Postpartum Struggles

The first time I met my OBGYN was 2016 when I got engaged to my husband. I started transferring my care to my new hometown. Having a baby was far from my mind. We weren’t going to be married until a year and a half later and even then I wanted to wait until after our honeymoon so that it wasn’t overshadowed by potential morning sickness (a good thought because I had morning sickness for 20+ weeks during my pregnancy). However, it was decided at that first meeting that a c-section would likely be the safest, best bet for any future children. I didn’t think twice about it and it helped me to accept this fact throughout my pregnancy.

Flash forward to October 24, 2019, the morning of my c-section. Of course, I did not sleep but two hours due to nerves, both good and bad. I was incredibly excited to meet my baby, to hear her voice, to see what she looks like. And I was scared. I was going to have a needled plunged into my back and would be cut open. That wasn’t my greatest concern, I was far more concerned that my little girl was all safe, snug, and warm and she would suddenly be plucked from that environment and surrounded by light, varying temperature, and feelings. My heart ached to meet her, but it also ached for her and her experience.

Her birth story and my c-section experience are another story completely. Today, I am focused on my own postpartum journey because I am on the precipice of making a huge change in my diet for my own health. The 8 months that have composed my postpartum journey have been filled with infections, fevers, body aches, lack of sleep, deep connection, love, immeasurable love, and so much learning for both me and my daughter. I cannot tell you if my postpartum experience would be different if I hadn’t had a c-section, gave up breastfeeding, or decided to work full-time. But what I can tell you is that I have felt such deep loneliness as my muscles ached, the inexplicable unwell feelings washed over me in waves, and as my temperature rose and fell like the tides.

I remain grateful that, at least for this postpartum period, not experienced postpartum depression. This is a small miracle for me. I have a long history of anxiety, specifically OCD. My postpartum body and loneliness mixed with that history has, for some reason, not melded to form PPD. I did experience a resurgence of my OCD (again, another blog to share), but for the most part my struggles have been physical. Going into a c-section I figured I would be sore from my incision. I had heard that breastfeeding would be a challenge, and that I would be tired. However, I never anticipated I would feel like my body was betraying itself for months on end. Every few days I will feel okay, but then a few days later I am achey, I may or may not run a low-grade temperature, and I feel like I’m stuck in the thickest, muckiest sand you’ve ever been in.

This story is a long one, so I will be breaking this up into multiple posts. This post is simply my hands in the air, I’m waving my white flag. I’m being honest with myself that I am at a point where I need to admit aloud that I am struggling. Postpartum has been incredibly difficult for me physically. I want to enjoy my baby, my time at home, and my new role as a mom. My intentions are clear. I’m here to tell my story. I’m here to try something new.

Red

Investing in Yourself

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Self care has been a buzz word for a few years now. In fact, like anything popular, it has been morphed and taken out of context to the point of being something it is not. Women hate the word now because it has become synonymous with face masks, manicures, and fancy coffees. By internet standards, self care appears to be something that has to be done outside of the home and away from work. This makes it inaccessible to many of us today. Who has the luxury of taking a bath when we barely have the 15 minutes (or less!) it takes to properly shower? Who can spare the $30 for weekly manicures when we have a difficult time paying our student loan bills or putting food on the table?

Beyond the physical and financial restrictions this form of self care places upon us, this self care really is superficial in most cases. Sure a manicure makes us feel more put together, baths help us relax, and a face mask feels nice, but the longterm benefits don’t last. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things either. I love them all. But with the restrictions above it leaves women feeling like self care is yet another thing that they do not have time for or can’t afford.

However, this could not be further from the truth. Investing in yourself does not have to cost money. It will cost you something though. It will cost you your old mindsets, a few extra minutes scrolling on Instagram, and probably a bit of your comfort zone. True self care is going to your annual exams when you’re afraid, putting down your phone when one more refresh of your feed is tempting you, or cooking all your meals on Sunday so you don’t have to worry about them each evening. Self care and investing in yourself mean doing the things that will serve you best in the long run. They’re routines that help make life just a little bit easier. 

For me, it looks like setting a timer for 10 minutes during my daughter’s nap and just picking up the living room, brushing my teeth each night for 2 minutes and taking off my makeup when I am just so tired, and folding the laundry right away instead of letting it sit in the basket, taunting me for a week. Sure, sometimes it looks like sitting back and watching an episode of something before doing something that will make my day easier, but often that is what we call self comfort. Self comfort is another topic for another day, but basically self comfort is anything we are doing to soothe ourselves in the short term. It’s something we do once in a while, but when we do it often self comfort can easily turn into a bad habit.

