Trashing the Toxins! – Week 4

May 21, 2019
Versed Look Alive Hydrating Plumping Mask and
Versed Find Clarity Purifying Mask

Who’s ready to trash toxic choices with me?

What’s the criteria for this series? Products need to be:

  • A better (healthier, cleaner, etc) version of a product I would ordinarily purchase. Ideally organic, but we’re going for improvements that will actually be embraced by the fam (I live in a household that still eats toaster pastries, so… baby steps).
  • A readily available item that can be easily found (either online or via multiple retail locations).
  • Sold at a “reasonable” price point. While some items might be considered upscale or boutique, I’m not trading in a $5 mascara for a $70 mascara… we are about to do an expensive home reno…
  • A realistic, unintimidating option. Nothing that will add exponential time and bother to any mom’s already nutso schedule.

With an eye towards simple, sustainable swaps in our daily routine that will lead our family towards better health, this weekly post is an attempted “toe-dip” into smarter choices. Nothing radical – just some carefully considered substitutions that can be instituted gradually.

Check your SPF products for safety!

Snag Some Safer Sunscreen – Memorial Day is On The Way! Warm weather has officially arrived and we’ll all be slathering on the sunscreen at the pool before we know it. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) guide to safer sun protection– there’s a simple search bar to type in your SPF product of choice and it will let you know it’s safety rank. Here’s a quick link to the best beach and sport sunscreens (by brand) and their best scoring sunscreens for kids. If you’re heading out shopping and you first download the EWG app onto your phone, you can simply scan the barcode on the back of a product to view its ranking in a snap.

In addition, when you visit the EWG website, there’s a pop up offering a free 10 sample pack of EWG-favorably rated sunscreens with all $60 (tax-deductible) donations – help them continue researching this stuff for us! (And what a great way to figure out which formula you actually like without spending a fortune… I’m waiting at the mailbox for mine). Plus, the FDA is not looking out for us like they should be and organizations like this rely on our support.

Handbag-Friendly, Shimmery Solid Perfume – While shopping with my daughter this past weekend, we both fell for Pacifica’s new Island Vanilla Shimmer Solid Perfume ($10). I love that I can throw the mini tube in my purse without worrying about it leaking and we both loved the subtle shimmer and the gentle, bit-floral-but-mostly-sweet vanilla scent. It’s vegan, cruelty-free and the company takes care to use recyclable materials in its packaging. Other scents on offer include Tahitian Gardenia, Hawaiian Ruby Guava, Himalayan Patchouli Berry and Moonray Bloom. You can buy it on their website or at select Target, Whole Foods and Ulta locations – here’s a store locator.

Yay for affordable, clean skincare!

Very Affordable & Veritably Healthier Skincare – This week, the new, non-toxic skincare line Versed (by Who What Wear) launched a 19-product collection at Target online and nationwide. Products boast being free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, silicones, formaldehyde, triclosan, triclocarban, petroleum, mineral oil, NPE, BHA, BHT, talc, hydroquinone, micro-beads, chemical sunscreen and artificial fragrances and colors. That’s a long list for a product at a reasonable price point (everything is under $20)! The company says that they put their money into research and results instead of marketing, so as to maximize value. I always like to test skincare for a few weeks before recommending it, but I’m loving the lightweight nature of the Dew Point Moisturizing Gel-Cream and the Find Clarity Purifying Mask left my skin feeling clean and smooth. The line is not at all Target locations yet (it’s first rolling out), so call your local store before you rush there – or just order it online. Additional retail locations will carry the line later this year.

*While we are on the topic of fancy little gals… My Plea to Cosmetic Manufacturers: PLEASE make some non-toxic kid-friendly options at a reasonable price point. It doesn’t matter how many times we tell our daughters they’re too young for makeup, they ask for it anyway (little girls are just teenagers in training). There are a few boutique lines available (if you google search for “healthier makeup kids”) but I would roll over and beg for an Elsa-themed lip balm or subtle cheek flush that wasn’t filled with crap I can’t pronounce and carried at my local supermarket. These are the ones my daughter sees when she’s shopping with me. You will make bank – this is a win-win. Throw us mamas a bone.

