Fave 5: Natural Beauty on a Budget

While grocery shopping, many of us look for healthy organic foods almost automatically these days.  While it's great to focus on what we put in our bodies, what about the makeup, soaps, and lotions that we place directly on our skin?  After hearing more and more about the harmful effects of parabens, phthalates, and other toxins, I started searching for options that are made with safer ingredients.  When I found out I was pregnant, I did a full sweep of the bathroom cabinets to make sure that I wasn't mindlessly applying icky chemicals on a daily basis.  The great news is that there are numerous options available in the grocery store aisles.  So the next time you are loading up your cart with eats for the week, snag a few of these natural products that are a steal, especially in comparison to similar department store items.  I found all of these at different grocery stores in my area.  Whole Foods and Sprouts are two good ones to check.  For more information, check out The Never List , a great resource from Beautycounter about ingredients to avoid.

Earth Science Naturals Apricot Night Cream  I'm pretty much addicted to this lightweight but super moisturizing cream.  I have very dry skin so this has been a great one to have at home and while traveling.  I often use it during the daytime too.

Shikai Borage Therapy Dry Skin Lotion This lotion has earned a permanent spot in my car for those times when I need something on the go.  I have always been a little OCD about washing my hands so this is a real essential.  So many hand creams are thick and sticky but this one is hydrating without the grease of thicker lotions.

Mineral Fusion Skin Renewing Facial Scrub  Don't you love when you find a product that makes you excited to jump in the shower?  This scrub smooths and exfoliates gently and has a nice scent that smells like a spa day!

Earth Science A-D-E Creamy Fruit Cleanser  If you have dry skin like me,  you will love this one.  For oilier skin, Earth Science has some great gel cleansers too.  It also removes makeup, saving an extra step.  Use this with the facial scrub for a budget-friendly shower facial!

Physician's Formula Organic Wear Mascara  I went for this one after reading numerous Amazon reviews.  So many mascaras start off great and then quickly get clumpy or flaky after a few uses.  This one has held up well and I'm already on my second tube.  Not only is it naturally derived but the lack of harsh chemicals also makes it safer to use with contact lenses.

Jewel Box Powder Rooms

I couldn't be more excited to start work on my latest design project...our new house!  After months of searching, we finally found the one.  We love the floor plan and location but some rooms have been lovingly maintained with 80's details fully intact (think polished brass and lots of it).  One of the spaces that I want to tackle is the half bath.  Right off the main entry hallway, it is tucked under the stairs and in need of some serious TLC.  I can't wait to transform it with some new fixtures and a vivid wallpaper.  Powder rooms and guest baths are the perfect place to make a bold statement with fun décor that you might shy away from in a larger space.  Since the square footage is typically pretty limited, there is also an opportunity to splurge a little on a special floor tile or wallcovering since you don't need much of it to fill the room.   Stay tuned for some before and after photos!  Here is a glimpse at my powder room inspiration.

Design by Frank Ponterio - Traditional Home

This gorgeous mural style wallpaper by de Gournay transports you straight to a storybook forest. I was so distracted by these pretty walls when I found this photo that I almost missed the beautiful custom tile pattern on the floor. 

Design by Amber Lewis - Cupcakes and Cashmere

This lovely little guest bath belongs to one of my favorite bloggers, Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere.  The amazing floral wallpaper by artist Ellie Cashman is inspired by classic Dutch still life paintings.  In a smaller print, it might look overly traditional or even dated but this large scale pattern, accented by light and deep shadow, is both modern and vintage.

Design by Todd Klein - House Beautiful

Ok so I guess I'm really into this wallpaper idea.  I love the dynamic pattern of this unique red version.  It reminds me of Florentine marbled paper and has a beautiful textural quality.  Now these are some brass details that I can get on board with.

Design by Tobi Fairley

The deep, moody blue of these lacquered walls give the room a serene vibe.  The contrast between the dark walls, the marble topped vanity and the stone floors adds a little drama while the roman shade and the classic sconces are a nice finishing touch.

Design by Beckwith Interiors

You know how those backlit dressing room mirrors always make you look extra fabulous?  I have a feeling this modern powder room version would have the same effect.  Now that is some amazing Missoni-esque tile work...

Fave 5: 3-5 Months

Happy Fave 5 Friday!  It's so hard to believe that Landon is now almost seven months old.  While I'm excited for him to reach new milestones, I just want him to slow down.  I knew he was going to grow quickly but it is incredible to watch it happen right in front of me each day.  Here is the gear that made life easier and kept our munchkin entertained as he transitioned from newborn to infant.

