12.28.2015

Christmas Recap

Christmas ended up being everything I hoped it would be, and maybe even better.

We were all excited for the holiday, though Gwen was especially. I did actually let her open a few things early... a few things arrived unwrapped, so I figured, why not?

Modeling her new hooded towel/occasional cape, from Uncle Epie.

Trav had off on Christmas Eve, so we had a relaxing day together. That night we headed out to a nearby park to see the lights they had put up. This is something we'd done for years in Pennsylvania, so it was important to me that we did it here too.


It was beautiful there, and Gwen loved that she got to go down the slide a few times in the dark.

They did a beautiful job!


We got home and got Gwen right to sleep, so that Santa could do his thing.


She was so excited the next morning that he had come, that we had full stockings, and that he had eaten the cookies we left and even written her a note back.


The aftermath...


Gwen got Legos from us, my parent's, and Trav's parents. She is so into Legos right now. In fact, she played with them happily and quietly for the rest of the day!

It was also the year of Star Wars, and we all got something Star Wars related.


Those are my Star Wars socks (Trav got SW socks and boxers, and Gwen got PJs, underwear, and a shirt). I was so lucky to receive things for all of my passions, yoga and doula and Harry Potter.   :-) 



Our friends and family were so generous.

After how rough Thanksgiving was, with Gwen being sad and out of sorts (and therefore acting out), it was really so rejuvenating and such a relief to have Christmas be everything we hoped it would be. We opened gifts, ate cinnamon rolls (like every Christmas morning), watched some new movies, and just enjoyed being together.

It was a truly wonderful day and I'm so grateful for it. Its completely cliche, but I feel so blessed.

I hope everyone else's holidays were just as sweet and fulfilling!

12.25.2015

12.21.2015

Candy Ass and other fun things

I've been having some frustrating times lately. 


But I find myself eagerly anticipating the arrival of Christmas, with its festivities. I'm eager for everything about it. [Side note: its sometimes hard to be the responsible adult, when you really want to yell, "YES GWEN, LETS OPEN ALL OF THE PRESENTS!!!!"] 

I've had a few other exciting things happen/arrive lately that have boasted my spirits as well.

First there was my very own bottle of Candy Ass. Do you want to smell badass and divine? Because this stuff is seriously the best.


Not that I'm biased, since it was designed by my very own Babs... but seriously, I'm currently in my PJs rocking this stuff because I want to smell this way always. Its a steal, and its amazing.



The second thing was that my business cards came in the mail! Now I've had business cards before... but these are for my own business, they are for doing something I love! And they are gorgeous!



Now that's something to be excited about, right?!
(A website logo is in the works too.)

Its good to have little things to get excited about!

12.18.2015

December, Currently

I can't believe that its half way through December already. A week only and Christmas will be upon us. Even though I'm a little late in the game, I've seen these "Currently" post floating around and I couldn't resist giving it a shot this month. There is nothing like the holiday season and the impending end of year to make one wistful and reflective.

So here is where I am in December.

Wishing

Honestly, I'm wishing this Christmas season goes a little more smoothly then the Thanksgiving holiday did. I adore these holidays, but its hard completely changing up what you know. I have high hopes though. While all our traditionss of Thanksgiving revolve around family, Christmas traditions involve decoration, talks about giving, seeing holiday lights on Christmas Eve, and cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. Plus, I'm not going to lie, presents provide a nice distraction.

On a different note, I hope for more gorgeous sunsets like this:


And maybe some awesome doula and yoga teacher stuff from my Wish List under the tree! 

Remembering

Its always interesting thinking back over the past year when December rolls around. More then any year before now, this has been a year of big changes. I find myself thinking of our house, our friends and family, and those we've lost in recent years. Honestly, being so far from what has been your home makes you pretty reflective anyway, so these thoughts aren't new for the past few months... but they are more prevalent this month!