A Sweet Sip that Saves the Bees – While thirsty at the market the other day, I grabbed a bottle of Honey Drop Lavender Lemonade off the shelf (sometimes you just don’t feel like drinking bo-ring water). The packaging was cute, it promised to please my sweet tooth, and the flavor selection was humorous (but I have a penchant for lavender). Turmeric? Cayenne? Apple Ginger? Charcoal? What? (There are apparently also Passion Fruit and Unicorn flavors available. Please someone share with me if you try the others.) For only 4 grams of sugar, I would be pretty darn happy sipping this on my porch on a hot summer day. It was pleasingly more lavender-y than I expected, and the only ingredients other than the fresh brewed lavender tea are lemons (of course!), raw honey and stevia leaf. A portion of the proceeds from every bottle goes to Seven Hills Global Outreach, “a nonprofit helping cooperative and developing countries fight colony collapse disorder and further economic development.” I found it for $3 at my local ShopRite – you can purchase it from their online shop if it’s not sold in your ‘hood.

Some worthwhile bonus links:

Carly @b.cleanliving_ featured a post on Instagram today about “10 Dirty Secrets About Grocery Store Produce” – Did you know that the average apple could be over a year old? Eye-opening stuff. Give her a read!

Lisa @ThisOrganicGirl posted a great read on her website this past week entitled, “10 Ways to Be a Greener You (Without Doing Much!) – packed with useful info (and the whole “not doing much” angle is pretty appealing for already busy moms, LOL) – it’s really little, non-bothersome ways to make a noticeable difference – follow the link!

(All products were chosen by me independently and all opinions are totally my own… I started this blog about three seconds ago… so obvs nothing is sponsored- I just love sharing great finds)

– Till next time! xoxo TheMomReno

Love this post? Share the link and follow me on Facebook or Instagram @themomreno! Have any suggestions for future toxin free swaps? Email me at themomreno@gmail.com or feel free to leave a comment below

Favorite Finds!

The amazing marble mosaic art installation by Ann Hamilton on the WTC-Cortlandt street subway platform –
I got off the train a stop early just to stare at it.

Just sifting through the superfluous and sleuthing out some smart stuff, so you don’t have to...

Favorite PodcastThe Classy Career Girl by Anna Runyan – This podcast, which complements the blog that Runyan started in 2010 to inspire greater career fulfillment, is an easy listen and always leaves me motivated and informed. This link will take you to a roundup of her best episodes, including “How to Find a Job You Won’t Hate” (#47) and “Daily Habits of Highly Successful People” (#66). Her site has won multiple accolades and reaches millions of women every week – she’s even been named in the past as one of Forbes Most Influential Career Sites. Whether you are a SAHM, a WAHM, a mom with a side hustle or a full time executive, there is value to be had. Greater career fulfillment – who doesn’t want that???

Fave Fashion Find – As a big fan of both brands, The Outdoor Voices x Madewell collaboration has me pretty excited. Their limited edition, contouring, color block collection just launched this week on both the Madewell site and the Outdoor Voices site (and in stores), and I’m sure it will sell out FAST, so hop to shop if you are interested. They’ve got flattering seams, sweat-wicking fabric, and perfect Spring color vibes. One note to designers from this slightly self-conscious consumer: I’d like a few more darker tushies on these bad boys. I strive to feel more confident in pastels, but right now I’m feeling more bad-ass with a darker backside (I snatched up the one navy/charcoal option on sight). That said, if you are looking for of-the-moment, happy Spring athletic gear, search no more. [I have requested permission to use a collection photo and will sub this image once granted- for now, click on the links to see it! I didn’t want you all to miss out.]

Fave Insta-InfluencerHitha Palepu with her On the Go – 5 Smart Reads recommendations. What can’t this woman do? She is a mom (of a preschooler and a newborn- I mean, NEWborn), a CEO of a pharmaceutical company, an active angel investor in companies, a luggage packing maven with a published book (How to Pack) and, you know, in her spare time, she likes to keep the rest of us informed of timely, important news. [You can’t see me, but I’m bowing to her right now.] I first learned of her thanks to Grace Atwood and Becca Freeman on the Bad on Paper podcast they recorded (thank you!), and I’ve been reading her links ever since. She highlights worthwhile articles that you may not have caught otherwise, rather than the usual, over-hashed stuff. Follow her daily posts on Instagram or SIGN UP for her weekly newsletter… You’re smarter already.

Fly-away hair, begone!

