Monday, July 29, 2013

For the Girls: Let's Talk About Boobs

Yeah. Today I'm really writing about my boobs.
If you're looking to get turned on, however, check a different blog, friend.

This isn't hot. It's a girl's desperate call-to-action!
If only someone had pulled me aside when I was younger and advised me to cherish my BB (before babies) boobs.

If only I'd better appreciated the good thing I had going on...once upon a time.

But alas, the situation has taken a turn.
Damn you, gravity!

You know. It's not that the girls are outta the game. They just need a boost.
Don't we all just need a lil' boost sometimes?

So I'm on a quest, and I need your help.
Photo Credit
I'm on a hardcore hunt for the best, most comfortable, tata-celebratin' bra out there!

Gone are the days when a cute little bralette could do the trick.
Gots to have support these days. You know.

Taking action, I started by trying on my current bras and took note of what I did and didn't like about the way they fit.

Next, I began my standard online research and stumbled upon True & Co, an online company that has customers fill out a quick questionnaire to create a recommendation list in finding the perfect bra. Once you choose 5 different bras, you put down a $45 deposit and True & Co sends them straight to your door.

While waiting for my True & Co "try-on" package to arrive, I hit up our local Victoria's Secret for a formal fitting.
bra fitting
Get a proper fitting at your local lingerie store. Victoria's Secret will send you home with a card detailing your perfect fit. 
There, I learned that I've, most likely, been wearing the wrong size! For Pete's sake! All these years.
Duh. Last time I got measured, I was a teenager. It was definitely time for another check, for sure.

After a few days, my True & Co. package arrived. Although the bras were gorgeous, they were all a bit too snug because I'd ordered the wrong size. Arg.

The great news is that, with True & Co., you can send the box back (free of charge) if the fit isn't right!
I've been corresponding with a rep at the company who has been incredibly helpful in helping me find my ideal bra.
My first home try-on package from True & Co.
And what IS an ideal bra?
Help me out here, girls.

I just want a beautiful, comfortable, versatile bra. Is that too much to ask for?
And a strapless bra that doesn't feel like hell.
Does one exist?
ideal bra
I love how this bra has straps that can be rearranged to accommodate racerback or cross-back styles. Bonus!

So while I'm waiting for my next try-on box from True & Co., I'm calling out to YOU.

Ladies, have you discovered a bra that you've totally fallen in love with—one that feels just right and lets the girls ride high?

Have you found a strapless bra that offers great support without forcing you to pull it up to make constant adjustments?

Let's BAND together, girls!
Send me any tips or feedback on finding the perfect bra.
I promise to report when I find "the one."
This quest shall end in blissful victory.

Sending lots of love and support to you all, lovely ladies!
Have a happy week!
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Let's Talk About Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps

Good morning, my lovely friends!

Today, let's talk about cleanin' your scene.

Last week, a lovely rep over at Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps sent me Organic Lemongrass Lime Shaving Gel and Baby Mild Organic Bar Soap, two of their Organic and Fair Trade products to review.
***Sidenote- aside from the free gel and soap, I received no other incentive for this post. The opinions expressed here are my own.
Dr. Bronners Magic Soap All-One Hemp Unscented Baby-Mild Bar Soap
All-One Hemp UNSCENTED BABY-MILD Organic Bar Soap  & Organic Lemongrass Lime Shave Gel
No complaints outta me, since we've been long-time users of their Pure Castile Classic Soap (which we use for EVERYTHING—from cleaning floors to dishes and countertops) and their totally exhilarating Peppermint Bar Soap.
And seriously, if you've never tried that peppermint soap on your whole body, lemme tell YOU, you are most definitely missing out. Try it and you will, undoubtedly, know what I mean. ZING!

I digress.

Anyhoooooo, I tried the Organic Lemongrass Lime Shaving Gel, and quickly fell in love. The gel smells incredibly fresh and clean and glides smoothly over the skin. Definitely recommend for a spa-like shaving experience for the ladies.
Gel goes on smoothly and left my skin feeling moisturized 
Striving for a fair review, I asked my fella to try the gel on his face. During his shave, he got the gel on his lips and had a bit of an unpleasant experience. Used to traditional shaving foam lather, he also had trouble "seeing" where he had and hadn't shaved and preferred his ol' standby Barbasol foam.

I, however, am a convert and have fallen in love this gel and its paraban-free, organic goodness. Having been on the hunt for a funk-free shaving product, I'm sold and will continue to stock up on this gel.
All-One Hemp UNSCENTED BABY-MILD Organic Bar Soap 
The Baby Mild Organic Bar Soap is great as well! After an entire week of regular use, we love the the fact that ALL of the ingredients are organic and Certified Fair Trade, so again, there's nothing icky in there for the kiddos.

