Crumbolicious – Treat Yo Self

*Post Edit: The winner of the giveaway is…. JENNY! I’ll be contacting you shortly so you can choose your cake!*

A few weeks ago I was approached to host a sponsored post. I used to love doing these because they were interesting and fun and felt like the best kind of grad school writing assignments, but lately I just don’t have time to take on extra projects beyond my other extra projects. BUT THEN – the hook. I would be writing about my experience with CAKE. And I’d be able to experience baked goods delivered straight to me for free! And AND and …. I’d be able to host a giveaway that would allow one of my lovely, dedicated, thoughtful, baked-goods-loving readers to also receive FREE CAKE. (See the bottom of this post for details)


Crumbolicious makes many things – including brownies and cookies – that can be delivered directly to you, fresh and delicious. But what they are really, really good at is making these amazing crumble cakes. Like coffee cakes on crack because they now involve chocolate and chocolate chip and several other amazing why-didn’t-I-think-of-that flavors!

Continue reading “Crumbolicious – Treat Yo Self”

Product Review: California Naturel

Several weeks ago I was approached by California Naturel to do a product review for them. I was very excited because I had been recently reading about their products, how they use natural and oraganic ingredients and use sustainable business practices. Plus they are based in Sausalito and it always thrills me to be able to pinpoint exactly where a company is because I’ve spent time there myself. Sausalito! I miss you!

From my million product trials with Birchbox, you know I am always up for some experimentation and I am currently obsessed with face wash (I am no longer convinced of my regimen with Clinique), moisturizers, and sunscreens.


And they gave me a sampling of all four. I saved them for a special occasion and brought them along with us to the Four Seasons on our anniversary staycation. I felt like California Naturel needed to be experienced with some marble bathroom counter-tops and really excellent bathroom lighting. I was preparing myself for incredibly accessible, user friendly, even for the most sensitive of skins pampering experience. (They didn’t disappoint!)


First up was the Gentle Cleansing Gel ($33). The first thing I noticed was this super awesome bottle. You’d think it would super hard plastic, typical product manufacturing, etc or perhaps a frosted glass? Nope! It feels like a firm silicone, like it wold bounce if I dropped it. This is really exciting as I am totally freaked out about breaking my good products when I travel and I have no fear that this would break in any bag. It also comes with 2 caps to make it super difficult to come *magically* uncapped in any bag and get all over anything. I know, I’m kind of going on and on about this, but I swear – it’s the little things that make a product worth more than $10 at your local drugstore.


(Me! All face-washed up!)

California Naturel says that their Gentle Cleansing Gel uses over 99% natural ingredients and of those over 57% are sourced from organic farming. The scent is herbal, light, and refreshing. Overall it washed clean and was a great experience. I don’t use it every day because I found, for my skin, it can be a little drying, but it is great especially when I am washing off a day of BB cream and other makeup. If you are looking for a solid face wash and wanting to support a natural product, I would definitely recommend.


This broad spectrum sunscreen, SPF 30 ($35) is my favorite product they offer, hands down. I burn and being exposed in the sun for too long makes me anxious. Sunburns can ruin a vacation, a weekend, anything. They are embarrassing, but above all they are dangerous! I love BB/CC creams because they include a sunscreen for my face without me having to think about it. This lotion is like a daily moisturizer for my body that just so happens to have sunscreen in it.

Initially I was a little freaked out with how thick it seemed when I first squeezed it out and rubbed it together in my hands, but after putting it all over my arms, shoulders, and upper back/neck it felt completely non-greasy and left a matte finish. Living in a world of spray sunscreen, I felt extra protected being able to physically apply a lotion, and it was a major relief to not be concerned about getting my blouse greasy or stained because of a product.

Personally, it is a little thick for my face, but I will be packing California Naturel’s sunscreen for our trip to Maine for all of my chest/shoulders/back/arm action. During our staycation, I ran around the city for hours, had lunch on a rooftop deck, and felt extra confident that I wasn’t going to burn. I didn’t even freckle, it was fabulous.


The Nourishing Cream ($45) for dry to normal skin types was my first go-to as my skin is general dry (nowadays… pregnancy totally switched up my combo skin to not pretty consistently dry). This lotion is pretty thick and really, really hydrating. California Naturel says that this lotion improves skin elasticity (and helps with fine lines and wrinkles), and it reduces puffiness and redness on top of encouraging cell renewal.

I would use this as more of a night cream over a daily moisturizer. I think it is too thick to go under makeup, and if there is any heat/humidity happening I would be a sweaty, lotion-y faced person pretty fast. But! I think I’m going to buy a full-sized version for night to help improve my face skin’s texture during the day.

The Balancing Complex ($45) is a lighter lotion, much more suitable for day-wear. Although it claims to help regulate sebum production (basically, face oil) which would be perfect from combo/oily skin, but for my sad dry skin it may not be helpful on the daily.

