No Heat Curls

noheatcurlsLast summer I threw out my hair dryer. I had pretty much ruined my hair with bleach and decided it was time go back to more natural hair care. My hair dryer started sparking a little bit around May so I threw it out and never ended up buying a new one. We are in the middle of winter now and I still haven’t found the need to use a hair dryer yet. My hair is very fine and it usually dries within a couple of hours of washing it. My hair feels so much healthier since I have given up the dryer. At this point I think I may never go back to using one. I also got rid of my curling iron and flat-iron so I wouldn’t be tempted to use them either.

DSCN2031
Before

My hair is naturally straight but it can look a little flat since it is so fine. I think my hair looks best with a little bit of a wave in it.
I bought these pink sponge curlers from the drugstore and if you have ever used this type of curler you will know the hard plastic clasps can be really uncomfortable, especially if you want to wear them while you sleep. I replaced the plastic clasp with a strip of scrap fabric instead.

DSCN2035 DSCN2038

DSCN2040
Use strips about 8-10 inches long and poke them through the roller. Simply roll your hair up the curler and secure it by tying the ends fabric strip. You can do it with your hair wet or dry but it may take a very long time for your hair to dry and hold a curl if you start with wet hair. I recommend leaving the curlers in overnight. The more curlers you use the tighter the curls will be. I didn’t use very many so I have nice loose curls.

DSCN2042
Lightly comb your curls with your fingers and spritz with a little hairspray to keep your curls bouncing all day long!

curls2

Ch-ch-ch- Changes

Hey all! Things look a little different around here at the moment. I have just made the switch from Blogger to WordPress. It only took me about 182 hours of trying to figure out how the heck all this fancy schmancy computer stuff works and the loss of half my hair from the stress of trying to deal Google and Blogger. Looks like I got all the major stuff worked out but I still need to get everything in order so you can expect more changes to come over the next little while. Sorry for the mess, bear with me- Better things are coming your way!

Winter Reading: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up


I often hear people refer to themselves in a joking way as “OCD” when it comes to cleaning and having a tidy home. They can’t handle a cluttered messy house or anything out of place. Even a crooked window curtain will drive them nuts. I can honestly say that I don’t have that problem. I almost wish I did because then my house might actually be clean and tidy at all times. In reality my theory is that our homes are for living and relaxing and there are much more fun and important things to worry about that making sure all the towels in the closet are folded and lined up perfectly and that the counter tops are spotless. For some people tidying and cleaning come natural but for people like me it’s a constant struggle to get control over the mountains of laundry and dishes. 
I heard about Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying from a few different blogs online. Marie is the world’s number 1 expert on cleaning and organizing. She is Japanese and has devoted her entire life from the time she was a small child to tidying. As a child, Marie would stay inside the classroom during lunch to organize her desk and spent hours and hours organizing every nook and cranny in her family’s home. After years of helping people learn to tidy up their lives the solution she developed to help to anyone with a clutter problem is quite simple. Take each object in your hands and ask yourself “Does this spark joy?” If the answer is no then you must get rid of the object. While this may seem extreme I actually found it works quite well. Her method has you starting with your clothing, then books and magazines, papers, then miscellaneous items and finally mementos like old photos and cards. 
I went through my house in order of the categories and got rid of SO MUCH STUFF. It’s really amazing how much we hold onto that we don’t particularly like but we save it because we feel guilty that we spent money on it or have the illusion that someday we will read those books or start that craft project. Well, as Marie says in the book “someday” will never come so if it doesn’t spark joy then get rid of it! 
Although I find her method to be quite effective I do have a couple criticisms. If you live with a partner or children who love to collect things you can’t just throw out their stuff because It doesn’t spark joy for you. So even though you may perfect the act of tidying and riding yourself of anything that doesn’t spark joy, you may still have a moderately cluttered home. 
My second criticism is that there are always going to be items in the home that will never spark joy. Like toilet paper for example. When I look at my roll of toilet paper and hold it in my hands it will never bring me joy. Perhaps this means I am not using the right brand of T.P. but I doubt it. I will probably never find a brand of toilet paper that brings me happiness at the mere sight of it but I still have to keep the giant Costco case of bum wipe stored in bathroom closet anyways. So be it.
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying is definitely a must read for anyone who wants to get a grip on their hording tendencies, I truly can’t recommend this book enough. I promise you upon completion of reading this book the urge to purge will be strong and you will be motivated to start donating and dumping things out. A final tip: Purchase the ebook or kindle version so you have one less item of clutter in your home.

