Expirement Expired!

Well, I reached my 1-month blog goal.  I started my blog on December 14 and decided/ordered myself to blog once a day for one month straight.  And now, looking back on my calendar, I am happy to say that I have filled out every day with a blog post from December 14 until today.

Am I above admitting that there were times when I played catch up and posted an article with a backwards date on it to fill a missed day?  No.  That was me.  But am I proud to say I am publishing my 33rd blog post?  Yes indeedy I am.

Take aways:  What did I learn?

I learned that I procrastinate, which is why it earned the number one spot at the top of my new year’s resolution list…I’m determined to stop putting things off.  I am phlegmatic.  I realize that anti-procrastination does not come naturally to me.  But I’m determined to work on it, and at least to stop putting off so many things as I do.  I have always been of the opinion that it’s better to be a little more on the relaxed-side then on the stressed-side when it comes to getting things done.  But what I learned is that the problem is, being too relaxed can lead to stress.  So in any case, I didn’t save myself from stress by being “relaxed” because all I really did was stress myself out by letting things pile up.

I also learned that blogging is fun.  I learned that I like it.  I learned that I don’t want to stop.

But I also learned that less is more.  It was hard for me to create the kind of quality content I wanted because the quantity of the content deadline was getting in my way.  Check out my blogulitions post to see how I plan to rectify the situation.

I think last but not least, I learned that goals are a great thing.  If I hadn’t set a 1-post-a-day monthly goal, I would have half of the posts that I do!  And I wouldn’t know half as much about blogging as I do now.  Setting a goal really pushed me.  But having a goal also kept me from getting overwhelmed.  I didn’t launch the blog telling myself, “Quick, go out there and write big!” but instead I said, “Be committed and give blogging a shot.  Write 1 article every day for 1 month and see how you do.”  It was a goal with a definite limit.  No matter how hard it was to pump out 33 articles, I knew that by January 15, the deadline would be over and I could breathe easy that I had done it.  It was easier to meet that goal because it was specific and doable.  I love goals like that.

So in conclusion, I would like to thank you for being there for me during my experiment.  I’d like to thank you for your readership, supports, comments, and likes.  Thank you for the patience when I didn’t quite get all 31 articles out daily.  They all made it up there eventually, but necessarily on a 24-hour clock.  I really appreciate your time and support with this whole experience.

Last, can you keep reading as my blogging journeys on through 2016?  I have a lot of surprises planned.  I hope by the end of 2016 that my blog is unrecognizable from it’s humble start in 2015…but I hope that I can always recognize the support that is given to me by my readers.  Thanks guys!

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My Eyelash Secret

 

 

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I have three steps that I take in order to make my eyelashes look just how I want them.  The first, a killer mascara.  The second, a hefty amount of coats.  And last…my eyelash secret serum.

I first found out about an eyelash growth serum during my quest for how-to-use-coconut-oil-in-my-beauty-routine.  We all went on that at one time or another, right?  Only me?  Okay.  I’m usually late to the party.  I was watching a youtube video from the beauty guru Carli Bybel and she mentioned that she used the following recipe as an eyelash/eyebrow serum.  I liked the idea, tried out the recipe, watched in amazement as my eyelashes grew 3 feet longer, and batted them a lot more often.  Read and learn and try.  You have to.

You will need:

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Castor Oil, Fractionated Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil

The Secret Serum Recipe

  1. Pour 1oz. of fractionated coconut oil in a small plastic jar (I like using travel lotion bottles).
  2. Pour 1oz. of castor oil into the same bottle.
  3. Add 7 drops of avocado oil into the bottle.
  4. Mix by shaking vigorously.
  5. Clean and wipe dry an old mascara brush.
  6. Dip the brush into your bottle of serum, and stroke onto your (bare) eyelashes the way you would apply mascara. *Bonus: this can be applied to the brows as well!*
  7. Repeat every night for one week to see results.

And you will SEE those results!  Your eyelashes will be longer, definitely thicker, and your mascara will apply more dramatically.  If you do this for weeks and weeks in a row, you eventually just reach a “healthy” point where your eyelashes are as long and thick as they are going to be for a while.  I usually don’t use the serum for weeks on end, because your eyelashes don’t really need it.  I recommend doing it for two weeks straight, then taking a week off, then doing it for a week, and just rotating it into your nighttime beauty routine every other week.

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N.B. It is 100% healthy and will not cause damage to your lashes, eyeballs, or skin around your eyes.

Give this a try and comment how you liked it!!