Prove it?
Told you I'm an obsessive researcher.
Check out its stellar EWG (Environmental Working Group) rating on the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database. That's about as safe as it gets, friends!

But do read the label and heed the warning to keep this soap away from wee ones' eyes.

After an accidental splash, my daughter got some soap in her eye and did experience mild stinging. We've been using this product from the neck down and are sticking to tear-free shampoo and face wash until the girls are a bit older.
And there you have it!
In a nutshell, we've been loving Dr. Bronner's products for many years and are sticking to 'em! They just keep coming up with more organic goodies. Right up our alley!

Keep it up, Dr. B! We're so happy to break free from products packed full of toxic chemicals and we fully support your forward thinking moves out there. Cheers to you!

What's your favorite line of household soap/cleaning products?
Have a squeaky clean day, my friends!
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sometimes There's a Song...

Sometimes there's a song that triggers a frenzy inside your body and brain when the first note sounds.

Sometimes there's a song that evokes such a strong memory, such intense emotion, that it causes the rest of the world to stop while it plays out.

Sometimes a song and a memory simply can never be separated.

You feel me, right?
Once upon a time, back in our rowdy college days, we rambunctious women had a thing for Jeff Buckley.

And one overly-rowdy night, we overly-rambunctious women scooted out from a party and piled into "Old Gray," my famous Honda Accord, most definitely NOT to go for a drive, but to simply listen to this song that we all loved—with the volume turned up full blast.

Full. Blast.
As full as a blast could possibly get.
At exactly three minutes into this song, the sizzle happened.
I will never forget it.
It jolted out of us like electricity.

The music sent us into a completely, over-the-top crazy, window-banging, head-shaking, eyes-clenched shut, frenzy. FUH-REN-ZEE!

At the tops of our lungs, with absolutely no inhibition whatsoever, the five of us belted out the climax of "Last Goodbye" so passionately, so emotionally, that I'm confident none of us will ever forget that moment for the rest of our lives.

The remainder of that night, however, is an entirely different story—
but the four minutes and 35 seconds of "Last Goodbye" will be, definitively, burned into our memories forever.
Time passes on, and all these years later, one of us is gone—gone from sight but never from memory.

When we lost our shiningly beautiful friend, the lyrics to this song took on a much different meaning—but the feeling, the passion, the love and gut-bursting emotion will always remain the same.

Because sometimes there's a song that says it all.
And, for the five of us, this is it. Full blast.

We miss and love you every day, B.
This one's for you.

What song ignites memories for you?
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

P.S. Congratulations to Tamar, #9 on our comment list, and our WINNER of the Berenstain Bears book giveaway. We know you're going to share lots of smiles with your wonderful score!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Folkiest Festival Around

Can YOU get down with folk, folks?

Since I've moved to Pennsylvania, I've enjoyed time spent learning about, and embracing, the PA Dutch culture that is celebrated in this region.
PA Dutch culture
Hex sign display
I've read literature, researched online, asked countless questions, and have even taken a graduate class on regional folklore. The stories around here are just crazy cool.
Quilt barn
Inside the Quilt Barn
But nothing puts a person INTO the Pennsylvania Dutch groove more than a visit to experience The Kutztown Folk Festival. It's just one of those events that you never forget. I'm pretty sure that, if you've yet to visit, you've never seen anything quite like this.
PA Dutch culture
Live music in the Quilt Barn
Walking in, visitors are greeted by volunteers dressed in traditional garb, accessorized with suspenders, aprons, hats and bonnets.

There is a wonder around every corner, as artisans demonstrate their impressive skills—adeptly working their crafts before your very eyes.

Stop to ask a question or two. Discover a lil' something new. Pick up an exciting hobby.
PA Dutch culture
Every year, I learn more about this region, about the admirable skill and dedication that goes into each unique art form, about the incredible value in preserving this extraordinary culture.

There is so much sensation to absorb...

the mouthwatering scent of bratwurst, freshly baked bread and apple dumplings that fills the air—

the unique "Dutchy" dialogue and terminology, cleverly integrated throughout the entire festival—
Kutztown Folk Festival
the traditional folk music that serenades visitors as they stroll past skilled craftsman vendors—
PA Dutch culture
and the unique demonstrations and performances that excite, inspire and intrigue children and adults alike.
Hanging of Susanna Cox
Bizarre reenactment of the hanging of Susanna Cox
Weird and wonderful, the Kutztown Folk Festival is, undoubtedly, an experience and a half. 
The Children's Stage
Puppet shows, sing-a-longs and story time for the wee ones
It's a reminder...
of what once was
of what's worth handing down
of time that passes on.

It's a reminder...
to look closer
to appreciate the beauty of true craft
and art
and family
and love.

