Quick 6: Last Minute Summer Camp Essentials

My girls start day camp on Monday. Which means that today, I am scrambling on Amazon and a couple other select quick-ship, tried and trusted online retailers to get my sh#t together. Not sure when I became a "down to the wire" kind of person, but I sorta blame Amazon Prime for enabling me. Not that I am complaining...

Here are the 6 things I am currently ordering so they (and I) can have an easy, breezy first day of camp next week.

1- LunchBots Bento Cinco Stainless Steel Container: Okay- so maybe I am admitting something I shouldn't here but if I am being honest- I literally pack lunch to show the counselors that I am a good mom. Because I know Goldie will barely nibble at it- instead waiting until she gets home to raid the pantry. But that is sort of what makes this perfect- the small sections are easy to fill with leftovers and cut up fruits and such. Even like 4 strawberries looks impressive in this! They are dishwasher safe- because I hate few things more than scooping bits of rice out of the crevices of a lunch box container- and free of toxins and such (maybe I should have led with that since people really care about that stuff- but for me- it is kinda more about showing off that I can pack instagrammable lunches for my kid to her camp counselors). I also own this version- a little smaller but still totally substantial for a little person's lunch. 

2- Emoji Ice Packs: I like using these to keep lunches cool more than the giant hard case ice packs that weigh down a backpack. And really, in my experience, once inside a zippered lunchbox (I put my LunchBots container inside an old school lunch bag so I can include napkins and a fork and avoid any spillage), the smaller ice packs stay super cold and keep everything nice and cool. I put 2-3 in each morning- and in the off season, they make great boo-boo healers. 

3- Zulu Water Bottle With Straw: We go through water bottles like, well, water. No idea where they go- but they are somewhere with missing socks and scrunchies. Love that these can go in the dishwasher, they have yet to leak in a backpack, and compared to many similar products out there, these are really well-priced at just under $10 a pop.

4- Rockets of Awesome Clothing: 80% of my girls' summer go-to play clothes are from here- and at camp this summer they will be living in the soft tees and sporty (but not too sporty) shorts. I am a HUGE fan of the ease (I adore the options to have mix and match pieces sent to you seasonally- keep what you want, return the rest in like 1.5 steps- and then you can purchase one-offs via the website throughout the season), the whimsical (and wide range) of styles and the prices (one of Alexa's all time favorite dresses that she wears once a week to this day was only $24 and still feels like new). 

5- Soft Dry Kids Hooded Towel: Yay for these super easy to pack in a backpack towels that I buy en masse via Amazon Prime. Alexa (age 7 and super tall) is too big for these- but I relish in Goldie's ability to use it as a towel and then bask in it as a coverup, and the fact that it rolls up small so she can tuck in back in her toddler-sized backpack all by herself makes her feel like a total bad a**. 

6- Oliver's Labels: There are a million label making sites out there- I love this one because the shipping is crazy fast (I opted for 3-5 day shipping but my labels arrived within 2 days), they have a mini size which is perfect for putting on sunscreens and snack bags, and the quality is amazing. I buy these for clothing and swimsuits- simply stick them on and even if you wash your kid's favorite pair of tattered blue shorts 8 times a week, they don't budge. I speak from LOTS of experience.

Why I Am Obsessed with Beauty Products Again, and I Hope You Will Be Too...

Recently, I have gotten back into beauty in a big way. It is where my career really started- as a 22 year old makeup and skincare publicist. I spent so many years in the trenches with many of the most awesome (and, sometimes, in all honesty, awful) beauty brands out there. And lately, all I want to do is research skincare, stalk cult products, and write about every detail. 

Often times my beauty escapades were as a publicist, figuring out how to position new brands and new products, predict the on-trend under-the-radar sleeper hits,  build brand buzz and create news when there really was nothing newsy to share. Other times, it was as an on-air expert, scouring the market for those diamond-in-the-rough holy grail products, pulling together trend reports, and figuring out the unique backstory angles to share wth viewers about my personal favorites. 

Every single day I devoured the beauty articles in WWD, and on Fridays (the WWD Beauty issue, my favorite day of the week) I spent hours hanging on every word. Then, I got kinda burnt out and a little jaded. Sometimes, when you know too much- when you see too much- you lose the passion, ya know? So I started paying more attention to fashion- and as my life changed (kids, the 'burbs) other topics crept into my scope.

I started to take for granted just how fascinating the beauty industry was, how innovative and, in many cases, how approachable. Fascinating + Innovative + Approachable = EVERYTHING I LOVE.

Other factors that contributed to logging hours spent at Walgreens, CVS, Sephora, Ulta and scouring K-Beauty sites and obscure online skincare importers? Read on...

1- My chats with Hannah Simpson, the wonderful woman I go to for my Microcurrent Facials (more on that HERE and also check out the Highlight on my Instagram for the play by play)- her passion for skincare and her belief in the way your skin can truly transform through the right products and treatments is infectious.