Both of these lotions felt really good for my skin. I don’t know how to explain it without sounding cheesy, but they smelled really light, mildly herbal, really natural and I felt all glow-y after using the face wash and these lotions. Most of the time I don’t even really know what I am slathering on my skin. I kind of cross my fingers and hopes it works out. (Like with the expensive Smashbox BB Cream – which I am still trying to use and still trying to figure out because it was so expensive I don’t want to totally abandon it.) With the products from California Naturel I feel like I know exactly what is happening. I knew the ingredients, I felt confident that they were quality products and weren’t going to cause irritation or fail me somehow.

I think the expense of some of these items is worth really thinking about the purchase and I totally get that. I am at a point where I am mixing and matching my drugstore stuff (and my free samples, let’s be real) with a few higher end products. Especially in moisturizers, especially in face washes. And along with my farmer’s market push to eat organically and locally, I am very encouraging of anyone who would like to spend a little extra for natural/organic products. California Naturel is a great jumping off point.

If you’re interested in learning more about the products, check out their facebook page for many other reviews and user experiences.

Amazon Beach Baby + Giveaway

It has been hot in Seattle the last few weeks. No one here has any AC so we are suffering away in our brick apartment, blasting fans (that the bay is afraid of) and trying to make dinners that don’t require turning the oven on. We’re also splashing in the wading pool, about to head off for a staycation where AC will be plentiful (and a roof top pool will be at our disposal), and prepping for a trip to the Maine coast in August. I really should take out stock in baby sunscreen.

Since we had our first trial run with baby + beach in Miami in March, I do have some tips and beach baby product ideas (with the help of Amazon!) to hopefully make any summer pool/beach/park/outdoor adventure easier.



These glasses are awesome. Super durable (a guarantee against breakage for 1 year… what?!), perfect fit for little noggins, and they come in lots of colors. We have classic black.


We got them just after Gabe turned 1. At the time he wasn’t super into wearing anything on his face, but now that he is a few months older (at 16 months), he loves glasses. I’m thinking about getting a second pair that live in the car so when he is getting blasted with sun even through our window screen he can be comfortable.

The iPlay Baby Sunhat

We do not have this exact brand, but I have it in my shopping cart. We are hat obsessed and since our stroller was stolen (and our favorite red orca hat along with it!) we are down to just 1 hat. And with SPF clothing on my fair skinned baby, 1 hat is just not enough!


I like the iPlay because they have the back of the neck flap which I used to (And still do because I am forgetful) burn all of the time as a kid. Sunburns before you’re 18 are a major cause of skin cancer, so hat’s with 50 block sunscreen fabric that make my kid look like a weird little explorer? Yes please.


You should also check out the other stuff iPlay has on Amazon. They have some great options for kids younger than a year as well.

Organic Diaper Cover

Look at how cute these beach bloomers are!


This is not my baby, but I want a reason to buy these so badly!! Beach bloomers are way better for the beach than stupid boring shorts! I didn’t even know these things existed! And now I want my own grown up beach bloomers! With sea animals! Look at those chubby little thighs! I am dead of beach bloomer adorableness.

Pop’n Play Summer Infant Portable Play Yard

We don’t have one of these, but I’ve been spending a lot of time browsing amazon trying to figure out some sort of contraption for beach or park nap time. If you have little crawlers this may be perfect for a backyard or a deck you want to hang out on this summer. There is a great video on their amazon page that shows how easy the set up is. I wish I had this when Gabe was smaller so that he could have hung out in the kitchen with us without always getting caught up in our feet. The Pop’n Play is so much easier to set up than a Pack’n Play (which we were using as a little play yard before), it basically unfolds like a camping chair. Super easy. If this had a sun protecting accessory I would be all over it.

Munchkin Five Sea Squirts and Beach Buddies Deep Sea 3 Piece Bath Set

For Gabe’s first birthday we asked for clothes and bath toys. Bath toys are the best! Especially if you can’t get to the beach this summer, these work amazingly well for backyard kiddie pools. Plus in our house we are obsessed with “under the sea” anything. Gabe is constantly “Fish fish fish!” even if one pops up on the TV, so fish themed bath things that squirt? YAY!

The three piece bath set comes with little baby spa slippers! Plus a terry robe and a bucket for sand castles. I may pick this up as a surprise fun thing for Gabe when we get to Maine after our red-eye flight into Boston. We’ve been having fights getting him toweled off and dressed post bath, I’m hoping adding some special bits to that routine will help with the tantrums.

JJ Cole Outdoor Blanket

We use blankets and quilts all of the time, whether it is on the floor in Gabe’s room, or at the beach, or on the grass at the park. It’s nice to have somewhere to sit where fishy crackers can be spilled and plush toys can hang out without getting sandy, wet, muddy, grass stains, etc. As we continue our weekend-ing adventures and traveling this summer, it would be nice to have somewhere that is water resistant and super durable so that I am not constantly washing and wearing out our good quilts I hope to hold onto for many years. Having an outdoor blanket is something I don’t always think about, but when you can just toss it in the car, they can come in massively handy when you least expect it.

 Itzy Ritzy Reusable Snack Bags

Ok. I have a confession. One time I ate an opened granola bar in the diaper bag when I was really desperate that had been in there for I don’t know how long. Long enough to be hard? I ate it anyway. Here is another confession: because there are so many pockets in my diaper bag sometimes I lose snacks. And often they have been opened and not finished and little crumbs and crunched cheddar rockets are everywhere and there are almonds where the diapers should be and old spoons willy nilly. It’s a miracle my kid has never gotten some weird mold growth on his tongue. It may not be exactly that bad, but it is pretty annoying.


