March 2009


I read this review on the new blow dryer, Emi Airwave.

Has anyone used this?  The lady reviewing it has thick, curly hair.  I—unfortunately—-have thin, wavy hair—and it’s the ugly waive (one here, one there, cowlick here, cowlick there…).  So, I’m wondering how it would work for my hopeless hair!  Let me know!

“The Best Thing That Ever Happened to My Hair

This is a post I originally wrote for the Blissful Style Channel of Blissfully Domestic – my other gig. I am re-posting it here because I am very excited that I am going to be on the “Try It Before You Buy It” segment of our local news show 10 Connects at 4 PM today. I will link the video here once it goes live. Link. Let me know what you think, and people, BUY THE BEST DRYER EVER!

blissful style The Best Thing That Ever Happened To My Hair

I recently made peace with my long, wavy hair, and by made peace I mean surrendered long after I had been soundly beaten. Despite the unrelenting nature of my hair’s innately thick and wavy texture, I have been blowing it out and straightening it since junior high, and before that I made my mother do it.

My earliest beauty memory is clutching a bottle of new shampoo as a child and hoping against hope that it was this particular bottle that would finally transform my wild mop into the shiny and sleek tresses of a golden girl. I wanted straight hair, and always have. That shampoo bottle did not contain the magic potion, and I have spent the last three decades being easily seduced by every new appliance and product being peddled by the hair care industry in search of it.

When the flat iron came around, I thought I had finally been given the key to achieving the hair of my dreams. With no small investment of time and amount of hair product du jour I was able to get my hair as straight as a supermodel’s. For about five minutes. I live in Florida, the land of humidity and hurricanes, so good hair days for me are few and far between.

One day about six months ago I just couldn’t fight nature any longer and started letting my hair dry naturally, about a three hour process. My friends and family let me know right away they liked my wavy hair and, oh yeah, I looked ten years younger. Gaaaaaahh!  Still, I wasn’t content and I felt my hair always looked a little homespun.

A week ago my life changed forever. I read about a strange new hair dryer by Remington called the Emi Airwave Anti-Static Style System. Allegedly, this hair dryer would spin and smooth your hair into perfectly styled waves in a fraction of the time without so much as a brush needed. Yeah, right. I raced to Target to get it. See above problem with hair products.

Remington Emi Airwave Hair System

Remington Emi Airwave Anti-Static Style System

After reading the directions, I got started on what I figured would be another shameful chapter in my hair saga. See the attachment tube? I separated a section of hair at a time, turned on the dryer, and dropped the ends of the hair sections into the tube. A vortex of air sucks the hair in and spins it round and round, drying it from the roots to the ends into a perfect curl.

When all of the sections of my hair were dry a mere eight minutes later, it looked like I had smooth dreadlocks, a look I hadn’t really considered at this stage of my life. After letting my curls set for a minute or two, I finger-combed each section apart and checked myself out in the mirror. Holy hairnet! My hair looked amazing. The curls were perfect and I looked like I had just come from the salon. Shower to done in about 10 minutes, with an actual hairstyle. Life changing!

blissful style The Best Thing That Ever Happened To My Hairblissful style The Best Thing That Ever Happened To My Hair

I am in awe of how well this hair dryer works. It’s got the necessary 1875 watts, speed and heat settings, and uses ionic and ceramic technology. Of course, this level of fabulous comes with a steep price. You’re going to need $24.99. Update: It’s on sale at Target right now for only $22.99. Can you even believe it? Get thee to a Target immediately! I’m sure there’s going to be a run on these things once the word gets out.

It is impossible to overstate how amazing this dryer is. Unless I were to tell you this is my “after” picture.

blissful style The Best Thing That Ever Happened To My Hair

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All winter I have been collecting my food scraps for my compost that I anticipate using this spring (if it would stop snowing!).  I knew I wanted to use the compost for my lawn, but wasn’t quite sure how to go about doing this (since my lawn is already established.  Here’s what I learned from kingcountry:

“Composting


Unlike the air we breathe or the water we drink, soil is often overlooked as an essential element in a balanced, sustainable environment. But healthy soil is critical for good air and water quality and the health of our lawns and gardens. In the Pacific Northwest, the top layer of soil is thin. And in many yards, construction and years of neglect have removed any trace of healthy soil, leaving only poor soil behind. Learn how you can improve your soil and how composting can restore soil to make plants grow and yards healthy.

Compost is a natural organic material that is produced when leaves, plant residue, grass clippings and other yard waste break down over time.

