Mommy blog

Flu Season Tips

FluSeason

We are in the middle of flu season and since I just read an article that states that 1 in 10 American deaths have been caused by the flu this season, I thought I’d share some tips that have been helpful for our family.  Although nothing is a cure-all, I believe these things, at the very least, help to minimize cold/flu symptoms when we do fall under the weather.  (Disclaimer:  Since I am not a medical professional, you should only try these ideas if they are compatible with your doctor’s recommendations.)

(1)  Yogurt–Since giving my kids yogurt on a daily basis, I have noticed a significant change in the number of times they get colds/flus.  Yogurt helps to increase the number of good bacteria in your gut, which is where many (if not most) illnesses start to form in your body. Foods don’t make you indestructible but they are a good preventative measure against illness and help strengthen your immune system.  For those who can’t get your kids to eat yogurt, look for drinkable options at the grocery store and mix them into your kids’ milk with breakfast.

(2)  Soup–Same reason as (1).  Chicken soup really does work.  Wonderful alternatives are miso soup and bone broth.

(3)  Essential Oils–My favorite oils during flu season are eucalyptus and peppermint.  In addition to deterring bugs/mosquitoes during the spring/summer, these oils also have anti-viral/bacterial properties and make great bathroom air fresheners, aromatherapy, vapor rubs, etc.  The oils also have a calming effect.

(4)  Air CirculationStagnant air leads to illnesses spreading at rapid rates so make sure your home is well-ventilated and there is ample air circulation.  For us, we always keep our ceiling fans and air purifiers on high.  And, when the weather and air quality are nice outside, we’ll also open our windows.

(5)  Don’t Touch Your Face–This has always been hard for me to do but I find that it really does make a difference.  Your eyes, nose, and mouth are prime entry points for viruses and bacteria.  Parents, remind your kids about this, too!

(6)  Avoid Crowds in Tight Spaces–Places where many people are gathered in tight areas should be avoided during flu season for obvious reasons.  Such places include subways, buses, planes, trains, etc.

(7)  Hot baths and Showers–Take a hot bath and/or shower at night before bedtime.  Not only is it relaxing, but it also washes away all the dirt, grime, allergens, pollutants, cold/flu viruses/bacteria that are on your person (everything that settles on your hair and skin as you’re out and about during the day).

(8)  Stay Home–We don’t live in a bubble but because we have small children, I try to be mindful of when and where we take them during flu season.  Do we really want to go to a birthday party where half the kids have snotty noses and are coughing every two minutes?  No, thanks (our kids have their entire lives to socialize)!

(9)  Wash Clothes and Linens in Hot Water and Dry in High Heat–This is a big one.  Many of us don’t realize how dirty our clothes, towels, and bed linens are, especially during flu season.  In college, I discovered that not everyone uses a fresh/clean towel with each bath/shower and that some people reuse their towels (mind blown).  No offense to those of you who reuse your towels but during flu season, changing towels after each use is a must.  In our home, we also change our bed linens every week.  Wash everything in hot water (rinse cold; this, of course, does not apply to delicate items). It doesn’t matter how much detergent you use (a little goes a long way) but the water must be HOT.  After washing, dry everything in high heat.  Studies show that drying your items in high heat will help rid your clothes of lingering viruses and bacteria.

(10)  WASH YOUR HANDS–And oldie but goodie rule of thumb.  According to the CDC, 80% of diseases are spread by hands 😨.  If you dislike dry hands from washing, stock up on lotions, creams, and oils (take your pick).  Parents, repeat this mantra to your kids over and over.  It’s far better than getting yourself or others sick!

Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening Cleansing Foam

This is now officially my holy grail cleanser.  My skin is oily (T-zone) and combination and I’m prone to freckles and blackheads.  Those with acne-prone skin know how difficult it can be to find a cleanser that cleans, brightens, and doesn’t overdry.  Here are my observations:

(1) Low pH–A low pH cleanser is crucial to keeping bacteria at bay and is especially important for those with acne-prone skin.  Many cleansers (especially those for oily skin) have too high of a pH (the feeling of squeaky clean skin may be enticing but you pay for it afterwards because the skin then overproduces oil to compensate for the amount washed away in the cleansing process).  

(2) Foam–Foaming cleansers are generally prescribed for oil and combination skin and they’re abundant in the marketplace.  The problem with most low pH cleansers on the market is they don’t foam.  And the ones that do foam are often high pH formulas.  However, a cleanser that has both low pH and foaming action is a rarity and considered a unicorn in the skincare world.  