Fave Useful Item – Ok, we need to talk about the HairFeel finishing stick. (Don’t be a hater- this is not a “clean” product.) I bought one when I saw an ad (I bit), having ZERO expectations for it to hold up. It’s AMAZING and in my purse. It works on all the weird flyaway hairs above my part line and it works for my daughter’s plentiful face-framing flyaways, and it does it all without making us look like we should be trying out for a production of Grease. I used it to touch up my daughter in the recital dressing room yesterday, discussion ensued, and I’m pretty sure her dance instructor is ready to buy stock in the company. It claims to be “made of natural plant extract and contain(s) no harmful chemicals” on the package, but I don’t really subscribe – this is not one of my super-clean recommendations – it does have silica (but you’re not inhaling it), phenoxyethanol preservative (but it’s hair, not skin) and “essence” (what?), but frankly, the rest of the list isn’t bad and I was expecting a whole lot worse from a heavily marketed product made overseas. The site was having a 50% off sale the last time I checked, making it $12.99. If the ingredients turn you off, using a matte pomade product or lightweight gel applied with a clean spoolie brush might give you a similar effect.

Favorite Read: In October 2018, James Clear published an article on his website titled, “When the 80/20 Rule Fails: The Downside of Being Effective,” which explores the difference between efficiency (getting more things done) and effectiveness (getting the most important stuff done). I found my way back to it since his recently published NYT best-selling book, Atomic Habits (free download of Chapter 1 on his website, and a good price on Amazon right now), has been the audio book I’ve been listening to while running errands this week. The article explores the upsides and downsides of the 80/20 rule (that the “small number of things accounts for the majority of the results”) and how to best optimize your skills and opportunities moving forward. Efficiency and streamlining are some of my favorite topics to read about, probably because I desire to do a better job of them myself. As a mom with a penchant for perfectionism, I’m always trying to fit in “all the things” and at the best of my ability, and I’m sure a lot of other moms reading also operate in this vein. I don’t even have a problem saying “no” to other people when my schedule is too busy – but I DO have an issue with saying no to myself when get mired in the details of something that’s not of optimal importance. It’s a worthwhile read (or re-read).

Favorite LaughModernMomProbs on Instagram is making me giggle this week – feeling like we are all part of the same mama tribe. There’s been more than one post this week that’s made me shout an audible, “Yes! Ha, absolutely!” Her tag states she’s “celebrating parenting in the modern world, one meme at a time.” Looks like she might be based in NYC – maybe part of why I (and other Tri-state area moms might) love her.

All opinions are totally my own… I started this blog in April 2019 (so about three seconds ago) because I love to share… obvs nothing is sponsored – If you love what you read, share the link! Moms are all each other’s best resource. Till next time! xoxo TheMomReno

Trashing the Toxins! – Week 3

Week Three – May 16, 2019

Who’s ready to trash some toxins with me?

With an eye towards simple, sustainable swaps in our daily routine that will lead our family towards better health, this weekly post is an attempted “toe-dip” into smarter choices. Nothing radical – just some carefully considered substitutions that can be instituted gradually.

What’s the criteria for this series? Products need to be:

  • A better (healthier, cleaner, etc) version of a product I would ordinarily purchase. Ideally organic, but we’re going for improvements that will actually be embraced by the fam (I live in a household that still eats toaster pastries, so… baby steps).
  • A readily available item that can be easily found (either online or via multiple retail locations).
  • Sold at a “reasonable” price point. While some items might be considered upscale or boutique, I’m not trading in a $5 mascara for a $70 mascara… we are about to do an expensive home reno…
  • A realistic, unintimidating option. Nothing that will add exponential time and bother to any mom’s already nutso schedule.
Everyone 3-in-1 Lotion

Everyone 3-in-1 Lotion (in Coconut + Lemon) – If you regularly slather on body lotion upon stepping out of the shower, it makes sense to choose a non-toxic option – your skin is super absorbent and you’re covering a lot of it! Everyone Lotion costs about $10 for a huge 32 fluid ounce pump, so it doesn’t break the bank (at that price, you can share it with the whole family :-). It’s rare to find a product that’s economical, non-GMO verified, cruelty-free and also free of gluten, parabens, polysorbate and disodium EDTA. It does still have phenoxyethanol and dimethicone, but seriously, it’s a WHOLE lot cleaner than what our family was opting for before. It’s got a nice, lightweight finish, five star reviews on many sites, and there are a slew of other scents to choose from, including Lavender Aloe and Citrus Mint (there’s an unscented version too). You can find it in most supermarkets and mass market retailers, and for around $10 online at Thrive Market and EOproducts.com (where you can get 20% off if you sign up for their newsletter and free shipping over $50). I’m excited to try more from the EO brand- there’s so many products on their site that I was unaware of!

Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm – As I’m always on a search for new clean lip color favorites, I decided to see what the local drugstore had to offer. The answer was… not much. But they did thankfully carry Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm, which boasts being paraben, phthalate, petrolatum and sodium lauryl sulfate free. After a quick check on the Think Dirty App (a free, user-friendly app that will scan a barcode and score product ingredient concerns), I snatched up the Rose shade (even though I usually run from any lip color called Rose). It was just right – a super sheet hint of color without any weird sparkly bits that make me feel ridiculous for about $5. It kind of looks like I’m wearing nothing and my lips are just a moisturized, pretty, “bitten” color (instead of my natural, invisible nude). I’m trading in my longtime cult favorite (and any fears of petrolatum contamination from refining) for this shea butter and botanical wax blend. It’s available in six shades at many locations – if you don’t find it in your local pharmacy or Target, you can click on their website link for a nearby store locator.

Seventh Generation Free & Clean Unscented Liquid Hand Soap – I picked up this USDA Certified biobased hand soap because I generally trust the Seventh Generation brand, and because (in truth) it was the cheapest clean option on the supermarket shelf last time I shopped. This gentle cleanser is free of dyes, triclosan, phthalates and fragrance, and leaves your hands feeling fresh and not stripped of moisture for the bargain price of around $2.99 (that’s nominally more than the chemical-laden choices – a no-brainer)! It does contain sodium coco-sulfate, but that’s at least a little more natural than the more common sodium laureth-sulfate (SLS). In addition to the unscented pump, it’s also available in Mandarin Orange + Grapefruit, Lavender Flower + Mint, and Lemon + Tea Tree scents. (Those of you who know me well might be wondering how a self-diagnosed germophobe switches to a non-antibacterial soap – the answer is that I’m having the kids use an antibacterial with claims upon arriving home from school and then we switch to this option for the rest of the evening. I’d hose them down in a decontamination tent if they’d let me- LOL).

A vetted-by-my-son organic spread!

Crofter’s Organic Premium Spread in Strawberry – I’m feeling pretty smug and sneaky with this one, because my VERY picky 10-year old has not realized that I’m making his sandwiches with this spread instead of his usual jelly, and he notices everything. This brand popped up at my supermarket for $3.79 and I gave it a whirl since it’s made with organic strawberries (seemed like a smart decision) and has 33% less sugar than a preserve. It’s gluten-free, vegan and non-GMO project verified, and I like that the taste is still sweet but a bit truer to the actual fruit. I’ve also tried the Wild Blueberry flavor myself, stirred into some Fage Yogurt – YUM. Note: Since it’s organic, you have to use it within 20 days (a sign it might actually be something you should eat, not a drawback). They also offer an even healthier Just Fruit Spread Organic option for $4.50, which skips the organic cane sugar. Next round, let’s see if I can get away with THAT! (I invite you to laugh at my formica background – this is why we’re doing the home reno, people 🙂

Beware of BPA-laden glossy receipts

Did You Know This? I Didn’t! – Thanks to the blogger from Starts With Mom, it was brought to my attention via her Instagram account story on Tuesday that you should handle your cash register receipts as little as possible – Say What? Apparently it’s not new information, but it was new to me (that’s why we mamas gotta share)! Turns out that a lot of receipt paper still contains BPA or BPS (not any better) and if you use hand sanitizer before handling them, your fingers absorb even more of it. Reduce your exposure by going paperless when possible, touch the non-glossy back part (not the front) of receipts, and keep a separate envelope in your purse for them so they don’t rub around your wallet. Think it’s old news? The California legislature has even introduced a “skip the slip” bill that’s scheduled for a committee hearing literally as I write this.

(All products were chosen by me independently and all opinions are totally my own… I started this blog about three seconds ago… so obvs nothing is sponsored- I just love sharing great finds)

– Till next time! xoxo TheMomReno

Love this post? Share the link and follow me on Facebook or Instagram @themomreno! Have any suggestions for future toxin free swaps? Email me at themomreno@gmail.com! Feel free to leave a comment below

Sweating Some Serious Support

Gotta reach the goal!
or fuhgeddaboudit…
repost from @RejuventatedUK

I’ve been attending The Max Challenge since it opened in my hometown, and I’ve generally flopped between the two mindsets above :-). Lately, though, I’ve been recommitted to getting there daily and putting my in my best effort, so here’s to feeling more like the first graphic and less like the second! The Max workouts are varied enough that I’m never bored, it’s not a fashion show, and the camaraderie goes a long way towards staying committed.