Wrapping

I'm actually done wrapping for the most part, and have been since the first week of December! One or two things left, but we have small pile of pretty things all done up. I love getting done with the Christmas shopping early, if I can, because then I can just enjoy the time leading up to the holidays.


Baking

Everything! There's just something about the weather turning cold that makes me want to bake things, and especially sweet things. My favorite lately are brownies, I can't seem to get enough! Peppermint cloud brownies, to be specific.

Also biscuits, and cookies. Once we get in the new year, I'll have to buckle down and finally find some adjustments to my Irish Soda Bread recipe, to make it high altitude appropriate.

Decorating

Everything! We didn't really put out our decorations for Halloween or Autumn... a time of year I normally love decorating for. It just didn't seem like we had the place for stuff. But for Christmas we found the room. Santas, stockings, and of course, the tree.


We have special towels in the kitchen, and hopefully will pick up some lights for our porch soon. Our apartment is certainly "beginning to look a lot like Christmas..." and I wouldn't have it any other way!


What have you been up to currently this December?! 
Leave a comment and let me know! 

12.14.2015

Homemade and Nothing New Gift Giving


Gifts are a beautiful way to show those you love that you are thinking of them. Its a way to celebrate your love for them, and show them how well you know them. I'm always happy to get people things they need or want, but love having a few extra things up my sleeve for those that don't know what they want. These are especially geared towards those who just don't need any more stuff. Those who are trying to declutter, trying to lessen their footprint, or just don't want more things. 

Christmas is just under two weeks away, so perhaps this comes a little late for this year. But maybe it will be a help for someone looking for a last minute gift, or forward planning for next year.


Nothing New
  1. A Date Night - tickets to a movie theater or a gift card to a restaurant. Added bonus, if they are parents: offer to babysit if you live close enough.
  2. A Night Off - for parents, more budget conscious then above, but same idea, just give them the free babysitting.
  3. E-books for their Kindle - a favorite for readers who don't have any more room on their shelves! 
  4. A Mani/Pedi, with Good Company - schedule a date with you, or with one of their friends, for a little treat for their feet.

When You Really Want to Give Something Physical
(but don't want it to just be more stuff)
  1. Homemade Vanilla Extract - its delicious, super easy, and a great, welcome treat for anyone who bakes. You can find great glass bottles on Amazon. This also makes a great housewarming gift!
  2. Homemade Hand Salve - Again: easy, so lovely, great cute jars on Amazon. I infused my olive oil with rosemary, then used lavender essential oils. It smelled divine! It also lasts forever.
  3. Air Plant "Garden" - no green thumb required for this little garden. These beautiful plants will clean your air, brighten your house, and serve as a great centerpiece.

I've given all of these gifts at various times (other then the air plants, those I want for myself!), and they were all met with much appreciation.
I hope you have a good holiday season, and I hope you get to experience the joy of giving!

12.11.2015

There's Nothing Like Your Mama

My mom recently made the trip out to Colorado for a visit.


Gwen and I were over the moon to see her! (Trav was very happy too, but, you know, its different!) Gwen would steal her away the second she got home, for books and pretend. I enjoyed our mornings together, running errands and just relaxing together. It was wonderful even to do something so normal as watch TV with her!


The Saturday she was here, Trav took Gwen to a movie marathon they had at our apartment complex, so I could take my mom to see Red Rocks. Gwen has been there numerous times, so I wasn't sure she'd be up for any lollygagging.  :-)


My mom loved seeing the iconic Amphitheater and those amazing rocks. (Gwen loved the Star Wars marathon too.)

We also picked up our Christmas tree while my mom was here, and together with Gwenie they did almost the whole tree themselves!


We did some cooking, and treat making, and overall the days my mom was here were full of just a bit more holiday cheer!


Her visit was exactly what we needed to get past the Thanksgiving slump, and was a big pick-me-up for Gwen and I.


I can't wait until her next visit, with my Dad this time, in the spring or summer!

12.07.2015

Coloring... an Adult Pastime

Last month I treated myself to a special little something:


I think you can guess why I was drawn to this one!