Clockwise from top:

1. Skip Hop Activity Gym.  We busted this out when L was around 2 months old.  He would lay on the play mat and stare at the hanging birds above but that was about it for a few weeks.  Once he started grabbing at the toys, he was hooked.  These days, he loves to put just about anything in his mouth including the detachable birds.  He is also rolling like crazy and the "crunchy" sounding leaves attached to the mat are a fun surprise for him.  This is definitely one of the best gifts we received.  We use it everyday and it keeps our little guy entertained for a good 20-30 minutes!  As any soft baby product should be, the mat is machine washable and has already successfully survived a couple of diaper mishaps.  The gym also gets extra points in my book since it is cute and colorful without being an eyesore.

2. Zipadeezip.   WORTH EVERY PENNY!  This swaddle transition gained fame on 'Shark Tank' and has been such a lifesaver during the sleep training process.  For some crazy reason, I decided it would be a good idea to go cold turkey on the SwaddleMe blanket immediately after our 4 month checkup.  No joke, I tried it that night.  Huge mistake!  This amazing product gives him the security of the swaddle because he is still comfortably contained but he can also move his arms and legs (key for babes that have started rolling over).  Imagine a flying squirrel.  This is what he looks like every night on the video monitor.  He sleeps like a champ in this thing.  We received one from my mom and a couple days later, I ordered a second one for backup.

3. Fisher Price Rainforest Jumperoo.  We waited until Landon was 4 months old before introducing him to the jumperoo.  He loves to bounce in this thing and the numerous rattles, toys, and animals that are attached hold his attention for quite a while.  At first the whole thing was a little overwhelming for him and was basically sensory overload (a motion detector plays sounds and music when baby jumps).  After a few days, he adjusted and is now happy in the jumperoo seat for about 10 minutes at a time.  We keep it downstairs so that he can play while I keep an eye on him from the kitchen.

4. LectroFan White Noise Machine.  We learned during the sleep training process that straight white noise is much more effective for sound sleep than other ocean/forest/whale/cricket sound generators.  This little "fan noise" machine is compact and discreet.  It sits on the bookshelf by baby's crib and travels easily.  We have used it every night since we came home from the hospital.  If you didn't sleep with white noise before you had a baby, get ready!  Even if your little one sleeps in his or her own room, you will most likely be enjoying white noise through the baby monitor for many months to come.

5. Beco Baby Gemini Carrier.  One of my best friends and author of Binkies Baubles and Birkin recommended this carrier to me while I was pregnant and I'm so glad we registered for it.  It is easily adjusted to fit me or my husband and the criss-cross configuration of the shoulder straps makes it much more comfortable than other similar products.  We opted for basic black but there are a lot of fun patterns available.  When we first tried out the carrier, baby boy HATED it.  I think that had something to do with our own anxiety about placing our 1-week-old in a strange contraption.  As soon as we were comfortable, he was too and we began our daily ritual of an evening walk which always guarantees some snooze time for our little guy.  He is now old enough to face out which is a fun change.  This carrier is so comfortable that I have successfully used it in the Baby Define barre class.  Working out with an extra 18 pounds strapped to your chest is no joke.  Making faces at your baby in the mirror while suffering through "chair" is an excellent distraction.

What are some of your most-loved items for this age?

Fave 5: Springtime Paints and Polishes

What is it about this season that makes us want to try something new?  Maybe it's the fact that the sleepy cold months are long gone and the excitement of summer is just around the corner.  It is the perfect time of year to clean up and start fresh.  Today's Fave 5 features paint colors and coordinating nail polishes that will put a spring in your step.  Why not try a fun new hue on your bedroom walls?  If a big change isn't what you are looking for, you can always start small with your fingertips.  The bold magenta, petal pink, and lush seafoam green recall pretty blooms while the cloudy white and deep cobalt bring to mind a bright spring sky.  

