Beauty Review: L'Oreal Paris Rapid Reviver Conditioner*

Beauty Review: L'Oreal Paris Rapid Reviver Conditioner | Writing Between Pauses

My relationship with my hair is complicated.

For the last 12 years of my life, I’ve gone through a series of cut-into-pixie-and-grow-as-long-as-possible periods. I got my hair cut into a pixie just weeks before I had Forrest, then didn’t get a haircut for 3 years. (My hairdresser, as you can imagine, was as shocked as me. It really didn’t feel like 3 years, in my defense.)

In the last year and a half as well, I’ve developed an intensely dry scalp, that can be flaky, but mostly just deeply annoying. Sometimes, it’s tied to my cycle. Sometimes, it’s made worse or better by what I use in my hair. But the baseline for my scalp seems to be dry as hell, with a side of flakiness, and that’s just… my normal as an adult. It goes without saying: of all the terrible genetic traits to inherit, why this one (and my slow as heck metabolism)?

Whenever I look for products for my hair and scalp now, I have to be really clear about what I’m looking for: my hair itself isn’t necessarily dry, but my scalp is; my hair handles sulfate-free shampoos well, but not sulfate-free conditioners; harsh dandruff ingredients irritate my scalp worse; I need moisturizing, but not too much or it weighs down my hair… the list goes on.

When I received this conditioner for review, I was convinced I was going to hate it. The L’Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Oil Rapid Reviver Deep Conditioner has the longest product name in the world (I struggled to shorten it for this blog post) and promises to “provide 2X more nourishment than any leading conditioner” and to be “lightweight, hydrating and moisturizing.” Two of those words mean the same thing, so… we’ll see.

Extraordinary Oil sounds way, way too heavy, doesn’t it? However, despite being called “Extraordinary Oil” and “a hair treatment” in various places both on the L’Oreal website and the tube, it also says it’s for daily use. Now, I subscribe to the idea that you don’t need to (and probably shouldn’t) wash your hair every single day. So using a heavy conditioner every day seems like a lot.

How good is L'Oreal Paris conditioner

I use a lot of hair masks, so I was fully prepared for this conditioner to have the texture of a hair mask. However, it doesn’t. It’s a fairly standard conditioner when you get down to it; it doesn’t feel heavy and it gives your hair that slippy feeling when you apply it. I’ll admit to being fairly addicted to conditioner; I never don’t use it, because my hair can be unmanageable without it. I love the slippy, smooth feeling and even though I know that’s sulfates, and the internet tells me that sulfates are bad for my hair, I also don’t like not using it… because then my hair turns into a single tangle that I can’t get out! Give me sulfates in my conditioner or give me death!

Did I like this conditioner? Yes! I did. It was hydrating for my scalp and didn’t weigh down my hair as much as I thought it would. However, do I think it is anything special? Not necessarily. Despite all the fancy names, it doesn’t really promise to be anything besides a hydrating conditioner—which is what all conditioners do. Whenever I’m testing a hair product, I have to ask myself, over and over again, if I’m noticing a difference in my scalp (better or worse); preferably, it’s actually best that a product has no effect on my scalp. This product is one of those where it didn’t make my scalp better or worse, which is often a solid win for me.

Is this a particularly special conditioner? Not really. It didn’t necessarily wow me in terms of making my hair look any different from any other conditioner. It should be said, again: I don’t really have dry hair, just a dry scalp, and my hair isn’t damaged from heat treatment or hair dye. The bonus is this is only around $4-6 depending on which drug store you go to. (The downside is that L’Oreal Paris tests on animals.) If you’re looking for a good, affordable conditioner, and you struggle with hair that is dry or damaged, this is a great option.

Would I repurchase? It depends. I think if I started heat treating my hair more, I would probably look for something similar (but cruelty free) to use, as it is really hydrating. But this specific product? Probably not.

Disclaimer: As denoted by the asterisk (*) in the title of this blog post, I received this product in exchange for review. If you’d like to learn more about my disclosure policy, click here.

Beauty Review: Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream

Beauty Review: Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream  | Writing Between Pauses

I love a gimmick. You guys know that. Holika Holika Piggy Nose? I’m there. I’m on it. I’m 100% for it.

I’ve been admiring the Sol de Janeiro Bum Bum Cream from afar for years; I’d heard rumors that people either absolutely loved the smell of it… or it made them want to puke. I’m not a believer in creams that “reduce cellulite” (cellulite is just how bodies are structured and made, especially bodies with estrogen, so you can’t really effect your body at that level with a cream), however, so I wasn’t really interested in buying it.

I did, however, receive a tube of Bum Bum Cream in my most recent Ipsy. (Yes, I’ve signed back up. No, I won’t be reviewing them for a while.) Which gave me the opportunity to use it and decide if it really is worth how gosh dang expensive it is.

Here’s what the Bum Bum Cream promises:

Our award-winning, cult favorite Brazilian Bum Bum Cream is a luxurious all-over body cream that absorbs quickly to help visibly tighten the appearance of skin. Infused with all-powerful caffeine-rich Guaraná extract and a cocktail of Cupuaçu Butter, Açaí Oil, and Coconut Oil, this fast-absorbing cream with our addictive Pistachio and Salted Caramel fragrance will bring out your most radiant skin ever. Try it and see what the “Bum Bum” effect is all about.

Let’s break that down.

