Happy Valentine’s Day!

Have you gotten gifts or planned a special evening yet for your Valentine?

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and we know how hard it is to come up with a special gift or evening for your loved one.  So, we have created a list to help you find unique gifts from delightful local shops in the Greater Pittsburgh area.  Whether you want chocolates, flowers, a nice romantic dinner, or an evening out, we have some options for you.

The Farmer’s Daughter

As a local floral shop, The Farmer’s Daughter strives to take your vision and make it a reality.  Their floral arrangements look natural and the attention to every detail is astounding.

431 E. Ohio Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Tuesday – Friday 11AM to 7PM, Saturday 11AM to 4PM

The Blooming Dahlia

Since 1996, Melissa Sacco, of the Blooming Dahlia in Mt. Lebanon, has been creating masterpieces for her clients using seasonal flowers.

308 Beverly Road, Mt. Lebanon, PA 15216

The Speckled Hen

Not located in the Pittsburgh area is the Speckled Hen, a small, gourmet chocolate company, owned and operated by Valerie Cannon.  She creates unique and beautiful chocolate confections that not only look wonderful, but they taste just as good.  It is definitely worth the drive to try some chocolate from the Speckled Hen.

656 Saxonburg Blvd, Saxonburg, PA 16056

Tuesday – Thursday 10AM to 6PM, Friday – Saturday 10AM to 5PM

The Milkshake Factory

Does your significant other love milkshakes and handmade chocolates?  Then you need to visit the Milkshake Factory to try their handspun milkshakes, sundaes, and variety of fine chocolates selection.  You can have any flavor of milkshake that you could possibly think of.

South Side Location:  1705 E. Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Monday – Friday 11AM to 10PM, Saturday & Sunday 11AM to 10PM

Downtown Location:  Tower at PNC Plaza, 314 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Monday – Thursday 11AM to 10PM, Friday 11AM to 11PM, Saturday 12 to 11PM, Sunday 12 to 10PM


Naturoll is an ice cream revolution.  Using methods perfected in Thailand, they freeze ice cream batter and roll it into 5 perfect rolls right before your eyes.  Its ice cream and a show!

4318 Butler Street, Pittsbugh, PA 15201

Tuesday – Thursday 3 to 9PM, Friday 3 to 10PM, Saturday 12 to 10PM, Sunday 12 to 6PM

La Gourmandine Bakery & Pastry Shop

With two locations, in Mt. Lebanon and Lawrenceville, La Gourmandine produces quality breads, pastries, desserts, and sandwiches.  The authentic French atmosphere will transport you across the Atlantic and provides an authentic and romantic experience.

Lawrenceville:  4605 Butler Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Monday – Friday 7:30AM to 4:30PM, Saturday & Sunday 9AM to 2:30PM

Mt. Lebanon:  300 Cochran Rd, Mt. Lebanon, PA 15228

Monday – Friday 7AM to 5PM, Saturday 8AM to 3:30PM, Sunday 8AM to 2:30PM

Oakmont Bakery

Since they opened in 1988, Oakmont Bakery has been a Pittsburgh staple, serving some of the best breads, pastries, and baked goods, in the city.  They have a wide variety of goods and little café area where you can sit and enjoy your purchases with your loved one.  I cannot recommend the pepperoni bread enough.

531 Allegheny Avenue, Oakmont, PA 15139

Monday – Saturday 6AM to 7PM, Sunday 6AM to 3PM

Il Pizzaiolo

Do you and your significant other love pizza, especially real Napoli style pizza?  Then you definitely have to try Il Pizzaiolo, genuine Napoletana cuisine, with locations in Warrendale and Mt. Lenanon, with another location coming soon to Indiana Township.

Warrendale:  701 Warrendale Village Dr., Warrendale, PA 15086

Monday – Thursday 11AM to 10PM, Friday & Saturday 11AM to 11PM, Sunday 12 to 9PM

Mt. Lebanon:  703 Washington Rd., Mt. Lebanon, PA 15228

Monday – Thursday 12 to 10PM, Friday & Saturday 12 to 11PM, Sunday 12 to 9PM

Off the Hook

Off the Hook is a restaurant that focuses on the wonderful tastes of the sea.  With a raw oyster bar, diners can watch as their food is prepped and cooked before their eyes.  The best part about this restaurant is that you can order your favorite fish to go and cook it at home, with recipe cards supplied by Off the Hook, to have an even more intimate night at home with your loved ones.