None of the things I mentioned above cost extra money. I don’t need to go out and buy cute, matching bins to tidy up and create a more harmonious place for myself. I don’t need to have special ingredients for meal prepping. I don’t need anything special to invest in and take care of myself every day. What shifts in your day care you make to truly take care of YOU today? What can you prioritize over everything else to ensure that YOU feel good, not your partner, pet, coworkers, or child? It’s so cheesy, but it is so true. Prioritizing yourself will ultimately spill over and benefit those you love in your life. Invest in yourself, it’s the cheapest most valuable return you will get today.

How to Fit into the Jeans

Do you want to fit in your clothes? Do you want to find clothes that are in your size? I’ll tell you how below!

Buy clothes that fit and shop at stores that are size inclusive. It’s that simple 🤗Don’t keep clothes that no longer fit. Don’t buy “motivational” clothing sizes. Don’t buy from brands like Lululemon who continually leave out sizes of the average size woman in the United States. That’s a size 16-18.

So many women spend too much time hating their bodies everyday, especially while staring in a closet of clothes that no longer fit. I’m all about knocking down self-imposed prisons. This is one of them. The size of your clothing has absolutely nothing to do with your worth or who you are as a person. Have you ever gone to a memorial for someone and heard their loved ones talk about what they looked like? Your legacy will not be defined by the size on a tag. Sizing for women’s clothing is a whole other topic (I’ve been one size in one brand and two or three sizes bigger in another’s). No, your legacy will be in your character, how you treated people, how you talked to those who weren’t so nice to you, how you loved and what you did, not how the dress fit in the dressing room.


So go out and shop at stores that care about representing all sizes. Get rid of the stuff that doesn’t fit. And buy clothes that fit your body right now.

Supporting the Modern Mom

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“Don’t pump within the first 4 weeks, it will affect your supply!”. The bags under my eyes from the first weeks with a newborn felt as heavy as my heart and my brain did as I took in the words off the screen. It’s a line I’ve seen over and over again in a group for breastfeeding. Along with things like never allowing a single drop of formula to run across your baby’s lips, “exhaustion is just part of motherhood!,” co-sleeping is the only way you’ll ever get any sleep anymore, and allow for constant contact with your infant otherwise you’re damaging your bond with your baby.

The ironic thing is that the damage is being done to mothers with this “advice”. But advice it is not, they’re rules. A set of loudly spoken, sometimes unspoken, rules lay before a mother before she even conceives: supplements to take, toxins to remove, schedules for TTC, how she brings her baby into this world (adoption, c-section, natural birth, surrogacy). Before the cells have even begun to divide, a woman can already feel inept at being a mom. It’s as-if we are entered into a contest and left to duke it out for the title of “Good Mom.” One slight deviation will have us tumbling off Good Mother Mountain never to return.

Sounds dramatic doesn’t it? But it’s a reality within the mommy sphere. Seemingly perfect mamas are dispensing “truths” and debunking “misinformation” mostly about breastfeeding, sleep training, solids, and generally how to do it all so that your kid (read: you) is perfect or at least has a fighting chance.

It took me no more than a few weeks to figure out how messages that have an air of “you have to do it this way” are extremely damaging to new and seasoned mothers alike. My personal revelation came when I asked a group about how I could fall back asleep after my daughter woke up and ate during the night. An admin from the group told me, “Exhaustion is just part of motherhood!” Another said the only way to get enough sleep was to co-sleep and allow for all night long nursing stints. At this point, I was averaging 9 hours of sleep total within the first two months after my daughter was born, so exhaustion was not part of the plan and I don’t think it (or, on the contrary, having a great sleeper) needs to be a validation of your motherhood. I did get some great ideas on how to fall back asleep, so I don’t entirely regret asking the community. However, the lasting impression that was left on me was this… moms are holding one another in a self-imposed prison.

I don’t bring up the fact that my daughter was a great sleeper (the fourth month sleep regression is in full swing here) to brag. I have no control over her temperament and that’s my point. So much of motherhood is not within our control so why are we acting like it is? We are truly all just slinging mud at the walls and seeing what sticks. All we should be asked to do is what we can each day, not even to the best of our ability because that is just another way to keep us in said self-imposed prison. What I am mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially capable of doing is not what another mama is capable of and vice versa. I’m not an energetic or patient person, ask anyone close to me, but I know there is a mom out there killing it. She has a sparkling house and her daughter’s clothes and toys are put away each day. She is patient with the erratic nap schedule. I’m more of a “put it in a basket and get to it when I can” and “huff and puff under my breath when nap is not going well” type of person. And THAT IS FINE. Whatever your version of motherhood looks like is also perfectly fine. You are the perfect mother for your baby no matter if you appear perfect to others or even to yourself most days.

Where do we go from here? How do we support and help one another?