I want these adorable bags. I would not have to deal with half opened zip lock bag crumbs of doom, and I wouldn’t have to deal with stupid zip lock bags of doom. Bags of doom, these are not those kind. (I kind of want them just for my work lunches, to be honest.)

Terry Shark Robe

Oh HELLO amazing shark robe!


This robe is ridiculously fun. It is super soft and it has a shark fin on the hood, teeth, and a tale!



The fun news is: We (Me+Amazon) are giving away this awesome shark robe to one of you! It is for babies 0-9 months, but seeing how it fit on Gabe (who is now 16 months) it should definitely be good for up to a year at least. Gabe is not a small tyke.


This robe is so awesome!! And will be perfect for any occasion – bath time to beach time. I love it.

To enter: Leave a comment telling me about your favorite summer adventure. You get an extra entry if you also share this post on facebook (make sure to tag betterinrealife or me directly in the post so I can see it). 

Talking about this amazon list is really about finding those handful of items that make the normal stuff fun. Protecting your kid from the sun, bath time, pool time, etc. How can I make these daily grinds, or seasonal adventures easier and more fun?

Side note! When I was pregnant with Gabe a lot of family and friends wanted to send us congratulations gifts. It was a lovely sentiment and many people asked us what we needed. At the time the whole baby making process paired with the baby “things” dilemma was very overwhelming. We didn’t have a baby shower of any kind because the amount of stuff that demanded seemed too much for our tiny apartment. What we did do is suggest Amazon Gift Cards which worked out great! And helped us fund daipers and last minute must-haves for many months after the Gabe was born. If I had known more, though, and what I totally should have done was start a registry at Amazon Baby. Tons of brands and items all in one place. I also suggest Prime as a new parent – sometimes you just need stuff asap and not having to pay for shipping is a godsend. We have used that Prime icon more times than I can count. The cost of membership has repaid itself over and over and over again with convenience and the savings in shipping costs.

Have you used any of these products? What do you suggest for making beach and summer play easier? (Do you use a pop up contraption for baby naps outside? I would love some sun-proofing recs!!)

An Electric Weekend: Partnering With GM

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to take advantage of a promotional opportunity with GM. I could pick from a long list of cars to borrow for a period of time. This opportunity was kind of magical as Kamel and I have been kicking around the idea of getting a second car. It takes us forever to make large purchases – tons of research, tons of back and forth, tons of “how badly do we really need said purchase” and on and on and on. So getting the opportunity to play with a car, for free, and in the midst of our normal lives (as opposed to just driving it around a lot) sounded awesome.


Instead of going with a Cadillac or another luxury option that would’ve put us a few notches below the Kardashians, we were super excited to try out the Chevy Volt. Behold! Our ride for 4 days! Color: Silver Ice. (Ice baby)

The Volt is the next stage of hybrid. It can be all electric, or all gas, and if you are using the all electric side and you run out of batteries it will automatically shift into gas usage. Initially this idea seemed like a great option, as the Volt only gets 40 miles (on average, depending on how you’re driving) of battery use before needing to be recharged.


Kamel and I carpool to work and our commute round trip is about 20 miles, including our stop at daycare for drop off and pick up. Kamel has a charging station at work so it would be pretty simple for us to never use gas ever during the work week.

We got the car on a Friday morning. A rep from GM dropped it off at our apartment and then Kamel went to work. He picked me up like usual and we both drove over to get the baby from daycare. My initial thoughts on the car were surprise at how low it was to the ground, how deLorean-y it looked (and not in a bad way!!) and how smooth/quiet it was. Everyone talks about the quiet of electric cars, but it’s just so… peaceful. Not having music playing was nice. And when we did have the satellite radio on (and you know we had it on the 90s station the whole weekend!) we didn’t have to turn it up very loud to get a good sound. Lovely.


I was also super surprised at how much I loved the white accents in the interior. So space age-y, so clean looking. I’m not even a car person and I just… liked it!



Because I am really not a car person (Does it go when I hit the gas? Excellent.), I’m going to get the car stuff out of the way first.

The Volt handles way better than a Prius (Which we’ve rented before). Kamel and I have both found the Prius to be insanely sluggish with no get-up-and-go ability. We also thought the dash was insanely large in the Prius and left us feeling super encapsulated in the front seats. The Volt is not like that at all. It is really open inside the cab, plenty of leg room and gave, what I thought to be, a really comfortable ride.

Turn radius was great. Our Yaris’s fucking sucks.

There was a rear-view camera which was awesome, something I had never experienced before. Very handy. I even backed into a diagonal parking spot – which I avoid like the plague.

The windows were small and squished. I didn’t feel like it had quite the visibility I am usually comfortable with.

The dash was nuts. Too many buttons to push, too many options, most of the time I couldn’t find what I was looking for and lord help me if I was driving and needed to adjust the air or something. Not going to happen. It’s super futuristic and pretty, but user friendly it was not. Maybe I am too old school, but give me some nobs and buttons any day, I can do without the touch screens and shit.