“All-over body cream that absorbs quickly to help visibly tighten the appearance of skin”: (emphasis mine, obviously). “Visibly tighten” your skin? I’m not sure about that one, although I did spend a stupid amount of time asking Danny, “does any part of my skin look tighter?” (Danny: “What does that even mean? No? Are you ok?”)

“This fast-absorbing cream with our addictive Pistachio and Salted Caramel fragrance will bring out your most radiant skin ever”: I skipped the part with the ingredients, because that often means nothing to me. (Although I do have a note about it!) Is this fast-absorbing? Yes, actually it is. That’s one of the things I really liked about it. It’s kind of the perfect hand lotion to keep by my computer so I can still type without feeling like I’m making a mess. However, I want to talk about the fragrance.

Every time I put this lotion on in the past week or so, I’ve said, “I love this old school coconut smell!” And Danny agreed with me; it smells like old school sunscreen without the chemical sunscreen component. It is pure coconut.

So… Salted Caramel and Pistachio?! I don’t see that, although i guess it smells sweet and nutty. But I swear, I was more surprised reading this scent description than anything else. I’m usually pretty good with smells, but maybe not. I will die on this hill though; I’m 90% sure this is coconut-scented and they just don’t want to admit it!

Does Bum Bum Cream Work?

I liked a lot of things about Bum Bum Cream: the scent, the fast-drying aspect. I’m unconvinced that it does anything to your skin other than moisturize it (which is does quite well).

However, there are a few things I don’t like. The name, of course, sounds really stupid to say out loud, but as I said, I love a gimmick. Is it any worse than “Piggy Nose Peeling Gel”? Nah.

I also don’t like that if you use it on certain areas of your body, it doesn’t just tingle: it burns.

The first time I put it on, I just put it on my hands and I noticed it had a slight warming effect; I’ve noticed that with lots of lotions that use caffeine in them, so I wasn’t concerned. However, the first time I put it on my legs—and specifically, my thighs—it wasn’t just warming. It was like a burning tingle. Not entirely unpleasant—it didn’t hurt at all and didn’t turn me red or give me a rash—but kind of shocking if you aren’t expecting it. I have relatively sensitive skin and the tingling went away within 15-20 minutes… but if you’re skin is highly sensitive, this might be a huge issue.

That’s really the only big downside to me: that tingle can sometimes be light, but sometimes, it’s like a freight train. It just totally depends on where you apply it. And the thing is, I think it’s totally worthless; I don’t think it changes how my skin looks whatsoever, so it’s just needless pain!

Will I buy a whole tub of this? Maybe. I don’t think I’ll ever use it as a full-body lotion, but I do like it for my hands while I’m working or just around the house. I might buy a small travel size tube similar to the size I have for my purse.

Have you ever used Bum Bum Cream? What did you think?

What Have We Learned From Pipdig?

What Have We Learned from Pipdig? | Writing Between Pauses

I feel like the blogging community has been in an uproar for the last 10 days. But for those who don’t know what’s going on, on March 29, a dev and blogger named Jem posted this blog post, detailing malicious code she discovered in Pipdig’s plug-in and themes. I won’t detail everything Jem wrote about here, but needless to say, the blogger community was quick to discover her post.

Pipdig has been a popular theme provider for bloggers, specifically in lifestyle niches, for the last few years. I know many who self-host on Wordpress immediately went for Pipdig themes as they were easy-to-use, highly customizable, and came with outstanding customer service.

Throughout the Pipdig ordeal, many bloggers originally called to Pipdig’s outstanding customer service as a sign that perhaps Jem was mistaken about the code. (Long story short, code doesn’t lie and many, many developers backed Jem up. In fact, Wordfence, one of the premier Wordpress security blogs, happened to post about the same Pipdig issue at nearly the same time. They also shared some valuable information afterward that showed that even Blogger themes were effected by the code.)

As with any issue in the blog community, it felt like there was lots of back-and-forth for the first few days. A lot of the bigger, top tier bloggers went silent pretty quickly—they defended Pipdig, then dipped out of the conversation. Tempers were lost and a lot of people doubled down without really knowing what they were talking about.

The complication with all of this is that very, very few bloggers (especially in the niche that Pipdig primarily served) know how to read code. They relied on Pipdig to provide them with good customer service, to help them install their themes, and to do so in a way that was trustworthy. And unfortunately, Pipdig betrayed that trust because they behaved in a way that unethical very secretly, knowing that very few of their blogger customers would be able to catch them at it.

For many bloggers, this left them feeling naive—and as if they had been called stupid by the devs trying to explain it to them. There is absolutely no shame in not understanding code or technical language when it comes to code. However, bloggers can be quick to forming opinions without having a full picture and it is natural to want to trust an “industry giant” like Pipdig.

However, my thought is this: there were just too many experts telling me the exact same thing and I knew that absolutely none of them have a horse in this race, so to speak, in that they aren’t Pipdig competitors. Many of them had never really been involved in the lifestyle blogging community beforehand; they really didn’t even know it existed and if they did, they didn’t realize how robust it was, and they definitely were not prepared for the sheer amount of push back that they got. They were just professionals trying to do their due diligence and help people.

At the end of this post, I’ll have some valuable resources for Pipdig users if they still need to switch themes or uninstall the plug-in. As well, there are so many devs on Twitter offering their assistance to help bloggers remove Pipdig products. Again, if you need help understanding what’s going on, I highly recommend reading the Wordfence and Jem blog posts thoroughly.