It seems everyone has been talking about adult coloring books lately, and for good reason. Coloring has been known to be a calming, relaxing activity. It uses the artistic side of our brains improving creativity, while reducing anxiety and stress. What's not to love about that?!


Coloring is something I've always loved to do with Gwen, but now I can enjoy it more for me as well.


Now to keep Gwen away from my book...

12.04.2015

Caring for Crazy Color: Tips and Tricks

Crazy colored hair can be so much fun. Talk about a conversation starter! I can't tell you how many people I've talked to, where the very first words were, "Your hair is so fun!" Of course, there are nay-sayers too, but we're not worried about them today.  ;-)

I'm sure you noticed in pictures, that I dyed my hair blue (again) back in mid-October. I'm in love with it. If I could choose, my natural hair color would be blue. I went whole hog this time and got it done in the salon, not cheap, so I want this stuff to last.

I figured it might help someone else if I threw all my favorite tips in one spot.

(Thanks to my bff Babs, and my friend John, for indulging my questions; and I would be remiss if I didn't send you to The Dainty Squid, basically the queen of amazing hair!)




Tips and Tricks to Care for your Color: 

1. Channel Your Inner Eminem
Honestly, if you want the true, bright, lasting color... you need to bleach first. I avoided this at first, but my blue was gone quickly. Its a commitment, and you have to treat your hair very kindly afterwards, but its worth it for amazing color.



2. Freshen Things Up Regularly
Find out what dye your hairdresser used and pick some up (or get extra of whatever you're using to DIY). Regularly (I do it once a week - every other week) mix dye and conditioner 50/50, cover your hair in the mixture, throw an old shower cap over that and go watch a movie. This mix will serve the dual purpose of depositing new dye, while also conditioning your hair thoroughly. 



3. Keep It Quick and Cold
After you do your dye mixture, you'll obviously have to wash it out... which brings me to showers. The shorter and colder you can make them, the better. If you just shook your head and frowned while reading that, well know you aren't alone. Long, hot showers are one of my favorite things in the world. But they are murder on color. Hot water opens the hair, releasing dyes faster. Cold water closes and smooths the shaft, keeping color in and making hair look shinier.

There are ways to cheat it a little. When I do the dying, I leave the shower cap on and my head out of the water while I wash my body in nice warm water. Then I turn it down when I pull of the cap and wash it out. I turn it down even more when I do my final rinse on my hair. Brrrr... but worth it. When I'm not dying, I just keep my shower short and lukewarm.


4. Get A Little Dirty
Better then short showers is less showers. Make friends with dry shampoo, head scarves, and ponytails. The less you wash, the better your color will do. Water is bright color's enemy... shower, swimming, etc. So the less you can get your hair wet, the longer you'll get to enjoy beautiful color. 

5. Speaking of Heat...
Heat in all forms is bad for bright color. That means long periods of sun, and all forms of heat styling. Hair dryers, curling irons, flat irons. You can use them, of course, but skip them if you don't need "done" hair; and when you do use them, make sure you have a good protecting product.

6. Watch the Alcohol
Not the stuff you ingest... the stuff in your hair products! Read your labels, check the ingredients, and skip anything with alcohol in it. Alcohol strips hair, and it strips dye. Don't trust that just because its says "color safe" on the label that it is. I found a lovely, thick and creamy, "color safe" conditioner... full of alcohol. I bought it and tried it first, before I checked the label, and it completely stripped my color. Bah.

A few products I love: Trader Joe's Nurture Shampoo (smells great, cleans without over drying), Big Sexy Hair Power Play (volume for dayyyys!), and plain old baby powder! (sprinkle it on roots before bed, it absorbs oils to make you less greasy in the morning).


No matter what you do, you will lose color. But by following these suggestions, you can get much longer life out of your color, and make way less trips to the ($$$) salon. Its been almost 2 months and my color still looks great.

Did I miss anything? What are your favorite tips, tricks, and products?