge part of my life since I was a little kid. When I was younger, I’d go with my mom (still do!) and search for hidden gems that we couldn’t find anywhere else. This instilled a great love of thrift shopping. There are so many benefits too that go beyond nostalgia, and that’s what I want to share with you today. I hope this inspires you to check out your local thrift stores (or online). I just know that you will be impressed with what you’re able to find. Let’s get into my Top 5 Reasons to Thrift.

Price

Absolutely the number one reason for thrifting is price. This may be obvious to those of you that have gone before, but I think it’s worth reiterating. Thrift stores sell things for cheaper prices than a chain or retail store. This makes sense because often the items are used. Other times, you can even find brand new things for much less than what you’d pay in the store. For example, I had been eyeing these boots at DSW since Fall of 2018. I saw them when they came out and thought they were some of the coolest boots I’d seen in a while. They were right around $100. This for me, is a bit crazy. $100 down the drain in an instant for a pair of boots which, let’s face it, probably won’t be worn as often as my trusty Birkenstocks or Doc Martens. They’d become a fun novelty item worn once in a while for fun. I knew I couldn’t spend that kind of moolah so I left them in my online shopping cart. Fast forward to April 2019. I’m at Goodwill and lo’ and behold what do I see staring back at me from the shoe racks? The boots! Even more miraculous, they are in my size! I thank the thrifting gods and look at the soles for the price tag. They look brand spankin’ new, and get this, they are only $18. What, what? Of course I bought them, and I’m wearing them as we speak. This is just one amazing example of the money you can save thrifting. There are so many more that I could probably fill a blog post, but I digress. Let this be a tiny little sample, and get out and see what you can find!

Sustainability

Sustainability has been a thrift focus for me this year due to my New Year’s Resolution of buying nothing new. Need a new can opener? Found a Kitchenaid one at the thrift store. Need gym clothes? I found three separate outfits in one day. Been looking for a cool lamp for that corner in the living room? Found it secondhand for $15. The meaning of this to me is, instead of buying mass produced items brand new, I’m re-purposing items that will more than likely end up in a landfill. (The above examples are all true, by the way). Not only do I feel great about saving money, but I feel like I am saving perfectly good items from the garbage. Our culture of consumerism is hurting our planet. Not only are our dumps and landfills piling up, but the demand for new products is increasing pollutant emissions, exploiting human workers and encouraging companies to build new factories, make more plastic and in the end create more waste. Buying secondhand items eliminates the need for new products. I get that sometimes things need to be purchased new. Overall, though, most household, clothing and other items can be purchased secondhand. There are also several documentaries out there now that show the human exploitation being carried out by many of the popular fast fashion companies. These companies are creating clothing waste at alarming rates by taking advantage of people, and children, to make a quick buck. Do a quick Google search on Fast Fashion to learn more.

Personal Style

90% of the decor and fashion in my home and closet is thrifted. This means alot to me because that means that many of the items are personal and unique to me. I’m able to cultivate my own personal style by purchasing things that I like rather than what a magazine or website tells me is trendy. Chasing trends is expensive and never-ending. Buying things second hand is a great way to build your own personal style with unique pieces that can be changed out frequently if desired for far less money. You can find era specific pieces if you’re into a particular decade. Or search the shelves for trendier pieces too. You’d be surprised what people will toss out. A good tip for building personal style is to build a Thrift Board on Pinterest. Use the board to collect images of things you like or things that inspire your personal style. You can then use this board to search for things at the thrift store that match your look. Obviously things won’t always be spot on, but I find it to be a useful tool in helping me to focus on items that will mesh well with the other items I’ve already put together in my wardrobe or in my home.

Thrill of the Hunt

This reason is not true for all people, but is one of the huge reasons I love thrifting – the Thrill of the Hunt. I love digging through the shelves and racks to find that one little nugget of gold. The excitement of a good deal can be addicting, and luckily at the thrift store it’s easier to afford. You can find name brands, brand new items, luxury items, vintage and antique pieces. The thrill of finding that one thing you’ve been searching for is pretty great too (like the boot story!). Again, not everyone may share this enthusiasm. For some people, digging through piles of old stuff is overwhelming and frustrating. If you’re one of these people, be sure to check out the online options for secondhand such as shopgoodwill.com, Poshmark or Thredup. These online secondhand retailers offer an easier way to score a deal without having to mine through all the junk.

Support a Charity (or other people like you!)

I’m putting this reason last because, unfortunately, not all thrift stores are charities (ahem, Goodwill). However, there are several other thrift stores out there like ASPCA, Weave, and church thrift stores that donate their money to their causes. Goodwill does offer employment assistance and training, however their CEO does make millions per year so it’s not exactly non-profit. Another great way to support is to check out Poshmark or Thredup. These items are often being sold by people just like you and me. (I actually have a Poshmark closet – you can check it out here.) These people might be saving up for something special, using the extra money to subsidize their incomes, and some people even sell full time. Buying items from them helps real people to achieve goals and sometimes just live life, which is totally something I can get behind. Use my username @melizamcg on the Poshmark app to get $5 off your first purchase.

