Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Belly product review #3: Olive Oil!

That's right, plain store brand olive oil.

My awesome ex-hippy mum suggested this as her favorite go-to belly soother during all of her pregnancies and I'm always game for a natural solution to skincare woes.
Here's the breakdown:

1. Smell 5/5
I like the smell of a decent olive oil anyway, it's clean and natural. Better, the smell faded really quickly once it was applied. I was worried the heat from my body would make me smell like bruscetta all day, but I think maybe the scent molecules dissipated faster because of the heat. Look at me making bogus vaguely scientific claims!

2. Texture 4/5
This was surely the easiest application yet. I poured about 2 tbs. in little bowl and then just lubed up my hands and rubbed them all over my belly. Which is now giant, by the way. Yes- my hands were a little oily after and yes, so was my belly. I wouldn't throw on a shirt you value right away, but it absorbs very quickly, probably less than five minutes, so compared to the balm style rubs, this seemed really easy.

3. Skin outcome 8/10
There's a reason people have used olive oil to clean their skin for centuries. It makes your skin feel luxuriously soft. I only docked some points because a nighttime application doesn't seem to get me through the whole day- I'm itchy again by dinner.

Total 17/20
Well done Mom. Well done. I think I'm going to start using this on my face. And my dinner.

There are roughly 7 billion different products for itchy pregnant tummies out there. Any other suggestions for where I should look for the perfect one?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Test #2: Palmer's Cocoa Butter Cream

After more days of testing, I'm ready to report on another belly cream.

Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula
1. Smell: 2 (of 5)
I really liked the chocolate smell that came wafting out of the jar at first, it reminded me of the way my christmas stocking smells every year, but since the Palmer's (like Burt's Belly Balm) literally sticks with you all day, the smell got old really quickly. My nose is super sensitive right now and the last thing I want to deal with is carrying any strong scent with me everywhere.

2. Texture: 2 (of 5)
Again, there are notable similarities to the Belly Balm here. The cocoa butter is creamy and nice when your hands are warm and you're actually rubbing it on your skin, but getting it out of the tub is a total pain. Chapstick form people! Do you hear me R&D folks of the world?! Giant skin balm chapsticks...

My belly stayed sticky and a little greasy for hours and hours after putting this on. I'm kind of getting used to the feeling, but I wish I didn't have to.

3. Skin results: 7 (of 10)
This might have scored higher if I had tried it first. My skin was not itchy after over-night applications, but it wasn't particularly soft either.
In a slightly gross update, I am also developing tiny pink bumps, not unlike baby pimples, scattered across my belly. Dr. Google and my pregnancy book confirm that this could be a totally normal change due to hormones. Or we could blame the Palmer's. I do tend to have sensitive skin anyway, so for now, I'm discontinuing the Palmer's and I'm on to product number three: a left-field suggestion from my Canadian ex-hippy mom...

Overall: 11/20

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Can you see how rich this earth is? My landlord is really unbelievable for not letting me garden in this.

Spring is making itself known. Some informal data collection today turned up two inch iris sprouts in my yard, the tiniest breakthrough of what I think is probably last year's daisies, and buds on campus trees. The 50 degree sunny weather is practically coaxing life out of the ground.

My green fingers are twitching, but there isn't much I can grow here unless the perfect new place opens up with a garden-friendly policy for renters. I am trying to contain myself to growing humans this season, but it's hard to ignore the call of the dirt!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

February showers?

The first thunderstorm of spring and we're not even in March yet!
Does that mean April flowers in our futures?

There is something so incredibly cozy about rain. We lived in a farmhouse with a tin roof when I was a little girl, and the percussion of a good storm is still one of the sounds of home to me. It doesn't matter how wild and fearsome the elements may be: I'm safe and warm with slow roasted pork and homemade potato salad, a lap full of cats and this baby's tiny flutterings. Seriously, do people wish for more than this?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Gestating a lady

We're having a girl!

I had fully convinced myself there was a boy in there, but I guess she's just already bucking conventional gender norms. I like that in a fetus.

I think ultrasounds are a little like those magic eye pictures from the 90s- you have to kind of stare at them for awhile before the picture pops out at you. This is the picture we got that makes the most sense- she's playing peek a boo, or expressing irritation at being prodded by sounds waves. The head's to right for anyone still confused.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Test #1: Burt's Bees Belly Balm

Okay, I'm three days into testing the first dry skin/pregnancy tummy lotion:

Burt's Bees Belly Balm

Here's how it scores so far.

1. Smell: 5 (of 5)
This is fragrance free, which is kind of cheating, but I'd rather have something neutral than something yucky. And for once, fragrance free means fragrance free. No smell at all.

