10 Delicate, Everyday Necklaces

everyday necklacesWe can all love a good statement piece every now and then but a dainty, everyday necklace is more practical (ugh that word gets me down but it is descriptive) and will get lots more use.

I’d be happy to wear any one of these pieces and so might your significant other/friend/mom/niece/hard-to-buy-for sister/etc. While it’s true that many women have a preference for color/metal, try choosing something in a “middle” tone like bronze or rose gold if you’re unsure what your giftee (Giftee! Is that a word?) likes.

All of these fabulous pieces are made in the USA or fair trade/ethically manufactured. Oh, you know how we do. ;)

  1. Michelle-Chang-XO-Pendant-in-Sterling-SilverMichelle Chang “XO” Necklace, $70.
    A simple and sweet message. Great for mother’s day or any day you want to show a special woman in your life that you care. The chain’s a little longer so it would be a great layering piece. Also available in gold.  Made in America.
  2. Gray Raw Diamond necklace with gold filled chain - NG09Joy Draveki Gray Raw Diamond Necklace, $75.
    This piece is just so incredibly elegant, yet subtle enough to go with any outfit – from a black-tie va-va-voom dress to jeans and a t-shirt. Raw diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Made in California.
  3. Greenola Brass Scallop Collar Necklace, $50.
    A little more of a statement but still delicate enough for everyday wear. Fair trade/ethically manufactured.
  4. Image of Journey NecklaceBeautiful & Beloved “Journey” Necklace, $30.
    Geometric yet elegant. In brass or silver. Fair trade.
  5. Dogeared Love Knot Necklace, $54.
    One of their best sellers for good reason. Made in USA.
  6. Lauren Turquoise Feather Matte Gold Necklace | Sophia & Chloe Jewelry Made in the USASophia and Chloe Turquoise Feather Necklace, $124.
    For the gal who likes her everyday pieces to be a little more funky. The off-center turquoise piece adds even more visual interest. Made in USA.
  7. birds necklaceJewelry by Harlow Birds Pendant, $33.
    Put a bird on it! Cute for a mom of two or for your love bird. Made in USA.
  8. Vintage Honeycomb necklace - hexagon necklace, modern geometric necklace, simple everyday necklaceHoneycomb Hexagon Necklace, $30.
    This little brass piece is architectural and cool but dainty enough to wear with almost anything. Made in California.
  9. Silver And Gold Bronze Coral Necklace- Coral Jewelry- Coral Twig Necklace- Trendy Necklace- Simple Silver Necklace- Bronze Fashion JewelrySilver and Gold Bronze Coral (Twig) Necklace, $37.
    Mixed metals and a chic, organic shape would make this a great piece for any nature lover. Made in Virginia.
  10. Sel Blue SeaShell Necklace in Fine Silver Beach Jewelry Precious Metal Clay .999 Recycled Silver  PMC,Seashell Necklace, $72.
    Made from eco-friendly recycled silver. For the gal who lives by the beach (or wishes she did).

10 ways to recover from a bad night’s sleep (aka: fake a well-rested glow)

recover from bad sleep

You’ve heard it before but I’ll say it again: Sleep is so important. It is more important than catching up on Twitter on your phone, finishing the latest episode of [insert-must-see-TV-or-Netflix-show-here]. Regularly getting a good night’s sleep contributes so much to your mental and full-body health. In other words, get enough sleep for your body and wonderful things happen. If you’re lucky (and possibly a magical fairy princess), you might only need 5 hours. Many people need 6-7. But if you’re like me*, you might need 8-9 to be at your best. It’s like any other genetics – you either “won the lottery” or have to figure out how to handle the cards you were dealt.

*Side note >> I’ve experienced beaucoup sleep issues in my life and was even prescribed Ambien at the ripe old age of 18. Say what?! Oy vey. A change in diet finally fixed my insomnia and other sleep problems. Hurrah! Here’s the diet I used.

If you don’t get a good night’s sleep and still need to face the day as your (almost) best self, here are some tips to put your most fabulous face (and brain) forward:

  1. Water, water, everywhere!
    water, hydrationChug 12 oz or more of water when you first wake up. Chuuuuuug it! Chug it! Drink some coconut water to get some calories and electrolytes into your system, too. Then, drink liquid throughout the day. A good rule of thumb: aim to drink half your body weight in ounces. Try to stick with water if you can but any liquid – milk, juices mixed with water, seltzer, etc. – will get the job done. Go ahead and grab coffee (black is best, though…). I go one-for-one with coffee and water, on top of the oz I’m aiming for. So if I drink a mug (approx 10 oz) of coffee, I drink an additional 10 oz of water. It’s not an exact science, folks, but try your best. Don’t beat yourself up if you forgot to track your water intake. Just make a conscious effort to continue filling up your cup/bottle and drink = gold star. Keeping up the hydration will help your face look nice and your brain sharp.
  2. Clean yo face!
    spa treatments, diy beauty, fake a well rested sleep, morning routineAs soon as you can, wash your face. Use your favorite face wash regardless of it’s special properties (acne fighting, age defying, meant for morning, meant for evening). The point is to wash your face AND get yourself in a positive, happy place mentally. Perhaps it has an incredible scent, or maybe it was a splurge that you try to use only on special occasions. Or maybe it just has a nice texture. Afterwards, moisturize with a favorite moisturizer. Stick with daytime formulas here but again, go for something that makes you smile if you can.
  3. Shower (…or fake shower)
    Ideally you’ll have time to take a shower (again, with your favorite products/ones with delightful scents) but you might have to fake it. Dry shampoo (or try this one EWG Skin Deep Rating: 1) and a fabulous deodorant to the rescue.
  4. Pile on the concealer
    concealer tutorial, consealer tutorial, highlighter to look awake, fake a rested sleep

    Image source: Makeup.com

    Well, don’t actually pile it on. A thin layer set with translucent powder should do the trick! If you can believe it, my mom and older sisters were not into makeup. At all. Not even a little bit. They rarely wore makeup and if they did it was usually mascara and mayyyybe lip gloss. Yes it’s true, I am a self-taught product junkie. I remember one super early morning before high school (it was probably still dark out, eww), my mom walked by my room to see me applying concealer under my eyes. It was a eureka moment for her. “Oooooh! That’s how you always look so awake!” I probably said something charming annoying like “Um, duh!!!” The point is, use concealer strategically and it can absolutely transform a tired face.

  5. Highlight your assets
    If you have time and if you know how to apply it best for your face shape, highlighter paired with concealer can up the ante on making your face look fresh and awake. Air on the side of caution. Less is more. Sometimes, tired hands can apply things a little too liberally and you might end up looking like a disco ball. Disco balls are great, but maybe not on your face at 8 in the morning.
  6. Give your brows some attention
    I’ll skip most products if I’m in a hurry but having nice brows (yes you might have heard this a zillion times) frames. your. face. I haven’t yet found a green/clean product that I love for brows (suggestions are WELCOME!) but I currently use Benefit Gimme Brow.
  7. Breathe
    breathe, relaxation, meditate, meditationTrust me, you have 12.7 seconds on a hectic morning for a deep breath. Try breathing in for a count of 4 through your nose and out for a count of 6-8 through your mouth. Fill your belly with air, stretch out your arms, shake it out like you’re doing the hokey-pokey. Whatever feels good. This step can take less than 30 seconds but be totally transformative. Try not to skip it.
  8. Smile
    I heard once that smiling can release endorphins and feel-good hormones even if you’re totally faking it. Take a moment to ham it up for your mirror and you might just find that your mood and brain fog has lifted. Bonus, this brighter mood can mean a fresher-looking face.
  9. Do what you can and keep it simple
    Rushing out the door with wet hair? Throw it up in a nice bun, maybe add an accessory (headband, ribbon, etc.) and head out. Simple! Or keep your hair down and let it air dry with my tips for fighting frizz. When I’m feeling foggy from a bad night’s sleep, I find it more difficult to operate heavy machinery do anything. Stick with a basic outfit you know you love, looks good on you, and you won’t be tugging on every 5 seconds. For me that’s a black dress and comfy shoes. Do what you can… and realize you can’t do everything.
  10. Eat breakfast
    breakfastEvery other day we see articles saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” or “breakfast isn’t actually the most important meal of the day.” Um, what?? All I know is, if I skip breakfast or if I don’t get enough protein when I wake up, I can’t ever quite shake off a bad night’s sleep. I make eggs if I have time (leave the dishes until you get home, it’ll be OK I swear!!), or a make a protein smoothie/grab a protein bar and some fruit as a last resort. I’ve even been known to grab dinner leftovers. Chicken and broccoli or green beans are not a traditional breakfast but they definitely fulfill my nutrition needs! Next, make like a toddler and always have snacks at the ready for mid-morning/mid-afternoon slumps. Lara bars and Justin’s almond butter packets are my fave. Or realllly make like a toddler and grab a GoGo Squeez for a no-mess/no-fuss fruity snack.


xo, Meredith

Good luck and try to get enough sleep tonight! Any other tips you would add to this list?