These are my Top 5 Reasons to Thrift. I hope they inspire you to check out secondhand shopping as well. It’s a great way to have some fun, save some money and overall change your life! Let me know what your favorite reasons for thrifting are in the comments below!

Until next time,

MelissaRose

Tips for Using Reusable Bags

The plastic bag ban took place in California in 2014. California was the first state to pass legislature prohibiting stores from offering single use plastic bags. This was a huge step because other states have started to follow suit either by presenting their own versions of this legislation or by trying to get similar laws passed by their local governments. Actually, as of today, New York has become the second U.S. state to implement the same plastic bag ban. There are several other states still trying to get similar bills passed. It’s a big step towards becoming more environmentally friendly, but there are other points that should be considered when making the switch to reusable bags.

Plastic Bags for Purchase

There are still plastic bags available for purchase at most stores in California. These thicker plastic bags are more sturdy than their previous counterparts, however they are still made of plastic. For those of us that forgot our bags every time we went to the store in the beginning (we tried, we really did!), we ended up purchasing the newer thicker plastic bags offered by grocery stores at $.10 a pop. This is not to say that the thinner plastic bags are better, but the thicker plastic bags seem to be even worse because of the material. In order to make the newer, thicker plastic bags worth the switch, you must reuse them. I’ve seen statistics online that say you must use them at least 4 times to make the switch worth it, but I know for a fact that these guys will last for several more trips. Be sure to use these plastic bags as many times as possible to make sure they aren’t being disposed of as quickly as the thinner plastic bags. The thicker material makes them less susceptible to holes and also makes it easy to wipe them out if they get a little dirty. It’s not necessary to throw these out right away to opt for canvas or fabric bags. Create less waste in the beginning by using up what you currently have before giving them up entirely.

Plastic Produce Bags

While the plastic bag ban is great, for whatever reason the plastic produce bags are not banned. It’s easy to pile up in the produce department, using separate plastic bags for each variety of fruit and vegetable you’re purchasing. I’ve tried not using them in grocery stores and sometimes get irritated looks from the cashier when they realize all of my produce is floating around inside of my reusable bags. My tip for this, again, is to reuse the bags you already have before buying reusable produce bags. Bring them with you in your grocery tote and use them instead of pulling new ones in the produce department. Once they are no longer usable, you can purchase the netted, mesh or other fabric reusable produce bags (or make your own!). Want to make the switch right away? You can still reuse the produce bags you already have. They work great as dog poop bags, bathroom trash bags (or any other smaller trash cans), and I’ve even used them during travel to hold body wash or other liquids that may leak into my suitcase.

Reusable Tote Bags

The tote bag is a great swap for plastic bags. They can be used time and time again and can even sometimes become a cute accessory for those mundane grocery trips. Unfortunately, like every other fabric item, these things also take resources to make and to eventually dispose of. Again, make sure you are reusing your bags (plastic, canvas, fabric or otherwise) as many times as possible. This eliminates unnecessary waste and ensures that you’re not buying bags just because. Try not to overbuy these reusable bags simply for a cute pattern or because you get bored of your old ones. It can be easy to overload your pantry with reusable bags, but it’s really not doing any more good than the plastic bags if resources are being wasted to create and dispose of what’s taking their place. Try to use your existing bags as many times as possible before throwing them out or purchasing new ones to replace them.

It’s also important to remember to wash your reusable bags to keep you and your food safe from bacteria. This will also help with unsightly marks and stains that may deter your from using the bags as many times as possible. If you’re using the thicker plastic bags you can wipe them out with cleaner and if you’re using fabric or canvas you can throw them in the wash (hang dry them for an additional electricity savings). Also try to separate your tote bags by function. Save a few bags for groceries, a few for outings or other shopping trips and a couple for things that aren’t food related. Overall, you want to keep the bags separate to avoid any cross contamination. You wouldn’t want to keep a pair of dirty shoes in a bag you might later put tomatoes in.

Lastly, if you have to get new totes, try to buy bags that are made from recyclable or biodegradable materials. Several companies now offer totes made from eco-friendly materials such as recycled canvas or biodegradable hemp. You can often find tote bags at the thrift store as well. Overall, you want to be as environmentally conscious when purchasing the bags as you are when using them. Another useful sustainable tip is to upcycle old items such as t-shirts, pillow cases, old fabric, etc. into your new grocery bags. This method cuts down on waste but also saves money on buying new bags. I will try to do a separate post later this season on a few different projects you can easily do at home to make your own tote bags.