The car seat fit comfortably and the stroller fit better in this trunk than in our Yaris. All good things.


It’s amazing how open it feels and how accessible everything is (except the dashboard. Grrr.) and for someone who is always digging into some bag in the back seat for a pacifier or a toy or a sippy cup, it was nice to feel like nothing was blocked from my reach.

But how was it owning an electric car? The big stress for us going into this was the mileage – how would we handle the car involved with an electric? And I had worried it would feel sluggish or lame to drive.


And remember how I said that initially I was excited that the car had the option of gas? Well it turned into a pretty competitive game with ourselves to not ever have to use gas for the entire weekend. Even though, realistically, it’s not a big deal, I felt like if we ran out of batteries we had failed. For a person who really… really really really hates disappointing the made up rules she has for her own life, this became problematic.

The car has the ability to charge while you’re driving, so Kamel and I both became obsessed with getting the car to actually increase its mileage by the end of each trip. If we didn’t increase we at least wanted to cut the mileage we did use in half of the actual distance.


Then! Wherever we went we wanted there to be a charging station.


Having an electric car is a total shift when it comes to car maintenance. Not the oil changes and the tire rotation kind of maintenance, but the daily grind of making sure you have enough juice to get from point A to point B, making sure there are charging stations around, making sure the charging stations work, and so on.


We were pretty sure that within a few weeks we would have had our routine down. We would know where to park to charge, how long it would need, and so on. But again, there was that game – never use gas. And now on top of it was the game – never park somewhere that isn’t going to refuel us. It meant more walking, it meant more travel prep (With an already insane amount of travel prep that goes hand in hand with dealing with a toddler), it meant carrying around a certain constant level of stress that we may run out of juice and not be in a place where we could plug in.


And yes, we COULD use gas. We COULD. But when you’re in it, when you’ve made the choice for electric, using gas just feels like such a waste. It is such a waste.


Kamel will tell you that he loved the car. LOVED IT. Did not want to give it up, had mad trepidation on having to return it. And we talked a lot about, “Could we do this, could we do this, could we live this way permanently?”

Never having to buy gas for our normal commute? Amazing.

Think of all the money we’d save.

This is the future of driving, this is going to spare the air an immense amount.

10 years from now having a gas car is going to seem backwards!

We talked and talked and talked. And Kamel was glued to his charging app. And we were discussing mileage and range and if we had enough and where we needed to go and where we were going to put the car throughout the entire weekend. Even though charging stations were really not that hard to come by. Even though we live in an area where just a few blocks down there is a charging station. (And, even though, if we had a HOUSE it would be even easier… we could have just literally plugged it into the wall.)


Ahhh! It was making me crazy! Kamel was loving the obsessiveness of it and I was desperately not wanting to think about it. So yes, maybe having that back up gas tank is a nice thing, but honestly? Get rid of it and give me more mileage and I would have felt so much better.

When almost every parking lot has pay stations, when you can go to the mall and charge your car for cents, when you can go 100 miles or more on a single charge, that’s when this car becomes doable for me, personally.


As a commuter car I think it’s top notch. It’s only about 35k (as compared to the Tesla at 69k with no bells or whistles… but that sucker gets 208 miles per charge!) so it’s a pretty average sedan price. Factor in the electric car tax break + little to no gas, depending on how you play it and it’s awesome. It really is a nice drive and a lot of fun to see the battery recharging itself as you coast.

But it also made me crazy. It doesn’t work right this second for my family. I have too many other things to think about, I can’t also be thinking about feeding and housing and caring for my car pretty while needing to make appointments and stay on nap schedules and meet deadlines pretty much on the daily. It put me over the top.


Do I want my next car to be electric? Yes, absolutely. But I need the tech to speed up a bit. I need a better range than what the current Volt can get me, even though it’s reasonably priced. I want the trunk space and the new tech, I want the environmentally friendly part (minus the question on what to do with all of these batteries when they need to be replaced), but I want it with a little more flexibility. I want to be able to jump in my car and just go and not worry about having a plug when I get there.  There is still room for improvement.

Nineties satellite radio, though? You stay exactly as you are.

Thank you GM for the opportunity to live an electric life for a few days! It was an amazing experience and I encourage everyone to buy American as much as possible (Or wherever you are from! Keep it local!).

What do you think of electric cars? Does anyone have the Volt? Prius? Leaf? Tesla? I am dying to hear other people’s experiences.

Goods and Services: Polishing My Rough Edges

I’m not the greatest at grammar. It feels like math to me. I’m self conscious about it because I make a living writing the words on the internets (not these internets, but other interenets with more eyes peering at it… which maybe makes it worse) and I get these jobs with the assumption that I am a grammar whiz kid! Whizzzzzzzz. My relationship with grammar is more by touch. I know it inherently because I am well versed in the English language. Except I have a dirty habit of second guessing myself. Troubling stuff, that.

So when Grammarly emailed me, to give their product a go, I was … curious. Word does a terrible job of catching grammar, the suggestions are awful and most often wrong. How would a product like this know what I was meaning to say? But wouldn’t it be nice if it did? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a program that polished up my rough edges? It would be pretty excellent.