(3) Ginseng–As with most products in Sulwhasoo’s line, this cleanser has a medicinal scent due to its Chinese herb ingredient list with ginseng being the start ingredient.  Ginseng can brighten and even out skin tone, among other things.  

When I use this in the shower at night, I leave it on my face for at least five minutes before washing it off.  Although my freckles remain the same, the rest of my face is visually brighter.  The product cleanses thoroughly without drying out my skin and is suitable for most skin types.  

The last time I checked (about three months ago), this cleanser was unavailable in the US via department stores such as Nordstrom, Neiman’s, and Saks (even though the stores all carry the Sulwhasoo line).  Amazon and eBay sell it but a good rule of thumb is to avoid such sites for skincare due to numerous incidents of counterfeit and expired products.  For those in the US who wish to purchase this product, my advise would be to lobby the Sulwhasoo counter at your local department store, make a phone call to a major Korean department store and attempt to order it and have it shipped to you, or stock up (or get a friend to) on your next visit to Asia (as far as I know, this cleanser is widely available at all Sulwhasoo counters in department stores across Asia).  

Tony Moly Tea Tree Cleansing Water

Many of us are familiar with the benefits and convenience of using micellar water, especially for those who live in areas with hard tap water.  Now, a version with tea tree oil!  Although I still like to use a traditional foaming cleanser to wash my face in the morning and at night, I use this as a mid-day refresher (I only wear makeup on special occasions now so a few quick sweeps of this no-wash cleanser with a cotton pad does the trick).  The result is soft, clean, and refreshed skin that smells faintly of tea tree oil.  

SK-II Cotton Pads

You can’t buy these (as they come with your purchase of the large-sized SK-II Treatment Essence at the brand’s counters in Seoul) but these are the best facial cotton pads on the market.  Soft, lightweight, and anti-pilling–I never thought I’d rave about cotton pads.  In addition, unlike using cotton balls, there is very little waste of product.  And, rather than using them with quick swipes (as you would with cotton balls), you “pad across” your face using the pads, which can help prep your skin for the next product (i.e, serum, moisturizer, etc.).  Don’t use SK-II products?  Get a friend who does and offer to pay for the pads–they’re worth it!

Mommy Time Savers

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Happy and Healthy New Year!  As a new mommy of two, I’ve learned quite a lot this past year and my favorite thing to ask myself has been, “How will this save me time (and energy)?”  So, in the spirit of new year’s resolutions, here are my top mommy time savers:

(1)  Electric Pressure Cooker–This thing is amazing and I don’t know what I would ever do without it.  I use it primarily for meats, stews, and soups.  A dish that would ordinarily take at least a couple hours to make with my standing at the stove (what mother has time for that?) now takes an hour with my not even being in the kitchen.  I just toss everything into the pot, push a button, and go about my day.

(2)  Rice Cooker–I adore my rice cooker and use it just about every day.  Many people don’t realize that you can do quite a lot with a good rice cooker.  Not only do I use it to make rice, I also use it to steam vegetables (as a matter of fact, since I use it primarily to cook our veggies, I often call it “the steamer”).  And, like the electric pressure cooker, you set the timer and you’re free as a bird.

(3)  Grocery Delivery Service–Depending on where you live, delivery fees can range from reasonable to pricey.  It all comes down to how much your time is worth.  Being parents of a 2-year-old and 6-month-old, Derrick and I rely heavily on this service.  Sure, we’ll occasionally do the shop ourselves (if we forget to add on a few items to our weekly delivery) but we have the same reaction after every trip:  “Geez, that took a whole hour?” (if one of us goes to the store) or “We are NOT going to forget to put this on the list next week!” (if the entire family goes–and, yes, it takes longer for us to get the kids ready to go out than the time we spend at the grocery store)

(4)  Product Subscriptions–If you use any skincare products, I highly recommend this.  Many online stores offer a subscription service where they’ll send your products to you at regular intervals.  This not only saves you time but helps you to avoid the annoying situation of being in the shower and realizing all of a sudden that you’re out of your favorite facial scrub.

(5)  USPS Package Pickup–Because we do most of our non-grocery-related shopping online, we also make quite a few returns via mail.  If you’re like us, here’s a tip:  you’re eligible for free USPS pickup service if you’re mailing at least one Priority Mail package.  Just schedule your pickup online at www.usps.com.