Overall the plastic bag ban is a great move for the planet. Reducing our plastic waste makes environmental sense as long as we’re doing it the right way. Always remember to use up what you own before hastily switching to something new. This can be the first and most important step in reducing waste in your own home.

Do your local stores still offer plastic bags? And if they do, do you use them or do you bring your own reusable bags? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

MelissaRose

Easy No-Sew Upcycles

Upcycling is a great way to take items you find at the thrift store and turn them into something new. This has become a popular topic on Youtube and the in the blog world as people recreate and recycle items all over the world. Items range from clothing, home decor, and furniture, but sometimes you just want something quick and easy to turn the drab old item into something new and fabulous. I’m all for spending time to recreate your new favorite piece, but sometimes I’m all about instant gratification. Give me a pair of scissors and 10 minutes and let me get to creating!

These two upcycles are very, very basic. Like, so basic that literally all you need is a sharp pair of scissors and 10 minutes (or less if you start getting good at this). They do not require a sewing machine or any other fancy equipment. You can also use these upcycle tips on all sorts of items including jeans, t-shirts, blouses, linen or cotton pants, and anything else you’re feeling brave enough to chop up. There are probably a thousand other tutorials you could read or watch to help you accomplish the same thing, but this is how I accomplish my end product so I hope you find it helpful.

The first DIY we’ll dive into is a pair of cropped jeans. These are super popular right now and range from skinnies, to wide legs, to boot cut, to bell. Luckily, the frayed hem look is also super trendy right now. You can have a slightly frayed hem, fray that hangs for inches or something inbetween. This makes it so that you don’t have to hem your jeans or pants after trimming them, and makes for a super fun and easy on-trend upcycle.

To begin, grab a pair of jeans. These can be an old pair you’re no longer loving or a pair that you grabbed from the thrift store that may need some extra love. The pair I’m using today are an amazing button-fly pair of vintage GAP jeans I found at the thrift store. The only thing I’m not in love with about them is the boot cut leg. I’m going to chop off the ends of the legs to turn them into a cool pair of cropped jeans with a slight flare at the end along with a raw frayed hem. Also grab a pair of sharp scissors. It’s important when you’re working with fabric, especially denim, to have sharp scissors. This ensures that you get clean straight cuts that will look intentional in the end. You can find good fabric scissors for relatively cheap on Amazon or at your local craft store. If you’re able to, I’d suggest buying some that are mid-range in price so that they last through many DIYs.

Once you have chosen your jeans, try them on and fold them up to where you’d like them to be cropped. Use photos of styles you like as a reference and a full-length mirror so that you’re able to get to a length that you’ll actually enjoy wearing. I looked up cropped jean images on Pinterest to give me a better idea of what the trend looks like and where to fold my jeans relative to my height. Once you have them folded, carefully remove the jeans without unfolding the legs. At this point, you really only need one leg to stay folded for measuring, but make sure you fold both when you have them on so you can imagine the finished look.

After removing the pants with one leg folded, use your scissors to snip a small marking at your fold line. This will act as a guide so that you can unfold the pant leg and still know where you want to cut your jeans. Unfold your pant leg and get ready to chop!

With the leg of the jeans lying flat, cut slowly and steadily in a straight line. If necessary, of if your pant legs are super wide, you can refold the leg and add another snip mark on the other side of the leg to act as a guide for a straight cut. If you’re comfortable with just going for it, simply cut straight across. A good rule to have with this is to always cut less than you originally intend. This way, if you mess up or cut a less than desirable line, you always have more to go back and cut off.

You’ve done it now! One leg is complete (well, mostly). Neatly fold the jeans in half so the longer leg is underneath the shorter leg. This will act as another guide to make sure you cut both legs the same length. Trim along the edge of the shorter leg, and voila! You have successfully cut off both ends in a symmetrical fashion. You could also use the first end piece you cut off as a guide. Lay the cut off piece on the un-cut leg and hold down as you cut off the longer leg. This will create the same symmetrical cut and ensure that your pant legs are both the same length.

All that’s left to do now is throw these babies in the wash. The more you wash them the more they will fray. You could also do this process by hand if you were short on time. Simply pull on the threads at the end of the leg over and over and over. You could also use tweezers to pull fibers from the end to get them really distressed, but I do suggest washing them at some point to get a naturally frayed look.

Onto DIY number two! This DIY is super versatile as well and there are SO MANY cutting options you can experiment with. For this particular t-shirt upcycle, I’m going to cut a v-hole (is that a thing?) in the neck to give my basic white t-shirt a more edgy look without sewing, dying or doing anything too terribly difficult or time consuming.

To begin, grab your t-shirt and your trusty fabric scissors. Again, sharp scissors are crucial with t-shirt fabric as well to get clean intentional looking cuts without any weird spikes of fabric jutting out.