Last week I was working on a piece for the weekly demands of Alice Bradley and The Year of Writing. It was a prompt conjured up by something so simple: Go to your iPod, hit shuffle, the title of the first song that comes up is the title of the piece you will write. Write it, go.

So I did and then I delete the whole page I had written. Ugh. Then I wrote another page, something completely different. Here is an excerpt, totally unedited, not even really re-read except for general clarity. Ready?

Title: Kaleidoscope Heart.

When I was a kid I used to lay on the hot cement and stare straight up into the clouds or into the trees or just into the really, really blue sky that eventually grew to have little flashy spots in my vision. The sound of recess or of the cars driving by or of nothing but the wind rustling the branches above me would wash over me and nothing else would exist. I imagined that someone amazing would discover me like that and thing, “Wow, look at how beautiful and thoughtful that person is. I’m going to go rescue her from herself,” and that’s how I would be discovered. That’s how I would finally be found.

At 14 I’d to flirt with boys just to see if I could, just to see if it would work. I would glide past them on my roller blades, my lime green eye shadow creating this illusion that I didn’t care if it wasn’t typical – I was edgy. I would flash a look, a smile, and then zoom, whoosh I was beyond them, gliding away in oversized jeans and a tight t-shirt. I felt seven feet tall, but not in a bad way.

That summer I rode my bike with two boys who lived on my block. We used to buy warheads at the corner store in big connected strings, throw them around our necks and ride on to a gated off school playground. If it was locked we’d stash our bikes in the bushes and belly crawl under the chain-link fence. Even then I worried I would be too fat to fit under, and then what would I do? How would I explain to the lean boys who had just started trying out deodorant – I knew because I saw it on Grant’s dresser and had teased him about it when I was over playing Zelda once. How would I explain the part about boobs and how my butt stuck out further than their’s and there was no way I could fit? I held my breath every time I shimmied under the metal bar of the fence, always panicking for just a second as it took a little extra effort to get all my pieces to the other side.

Sometimes the fence was left open and we could ride our bikes in, using the large lumps in the sidewalk from where the tree roots were doing their best to escape as mini motorcross jumps. Grant and Mike had BMX bikes and I had a mountain bike. Mine was pink and had a kick stand. There’s had well worn pegs and a used look that embarrassed me when I looked at myself riding next to them. I wanted that used look, I wanted to look like I didn’t care, I wanted to not care so badly. They’d toss their bikes to the ground and run off to the playground and I would be left to undo my helmet and balance my dark pink mountain bike on its kickstand before climbing the jungle gym and sitting at the top off the slide where the boys were looking out into the green belt behind the school yard.

There sits my underbelly, all exposed with words missing and thoughts a bit jumbled here and there, willy and the nilly. So let’s see how Grammarly does!

First, it is very easy to use. Copy/paste the text you’d like looked at into the box and press “Start Review.”

Screenshot 2014-03-03 12.49.55

I think it too way less than 30 seconds to review the text and then poof! Certain areas were highlighted in red to indicate a possible issue. You could either choose a short explanation or a long explanation for whatever problem the program may have caught. I chose long because I wanted to read the examples given to try and puzzle out what Grammarly was trying to teach me.

Screenshot 2014-03-03 12.38.30

The first thing it caught was an issue I always have with “would” and “was” being all mixed up in my sentences. This sentence was coming out wonky and I am pleased that it picked it up. You can edit within the program and your changes are highlighted blue. When you click on the red highlights, the program blinks at you, which confused me initially. I thought it was saying I couldn’t edit it and that was frustrating, but once I started typing all the changes showed up.

Screenshot 2014-03-03 12.45.28

It did recognize some of my purposeful grammar no-nos like, “I wanted to not care so badly,” but these were easily skipped with the big “Ignore” button.

Screenshot 2014-03-03 12.47.14

I was a little disappointed, thought, that it didn’t pick up the missing word (or extra “to”) in the sentence with the highlighted word. “At 14 I’d to flirt with boys…”

Once you get done with your initial edits you can run your text through again to see if you hit all the marks. Here is the polished excerpt, all cleaned up tanks to Grammarly.

When I was a kid I used to lay on the hot cement and stare straight up into the clouds or into the trees or just into the really, really blue sky that eventually grew to have little flashy spots in my vision. The sound of recess or of the cars driving by or of nothing but the wind rustling the branches above me would wash over me, and nothing else would exist. I imagined that someone amazing would discover me like that and thing, “Wow, look at how beautiful and thoughtful that person is. I’m going to go rescue her from herself,” and that’s how I’d finally be found.

At 14, I’d flirt with boys just to see if I could, just to see if it would work. I’d glide past them on my roller blades, hoping my lime green eye shadow created an illusion that I didn’t care if it wasn’t typical, an illusion that I was edgy. I would flash a look, a smile, and then zoom, whoosh I was beyond them, gliding away in oversized jeans and a tight t-shirt. I felt seven feet tall, but not in a bad way.