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What’s in my Diaper Bag

I should actually title this, “What’s in my purse” because I don’t technically carry a diaper bag.  Before I had the baby, or even got pregnant, I promised myself I wouldn’t become a camel once I had children…carrying a purse, diaper bag, snack bag, groceries, and a handful of coats.  Obviously children are COMPLETELY WORTH IT.  But I made it a personal goal to not have to be a camel.  Just a mom.  And so far, it’s been working.

I found a stylish bag (read: I had an unused Vera Bradley in my closet) and decided to use it as both a purse and diaper bag.  My previous purse was really just a tiny clutch, and it could hardly hold a tissue, so I knew I needed an upgrade.  But a Vera Bradley tote bag was the perfect answer to my search.  It is large enough to hold diaper-y things (is that a word?) but stylish enough to just be a regular purse that goes with my outfits.  Sometimes. Vera Bradleys can be a challenge in the matching-every-outfit category.  Oh, and I am aware that Vera Bradley makes a “diaper bag” and it’s really nice…but it’s totally shaped like a diaper bag and is hulking like a diaper bag and so therefore I can’t honestly pass it off as just a purse.  Let’s be real, it has the camel vibe.

This is what I keep in my Diaper Bag/Purse:

-diapers. duh

-wipes. more duh

-one spare outfit for baby.  doesn’t seem like ‘duh’ until you’ve had a blowout at the dentist.  yes, that happened.

-tiny roll of doggy-do trash bags.  perfect for bagging used diapers and masking the smell.

-my nursing cover.

-my wallet…this is a purse after all. 🙂

-cell phone.

-keys.

-lip moisturizer.

-hand sanitizer.

-now I feel bad for writing this because it’s so obvious…but you get the point.

It’s basically all “my needs” and “baby’s needs” without being a ridiculously giant (camel) bag of snacks, toys, blankets, towels, a deck of cards, etc.  You’ve seen those diaper bags.  You know who they are.  You know who you are.  Are you a camel?

For anyone who thinks I’ve distanced myself from the animal class by rejecting camel-hood, fear not.  I’ve embraced the human love-affair with the chameleon.  Try as I might, I still try to get my Vera Bradley to blend in with my outfit.  Good luck to me, it’s fuchsia, pink, and safari sunset paisley.

 

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5 Tips for Feeling Energetic

Have a long list of things to-do but absolutely zero motivation?  Oops did I just reveal something about my day? 🙂  When I need to get stuff done, but don’t really want to, these are my 5 tips for getting that energy pumping.  (And as silly as they sound, I really do them and they work for me).

  1. I put my hair up.  It’s 30ish inches long, and I feel comfy and relaxed with it down.  When it’s up, I mean business.  My roommates and I used to joke that they could “sense” how busy our class schedule was just by popping into my room and seeing that my hair was up.  Time to get homework done.
  2. I put on a fresh beat.  Even though classical music is my favorite, if I need to get something done I put on an upbeat playlist of songs that make me want to dance.  For some reason, wanting to dance = getting things done.  (Word of caution: if what you need to get done is something that requires you to think–i.e. HOMEWORK–then I recommend classical music or maybe silence. Sorry.)
  3. I pour a mug of coffee.  In all honestly, I’m immune to caffeine.  But it’s the hot and sweet sip from coffee that gets me going.  I highly recommend this, or some other yummy beverage that will make the job easier. (Not alcohol guys.)
  4. I write down what it is that I want to get done, because honestly it’s just an innate human response to get satisfaction out of crossing things off the list.
  5. I plan a reward.  Whether it’s another cup of coffee (only kinda kidding) or a relaxing half-hour of browsing pinterest in my freshly vacuumed house, I make sure there is a silver light at the end of the tunnel.  Or is it a silver lining? 🙂  You get it.

What do you do to motivate yourself?

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How to Cure Diaper Rash

Whether it’s caused from a long car ride when baby sat in a dirty diaper too long, or from baby getting hot in her diaper during the 4th of July picnic, the rash is there.  And now that it has set up camp on your baby’s skin, it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere.  And it’s getter worse, fast.  These are some of the ways that I have found are particularly effective in getting rid of diaper rash–and you don’t have to do all of them.  Start with a few and you’ll find what works best for your baby.  And any combination of them will help no matter how bad the rash is.