2. Texture: 2 (of 5)
This is made out of natural oils and beeswax, good ingredients certainly, but they're not really a lotion. It comes in a palm-sized, flat tin, and you have to kind of swab your hand around in the balm until the oils and wax melt on your fingers, then grease up your belly (or wherever). It's kind of messy, and it takes me a long time to cover this new expanse of skin. Once it's on, it feels a little waxy, my shirt stuck to my skin a bit, which is also not a great feeling. I tried just rubbing the tin directly on my skin and it was a lot better- if they made this in a giant chapstick form, it would be much better.

3. Skin results: 8 (of 10)
I have to dock some points for the greasy/waxiness of the initial application, but once I woke up, my skin felt fantastic! Some internet reviewers credit this stuff from preventing stretch marks, and I can't speak to that claim yet, but everywhere I applied the balm was soft and not at all itchy.

Overall: 15/20
So far so good, I like the results and the lack of perfumes, but the application hassle definitely makes this a before bed only balm. I'm going to keep searching for something I can use after my shower or even throw in my bag for mid-day itch relief.

Testing baby belly skin products

When you're growing a new human, skin tends to stretch and become a incredibly itchy. It's also the tail end of winter, when my skin is already dry, so the one two punch of a winter pregnancy has left me scratching and clawing at myself like a mental patient.

I'm going to try out a variety of products for the greater good. You also probably have dry skin right now, even without a fetus in your belly, so I figure my scientific rigor can be put to good use here.

I'm going to test the products based on three categories:
1. smell: 5 possible points
I like natural smelling scents, vanilla, cinnamon, etc, and HATE things that smell like chemicals. I have thrown full-blown, foot stamping temper tantrums regarding plug in air fresheners that smell (to me) like a science project. If you're going to rub something into a large amount of epidermis every day, it shouldn't smell like grandmothers, cleaning products, or Japanese candy.

2. texture: 5 possible points
Is it easy to put on? Does it feel greasy on your skin? Is it gritty? These are things I like to know before I drop money on an opaque tube of lotion.

3. results to skin: 10 possible points
This is really the ultimate category- if it works, it's probably pretty good. I'll be testing for how it feels immediately after application before bed, and how my skin feels when I wake up.

Tomorrow: the first contender...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ice storm

We had some wicked interesting storms this winter with lots of sun and snow, which I prefer to cloudy, grey or wet cold.

There was one particularly nasty ice storm though that quite literally knocked me on my ass a time or two. It was a little scary, but I'm fine, and learning that my balance is not what it once was. It's hard though, not to appreciate how glassine and unreal the world looks encased in ice. It makes me wonder what the last ice age was like, and if the first decade or so, you could still see trees and blades of grass under the encroaching glacial ice, struggling to hold on for spring.

Our place is pretty toasty, the cats declared a temporary truce to snuggle up together near the vents, and Mr. Holt and I made some rather large pots of rather hearty soups. I'm holding on for spring though.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A brood of my own

I've been lax about posting lately.
I needed to take this winter to hunker down a little. Sleep a little more, drink a little more tea, and daydream a little more. It's 'cause I'm making my own little brood.

This snapshot is from Thanksgiving, but we've been letting the news out very slowly, for a variety of reasons, including work issues. I like this shot because you can see a giant head, two arm nubbins, and one little foot, which kicked like mad the whole time it was on-screen. Also, there is a tail present, which I am assured no longer exists. Ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny and all that...

All's well with us here, including this tiniest of Holts, and now that I'm back to nearly full energy levels, I'll try to keep this blog a little more lively.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Nancy Drew fantasy come true

I always wanted to be a girl detective. I used to read a series of books about Trixie Belden, the slightly more rural version of Nancy Drew (every book featured a tortuously long choses session , detailing how Trixie had to do the dusting or help brush the horses before she could go solve the mystery). I also liked a series of books about Cam Jansen, who had a photographic memory. She would just say "click!" is she wanted to remember the scene. Then the book would show ou the picture in her mind and let you try to solve the crime.

Encyclopedia Brown, Miss Marple, you name it, I loved 'em. I even seriously considered trying to get into the FBI after high school.

So, I'm super thrilled that my chance to be involved with solving crimes may finally be on the horizons: NPR reported today that bees are now being used to help police.
You can check out the link here- It's from Robert Krulwich's blog, one of my favorite RadioLab dudes.

What do you want to be when you grow up? What were your favorite detective books?

P.S. - Mr. Holt points out that I do kind of solve mysteries now, figuring out stuff about the past etc. etc... This is a particularly romantic way of describing what I do, but it's Valentine's Day, and he's a romantic guy, so I'll take it.