For now, let’s talk about what this Pipdig fiasco has taught us.

1. The “Blogging Experts” Have Agendas

This doesn’t discount their expertise necessarily, but clearly some of the top bloggers in the lifestyle niche, and those who peddle classes and ebooks for sale that they know everything about blogging, have agendas that aren’t necessarily always going to fit with what is most helpful for other bloggers. I don’t want to name names here, but a lot of the biggest bloggers in the industry were quick to defend Pipdig, then went absolutely radio silent as more and more evidence came out and more and more developers started saying the same things. Many of them still haven’t said anything—which is fine! If that’s their bag, that’s their bag. But it makes you wonder why, exactly, they aren’t saying anything?

These same bloggers will be the first to throw other companies under the bus and tell their followers, or those who buy their advice, not to use them. They will sell their ebooks and online classes and give very strict advice on what to do for blogging, but when it comes to using a service that is maliciously using bloggers to do their dirty work, they go absolutely silent. That’s a bit odd, isn’t it?

The truth is, affiliate networking among hosting and theme providers has become increasingly common. I was actually just reading a blog post about how it is one of the best methods of affiliate marketing to build income from your blog, so it wouldn’t surprise me if many of the first to defend Pipdig (and then go silent) were affiliates who received income from referring people.

So what do we learn? If someone styles themselves as a blogging expert, and they make income from that styling, they may have an agenda. They may have partners that they don’t disclose. They may not be as authentic as they say. After all, it is still the internet. As much as we think we know all these bloggers, the truth is that we absolutely do not know these people. Just as none of us knew what Pipdig was really doing, none of us know what these experts are up to. Remember to do your own due diligence when it comes to their advice and who they back, because sometimes they don’t have the blogging communities best interests at heart.

2. The Blogging Community Has An Echo Chamber Problem

One big bloggers posts a Tweet about Pipdig and every medium tier blogger RTs it, then every small blogger RTs it, then every new blogger RTs it, and none of them think to actually read the blog post or look at the evidence. Partially because they don’t understand it (again, not their fault), but mostly because they trust those who have been blogging longer, or more successfully, or whatever.

It becomes an echo chamber. The biggies say this, so we believe it, so we all repeat it. And everyone who posted an opinion otherwise—those like me who work with developers, or those who understood code, or simply those who were willing to take an independent third parties word for it because they had nothing to gain or lose from it—was treated really, really terribly.

It goes without saying: Pipdig was a vendor to bloggers. They were not a friend, or an associate, or a best buddy. They were a vendor. They made money off small bloggers, and medium bloggers, and big bloggers. (And some of those bloggers potentially made money from everyone as well!) Pipdig might have had good customer service, but good customer service doesn’t mean anything when it comes to malicious code or unethical business practices. Some of the biggest companies in the have good PR; it doesn’t mean they aren’t shady.

The echo chamber of the blogging world is stunning and shocking even at the best of times. One person posts something and it becomes the opinion everyone must hold, or is afraid to not repeat. We all hate the follow-unfollow game on Instagram; we all blame the algorithm; we all do this, we all do that. It really is exhausting to keep up with the opinion we’re supposed to have. Because we’re bloggers, right? We’re all the same.

That’s right, I didn’t think so. It’s time to stop letting one single, popular blogger speak for all of us and damage the community as a whole, especially when they might have an agenda.

3. Pipdig Became “the Way To Have A Blog”

This is a big controversial, but all the Pipdig themes looked the same. Yes, they were highly customizable for users, but rarely did they ever get customized in a way that separated them from each other. Pipdig sold relatively affordable themes that fit the way bloggers thought their blogs should look.

Just like the blogging community has become an echo chamber when it comes to opinions, many people deferring to other people instead of critically thinking, the blogging community has also fallen victim to thinking they have to do X, Y, and Z before they become “real” bloggers. You need a self-hosted Wordpress website. (You don’t.) You need a Pipdig theme that looks like everyone else’s. (You don’t.) You need to take your photos a specific way. (You don’t.) You need to do this, that, and the other thing just like so-and-so tells you. (You don’t.)

There is no one way to blog. There is no one way your blog should look. It goes without saying, but blogging is highly personal… but we’ve all fallen victim to the pressure to look a certain way, or do certain things, to make ourselves successful.

I would consider myself a slightly successful blogger; I’ve been plugging away at this a very, very long time, so I feel a bit like an elderly person in the game, but I’ve gotten to this point (a small income, some sponsorships) without ever doing anything anyone told me to the letter. I am not self-hosted on Wordpress. I don’t have the same theme as everyone else. I don’t spend hours focusing on Pinterest or any other social media platform. I just let it happen, write posts i believe in, and let Google do the rest.

Getting a Pipdig theme was often treated like a goal post for blogging—and this made them into a giant that people didn’t want to see as an actual business, but rather just a goal. Pipdig was, to repeat myself, a vendor. That’s it. Nothing more. And they used bloggers to behave badly. There is no one way to have a blog so please, let’s not replace Pipdig with some other giant now.

Resources

If you have any additional resources for those who have a Pipdig theme, or the Pipdig plugin, or are available to assist bloggers when switching, send me a note!

