Friday, April 11, 2014

New Favorites: Vol. 1

Remember when I used to do "Favorite Things Fridays"? I didn't either, but it wasn't that long ago that I did it.  They say the memory is the first thing to go...

Well, anyway, here is the new, revamped version of FTFs, which I'm calling "New Favorites Fridays" because who doesn't love NEW STUFF??

The thing is, I always have a "new favorite" something or other.  But I still have old favorites, like these and this.  It's possible to have old and new favorites all at once, right?  To paraphrase Rachel McAdams in that weird time travel movie (not this one, or this onethe other one; what is it with Ms. McAdams and movies about men who travel through time?), I'm going to go with YES.

New Favorite Place: Charming Charlie in Vacaville - although Vallejo Goodwill is a close second.  I've heard of this store, but until I went in, I had no idea what I was missing.  So much pretty, shiny jewelry. In so many colors. So organized. So inexpensive. It was a rainbow colored dream.  I scored this pretty necklace for only $13.

via (the picture looks really dark for some reason, but it's a pretty bright white)
New Favorite Food:  Chile Colorado.  I made this (with a few tweaks) for my stepdad and me last week when momma was in the hospital, and it was pretty spectacular with some shredded jack cheese, cilantro, sour cream, and brown rice (and not very hard to make).  Too bad I didn't take photos.  I was too busy eating it.

New Favorite Blog:  Aunt Peaches.  My friend and I were searching for a DIY project that I had mentioned, and stumbled across this blog.  As soon as I read the tag line ("Messy. Sparkly. More Fun than a Bag of Possums."), I knew I'd never wanted to read a blog so much in my life.  Her Chrysanthemum Chandelier tutorial (and discussion about Anne of Green Gables spelling the word) is great.


New Favorite Shoe:  These camel leather/black suede wedges from Sole Society.  They're so soft and feminine and comfortable.


New Favorite Cosmetic:  Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Pencil eyeliner in Stash, a pretty olive green and gold shade that I wear almost every day.

I hope you enjoy my new favorite things - maybe one or two might end up being one of YOUR new favorites!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Co-Dependent, or, How I Kissed Shampoo Goodbye - Part II

If you missed yesterday's Tuesday's post and introduction, find it here.  Sorry about the delay.  My camera was having issues.  And also, I hate taking photos of myself.

This is the lowdown on how I switched to the co-wash method, washing my hair only with conditioner.

The morning after washing with conditioner, my hair looked pretty good.  It was smooth, soft, manageable, and had good volume.

However, the next two to three days were horrible.  My hair looked oily and frizzy and heavy all at once and I wanted to shave it all off use shampoo so bad.  SO BAD, you guys.  I resisted the urge, but it was hard.

Thankfully, after about a week, my hair went from super gross to normal to - shut the front door - looking great.  It was smooth, glossy, and had a lot of bounce and movement.
Then after two weeks, something weird and unpleasant happened.  My hair started to feel like straw and I could hardly get a brush through it.  All I could think was - great, I've ruined my hair and I'm going to have to cut it all off AGAIN.  It didn't make sense though; how could conditioner ruin my hair?  

So, I was determined that it could be fixed.  Maybe it was too dry? I slathered my hair in coconut oil for a few nights thinking that might do the trick? But it only got worse.

It was time to turn to the most powerful resource on earth: the internet.  I ran several searches until I got an answer.  Here's what I found:

1.  There are entire forums dedicated to curly/wavy hair, co-washing, no-poo, semi-no-poo, long hair, short hair; you name it. 
2.  Other people have had this problem with co-washing
3.  There are categories, according to, for curly/wavy hair types, based on curl pattern, porosity, density, width, and length.

It turns out that I have type 2a hair - "Type 2a is gently, slightly "s" waved hair that sticks close to the head; it won't bounce up, even when it is layered. 2a hair tends to be fine, thin and very easy to handle. It is also generally easily to straighten or curl. Type 2a hair tends to have quite a bit of sheen."  