Green Beauty Inspiration From The 2014 Emmys

The clothes! The makeup! The sorta-witty banter on the red carpet! The kinda-funny jokes! Sounds like a big awards show. Here are my picks for the top beauty looks from the 2014 Emmys last night … and the green, non-toxic makeup I’d use to recreate their looks.

Source: TheKnot.com

Amy Poehler Emmys 2014 Makeup // Photo Source: TheKnot.com // Green Beauty Pick by MeredithTested.wordpress.com

Capture that Amy Poehler glow with Alima Pure Bronzer, $20.
p.s. Check out this awesome post by Kimberly Loc for more non-toxic bronzers.

Source: BeautyHigh.com

Claire Danes Emmys 2014 Makeup // Photo Source: BeautyHigh.com // Green Beauty Pick by MeredithTested.wordpress.com

Mimic Claire Danes with Vapour Beauty Elixer Plumping Lip Gloss in 316 – Bitten, $22.
Another option: Honeybee Gardens Truly Natural Lipstick in Queen Bee, $12.99

Source: Toovia.com

Laverne Cox Emmys 2014 Makeup // Photo Source: Toovia.com // Green Beauty Pick by MeredithTested.wordpress.com

Showcase your eyes with a shimmery taupe shadow like Laverne Cox (my pick? Jane Iredale Eye Gloss in Champagne Silk, $15.50.)

Source: HuffingtonPost.com

Gwen Stefani Emmys 2014 Makeup // Photo Source: HuffingtonPost.com // Green Beauty Pick by MeredithTested.wordpress.com

Copy Gwen Stefani’s glamorous look with RMS Living Luminizer, $38. (psst…currently on sale on J.Crew.com!)

Source: Variety.com

Julianna Margulies Emmys 2014 Makeup // Photo Source: Variety.com // Green Beauty Pick by MeredithTested.wordpress.com

Go for a flawless face like Julianna Margulies with a full-coverage base like Kjaer Weis Cream Foundation, $68.
Another option: Bare Minerals BareSkin Foundation, $29.

Source: PeopleStyleWatch.com

Kerry Washington Emmys 2014 Makeup // Photo Source: PeopleStyleWatch.com // Green Beauty Pick by MeredithTested.wordpress.com

Get a dramatic eye like Kerry Washington with Benecos Natural Kajal Eye Liner in Black, $8.99.

Did you watch the Emmys? What was your favorite red carpet appearance or awards show moment?

Top 5 Second Trimester Pregnancy Essentials

pregnancy advice, second trimester, summer pregnancy tips

After lots of research … and trial and error, here are my top 5 tips for having a great second trimester. Keep in mind that I experienced months 4,5,6 in the middle of summer so some of these might change if you’re 5 months pregnant in January.

Secret Fit Shaper1. Supportive shorts/underwear
Belly bands and other items are great if you’re wearing pants but since I’m almost exclusively wearing dresses (with the exception of my maternity jeans, see below), it adds bulk and doesn’t quite give me the support/smoothness I’m looking for. I loooove supportive under-shorts. These ones by Pea in the Pod,$35 are great, as are these from Belevation, $23 (Made in America!) Start with one pair but if you’re like me, you’ll get used to the support and want more than one pair in your rotation.

2. Dresses
1 item of clothing and you’re dressed! Ta-da! I’ve been able to wear 3+ dresses from my pre-pregnancy wardrobe so far without fear of stretching them out too badly. Cotton jersey dresses with a lot of stretch and ones that are very tent-like (my husband calls them “magic mu-mu dresses” because they look horrid until you belt it!) are my go-to styles. I’m also still loving my Splendid tulip dress. Splendid maxi dresses are amazing and should work for lots of women while pregnant (and not!) Re-styling existing wardrobe pieces is essential. Seriously. Get creative with it. Check out the blog/video series by Oh Joy on “Dressing the bump” for inspiration. Her idea to wear a longer skirt high on the waist (over the bump) is so cute. Take some fashion risks to show off that growing belly!

I also went and purchased a couple suuuuuper simple cotton dresses from American Apparel. This t-shirt style (organic cotton version here) is my favorite and I wear them all the time on their own, with a layer on top (long-sleeve shirt or cardigan), or with leggings underneath. I recommend going into the store to try on since everyone’s body type is different. These might be way too short on some women (especially when you add the bump) but I am short so they work for me. They may not be great (without leggings) at month 9+, but oh well. I got them in a larger-than-my-normal-size since they can shrink in the wash.

2a. Skinny, stretchy belts! Huzzah! I had a few already and I’ve realized how much a skinny, stretchy (if possible) belt pulls a potentially-dowdy pregnancy outfit together. I wear mine over and over and over again.