  • Do not let baby sit in a wet or dirty diaper.  The minute it’s soiled, change it.  This might get expensive, but it makes a big difference.  A lot of diapers come with a little line down the diaper that changes color when the baby soils it.  Use those if you need to, and keep the baby in just a diaper and tee-shirt, so you can see every time the diaper needs to be changed.
  • Better yet, give baby a little bit of time au naturale.  If you can lay down a disposable absorbent pad, or even a waterproof mat, and let your baby air out, it will work wonders for her skin.  This is especially effective if you have a ceiling fan that you can turn on above the baby.  Wetness on the skin irritates the rash, and so letting your baby’s skin air dry will not only comfort baby, but will make curing the rash easier.  (Note: this one can’t really cure the rash, it’s more of a step to take to comfort baby and make the healing process easier).
  • Stop using baby wipes.  Sometimes the scent or even anti-bacterial properties of baby wipes (even the ones that say ‘natural’ on them) can irritate baby’s rash.  Instead, wet washcloths or paper towels with cool water when you need to cleanse baby.
  • Also, only wipe the baby if you have to, meaning if the baby pooped.  You don’t need to use a baby wipe on urine, and over-wiping will greatly prevent the rash from healing.
  • Use baby balm.  But not just any diaper balm!  Regardless of what brand you buy, you will often see 3 “active ingredients” and they are: Zinc oxide, Lanolin, and Petrolatum.  At first, Zinc oxide might seem like the better choice because it has that “medicinal vibe” to it. (Come on guys, puhleeease tell me I’m not the only one who senses that kind of vibe in things).  But I have found that the Lanolin/Petrolatum combination is the winner if you are trying to cure a rash.  Zinc oxide isn’t too bad with preventing the rash, but once it comes, you need to pull out the Lanolin/Petrolatum.
  • Last but not least–avoid scented things: scented baby lotion, scented baby diapers, obvi scented baby wipes, etc…because often diaper rash skin is broken, and those scents will irritate the rash and possibly (likely) sting baby.

I hope this helps!  If you have any more ways that you help your little one shake the diaper rash, share in the comments below!  Happy swaddling.

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Nursing Comfort – Cream Ediiton

Nursing Comfort - The best nipple cream

There’s a lot of writing on nursing (or breastfeeding, as its more commonly called).  There was a particular topic that consistently circulated while I was researching before having my baby: nursing hurts.  Luckily, I found this to to not be true in my case!! I’ve even read from an excellent book put out by the La Leche League, called “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.”  I can’t recommend it enough!  Anyway, something I read that stuck out with me was their passage that stated nursing should never hurt.  They say that almost any mommy and baby team can make nursing work, and so if it starts to hurt, that only means that something is off and needs to be fixed.  I know it sounds like wishful thinking, but I loved the concept that pain doesn’t equal incapability.

In my experience with nursing, it really doesn’t hurt!  However since this was my first baby, for the first two weeks or so I found myself sore during the latching process.  The number one way to ease the soreness is to ensure proper latching and help baby if need be.  But I discovered another way to help myself out!…

Enter the My Brest Friend Nipple Cream! It’s made of natural and organic ingredients (bonus!) and is completely safe for mom and baby.  There is no need to wipe it off before baby nurses, and its clear in color, so no staining anything!  It had a very slight butter smell, but it is very pleasant and relaxing.  What I loved most about it was obviously it’s effects– it is soothing if you’re hurting, but it also is effective at preventing those hurts in the first place.

One word of advice, this cream does “solidify” in a way because it has coconut oil in it.  So it comes out of the tube a little “grainy” which doesn’t hurt when you apply, but it makes it less perfect that a buttery-vaseline type texture.  (Obviously vaseline isn’t a nursing cream).  My advice is to roll the little bit your squirt out in your fingers first to try to warm it.  Once you apply it, the cream will also melt onto your skin, so warming it beforehand is not strictly necessary.  But if the grainy-ness is not your thing, you may want to rub it between your fingers before applying.

I suppose you could just use plain coconut oil–it really does work as a nursing cream!  But if you want something that is easier to carry around then a jar of coconut oil 🙂 then I highly recommend this cream.  Plus, it has a few additions to it that coconut oil doesn’t have…like Shea butter, sunflower oil, mango seed butter, Candelilla wax, and soybean oil.  Those little additions have their own nourishing benefits, and make the cream extra buttery and soothing.

What’s your go-to nursing comfort?

 

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What to Tell your Hairdresser

I don’t mean secrets. 🙂  I just had a wonderful hairperience for the first time in like 6 years.  Finally.  And before I went, I did a lot of research on what to say to my hairdresser.  After my own trip, I narrowed down what is  actually important to say and do if you’re trying something new.