Free E-Course: Start Your Blog in 2019

Free E-Course: Start Your Blog in 2019 | Writing Between Pauses

When I started blogging in 2009 (!!!), it was an entirely different world. Twitter had just launched; there was no Pinterest or Instagram yet. It has been quite the ride watching the blogging world change from a hobby to an industry, to watch entire platforms pop up—and to watch people take advantage of those platforms in a way that is super beneficial to them and their businesses.

Often when I speak about my blog to other people, they want to know how, exactly, I did it. How do you start? What do you start with? Starting any big project can feel like a huge effort, especially when the steps seem hazy. And with blogging, there are so many: what kind of content should I write? What does “choose a platform” even mean?! How can I promote my blog without annoying everyone I know?

One of my biggest frustrations with blogging has always been how secretive people can be about information. Blogging started as purely a hobby world and has quickly turned into a professional for many people; and for that reason, lots of people have started making their own businesses out of selling the secrets of blogging.

I don’t want to tell anyone how to make their money. And there are definitely people out there who know more about blogging than me and they totally deserve to have people pay for their time.

However, the secret is there is no secret to blogging. Getting started is just about getting started.

I recently relaunched my newsletter, the Pause, as a way to talk about blogging every month with people who wanted to learn more about blogging or just improve their own blogs. I didn’t want their to be any secrets when it came to blogging, at least when it comes to the knowledge I have.

I started thinking of other ways I could help people learn more about blogging and start their own blogs (or jumpstart their pre-existing blog) in 2019. And it came to me: a basic e-course that walks you through the process of starting a blogging, writing your first pieces of content, and promoting it to the world.

My free e-course will start May 6 and cover everything I just listed, as well as SEO basics and developing a voice. Blogging is something I love and am incredibly passionate about—I want others to love it too, as a hobby, as a form of income, and as an industry. But I don’t believe in hiding that behind a paywall, which is why this e-course is 100% free. That means I won’t give half the information and advertise another e-course at the end. I won’t bait-and-switch. Just 5 free emails over the course of a week with all the information I have.

This e-course isn’t just for those who have dreamed of starting blogs, but those who already have a blog and want to kick it up a notch.

Sign up today to make sure you get that first email on Monday, May 6!

Beauty Review: Peter Thomas Roth Peptide 21 Collection*

Beauty Review: Peter Thomas Roth Peptide 21 Collection | Writing Between Pauses

I love trying new skincare products. In fact, it’s one of my favorite parts about having my blog; getting the opportunity to try new things and see what works for my skin is just one of the many perks of blogging.

As an example: a few weeks ago, I received the Peter Thomas Roth Peptide 21 Collection to review. (I received this product from Influenster, not Peter Thomas Roth directly.*) Peter Thomas Roth is a brand I would never actually buy myself—even though I’ve heard great things about them—because it’s just a little out of my price range.

So, we’ve come to the downside of being sent products to review: sometimes you find stuff you really, really love that is way more money than you would ever spend on a product.

Here is what’s special about the Peptide 21 Collection:

Peptide 21™ proves there is strength in numbers—and diversity! An unprecedented amount and array of 21 Peptides and Neuropeptides allows the multi-action serum and moisturizer to effectively treat every area of the face and neck. Enhanced by cutting-edge Gamma Proteins, these formulas help improve the look of fine lines, wrinkles, elasticity, radiance, uneven skin tone and texture. Peptide-building Amino Acid peel pads complete the collection, providing powerful exfoliation while optimizing results.

I received all three products from the collection to review: the Peptide 21 Wrinkle Resist Serum; the Peptide 21 Lift & Firm Moisturizer; and the Peptide 21 Amino Acid Exfoliating Peel Pads. All three products focus on the main task of anti-aging using peptides. Funny enough, I think they are using “peptides” as a clever stand-in for “collagen.” As most of us know, topically applying collagen isn’t super effective when it comes to skincare; our skin can’t absorb it in a way it can be used for anti-aging. They claim these peptides “support” collagen proteins that already exist in our skin, but I’m not too sure on all that. (Science is not my strong suit!)

However, I will say this to start this review: I like every single one of these products. However, there is something a little gimmicky about the peptides stuff—I don’t know enough about it to know for sure, but I know enough about marketing to know when a gimmick is a gimmick.

That being said, again, I really like all these products. Do I think the peptides do anything? Not really.

Peter Thomas Roth Peptide 21 Collection

What I Like

My favorite part of the collection are the Exfoliating Peel Pads; they are a quick, easy swipe part of a routine and I’ve noticed the biggest difference in my skin just from them. (When trying new products, I usually add just one at a time.) They really are the stand out product from the collection, as they contain more than “peptides”. Here’s what they promise: “Packed with peptide-building Amino Acids, these exfoliating peel pads help reduce the look of pores, uneven skin tone, texture, fine lines and wrinkles while prepping skin for peptide treatment products.” It goes without saying, they don’t only contain peptides, but also Phytic Acid, Salicylic Acid and Sodium Lactate, as well as vitamins A and E.

I noticed a huge difference in my skin’s texture just from these pads alone. Usually, I try not to use anything that makes garbage pile up, however, and using a peel pad every single day (or twice a day) creates a lot of garbage at the end of the day. If this was a toner in a bottle, I’d absolutely be head-over-heels in love with it.

I did like the serum and the moisturizer as well. The moisturizer was probably my second favorite item, as I use moisturizer more than anything else (if I’m too tired to do my entire routine, a makeup wipe and moisturizer is as good as it gets). I am not big on serums generally; sometimes, I feel like they just add steps to a routine when that same thing could be added to a moisturizer. (I know there are many great serums out there. I’m just lazy, let’s be honest.)