When a mama is looking for guidance, she’s often just looking for validation that what she is doing is right (trick question, there’s no “right” when it comes to motherhood) or she is looking for one or two small manageable steps to take to see some improvement. For example, I’m looking for ideas on how to go back to sleep after my daughter wakes up, eats, and is back in the bassinet. I have a great schedule going with her, she is sleeping independently in a separate sleep space, and getting a solid night’s sleep. The next step for me should not be to throw out my systems, pull my baby into bed with me, and change everything I have been doing just because it works for someone else or because they say it is what is best. And that’s just it, what works for one family then starts to become a hard and fast rule. The problem with hard and fast rules is that they undermine a mother’s own maternal instincts. Undermining women with set rules on motherhood is particularly ironic because movements such as “breast is best” are trying to get us back to a time where things just came naturally to a woman as a mother. Many people are upset with the lack of support for breastfeeding, in general, in the workplace, in public, or how long they choose to breastfeed. But some of those same mamas looking for validation of their choice to breastfeed in their own very personal ways have been forced to prove their way is best. In turn, these same moms are not willing to support the choices of other moms who are choosing something different for their child. Instead their advice is just an opportunity to tell you their opinion.

Just a few years ago I made the same mistakes with my friends, family, and coworkers. I was mistaking advice for support. Support should be listening to a mom first and then helping her reach her own goals within her own value system. Or sometimes support is just the first part, listening, no opinions shared just affirmations and a friendly face welcoming their friend to share some of their most vulnerable thoughts. Dogmatic rules and shaming of mothers makes everyone, including those who are doing the telling, miserable and unhappy. If one of the goals of motherhood is to raise happy, independent, and contributing adults then moms need to keep that in mind when trying to help a mom (whether online or in real life). Because happy, confident moms can go on to raise happy, confident adults.

I am not one to slap kindness on any and everything. However, with moms I believe kindness is truly what we are looking for when we share our hearts. We already question everything we are doing. We don’t need another mom questioning us too. Be kind, rewind those thoughts before you share them.

 

Stay Organized with Google Keep & Canva

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Gmail is an incredibly popular email service and there is good reason why. Google hosts a myriad of tools all connected to your one account which make synchronizing effective and easy. If you have a Gmail account you most likely have used some of these tools:

  • Google Hangouts
  • Google Drive (which includes Slides, Sheets, Docs)
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Tasks

One overlooked tool is Google Keep. Google Keep is a hidden gem within the Google Suite of tools. It is comparable to Trello or Evernote, though different in its own right. Think of it as a digital notebook. It allows you to create small documents where you can copy and paste links, jot notes, put photos for reference, record voice memos, drawings, and anything you would put in a notebook. The best part is that you can collaborate with anyone you invite to join you.

I have been using Google Keep for a few months. I tried it previously, and to be honest, I just didn’t like it. I started using Google Tasks (an app for… tasks and to dos) during the summer and then decided to give Google Keep a whirl again in the fall. There is something to be said for compatibility across devices and apps. It’s nice that I can easily add a task to Google Tasks and then see it appear on my calendar. I quickly saw the power of Google Keep when I started going to the doctor more frequently postpartum. I could write down my questions I had between appointments and then easily have them ready at my appointment. When I was at my appointment I could then write down the new information I had gotten. With features like labels, I am able to have all of my previous doctors’ appointment notes easily accessible. I even color coded the different doctors I see for more ease of use. After I have the appointment I then archive the note so that my screen is not overrun with notes upon notes.

Still, even with all its usefulness, something about Google Keep just didn’t feel great. I am creative and like to personalize things. So, imagine how awesome I felt when I discovered I could make Google Keep look more my style. Using Canva to create headers for your Google Keep is pretty simple and straightforward, but it can also be confusing. To help I put together a video tutorial that you can find at the beginning of this post.

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Note: I forgot to mention that you should pin your notes so that the main notes stay at the top. You can find the option to pin when you are within one of your notes and click on the pin icon in the top righthand corner.

Winter Products for the Chronically Dry & Dehydrated

Winter. Beyond the changing of the weather when I think of winter I instantly think of the dryness that causes static cling, shocking yourself on the car door, and the inevitable dry skin and split ends to form at the ends of your hair. As a chronically dehydrated & dry person myself, I am constantly looking for ways to keep myself feeling plush, cushy, & moisturized during the colder months. Even now, I look down and I see how dry my hands are already becoming.

I’ve cultivated some of the best products I have found that keep me going during the winter months. With the help of an old friend, I am also bringing you some of the highest quality products in haircare. We will close out of some other miscellaneous things that help keep you hydrated beyond the typical creams.