Breakfast Smoothie of Champions


I am taking part in the Labrada 12 Week fitness challengeagain this year. Last year I lost 10 lbs in 12 weeks and since the challenge ended last May I have kept it off and managed to loose another 10 lbs by keeping my exercise and nutrition on track. I have read from many, many sources that when it comes to weight loss and achieving that bikini body of your dreams the key is really nutrition. Basically it comes down to 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. This is good if you hate working out and bad if you like food and we all love food don’t we? In the past I have had the biggest sweet tooth out of anyone I know. I could gobble down and entire bag of gummy bears, eat the whole container of ice cream and all the chocolate I can get my hands on. Now I know that sugar is basically the enemy. Seriously- do the research its poison for your body. If you have weight to lose and cut out all sugar and limit the sugar from fruits ( I also used to be a fruit addict. I could eat bowls and bowls of strawberries) the pounds will start dropping off fast, especially when you combine it with exercise. Had I known this information when I was 20 I’m sure I could have easily achieved 6 pack abs now that I’m older I’m just trying to not let my little belly pooch get out of control ( I will definitely take the 6 pack abs though!) My entire diet looks a lot different these days and it all starts with my breakfast. I developed this smoothie a while back when I was doing the GOOP pre- holiday cleanse. It looks gross but it’s pretty yummy.
Ingredients:
 
1 cup of organic unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup frozen blueberries or black berries
1/2 cup mixed spinach and kale leaves
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
Blend until smooth. This smoothie contains all the good stuff: Calcium, protein, antioxidants and many vitamins and minerals. It keeps me full all morning long!

Sunday Rituals- 7 Small Tasks to Make your Week Easier

Happy weekend friends! Hopefully you got to enjoy some time off during the holidays. I was able to take New Years Eve and Day off then I had to go to work Friday for a few hours and now I have two more days off!

I work Monday through Friday so I spend a small chunk of my day on Sunday prepping for the week ahead. I have a list of little things that don’t take much time that I can chip away at throughout the day. It makes my week a little less hectic and things in general to run more smoothly.

1) Meal prep and grocery shopping. I take a quick inventory of the fridge and pantry and make plans to use up the foods that are about to go bad, then I make a list of things we are out of and head to the grocery store. I don’t go too nuts with meal planning but I make sure I have enough healthy foods for snacks and enough food so I’m not rummaging through the cabinets starving wondering what the heck to eat or hitting up the drive thru on the way to work. I also find it helpful to boil a half dozen eggs and keep them in the fridge. It’s easy to grab one when I’m hungry and I can easily pack them with my lunch at work.

2) Plan your outfits for the week. It’s a huge time saver to get your outfits for the week planned out ahead of time. I get everything ready, folded and organized in my dresser so I don’t have to rush around looking for my work pants only to find out I never took them out of the washing machine.

3) Make a to-do list for the week. I’m huge into making lists. I find a strange satisfaction in crossing items off my to-do lists. Writing things out helps clear my head and feel less anxious and stressed. Make a list of appointments, goals and things that absolutely have to get done during the week. Seeing it on paper helps make these tasks feel much more manageable.

4) Wash your sheets. I got into the habit of washing the bed sheets on Sundays. It feels so freaking good to crawl into bed on Sunday night with sheets that are fresh and clean.

5) Organize your vitamins. I take about 4 or 5 different vitamins and supplements. I used to have trouble remembering if I took certain vitamins and then I would worry about accidentally taking two so most of the time I would miss them completely. I got a weekly pill organizer box and that has made all the difference. I get my supplements all organized for the week and then I don’t have to worry about keeping track mentally of what I have and haven’t taken.

6) Schedule in some “Me” time. This can be as simple as a quiet bath and a glass of wine or a solo walk out in the woods or go all out and plan a spa day. Try to spend at least an hour relaxing and taking care of yourself.

7) Get a good night sleep. Do whatever it takes to make sure your get a good night sleep on Sunday and start your Monday feeling refreshed and rested. Ear plugs, eye mask, white noise machine- whatever it takes. I take a melatonin supplement when I really want to sleep like a baby.

These are some of the things I do on Sunday to help get me ready for the week ahead. Do you have any Sunday rituals that help you prepare for a busy week?