A whole other reason to be thankful for a great indoor option is the allergy season. I love to walk around the neighborhood but I can’t lately unless I want to swallow buckets of goo all day (too much? Sorry). Side note: If you are also suffering with this, Mucinex D 12-hour sold behind the pharmacy counter could save your life (def saving mine).

Here are few workout truths I’ve made peace with:

  • Getting there a few minutes late is so much better than not getting there at all and attending on a Monday sets a great tone for the week.
  • The more often I go, the more motivated I am to go again.
  • Don’t wear the grey leggings unless is is laundry day and I’m out of dark ones and totally desperate (I see you, mirror).
  • Modify exercises. Modify them whenever necessary because coming back the next day trumps straining something.
  • Keep my knees behind the tips of my toes if I want to keep them intact and not show up in a knee brace. (Did you know that for each pound of body weight lost, there is a 4-pound reduction in knee joint stress for people who suffer from extra pounds or osteoarthritis? study by researcher Stephen P. Messier, PhD, of Wake Forest University)
  • Skip the makeup because no one cares and it clogs open, sweaty pores (except for the undereye concealer, because if I skip it people ask if I’m feeling sick or if everything’s ok, LOL).
  • Generate regular site posts because I’ll show up if I am writing regularly about my experience (so THANK YOU to any readers)!

The friends you make in a workout class also often end up being a terrific resource (shout out, Robyn!) – face it, when mamas talk, the take-away tips come at you left and right. Who runs the world? Moms.

Expert fittings at The Dain Shoppe in Morristown, NJ

One of the more recent floor conversations circulated around sports bra shopping and finding a bra with decent support. The Dain Shoppe in Morristown, NJ, a longstanding local lingerie shop, was recommended, so off I went with a buddy to check it out. The Dain Shoppe has been serving the tri-state area since 1982 and store associates know their stuff. Paired with the fact that they contribute to many local community initiatives, I was excited to get fitted and give their suggestions a shot.

So many options…

If you work out often enough to invest in your comfort, the best gift you can give yourself is to visit a shop that will professionally fit you and make sports bra recommendations suited to your specific size and body proportions. Amongst the myriad of choices, the associate I worked with expertly pulled several options off the rack and brought them to the fancy fitting room for me (the nicer the fitting room, the more nervous I get about the price). I gasped a little when I checked the tag of the Anita Air Control Deltapad, but after the sweat-inducing, boob crushing, mass market torture device I have been suffering with for the past year, I promised myself I would just wash it with every load and paid for it. I want to live in this thing- everyday. It’s super comfortable in class and THEY. DON’T. MOVE. Bring on the jumping jacks. I can take it. Worth every penny.

Learning so much from @thefoodbabe

A label-reading education seems to come part and parcel with an exercise regimen, if any results are to be had. If you didn’t catch the Favorite Finds post from yesterday, I wanted to again share the link to “The Food Babe” Vani Hari’s Instagram page – @thefoodbabe. I learn something from this NYT best-selling author every time she posts and I can’t wait for her book, Feeding You Lies ($15.79 on Amazon), to show up on my doorstep.

*First time reading? Check out my first workout-related post with recommendations for sneakers that will steal all your workout excuses and how to take the stink out of workout gear. Click on the link!

(All products were chosen by me independently and all opinions are totally my own… I started this blog three seconds ago… so obvs nothing is sponsored- this is a creative outlet and I just love sharing great finds) – Till next time! xoxo TheMomReno

Got any workout tips that you want to share? Comment below or email me at themomreno@gmail.com!

Favorite Finds!

Wall art outside the Johnny Was store on Wooster Street in NYC

Just sifting through the superfluous and sleuthing out some smart stuff, so you don’t have to...

First off, a huge Happy Mother’s Day to everyone!

Second guessing your sparkles – how socially conscious are your cosmetics?

Fave Media Link: If you are looking for a site with some quick, compelling reads and you are not familiar with Refinery 29, they have been getting things right lately. There’s fashion, entertainment and beauty roundups to spare, but they’ve also been publishing some deeper digs. like the eye-opening exposé article, The Makeup Industry’s Darkest Secret is Hiding in Your Makeup Bag (revealing child labor mica mining in India). Lots more social responsibility in their coverage lately, and I’m thinking that’s a great thing.