Skincare for anti-aging

What I Don’t Like

It took so much self control not to say this in the above section, but: the serum feels gross. It makes my skin feel so sticky and slimy, no matter how long I let it sink it. I’m still using it, but I cannot wait to get to the moisturizer step of my routine purely to rid myself of the feeling. However, even after moisturizer, my skin still always feels a little gross, so I find myself skipping the serum more-and-more. And to be honest, I don’t notice a huge difference without the serum.

Here’s another thing about the serum: it’s $110!!!!!! I would say it’s the worst product of the collection, and the most useless, and it costs nearly DOUBLE the price of the peel pads! That’s outrageous and I absolutely do not love that. The peel pads cost $52, which isn’t a great price, but also isn’t bad as I really do like them. The moisturizer is $78, which is another yikes; I like it, but it’s not any better than a Pacifica moisturizer, which you can get for less than $15 at Target.

As always, for most skincare products, what it comes down to is price for me. You can find lots of things that give you the same or similar results to these products. Is this a nice collection? Sure. Is it way out of my price range? Yes. Will I be repurchasing anything from it? I may repurchase the peel pads if I can’t find a good dupe, but it’s definitely a long shot.

Good serum for anti-aging and acne

Final Thoughts

I’m glad I got to try this new collection; the peel pads, honestly, are the best part of it. But as I said, the price point is just a little high for products that I don’t feel deliver (at least on my skin). A lot of that price is clearly the name, which is all well and good—but who wants to spend $200+ for products that don’t make a $200 difference to your skin?

Disclaimer: As noted by the asterisk (*) in the title of this post, I received these products free in exchange for review. However, all opinions remain my own! Click here to read more about my disclosure policy.

Everything I Know About Being Prepared for an Emergency

Everything I Know About Being Prepared for an Emergency | Writing Between Pauses

On February 24, around 12pm, it started snowing.

It snowed for the rest of the day without stopping. By the time it got dark outside, we had 2-3 inches. My husband and I excitedly talked about a potential snow day (he is a teacher after all and sometimes, they do get excited to have a snow day!) as we got ready for bed. However, our lights started flickering on and off around 8pm. They kept going off, then coming back. Twenty minutes later, it would repeat. We went around unplugging things, sure that if they went off, they’d be on within a few hours like always. We started a fire in the wood stove and left it for the night.

We climbed into bed and fell asleep. At midnight, the lights went out for real. At 2am, Forrest woke up, terrified in the dark. I brought him to our bed and as he went to sleep, I realized I could hear strange sounds outside. Crashing sounds. I shrugged. i hadn’t looked out a window. I didn’t know then that it was still snowing.

It snowed into the next morning. We got up at 6am and got the wood stove going again. As I let Remus out, I realized that branches were falling off the trees. Those were the crashing sounds. When we stood outside, we could hear not just branches falling, but entire trees. The cedar tree right next to our house was swaying. As it got light outside, we saw how bad it was: multiple large branches had fallen off the cedar tree.

I got dressed in a snow jacket and gloves, pulling on my boots. My mom and I had been texting all morning; their driveway was blocked and my dad had gotten his truck stuck trying to find a way out. I started down our driveway, slightly terrified by how many trees were falling around me, to find that we were also blocked in. 4-5 trees had fallen across our driveway. The snow was almost up to my knees then and still coming down.

Throughout the day, I packed up our emergency supplies: a suitcase of clothes, our box of important documents, things for Remus. If we needed to leave, I told myself, we would be able to. I kept repeating that to myself, even though I knew our car couldn’t get down our driveway. The cedar tree outside our house lose 5-6 large branches, but none hit our house. By the time it stopped snowing, everything was a mess: our internet satellite dish was snapped basically in half, our backyard was a mess, we had no power and very little food, and we couldn’t leave.

That was Monday, February 25. The next day, my parents were able to help us clear the driveway and we were able to go to their house. The day after that, we were able to get to town and buy canned soup and extra water. And the day after that, my parents’ power was restored. Our power wouldn’t come back until Sunday, March 3. It was such a relief when it did.

During the week of the snowstorm, Oregon’s Governor, Kate Brown, declared a state of emergency. All the power companies were completely overwhelmed; the road I live on, for example, had almost every single section of power line damaged by a falling trees. On the road just beside my house, all the trees had fallen into the road, blocking on lane on a tight corner. The roads were covered in snow and ice, almost no one could get down their driveway unless they had a larger truck, and as I live in a rural area without city water, none of us had access to running water.

Before the snowstorm, Danny and I had often talked about being prepared for emergencies. We talked about things we needed to get, how we should have some batteries saved up, but we never did it. I did have about 6 gallons of water saved in our pantry, but that was it. When our power went out, we weren’t ready—and we definitely weren’t ready to be without power for 7 full days.

When we finally got our power restored, I got so many questions about being prepared for an emergency on Instagram that I knew I had to write about it. But I do want to start with a disclaimer: I’m definitely not a doomsday person at all. I think being prepared for an emergency is something we all have to account for; we never know when a big storm will hit, leaving us all without power for a long amount of time. It never hurts to be ready, even if it never happens.

With that out of the way, here’s what I learned during the big snowstorm.