Organic materials decompose in nature to feed soil and make it healthy. You can imitate nature in your own yard by composting your yard waste and kitchen waste. Compost is used as a soil amendment rather than a fertilizer because its nutrients become available slowly. Worm castings, is a nutrient rich top dressing and soil amendment, which provide nutrients for your plants in a form the plants can use as needed. Apply two to three inches of worm castings to your soil as a top dressing in small areas of your garden to feed the plants and nurture their growth.

You can buy compost and worm castings or make your own:

  • Buy bagged compost and worm castings during the Northwest Natural Yard Days promotion
  • Buy a compost bin online (external)
    King County Solid Waste Division sponsors online compost bin sales for up to 29% off retail prices. The compost bin sales are offered year-round.

Benefits of Composting

  • Encourages the growth of earthworms and other macro-organisms, whose tunneling makes room for water and air
  • Provides nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur and micro-organisms that are essential for plant growth
  • Acts as a glue, holding water and soil particles together, and makes soil resistant to erosion
  • Binds itself to polluting metals, pesticides and other contaminants to prevent them from washing into waterways or being absorbed by plants
  • Suppresses soil-borne diseases and plant pathogens (a number of plant and lawn diseases are suppressed by micro-organisms found in compost)

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Using Compost


How and where should you use compost?

  • Topdress lawns: Spread a thin layer of compost (about a half inch) on your lawn during the spring or fall. This technique works best if you first aerate the lawn.
  • Plant gardens: Mix compost to a 10- to 12-inch depth before each year’s planting.
  • Mulch with it: Place a several-inch-thick layer of mulch around plants to limit weed growth, reduce evaporation, keep soil temperature even and reduce soil erosion.

Mix in organic matter with existing soil before planting perennials or lawns, each time garden beds are replanted and when dividing perennials or repotting container plants. Sandy soils need more compost than do clay soils.

How much compost should you use?

Amounts vary for compost use, and it is possible to use too much. Below are some general guidelines based on 100 square feet of planting area. Check with your local nursery for specific directions.

  • New lawns: Mix compost at least 6 inches but preferably 8 inches deep as follows:
    • clay soils – 8 cubic feet = 1-inch layer of compost
    • Sandy soils – 13 cubic feet = 1-½-inch layer of compost
  • Established lawns: Spread a ½-inch layer and rake in; grass should be standing up, not bent over or buried, when finished. Mixing grass seed with compost encourages new growth.
  • New and established gardens: Mix compost to a 10- to 12-inch depth as follows:
    • clay soils – 16 cubic feet = 2-inch layer of compost
    • Sandy soils – 24 cubic feet = 4-inch layer of compost

For very poor, unhealthy lawns, you may want to consider starting over. For a list of local laboratories that can test the amount of sand, silt and clay in your soil, call the Washington State University/King County Extension at 206-205-3100.

Improve Poor Lawns

1. Aerate to improve root development.

Aerating your lawn in the spring or fall will improve root development and water penetration. Aeration removes little plugs of sod and dirt from the lawn and allows air under the lawn. You can rent an aerator, or get a yard service to aerate for you.

2. Overseed thin areas.

Overseed, after raking or aerating to expose soil, with a perennial rye/fine fescue mix designed for Pacific Northwest conditions. Talk to a knowledgeable nursery-person or contact Cooperative Extension for seed recommendations. A light application of “starter” fertilizer can help the seeds grow quickly and crowd out weeds.

3. Top dress to with compost.

Rake in 1/4 to 1/2 inch of compost to cover the seed and improve the soil.

4. Mulch mow, Once new grass has been established, use a mulch mower to leave clippings on the lawn where they will provide an immediate benefit.

A mulch mower chops up clippings into tiny bits and blows them into the lawn where the moisture from them feeds and waters the lawn each time you mow.

5. Repeat annually.

Repeat these steps annually, as needed, and your lawn will be dense and healthy.”

I LOVE this craft, what a great gift or craft to do for your kids!!!  I will definitely add this to my list of crafts to make soon!!!  Thanks lovelydesign for this tutorial!

“homemade children’s books

These books are so incredibly simple and quick to make that I hope maybe you will make some for your little ones, too. They’d be great to kept in a small bag along with some crayons, ready for when you go out to a restaurant or coffee shop. Hopefully they can keep little ones occupied for even a short while!

monkey and dolphin books in + out by you.

Lately I’ve been wondering what to give to Adelaide’s little friends at her birthday party this coming Sunday. I really am not fond of purchasing items that are eventually going to end up in a dumpster somewhere, and so I wanted to try to give the children something that hopefully they will be able to use and enjoy beyond a sunday afternoon birthday party. And I also wanted to try and make the goodies myself using inexpensive materials that I had on hand.