(6)  Multiple Stations–Our home has two levels and when we brought our baby girl home, we decided that we needed at least one diaper changing station on each level to save us the hassle of running up and down the stairs with every diaper change (and if you’re parents of two or multiples under the age of 2, you understand the value of this).  So, we converted one of our loveseats into a changing station complete with a diaper pad, a month’s supply of diapers/wipes/baby powder, and a diaper pail.  To protect the loveseat, we draped it with flat bed sheet (but you can also use a sofa slip cover).  The key takeaway here is to have at least a couple “stations” for something you do often during the course of the day easily accessible to you (because minutes add up to hours and hours add up to days!).

(7)  One Size Ahead–If you have small children, you know that shopping ahead can save you the aggravation of impulse buying and/or having your child(ren) go without something for a certain period of time (and when you have kids, two days without gloves in the winter can seem like an eternity!).  This is why I always try to buy at least one size ahead for my children.  And it’s a great system.

(8)  Cook in Bulk and Freeze–This is quite common and self-explanatory.

(9)  No Holiday Cards–Before we had kids, I was the stationery queen.  Cards for everyone and for every occasion.  No more.  Other than handwritten thank-you and sympathy notes, we now use e-mail and social media to send birthday/congratulatory/holiday greetings via e-cards.

Hope you’ve found these tips to be useful–please feel free to share this post to anyone and everyone who would find it helpful!

Chantecaille


I’ve been a huge fan of aromatherapy since my first pregnancy.  These days, I can’t seem to get enough of rose and eucalyptus scents.  Since our master bathroom has been transformed into my spa at home, the skincare fiend in me has been trying a whirlwind of products.  Here are my current favorites (and, yes, Chantecaille’s the key word here):

(1). Chantecaille Rose de Mai Oil–What I love about this face oil is that it’s a dry oil.  It moisturizes without clogging pores and/or leaving your face sticky.  Rose oil also has antiseptic properties (which is good news for those prone to acne).

(2). Chantecaille Rose de Mai Cream–The scent is delicious.  Again, with similar properties as the oil, it’s worked beautifully with my acne-prone and combination skin.  I layer this on top of the oil during daytime for extra nourishment

(3). Chantecaille Vital Essence with Arbutin–One of the reasons why I love this line so much is because, unlike many of the other brands, I see results with this one.  This serum is fantastic.  As with all Chantecaille products, its base is rose water.  I love the retinol and arbutin combo to exfoliate and brighten skintone.  After the age of 30, (forget diamonds,) retinol is a girl’s best friend!

(4). Chantecaille Gardenia Emulsion–I layer this lightweight brightening lotion on top of the arbutin serum at night and the two have yielded great results for me. What I like best about this emulsion is that it’s lightweight and non-sticky.

(5). Chantecaille Rose, Rentinol & Vitamin C Hand Cream–This hand treatment yielded INSTANT results.  Since I’m rather OCD about washing my hands (having two small children will do that do you), I have stocked up on this miracle worker.  This item was my entree into the Chantecaille line and it was only because of this cream that I decided to give the rest of the line a try.  And what a pleasant surprise!

(6). Phyto Clarifying Detox Shampoo–For some reason, I tend to associate the smell of eucalyptus with spas.  I love a good clarifying shampoo and have tried several.  This is as good as any but I am absolutely in love with the scent!

Death of REDbird

In the process of preparing for our trip to Tokyo, I discovered the Target Prepaid REDCard from Jared at ThiftyTraveler.com.  Apparently, this reloadable card has bill pay features that allow one to pay bills that typically require check payments.  Translation (for credit card point lovers):  you can now pay your mortgage and utility bills using this card and earn points that you otherwise would have left on the table! 

But there’s a catch–in an effort to close this loophole to discourage “churning”, as of May 6, Target no longer accepts credit card loads for its Prepaid REDCard.  However, card holders may still load via gift cards that have PINs (which will be processed as debit cards).  In other words, there’s now an extra step.  You’d have to buy a VISA gift card (that has a PIN), go to a Target store in person, and then load the REDCard (and likely have to “split tender” the transaction).  More on this at ThriftyTraveler.com.  Also, FrequentMiler has an excellent site on how to find a REDCard as not all states have them.  For most people, it’s probably too much work.  But if you’re a stay-at-home mom who goes to Target regularly for baby stuff, anyway, this is worth the extra ten minutes.