Yup, that's me.  I also discovered that I have low porosity hair, which is sensitive to protein buildup. And THAT was the problem - the conditioner I was using has added proteins, and my hair was experiencing buildup! 
I went to Target and bought a clarifying shampoo, as recommended, a deep conditioner (sans proteins), and another washing conditioner that had no proteins - Suave Ocean Breeze (also cheap, HOLLA!).

I used the clarifying shampoo and the deep conditioner for a week, and then starting co-washing with the other Suave conditioner.  All was well again.

All told, I've been using the co-wash method for two months now, and I think I'm going to stick with it.  I have used the conditioner exclusively for a month, and it's never looked better.  It's smoother, the color is more vibrant, and it has a lot more volume.  I have been able to give up all the curl products I had been using and blowing my money on.

Here's a little comparison of my daily hair product usage:

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Anti-frizz serum
  • Mousse
  • Hair spray
  • Curl activation spray
  • Smoothing balm
  • Conditioner
  • Mousse
  • Hair spray (sometimes)
That's quite a difference, no?  I also spend exponentially less money on hair products = WINNING.

 If my waves get out of control, I use a minuscule amount of coconut oil to smoothe them out. Also, I think I need to use the clarifying shampoo once a month to get rid of buildup; otherwise, it's all conditioner-all the time.
All that fuzz on top is new growth.
So what do you think?  Anyone else up for the challenge of breaking up with shampoo?

Please note: This is not a paid endorsement for Suave products or Target.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Co-Dependent, or, How I Kissed Shampoo Goodbye - Part I

I like natural stuff.  I eat organic vegetables and make my own yogurt and drink non-homogenized and/or raw milk. I use baking soda and vinegar in the wash as a fabric softener. I make my own facial toner.  I exfoliate my face with sugar and milk and moisturize with coconut oil.  Let's just say I've been called "crunchy granola" more than once 10 times.

I was researching alternative and natural methods of cleansing my hair without chemicals, and I stumbled across the co-wash method.

The what now?

Co-washing is a method where one washes ones hair with only conditioner, the "co" in "co-washing." Popular with women of color, co-washing has actually been around for a long time.  It turns out that conditioners are a great way to gently cleanse hair, even fine, wavy hair like mine.  This method allows the natural oils in the hair to travel all the way to the ends and trains the scalp to produce less oil, since it's not being dried out by shampoo on a regular basis.  This method is recommended for color-treated hair.

Co-washing also allegedly reduces frizz and the need for frizz-control products.  Since I have a drawer full of those types of products, which are expensive, and only work some of the time, I was happy to find an alternative.

Now here's the challenge:  I have oily hair.  I always have.  I have washed it every day (sometimes twice a day) of my post-pubescent life.  Even dry shampoo is no match for the oil my scalp pumps out.  But since my hair is getting long, the ends dry out if I wash it all the time, no matter how much I condition.  It's a conundrum.

There had to be a way to train my scalp to let up on the oil production.  I've tried other methods, like the baking soda/water method.  It was horrible and turned my hair to straw, which I then had to cut short.  Then there was the time I switched to Wen, and it turned my hair to straw and I had to cut it off.  See a pattern here?  

But conditioner...that couldn't hurt, right?  I decided to give it a try.

See more after the break

Monday, April 7, 2014

Adventures in Thrifting (in Vallejo, No Less)

I went to the Goodwill in Vallejo over the weekend and was delighted to find a lot of really great items.  I only bought what I needed (plus one or two things that I knew I'd kick myself if I left behind), and spent just around $20.

I had a project in mind that I needed some things for, and didn't want to spend a lot of money one, so I thought I'd hit ALL the local thrift stores.  I was a little too ambitious.  Thankfully, my project idea was replaced with a better one, so I didn't go on a second-hand tour of the Bay Area, and only landed at two stores.  I went to the Thrift Center in Vacaville, and promptly left, because most of the items they had were overpriced.

And that brings me to the Goodwill (cue heavenly light and angelic singing).  I've only gone a few times, and I forget how much good stuff I find there.

The truth is, I actually used to thrift a lot, especially around Halloween, but I hadn't in awhile, primarily because I always defaulted to the Eco Thrift Center because it's larger.  But the truth is, that place is a godforsaken hell hole and I hate it.  But the Goodwill ain't bad. Not bad at all.