Lips

Revlon Kiss Exfoliating Balm

Revlon KIss Balm

I was at my wits’ end with my dry lips. Nothing seemed to help. I had ALL the lip balms, salves, scrubs, you name it, I bought it and tried it. So, I did what any twenty- or thirty-something woman would do, I crowdsourced on my favorite social media platform. I got many suggestions, but this one stuck out because a) it was easily found both online and locally and b) it was CHEAP. Due to my history with lip balms, salves, etc. etc. I was skeptical so, the accessibility and price were key to my choice. In fact, I don’t remember what the other suggestions were! This came and instantly, I saw the magic. It’s both gentle & tough enough to get rid of the dead skin while leaving my lips feeling moisturized. This exfoliator is a combination of sugar scrub & chapstick. It’s also plenty thick without leaving you feeling like you have hunks of oil sitting on your lips. It’s now a staple in my purse so that I can have it with me at all times. AT ALL TIMES!

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask

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The Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask is something I have found to be very helpful when used consecutively. Don’t expect much if you use it one night and not the next. The consistency is like Aquaphor and it comes with a cute, little applicator which is helpful for before bed application. There’s a slightly sweet taste to the lip mask that I appreciate. It’s not too sweet & on the other hand it doesn’t taste medicinal.

Skin/Nails

Aquaphor Advanced Healing (No Touch) Healing Ointment

Aquaphor Advanced Therapy No Touch Healing Ointment, 3 OZ

Yes, yes. We have all heard of Aquaphor and for a good reason. This is a tried and true product. It’s used from babies to preteens, to adults and beyond. It has multiple uses. If I have irritated skin during the summer (yes, chaffing happens to the best of us), I slather that on. A rough patch of skin? Slap this stuff on. Cuticles looking a little dry between manicures? I see results within a few hours. It’s a miracle salve. Aquaphor is your friend! However, the reason I am adding this to the list is not for the formula itself, but the packaging. This specific packaging is “no touch.” You can kind of see it in the picture above, but it has a foam applicator so you can buy this version and slather it on your heels before putting some socks. You can lather it on to dry elbows or dry patches of skin all without having to “messy” up your hands.

Ancient Greek Remedy Oil

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A combination of olive, almond, grapeseed, and lavender oils this moisturizing oil can be used on any part of your body. The reviews give claim that it helps lighten dark spots, help the driest of areas, and heal the scalp with ease. I personally use it on my face. I never thought to use it on my cuticles, but that is probably my next step because my poor cuticles can use all the help they can get! This oil smells exactly like lavender essential oils so it can be used at bedtime to soothe you, your partner, or your children. It’s extremely gentle and when I wake up in the morning my face looks fuller and brighter!

Soap & Glory Smoothie Star Body Butter

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I received this as a Christmas gift from a parent at school. I immediately loved it for its incredible smell. The label says that the scent is a combination of pistachio and almond. Beyond the smell, this body buttercream is incredibly thick and moisturizing. I love the packaging because it is easy to dip your hand in and take out just the right amount you need. I have used this all over my body, but it is particularly great for slathering on your feet & pulling a pair of socks on for intense moisture. Cracked heels… goodbye!

Hair

I went straight a source of knowledge on all things hair to bring you some of the best things you can do for your hair this winter. Lindsay (@linds.lo1) consulted with me on this one. She is a colorist passionate about beautiful hair and color. I, admittedly, have so much to learn when it comes to hair care.

First, Lindsay explains that we need to know our hair type (thick, thin, curly, etc.) before diving into these products. She told me it’s best to start with your hairstylist because they will know your hair best, especially if you have chemically treated hair. You also have to be willing to experiment with the amount of product you use in your hair. If your hair appears greasy after an application of bonding oil or a hair washing session, you may need to adjust the amount of, how you apply or the frequency you use a product. Do not give up on these products, they’re truly the best and very high quality they just require some car. Between scalp and growth issues, split ends, and the endless streams of products hair can be incredibly frustrating.

“Start with the foundation,” Lindsay says, “shampoo and conditioner.”

Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenence Shampoo and No. 5 Bond Conditioner

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Lindsay describes this as a wildly hydrating shampoo and the conditioner is heavy so keep that in mind if you have fine hair. Again, be willing to experiment. However, with it being such a hydrating shampoo, it is surely perfect for fall and winter when the air is dry. Lindsay says with her fine hair that she gets two wears out of one wash of these. Aka do not lather, rinse, repeat & certainly not every day.

Kevin Murphy Maxi.Wash Detox

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Because these shampoos can be extremely heavy and cause build up within the hair follicle and the scalp, Lindsay recommends a detox wash before shampooing. She also says to emulsify this detox wash before applying to damp hair. Clean scalp, clean slate.

Kevin Murphy Smooth.Again

Smooth.Again fights frizz and helps style your hair. This product should be treated as a treatment for your hair. Again, playing around with it is key. Lindsay describes it as “smooth and buttery” (sounds delightful!) and geared toward coarse or textured hair.