908 Warrendale Village Drive, Warrendale, PA 15086

Monday – Thursday 5 to 9:30 PM, Friday & Saturday 5 to 10PM

La Tavola

Looking for authentic Italian food made fresh daily in a quiet and romantic atmosphere?  One of Mount Washington’s hidden gems is La Tavola, an authentic Italian restaurant that creates Italian masterpieces.  With BYOB policy, you can bring your date, a favorite bottle of wine, and enjoy a fantastic selection of Italian dishes and desserts.  And if dining in isn’t for you, then do have takeout services available

1 Boggs Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15211

Tuesday – Thursday 5 to 10 PM, Friday & Saturday 5 to 11PM


Located in the Strip District, Cioppino offers a wide variety of seafood and chophouse fare in a steakhouse atmosphere.  They pride themselves on using locally sourced ingredients and cater to all kinds of lifestyles (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, etc.).

2350 Railroad St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Monday – Thursday 5 to 10PM, Friday & Saturday 5 to 11 PM

Bigham Tavern

If you like a more relaxed restaurant with a friendly staff and great high end bar food, you have got to check out Bigham Tavern.  Known for their award winning wings and deluxe mac and cheese, Bigham is the perfect place to hang out, grab a bite and brew, and watch some sports.  The best part?  You can come as you are, especially if you are hungry.

321 Bigham Street, Mt. Washington, PA 15211

Monday – Friday 11AM to 2AM, Saturday & Sunday 10AM to 2AM (Kitchen is open until 1 AM)

Brunch:  Saturdays & Sundays 10AM

Carnegie Museum of Art Exhibits

Iris van Herpen:  Transforming Fashion

“Fashion designer Iris van Herpen (Dutch, b. 1984) marries precision and meticulous handcraft, inventive technological solutions, and a striking, futuristic aesthetic.” The exhibit is open now until May 1st.

The Warhol Museum

Firelei Báez: Bloodlines

“Tracing the history of social movements in the United States and the Caribbean, Firelei Báez: Bloodlines presents a new body of work by Firelei Báez… Bloodlines showcases paintings and drawings depicting textiles, hair designs, and body ornaments, linking symbols of power with human gestures.” Open until May 21st.

The Frick Museum Exhibits

The Frick Collects:  From Rubens to Monet

“From Henry Clay Frick’s early purchases, to his daughter Helen’s collecting interests, through to the acquisitions that have been made by the museum in recent years, visitors will see and learn about the enduring legacy of the Frick family as art collectors.” Open until May 14th.

The Incline

Take your valentine for a ride on the incline to take in one of Pittsburgh’s most spectacular views. At the top of Mount Washington, be sure to take advantage of the viewing and photo opportunity on one of the overlooks.

The Incline runs Monday through Saturday 5:30AM to 12:30AM, Sunday and Holidays 7AM to 12:30AM

New Year, New Resolutions

It’s 2017! And with a new year comes new personal goals and challenges. Haven’t decided on a New Year’s resolution? Why not try one of the 7 we’ve listed below?

Learn a new language

Learning a new language can seem daunting and is certainly a challenge but thanks to technology, anyone can practice and learn the basics to another language. Our Marketing Manager, Kaylee Kirsch, has been using the Pittsburgh based app Duolingo to learn Spanish. Although she’s nowhere near fluent (and probably won’t be anytime soon), she can string together simple phrases. The free app boasts over 15 different languages for users to pick from. Users only need five to ten minutes a day to practice and the app’s game-like structure makes it fun and easy to use.


For 2017, resolve to unleash your inner wanderlust. Traveling gives you a new perspective. It opens your eyes to different cultures, gives us new experiences and memories, and teaches us a little more about ourselves. Don’t have the money for a cross country excursion or a week’s stay in Europe? Search online for inexpensive weekend getaways in your area. In some areas you can take a weekend trip for a couple hundred dollars.

Pay off debt

If your goal for 2017 is to pay off debt, now is the time to create a budget for the New Year. Budgeting will allow you to see what you are spending within a certain time frame. You’ll be better able to recognize which spending habits you can cut out of your daily, weekly, or monthly routine. Other tips for paying off debt: first pay off whichever credit card has the highest interest rate, pay more than the minimum, and halt your credit card spending entirely.

Hit the gym

Most people set a goal of getting in shape at the beginning of each year. To help keep this resolution alive throughout the year, set an actual goal that you are working towards such as running a 5k or beating a personal record. If you’re just starting out at the gym, set a realistic goal for incorporating it into your routine. For instance, going to the gym three days a week is often more realistic than trying to hit the gym six days a week. Once you are in a routine, you can add days to your schedule to challenge yourself. Also, don’t forget to add variety to your workouts. It not only helps you tone and lose weight by challenging your body but will also keep you interested in your workouts.

