Monthly Archives

June 2016

Before Pregnancy, During and Forever After

The skinny on my skin – pregnancy and postpartum skin care guide // guest post

The Skinny on My Skin

By Jen Adams, Guest Blogger & Lifestyle Instagrammer

“She’s got that glow!” was not one of the things I heard when pregnant. (Chuckle, chuckle!) I’m ok with that though because why? Well, Friends, my lack of radiance helped motivate me to learn how to truly care for my skin. Yay! The whole gamut of acne, melasma (the infamous mask of pregnancy), dry skin patches, milia, cystic nodules and all had me at a loss. Naturally, I consulted Google for all my skin care needs and of course found a zillion articles promising to be my quick fix. It was just a wee bit overwhelming. However, if I could hug Google I would because it ultimately introduced me to my most amazing skin guru, Jennifer Jungkunz. I have learned a lot from her and my gratitude runs more than skin deep! I know that everyone’s body is different; however, for whatever it’s worth, I am happy to dish on what has helped me in the event it can help you too! I’ll lay out my personal “recipe” for skin happiness here in four categories: exercise, diet, professional treatments and at home care.




I LOVE exercising! This has worked to my advantage because I’m a foodie…and because my skin needs it. When we exercise, tiny arteries in the skin open up, allowing more blood to reach the skin’s surface. Since blood carries oxygen and nutrients, this process helps repair damage and flush away waste. The mere act of sweating opens up our pores to let the sweat pass through, creating a passage for impurities to leave too. To prevent the impurities from getting trapped, wash your skin immediately after your fitness routine and put on clean clothes. I definitely find that if I don’t rinse off and change out of my gym clothes pronto, I break out! Don’t make my same mistakes dear ones! I’m rooting for you and your healthy skin!!


Before pregnancy, I discovered I had developed some food allergies. Long story short, I eat gluten free always, paleo sometimes and as clean and organic as possible. Wild salmon, chicken, turkey, tons of veggies, nuts, cheese, brown rice, quinoa and chocolate make up the majority of me- since they say you are what you eat! Haha! It’s no secret that food impacts our health and our skin. Jen helped me to identify that I should cut back on some of my cheese intake, since its consumption seems correlated to my cystic acne. I don’t know if you struggle with cystic acne, but if you do, I feel your pain! Literally. I know how much they hurt! I’ve never kept a food journal, but it might be worthwhile if you’re trying to detect correlations between your meals and your skin!

Professional Treatments

I’m all for taking your health into your hands and doing the best with what you have. I’m also all for consulting help when it’s needed! I used to think of facials as a mere luxury, but that perception of mine has long been changed. Yes, booking a facial can be done merely for the relaxation and pampering alone. However, I book mine out of necessity. Finding an esthetician who properly evaluates and treats my skin has been THE biggest and most successful part of my skin “recipe”. Hands down. Each time I go in for an appointment, Jen tailors the treatment to my skin, so treatments vary depending on skin status due to hormones, environment, stress…you name it! She knows exactly how to properly extract, help prevent further inflammation and scarring, soothe, resurface, smooth, hydrate, and heal. She also referred me to the products that work best for me. The cosmetic industry is saturated. This can make things a tad confusing. So, I’m going to share with you the products that have truly made a difference for me, and that are safe to use while pregnant or nursing!! My top two go-to skin care lines are: Yonka and PCA Skin.



Yonka Emulsion Pure: This is by far my favorite and most reliable skin solution!! It works wonders on those painful, cystic acne nodules and it works best when you feel one just starting to develop. I tear pieces off of a cotton facial pad and soak it with the Emulsion Pure. Then, I place it directly on the problem area of skin. Let’s be honest, a face full of cotton patches isn’t always the most practical throughout the day, so I often do this at night right before bed and sleep with it all on! You can also use this Emulsion Pure to wipe over areas that have recently been extracted to help prevent further inflammation.

Yonka Gurarana Scrub: This is the only scrub I use, and I use it as directed by my esthetician. Depending on the state of my skin, I may use it only once a week, or several times a week. A professional who can evaluate your skin will be able to recommend ideal usage for you (provided they think this is a good product for you)!

Yokna Gommage 303: This is a clarify gel that can be applied as a quick mask and then gently washed off with a wash cloth. Sometimes when my skin is going through an extra thirsty phase and seems to break out with my usual moisturizers, I use this Gommage as an overnight mask, which really helps hydrate my face!