  • Consult, consult, consult.  This shouldn’t be a scissors-in-hand talk.  The two of you should be in front of a mirror talking about what you want, and listening to the feedback of each other.
  • Tell your hairdresser what it is that you want, and bring pictures to demonstrate.  Don’t use words like: short layer, long layer, or thinning out unless you researched what they mean. (I had no idea that some of those words meant something other than what I had always thought!)  Pictures are especially important if you are talking about a color.  Even though colors can be described, they are really a visual thing and nothing speaks louder than words than a picture!
  • Tell your hairdresser what you don’t want, and bring one or two photos to explain.  You obviously don’t need a portfolio of hair you don’t like, but bring a picture or two of a hairstyle/color similar to what you’re asking for, but that falls short of what you want.  I find this helpful because if you’re like me, there is an image in the back of your mind of a “failed” version of what you’re asking for (and you’re afraid your hair might end up looking like that).  That’s the image your hairdresser needs to see.
  • Be honest and realistic about how you take care of your hair, and what you’re willing to do for it.  If you want a textured lob, but your hair is fine and straight and you hate using heat products on it, say so.  Your hairdresser will (or should!) be open with you about if your desired hair will work out, or some options for how to achieve something similar based on how you plan to style your hair on a daily basis.
  • Most of all, don’t be disappointed if your hairdresser steers you away from a fantasy haircut/color you had in mind.  (Or at least try not to be too disappointed!)  It’s better to know it won’t work out before you cut or dye your hair!!  And if your stylist is thoughtful and encouraging, she should be able to come up with an alternative, but possibly similar style/color that will suit your needs.  And in the end, you’ll be happier because it will turn out well!

What do you tell your hairdresser?  Secrets? 🙂

 

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How to Find a Good Hairdresser

It’s a scary thing.  A stranger approaches you with scissors with the intention of cutting your hair.  And whether they are trying something new or maintaining what your previous hairdresser achieved, it’s a nerve-wracking moment.   As someone who just found an amazing hairdresser after 6+ years without one, let me tell you how I did it. PS. If you’re lucky enough to have friends who have amazing stylists, go with their recommendations.  But if you’re an Army wife like me, sometimes we have to sniff out the salon ourselves.

  •      Google local hair salons. Those “yelp” and “google reviews” aren’t necessarily a trustworthy source, but they can steer you clear of a 1-star salon.
  • Lookup the salons on their actual website.  This is helpful because it will often have a section of “our artists” with bios/pictures of the hairdressers.  Never judge a hairdresser by her look, because it has nothing to do with how she will help you achieve your look!  But it helps to read their bios because often they will mention being a “color expert” or a “pixie-cut specialist.”
  • Next look the salon up on social media.  I found Facebook to be most useful.  Not only will you possibly discover a coupon or promotion, but salons often have photo albums of “befores and afters” or portfolios of their various stylists.  A portfolio can tell you a lot about a stylist.
  • Call the salon (or call a few if you’re making comparisons).  The receptionist can’t represent what kind of experience you’re going to have, but it can still help.  A rude or disinterested receptionist might tip you off that the salon isn’t going to be super accommodating or particularly concerned with your concerns.  When you’re on the phone, you can also ask if they have a stylist that specializes in whatever you’re seeking…especially if you couldn’t decide between a few of the stylists.
  • Book the appointment and then trust your instincts!  Don’t worry, booking the appointment doesn’t automatically chop or dye your hair.  You still get to meet your stylist and have the consultation before the cutting begins.

Even though it might sound funny to pick out a stylist before you’ve even visited the salon–I highly recommend it!  A salon might seem great, but its the hairdresser that counts.  You will feel a lot more comfortable trying out a stylist if you know something about them and what they specialize in.  This is what I did, and it helped me find the perfect hairdresser for the hairstyle I was looking for!

 

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My First “Real” Haircut in Like 4 Years

I got my first “real” haircut after a long period of at-home trims!  Nobody is probably that surprised…that’s something we all do, right?  Umm…except me.

I don’t like getting my hair cut professionally.  I’ve had far too many bad experiences.  Sometimes “bad” simply means annoying.  Like I find it really frustrating when the hairdresser takes my hair clips out, lets down my 30ish inches of hair and looks disappointed in me.  I get the look of you-know-hair-isn’t-meant-to-be-this-long.  Or worse I’ll get a quippy comment from her, when she’s hoping we take off a lot and when I say all I want is a trim, she looks skeptical like my hair seriously needs a whack.  But often “bad” just means that the hairdresser doesn’t listen to me and cuts off more than I asked for because she thinks it will look good.  But it doesn’t look good because 1) I didn’t ask for it and therefore I don’t think it looks good when she improvises 🙂  2) she doesn’t add any kind of texturing style, just a simple whack.  Hair doesn’t look good whacked, in my opinion.