Rein in your diet

Another common resolution is to improve one’s diet. Eating right can be difficult. There’s portions to think about, nutrients, calories, fat, sugars, etc. There is also the issues associated with cost, feeling satisfied, time, and the social aspect of eating out. If eating healthy is a struggle, try incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet. You can also try meatless Monday’s in an effort to eat healthier. Look for online recipes that offer fast, healthy meal options and of course, look out for quarterly posts to our blog from Registered Dietitian, Caroline West Passerrello, MS, RDN, LDN.

Reduce stress

Stress can have a negative impact on our health and well-being. Stress has been known to negatively affect people’s mental and physical health causing a wide range of issues from depression, weight gain, loss of sleep, and loss of appetite. If reducing stress is your goal, the Mayo Clinic recommends “daily practice of stress-reduction techniques, such as deep breathing, massage, tai chi or yoga. Many people manage stress through practicing mindfulness in meditation or being in nature.” Practicing these techniques overtime can help lower your stress and help improve your overall well-being.

Read more  

Bookworms around the world rejoice as each passing year scientists confirm to the world what book lovers have known for quite some time now, reading is good for your health. If your resolution is to cut down on screen time, you might want to pick up a book. Reading has been proven to help those struggling with depression, can help keep your mind sharp and help ward off Alzheimer’s disease, and can help to improve sleep.  So next time you’re looking to relax, open a book rather than turning the TV on. Looking for a good book to read? Check out the list of our employees’ favorite books.



Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/basics/stress-relief/hlv-20049495

Hello, 2017.

By: Ashley Kirsch

2017 is right around the corner, and now is the time many start planning for the New Year. When setting New Year’s resolutions, people consider long and short term goals, the positives of a fresh start and how to achieve personal growth. But, how long do our New Year’s resolutions last?

According to U.S. News, on average 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail. This means that only 20% of people are actually maintaining their goals throughout the year.

How can the goals we set on the first of January last until the end of the year?

To answer this question, it is important to remember these tips when setting your goals for 2017:

  1. Think small and be realistic– Remember that your goals won’t happen overnight and change does not occur instantly. Focus on setting small and realistic goals that will positively affect the bigger picture.
  2. Develop a plan- Develop a plan to help overcome challenges. Many times, New Year’s resolutions fail because of the struggles that occur along the way. Tackle your challenges head on and always keep your end goal in mind.
  3. Time management- Be mindful of time. Many resolutions fail because people believe they lack the time needed to work on their goals. Dedicate a portion of each day to your New Year’s resolutions.

Whether your goals focus on self-improvement, health, weight loss or are money related; say hello to 2017 with pride and maintain your goals by keeping these suggestions in mind.

Ashley Kirsch
Babb, Inc. Marketing Intern
Slippery Rock University Public Relations Student

Source: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-29/why-80-percent-of-new-years-resolutions-fail

Babb’s Holiday Gift Guide: Monthly Subscriptions Edition, Pt. 2

On Tuesday we explored subscription boxes and services ranging from online streaming to women’s fashion.  Today we wanted to cover more areas that also provide great, high quality monthly services.


Dollar Shave Club, $1 for the first month, after either $3, $6, or $9 a month:  When you sign up for the Dollar Shave Club, you get to choose if you would like a 2, 4, or 6 blade razor.  That first month of your subscription you are sent a handle and a full cartridge of the blade you choose for a $1.  After that first month, you are able to set your delivery schedule for whatever you would like.  If at any time you would like to cancel, you can do so for free or you can change your blade type at any point and you will be sent a new handle for free.  It’s a very easy set up and one of the cheapest subscriptions out there on the market.  Also, it isn’t just for men, these blades are being used by many women who have really enjoyed the results they have seen.

Game Day Box, starting at $39.95 a month:  Do you have huge sports fans in your life?  The Game Day Box, from Cratejoy, is a specially curated box of officially licensed merchandise from sports teams from the NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA.  All you have to do is fill out sizes for shirts and hats, choose between men, women, and children’s items, and pick the team(s) that you would prefer items from.  They will send you everything from hats and shirts to mugs, beer cozies, keychains, Pop! Funko toys, and collectibles!  Your sports fan will love you forever when you subscribe them to Game Day Box!

Trunk Club (for men, and women), $25 home try-on fee, and then only pay for what you keep:  Trunk Club offers men a personal stylist to help them find a style and buy clothing that fits them.  The stylists are there to help you find the perfect outfits for whatever you need them for, from weddings to everyday attire.  Each trunk provides a variety of clothing items and accessories that your personal stylist has chosen for you with great care and is sent to you as often as you like.  You get 5 days to try everything on and then only have to pay for what you decide to keep.  The $25 home try-on fee is credited towards the total cost of what you decide to buy.  Clothing can go from anywhere in the $100-$300 range, similar to department stores like Nordstrom’s.  If you or someone in your life notoriously hates shopping, this is the perfect gift.