2- A renewed interest in stalking the product-related posts- including new favorites, launch event news, etc.- of my OG "beauty girls". See, most of us grew up together in the biz (Polly Blitzer, Alyssa Hertzig, Andrea Lavinthal, Amber Katz, Lori Bergamotto, Stephanie Huszar, Melissa Gold to name a few- click on the hyperlinks to land on their Instagram profiles because you NEED to follow them) and even though our lives are infinitely different now, I noticed the bond over beauty doesn't really change a bit. 

3- The Instagram "shelfie" movement. Beautiful images of delicious looking products often coupled with detailed mini-reviews in the caption send me down the social media rabbit hole in the best way possible. Some of my faves? DevsDay, DirtyBoysGetClean, Off Duty Diary.

4-  A handful of expert, authentic, super-informative beauty blogs- specifically, the Brit beauty blogger with the best sense of humor to boot, Caroline Hirons and the anonymous, refreshingly honest writer behind the The Critical Babe. Reading the posts these women write bring me back to the inquisitive way I used to approach the business.

5- My impending (milestone) birthday. Forty is around the corner. I truthfully have zero issues with the number itself, and in most ways I still feel like I am in my early 20's (except  when it process a mortgage payment or fill out medical forms for my kids' summer camps or take 2 days to recover from a Tito's-on-the-rocks-with-a-splash-of-soda-and-lots-of-limes bender). But I notice subtle changes in the way I look- a little more lumpy here, a bit less perky there- and not-so-subtle changes in the way I feel when I make the effort to take care of myself. Taking care of my skin, keeping my hair healthy, slapping on makeup- these are little things that make a big difference. And as such, taking the time to find the best products, and share said products with anyone who wants to listen, is an adventure I want to go ALL IN on.

So, to make a long story still kinda long but not as long as it could be, my passion for learning about, testing and sharing skincare, makeup and haircare products is re-ignited. And I feel good about it because I know that when it comes to this subject matter, I innately know my sh#t. 

Hope you will enjoy reading my beauty content as much as I will no doubt enjoy creating it for you. 

 If you don't mind leaving a comment down below with any topics you would love to read about, or specific products or brands you want to learn about, I would be MOST grateful!

xoxo

The Easiest New Way To Update Your Cookware Like A Grownup.

 BTW- I am obsessed with the roasted cauliflower recipe in  this cookbook . You will be too.

BTW- I am obsessed with the roasted cauliflower recipe in this cookbook. You will be too.

I am starting to like to cook. The sense of accomplishment is a total rush. 

In the process of warming up to this whole cooking thang, I wreaked havoc on the cookware that we had been using since our wedding, over 12 years ago. And while I know certain high end cookware should last way longer than that, the truth of it is, they maybe should have had a novice cook like me in the test kitchen before making such claims.

For months, my husband pleaded with me to get new pots and pans. I didn't know where to start, so I ignored him completely. 

Then, I came across Made In Cookware. It felt like this brand was talking TO ME. Made FOR ME. The site design, the "voice", the whole approach took something super daunting and made it- dare I say- fun.

This direct-to-consumer brand is the brainchild of a young company sprouted out of  a 100-year old, family-run business of supplying restaurants and hotels with premium cookware. So, they aren't just some shiny, slick marketing-driven machine. They know their stuff. 

 The Made In experience begins with this survey-  basically, the most un-intimidating conversation you can have about cooking with a computer. It instantly put me at ease. (The company is based in Austin, TX and everything about it just feels Austin-y, if that makes sense.)  After answering a series of non-judgy questions about my cooking ability and aspirations, I got a customized recommendation as to what I needed to build a cookware collection that matches my lifestyle. Effortless and accurate- my favorite combination. 

Based on my survey results, The Core Kit was the best fit. (LOVE that they have already grouped products into 5 kits- so you can fill your cart in one click.) I opted for the minimum number of lids- because I can never seem to efficiently store the damn lids anyway- and- how smart is this?!- Made In lids are sharable between similar sized pieces. The kit includes these 5 things  and is $419 (shipping is free.) Sure, you could get significantly less expensive pots and pans, but you will also get significantly less quality pots and pans- and at this point in my life, I am too grown up to be using a random assortment of $18 pots and pans from discount stores.

 The essentials included in the Core Kit- details  here .

The essentials included in the Core Kit- details here.

The quality is awesome- the pieces are substantial without feeling overly clunky. The stainless steel heats evenly, the handles are easy to grip, and they really did think of every detail in the execution of the product design and customer experience- two things that I greatly appreciate.

Oh- and the labels are made from plantable paper- an unexpected bonus that resulted in a bunch of extra basil going into the garden this year! Now, to find the recipes in which to use it all...

Made-In-Cookware.JPG

*Note: Made In Cookware gifted me the product, however, this post is not a sponsored post, and all opinions are completely my own.