Fave Fashion Find: – I came across Lisi Lerch’s chic and affordable accessory line after following Alexa Anglin on Instagram – not only are her earrings on trend and reasonably priced, but I love her backstory – she left the Wall Street world to pursue her creative passion and fill a void in the millinery market (affordable, fashionable hats), and then became a mom specializing in unique jewelry. (A second, less affordable find this week is Longchamp’s Mademoiselle Studded Leather Camera Bag ($495 at Nordstrom) – it’s not happening for me but someone buy it so I feel better – or so I can borrow it – LOL).

Fave Insta-Influencer: Vani Hari, aka @thefoodbabe, is a NYT best-selling author who is dedicated to descrambling food labels and teaching the masses how not to be duped. She pulls back the mask on the many products masquerading as natural, healthy options- I would go so far as to call her a modern muckraker and a brave consumer advocate. I’m greatly admiring her courage in standing up to big corporations and challenging their attempts to muddle the public’s knowledge, and I learn from her Instagram posts every time. Her book, Feeding You Lies, can be found on Amazon in hardcover or for the Kindle. It’s in my cart.


Fave Useful Item: Warmer weather is upon us, so the shout out goes to France Luxe’s L. Erickson Grab & Go Pony hair elastics ($18 for a tube of 15). These are not new and many of you may know of them already, but if you don’t, they are life-changing. I’ve given up using all my other elastics for both my daughter (who has fine, flyaway hair) and myself (fuller, naturally curly hair) – these are by far the most comfortable, effective and stylish of the bunch. They come in a variety of colors and are a bit pricier than what I would ordinarily pick up at the drugstore , but also half as likely to get lost. You can find them at specialty boutique stores, a full array of colors on their site, or a smaller selection of 8-elastic tubes on Amazon ($10).

Do you need a measles booster shot?

Fave Hot Topic Answers: The conversation outside my daugher’s gymnastics class this past week amongst parents revolved around the resurgence of the measles, and what’s required to be protected against it. Here’s a link to the CDC website with the FAQ. In short, the answers are: Kids should be following their vaccination schedule and receive two doses, properly spaced. No, you don’t need a booster as an adult if you are confident you received both doses as a kid. Yes, you can take it again if you are unsure that you got both doses way back when – it’s not worrisome to get an accidental third dose.

Fave Laugh: The Accidental SuperMom on Instagram is hysterical and has three young kiddos to gather material from. Her blog is filled with equally funny writing, and also identifiable perspective (like Past, Present and Future Mom). If you have young kids and are feeling the motherhood mayhem, she is the best comic relief. Here, she lists “What We Really Want for Mother’s Day.” Sing it, sister.

(All opinions are totally my own… I started this blog three seconds ago… so obvs nothing is sponsored) – If you love what you read, share it! Moms are all each other’s best resource. Till next time! xoxo TheMomReno

Trashing the Toxins! – Week 2

Who’s ready to trash some toxins with me?

With an eye towards simple, sustainable swaps in our daily routine that will lead our family towards better health, this weekly post is an attempted “toe-dip” into smarter choices. Nothing radical – just some carefully considered substitutions that can be instituted gradually.

What’s the criteria for this series? Products need to be:

  • A better (healthier, cleaner, etc) version of a product I would ordinarily purchase. Ideally organic, but we’re going for improvements that will actually be embraced by the fam (I live in a household that still eats toaster pastries, so… baby steps).
  • A readily available item that can be easily found (either online or via multiple retail locations).
  • Sold at a “reasonable” price point. While some items might be considered upscale or boutique, I’m not trading in a $5 mascara for a $70 mascara… we are about to do an expensive home reno…
  • A realistic, unintimidating option. Nothing that will add exponential time and bother to any mom’s already nutso schedule.

Did you know that you could easily find safer products on Amazon by typing EWG-verified into the search bar? I didn’t! (The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit watchdog, dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.) Talk about an effortless way to find great choices! I also learned, thanks to following celeb makeup artist Cassandra McClure on Instagram, that the EWG has a Healthy Living app – download it and you can type in a product name or scan the barcode to get an ingredient scorecard (flagging the ones with allergy, cancer or developmental concern) – Conscious consumerism? Check!