Kevin Murphy Hydrate-Me.Masque

Another treatment from Kevin Murphy that Lindsay recommends is this hydrating mask. This mask is one that all hair types can appreciate. However, if it feels too heavy, Lindsay recommends using Kevin Murphy’s Angel.Wash.

Olaplex Bonding Oil

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If you choose one product off of this hair care list, this would be it. It not only conditions and fights frizz, but protects hair up to 450 degrees from use of your tools. Lindsay recommends using this in combination with Olaplex No. 6 Bond Styling Cream. Remember, these are heavy &, therefore, require you to play around with them to find what works for you!

Miscellaneous

32 Oz Wide Mouth Hydro Flask

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As much as I hate drinking water, my Hydro Flask makes it slightly easier to get some of my water in for the day. I know they’re popular with your favorite VSCO Girl, but I will say they live up to the hype. We have several different sizes that we have had for a few years now. B uses them for his homebrews and I primarily use them for water. Needless to say, we need to drink water to stay hydrated and keep our skin, hair, and nails looking their best. Why not drink it out of something cute & colorful?

A Cool Mist Humidifier

TaoTronics 26dB Quiet Humidifiers for Bedroom, 4L Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier, 12-50 Hours, Easy to Clean, Nano-Coating, 360° Nozzle, Auto Shut-Off [Upgraded](White)

Choose which brand you will, but a humidifier is absolutely necessary for winter. Some houses have them built in, but even with a built in humidifier, I highly recommend adding one to your bedroom. The second we turn on our heat consistently, I have our humidifier going. Not only will it help your skin, nails, and hair, but your nasal passages will thank you as well. One word of advice, these need to be cleaned very regularly… like check every few days or so. I also recommend running a mixture of vinegar & water through a whole cycle before adding your normal water. Why? The vinegar seriously cuts down on the amount of mold that ultimately (yes, it happens to every machine) will build up in your humidifier. This is why it is necessary to clean your humidifier every week.

Your Favorite Tea

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Getting water in is a challenge for most of us, and honestly, the claims about how much fluid we need each day have been drastically overestimated. I am a fan of following your own body cues:

  • Am I thirsty?
  • Have I gone to the bathroom enough today?
  • Checking in on the color of your urine
  • How dry your lips and skin feel/look

If you are trying to get more fluid in, I have great news for you… your cup of coffee and your multiple cups of tea absolutely count toward those goals. So this winter, stock up on your favorite tea & chug! My personal favorite is the Pumpkin Rooibos Tea from Trader Joe’s. Drinking something you actually like will not only help you hydrate but will make the process more fun.

High-Quality Fish Oil

We can add all the creams, salves, and products to the outside of our bodies, but realistically we need to be consuming foods and drinks that support the inside. While getting your oils is best from your food sources, sometimes we need to supplement. First, try consuming more fatty fish like salmon a few times a week. If you’re just not into fish or aren’t consuming enough fish, a high-quality fish oil supplement will help! Not only will your skin, hair & nails be benefitting from this supplement, but your brain will also too. Fish oil touts benefits for your skin, heart, brain, and joints.

I hope you found some incredible new products to try this winter. Let me know in the comments below which products you already love, which product should be on this list, and if you are going to try any of these!

Hugs & high fives,

Red

Madewell Small Transport Tote DUPE

I love Madewell. I own several bags from them, including the iconic Transport Tote (in both the original leather & the canvas version) & the Medium Transport Tote (in canvas). When the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale came around, I was excited to see a small version of the Transport Tote with a beautiful stripe of suede down the middle. I quickly ordered it & picked it up in store (who can wait for shipping?). It honestly was gorgeous, the leather felt smooth, the suede was perfect, and I loved the size. <Insert a shocked face here> Yes, I, Anna, lover of the biggest bags known to man, found a smaller bag to be the perfect size. However, I quickly learned that the suede stripe, though gorgeous, was going to be impossible to shield from the Chicago rain, sleet, & snow. One quick rain storm & the suede was out of commission. I do not need a high maintenance bag at this stage of my life & that’s just what that tote was… temperamental & high maintenance. Thanks to Nordstrom being the gems that they are, they took my return of the bag & I took my money back. I was sad to see this piece leave my collection but happy to not have to worry about a bag getting ruined by the weather.

I won’t say I never thought about the bag that wasn’t meant to be, but I wasn’t actively seeking a replacement. One day I managed to wander into the accessories section of Target and sitting on the end cap was the Rowan tote. I immediately thought of the Madewell bag and when I saw the price, it sealed the deal.