Because I’ve had several parents ask me about Adelaide’s favourite crayons – a kind of children’s wax and oil based crayon from Japan – I got the idea to give out small packs of these crayons in the birthday goodie bags. And then I realised that I could make small children’s scribbler books to go along with them!

To make the scribble books, I first scanned in some animals from the pages of one of Adelaide’s colouring books that I picked up at Daiso for $2 but it is completely unmarked besides pictures and a bit of Japanese text. I wish that I made the illustrations myself – they are so very sweet! However, I did not due to lack of time and because these little books are for gifts and won’t be sold.

note-books for first scribbles by you.

After scanning in several animals – Monkeys, Dolphins, Squirrels, Lions, Otters, and Penguins – I made a layout simply in photoshop using the typefaces Giddyup and Neutraface. And I added alphabets in both capital and lower-case letters on the back cover, too. Once Designed, I printed out on my desktop printer many covers onto random coloured card stock pages.
For the insides, I chose simple multi-coloured paper, along with some kraft, manila, and interlined paper as well. I randomly sorted them in stacks of 8 sheets, and along with a cover folded them in half to make 16 page books. Then, using a long-armed stapler (which I simply asked to borrow from my mom’s work for a few days) I stapled the center fold line of each book twice.

I then added a length of librarian’s book tape to the spine. With an xacto knife, I measured out 3/4″ from the spine edge of the cover and marked two small marks with the blade. Then matching up the edge of the tape to the marks I laid the tape down, and then flipped and pressed it to the backside of the book. Last, using my Fiskars rotary paper cutter, I trimmed down the books to their final size – about 5×7″- and rounded the corners with my corner rounder. All Done!”

Hopefully this will give you a fun craft to do before you go on vacations this summer!

briar-3

My friend who is currently going through the adoption processes let me in on this gal who is also going through the process to adopt a little girl. Here’s what she said:

“Hi Friends,

As part of our adoption journey we’ve been able to connect with some amazing people who are also going through this process.  One of these family’s is the Deckers (Shelley and Robert).  They are just a few numbers behind us on the girl’s waiting list!  In an effort to raise funds for their adoption she started making hair accessories for girls.  Her website is below and is full of adorable, affordable cute accessories.  Some of you may not have girls yet, but I figure we all go to baby showers and need fun gift ideas.
For those of you who already have a barrette maker in your life, feel no pressure to switch- this is just a great way to help a family through the process of adoption!

www.briarclaire.etsy.com”

Also feel free to check out their blog for more information at http://asisterforthebean.blogspot.comHer website is full of cute, CUTE barrettes (some crocheted!) for GREAT prices.  BUT, on top of that (and helping a GREAT cause), through tomorrow, March 27, 2009 she is offering a buy 3 get the 4th free—-with no limit!!!  She also takes off the tax for shipping for that item.  What a great deal!!!  Go check her out!!!

briarclaire-barrettes1briar-2


Check out this great doll house craft from Dollar Store Crafts.  Now you can design your doll house to look like your dream home!  And the best part is, it’s FREE!!

Make a Dollhouse Out of Catalogs

How cute is this little girl?!

How cute is this little girl?!

Reader Leanne at SeetheWoodsandtheTrees made an adorable little dollhouse with her daughter using recycled catalogs and magazines. This is so cute! I love the little clothesline. This project is a great way to use up extra cardboard and other stuff you have lying around. Your child will love using his or her imagination in this innovative dollhouse!

Project Estimate:

  • Recycled cardboard, on hand
  • Glue stick or other glue, on hand
  • Scissors, on hand
  • Home catalog or magazine, on hand

Total cost: FREE

Thanks to Care2, here are a list of the most contaminated with pesticides produce items.  This helps us who can’t afford to buy everything organic to know what to avoid, or is okay to buy conventional.  Here you go:

What to Avoid in Spring Produce

“What a world-gone-crazy time it is when you can write “produce” and “avoid” in the same sentence. In my version of paradise we don’t need lists to tell us what not to eat because of pesticide contamination, thanks to a spiraling out-of-control food system. But here we are, with the newly published 5th edition of Environmental Working Group’s (EWG)  Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides, which includes the latest government data.

You have probably seen the guide before; it lists 47 popular fruits and vegetables in ranking of pesticide contamination and helps you know which produce to buy organic, and which conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables are okay if organic isn’t available. An EWG simulation of thousands of consumers eating high and low pesticide diets shows that people can lower their pesticide exposure by almost 80 percent by avoiding the top twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated instead.