It's the coolest little party around—so striking that National Geographic magazine has featured the festival TWICE!

Get out here next summer to check it out for yourselves.
We'll see ya there!

What events in your area celebrate art and culture?  
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

P.S. Today is the last day to enter A Berenstain Bears Book GIVEAWAY! Enter by commenting on this post and win big, friends!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hair Space?

Space shampoo-ing!
I guess I just never thought about it...
how people up in space handle hygiene and all.

Last night, my fella and I watched this short video on how to wash hair out on the International Space Station, and we were totally fascinated.
Didja see those wayward water droplets?!? Come ON.

Don't know about you, but I'll be washing my hair with an extraordinary lather today. And the rinsing? The rinsing will be more luxurious than ever before, I'm sure.

Funny, the things we take for granted sometimes, huh?

Gotta say, I'm really curious about how they handle going to the bathroom up there now.
I really hope those droplets don't get away from them, you know?

Man. Science is so cool.

Here's to cleanliness and gravity, my friends.
Have an ultra-appreciative week.
I know I will.

XOXO From My Hearth to Yours
P.S. Don't forget to enter to win The Berenstain Bears book GIVEAWAY this week. Just comment on the post here and nab up to FOUR chances to win big. Good luck, friends.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Berenstain Bears Book GIVEAWAY!

This week, my sweet friends, you have up to four chances to make a lucky little reader's day!
Harper Collins
After last week's post, Choosing Favorites: My Top 5 Book Collections for Kiddos, Harper Collins Publishing generously offered to share two wonderful Jan & Mike Berenstain books with YOU!

Any lil' darling would just love to snuggle up for some story time with The Berenstain Bears Go Green! and The Berenstain Bears and the Tooth Fairy, so three cheers to The Berenstain Bears Studio and Harper Collins for sharing the sheer joy of these books with you and your budding readers.
Harper Collins
Bring the life lessons, love and warmth of The Berenstain Bears to someone special this week. Snuggling and smiles are guaranteed!
So, how do you nab the prize?
Leave a comment on this blog postA randomizer program will select one lucky winner from the comment list on this page to take home the goods!  (1 entry)

Wanna increase your odds?
"Like" From My Hearth to Yours on Facebook for one additional entry. Already on board? Comment separately below and, I do declare, you'll be swimming in that game pool twice! Always trying to increase the odds for regular readers here at the Hearth! (1 entry)

Or scroll down on the right side bar to join up with From My Hearth to Yours on Google Friend Connect for yet another entry. Comment to notify me on this page, stay in the Hearth's loop, and tack on one additional shot at the prize! (1 entry)

Lastly, feel free to share the link to this giveaway on FB or Twitter for one more entry. Comment on this post to let me know you've shared. (1 entry)
Good luck, friends! Each entrant has up to FOUR chances to win this incredible prize!
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours

*Giveaway is open to ALL From My Hearth to Yours readers until Tuesday, July 16th at 9p.m. EST. Winner will be announced on Wednesday, July 17th. If the prize is unclaimed 72 hours after winner is announced, the next number in the randomizer list will be declared the winner. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

From My Hearth to Yours Meets FOLK Magazine

Happy Monday, party people!
Isn't it hard getting back into the groove after such a magnificent, celebratory 4th of July weekend?

And speaking of the ol' homeland...

I'm so honored to have had the chance to be a guest blogger over at FOLK Magazine this week.
Swing on over to check out my post about my visit to a unique auction here!
FOLK Magazine is such a wonderful conglomeration of pure Americana—such beautiful stories, photos and inspirations! I'm sure you'll stay awhile...and if we're birds of a feather, I know that you, too, will just fall in love over there. 

Enjoy the celebration of our rich heritage, sweet friends, and have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Choosing Favorites: My Top 5 Book Collections for Kiddos

Recently, a friend asked me to name my "favorite" books. When my response included Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss titles, The Giving Tree & Oh, The Places You'll Go, she wondered if I'd misconstrued the question. 

I actually second guessed myself for a moment there. Could I, a former English teacher, really declare that some of my favorite literary inspirations are actually children's books?

I thought about it more. For days.
Yup. Without a doubt. 

These books are, in my opinion, just perfect. No frill. No superfluous blathering. Just incredible, inspiring lessons that leave my heart full. Up to the brim.

Today I'll rave about 5 of my favorite children's book collections. These are the stories I, blissfully, read over and over, again and again. And I take something new away—every time. 

Let's start at the top...
Falling Up Every Thing On It Where the Sidewalk Ends A Light in the Attic The Giving Tree
Shel Silverstein's Falling Up, Every Thing On It, Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic and The Giving Tree
My all-time favorite author is Shel Silverstein. When I posted, The Book That Started It All, I described how much Where the Sidewalk Ends influenced me, but in all honesty, I'm taken by every word Shel ever wrote. 

