Benchic: The Best Chocolate I’ve Had!

Ah chocolate…

As a lifelong professed ‘chocoholic’ my taste in the sweet stuff has evolved over the years along with my tastes in most foods. In the course of 12 or so years, I’ve gone from a McDonald’s eating, sometimes cigarette smoking, never excersizing, meat and potatoes kinda girl to a vegetarian who’s always looking for better ways to feed my family healthy and delicious foods. (Follow my Pinterest board HERE to see the yummy recipes I’m trying!) After all of the effort I put into eating great stuff, it doesn’t make sense to eat a Snickers anymore. That sort of candy doesn’t even interest me, it’s overly sweet- and it’s filled with a bunch of scary chemicals (which you can read more about HERE.) So what does someone with a sweet tooth do when a chocolate craving takes hold? Thank God for Benchic.

I was introduced to Benchic through Dhru over at the Clean Program, a wellness ninja and really great guy who loves connecting people interested in health and healing. What I found was a company making delicious handmade chocolate that’s minimally processed and actually good for you. When I bit into my first square, I felt like I was tasking chocolate for the first time. It really is that amazing. The basis for the chocolates is raw cacao powder which has all sorts of huge health benefits like being high in magnesium, fiber, and iron. Their chocolate squares are silky and rich so just a bite after dinner is just enough to make me happy which is how it should be. I’d much rather nibble on these decadent and good-for-you treats (that lasted about a month at our house), than pay $4 for a bag of chemical-laden junk that makes me feel terrible. Companies like this that I’ve been lucky enough to come across have changed the way I think about what I put into my body and how much. We really shouldn’t be eating a whole box of crackers or whatever in one sitting, but cheap food sold in giant boxes suggest otherwise. These chocolates are such simple and delicious treats that will satisfy both a sweet tooth and a desire for better health.

benchic

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My Life Lately

If you’re wondering where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to, these pics pretty much sum it up. Everly is now 3 months and Harper is 21 so I’m elbows deep into this mother of two thing. Aside from everything taking a little more time, I find it to be much easier than I ever thought possible- really it’s not much different than having just one. Helping me big time is the fact that they both sleep through the night and aren’t much for crying (thank god I discovered comfort nursing with Harper!) so I’m getting some sleep. Best of all is my sweet hubby who works from home so he tags in when he can which helps a ton. Just knowing that he’s here when I need him is such a blessing and takes a lot of stress away.

That said.

I’m still always tired from the broken sleep of Evie nursing once in the night, Harper is in constant motion, and my thyroid is still out of whack so not only is my hair still falling out in clumps, but sometimes I’m so overcome with exhaustion that I’ve fallen asleep nursing with my head hanging down. I’ll wake up with Evie staring at me like ‘really mom?’

So there’s that.

But! How cute are these girls? I mean seriously?! There’s little Evie at 3 months perfectly perched in her chair. She’s always smiling and just beams whenever anyone looks her way. And then there’s sweet Harper who is the most gentle and loving soul I’ve ever met giving her sister a squeeze (whether she likes it or not.) She’s obsessed with Evie sitting on her lap and gives her a million kisses throughout the day. The other pic is Harper holding onto Evie’s head while I nursed her last week which I thought was beyond sweet. And the last hard to see pic is me with Harper in her crib. I jump in with her everyday at 5:30 to wake her up from her nap. She’s all sleepy and cuddly so we hang out until she wakes up a little then head down to make dinner together. Everyday I swear she’s the perfect age, her personality just keeps getting bigger and she’s so smart. We’re so lucky to have these little girls in our lives.

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My Hair Is STILL Falling Out: Living Proof Haircare & Sibu to the Rescue

Of course I’ve totally fallen in love with Living Proof haircare – it’s expensive and I have to go to Ulta or Sephora to get it. However it’s one of those rare lines I want to shout from the rooftop about because it’s so crazy good. It’s magic, a game changer in the industry, and something you should try. In the short time I’ve used it my static is gone, my hair looks fuller, and I have to remind myself when it’s been 3 days to wash it because it always looks (and smells!) freshly washed. Their technology is so advanced that their shampoos help hair to repel dirt and oil so it stays cleaner longer and the conditioners improve hair’s health over time. This stuff isn’t just to wash and style, it’s a long term solution to get your hair healthy and looking great.