That summer I rode my bike with two boys who lived on my block. We used to buy warheads at the corner store in big connected strings, throw them around our necks and ride on to a gated off school playground. If locked we’d stash our bikes in the bushes, then belly crawl under the chain-link fence. Even then I worried I would be too fat to fit under, and then what would I do? How would I explain to the lean boys who had just started trying out deodorant – I knew because I saw it on Grant’s dresser and had teased him about it when I was over playing Zelda once. How would I explain the part about boobs and how my butt stuck out further than theirs and there was no way I could fit? I held my breath every time I shimmied under the metal bar of the fence, always panicking for just a second as it took a little extra effort to get all my pieces to the other side.

Sometimes the fence was left open and we could ride our bikes in, using the large lumps in the sidewalk from where the tree roots were doing their best to escape as mini motocross jumps. Grant and Mike had BMX bikes, and I had a mountain bike. Mine was pink and had a kick stand. There’s had well-worn pegs and a used look that embarrassed me when I looked at myself riding next to them. I wanted that used look, I wanted to look like I didn’t care, I wanted to not care so badly. They’d toss their bikes to the ground and run off to the playground. I would be left to undo my helmet and balance my dark pink mountain bike on its kickstand before climbing the jungle gym and sitting at the top off the slide where the boys were looking out into the green belt behind the school yard.

I don’t think it is perfect, but Grammarly did explain some of the things I knew weren’t working. I do think it actually taught me about my repeat offenders, which was nice and means I may do them less and be able to see them on my own. The program design seems a little antiquated for some reason. Perhaps too simple? But that is also its benefit – it does 1 thing and I think it does it really well.

If you have student age children I think this would be an excellent tool. It isn’t just a “right-click, accept all” type of software, it actually doesn’t fix anything for you. I have to read through the explanations and figure out how to write it correctly. So, perfect for school age children or writers like me, I guess. You still need human eyes, of course, and maybe that is the beauty of it? It’s a helpful hand, but won’t make you sound like a robot or make you technology-induced-stupid. As tedious as grammar can some times be, Grammarly made it easy and accessible. Two thumbs up.

Goods and Services: Silksleep Eye Mask

Every once in a while I get email requests from people who want to do a guest post on various things on the blog. I always read every request I get, but the majority are so self serving and so random and borderline shady that I don’t even respond. Then! Maybe a little over a month ago? I received a request from Silksleep, a UK-based company specializing in Silk bedding and other products, to give their eye masks a test drive.


I have to admit, my first reaction was: Eye masks are far dramatic starlets or people who abuse prescription sleep aids. I told their rep, Richard, there was a chance my review would not be awesome. I knew for certain that I would feel totally claustrophobic and weird wearing one. But he was confident in his product and told me he was looking for honesty. Honesty I have.

Then, mid last week, a package arrived from the Royal Mail (Royal Mail! Do you think Will and Kate gave it the stamp of approval? Probably not.). The Silksleep Eye Mask had arrived to a very exhausted house. I started using it immediately and have been using it every night since. I wanted to make sure my review was legit, and not simply a first impression. Plus, it was so much prettier than I thought it would be. I imagined a flat, black mask with a thin string band, but that is not the case. (Check out the beauty that is Silksleep products below)


This is not some cheap movie prop – Silksleep knows what’s up. The silk is buttery soft, and the elastic is loose enough for my fat head so I don’t feel squeezed in any way. On the inside the mask has two little pillows that apply just a small amount of pressure over my eyes so that the mask fits perfectly and doesn’t slip around.


I go to bed early in order to wake up early and get a work out in/handle the baby, etc. Kamel likes to stay up a little later playing video games or reading in bed. The light from his tech often keeps me awake if he isn’t careful angling the screens away from me. Aside from that, sometimes it just takes me a little while to fall asleep, even when I am extremely tired. The street lights sometimes bother me. We have these stupid blinds that let the street light brightness in at certain angles and the sliver of light always manages to smack me right in the face. In general, I just deal, but suddenly when I tried the Silksleep Eye Mask it ceased to be a problem. Poof!

I have never fallen asleep faster than I do when I wear the eye mask. Ever. I am a total convert after only 1 week. I feel like I am on an info-mercial, but I am not at all shitting you.

It is like magic! I put it on, snuggle in, and poof! I’m out! I was totally shocked! No claustrophobia! No disorientation! I sleep deeper and harder with the eye mask, I move less, and I’ve stopped waking up for no reason. I’m not getting paid at all to write this. I was handed a sleep mask (for free) to review, and review I have. It has been difficult to get consistent sleep with the baby, and even when he sleeps through the night I have been having trouble staying asleep. Since using the eye mask I feel like a new woman during my waking hours. My sleep is so much more thorough. I could not be more pleasantly surprised. I am still pretty amazed that this whole crazy sleep mask experiment actually worked.

Now the fun part. I have a discount code! Anyone who would like to give Silksleep Eye Masks a try (or any of their other products) can get 10% off at check out with the code: BETTER10

And look! Look at all the buttery soft silkiness! All of these delicious sheets and sham covers could be yours – at 10% off! Almost as magical as me actually loving to wear a sleep mask. Crazy.