Using a tape measure, measure out where the center of your neckline is. If you don’t have a tape measure, you could also either eye-ball it while laying the shirt out flat, or try the shirt on to determine where you want the center to be. I used a tape measure and pinched the material at the center of the tape, on this t-shirt, it was approximately at the 7 inch mark.

Using the center as a guide, fold the shirt in half down the front of the neckline, making sure the fabric on both sides of the fold is laying flat. Also make sure the ribbed neckline at the top is lined up so that your cut is even on both sides. Once you’re ready, cut along the messy dotted lined (stupid phone markup), or cut at whatever width and length you’d like your opening to be. You can follow the same rule as with the jeans, if you cut less now, you can always adjust later if you want the opening to be larger.

Using long smooth cuts, cut a triangle section from your shirt. After you’ve completed the cut, you can go back in with your scissors to cut away any weird or uneven lines, or to trim more away from the ribbed neckline if necessary. When you’re finished adjusting your cuts, stretch the opening slightly to smooth out your cut lines. Washing the tee will also soften the edges and make the shirt look like it was made that way from the store.

And there you have it! From plain, boring white tee, to edgy and trendy top. You could adjust your cuts in so many ways with this as well. Make the opening larger, cut slits in the shape of a triangle, make a larger cut in the back for an open back look – the options are endless!

I hope you’ve enjoyed these super easy no-sew upcycles. I know that there are thousands of tutorials like this out there, but I really wanted to give you guys something visual that didn’t require a video or a bunch of additional steps or materials. Let me know if you try out these upcycles or if you have any other favorite methods that I should try!

Until next time!

MelissaRose

Hardening Off Seedlings

This year, I decided to start my vegetable garden from seeds. I wanted to save some money versus buying plants from the store, but I also wanted the experience of growing my own food from start to finish. There were a couple of steps I didn’t know about until doing further research – how to harden off my seedlings was one of those steps. Hardening off seedlings is basically preparing your seedlings for life outside. It makes perfect sense when you think about it. They have been growing and living in a stable and controlled environment inside where there is no real exposure to the elements. Hardening them off gives them a transition period to get acclimated to some of the new things they’ll experience without just throwing them out to fend for themselves. In this post, I’ll explain how I’ve been doing this with my own seedlings and also provide some further in depth information you can check out on your own from people who are far more experienced than I am.

The first and probably most important thing to consider when getting ready to harden off your seedlings is the weather outside. You don’t want the conditions to be so extreme that the seedlings become shocked or die because they’ve been exposed too quickly. For my first day of this process, I waited for a day that was slightly cloudy, not too windy, and definitely not raining. I placed the seedlings under my covered patio, away from direct sunlight, and let them sit outside for about an hour. Afterwards, I brought them back inside, and made sure nobody got too tousled by the wind. We did have some light winds that day, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You want your seedlings to grow strong roots to be able to withstand wind since they will likely be exposed to it outside at some point. The early exposure to the light wind helps trigger their roots to grow nice and strong so they can keep themselves upright even with a breeze. Luckily, everything went smoothly the first day.

The second day, the weather was about the same as before. This time, I placed them outside in the same spot, but left them out for two hours instead of just one. You want to gradually increase the exposure. On the third day, I placed them outside in the same spot for several hours. The several hours was a bit more by accident on my part than intentionally, but no seedlings were damaged. I sighed a breath of relief and was proud of the little seedlings for seeming to transition so quickly. If you’re looking for a more structured set of instructions, check out the Homestead and Chill blog post about hardening off seedlings. She gives great day by day instructions. I am more winging it and learning by my own experience, but did use this blog as somewhat of a guide. So far, my less than perfect process has worked for me, but I live in a fairly forgiving climate in California. If you live in a more extreme weather zone I’d definitely recommend checking out their post.

Yesterday was my fourth day of hardening off my seedlings. I left them out almost all day. The first half of the day they were under my covered patio, but then we had some people over and needed the table, so they went out into the direct sun. I was a little nervous about this at first with it being the warmest part of the day but the seedlings did great! I was outside all day as well (it was like 72 degrees outside!) so I was able to keep an eye on them and make sure they didn’t start drooping, burning or doing anything that looked bad. I’m happy to say that they did great, and I think with a few more days of transition, they’ll be ready to be planted outside! I can’t wait!

Once the seedlings are ready to be planted outside I’m also going to install my new soaker hose irrigation system. I will be sure to document it so that I can create a post here. I’m excited to have a system set up as I’ve always watered my plants myself and it wasn’t always the best outcome. I think having an irrigation system will help me save time, money and hopefully keep my plants more luscious and alive longer too! Are you working on a garden this year? Are you to the point of hardening off seedlings yet or just getting ready to seed?

Until next time!

MelissaRose