For the Nerd in us all

Fandom of the Month, $13/month, $36/3 months, $66/6 months:  The Fandom of the Month club was started by a very talented and fandom obsessed set of triplets who wanted to curate and create a monthly subscription box for people who love their fandoms and jewelry.  Each month you get 3-4 pieces of handpicked jewelry with a fandom specific theme that is revealed when you receive your box.  Don’t be discouraged if you are nervous about what the theme for that month’s box will be.  The girls tease their theme on their Instagram account each month (@fandomofthemonth).  All you have to do is sign up and choose what subscription you want and wait to see what you get!  These girls are amazing and have their own handmade craft shops and an upcoming makeup line (@storybookcosmetics) so be sure to check them out!

You can follow all of them on Instagram here:  @thesorcerersphone, @thegeekycauldron, @halfbloodprints

Loot Crate, starting at $13.95 a month:  Are you a comic book, superhero, sci-fi, fantasy, gaming, etc. fan?  Celebrate the nerd within with a subscription to LootCrate, a unique monthly box filled with licensed collectibles, shirts, home goods, and so much more based on your favorite fandoms.  Each month you get a specially curated box based upon a particular theme (magic, mystery, hero, etc.)  that includes 5 great items that any nerd would love.  Check out their site to see what some past themes and boxes included.

Owlcrate, start at $29.99 + shipping:  Do you enjoy or know someone who enjoys Young Adult novels?  Owlcrate is a great service that delivers monthly boxes tailored to a different and fun theme.  Each box includes a new YA novel, 3-5 book items, and exclusive items from the author.  All of the goodies you receive are high quality and can’t be found in the big box stores.  All you have to do is choose what subscription you want and they will continue to ship you the best YA themed boxes until you make the decision to stop.  Once your box arrives all you have left to do is enjoy your book and goodies.  Don’t forget to share your experience with all of your friends and the other members of the Owlcrate community.  You never know, you just may make some new friends.

Health & Fitness

Bulu Box, start at $10 a month:  Bulu Box is a monthly subscription box geared towards health, fitness, weight loss, and nutrition.  Each month, they send you 4-5 premium samples to test and are just enough for you to figure out if that product is right for you.  Currently they offer two types of boxes, the Bulu Box Original and the Bulu Box Weight Loss.  The original box has products that covers a broad spectrum of health, fitness, and nutrition.  Lifestyle products may also sneak in to the original box, whereas the Weight Loss box is designed to specifically address and help with weight loss problems.  It includes healthy snacks, workouts, fitness gear, recipes, and other tools that are geared towards helping you achieve any and all of your weight loss goals.  For more information on each box, you can check out their website to figure out which box is best for you or your love done.

FabFitFun, $49.99 every 3 months:  Every 3 months, FabFitFun members receive a seasonal box filled with full size, premium products.  Each box includes a mixture of beauty, health, fitness, home products, etc. that are geared towards making sure you feel great about yourself.  And the best part is you only have to pay that $49.99 every 3 months, or pay an annual fee of $179.99.  If you are looking for a subscription box that includes a little bit of everything and provides full sized products instead of sample sizes, this is the one to subscribe to today!

The Honest Co., $35.95 per month:  If you are committed to using products that are chemical free and not harmful to you and your family and to the environment, you should definitely check out the Honest Co.’s monthly bundle package.  Each month you get to tailor your bundle to your specific wants and needs and are able to choose from over 65 different products ranging from beauty and skincare to cleaning products.  Yes, you can find Honest products at Target stores, but you will actually save a significant amount of money each month when you decide to subscribe to receive a bundle package.  Not only do you get to decide what types of products you want and need but you also get to decide how often and when your bundle gets sent to you.


BarkBox, starting at $20:  Do you like to spoil your extra special pup with treats and toys?  Then Bark box is the perfect subscription box for you.  Each month, they will send you 4-6 toys and treats all within a surprise theme geared towards creating a healthy and fun future with your fur friend.  The all-natural snacks and innovative toys are chosen based on your dog’s likes, needs, and allergies.  If they really love something, you can easily find it again to purchase on the Bark Box website.  This company also goes out of their way to help and support rescues, shelters, and other non-profits across the country who make it their goal to find forever homes for lonely dogs.

Purrpack, ranging from $16.99 to $39.99 depending on size of box:  Similar to Bark Box, the Purrpack is a monthly subscription box containing surprises for your cat(s).  Each month you will receive treats, toys, accessories, scratchers, etc.  These boxes are packed based upon the preferences you provide and will give you different items each month so aren’t receiving the same things over and over.  They offer different size packages based on the number of kitties you have in your household.  You are able to explore new and innovative toys and high quality treats without having to spend ridiculous amount of money.  And believe us, your cats will love this subscription.