1. Portland Gray by Benjamin Moore and Playa del Platinum by Essie

2. Old Claret by Benjamin Moore and Just Lanai-ing Around by OPI

3. Washington Blue by Benjamin Moore and 555 Blue Boy by Chanel

4. Cherry Malt by Benjamin Moore and Do You Take Lei Away?  by OPI 

5. Wedgewood Gray by Benjamin Moore and Le Vernis #26 Croisiere Sensation by Givenchy

New Beginnings

Welcome to Take 5!  Five has always been my lucky number so it only made sense to make it a central part of my blog.  The fifth month of the year also holds special significance for me.  Spring is in full bloom and there is a buzz of anticipation in the air as Summer approaches.  I met my husband eight years ago on May 5th and my grandmother was born on May 6th.  Last weekend, we celebrated my first Mother's Day.  It truly is a time of fresh starts and new beginnings.   

As I reflect back on the last six months since my son Landon was born, I can't believe how quickly they have flown by.  Now that he is past the newborn stage, I'm so excited to take some time to work on a new project of my own, a blog where I will share the things that I love.  I will be posting about a little bit of everything from interior design and favorite recipes to tips for new moms and local Houston recommendations.  Since I think it's important for everyone to take 5 to relax, reflect, and recharge, I will be sharing inspiration in the form of five ideas, thoughts, or things.  

I love to hear feedback and comments so feel free to chime in.  I can also be reached at katie.q.krynak@gmail.com. Happy Spring!

xo Katie

Nautical Nursery

What better way to kick off my blog than with a post that combines two of the things I love most: my baby boy and interior design!  I was so eager to start designing our little guy's nursery last year that I drew a floor plan of the space when I was only a few weeks pregnant.  My poor husband even agreed to vacate his office so that we could turn it into baby's room and assemble the crib 5 months before our due date.  I can blame it on my love of interior design but I think I was just plain excited.

I knew I wanted to have a theme to the room without anything being too literal.  I decided to go with some nautical touches and kept the color palette to primarily white and navy with a few other small pops of color.  As far as major furniture pieces go, we have been very happy with the Hudson crib.  I chose it for the simple design and clean lines.  It coordinates well with our Land of Nod Changing Table (not shown) and the Crate and Barrel ladder bookshelf.  It also includes a toddler bed conversion kit so really it's two beds in one. 

I originally hung white canvas curtains in the room because I thought that they evoked sails and went perfectly with my theme.  They looked really nice during the last couple months of my pregnancy.  Then once baby arrived, nap time and the ever-important "sleep environment" took precedent.  The canvas curtains are currently folded in the linen closet.  This may seem obvious to some, but you are going to need blackout curtains for those mid-day naps.  I'm not sure why I didn't consider this to begin with. The windows in our nursery are also south-facing so blackouts were necessary for heat blocking as well.  I ended up with these from Pottery Barn Kids.  They add a fun punch of pattern to the room and really pull it together!

We have a comfy Dutailier glider but our little nursery was too small to fit any other full size seating.  We now have a couple of poufs in the room including the one below.  These are great as ottomans and extra seating for kids and adults alike.  When you are spending a lot of time nursing, its nice to have extra seating for family and friends.

1. Lucy Darling watercolor print.  This brand has adorable prints and products for sale on their own website, Etsy, and Amazon.  We also have their age stickers that we use for monthly photos.

2. Lucy Darling art print.  This hangs right above the crib.

3. Jayson Home rope knot door stop.  Reminiscent of a sailor's knot (also known as a monkey's fist), similar door stops can be found at a variety of price points.

4. Nate Berkus metallic pouf.  Great Target find!  A comfy place for dad to sit while mom is nursing.

5. Round hanging mirror (similar shown here with rope detailing).  I like that this mirror recalls a ship's porthole.  Similar to the knot door stop, different options can be found from a variety of retailers at a range of different prices.

6. Moby Dick print.  Minted is a great resource for art prints and this one fit the theme perfectly.  It hangs with a few other framed prints in a gallery wall layout over the changing table.

7.  Duralee Roped Fabric.  I found this fun fabric at Calico Corners and used it to create a custom pillow along with a tea towel that I found at Paper Source (see #10 below).  A pop of red canvas piping pulled it all together.  It was my nursery splurge but I love how it turned out!

Landon, 2 weeks old, with his custom pillow (while it was still clean and spit-up free).

Landon, 2 weeks old, with his custom pillow (while it was still clean and spit-up free).

8. Crate and Barrel Sawyer Leaning Bookcase.  This elegant piece fits nicely in the corner of the room adjacent to the crib.  It is so convenient to have a place to keep decorative heirlooms, photo frames, gifts, and books without taking up too much floor space.  Since it is open on the sides, it is a great spot for our video monitor camera (we went with a Dropcam) as well as the white noise machine.

