NORDSTROM ANNIVERSARY SALE PICKS

Nordstrom is kind of a THING in Seattle. The flagship and headquarters are here, and along with that there is a serious and loyal following of nearly every female across multiple generations in the Pacific Northwest. In college, my roommates would shop the pre-sale every year, usually with their moms or aunts or grandmas and it was an annual tradition. Pretty much on the same level as a national holiday.

You've probably seen hints that the pre-sale is currently running now. You have to be a cardholder to shop it, but if you're not, the sale opens (both in stores and online) to the general public July 21st and runs through August 6th.

These are things I'm either currently eyeing or own and love, across all categories: baby/home/clothing/accessories. Click each item to shop:

A few highlights:

Our favorite Thule stroller made the sale, and it's cheaper than amazon!

The sippy cups are another baby favorite, and that is the softest luxury baby blanket and makes a great gift.

These jeans are the non-maternity version I had and loved (everyone else seems to love them too... they were the number one best selling product of last year's sale.)

I am continuously learning how to shop for a (much, much) cooler climate than I'm accustomed too. I still don't know how to dress well for winter here. But I'm pretty sure that jacket and vest would help!

Along the same line... new duck boots for winter, also pictured are a similar version of my tried and true Hunters.

A few others in there too: I've heard great things about that lash serum, Aveda has always been a favorite (and rarely on sale), and a few pretty housewares.

What are you eyeing for fall? Do you shop the sale? So many good things to check out!

SOAP BOX

Lately I'm realizing that I've been lied to.

I used to be an avid beauty product consumer; always curious what brands and products anyone from my friends to celebrities to my grocery store clerk used and loved. I used to wash, blow dry, and curl my hair every day for years, applying multiple products both in and out of the shower, to make it look like I "just woke up like this." I had a strict skin care regime that included lots of expensive products with long lists of ingredients, that I religiously used and re-purchased when I ran out. I never read one label nor did I give it a second thought.

Then I got pregnant, and I got curious about those ingredients and their effects on my growing baby. I started the merge to more natural products, and as I did my eyes were opened to the not-so-pretty truth of the behind the scenes of the beauty industry.

You see, if you don't do your research and just follow the status quo, companies will work against your best interest, and your health, in order to make a buck. It's so sad, but true.

In Europe, over a thousand chemicals are banned from beauty products due to their harmful effects. In the United States, The FDA has banned a total of nine. Those other 991+ products that Europe has deemed harmful enough to cause serious problems are available in our drugstores, in our bathrooms, on our skin, in our bodies and on our babies.

It's one thing to mess with my health. It's entirely a different story to mess with my baby's.

Johnson and Johnson has recently lost their third straight lawsuit, for knowingly using formaldehyde and other chemicals that cause cancer in their baby products. Think about that. They want you to buy their products so they can make money at the risk of your babies developing cancer. I can't even with that one.

I've had enough and I'm making the switch. I've started to research a little in the book No More Dirty Looks (not sponsored, just picked it up at the library) and I'm excited to do more. I also use the app Think Dirty (also not sponsored). It's a rating system for clean products. It doesn't have every product available, but it's a super neat concept in that you can use your phone to scan barcodes, and it will give you a rating of 0-10, from cleanest to most toxic. Some of the scores shocked me from things I used and thought were "natural" beauty products but actually contained high levels of carcinogens.

Some of the cleaner products I'm currently using:

HAIR CARE: This has been the hardest switch for me so far. I tried the "baking soda shampoo" method for a few months before going back to my regular stuff. I currently use a "natural" brand but need to do more research here. I do have a dry shampoo method I love: Cornstarch mixed with coco powder (for a darker color for brunettes). I love this stuff and keep it premixed in a ramekin, and apply it generously with a clean, fluffy makeup brush all over my roots before bed. I only wash my hair twice a week now and use this in between.

BODY & FACE WASH: Dr. Bronner's. Coconut oil based, no strange ingredients, smells fantastic. I like the Rose scent.