Babb’s Holiday Gift Guide: Monthly Subscriptions Edition, Pt. 1

Subscription services have seen a surge in subscribers over the last few years.  The ease, choices, and availability of the types of services you can subscribe to monthly is so diverse.  If you are someone who needs to try things before buying a large quantity of something, then a subscription service might be for you.  They are also a great way to keep giving to your loved one or friend all year.

Today is part 1 of our subscription services edition of our Holiday Gift Guide.  We are highlighting products including streaming services, beauty and style, food, and book subscriptions.  Enjoy!

Steaming Services

Netflix, $7.99-$11.99/month depending on plan:  If you don’t already have a subscription to Netflix you are seriously missing out.  Not only do they offer you a wide variety of TV shows, movies, documentaries, etc., but there original programming is some of the best out there.  There are 3 plans to choose from:  basic, standard, and premium, and when you join, your first month is free.  The best part?  You can watch on your TV (smart TVs, gaming consoles, Chromecast, Applte TV, etc.), computers, tablets, and smart phones.  And, now you can download shows and movies to watch later when you aren’t in a WiFi capable area.  All in all, Netflix is a great gift not only for your loved ones, but for yourself as well.

Hulu, starting at $7.99/month:  Similar to Netflix, Hulu offers you the ability to watch almost every TV show immediately after it airs on television.  They have also stepped into the original programming market and offer a wide variety of shows that Hulu has produced themselves.  If you have television shows that you love to watch but aren’t always capable of catching them when they air, Hulu is definitely a great choice for you.  Plans start at $7.99 and those include commercial breaks, but you can choose to pay a little more each month for commercial free programming.  Plus, when you sign up, you get your first week free.

Amazon Prime, $99/year:  When you subscribe to Amazon Prime, you get so much more than just free 2-day shipping on anything you could possibly ever want.  With your subscription you get Amazon Instant Video as well, a service that offers TV shows from all different networks, movies, documentaries, and Amazon Originals.  You also have the ability to purchase additional packages for specialty channels including HBO, Starz, Showtime, Cinemax, and more.  They are additional costs to your yearly Prime membership, but they are a great deal especially if you only pay for cable each month to get those premium channels.  Check out Amazon Prime to see all of the amazing benefits.


Scentbird, $14.95/month:  Each month you get to try a different designer perfume.  Once you sign up, you get to pick which perfume you would like to choose from over 450 options.  When you have made you selection, they will send you a 0.27oz sample of your selected scent with a refillable case to put it in (the refillable case comes with your first order).  If you love or know someone who loves trying new scents, this is the subscription to buy.

Ipsy, $10/month:  When you sign up for Ipsy, you are asked to take a short beauty quiz that helps the beauty stylists curate the perfect monthly glam bag.  In your glam bag you will receive 5-6 deluxe samples of makeup, perfume, makeup brushes, skincare, hair car, etc.  Some of these products will be sample sizes and some will be full size products.  The best part is that it is only $10 a month and you get a cute and stylish makeup bag to reuse.  If there are products that you really like, as a member, you can log on to the site to purchase them at a discount.

Stitch Fix, pay for what you keep:  Are you someone who just doesn’t have the time to go shopping for work or street clothes?  Stich Fix is definitely a great idea for you.  It is a personal styling service for men and women that pairs you with a stylist who will help pick out clothes, shoes, and accessories based on your tastes, needs, and your lifestyle.  All you have to do is let them know what your style and sizes are and what you are willing and able to spend.  Each delivery you will get 5 pieces to try and test out.  You can keep and buy the pieces you like and send back what you don’t.  This is a great tool for people who just don’t have the time to shop for themselves or honestly just don’t like to do it.


Winc (Formerly Club W), $13 per bottle:  Do you like to drink wine but have a hard time picking out new brands or styles of wine?  When you sign up for Club W they ask you to answer 6 easy questions to determine your palate and then send you wines based on your profile.  Once you try the wine, you can rate them to help them give you better recommendations in the future.  If you don’t like a bottle, you don’t have to pay for it and you can skip a month at any time in your subscription for free.

Graze, $11.99 for 8 snacks (first sampler box is free):  If you are tired of the normal snack options (chips, cookies, etc.) Graze is a great idea for you to try.  You get to tell them what types of snacks you enjoy and pick a box size and then they pick different snacks based on your preferences for you to try.  Then all you do is wait to receive your box either every week or every two weeks.  The snacks chosen are not only tasty, they are also all good for you in some way and you are also able to let them know if you have any allergies.  Check out their story and their mission to providing delicious and beneficial snacks to you on their site.