Yonka Creme 15: When my skin seems to need a light moisturizer, this is it! It helps to purify and replenish!

Yonka Creme 93: When my skin needs a little more intensive hydration, this moisturizer does the trick!


PCA Skin ExLinea Peptide Smoothing Serum: This little bottle rescues my fine lines!! I use this serum around my eyes, my smile lines, and on my forehead. It helps fill in those little wrinkles! For me, it makes such a big difference! I apply this every time after washing my face and before putting on my war paint (aka make-up…my grandma got me into saying this).

PCA Skin Peptide Lip Therapy: Did I mention that I’m also prone to eczema? Yup, around my eyes and lips. It used to get so bad that my skin would crack and bleed. Finding a moisturizer that didn’t make me want to scratch at my lips and that would last throughout the day was a challenge. Insert this lip treasure here!! I wear it under lipstick, lip gloss and most often by itself!

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser: Quality products don’t need to come with an expensive price tag. I get this cleanser at the local drug store! For me that’s CVS!


Sunscreen: I don’t have a specific sunscreen I recommend, but I emphasize this as a part of our daily skin care routine! I use the Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Crème, which has an SPF of 30.

After trying a plethora of products, these are the ones that truly help heal and maintain the health of my skin. Should these not be the ones that work best for you, I encourage you to not give up hope! But also don’t give into hype…lots of products promise to help. Before shelling out your hard earned money, you can do your own research to read up on reviews, ingredient lists, etc. Consulting a skin care expert will help guide you to what your skin likes best! Jen had lots of samples for me to use to make sure they worked for me before I actually made the purchases!

At Home Care

I’ve learned that my at home skin routine in between facial appointments is imperative! If I don’t follow through, I usually end up with more breakouts and loss of hydration, which Jen ends up needing to address at the next appointment! I have been prescribed to wash my face every night before bed with my CeraVe face wash and then apply the appropriate solutions. In the morning, I usually just splash water on my face. A little personal side note, my most favorite eye makeup remover is organic coconut oil. Before I wash my face at the end of the day, I remove my eye makeup with this au natural, tropical nutrient. I scoop out a little bit of coconut oil on a Q-tip and apply all over my eye makeup. I gently use my finger to help work the oil through my lashes and use a dry facial pad to softly wipe away the gooey mix. Sometimes I need to do a couple rounds of this, depending on how much make up I’m wearing and how dark the colors are. I’ve never had a break out from using coconut oil this way, just in case you’re wondering!



The struggle is real, Beautifuls. I know the skin care challenges that can come with the physiological changes of motherhood! If you think your skin could benefit with a little help, I’m rooting for you throughout your epidermis adventures!!  Below is a little Q & A between Jen (my esthetician)  Her website is

Cheers to you and getting your glow on! Even if that means helping it out along the way!! XOXO!

Q: What are some of the most common skin problems pregnant and nursing moms experience?

A: When a client is pregnant, nursing, and transitioning out of nursing there are many hormonal changes that happen within the body. Any time hormones are changing you can deal with pigmentation, sun sensitive, acne, dry, dull, and hypersensitive skin.

Q: What can be done to help prevent those problems?

A: One of the best preventions is to see your esthetician on a monthly basis to assess the skin changes you are experiencing. The hormones fluctuate so often that changes may need to be made monthly. If facials monthly are not an option I recommend seeing a professional in the beginning to get an idea of the best homecare routine to follow. Also, many products and treatments are not recommended during pregnancy. Speaking with your OBGYN will be vital in the beginning.

Q: What are the top skincare products you recommend that are safe to use while pregnant or nursing?

A: For pregnancy there are a few products that I see as vital. 1.) A quality antioxidant that is safe for pregnancy. 2.) A mineral based sunscreen. You do not want any chemical sunscreens on the skin. 3.) Acne products that have been screened and given the clear from your OBGYN. I like to use the Yonka skincare line for pregnant clients that are having breakout issues as they’re safe!

Q: If seeing an esthetician on a regular basis as possible, how frequent should the appointments been made?

A: Ideally I would recommend once a month for facials. Since the skin is supposed to turn over every 28 days, but as we age this process slows down significantly. A facial will allow the skin to rejuvenate at an appropriate interval.

Q: If there is one product that could be splurged on, what would you recommend for the mamas of the world and why?