AG Jeans Secret Fit Belly(r) 5 Pocket Maternity Jeans3. Maternity jeans
My regular jeans went into hibernation pretty quickly into my second trimester. Some lucky women can make them last longer with this trick, but it wasn’t comfortable at all for me. Maternity-specific purchases are difficult for me to stomach (or, uh, uterus?) but I splurged on a fantastic pair of maternity jeans by AG. Made in California! Oh so freakin’ comfortable since they have the stretchy panel that goes all the way over the belly (called “Secret Fit”.) One of my favorite USA-made denim brands, Paige, also makes maternity jeans but I didn’t like the style/they weren’t as comfy for me. I wear my AG jeans all the time and since I’m refusing to purchase a whole new wardrobe to accommodate my growing baby, spending more on this one high-quality item works for me and my budget.

4. Smoothies
My food aversions (mostly to protein – meat, eggs, etc.) are a bit inconvenient (<– understatement of the decade) so I’ve turned to smoothies to supplement my whole food diet. Not ideal but it gets me through the day with less “oh sh*t I’m so woozy/nauseated all of a sudden” moments. I stick to a few key ingredients, like:

  • Bananas
  • Frozen berries (blueberries, blackberries and strawberries)
  • Flaxseed
  • Chia seeds
  • Coconut water (adding enough liquid is key for most blenders to work properly! I add water and maybe a splash of fruit juice if I don’t have coconut water on hand)
  • Fresh, leafy greens (1) wash very well! 2) make sure to add these first with the liquid to get the best/smoothest results)
  • Whey protein powder (plain = less sugar, vanilla = more sugar but better taste)
  • Also, occasionally: Grass-fed yogurt/Greek yogurt (buy full fat, please! Fage and Trader Joe’s have plain greek yogurt tubs with all that good fat intact)

If you don’t have a blender, you don’t have to get a Vitamix or other high-powered machine right away. Start with one of these highly-rated and less expensive options (both #MadeinUSA): Oster 6-cup 8-speed Blender, currently $48.73 on Amazon, or try the Breville Hemisphere Control Blender, currently $199 on Amazon.

I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by Quest bars - they are a protein bar (20g per bar!) but I don’t get that huge sugar hit I have with other bars. They have been great for on-the-go “Oh sh*t” moments (usually half a bar does the trick for me), as have almond butter packets by Justin’s.

5. Comfy and supportive shoes
Carrying extra weight can mean saying “Sayonara!” to your unsupportive flip flops/flats. I’ve been living in my Birkenstocks, sneakers and wedges and even some heels. I know it seems weird but a little heel/wedge is actually pretty comfortable for me. The few times I went back to my tried-and-true pair of leather Frye (flip-flop-ish) sandals, I didn’t make it very far without my feet getting sore/swollen. Gross. Having some arch support and padding is 100% necessary.

TIP: Try on every pair of shoes you currently own. Every pair, seriously. You might be surprised at what fits/feels comfortable (see wedges, above.) If nothing works, check out a big store like DSW to track down a sneaker-flat hybrid or other supportive shoe to fit your new preggo feet. Bigger stores might be necessary here because, again, you might have you try on a lot of different styles. You could order online but trying your new shoes on is essential. If online shopping is your jam, order from a site with a great return policy (like Zappos or Amazon.) Don’t be afraid to wear the same shoes every day. It’s only for a few months, right? Plus, people are more interested in your cute bump and how you’re feeling than what’s on your feet. Trust me. Anyone who judges you for pregnancy-comfy shoes is lame. Express yourself with your accessories if you’re used to showcasing your fashion sense through footwear.

xo, Meredith

p.s. In case you missed it, here’s my post on what you need for the first trimester!

Hope this was helpful! What are your second-trimester pregnancy tips (or questions)? Head to the comments section!


Meredith Tested: Frizzy Summer Hair Solution

In the summer we all get that halo of frizz thanks to humidity (and possibly not giving a sh*t because it’s SUMMER, OKAY? Leave us alone to our “beach hair” even if we don’t live anywhere near a beach.)  I have thick wavy hair (each hair is thin, I just have a lot-lot-lot of it) so taming my tresses is a year-long struggle opportunity to find solutions. ;)

Here is my current A+ formula (with natural/clean/green products!) for combating the dreaded frizz halo:

summer hair

After showering:

Sea Buckthorn Leave-In Conditioner & Curl Activator1. I spray Aubrey’s Sea Buckthorn Leave-In Liquid Conditioner (shake the bottle first) on my soaking wet hair after lightly drying it with a towel or a cotton t-shirt. You may have to test this out a few times to get the amount right. I sprayed this a little too liberally at first and it left my hair a little greasy at the roots. I got it on Vitacost for ~$8.50.