9. Crosley Antique Bronze Clock.  I like the vintage look of this little table clock and it coordinates well with the window hardware that we found on sale at Restoration Hardware (similar shown here).  I quickly realized after the first couple of weeks at home that having a clock in the nursery is essential for timing feeding sessions. 

10. Whale Tea Towel.  I love the 'Into The Mystic' quote by Van Morrison on this sweet little towel.  Since I walked down the aisle to 'Crazy Love' this was the perfect addition to our nursery.  I had it combined with the Duralee fabric above (see #7) to create a one-of-a-kind decorative pillow.

11. Water Hyacinth Storage Bins.  I was torn between going with a dresser with changing table top versus a traditional changing table with open shelving below.  I went with the latter and added six of these storage bins.  They are durable and add a natural touch.  Larger bins on the lower shelf hold sleep sacks, swaddles, burp cloths and bibs while smaller bins on the upper shelf hold socks, diapers, hats, and accessories.

12.  Babyletto Hudson Crib.  I found our crib at Serena & Lily but this design is available from several retailers.  I like the modern look of it and it also converts to a toddler bed which is always a plus when searching for the best baby bed.  I also highly recommend our lightweight and organic cotton crib mattress.  It fits snugly within the crib and is so lightweight that changing crib sheets is a breeze.

What are some of your favorite nursery items?

Fun Ways To Meet Other Moms

Let's be honest.  The first few weeks at home with baby are tough.  Cry, feed, diaper change, sleep (baby, not you), repeat.  There are moments of immense joy and excitement directly followed by weepy frustration.  It's hard to even fathom leaving the house.  Once family members have dispersed and your significant other is back at work, quality time with other moms and their babies can be a saving grace.  It may take a lot of schedule coordination and a few failed attempts to make it happen, but once it does, having time to connect with someone who can truly relate makes all the difference in the world.

1. Prenatal Yoga ClassesI was pretty set in a Bar Method routine during my pregnancy but I have several friends who really enjoyed getting to know other expectant moms in a relaxed yoga environment.  The benefit here is that you have a chance to get to know other moms-to-be whose babies will be around the same age as yours.  It is also much easier to get to know someone while you are still pregnant and can have a leisurely one-on-one conversation.  Trying to connect with another woman once you are both sleep deprived and simultaneously tending to newborns is a little more tricky.  The conversation can be hilariously fragmented.

Houston Ideas:

The Motherhood Center - This place is an all around great resource for moms and moms-to-be.  I attended a few prenatal classes here and loved them.  

Joy Yoga Center - Another great option.  I love the classes here as well.  One location is in Memorial and the original is on Washington Ave.

2. Local College or Sorority Alumnae Associations - When I moved to Houston, I only knew two people.  I was lucky to meet some of my closest friends a few weeks later through the local chapter of my sorority alumnae association.  We all went to different schools and ended up in Houston within a few months of each other in 2009.  In fact, two of them threw us a beautiful baby shower last year!*  By joining a local association, you can immediately connect with numerous women as many of the Houston chapters have thousands of members.  Smaller interest groups such as Moms Night Out and Playdate in the Park are available within the larger associations.  Don't pass up this opportunity to expand your network of moms!

*To see photos of the gorgeous nautical themed shower that my friends threw for us, check out this post featured on I Dream of Pretty Things, a blog by another friend that I met through our alumnae association.

3. Neighborhood Moms Groups - In a city as large and spread out as Houston, it is essential to get to know other families in your own neighborhood.  Add heavy traffic to the mix and you will quickly realize that attempting to cross town before 10am or after 3pm can often be a nightmare.  Check out sites such as Nextdoor to find kids play groups in your area.  I was excited to learn that an upcoming moms meet-up in my area is walking distance from my house.  This particular site is also great for information on upcoming neighborhood events, used baby gear for sale, and handyman recommendations.

4. Mommy and Me Classes - Having the chance to bond with your baby through activity in the company of other families is so much fun.  Whether it is a fitness class for moms that baby can attend or an educational experience for baby, there are a variety of options out there.  We are still new to these classes so I will add updates as we discover more opportunities.  

Houston Ideas:

Define Baby - This is a great way to get a quick workout while baby rides along in the carrier or lays next to you on a blanket or in the carseat carrier.  30 minutes may seem like a short class but the instructors do a great job of packing in a full body workout.  Now that Landon faces out in the carrier, he loves to watch what's going on in class and I can easily make faces at him in the mirror.  Right now, the class is only offered at the Tanglewood location.  No minimum age for baby.