Blue Apron, $59.94 for 2-person meal plan (after $29.94 first week discount), $69.92 or $139.84 for family meal plan (after $39.92 or $109.84 first week discount):  Love to cook but don’t know how to make the incredible recipes you see all over Instagram?  Blue Apron is a weekly meal service delivery that sends you a box full of farm fresh, seasonal, and no added hormone ingredients to create 3 specially crafted recipes.  They take the hassle and anxiety out of shopping for meal ingredients to create gorgeous and tasty meals for you and your loved ones.  You are able to tailor your ingredients and recipes to your tastes with the best ingredients that are already pre-portioned so you don’t have to worry about getting portion sizes right.  You can choose from 2-person or family meal plans, and get 2-4 recipes to make per week.  If you want to step up your cooking game, this is the service for you or anyone you know that loves to cook.


Book of the Month Club, 3 months for $14.99/mo, 6 months for $16.99/mo, and 12 months for $11.99/mo:  On the first of each month, The Book of the Month Club release its list of books to choose from for that month.  You have until the 6th to choose what book you would like to receive that month.  If you want, you can buy extra books for an additional $9.99.  If you decide you don’t like any of the books offered, you can very easily just skip that month.

Muse Monthly, $29.50 monthly:  If you love to cuddle up with a good book and a cup of tea, this subscription box is for you.  Every month you will receive a new book and box (or tin) of tea.  Muse Monthly specially pairs your book with a tea that provides a unique experience for the reader.  There is almost nothing better to an avid reader than spending an afternoon with a hot cup of tea and a great read.

The Book Drop, ranges from $9-$90 depending on what level and package you choose:  The Book Drop is a subscription service run by an independent bookshop located in Bethany Beach.  Each month they choose a new book based on what your preferences are and what option you choose.  There are 4 options to choose from:  the Jane, the Ernest, Young Adult, and Children 8-12.  Within each box you will receive a book, a note about why they love and chose that book, a list of books for that month, and at least one extra present.

Babb’s Holiday Gift Guide: Natural “Beauty” Products Edition

It’s getting down to crunch time for buying your loved ones Christmas gifts.  We decided to help you figure out some great gift ideas that they will actually love and be able to get use out of.  Today’s edition of our Holiday Gift Guide is all about that friend or family member who just can’t get enough of “beauty” products made out of all natural ingredients and are environmentally and socially conscious.  All of these brands offer so many wonderful products but we wanted to highlight just a couple from each to give you a head start.  And the best part, all of these brands can be found at Target, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Giant Eagle, etc.!

Let’s get crackin!

Burt’s Bees

Burt’s Bees has been making environmentally and all natural innovative beauty products since 1991.  Their products, down to the packaging, are made with simple, natural, and responsible ingredients.  Products ranging from the original lip balm to skincare to makeup will never include parabens, phthalates, or any other unnatural manmade chemicals that actually cause your skin and body harm in the long run.  Their website is amazing as well!  They have a skin care guide that will help you to figure out which products to use and a lip shade finder to help you choose that perfect lip color.  Most of their favorite products are included in gift sets that prove to be multiple presents in one very pretty package.

Some of our recent favorite Burt’s Bees products include:

Lip Shine – This is a lip gloss that has a natural and sheer coverage with a shiny finish.  The Apricot Wax in the formula offers a moisturizing effect that other glosses don’t provide.  Let me tell you this, this gloss is not sticky and actually hydrates your lips long by soaking into them, providing a nourishing moisturizing result.

BB Cream – This lightweight foundation lotion helps even skin tone while firming, smoothing, and perfecting your skin.  It’s a great product to use if you don’t want to really wear a lot of makeup but want that brightened and flawless skin tone look.

Men’s Skincare – Currently Burt’s Bees offers a shave cream, aftershave lotion, and all natural body wash for men.  A lot of men don’t take the time to think about their skin care, but they should be.  There is a men’s gift set that includes the 3 products listed above and an original Beeswax Lip Balm and Hand Salve.  This would be a great gift for the men in your life you know want to be conscientious about their skincare, but who have no clue what they should be doing.


SheaMoisture is a really innovative personal care and beauty brand that creates sustainable, natural, organic products that are never tested on animals and geared towards so many of the problems we all face daily.  Their commitment to fair trade through Community Commerce is praiseworthy and shouldn’t be overlooked.  In 1912 Sofi Tucker started selling her all natural products in a small market in Sierra Leone.  Her homemade hair and skin products were an instant hit.  Today her originals (Shea Butter, African Black Soap, and homemade hair and skin solutions) are just the tip of what SheaMoisture offers.  They only use the best ingredients from around the globe and strive to be sulfate and paraben free.  Recently an employee of ours decided to try a few different products to see if they would help with certain problems they were having.  Suffice it to say, they fell in love.