So here is an honest confession: I usually just have my husband trim my hair.  He is very even with the scissors, and he is even less willing for me to lose inches than I am. haha So I can always trust him to do a good job and I appreciate the time he takes to make me feel like my hair looks good.  I haven’t had a “good” experience with a hairdresser in over 6 years.  So I stopped going.

What exactly prompted me to get it professionally cut?  Because I wanted something “different.”  I love having long hair, but long hair = old hair and old hair = thin ends and thin ends = not what I wanted anymore.  I wanted something with a bit of body to it, and maybe a shape at the ends.  Different from what I currently had.  So I researched and panicked and pinned and then finally made the phone call.  I looked extensively at hairdressers’ portfolios online and that’s how I found Maral.  She had quite a few “before and afters” for long-haired girls that didn’t simply mean: before=long, after=chopped to the neck.  So I liked her.

When the day came, my stomach hurt so bad.  I was so nervous.  I was more scared to get my hair cut then I was for most of my O.B. appointments.haha  I had my phone loaded with pins of what I wanted and some horror pins of what I didn’t want.  My teeth might have been chattering a little bit.

When I met Maral and sat in her chair, everything changed.  She was so amazing.  She said she was a “hair realist” and liked to tell people the truth about what would work/look good and what wouldn’t.  When I explained that my length was crucial to my emotional state of being, but that I was tired of straight, super long, possibly prone to drying-out hair, she was honest and encouraging.  She said my hair was healthy, but that she agreed since it was long (equals old ends, see above) that my hair was thinner at the bottom.  She said I couldn’t achieve voluminous ends to my hair if it stayed 30 inches.  Apparently all my pinterest pics were deceiving me with extensions.  She said nobody can have 30 inches of hair that has the same volume/thickness from roots to ends.  She also recommended against getting layers, since that would thin my hair out more.  (I have very straight hair, so they weren’t going to curl voluminously).  The kicker was that I said since I have a newborn that I really only wanted wash-and-go hair, and that I wouldn’t have time to curl it.  She said if I had time to use hot tools, I could achieve some really pinterest-y hair, but since I didn’t want to do that, then I should stay simple.

In the end, she said what would look “different” but stay easy was simply framing my face.  It barely BARELY took out any “volume” because she thinned less than an inch collectively on either side of my part.  She shaped the back in a U/V kind of way, just to avoid the “little school-girl straight-across thing that has gotten people to ask me if I’m thirteen.”  A scary thought.  She said I should start with that for now because it wasn’t a huge commitment, but would make me feel “different” when I brush it in the mirror.

Moral of the story:  Maral is wonderful.  Getting your hair cut can be okay.  Long hair can still be “different.”  I can do this. 🙂

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My Favorite Mascara

 

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If you want long, thick, luscious lashes, look no further.  I have tried brand after brand after tube after tube after coat after coat…nothing has held up the way that my go-to mascara does.  It delivers every time without fail, and I love the way it turns out.  A bonus too is that one bottle lasts me quite a while–up to 3 months!

My dream mascara: the L’Oreal Telescopic Carbon Black Mascara.  It gets me every time.  I just love it.  It has a thin, tube-y brush and a silky, thick ink that builds quickly and beautifully.  It adds length and density to your eyelashes.  I love how the brush separates your eyelashes to intensify their length, without making them look too wispy and thin.  The ink thickens your eyelashes without clumping them the way runny mascara does.  It is literally eyelash perfection in a bottle!

To achieve a particularly voluminous and long lash, I typically put on 4-5 coats.  When I say “coats” I don’t mean one stroke and then waiting for it to dry.  I mean that I run the brush over my lashes a few times, do the other lash, then go back in for a second coat…etc.  If you don’t like super thick lashes, then I would still recommend this mascara, but just with less coats.  It still looks amazing with just a few strokes.

When you first open the tube, you might be a little surprised by the thin and unexciting looking brush.  It doesn’t seem like it will do much.  But really, it works miracles!  Give it a try and put on a generous amount–a couple coats.  You will be stunned and I know you’ll look beautiful!

What’s your go-to mascara?

 

~Read my second post about my favorite mascara here~

~And read my secret to long eyelashes (besides this mascara) here~

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