1. You’ll Need Way More Water Than You Think

When our power went out, I had maybe 6-7 gallons of water saved up. For reference, most people say to be prepared, you need 1 gallon of water per person in the house (as well as any pets) for each day. That means if we were to be prepared for 2 weeks without water, we would need 4 gallons of water per day for 14 days. That’s 56 gallons of water! For the average person, it’s just not possible to store that much water, so my advice is: keep as much water as you are able to store. For us, the floor of our pantry is now dedicated to water storage: every time we use up a thing of juice or a gallon of milk, I clean the container out well, sterilize it, and fill it with fresh water. I have about 20 gallons right now, which is much better than 6!

One more note on this: some people think if they have city water, they won’t need to worry about this as their water will still run even if their power goes out. However, many people further into town during the storm did not have access to water as the sewers became backed up. Whether you have city water or a well, you should stockpile clean water no matter what, just in case something detrimental happens to the water supply.

2. Have Lots of Food On Hand

Because we were without power for so long, we had to throw away everything in our fridge and freezer. It was all unusable and went bad fast. (More on this later.) That meant, we only had a little bit of food available. I tend to prefer to eat fresh foods: fruits and vegetables, meats and cheese. You know, the basics. We survived on oatmeal and peanut butter sandwiches for the first few days, until I got some cans of soup at the grocery store.

My stash of canned food was shockingly low. Because we have a wood stove, I was able to cook food like oatmeal or make soup, but I didn’t have much. My advice is to always have a supply of good canned food available, as this will stay good the longest, as well as things like canned milk and canned broth. We also were able to make coffee with a French press, which sounds like a luxury, but it was often the one thing I looked forward to!

3. Make Sure to Empty Perishable Items

If your power goes out and there is no estimate for it to return (by the second day of the storm, our utility company was saying to be prepared to be without power for up to two weeks), you’re going to want to throw away your perishable items ASAP. This will save you a huge headache, as it means you won’t have anything rot or drip all over your fridge or freezer. It will also make clean up once power is restored a lot faster. It feels awful to throw away so much food—as an example, I had to throw away a bunch of Costco freezer items I had literally just bought, including a $20 box of chicken nuggets. I nearly cried. But trust me, it can’t be saved. It can’t be saved.

4. Keep a Large Cooler Available

Well, ok: remember when I just said, it can’t be saved? Well, that’s kind of not true. Some stuff can be saved.

If you’re in the middle of a winter storm, my advice is to get a large cooler and fill it with snow; put it outside; and put as much perishable food inside as you can. This is how Danny and I saved our milk and coffee creamer. We could at least keep that routine for Forrest (having milk ASAP in the morning), which was good. In the summer, this wouldn’t work obviously, but it made me feel better to at least save even 5% of our fridge.

5. Everything You Need a Stockpile Of

I don’t need to explain this at all, but here’s a list of everything you need to have a stockpile of:

  • Flashlights (probably one big, sturdy one; one lattern; and several small, easily portable flashlights)

  • Batteries (of all kinds)

  • Candles

  • Matches

  • Medical supplies (any medications you take, as well as you’re preferred pain reliever, bandages of all kinds, gauze, tape, scissors, antiseptic ointment and wipes, soap to wash wounds, and more)

  • Pots and pans that can be used over direct fire or on a wood stove (that means, no Teflon coating or plastic handles/lids)

  • Blankets and towels

  • Antibacterial wipes to wash hands

  • Gasoline or diesel fuel for your car and/or generator

  • Wood (if you have a wood stove or fireplace)

  • A power pack to charge phones and any communication devices

  • A hand power or solar powered radio

6. You Need an Alternative Heat Source

We were incredibly lucky to have a wood stove, as it kept us from being too cold and we were able to cook on it. Even during the summer, we would be able to use our wood stove to cook and boil water to clean with. It goes without saying: an alternative heat source is incredibly important for any emergency preparedness.

If you aren’t able to add an alternative heat source into your home, investing in a generator is another option; there are lots of generators available these days and they are relatively easy to set up (you just need a specific outlet on the outside of your home).


Whew! That’s it (at least for now). There is a lot more about emergency preparedness that I could write about—and I definitely haven’t covered everything you need to be prepared for an emergency. But these were all the notes I kept track of while we were without power.

Have something to add? Let me know in the comments!

Real Mom Talk: Does My Child Need a Set Schedule?

Real Mom Talk: Does My Child Need a Set Schedule? | Writing Between Pauses

When Forrest was first born, I had this (slightly) bad habit of obsessively reading blog posts about baby schedules.

I would read first-person blog posts that detailed 3- to 4-month-old schedules. Articles about how to set a schedule for a baby. And everything in between. I would read about the pros and cons of feeding on demand, the different ways to setting schedules, certain schools of thought regarding baby scheduling.

As he got older, I started to get less obsessed with the idea that I was doing him a disservice of not having a very set schedule—but I still thought about it a lot. And I still tried to keep things regular. Thursdays were Grocery Store Days, followed by a walk in the park. Fridays were “Fun Days” where we might go to the mall, a book store, the coffee shop, anywhere.

Now that he’s in school, we do have a much more set schedule, some of which revolves around making sure we always do the same few things every single day (like washing our hands, going potty, picking up our clothes—you know, basic stuff).

I’ve always been told that kids thrive on structure: having a schedule is vitally important. But there is so much information out there about scheduling our kids: when is it too much? When is it too little? What if your kiddo gets bored? What if your toddler gets overwhelmed? How do you know what to do?