Mommy and Me Yoga at The Motherhood Center (also see #1).  For ages 4 weeks to 2 years.

The Little Gym - Highly recommended by other moms.  We will be trying this out soon!  There are four locations around town.  Minimum age for baby is 4 months.

Mommy and Me Yoga at Houston Public Library - Landon and I are excited to check this out.  The baby class is held at the Heights Neighborhood Library and the toddler class (for ages 3 and under) is held at the Central Downtown location.  There are several other fun activities to check out at the library such as 'Storytime' and 'Playtime' for different ages.

Infant or Toddler Music Classes - We recently checked out a demo class at our neighborhood location of Fundamentally Music and had a great time.  The 45 minute class includes several songs with dancing, instruments and even a bubble machine.  It was so fun watching Landon interact with the other kids that ranged in age from 5 months to a little over a year.  I have also heard great things about Prelude Music School and Crescendo Family Music.  More details to come!  Minimum age for baby is 4 months.

5. Get Involved!  One of the best ways to meet other moms and new friends in general is by volunteering.  Whether at your child's school, your church, a hospital, local charity or through an organization such as Junior League, lasting friendships can easily be made while giving back to the community.

Fave 5: 0-3 Months

When I started researching baby products during my pregnancy, I was instantly overwhelmed by the endless number of options that could be found online and in stores.  I turned to a few blogs and review websites for guidance and I'm so glad that I did.  My goal is to create a series of posts about the products that have worked best for us at each stage so that other moms and moms-to-be can rely on some tried and true choices.  Here are the essentials that kept us sane during those first crazy weeks.


Clockwise from top:

1. Aden and Anais Muslin Burpy Bibs (PRODUCT) RED Special Edition I'm a big fan of the super soft A&A products and often use their oversized muslin or bamboo swaddle blankets as stroller blankets or nursing covers.  Unlike traditional bibs, they are the same width all the way around providing extra cover across baby's chest.  They are great to have on hand as burp cloths during those first few weeks when everyone wants to come over to meet baby.  I feel really good about purchasing products like these from the RED line since proceeds go directly toward fighting AIDS.  I was astonished to learn that 650 babies are born with HIV everyday.  Learn more at www.red.org.

2. Summer Infant SwaddleMe  We took the Newborn Care class and practiced the ninja swaddles but once game day arrived and we had a screaming baby on our hands, any previous knowledge of proper swaddling technique went right out the window.  We were so relieved that the nurses could swaddle baby up every time they left our hospital room but once we got home, we turned to these easy SwaddleMe blankets.  The velcro tabs make the process a breeze and baby sleeps so much better all bundled up.  Just be sure to attach all of the tabs before throwing these in the wash or every other piece of laundry will end up stuck to the velcro!

3. Mam Pacifiers  I was unsure about turning to pacifiers right away but once Landon was a few weeks old, we started using these on occasion and if he woke during the night.  They were a key part of sleep training at around 3 months.  The curved shape hugs baby's face and stays in place.  There are a variety of colors, patterns, and shapes available for newborns, infants, and 6+ months.

4. Fisher Price 4 In 1 Tub  After the first week or so of sponge bathing, tackling baby's first real bath can be a daunting task.  There is something extremely nerve wracking about trying to bathe a very tiny, slippery newborn.  It was not exactly helpful for me to hear that a baby can drown in less than an inch of water.  If it weren't for my clean freak tendencies, my little guy would have gone far too long without a proper bath given the fear of baby bathing that every class/book/online forum instilled in me.  We started off using the tub with the sling insert (very helpful) and eventually graduated to using the tub alone.  Once baby is sitting up, the green seat insert can be used.  The spray bottle and fish shaped sieve make bath time fun.

5. Fisher Price Rock N Play  I think every parent I know owns a Rock N Play.  I had no idea what a lifesaver it would be!  The plush lining keeps baby at a comfortable incline and the vibrate button puts them right to sleep.  It is perfect for newborn naps or a place to put baby while you whip up dinner.  Landon loved his so much that we all became a little too dependent on it.  Once we left the hospital, he spent every night in it until he was 3 months old.  While this is perfectly safe, I don't recommend it because the transition to the crib was extremely tough! 

What are some of your favorites for this age?