Madewell Small Transport Tote

Madewell Small Transport Tote

Image Credit: Nordstrom https://bit.ly/2kPWqwX

Specs: $148

  • 10″W x 9 ½”H x 3″D. (Interior capacity: small.)
  • 3 ½” strap drop; 20″ – 23 ½” convertible strap drop.

Universal Thread Rowan

Universal Thread Rowan Tote

Image Credit: Target https://bit.ly/2lS69TA

Specs: $24.99

  • 11 inches (H) x 10 inches (W) x 4 inches (D)
  • Maximum Crossbody Strap Drop: 52 inches

The Rowan tote is slightly taller and deeper than the Madewell tote, which I love because I’m a big bag type of gal and it truly meets all my handbag needs. However, the tote is small enough for those who don’t love carrying around a big bag. The bag is made mostly of PVC and comes in a variety of colors. The camel color I chose is so much more vibrant in person than in the stock image. I even added a fun tassel from Amazon to make it look more festive. The material does not feel like leather or even imitation leather so don’t expect that. BUT don’t think this bag feels cheap, especially for the price. The inside is well-constructed with an inside zippered pocket and two small pouch pockets.

What fits inside?

Lots and lots of things fit in this seemingly small package. I don’t do small bags (usually) and I don’t do small wallets and in this bag, I have two HUGE wallets. Currently in my Rowan tote:

  • Sunglasses case
  • Glasses case
  • Glasses cleaner in case (it’s seriously amazing)
  • Two reusable grocery bags (keeping them in my purse is the only way I will remember & use them)
  • Keys
  • Earplugs (misophonia is real, y’all)
  • My All About the Benjamins Wallet from Thirty One
  • My Olivia wallet from Project Free 2 Fly (filled with all the things)

Overall

I’m super impressed with this bag. I haven’t wanted to change bags since getting the purse last week, which is huge for me. I rotate bags every other day sometimes. If you’re looking for a cute tote to get you through the fall and beyond, can’t stomach the price of a Madewell bag, or want a low maintenance bag, add the Rowan tote to your collection!

Do you have a favorite bag? Let me know all about it in the comment section!

Red’s Round Up

What I’m Listening To:

Typology Podcast- Season 3 Episode 6 Knox and Jamie on Pop Culture

  • The Enneagram PLUS Knox and Jamie from The Popcast? Say no more. Their lighthearted conversation with Ian Morgan Cron is just the little bit of fun you need on the drive to work, while running errands, or doing laundry.

Taylor Swift- Lover

  • As I’ve stated before, I’m not a part of Taylor Nation. I was even peeved at the build up to this album (it was far drawn out). However, I’ve really enjoyed listening to Lover. Each repeat listen (and there have been many) allows me to enjoy each song more. If I’m getting in my car and driving somewhere, you can bet I am driving along to this album.

ANYTHING Lizzo

  • Who is late to the Lizzo party? 🙋🏼‍♀️ I will fully admit to it. However, I’m now in full blow Lizzo mode and I don’t care who knows it. I throw on a Lizzo song if I need to clean or get something done.

What I’m Eating & Drinking

Instant Pot Creamy Taco Pasta

  • Quick, easy, delicious and SIMPLE. This pasta dish blends Italian and Mexican. I cannot overstate how simple this recipe was. If you don’t want to deal with all the spices, use a packet of store bought taco seasoning.

Trader Joe’s Southwest Chicken Quesadilla

  • I picked these up on a whim while at Trader Joe’s for some smoothie ingredients. They have great flavor and are Tex Mex inspired. I had one for lunch with sour cream and felt it was plenty filling. The only downside is that only two come in the package. That’s a lot of packaging for two quesadillas.

Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend Herbal Tea

  • On my Instagram stories this week I was talking about tea, which I haven’t had in a while. While at Trader Joe’s picking up my smoothie essentials and the quesadillas, I also found this harvest blend to try. With chamomile as the base and notes of apple, chicory root, and cinnamon it’s the worded fall tea.

Leftover Birthday Cookie Cake 🤤

  • For my birthday, my friend Katie got me the cookie cake I had been desperately craving for a few weeks after seeing multiple people post about them on Instagram.

What I’m Reading

Lip Colors for Your Work Week

  • Are you afraid of lipstick or looking to spice up your work look? This post is for you!

The Complete Enneagram by Beatrice Chestnut

  • I’ve had an interest in the Enneagram for some time now. The subtypes have continued to confuse and intrigue me. The Complete Enneagram by Beatrice Chestnut is the authority on the subject of subtypes. If you’ve already figured out your Enneagram number (meaning you’ve done more than taken the test!) or if you’re still confused, this book dives deep into the types and their subtypes which will give you a better understanding no matter where you are in your Enneagram journey!