Peace Rose Oil Complex Sensitive Skin Facial Moisturizer – This moisturizer is hands down one of the best moisturizers out there in the market.  Lightweight formula that hydrates without creating an oily residue, this moisturizer is a savior to anyone with sensitive skin.  Not only does it hydrate but it calms areas of your skin that are inflamed or broken out.  The use of Shea Butter and Musk Rose Oils create a nourishing moisturizer that has become the best part of our skincare routine.

African Black Soap Facial Wash & Scrub – If you have problem skin this is a great facial scrub for you.  It gently exfoliates to get rid of the dirt and oil that clog your pores and cause breakouts.  A great detox for your skin, it will make you feel refreshed, clean, and ready to get on with your day or get a good night’s rest.

Products for Men – SheaMoisture has a whole line of products just for men created with Shea Butter, avocado, and mango.  These products help to moisturize, condition, and nourish hair and skin.

Physician’s Formula

Physician’s Formula is a great makeup brand that creates makeup products that are actually good for skin.  These products are easy to use and are made so you don’t have to choose between great makeup coverage and healthy products.  Fragrances, PABA, and over 100+ skin irritants are never allowed in any of their products.  They also have many products that are hypoallergenic, gluten free, non-comedogenic, and dermatologist approved.

Argan Wear™ Ultra-Nourishing Argan Oil Blush – With great coverage and pigmentation, this blush adds just the right amount of color to your cheeks, while the argan oil naturally conditions and improves skin tone, texture, and the elasticity of your face.  Plus, it’s such a gorgeous shade that looks great on everyone and can be layered to get your desired rosy cheeks.

Argan Wear™ Ultra-Nourishing Argan Oil Bronzer – Bronzer is already a magic makeup product with its ability to add a glow to your skin like you’ve just been in the sun even when it’s winter.  This bronzer formula delivers that result while also nourishing and conditioning your skin.  Your skin will look younger and feel more resilient than ever before.

Avalon Organics

Avalon Organics believes that “all beauty comes from the Earth” and this philosophy drives them to produce products that are inspired by and respect the Earth and all of its organisms.  They only use organic plant based ingredients that are safe for anyone to use.  USDA Organic certified, vegan, and cruelty free, these products are made with your safety and wellness in mind.

Hair Care – “Formulated with organic botanicals and essential oils, Avalon Organics® gentle, safe and effective plant-based shampoos and conditioners are designed to bring luminance to locks without the use of harsh preservatives or hair-stripping cleansers.”  Avalon Organics goal is to provide many different Hair Care products that cover a range of hair issues we all suffer from.  You will be sure to find a shampoo and conditioner set that will benefit whatever problem your hair is suffering from and feel at ease that you won’t be adding to any problems by using a products riddled with chemicals.

Bulldog Skincare for Men

Bulldog Skincare for Men was created with men’s skin in mind.  Produced with all natural ingredients, these skincare products were created to combat dry, oily, and combination skin, balance the pH of the skin, and overall help keep men’s skin moisturized and nourished so their skin doesn’t turn into the brand’s namesake.  The products are made for men with all types of skin, from sensitive to oil prone.  This is a UK based brand, but can be found in Target stores and can be bought online via that Target website or their own.  We have listed a couple great products that are definitely worth checking out and buying for the man in your life who takes care of his skin or wants to be better at it.

Original Face Wash and Original Moisturiser (these also come in formulas for sensitive skin) – They use essential oils and natural ingredients to create a face wash that not only cleans your skin, but moisturizes and nourished the skin as well.  Don’t fear men.  And don’t fear guys!  These products are all made with essential oils that create a very masculine scent, so need to worry about smelling “girly”.

Bonus:  Their mascot is a very cute bulldog.


Petra Strand, creator and innovator of Pixi beauty products, strives to create products that enhance women’s natural beauty while also nourishing their skin.  For over 10 years, Pixi has been a pioneer in makeup by creating products that are skin-loving and leave you with a natural radiance.  All of their products are infused with botanical and beneficial ingredients that help your skin look and stay young, enhance your natural beauty, and fix your flaws.  Their mission is the same as it was over 10 years when Petra first began the brand which is to “simply to bring out the natural beauty in all women – to make women look like themselves, only better.”

These products are a little pricier than some of the other brands we named earlier, but they work and have been touted by professional makeup artists and skincare gurus as some of the best beauty and skincare products out there.  They also offer a lot of Holiday gift sets that can be purchased at your local Target stores.