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And speaking of hair…

Mine is totally falling out still. In huge clumps. Everyday for 4 months. Last time (meaning last time I had a baby which was just a year and a half ago) it fell out for 6 months. It was just starting to grow back when I got pregnant again so it never fully recovered which makes this current loss even worse.

Here’s a shot of me from last weekend (left) and one from just a few years ago. Such a difference in the texture, sheen, and thickness of my hair. You can see around my part how thick it once was. *Sigh*

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Instead of relying on topical treatments alone, I’m also starting to take Sea Buckthorn from Sibu – the makers of that oil I use on my face. Their liquid supplement and Cellular Support with Omega 7 softgels both use sea buckthorn berry which is naturally rich in vitamins and omegas to nourish skin and promote growth of hair and nails. Ever since Dr Oz talked about its ability to signal the body to stop storing fat- making it a natural weight loss aid of sorts- sea buckthorn has become hugely popular.

So, longer hair, healthy skin, strong nails, and it melts fat? It’s like Gisele in a bottle. Bottoms up.

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(More) Stuff I Buy: tarte

Even I fall into a makeup rut from time to time. For years now I’ve worn slightly varied looks that start with a nude shimmery shadow on my lid and then some other boring brownish shade. Zzzz. I’m so over this shimmer and I’m tired of browns so tarte’s be MATTEnificent colored clay eye & cheek palette caught my eye on a recent trip to Ulta which is quickly passing Sephora as the makeup and beauty destination. (And no I don’t know the company, I really think that because they sell drugstore  and hard to find brands like NYX there too.) Although the colors appear sort of similar they’re unique enough to create different looks and they’re each really pretty and wearable so my whole palette will get used. Unless (and this is a big unless) you have skin that’s darker than a typical medium olive tone. Then I don’t think this palette is for you because the colors are pretty light and probably wouldn’t pack enough punch to really show up. But If you have a lighter skin tone these colors will compliment your complexion without overwhelming it. The cool plums are a nice departure from browns and the pale rose blush is gorgeous on. I’ve also been using the black and brown powder liners- so much easier than a fussy gel liner which I don’t use very often anymore because it takes me too long to make a straight line. For $36 I think I got a great deal, it’s everything I need  in one easy palette.

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I was out of concealer too and wanted to try something new. After circling Ulta three or four times I decided I’m too picky to try something random and too busy to bring something back. Tarte it is!

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Ok so I’m of course loving their maracuja creaseless concealer but the consistency took a little getting used to. It’s on the tacky side so it feels different from typical concealers but it works really well because those with a consistency that’s too moisturizing tends to crease and slide while something more drying doesn’t spread or completely blend into the skin. This pigment dense, waterproof formula melts into the skin hiding discolorations and even dissolves completely into fine lines hydrating those dryer areas using their signature maracuja oil.

I put a coat of it around my eyes, nose and over any other redness but I don’t blend it in right away. Next I apply my foundation then spray my whole face with my Caudalie Elixir. This way the concealer has some time to warm into my skin so when   I press it in using my Beauty Blender everything is perfectly concealed- even my dark circles. Not a hint of discoloration shows through.

You might have to play with it a little to achieve invisible coverage on your skin but once you get it right it’s so worth it.