As I wrote in my blog post about TV time, I’m not an expert. I’m just one mom who thinks about these things… a lot. I’m always trying to make the “right” decision—and often, we don’t know what that decision is.

I do want to share what I’ve learned along the way when it comes to schedules, and then I’ll conclude with… are they really necessary? Or can we be a little more loosey-goosey with our kids?

1. The Infant Months

For me, having an infant was about one thing and one thing only: both of us surviving. That’s especially true of the newborn months.

When Forrest was a newborn, I was in the unique position of not really getting to experience those first 3-4 calm, sleepy weeks. The thing about newborns (as in, brand spanking new newborns) is they sleep a lot. Like… nearly all the time. If you’re at home and comfy, cozy during those times, it’s a really simple, beautiful part of your life. For us, we were still in the hospital for the first week; then, the second week we were running up to the hospital every single day for blood tests. Then, the third week we had mutiple doctor’s appointments still. (For my preeclampsia, I had three check up appointments to ensure my blood pressure had returned to normal and I was no longer leaking protein.)

We were all over the place those first few weeks, which meant it was so hard to know when the hell we were supposed to do anything. I was barely able to be home during the day and then I was essentially awake all night (following an incredibly strict feeding and pumping schedule 6 times through the night).

Looking back, if I had been able to have a more “normal” newborn phase, I definitely would have been able to keep a better schedule. As it was, I was frequently pumping in the car on the way to and from doctor’s visits, carrying a breast pump, multiple bottles, and a cooler every single place I went. God, it was exhausting!

This is all to say: for us, a schedule just simply wasn’t possible for the first month or so. And then, by the time he was 2 and 3 months old, I still felt absolutely frenzied. I was exhausted all the time, sleeping 4 hours or so every night, and still pumping. (I don’t think I will ever be able to convey simply how much I was pumping in those first months. And it didn’t even establish a good supply! Thanks, body!)

As odd as our experience was, I think most people struggle with schedules for infants. When Forrest was a bit older, we implemented the Play-Sleep-Eat routine, which is less a schedule and more just an order of doing things (to avoid associating eating with sleeping). We kept that routine from about 4 months to about 7 months, when we switched entirely to formula feeding (which gave me significantly more time to do things while he slept or played, instead of just frantically pumping).

2. Young Toddlers

As he got closer to a year, that’s when we started getting more of a schedule going. We would wake in the mornings, have a bottle (or once he was about 13-14 months, a sippy cup), eat breakfast, then play until naptime. Then after nap, we would go to the grocery store, go on a walk, and head home for lunch, then nap. That was pretty much our routine until he was about two or so.

Young toddlers (I would say this age group is whatever age your baby starts to walk until about 2 1/2) are really easy to schedule. In fact, I would say they need a schedule. They like the feeling of security it gives them. And I know for Forrest, whenever we deviated from our schedule, he was much fussier and struggled more to do just about everything. (And it should be said: some days we just had to deviate the schedule for whatever reason.) Here’s a little bit more information about why toddlers crave schedules and routines:

Creating a regular routine is an essential way to give toddlers the security of knowing “what happens next” in their day. It also develops the prefrontal cortex, the planning and executive function part of the brain.

(Source)

In short: getting a routine in place by 14-18 months will help your child be better at time management later, as well as helping them emotionally mature.

3. Preschoolers

Preschool age is usually considered about 2 1/2 to 4, so Forrest is right smack dab in the middle of it. Everything about schedules for young toddlers still holds true, but it’s important to deviate the schedule as they mature and grow older. Here is a sample of our usual day right now:

  • 6am, wake up and have milk

  • Breakfast

  • Play time

  • 8:30am, Forrest gets to watch Daniel Tiger

  • 9:30-10am, naptime

  • 11:30am, lunch

  • Forrest goes to preschool in the afternoon

  • After preschool, he’s allowed to pick a movie from our selection and watch it while I make dinner

  • 4pm, dinner

  • 5pm, play time

  • 6pm, wind down, read books, no TV or screens

  • 7pm, bedtime

That’s it. It’s very simple and easy to remember. And it should be said: no schedule for any one child is prescriptive. As I said, I’ve definitely fallen into the trap of looking up other toddler schedules and thinking, Am I doing everything wrong? The answer is, probably not. Fo thrives with this schedule and does really well. On days where he isn’t at school, we might spend the afternoon at the park or go to the library, it just depends. By age 3, some kids have given up naps entirely, depending on how well they sleep at night—however, Forrest just isn’t quite there yet.

Again, having a schedule helps kids stick to a routine and learn time management. However, Forrest is definitely at the age where he’s more likely to get bored—so I spend more time trying to think of creative things to do during playtime (like painting suncatchers, doing small lessons, and more). That’s a bit more active than during his younger toddler days, when he was content to wandering around with a spatula!

4. So Are Schedules Necessary?

Short answer: kind of.

The longer answer is that it very much depends on your child. It’s one thing to look up information and see that schedules help children mature emotionally and mentally—and it’s another thing to actually implement that! Some people, and of course, some children, feel too claustrophobic with a strict schedule! This is the problem with all parenting advice: it really is so intensely personal to your child. Just as we can’t prescribe a specific eating method to every child, it’s impossible to prescribe a way to keep your child occupied during the day—even if perhaps you desperately want to do so for a bit of routine yourself!