What I’m Watching

Kacey Musgraves “Slow Burn” Interview

    I stumbled upon this interview with Spacey Kacey on YouTube. She’s one of my favorite artists and this interview allows her to show her personality and the creativity behind her Grammy winning album Golden Hour.

Bingeing Christopher Allen Vlogs

  • I’ve been following Christopher on Instagram and YouTube for some time now, however, I’m terrible at consistently watching anything. I’ve recently rediscovered Christopher’s vlogs. He and his husband are very sweet together, I love watching them cook for one another and Christopher has such an easy way of making even the more basic aspects of life engaging and fun. Plus, his platform is based all on kindness!

Sneaking in episodes of Tiny House Nation

  • I will admit, we “hate watch” this show. I have a thing against tiny houses, they are so trendy and impractical for most stages of life. I think most people get into tiny house living and ultimately ditch their tiny homes because the reality isn’t as whimsical as they thought it would be. I guess I’m too practical. However, I enjoy the hosts of this show and they really drive home what a commitment is to go “tiny,” which I appreciate. I also enjoy watching how they make aspects of tiny living work (like hiding walls or beds). It’s a fun show to throw on and be just a little enraged by!

Have you tried anything on this list? Is there something you saw you’d like to try? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram @reddaily.co

Workweek Lipsticks

Finding a lipstick you feel comfortable wearing to work can be challenging. I struggled with wearing lipstick in general when I first started out. I felt my lip color overtook the look or that I stood out too much. I came to realize that lip color has the power to make you look polished, put together, and confident. Now, if I do a full face of makeup, I cannot leave the house without a lip color. In a matter of two years, I have managed to become a total lip color convert!

In an effort to get you out of your comfort zone, I am here to help you find lip colors that are professional, beautiful, and of great quality. I have chosen five lipsticks you can add to your workweek rotation with confidence! I have covered all price points and availability. You will find some of these at local beauty stores, online, or at your local superstore.

The Lip Colors

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Flower Beauty Petal Pout in Spiced Petal (Cream)
$6+
Walmart, Ulta, & Flower Beauty Online

Depending on your natural lip color, this might be a great step up from natural for you. When I put this on, I look like myself just a smidge more put together. If you’re shy about wearing a lip color to work, this is one of your safest bets! I cannot say enough good things about Flower Beauty. At this price point, I would expect the lipstick to wear off easily, but it doesn’t. This stuff has staying power. The Petal Pout lip colors come in cream and matte formulas and both are fantastic.

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Flower Beauty Matte Cinnamon Crush (Matte)
$6+
Walmart, Ulta, & Flower Beauty Online

Hello, fall! Another perfect shade & formula from Flower Beauty. Cinnamon Crush is a matte that does NOT feel or act like a matte. It goes on evenly, wears evenly, and leaves your lips feeling moisturized instead of dried out (like many mattes can do). This shade is perfect if you’re feeling a little bold or if you need a boost of confidence as you head into work that day. Big meeting? A pitch? Asking for a raise? Put this beauty on & get what you want!

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Nars Audacious Lipstick in Anna
$34
Sephora, Nordstrom, & Nars Online

I may be biased due to the name, but the shade Anna from Nars Audacious Lipstick line is one of my “go-to” lip colors. It’s described as a “smokey rose” color and I cannot agree more. It’s a shade you can wear year-round without wondering if you’re out of season. It’s the perfect shade if you want to dress up one of your basic black and white outfits or pull in the pinks of your dress, shoes, or cardigan. I would wear this shade if I felt a little “blah” about an outfit or really wanted to drive home how cute I felt that day. The Nars formulas have staying power and are highly pigmented which is why you’re seeing this price point. I can guarantee you, they’re worth every penny. I have had these lipsticks for over a year and a half and I have barely made a dent!

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Nars Audacious Lipstick in Anita
$34
Sephora, Nordstrom, & Nars Online

Unsurprisingly, Anita is very similar to Anna. Sephora describes it as “antique rose” which places it in the same shade category as Anna. However, Anita is the toned-down, older sister of Anna. She’s still beautiful, but she’s not going to be drawing major attention. If you’re looking to tie together a full face of makeup and a cute outfit, Anita is your girl. When I have a full face of makeup, but a toned-down eye look (think a bold eyeliner and some mascara), I will pick Anita to help make the look pop.

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Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Audition
$21
Ulta, Sephora, Nordstrom & Online

A cream that’s a safe bet? Audition by Smashbox is your lip color! Audition is almost a lip gloss in texture and look. It goes on creamy and shiny while wearing evenly. I have dry lips, so I notice and prioritize how well a lipstick applies. Audition reminds me of Spiced Petal by Flower Beauty because it is as neutral as you can get without venturing into the more tan & brown shades. If you’re new to lipstick, start here. If you’re a veteran, add this lip color to your rotation for a neutral that’ll make you shine. I like lip colors over glosses because they have the ability to stay longer. If you’re looking for that shiny, glossy look, but know you need it to stay all day (or at least make it through your morning latte), go with Audition. If you’re wearing a busy or bold outfit, Audition is the perfect neutral to keep all eyes on your outfit, while keeping your look polished.