Resolutions

A new year. A fresh start. There is something about the beginning of the year that feels so exciting. I think we all have such great intentions on New Years day to make this “Our Best Year Ever.” We tell our selves this is the year I am going to lose that last ten pounds, quit smoking, de-clutter the house and do all those things we think “perfect” people do. People who of course doesn’t actually exist. 
I’ve had a pretty tough year so I am really looking forward to a new beginning in 2015. I’ve spent the last half of 2014 trying to focus on self-care and trying almost everything I can think of to make myself feel better. I’ve done it all: Medication, therapy, acupuncture, exercise, dietary changes, meditation and more. Yup, I have been suffering from depression and anxiety pretty hardcore. On one hand I don’t really want to talk about it because it’s no ones business and on the other hand I don’t have anything to be ashamed of. The details of what’s been going on will remain private but I think this is something that everyone goes through at some point in their life. Right now is just my turn.  The work I have done is starting to pay off and I’m feeling better than I have in a long time. I’m feeling really motivated and creative lately and I hope to keep it up. Here are some of my goals for 2015 that I would like to share to help keep myself accountable:

1) Blog on a regular basis and improve the quality and frequency of my blog posts
2) Branch out with my Etsy shop Crafty Little Gnome and create products besides jewelry
3) Practice Yoga on a regular basis and take a few classes
4) Get into the habit of meditating on a regular basis
5) Cook more homemade meals and learn a new recipe each month
6 Educate myself about wines and start drinking better quality than boxed Franzia
7) Develop a more distinct personal style and dress a little more stylish
8) Run a 5Km race
9) Work on artwork on a regular basis
10) Sell my work at a craft fair this year

These are all pretty doable goals and I’m looking forward to tackling them. I will keep you posted on some of my progress with these.
What are your New Years resolutions?

Happy Holidays!

Hey there Friends!

It’s been a while hasn’t it?  Hope you all had a great holiday, whatever it might be that you celebrate.
I must say I am very glad 2014 is coming to a close and December is almost behind us. The past few months have been crazy chaos. I am still trying to recover from another busy Christmas season at my work. For my day job I am a supervisor at one of the worlds largest parcel delivery services, so you can imagine how stressful the holidays are for me. I pretty much have to tell all my friends that I will be disappearing off the face of the earth between Thanksgiving and New Years. I have been trying to catch up on all my sleep the past few days and tomorrow I am going to treat myself to a massage.
We had a very nice low key Christmas day. We headed to my parents house for Christmas dinner and my little Chloe was nice and spoiled by Santa.
I will be back soon with more blog posts and some fun projects coming up. I’m looking forward to getting back to regular blogging again.
See you back here again soon!

DIY Squash Flower Bouquets


There are plenty of reasons to celebrate with friends and family during the fall season. It seems between Thanksgiving and New Years there are tons of holiday parties to host or attend. This cute floral arrangement uses seasonal squash and flowers and can be used as a centerpiece during your Thanksgiving feast or a fun gift to give to a friend or loved one this autumn.
This is a simple floral project that will take less than an hour to complete. Each squash only cost about $1 each and the flowers came from a simple bouquet from the grocery store. The total cost is less than $20.
Supplies:
Squash, pumpkin or other autumn veggies
Flowers
Optional: glass or plastic containers small enough to fit inside the hollowed out squash

Start by taking your squash and cutting a hole in the top like you are carving a Halloween pumpkin. Take a spoon and scoop out the squash guts and seeds. If you like you can clean off the seeds and bake them in the oven for a tasty treat. Check out my recipe for curried pumpkin seeds I wrote a couple years back.
Next, if you can find a small enough container to fit inside the carved out squash I recommend you place your flowers and water inside this container and place it into your hollowed out squash. I couldn’t find one small enough so I just filled up the squash with water and started arranging my flowers right into the hole. You could also use floral foam and stick the flower stems into the foam for extra stability.
The flowers I used were actually a bouquet I bought from the grocery store for $12. I trimmed the stems of the flowers I wanted to use and had enough to make three bouquets worth with a few extra flowers left over.
The arrangement will last several days. The squash will start to get mushy if it is left out for a couple days so make sure your make your squash bouquets the night before your need them. After the squash has passed its prime you can compost it and transfer the flowers to another small vase.
Of course if you don’t like to get your hands dirty www.freshflowers.com.au/ can send a gorgeous arrangement on your behalf or check out these other fun flower arrangement ideas from my Pinterest page.