This is a sponsored post and follows the guidelines outlined in the Goods&Services tab. No money was exchanged for this post, but Silksleep did supply the product for review. Only quality, Better In Real Life approved items make it into Goods&Services. Because awesomeness matters and I never review anything I haven’t tried or recommend anything that isn’t totally awesome. If you would like me to review a product, please email me at betterinrealife at gmail.

Newborn Product Review: I Like To Move It Move it!

Nothing cuter than a bear hat and a newborn snuggled in a car seat.
Nothing cuter than a bear hat and a newborn snuggled in a car seat.

A few weeks ago, as I was high-tailing it up some massive hills, I had this great moment of pride. Not for my burning thighs, but for my kick ass stroller. Fuck Yeah, stroller.

Baby Buys 17

Fuck Yeah.

I was pretty proud of my Bumbleride Indie when we bought it. It was our 1 big big splurge. I think we paid about $500 bucks for it, though what I can find online right now is a little over that price. Granted, there are strollers WAY more expensive and I think this might even be considered mid-range, but it was a big splurge for our budget and the most expensive thing we bought.

And though I am proud of our stroller, I am even more proud of our decision to spend the money on it. We use this bad boy almost every single day. Most of the time we use it two or three times a day. It will last us well into toddler-land and is the most versatile baby item we have. When I was home alone with Gabe I would carry the stroller up and down our outside stairs, no problem, by myself. It is incredibly simple to strap Gabe in and he can either lay flat or be propped up. There are wind flaps and wind guards by the feet that are moderately successful at blocking big gusts that startle him. But most importantly the stroller is ridiculously maneuverable. It turns on a dime with one hand, can be popped up and over curbs without any issues and can handle bumps and cracks in the sidewalk no problemo. On the other hand, it can also zoom around slow walkers at the mall, groups of people who won’t move to the side even when I say, “Excuse me!” and is amazing for busy city streets.

There are only 2 problems I have found with it – First the front wheel. I always underestimate how far it sticks out and I have accidentally bumped several strangers, display cases at the grocery store, and elevator doors with it. Oops. Second – In order to collapse it you have to lean over the handles and pull up on the two sides. I am too short in the torso to be able to do this effectively. Thankfully, this is not an issue for Kamel, but if I had to collapse it somewhere by myself, it would be a huge struggle. I have never had to do this yet, but… could happen.

But even with these two issues I still rate this 5/5 stars of awesomeness on the Lauren-O-Meter.

The car seat on the other hand….

Baby Buys 6

… I kind of hate you. But maybe that is because all car seats suck? We have the Graco Snugride 35 and it will protect our kid from flying out of the front window during a crash and has a plushy interior, and he falls asleep in it with gusto… but I still fucking hate it. The straps are SO difficult to clip shut. He sweats like a mofo in it, and the sun shade goes right up against the handle so having it covered makes carrying it extra annoying.

And this is my biggest complaint: It barely fits in our car. In order to make it fit I have to have the front passenger seat pushed so far forward my knees literally touch the dashboard. Grrrr car seat you are the worst worst worst!

Some other issues with it:

  • The straps often cut into Gabe’s legs and leave red marks.
  • It is SO heavy and as Gabe grows the car seat becomes like a block of freaking cement.
  • Oh… and the “newborn insert” … is only good for baby’s between 4-5 lbs!!!!! WHAT THE FUCK! That is only for preemies! And this was a total parent fuck up, but we had him in that thing until he was probably 10 lbs! And he was sooo pissed. Anyways… I just had to add that one in as a forehead slap moment.

So! If anyone is madly in love with their car seat, don’t be shy! Let me know in comments. Can I recommend this one? Sure… it does what it does and I have no experience with any other contraption… but ask around if you’re in the market. Find one that people in the real world rave about – you’ll hopefully (unless your baby grows out of it) be using it for a solid year.

Newborn Product Review: Diapers

I’ve been asked by several people if I would talk about what worked/didn’t work and what I wish I had during the newborn times. As we are solidly in it at 6 weeks along, I thought now would be a good time to break it down. This post is in no way sponsored, these are the items I’ve used because I researched and then I bought them. I’ll be running through a few items at a time, lest the posts get ridiculously long. Ta Da!


So let’s break it down. First up: Diapers. Holy moly. We decided to do disposable even though I think reusable is awesome and if you can rock those, totally do it. But I knew that we were doing daycare when Gabe was 3 months and honestly, I was just lazy about this one item. I didn’t want to have to figure them out or deal with more things to wash (esp with not having washer/dryer in our apartment). Thankfully! I am now a freaking expert on disposable diapers because we have used:

  • Huggies
  • Huggies Pure and Natural
  • Pampers
  • Honest
  • Target brand

We first started out expecting to use Huggies Pure and Natural, but not-so-quickly realized they LEAK. Until we used other brands we didn’t totally understand that these diapers run oddly small and do not supply full butt coverage. Poop leaks out from them all of the time. To the point where I have had to wash multiple pillows, sheets, blankets, etc (not to mention multiple pairs of my pants and tank tops) due to poop. The pro to these diapers: They are the best on Gabe’s skin. They feel very cotton-y and leave his bottom happy. But my laundry pile NOT happy, so we are super super not into these. The end, goodbye Pure and Natural.