2. I do not brush or comb my hair. I gently run my fingers like a comb through my hair to spread the product through from root to tip and to get my part right.

3. If I have time, I let my hair dry a bit (maybe 15-30 minutes). If not, I just jump right in to step 4:

Maximum Curl Defining Cream4. I take a small amount (nickle to quarter, depending on how much hair you have) of Shea Radiance Maximum Curl Defining Cream (buy from Target here, $14.50) and warm it up/spread it out between my palms before applying it with my “finger comb” from root to tip, focusing on my ends. I might “scrunch” my ends a little to really define the curl. This stuff is kind of sticky – almost like a gel – so I usually have to wash my hands after. Only part of this Shea Radiance product I’d change.

5. Most importantly – I try my hardest to NOT TOUCH my hair until it is completely dry. And even after it’s dry I barely touch it except to push a few strands behind my ear, etc. You could also blow dry on a low/cool setting and with a diffuser.

With dry hair (when I forget/don’t have time to do the steps above):

1. I spray Aubrey’s Sea Buckthorn Leave-In Liquid Conditioner (shake the bottle first) on my palms and gently run my fingers (like a comb) through my hair, focusing on the ends. I “scrunch” a little if my waves/curls need some help. I might spray a little bit more directly from the bottle if I need some more help.

2. I take a VERY small amount (like a pea-size) of Shea Radiance Maximum Curl Defining Cream and scrunch it only on the ends. I then use whatever (very little) is left on my palms and gently “pat” it on top of my head to get rid of any halo frizz/flyaways.

Voila! What’s your go-to summer frizz-fighting solution?


2014 American Made Awards

martha stewart american made 2014 awards nominees finalists

Now through August 29, you can nominate yourself or another maker for a Martha Stewart American Made Award. Fancypants judges like Ms. Martha and a bunch of experts from her editorial staff will look at all the submissions and choose finalists in the Crafts, Design, Food and Style categories.

“We believe we are in the midst of a shift in our culture where creative entrepreneurs are defining a new American economy. From Detroit to Des Moines, Spokane to St. Louis, people are choosing Main Street over mini-malls—supporting the local and the handmade. Our country’s makers are sparking this change by taking a leap, banking on their creativity and craftsmanship, and living their version of the American dream.”

Browse through the already hundreds of nominees – it’s incredible how many small businesses and makers are creating awesome products in each category.

Judging takes place throughout the nomination period, so there are already finalists listed on the website, here. Online voting starts September 15 so mark your calendar. Here are a few of my current favorites:

Fat Toad Farm – caramel

Matine – leather accessories

Needle & Felt – ethically-sourced felt toys

Coppermill Kitchen – copper serveware

Casey D. Sibley – canvas home accessories

Pura Naturals – sponges

Stylish #MadeinUSA Picks from Anthropologie

I love finding Made in America (and fair trade) products at major retailers. While it’s awesome to support small, local businesses, I also like supporting American-made brands sold at larger stores so that the retailers get the message and the “masses” can continue to access these great products/makers.

Here are my picks for items currently on Anthro’s website:

glass milk bottles anthro
Glass Milk Bottles, $34
How cute are these? Display flowers (real or paper) or serve drinks, sauces, etc.

scalloped tank anthro
Scalloped Racerback Tank, $29.50
Simple and comfy. Nuff said.

venteux ruffled cardi anthro
Venteux Ruffled Cardi, ON SALE $49.95

Could be dressed up or down. Perfect for sorta-chilly days; Toss it in your bag to pair with a dress at dinner or over your t-shirt and shorts. Or belt it over your pregnant belly (shout-out to my pregnant-lady style muse Emily Henderson), as one does.

Ballare Dress Anthropologie
Ballare Dress, $158
This A-line dress is sure to be a staple year-round. It might be too short for pregnant ladies like me, but my non-pregnant self would rock this all summer and with tights in the Autumn/Winter.

ag slim straight anthro
AG Stevie Slim Straight Jeans, $168

AG jeans are an investment for sure, but they are well made and will (hopefully) last you a long time. I don’t have this style but I think they would be flattering on a variety of body types due to the slim (but not super-skinny) leg width.

current elliott sweatpants anthro
Current/Elliot Cropped Sweatpants, $158

Feel fancy in sweatpants? Sign me up. These don’t look flattering but they are. Trust! 

What stores (online or brick-and-mortar) do you find lots of American-made or fair-trade items?

Also, Anthropologie, if you’re listening, can you please make it easier to search on your site? “Made in USA” and “USA” searches were practically useless, though lots of items are made in America on your site. Please make it easier for people to search! Thanks ;)