Make your own Chalkboard

Home décor items can be expensive. You can save a lot of money by crafting your own art projects and up-cycling old items into something new for your home. Thrift stores are full of outdated and out of style objects that can be transformed into something beautiful and functional with a little imagination and some elbow grease. One item that can be found over and over again at the second hand store is mirrors. You can transform someone’s outdated retro mirror into a functional, trendy chalkboard with just a few inexpensive items from the hardware store. Chalkboard signs hung in your home office, front entry way or kids rooms are always popular and easy enough to DIY in just one afternoon.
Supplies:
  • Mirror
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Paint brushes or foam rollers
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Craft paint or spray paint
Since I am challenging myself to a “Buy Nothing” month this September I actually was able to make this chalkboard only using supplies I already had around the house. The old mirror was donated from a family member and we already had the paint and other supplies from other craft projects! 
First clean your mirror with glass cleaner making sure to remove all dust and residue from the glass. If you plan to paint the frame of the mirror your should give it a light sanding with fine grit sandpaper and wipe it down as well to remove any dust or old paint. In addition to old mirrors, glass picture frames with an interesting frame can be made into a chalkboard too! 
Follow the directions on the chalkboard paint container. You will probably need to apply 2-3 coats of the chalkboard paint in order to get it thick enough. Make sure to let it dry for several hours between each coat to avoid peeling. Apply paint with either a small foam roller or small paintbrush making sure to use long even strokes.
Once the chalkboard paint is dry you can paint the frame if you like. Make sure to tape off and cover the chalkboard area to avoid getting the paint on this area. Use the appropriate paint or spray paint for the surface that you are coloring. Apply 2-3 coats of this paint as well allowing it to fully dry between coats.

Once the chalkboard paint is fully dry and you are ready to hang it on a wall make sure your are hanging it onto screws that are screwed into the studs (use a stud finder) or use screw anchors if you are drilling  into just the drywall. Once your chalkboard is hung you will need to prep the chalkboard surface before writing on it. Do this by rubbing chalk over the entire surface of the chalkboard and erasing it. Then you are ready to use your new chalkboard for making lists, writing notes or leaving sweet messages for your loved ones

Comfort Food: Clean Chocolate Pudding

This blog post is for the ladies. It’s time for some girl talk.  Let’s talk about “that time of the month.”  I don’t know about you but when I get my period I usually want to hide in bed all day and pretty much become a hermit from the rest of the world. Aside from needing more rest I always feel the need for more self-care and I like to take a little time to make myself feel more comfortable. I think many of us get food cravings during the time of our period and of course I love to eat chocolate to make myself feel better. As many of you know, I have been on a journey for the past year trying to lose the weight I put on when I was pregnant. I have lost all the baby weight but I am still working out and trying to eat clean. I don’t want to sabotage all my hard work and progress by pigging out on junk food. It’s difficult when you are craving sweets and chocolate to resist candy bars and other treats. Today I am going to share a recipe for chocolate pudding. It’s not regular chocolate pudding though, its protein packed “clean” pudding. This is a great treat when you want something a little sweet, a little chocolaty but without refined sugar or preservatives. It’s a little thicker than normal pudding. It’s almost like mousse and it is very rich. 
Ingredients: 
2 Medium bananas
5 Tbs Nut butter. You can use peanut, almond or cashew
½ cup of coconut oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
6 Tbs of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of stevia
2 scoop of protein powder (I used vanilla cream flavor but you could use any kind)
Directions: 
Chop up the bananas into small pieces and blend them in the blender or use egg beaters to make them as smooth as possible. Add the nut butter, melted coconut oil and vanilla extract and blend until smooth.
Next add the dry ingredients and continue to blend making sure there are no lumps.
Let the pudding chill in the fridge for a least 30 minutes so the oil firms up. The longer you let it chill the better.
Portion the pudding out into small bowls. Garnish with berries and small mint leaves if you like. This recipe makes 4 servings. 
Recipe adapted from healthyhabits.ca   
What do you do to help comfort yourself during the time of your period?
Inspired by high-performance fabrics, Stayfree® Ultra Thin® pads have flexible layers that move with your body and ThermoControl® technology to wick away moisture. So you’ll stay dry and comfortable. Stayfree.® Keep Moving.™ To get $0.50 off any Stayfree® product, including Stayfree® Ultra Thin® pads, visit www.stayfree.com/special.

Enter for a chance to win a $100 Drugstore.com gift card!
Leave a comment below letting me how you pamper yourself for a chance to win a $100 Drugstore.com gift card!

Sweepstakes Condensed Rules:
No duplicate comments. Your household may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
 2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique
term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
No Purchase Necessary. This Sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 U.S./D.C. age 18 or older (19+ in AL & NE). Void elsewhere & where prohibited. Winners will be selected via random drawing, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules, by which entrants are bound, are available here. This Sweepstakes runs from 9/4-9/30.
Be sure to visit the Stayfree® brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!
Sweepstakes is sponsored solely by BlogHer. Energizer Personal Care LLC is not a sponsor. Sweepstakes is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Twitter.
© 2014 Energizer.     Stayfree and all other trademarks are owned by Energizer.
Bloggers were compensated for creating blog posts in this Stayfree® campaign.