I think one thing to consider is to not think of it as a schedule—but as a routine. Having a set routine is different from having a set schedule, but both are very good for children. Doing the same few things every single day in the same order helps ground your child. Healthy sleep routines (such as bath-book-bed) can help encourage your child to sleep more soundly, because they know what to expect. The same goes for each day of the week! Forrest knows we go grocery shopping on Thursdays, he knows he gets to go to school on Fridays, and he knows he gets to go to the park on Saturdays. That’s just our routine!

Just as with all parenting blog posts I write, I feel like I ended this one rather wishy-washy as well. But it’s the truth: I can’t tell you whether your child needs a schedule or not. You know your child best. There is no harm in working on getting a set pattern to your day (especially if it helps you get things done as well!) and if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out! No harm, no foul.

I’ll turn it over to you now. Does your child have a set schedule or routine? What does it look like? And what do you think, are schedules a necessity or too much?

My Favorite Accessory For Looking Put Together (Even When I Don’t Have Time)*

My Favorite Accessory For Looking Put Together (Even When I Don’t Have Time) | Writing Between Pauses

Before I had Forrest, I spent a lot of time on my wardrobe. I shopped frequently and spent a lot of time picking out outfits. However, once the chaos of motherhood descended, a lot of that got pushed aside.

As Forrest has gotten older, I’ve only gotten busier. I blog, of course; I freelance; and I work for a digital marketing agency. Between parenting, working, cleaning my house, and taking time for myself (I have to cross stitch sometime!), I find myself with less and less time every single day it feels like!

That means that usually, I have to pick one area to focus on. If you know me, you know that that’s often my makeup; I feel most put together when I get my lipstick and mascara on… even if I’m wearing my comfy joggers and a hoodie!

Recently, however, I’ve been working on creating simple “uniforms” for myself to wear to work everyday. These outfits consist of:

  • A few dresses that I just feel good in

  • Jeans, flowy tops, and nice cardigans

  • Trousers, blouses, and jackets

A lot of this has been my attempt to stop wearing leggings every single day! It’s hard to dress up leggings, that’s for sure, but I knew for my work, I needed to start focusing more on how I present myself, even when I don’t feel 100% great or I’m running on less than 3 hours of sleep.

JORD Watch Cora Polaris

The time I have for looking put together is often minimal. In the morning, I am usually getting Forrest dressed while I make my coffee, then putting on makeup while I assure him that we will, in fact, get to my mom’s on time. I am often super behind on laundry, which means sometimes I’m running around looking for my favorite black H&M jeans in the middle of letting my setting powder bake.

That’s why having a few set uniforms for myself makes every morning go just a little bit easier. What I decide to wear is basically already picked out--I just have to remember what’s on my roster for the day! If I have a meeting, I might go for a dress or a jacket with my jeans instead of a top and cardigan. If I’m just going to be working in my office, I’ll wear jeans and a t-shirt which I can throw a cardigan on top of if I need to run out.

One thing that makes every outfit pop and look just slightly more put together is a great accessory. And lately, that great accessory has been my new JORD Watch. When JORD reached out to me about writing a post, I was so excited; I’ve been drooling over some gorgeous timepieces recently. I wear a Fitbit Versa most days, which isn’t really the most high end of looks, so I wanted something I could wear to a meeting or a night out that was more functional than jewelry, but prettier than a Fitbit!

Rose Gold Watch

The JORD watch I chose is the Cora Polaris in Koa and Rose Gold. Like most people, I’ve been obsessed with rose gold the last few months, so this was a no brainer when it came to choosing! I love how subtle the rose gold is and the Koa wood is so absolutely stunning. Here’s a little bit about Koa:

“Koa is a species native to Hawaii and is widely considered to be the most beautiful of the native hardwoods. Though softer than several of our used wood species, Koa machines exceptionally well and finishes smooth with a beautiful natural sheen. Depending on the harvest season, Koa wood will produce tones that range from medium gold to reddish brown, similar to Mahogany.”

The color of the watch is gorgeous; the Koa wood is a warm-toned, which goes beautifully with the rose gold pieces of this timepiece, but goes with everything I own. It doesn’t look out of place. I’ve gotten so many compliments on this watch the last few times I’ve worn it to meetings or to work.

The thing I love most about JORD is their focus on sustainable practices when it comes to creating beautiful timepieces. That means you can feel good about your purchase, because you know it’s going to a company that absolutely loves what they do and does everything with sustainability in mind.

Because these watches are made with wood, it does require a little bit more care. Thankfully, every JORD order comes with instructions for care--which boil down to using Tung Oil or Lemon Oil on your watch, as well as ensuring that you store it properly between wears.  

Watch with Red Plaid Dress

Nothing makes me feel better these days than being complimented on my outfit--and I’ve definitely had more of those moments since I started wearing my Cora Polaris watch from JORD. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to receive this watch from JORD-- and I’m even more excited that I have the opportunity to offer this same feeling to one of my followers.

Click here to enter my giveaway to receive $100 OFF a watch from JORD. As well, when you enter, you’ll still receive a 10% off code for any order from JORD as well--which means, even if you don’t win, you still can order a JORD watch!

Disclaimer: As usual, an asterisk (*) in the title of this post denotes that I received this item in exchange for review and promotion. However, all opinions remain my own. Posts like this help Writing Between Pauses keep going! For more information about my disclosure policy, click here.