Glow Tonic – This is the Pixi product that everyone raves about.  The Glow Tonic is formulated with ginseng, fructose, aloe, and most importantly is alcohol free.  It removes dead skins cells while firming and toning your skin to keep it looking and feeling young and fresh.  They have multiple sizes at different price points so you can buy a small one to test it out and see if it works for you.  But, if you have a friend who loves to use toners or someone who doesn’t use them and wants to try one, we highly suggest the Glow Tonic as the perfect gift.

The Ultimate Beauty Kit – Are you or your friend obsessed with palettes?  This might be the perfect one for you!  It contains 40 eyeshadow and brow shades, 3 highlighters, 2 bronzers, 2 blushes, and a contour powder which covers your entire makeup routine except for foundation!  This is the only palette you will need to complete the perfect holiday look for that office Christmas party or New Year’s Eve celebrations out on the town.

Rose Oil Blend – This product was created using rosehip, almond, jojoba, pomegranate, and rose geranium oils that combine to form a face oil that promotes youthful exuberance by improving the elasticity and glow of your skin.  Not only does it help with the firmness of your skin, it also nourishes and keeps your skin feeling moisturized and smooth.


Holiday Fun in Pittsburgh

The holidays are upon us and Pittsburgh has so many wonderful holiday activities, exhibits, and markets to explore with family and friends.  From Market Square to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center you can enjoy a fun filled day of holiday cheer with your loved ones.

People’s Gas Holiday Market – Market Square; Mondays-Thursdays 11-8, Fridays & Saturdays 11-9, and Sundays 11-6

Market Square has always been a unique area for all kinds of exhibits and activities and during the holiday season that is no different.  The Holiday Market is modeled after the famous Christkindlmarkts held all over Germany.  Small chalets fill the square with wares and goods of all types.  Want to find a unique piece of jewelry, a glass sculpture, or traditional German ornaments?  This market has it all, not to mention, live music, Santa, and Dunkin Donuts.  The Holiday Market runs until December 23.

Handmade Arcade – David L. Lawrence Convention Center, December 3 11-7, free admission

If you have friends and family who love handmade goods, this is place for you to shop.  Held at the Convention Center, the Handmade Arcade contains a diverse mix and selection of handmade gifts from local artists.  This market is held on December 3 from 11-7, but make sure to get there early so you have a lot of time to browse.

PPG Place

November 18, 2016-January 7, 2017

PPG Place is the home to Wintergarden, a spectacular free exhibition hall that features a 32-foot tree, Santa’s from all over the world, and the Gingerbread House displays.  Inside you can walk around learning about Christmas folklore from all over the globe and looking at the gingerbread houses made by students, chefs, and individuals from all over the Greater Pittsburgh Area.  I highly suggest taking a break from the cold at the Holiday Market in Market Square to warm up in PPG Place and check out some pretty amazing exhibits.  Not to mention that outside, you can ice skate with your friends or family.

Lawrenceville Cookie Tour

December 1-4, (Generally from 10-6 Thursday thru Saturday, and 10-5 Sunday)

Are you interested in exploring a different part of the city you haven’t yet?  Come down to Lawrenceville today through Sunday to check out this free and family themed event!  It is a self-guided tour through the neighborhood where you can stop in at each shop, sample some cookies, and browse to see if you can find any cool and interesting gifts.  While the general hours are posted above, each shopkeeper maintains their own hours so be sure to check out the times they will be open.  You can go to the website (hyperlinked above) or find printed maps at each participating shop to guide you through the up and coming streets of Lawrenceville.

Phipps – Winter Flower Show and Light Garden:  Days of Snow and Nights Aglow

Runs November 25- January 8, 9:30-11 AM and 5-11 PM

Phipps Conservatory is a beautiful and magical place all year long, but during the holidays it becomes a winter wonderland.  All of the rooms are geared towards the theme of “Snow Day at Phipps”.  With exhibits ranging from animal topiary, lights, and music to colorful festive flowers and wintery displays you will feel like you have been transported out of this world to a place that exemplifies the holiday spirit.


The Nutcracker 

Benedum Center, December 2-27, 2016

One of the most famous ballets in history, The Nutcracker, is a fantastical story about the night before Christmas when a mysterious nutcracker comes to life.  This year, the story is set in Pittsburgh, with many iconic buildings, views, and statues being focal points of the scenery.  This is a holiday classic that shouldn’t be missed, and a great tradition to start with your loved ones.

A Musical Christmas Carol 

Byham Theater, December 9-23, 2016

Most of us are familiar with the story of the grouchy Ebenezer Scrooge and his lack of love for Christmas.  This year the classic gets a wonderful twist.  The Pittsburgh CLO has created a beautiful musical about a beloved Christmas story.  Don’t miss out on this extraordinary opportunity to see this classic tale with a musical twist.