5 Things I Really Like About Me.

 Pure happiness, draped in  Allison Daniel  jewels- the  heart charm  actually says "Love You More" on it, which immediately caught my eye because it is what Alexa says to Brian and me whenever we say "I love you" to her. 

Pure happiness, draped in Allison Daniel jewels- the heart charm actually says "Love You More" on it, which immediately caught my eye because it is what Alexa says to Brian and me whenever we say "I love you" to her. 

Last week, I wasn't so into myself. I was cranky, low energy, impatient with my kids, and just generally "eh". It is so easy to get into a slump- especially at this stage in life, trying to enjoy your young kids, keep your house clean and perfect-ish, prep the healthy meals that it seems all the other moms are tossing together effortlessly, and retaining some semblance of your former smart, professional self.

It's funny- I feel like I spend so much time trying to master many elements of the "suburban mom" clichΓ©, and just as much- if not more time- making sure I don't become one. 

Anyway- in the spirit of entering into Mother's Day weekend as the most happy, confident version of myself, I thought it was time to make a list of 5 things I really freaking like about ME. And I encourage you to do the same. We dole out compliments to other people all the time, why not throw a few our own way, right? Right.

1. I am funny. Like, really funny. My sense of humor is quick as hell- and also most times inappropriate as hell, but I can always make myself- and anyone around me who appreciates self deprecating, borderline offensive quips- laugh. Hard.

2. I am an easy friend. It takes a lot to truly hurt my feelings- most things don't bother me much. I don't lose a second of sleep if there is a "girls dinner" I'm not invited to, I don't get mad if someone has to cancel plans or can't make it to an event or something like that, and if someone doesn't call or text me back for a week/month/year, I GET IT. My skin is thick, and while I don't always consider myself empathetic, when it comes to my friends (all of them busy moms juggling a ton- regardless of if they work or not, this whole thing is still a grind), at this point in life I always give the benefit of the doubt, and let it go.

3. I am too honest about myself. Sure, the "too" makes it sound like I am slanting negative here, but I actually like that I probably share more than I should, because it is the way I have been all my life and to not overshare (example- at a preschool breakfast in the Fall I asked a girl I just met to tell me if I smelled because I realized, mid-conversation, I had totally forgotten to put on deodorant- this led to a heart-to-heart about our mutual TMI tendencies, and an instant bond) would just not feel like ME. I do stuff to my skin, I mostly make my kids take a bath on nights when I won't have to be home to give it to them, my tan is NEVER real, my au pair is the one that does my awesome braids, my 7 year old walks all over me and it is my fault, and when our dog poops on the floor, I totally know it will happen before it does because I hear him scratching on the door but I am too lazy to go downstairs and let him out. The list goes on...

4. I know every single lyrics to pretty much every single song that has been in the top 40 since, like, 1988. It impresses my kids, it impresses their friends (and also slightly frightens the ones who are only allowed to listen to the Kidz Bop versions of hit records) it impresses strangers, and it eternally annoys my husband.

5. I handle all the bill paying and tax organizing for our family. Which is so NOT something I would imagine myself doing, nor is it something I am perfect at doing, but, I do it all the same. And while I moan and groan about it (especially in March and April), taking on an aspect of adulting that is SO out of my comfort zone forces me to evolve my own self-perception, and in turn, gives me a unique sense of confidence/accomplishment/"you thought you knew me but maybe you don't"-ness.

There you have it, folks.

It would make my day/week/year/decade if you would share one  (or more.... I mean, I would LOVE to hear 5 but don't want to overstep here) thing you like about yourself in the comments below! xoxo JF

Mother's Day Gift Guide: One Word- Gucci.

 Get the goods  here .

Get the goods here.

Gucci.  It's on freaking fire right now and if you want to get anyone in your life a little- or big- somethin' somethin' for Mother's Day, you can not mess up with Gucci. Trust me. 

Here are 15 picks, at two price points. Everything here is under $1000!

Under $500: This belt is so perfect. Dying over this adorable cherry-covered card case. And anything pink and red right now is a sure win.  Summer slides don't get more glam than this pair- perfect for the beach or the street, and this iconic staple thong flip flop will never go out of style, and I am obsessed with this white and gold version too. Gucci also has an awesome fashion jewelry collection that many people aren't familiar with- this ring, for example is a sophisticated statement. 

Under $1000: Perfect night out- or running around during the day- cross body mini bag. There is no more chic tote for the beach than this rubber tote, that much I know. I have never seen a sexier update than this version of the vintage Gucci classic. Biased, because I personally own and LOVE this pair of shoes- but these are maybe the most amazing, and versatile, all-season velvet pumps ever.  And every style insider is buying this horsebit loafer in bulk- the pale pink is so insanely sweet (and currently at the top of my shoe wish list!). This cardigan is classic but still feels really modern, and can work with pretty much any style profile.

Get on it, people. They offer 2-day shipping from the Gucci website so you can get everything in time for Mother's Day. Treat yourself to something, or forward this along in a really un-subtle way to anyone who currently has your name on their "to gift" list.