Especially not this weekend.  Here's a roundup of my finds:

I made out like a bandit with seven of these (I bought all of them) chevron-print magnetic closure boxes that I paid $.99 each for.

And then there was this gorgeous blue 80s art deco-style lamp with the acrylic base that was so big I almost had to drag it behind me.  Did I need a new lamp? No. But I needed this one.  I'm going to paint it, I think.  Or I might not.  Also, it makes me think of the Chrysler Tower.

I also wound up with this cute little vase that's perfect to hold some of the little flowers from my back yard.  Excuse the grody nail polish.

This jar also came home with me.  Hooray for storage jars!

Here are some other cool things  I had to walk away from but thought were pretty interesting.  Also, I got a lot of crazy looks from people as I snapped photos with my phone.  But whatever, I do what I want.

Brass sconces, presumably for...candles? Incense? Um...plants?

Cute little pitcher and bowl, only about 6" high.  It was an old Avon product.  It was adorable, but I didn't need it, even though I have a small number of antique cosmetic jars (including Avon), for reasons even I'm not sure of.

Ceramic jar, about 9" tall.  So cute.  But where would I put it?  I walked away, sadly.  Curse you, shortage of decorate-able surface area in my house!  (and curse you, blurry photo!)

Coffee urn thingie.  Oh how I wanted you!  How how I would have never used you except for decoration, and that just seemed wrong.  Also, the stupid thing kept falling over, and that's a recipe for disaster in this house.

And you, weird Grecian urn/bowl.  I could see you filled with bulbs that I would try to force (and fail doing so).  Or fruit. Or nothing at all.  Or the cat.  She likes small places that are uncomfortable.

There were a lot more interesting little goodies that I turned my back on, but not without some regret, I have to say.

That's the sum total of my adventures in thrifting.  I suspect there will be more to come.

I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell thrifting.

As a little bonus, here are some of the boxes in place in my office.  They're holding ribbon, tape, glue, stickers, and other gift wrapping and craft supplies.

p.s. I've been working on finishing my office, and should have "after" photos really soon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pretty Stool Makeover and Yes, I Still Blog

Oh hey, remember me?

I'm sorry I fell off the face of the earth for awhile.  I've had a lot of projects to do lately (for my day job), which hasn't left me a lot of time to do anything blog-worthy, or to blog about anything at all.

In truth, I was also considering ending this blog.  My readership hasn't grown a lot, but a lot of that is because I don't blog very often.  But I find it hard to blog consistently when I'm wondering if anyone really even reads what I write besides my mom and her friends (hi, ladies!). It's a vicious cycle, really.  And since it's confession time, sometimes I wonder if I really even bring anything special to the blogosphere that's worth sharing.

But I've decided to stick with it, for a lot of reasons, the chief of which is that it motivates me to do projects, and it's been fun to look back at the house and how it's evolved over the last two years, and to look at past trips I've blogged about, and reference recipes I've shared, etc.  I guess what I'm saying is that, even if I"m the only one who cares about what I'm sharing, I'm just going to keep on sharing it.  But feel free to let me know in the comments what you think about the blog, and even what kinds of things you'd like to see me post about besides my silly house projects.  Makeup? Skincare? Natural beauty? Shoes? Recipes? Thoughts on life?

I've taken some time out to tackle some projects and think about what I'd like to share on this blog, and I have some things I'm working on that you'll see soon - like the dining chair makeover project that has finally commenced!

For now, here's a little stool I made over for my bedroom.  It was a thrift store find of my mom's from about eight or so years ago.  She painted it black and recovered it with some pretty red fabric, and I had it under my vanity table for many years.  Unfortunately, I abused it, so the paint was chipping and the batting on the cushion had flattened and the red no longer fit in with my bedroom color scheme.  In short, it was desperately in need of a makeover.

I neglected to take a photo of the complete chair or the cushion before I ripped all the staples out.  Oops.  But here is the sad little chipped black frame before.

And here it is after a coat of spray primer and its first coat of gold spray paint (it needed two thin coats - no drips!).  I used Design Master 24KT Pure Gold and it was great.  It has a soft glow about it, but it's not too shiny or bright.