BODY & FACE MOISTURIZER: Coconut Oil. I get mine at Trader Joes. If you don't have one near you, this one is on Amazon.

SHAVING CREAM: Coconut Oil

DEODORANT: I've tried many natural versions, but none I loved until my sister in law recommended this and I've never looked back. So much easier to apply than the jars and it truly does work.

ON BABIES:

It's a myth that babies need to be bathed every day (Wall Street Journal article here on how too frequent bathing can increase risk of eczema in babies). I'm throwing out all my baby products labeled as "natural" (which literally means nothing in the beauty industry), especially if they contain "fragrance" which is the least regulated ingredient and protected by trade laws, potentially hiding harmful chemicals. We typically only bathe Trey in water, but I have these also available:

SOAP: Dr. Bronner's. The baby formula has 2x the olive oil as the regular. No added fragrances or dyes and a clean rating of 0 (clean as they come).

LOTION: Coconut Oil. (I get mine at Trader Joe's, link is to the Amazon best seller). I keep this in a smaller mason jar on the changing table and melt it in my hands. I want the products I use on my baby to be safe enough to eat. Their skin is thin, their bodies are sensitive, and they can't handle the chemical and toxin overload that are hidden in many products.

I want to hear what safe products you love. I'm looking for an amazing mousse, shampoo, hair spray, and nail polish specifically. Let me know if you have any recommendations in the comments.

FIRST BIRTHDAY GIFT GUIDE

That face! That is the reason why I love giving good gifts. It's getting more and more fun as Trey gets older.

I wanted to share some first birthday ideas here, even though we know that the non-toys are some of the best toys (the dishwasher, the dryer, a good cardboard box...those are all hot items around here). But sometimes you need a more traditional gift idea, like for a first birthday party or when the grandparents ask for a wish list. These are some early toddler toys we are enjoying:

Pinhole Press Book. This is a DIY board book, and the creative possibilities are endless here. The layout is one word (or phrase) per page, paired one photo on the opposite page. We have friends who've done the "family tree" style, a name and face for each person, and I've also seen "routines" like for getting out the door (ie "first I have breakfast, then I brush my teeth, then get dressed," etc.) I did ours in a "first words" style, just by rounding up some things that he's into and thing that are relevant to his life right now. It was fun and easy to put together and he loves looking at the photos. A favorite and a keepsake.

Xylophone. Musical instruments are great for this age. This one is also a pull toy, (great for early walkers) and the mallet is attached so there's no hunting around for it. Trey loves it.

Bath toys. Ones that help the parents too are a bonus, like this hair rinser and spout protector (check out those reviews!).

Backpack. Perfect if your child attends day care, or for overnights at grandma's, or later on as a lunch box. Lots of animals to choose from.

Raincoat. If it's a winter birthday or you're Seattle people like us. Swimsuits are equally cute for a summer birthday or warmer climates.

Other's we're into: trucks, stuffed animals that give back, walker (more for 9m), the baby version of a toddler basketball hoop, and bubbles.

Bigger ticket items:

Micro Mini 3in1 scooter and helmet. This scooter! The Amazon reviews are incredible. The upper seat is removable and so is the loop handlebar, converting into a regular scooter and fitting from ages 1-5. (What other ride-on kids toy can boast a four year span? Incredible.) Trey loves it. The helmet is super protective and comes down lower in the back, offering more coverage than a standard bike helmet. We are really enjoying this one and it's the first time we have been able to go on smaller family walks without a stroller. Awesome gift.

Play kitchen. This is a placeholder until the one I have my eye on comes back in stock at the end of this month. Can't wait to share.

Wagon. This one is classic. Super versatile and great for summer.

Water table (similar). So fun! This was an aunt gift for Trey this year and it's been a big hit.

Scoot bike. I think this is a better 2 year old gift than 1, but if you have an early walker who's ready for a bike it could be a good fit. I'll look into these for next summer.

Happy gifting!