Every kid needs to own a copy of The Giving Tree. Every kid. 
I dare you to get through a reading without misting up. Not sure it can be done. Because you love like that. 
Berenstain Bears books
Jan and Stan Berenstain's Berenstain Bears books
And don't all kiddos need Jan and Stan Berenstain's books on their shelves?

The Berenstain Bears books somehow feel The lessons I learned from Mama, Papa, Sister and Brother Bear have stuck with me since my own childhood, and I'm so happy to share their stories with my own baby bears these days.
Animalia, The Eleventh Hour and The Sign of the Seahorse
Graeme Base's Animalia, The Eleventh Hour and The Sign of the Seahorse
For those who appreciate art, you've GOT to get some Graeme Base books happening at home. Base's hidden pictures, secret messages, tantalizing stories and whimsical word play are unforgettable. Even adults will be utterly drawn into his intricate tales and illustrations.
When I'm Feeling books
Trace Moroney's When I'm Feeling books
Trace Moroney's When I'm Feeling box set has really impressed me. These books are jam-packed with really great advice about how to cope with emotions.

I've found that, if I'm feeling sad or lonely, reading one of these stories to my girls actually makes me feel better. The wording is simple, gentle and a good friend—perfect books to help develop healthy social (and self) improvement strategies.
Oh, the Places You'll Go, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Fox in Socks, Green Eggs and Ham, Yertle the Turtle, The Lorax, Cat in the Hat, The Sneetches
Dr. Seuss
And we conclude with...the man.
Dr. Seuss just got it.

He knew how to pull anyone into his games with words, and MAN what a ride!

Seuss could do simple, to engage the itty bitties who are just learning to fall in love with words and rhyme.

He could do comical with an edge, baiting the older brothers and sisters to nab one of HIS books to read to their little sibs.

But every story is real. Every time you close one of his books, you know you just experienced something profound. Something great. Something that lingers in the very best way.

Get your hands on every Dr. Seuss book you can.
If you've read, really read any...then you already know why.
What are YOUR favorite book collections for kiddos? Drop me a line and I'll start making room on the shelves! We can always make room for more magic...

Have a literary day, my friends, and a wonderful 4th of July!

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Monday, July 1, 2013

On the Line

Last summer, when I posted 21 Rays of Sunshine, I told you about my love of line-drying laundry. 

Really. It's one of my favorite tasks in the world. Something about it just works for me—so peaceful, natural and fresh.

If you've never been a line-dryer, please o' please give it a whirl. Maybe the magic will happen for you, too!

Here are a few tricks I've picked up over the years to help make the workload a bit easier. 

1. Use an old gardening bag and a hanger to store clothespins. I just slide the bag down the line as I add each item. Easy peasy!
line drying laundry

2. Wet laundry is cuh-raise-zee heavy. I use my daughters' stroller to wheel clothes from the washing machine to the clothesline. I've also found that it's easier on the back to have the basket elevated. It prevents excessive bending to grab each item for hanging. 
line drying laundry
 3. Hang shirts upside down to prevent pulling/warping on shoulders.
line drying laundry
 4. Skid Row- If you have wee ones who tend to leave the occasional COUGH residue, flip skivvies inside out and hang so that stains face the sun. You'll be amazed at how wonderful the sun is at bleaching out stains!

5. And on that note, if you want to preserve bright colors, flip clothing inside out to prevent color fading.

6. Line dried laundry smells so fresh. Knock out the STANK from sweaty socks by lettin' them blow in the breeze.
line drying laundry
7. If you like super soft towels, do NOT line dry. Line-dried towels have more of a crisp feel, which many people prefer. Hit up your electric dryer if you're more of a softy.
line drying laundry
8. Run a wet rag over your clothesline before hanging laundry. Dirt can accumulate on the line and will transfer to your clean clothes/linens. 
line drying laundry
I forgot to clean the line and got dirt marks on this clean sheet. Drat.
9. Listen. My favorite part of line drying laundry is soaking up all the sounds that surround me. You'll hear birds, breezes, name it. You'll love all the sweet sounds of nature that serenade you as you "work" out there.

10. Save energy...and a buck. On a hot, sunny day, your laundry will be drier faster and smelling fresher if you hang it out on the line, and you're sure to save money and energy by avoiding the use of an electric dryer.

Try it out, friends! See if you can dig that colonial groove and get down with line drying your duds.
Everybody's doing it!

Want awesome, inspiring proof?
Check this post out if you missed it last time- Underwear in the Air.

Sending you lots of sunshine so you can whistle while you work.
XOXO From My Hearth to Yours