Then I sort of impulse bought Amazonian clay full coverage airbrush foundation because I thought the name and packaging were both awesome. I’m always on the hunt for a good powder foundation because of how easy they are to apply and this one had a light constancy and good coverage (on my hand from the tester but not my face because I’m a germaphobe like that.) Side note: When I worked at Nordstrom a million years ago, some sicko came in to get makeup to cover some weird skin problem she was having but like 5 of us at different counters wouldn’t touch her (because you’re not supposed to, duh) and we basically told her to see a doctor. But then we looked over to the Lancome counter and there was this equally weird girl who worked there for like 1o minutes who was all- sure I’ll help you. The rest of us were like SMH which turned into a WTF the next day when the Lancome girl came into work with the SAME RASH. It took about an hour for someone to pipe up and tell her to be on her way (which was strange because she called in sick all the time, but when she had an actual problem, there she was!) But the damage was already done because she, the initial weirdo, and now most of the Lancome girls all had Impetigo, a really gross and highly contagious oozy skin rash that has to be treated with antibiotics. We all had to disinfect what we could salvage at our own counters, but several tester units were thrown out which was expensive and a huge mess. So lesion learned: Don’t use testers on my face and also don’t try to disguise some red weeping sore- treat it with actual medicine.

Anyway- I’ll try my very own clean and new powder foundation this weekend and report back.

Amazonian clay full coverage  airbrush foundation

Sibu Beauty Sea Buckthorn Oil

You must check out Sebu Beauty and their skincare made with the nutrient rich sea buckthorn berry. I just bought my second bottle of Sea Buckthorn oil from Sprouts today along with their cleanser. I bought my first bottle of the oil a few months back along with the cleansing bar (which is almost gone) and I use them both daily. The oil regulates my skin’s moisture levels and leaves it really glowy- a huge help since the cold weather is sucking the life out of my skin and I don’t always have time to slap on foundation.

Next I’ll order their supplements (I couldn’t find them at Sprouts) which I read are good for hair growth. Mine is still falling out in clumps thanks to my thyroid so anything right now is worth a shot.

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How to Dermaplane/ Don’t Try This at Home

Dermaplaning. How I love thee.

For those unfamiliar it’s an exfoliating skin treatment performed by facialists that removes tons of dead surface skin (and peach fuzz) using a razor blade. Basically, it’s a hard core face-shave best described by Cheryl over at The Cut who goes into detail of her experience getting the treatment- worth a read if you haven’t had it done. I love it because my face is hairy (I’m Italian what can I say?) and it fully removes that peach fuzz and top layer of skin so well that I obsessively touch my face for about a week after because it’s so soft. It gives a youthful and radiant glow plus your skincare will penetrate and work better not having the dry skin and hair barrier blocking its way. It’s a technique that’s been used for years and it’s so simple and non-invasive. You can usually add it onto any facial for $20 or so, but since I haven’t been to my facialist since forever, I decided to bravely DIY this treatment that’s admittedly best left to the pros.

Now let’s be clear, I really don’t recommend you do this yourself. We’re talking about taking a sharp, medical grade scalpel to your skin that could cut and permanently scar your face. But for me, I felt like after a few quick YouTube vids I could dermaplane with the best of em. (Side note: ever since I learned to roll sushi via YouTube I feel like I’m just a four minute tutorial away from learning anything. I somehow felt like I could repair our broken dryer after watching this video today but eventually called someone who actually knows what they’re doing.)

Anyway.

I was a little nervous getting started but I followed the tips on how to hold the blade at an angle and how lightly to press to a T. I was so gentle that I had to do a few passes to get results but that’s better than going nuts and hacking a chunk of skin off my cheek. Afterward I applied my Vivant Mandelic Acid serum which did sting a little on my sensitized skin (typical) but it was back to normal the following day.

I didn’t take a before and after because I didn’t think to, but the pic below demonstrates pretty typical results immediately after a treatment.

If you’re looking to try dermaplaning at home.. don’t. You really shouldn’t. But if you’re stubborn, stupid, pressed for time, and cheap like me, here’s what I used.

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These blades I bought from Amazon that received glowing recommendations. How could 39 people be wrong?

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It’s a lightweight curved blade with a plastic handle. The ones used by pros have a metal handle where you pop in disposable straight blades after each use. It goes without saying that they are extremely sharp. People in the reviews say they also use them in the kitchen as ultra sharp pairing knives. Let’s hope it wasn’t after they used them to shave the skin and hair off their faces because yuk if so.

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Photo credit: dermistique.com

If you do try it be sure to let me know how it goes but be careful and do your homework. Sharp objects and ignorance do not mix.