We have also tried the regular Huggies. They feel like coating my baby in plastic and left him very sweaty and gross. His butt was laso really pink when we used these. In general, I am not a fan – but no leaks.

Pampers are what they used in the hospital when he was born and we also brought a bunch home with us, and has been given some by co-workers. They are nice! Totally normal and they don’t feel plastic-y. They fit more like the Pure and Natural, but I don’t remember them leaking tons. We just aren’t interested in them because a lot of reviews said they had a weird smell and I am really sensitive to stuff like that so I didn’t want to buy a big bunch of them only to regret it.

Honest diapers are my hands down favorite. Favorite favorite favorite. They run a teensy bit big, but they really really REALLY cover and they come in adorable colors. If I could buy these and only these, I would – but! We have a bunch of gift cards to Amazon and Target so until those run out, we can’t use Honest on the regular (but my god they are amazing and I love this company, love love love loveLOVE). Plus, they are pricey and that is a turn off when you go through as many as the little prince does. I wish Honest made grown up underpants so that I could buy them, this is how much I love them.

And last, but not least – and the brand that we have finally settled on for now – Target brand. First, they are so incredibly affordable. Shockingly affordable. We bought a box today – 112 diapers – and it cost $13.98. WHAT! Insanely affordable. They fall somewhere between the plastic-y of huggies and the full coverage of Honest. They are not as irritating to Gabe’s bum and they are magic no-leak wonders.

So, bottom line: If you would like to skip my trial and error: go with Target – surprising! or Honest (if you can afford it).

Guestposting: Becca of The Dabblist

Today on the blog we have a little how-to action, something I rarely discuss because I am more of a “I will buy it from you if you make it, but I don’t want to actually make it” person. The difference is Becca makes it all so accessible! And I’ve heard whispers …. that Becca MAY be opening an Etsy store sometime soon. And if that happens you know her goodies are going to make their way on this blog again because they are too awesome and too holistic not to. Thank you for taking the time to post here Becca!

Becca Face

Hi Guys! I’m super honored to be here with you today so Lauren can enjoy her maternity leave. I have a blog called The Dabblist, where I am embracing the fact that I am a multi-passionate creature and that ain’t a bad thing.  I am reclaiming the meaning of the word “dabbler” by publicly declaring my pride for being curious about a lot of different things.  Ultimately, I want to take part in creating a happier, healthier world. And that means getting my hands a little dirty.

So, here’s a scenario. You decide to go on Pinterest one day. You see a really cool DIY craft project. You think, “hmm, maybe I can do that.” You go as far as repining it into your new DIY board. What happens next?  You probably pin 10 more decorating ideas for your future Dream Home and call it a day.  That project looked complicated and time consuming. And you probably don’t’ have the right supplies anyways.

I’m right there with you, sister. The world of Pinterest and Martha Stewart magazine and fancy DIY blogs overwhelms me at the thought of picking up a hot glue gun. So I’ve been taking things one project at a time – focusing on slowly building my DIY skills and empowering myself to create a happier and healthier environment in my home.  I’ve also started giving homemade gifts to friends, often without any particular reason other than I want to do it. The act of creating and then giving is so rewarding. I highly recommend it.

So today, I bring you a way to make your own peppermint lip balm. It takes just 4 ingredients (none of which are hard to pronounce or contain byproducts from the oil refining process, ick) and will only take 1 hour of your time at the very most.



  •  1 tsp shea butter
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp beeswax pastilles
  • 20 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 1 wooden chopstick, for stirring
  • Container(s) for lip balm (I like to re-purpose mini candle tins or hollow out old lip balm containers that are near the end of their life)

 Over Heat

 Place a glass bowl on top of a saucepan of boiling water (like you would for melting chocolate) and combine the shea butter, olive oil, and beeswax pastilles. Stir frequently using a wooden chopstick until completely melted.  Remove the glass bowl from the hot water, and add in your peppermint essential oil. Mix again, breaking up any parts that may have hardened on the side, and pour into your container(s) to solidify. It will take about 20-30 mins for the mixture to solidify.


Now, because I know the average grocery store does not sell ingredients like beeswax pastilles, I am anticipating you asking me where I got them along with the shea butter and essential oil. You can go to any natural foods store, but I’m a big fan of using the internet.


I purchased all these ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs – an organic supplier out of Eugene, Oregon run by really wonderful, caring people. is also an excellent resource for essential oils and other homeopathic, plant-based ingredients.

 Lip Balm

I hope you’ve realized by now that the ingredient in the essential oil makes the flavor of the lip balm. So get creative. I’ve made a lavender rose lip balm, and am planning on making a fresh scented lemon sage batch in the coming weeks!

10% Off at Lydali


Don’t miss out! 10% off at Lydali with the code: BETTERINREALLIFE valid through the Feb. 19th!!
And congratulations to Jenny who won the amazing wood and leather bangles hand crafted in Northern India! And thank you for choosing the winner so that I didn’t have to. All of your adventures were super inspirational – like all of the awesome road trips? And exploring new cities? Getting your health in check? Grand travels? I love it. Thank you for participating! The more people play, the more I can host these kinds of giveaways and discounts.