According to EWG, every year new research is published demonstrating the toxicity of pesticides to human health and the environment, often at doses previously declared “safe” by the pesticide industry and the government. As acknowledged by the U.S. and international government agencies, different pesticides have been linked with a variety of toxic effects, including nervous system effects, carcinogenic effects, hormone system effects, and skin, eye and lung irritation.

Ideally, for the environment, we’d all choose organic all the time. But for many that’s not realistic, so this list can be very helpful in guiding you to make the healthiest choices available to you. You can download the full list of the 47 at EWG. I have compiled a cheat sheet here of what to look for in your spring produce shopping. The rankings are listed in the parenthesis. Out of 47 items tested, 1 is the most contaminated and 47 is the least.

Buy Organic or Don’t Buy: Five spring items with the highest pesticide loads
Strawberries (6)
Lettuce (9)
Carrots (11)
Spinach (14)
Potatoes (15)

Aim for Organic, But Conventional Will Do: Four spring items with the lowest pesticide loads
broccoli (35)
sweet peas (41)
asparagus (42)
onions (47)

If you can shop at a farmer’s market, remember to ask the vendors about their pest management philosophies. Many farmers are unable or unwilling to file for organic certification but still practice organic, or almost organic, methods. It can be a good way for safer eating without the organic label.”

5 Pesticide Foods to Avoid

1. Peaches. Conventionally farmed peaches are number one because so many pesticides are needed to grow them. Plus, their skin absorbs much of it infecting the flesh with carcinogenic chemicals that far outweigh the peach’s natural health benefits.

2. Apples. Apples are often grown in mid-western states where they are not native and as a result have not developed natural defenses to predators. Because of this, they are treated with many harmful pesticides that seep into the peel. You can always peel your apples but will lose a third of the nutrients and some of the flavor.

3. Sweet Bell Peppers. This vegetable has the highest likelihood of containing multiple pesticides, as many as 64 found on a single sample.

4. Celery. As this vegetable has no skin, the pesticides are absorbed directly into the plant. Scrubbing doesn’t help so it’s best to only buy this fresh and organic.

5. Strawberries. Their skin doesn’t absorb as much as a peach but because they are small, we don’t often wash them as carefully as we should. According to the The Organic Trade Association more than 371 pesticides are approved for use on U.S. strawberries and because they grow so close to the ground are also subject to the chemicals used on soils.

Here’s a great idea on how to teach kids to tie their shoes from Blissfully Domestic.  I remember trying to learn how when I was a kid, and it was so frustrating to me—this would have made a difference I’m sure.  Now I just need to figure out which story to tell! ;D

special needs Tips and Techniques: Tying Shoes

“Learning to tie their own shoes is a childhood milestone that kids normally learn to do by kindergarten. Not so with many special needs kids. It may be an issue of delayed motor skills, visual perception deficits, processing delays, or a physical disability that keeps them from achieving this.

When my autistic son’s occupational therapist began working with him on tying shoes, he couldn’t even comprehend the concept and it frustrated him beyond belief. And I thought she was crazy for even trying. As it turns out, there’s a reason she’s the therapist and I’m not.

It was as if God said to me, “See how he thinks? See how life seems to him?”

She then introduced a shoe with two different colored laces, and watching the comprehension unfold on my son’s face as she showed him the process again was amazing. Now that he could distinguish them, he could visually process where the laces were supposed to go.

It was a light-bulb moment for me, as well. How much else in his mind seems all jumbled and smashed together because he can’t distinguish the different parts? It was as if God said to me, “See how he thinks? See how life seems to him?” I realized that we need unravel things for him and make them more easy to comprehend on so many other levels.

The shoe-tying technique that our therapist taught us was a great one, and I’d like to pass it on.

Buy two sets of shoelaces of different colors. Cut them down to make each color half as long as the shoelace needs to be. Tie the opposite colors together making two shoelaces of equally different colors.

Buy two sets of shoelaces of different colors. Cut them down to make each color half as long as the shoelace needs to be. Tie the opposite colors together making two shoelaces of equally different colors.

Lace the shoe normally with the newly tied-together shoelace.

Lace the shoe normally with the newly tied-together shoelace.

The child can then easily see the difference between the laces while learning to tie them, making it easier to visualize the process.

The child can then easily see the difference between the laces while learning to tie them, making it easier to visualize the process.

Success with less frustration!

Success with less frustration!”

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