RMS Beauty “Un” Powder – Reporting in on the translucent setting powder that I purchased from clean beauty mecca Follain’s online site… two thumbs up! I’m a definite convert to this completely toxin-free (no talc, no perfume, no parabens) setting powder – its invisible finish maximizes makeup staying power and absorbs excess oil. After having an allergic response to one of the more cult, mainstream brand setting sprays, I was willing to ante up ($34) to try a fear-free option from one of the hottest lines in this sphere. RMS Beauty’s mission is pretty impressive, and the brand was dreamed up by a leading makeup artist, so they know their stuff (Those J. Crew model glowing faces? All Rose-Marie Swift). Looks like new customers can snag a 15% discount on their website if you subscribe to their newsletter. I plan to do so with my next product try, since I imagine it could be a good resource.

Babo Botanicals Sensitive Baby Fragrance Free Shampoo and Wash – I swapped my eczema-prone daughter to this EWG-verified shampoo and body wash ($14.39 on Amazon) this week and I’m really pleased with it. It gives a decent lather for a sulfate-free option and boasts natural oat proteins, organic calendula and shea butter for a soothing soak that won’t dry out sensitive skin. I believe they are also dairy, soy, gluten and nut-free. I want to try their new sunscreens next. You can get 25% off your first order if you visit babobotanicals.com and join their family rewards program- sometimes Amazon’s price is more competitive, but the full product line offering is available on their site. I’ll pretend I didn’t steal this wash to also clean my makeup brushes this weekend (I’ve always used baby shampoo so as not to strip them) – it worked great for that too!

Budieggs Wool Dryer Balls Organic XL 6-Pack – I’d heard about the idea of throwing a few of these in the dryer instead of scented dryer sheets, but I was still buying those in bulk at Costco. I finally took the plunge with these babies. Our clothes came out soft and fluffy and no longer smell like an imagined version of the great outdoors. Fewer chemicals coating our clothes, rubbing onto our skin. Can’t be bad. They are hypoallergenic and good for 1,000 loads – I chose the Budieggs brand because almost all Amazon buyers gave them five stars, they were only $11.76, and who doesn’t love a good sheep graphic. (Also good for indoor impromptu “snowball” fights with your kids?)

Cape May Honey Farm Wildflower Honey – I picked up this honey pot while vacationing as a family last summer – we passed the Cape May Honey Farm shop in West Cape May while driving out of town and I yelled to stop the car. I’ve been using honey a lot more recently – drizzling it on top of yogurt, mixing it into Shalice Noel’s energy ball recipe (prior post), and sweetening up other yummies in lieu of refined sugar. Many people believe that local honey can improve allergies (thanks to exposure to local pollen, building immunity), and the count is so high outside right now that I’m ready to submit to anything worth trying. This wildflower honey is some of the best I’ve had and comes in a generous 16 oz. pot for $9.99. The farm also sells flavors like cinnamon infused NJ clover (which I tried there… delish!) and NJ Blueberry Blossom. They ship, or you can simply find some local honey in your area. A natural alternative that supports local business!

(All products were chosen by me independently and all opinions are totally my own… I started this blog three seconds ago… so obvs nothing is sponsored- I just love sharing great finds) – Till next time! xoxo TheMomReno

Have any suggestions for future toxin free swaps? Share them with me below or email me at themomreno@gmail.com. Help a girl out!

10 Lessons I’ve Learned From Our Home Reno (and it hasn’t even started)


Renovation time inches closer every week, though the timeline is still fluid based on permitting and materials. Being reno virgins (we have lived in this townhouse for close to 12 years and this is our first major project), there is much to consider – not only about the design process and the cost involved (yikes), but also about the impact it will have on our lives both during and long afterwards.

A structural change in living space feels like an opportunity. It’s a chance to design something that, once completed, hopefully results in a more efficient layout so daily living seems a little more effortless and enjoyable. Since this is a townhouse, nothing on the exterior will change, but we do have a weight-bearing wall inside that is being cut back and requires reinforcement beams, etc. We plan to live here during construction and bounce between our other two floors – right now, that’s the part contributing most to my anxiety. I’m busy thinking about how to store things and how we can arrange existing furniture to limit discomfort.

It feels like there is take-away value to be gleaned from every conversation with every professional involved, and also any friend or acquaintance who is undergoing (or has so in the past) an overhaul of similar scale. So, strike up a conversation with everyone you meet! You never know when you can gain wisdom from a veteran that could save you from a major future misstep.