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Which brand and shade are you interested in trying? What are your favorite lip color shades and brands? Let me know in the comments. I am always looking for new shades.

Shine Bright with Healthier Nail Polish

Nail polishes just smell unhealthy, don’t they? Trust your nose on this one! Traditionally, nail polishes have had some nasty stuff lurking in their gorgeous sheens. From ingredients banned in children’s toys to links of them causing cancer. If they won’t put it in children’s toys, do we really want it on our bodies?

Luckily, the tides of change have begun to reach the shores of beauty products, including nail polishes. Brands like Essie, OPI, & Sally Hansen have already begun to make their formulas what’s called “3 Free” which just a cute way of saying they are free of the three major chemicals we want to avoid. However, they are still rife with other toxins, allergens, & other ingredients we don’t want in our toys let alone our bodies. Fear not, plenty of 5 & 7-free options are on the market & the horizon!

First, let’s deal with what is actually in our nail polishes…

The Yuck in Your Nail Polish

{The label inside these brackets lets you know which formulas these toxins are missing from}

{3, 5, 7- Free} Formaldehyde- an allergen, toxic, asthma trigger, and a carcinogen

{3, 5, 7- Free} Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP)- also a plasticizer that is so harmful it is not allowed to be used in children’s toys.

{3, 5, 7- Free} Toluene- Its smell is quite literally associated with paint thinner. It’s found in model airplane glue, contact cement, & paint thinner. It is known to be extremely harmful to neurological health. Scarily enough, it’s used as a recreational inhalant.

{5 & 7- Free} Formaldehyde resin- derived from formaldehyde and not as toxic, but is still a known allergen,  & used in glue products

{5 & 7- Free} Camphor- plasticizer which is a toxin it can be found in many perfumes & is toxic to insects and used as a repellent. It can cause your nails to lose their nourishment and turn them yellow.

{7 Free} Ethyl Tosylamide- another plasticizer & is considered a toxin

{7 Free} Xylene- Irritates the eyes & lung, but even worse it has been identified as an organ & neurological toxin.

What Brands Should I Try?

I am sharing two brands to try in the 5 & 7-Free categories. I have personal experience with all four brands & quite frankly, I love them all!

5-Free

Zoya This brand has been around for quite some time now & is easily found at many salons. It is long lasting, bright & shiny, & comes in so many colors. My only complaint is that I can’t seem to find a broad range of colors in-store to buy. I usually only find fall/winter colors throughout all times of the year.

  • Can be found: Ulta, Target, & Amazon
  • Shade: Joey

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Image Credit: Zoya

OPI Infinite Shine While the classic formula is only 3-Free the Infinite Shine is actually 5-Free! Out of this whole list, the OPI Infinite Shine polishes are my favorite. They last longer than your average manicure, boasting up to 11 days of high-shine & I can always find plenty of new colors in-store.

  • Can be found: Ulta, Target, Sally Beauty, Macy’s & Amazon
  • Shade: Engage-Ment to Be

Shop Engage-meant to Be

Image Credit: OPI

7-Free

Pacifica 7-Free nail polish right in your backyard? Yes, please! Pacifica is probably the most accessible to those of you who have a Target nearby. I found this nail polish to last just about a week, which for me is a long time!

  • Can be found: Ulta, Target, Whole Foods, & Amazon
  • Shade: London Tomboy

Image Credit: Pacifica

Ella + Mila Are you looking for a gel quality manicure & one is 7-free? Ella + Mila should be your go-to. I tried this one this week & they are still shining days later. Out of 10 nails, only one is chipping & that might have been from my own error. The only downside I see for this polish is that it is not as readily available. However, it is available at Target! Hopefully, the more popular 7-Free nail polishes get, more stores will start to carry it!

  • Can be found: Target, Ulta, & Amazon
  • Shade: Berry Much in Love

Berry Much in Love

Image Credit: Ella + Mila

Did you know about 3, 5, & 7-Free brands before reading this? Have you tried any 5 or 7-free brands? If you have, share in the comments which ones are your favorites!

Resources:
https://idunminerals.com/en/inspiration/blog/2017/jul/5-free-formula-0/ https://intothegloss.com/2015/04/non-toxic-nail-polish/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camphor#Plastics
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toluene
https://www.bustle.com/articles/87927-9-non-toxic-nail-polish-brands-you-should-start-using-immediately