A: I would splurge on a high quality Antioxidant. My favorite is the SkinCeuticals Phloretin. As an antioxidant it helps to treat free radicals. It is also known to decrease hyper pigmentation and increase cell turnover. Making it a great overall product no matter which skin condition a client is dealing with.


Jen Adams is a lifestyle enthusiast, passionate about designing the interior of her world and encouraging others! Her focus is on fashion and family filtered through a perspective of healthy living and abounding joy. She resides in southern California with her Prince Charming and two marvelous wee people, who keep her on her toes (as do her heels, hehe!).  Make yourself at home on Jen’s Instagram feed (@interiordesignerella) Message her anytime! She can’t wait to meet you. Cheers to designing and living out your happily ever after!


sister room decor inspiration
Decor, Motherhood Is My Muse, Valerie's Life

How to ‘baby proof’ a toddler bedroom for a three’nager.

When I think of baby proofing, I always thought of it as covering the outlets, making sure no hard corners were exposed and picking up every tiny Lego and Playmobil piece was picked up for the baby stage.

But what about for a toddler bedroom, or more appropriately a three’nager?


My three’nager Violette, with her enthusiasm for creative play and spontaneous ideas, has created an entirely new level of parenting panic for me.
For starters, after the fourth night in a row of being woken up around 3am by the thud of Violette falling out of her toddler bed, I knew it was time for a change. But, I wasn’t ready to make the investment of two twin beds from here that I’ve been eying, since Lily is still at least a year or more away from being out of her Ouef crib and I’m not sure Violette could handle the added height yet either. I didn’t want to trade one fall for another, higher fall.
So for the time being, I borrowed my sister Natalie’s extra Queen mattress and set it up simply on the floor. While not the most chic, and definitely brought back punk rock memories of my first apartment in Philly haha, it’s practical and functional for now.

By placing it horizontal, it made it more like a toddler sized King bed- and I love that I can lay down next to her at bedtime to read books, even letting Lily crawl around on us.

Then there are windows,

Remember the scene from the sound of music where the kids are swinging from the trees, you know that one? My kids would be the type to recreate that scene if I used anything but spring loaded curtain rods. These are my go-to for toddler rooms. They make it so anytime they start playing and pulling on the curtains, they fall down. Can be annoying to have to put them back up all the time, sure, but it’s worth the hassle to have peace of mind that I’m lowering the risk of them hurting themselves.

Violette inherited my obsession with rearranging decor, so she is constantly touching and moving whatever I put up on her wall. Rather than fearing her artwork getting taped and push pinned randomly into the wall, I found some inexpensive ways to give her just the right amount of control to decorate her space. Target always has the cutest wooden clothespins in the dollar bins up in the front of the store painted in cute colors.
I’m sure you could take it a step further and DIY those yourself, but I’m a bit too impatient for that, haha. I use them to secure the educational alphabet cards from Anthropology just strung across with yarn, from my knitwear design days. The frames are the kind that hold canvases, since those give a perfect little space to hold hanging artwork.

Scroll down for the Before and After. Not much had to change but the bed, for now. (Saving up for those West Elm beauties!)

xx Valerie

Obsessed all books in our house, but especially with Solly Baby’s children’s book about baby wearing. The cutest.


This Gathre leather playmat in mint gets dragged by my various children from room to room. Currently it is on my family room flow being used as a wrestling mat by my adventurous boys. Quite the change from the girls’s ballet moves. 🙂

  Pottery Barn does not disappoint. Santa brought the unicorn this year, because what little girl does not need a riding unicorn?? The play kitchen is an older version of what they retail now, a lucky find off Craigslist for Violette’s 3rd birthday.  

And here is the After with the toddler bed replaced with a big girl bed.


Before Pregnancy, During and Forever After

10 Amazing Ways to Get Better Sleep During Pregnancy

Sleeping during pregnancy can be a bit of a challenge. Your body is a different shape almost every day, it seems, while your breathing, digestion and circulation all feel like a struggle. With back pain, shortness of breath and heartburn all wreaking havoc with your system, it can sometimes feel like you never sleep well at all. You deserve better. Here are 10 amazing tricks to help you turn that pattern around and start getting the better sleep you deserve during pregnancy.