With that, here are the 10 lessons that I’ve learned so far (and we haven’t even taken a hammer to one wall yet):

So this happened… and I jokingly texted my kitchen designer to draft FASTER!

1.Choose to work with experts that you have confidence in and enjoy conversing with. Make them locally recommended, detail-oriented, responsive specialists with a proven track record. I’m talking to these people a LOT. There are no walls open yet and they already feel like friends. The fact that I am sure of their expertise makes things a whole lot less stressful and I’m comfortable asking questions and challenging certain recommendations. I hope they enjoy me as a client in return.

2. Consider the livability of construction during the earliest phase of planning. My priority is the main floor of our unit – the kitchen, the living room, the bathroom, and the floors. We had thought about installing a basement bathroom someday but it wasn’t at the top of the list. Turns out, we’re opting to do it first. Knowing that the main floor will be out of commission for months, having a full bathroom in our primary shared space will prevent the inconvenience of having to travel two floors up every time we need to use a toilet or sink.

3. Know your design “personality”. Do you like things to be modern, cozy, transitional, timeless? Do your homework on Pinterest, Houzz, and similar sites that will allow you to collect photos to present to the people you work with, so they can envision things similarly and create a sense of cohesiveness. This holds true for architects, builders and even interior designers later on, if you choose to use one.

4. Design with the intention of giving everything a “home.” The very start is the optimum time to dream up a space that is uniquely right for your family (as you are not limited to just storage pieces and added accessories). You can maximize available space. You can also fashion options to ease access and store the items you use most. On the most recent Mother Like a Boss podcast episode, host Kendra addresses this very issue – she jokes that “if she were to write a book, it would be called I’ll Bring it Up the Next Time I Go Upstairs, and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves.” My personal project this week is to dump out all the kitchen drawers (nine!) to see if I can get away with only three (what’s currently drafted). Deeper drawers for pots and pans will be utilizing that under-counter area, so how many existing items can be simply tossed? Can things be stored elsewhere in the new layout?

Hood of my dreams, we will be together soon…

5. Ugh – Expect it’s going to be more expensive than originally thought. Once appliance shopping is over and exploratory visits are made (“oh, you’re gonna need an ejector pump for a bathroom down here”), some less important improvements might need to be reconsidered or delayed to remain in the budget ballpark. I picked a hood for our oven whose cost might necessitate us skipping the fridge. LOL

6. Delay decor choices that can be made at a later phase. Often, items like tiles for a backsplash or lighting fixtures for a bathroom can be left for the final round. Details in a completed room might look more bulkier or smoother than you envisioned and demand a different complement, even if its a minor variation on your original selection.

7.Purge all the stuff (and then purge again). I am making a concerted effort to donate as much as possible – to other local families, to Goodwill, to the Veterans, to local hospitals and preschools that might need toys we’ve grown out of – it still doesn’t feel like I have made near enough headway!

8. Match white cabinetry to trimmings. If you are opting for white cabinets, select the same shade as your baseboards and crown molding. You don’t want either one looking dingy or yellow-tinged next to the other.

9.Keep a sense of humor, if possible. Things will go awry. (I’m aware of this but it will still rock me when it does!) Listening to Young House Love’s podcast in the car is reminding me to keep things light. In each episode, home transformer extraordinaires John and Sherry hand out useful renovating and decor tips are super honest about the DIY snags they’ve encountered in the five homes they’ve worked on. I love her design sense and their website is an amazing and unintimidating resource. Highly recommend – they feel like friends you haven’t met yet.

I know what you’re thinking… who would ever want to replace this thing of beauty?

10. Embrace the role of primary project decision-maker. After so many years together, I’ve learned that it’s ok if your partner doesn’t watch HGTV too. My husband could care less if we live with ill-fitting original cabinetry and green speckled formica for the rest of our days, or if we even renovate at all. I could view this as a lack of participation, but I don’t – truth is, it’s his gift to me. He just wants me to be happy, so “don’t force him to choose something arbitrarily.” He’s allowing a design-obsessed control freak to make selections without having to compromise her taste. He knows I’ll take him into account. The fact that a man who hates nothing more than being uncomfortable is willing to dwell in the basement for many months is akin to him penning me a love sonnet. Thanks dear. 🙂

Are you about to renovate too? Did you just complete a project? Share your comments and tips below! We can all learn so much from each other…