I didn't take any photos of the process of reupholstering the cushion, but it involved new super thick batting, a staple gun, and a small piece of  Chiang Mai Dragon fabric in Alabaster that I scored from eBay during one of my recent fabric addiction sprees acquisitions.  I've had it for months with the intention of sewing a pillow out of it, but I decided the stool was a better project.

And here it is!  It brightens up my bedroom so much, and I love how vibrant the green, red, and yellow are against the gray walls.

In all honesty, it was the first real DIY decor project I've ever tackled myself.  It wasn't at all hard, but it was intimidating because I always assume I'm going to fail since I'm not particularly crafty or coordinated.  But once I was into the project, it was so much fun to watch it take shape.  I'm so happy with the result and can't wait to finish the other projects on the list for my bedroom so that you can see the final result.  Or at least the semi-final result.

Stay tuned for more projects, and thanks for reading my little blog.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Brace-Off, or, The End of a Journey

It's finally happened. After 11 months and some change, my teeth are Invisalign-free (except for the 3 months of retainers ahead of me).

My cheeks hurt from how much smiling I've been doing.

Thanks for following my Invisalign journey.  I have to say, it was really hard on my confidence to have "braces" for nearly a year as a grown-up.  It was like being that awkward kid in school all over again.  But you know what? It was worth every dollar I spent, every day of plastic trays, every visit to the orthodontist.

I know my teeth weren't all that crazy before, but I was always extremely self-conscious about them - to the point of only smiling on one side, or only allowing my face to be photographed at a particular angle, or hating-to-my-core all photos that showed my snaggle tooth.

But before you think, "sweet mercy, this lady is VAIN!" there were also dental health reasons for me getting my teeth straightened.  Flossing the crowded teeth was always a challenge.  The open bite put a lot of pressure on my back teeth, which caused jaw problems.  It was hard to chew or bite into certain foods.  It really had become necessary.

Anyhow, it's done now.  I think it was a worthwhile investment.  My smile is still crooked, and I still have jaw damage from years of clenching, but I feel like I can smile wide for the first time in my 30-something years on this earth. What a relief!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Dining Chair Makeover Ideas

Remember these groovy cane-back dining chairs that I scored on Craigslist?

I love the chair, but that upholstery is HIDEOUS.  It looks worse in person.  It's a wide-wale gold corduroy.  I bought the chairs with every intention of reupholstering them immediately, but then I couldn't make up my mind what to do with them, so I haven't done anything with them yet.

Paint them black?  White?  A bright color? Leave them wood?  Upholster with a solid color, a print, stripes, something else?  So many choices.

But my mom, who is awesome and knows that I need help starting a project sometimes, has demanded that I set a day for us to start painting the stupid chairs.  This means I have to make a decision.

To help my indecisiveness, I googled "cane back chair" for some inspiration, and was amazed to find a number of similar chairs.  Take a look at some of the goodies I found.

Some black options:

The white chair with the dark table is nice, bright and airy.  I feel like I'm being attacked by that giant ball light fixture, though.


God help me, I'd never paint anything this color or pair it with leopard print, but I entertained the idea of a bright color.  And then stopped entertaining it.


These bad boys are no longer available on One King's Lane, but they were vintage, gilded, and carved, so I'm sure they fetched a pretty penny.


This guy retails for $1,025.  That is literally $1000 per chair more than I paid for mine.  But I like the look of this chair - that dark glossy paint with the animal-inspired print.  We have a winner.


So I made a decision.  I'm going to paint the chairs a high gloss black and use this fabric on the seats.  I ordered a swatch of it several months ago when I was thinking about reupholstering some other chairs that I've since decided to sell (with zero success so far).  I love it - it's apparently 100% cotton, but it has a bit of a sheen and a really tight weave that I think will make it work well in the dining room (i.e., it's wipe-able and won't catch crumbs like the current fabric does).

Want a good laugh?  Here is my unsuccessful attempt at superimposing this pattern onto the chair without Photoshop.  But you can see where I'm going with this.  Imagine the chair is black.  The feet will stay brass, though, because I love them.

We may start painting the chairs this weekend, so I hope to have an update soon.
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