1. Try Different Sleep Positions

The truth is, it just isn’t possible to sleep the way you used to. If you’re a stomach sleeper, for instance, pregnancy may feel like a bit of a bummer. If you’re used to sleeping on your back, your belly will make it hard to breathe sooner rather than later. Instead of mourning this temporary loss of comfort, work with your new body by trying new positions. Sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs and another underneath your belly, if necessary. It’s even better to sleep on your left side, which increases blood flow to baby and placenta.

2. Support Your Belly with A Pregnancy Pillow

If sleeping with regular pillows just doesn’t cut it, you can also try a pregnancy pillow. They provide both back and belly support, and come in cute patterns and easy-to-use shapes. Place them in your bed, then fit your body around them. This will lessen back and joint pain during sleep and allow you to sleep more deeply.

3. Eat Nutritious Foods

Eating well is one of the best ways to sleep well when you’re pregnant (and, honestly, all the time). Protein-rich foods like poultry, eggs, dairy and peanut butter contain tryptophan, which helps you fall and stay asleep. Leafy greens and iron-rich vegetables fill you up and give your body the nutrients it needs to feed your baby and keep your joints healthy and pain-free.  Need some additional tips?  Check out these great dos and don’ts of pregnancy nutrition by best-selling author Frances Largeman-Roth.

4. Don’t Lie Down Right After Eating

Unfortunately, while eating often makes pregnant women tired, it’s not a good idea to go right to sleep after a meal. If you do, you run the risk of getting acid reflux and having to urinate. Instead, give yourself time to digest for at least two hours before lying down. This will help your body process the food you’ve eaten, and will also prevent you from needing to get right back up. If you find you have to have a snack before bed, try eating something you know doesn’t lead to heartburn or peeing, like peanut butter or yogurt.

5. Get Lots of Low-Impact Exercise

Lots of exercise can wear you out and help you sleep so much better. Keep in mind that in pregnancy, though, your joints may feel like they’re every which-a-where due to the effects of relaxin, a hormone that loosens your body up in preparation for labor and delivery. That makes it important to get only low­-impact exercise, to avoid injury or strain, especially in the run-up to your due date. Try walking and yoga for sleep-inducing effects that won’t endanger your body.

6. Wear Supportive Clothing

Supportive clothing can make all the difference in how well you sleep. For instance, you might try the BLANQI maternity suppport collection, which offers support tanktops and belly bands to help you hold up that growing tummy. These garments stretch in multiple directions while offering comfortable, seamless support. Wear them during the day to alleviate pressure and prevent hip and back pain, which will help you sleep better at night. Or, if you like sleeping in supportwear, go ahead and keep it on at night as well.

7. Don’t Drink Fluids After a Certain Time

One of the most common complaints in pregnancy is “I have to pee, like, 10 times a night! It’s so annoying!” While you’re pregnant, the baby is pressing on your bladder, so unfortunately there’s only so much you can do to limit constant urination. However, if you want to pee less, give yourself a nightly cutoff. If you go to bed at 10, you might stop drinking at 8. Experiment with what works for you, and keep in mind that too much liquid can lead to heartburn as well as excessive urination.

8. Breathing/Relaxation Techniques

Sometimes pregnancy offers a healthy dose of anxiety, never fun when you’re trying to catch some shuteye. Breathing and relaxation techniques can help. Try inhaling to a count of four, waiting a beat, then exhaling to a count of six. You can also try counting sheep or imagining your childhood home or another “happy place” in as specific detail as possible.

9. Cultivate Serenity in the Bedroom

By now you’ve probably heard the advice that your bedroom should be used only for sex and sleeping. When you watch television, work on your laptop or otherwise engage with “waking” activities, you fail to teach your body that the bedroom is for sleep. Instead, remove electronics, bright lights (clocks, power strips) and devices from your bedroom. Cultivate a serene atmosphere that will help you fall asleep quickly and reliably.

10. Nap During the Day

Believe it or not, napping during the day is a very effective way to get better sleep during pregnancy. For one thing, you may simply need more sleep to survive, so napping is a great way to make up those necessary hours. For another, when you nap, you prevent your body from getting so exhausted you can’t fall asleep at night. It’s a cruel twist of physiology, but sometimes allowing yourself to become overtired leads to insomnia. Avoid that by snoozing where possible.

Sure, sleeping in pregnancy may never be as comfortable as sleeping without a little one inside you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t substantially improve the quality of your sleep. Try these tricks to make your nights more comfortable and more effective. It’s better for you and it’s better for baby, so don’t wait!