Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February Visiting Teaching Message: The Lost Sheep

Of all the names of the Savior, my personal favorite is the "Good Shepherd." I have already written about it; it was my message in December (I had no idea the theme would be repeated this month.) So this month, I wanted to focus on those of whom the Good Shepherd seeks...the Lost Sheep.

From this month's message we read, "We too can hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and share His teachings with others. President Monson said, 'We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children.' There are those that are lost. There are those that have wandered. We can be the Savior's hands and help rescue them.

President Thomas S. Monson recently admonished, "For Latter-day Saints, the need to rescue our brothers and sisters who have, for one reason or another, strayed from the path of Church activity is of eternal significance." ("Our Responsibility to Rescue", Ensign, Oct. 2013.)



How do we help to rescue those that are lost? The late Elder Joseph B. Worthlin said, "This work of reclaiming the lost sheep, as Jesus so vividly expressed it, must receive top priority...We must use kindness, patience, long-suffering, love, faith, and diligence. They must feel our genuine concern and untiring love." I love the last phrase in that mandate, untiring love. I think that captures the essence of what we must do. We must truly show and have untiring love for those that are lost. They need to be loved back into the fold, not forced or coerced.

Last of all, Jesus said, "my sheep know my voice." Do we speak the Savior's words, do we say what He would say? Do we reflect His love and the love of our Heavenly Father for his children so that when His sheep hear us, they hear Him?





The Princess Talk


The Princess, Lily.

The Princess Phase. This has never happened to me before as a parent. As a child, I remember the phase well, but mine was more of a "Ballerina phase" since Disney's princesses were just in their infancy. My first daughter, came after two boys. Elated to finally have my girl, I painted her room pink and prepared for girlyness. It never came. Although draped in pink from the moment she was born, she has always been a tomboy. Disappointed at first, I have come to love my little tomboy; her ability to tumble with the boys, run faster than all of them and her hilarious sense of humor colors our home with her brilliance. I was inspired to name her Rae, and appropriately so, because she has been our ray of sunshine. But our tomboy is not all rough, she has a soft and nurturing side too. She can be full of energy one minute and then a puddle of love in my arms the next.

Rae doing what she does best, running so fast her feet barely touch the ground.


And then it came. And I thought I was ready for it. My 4th and final child, was born a little princess. All girl right away, our Lily showed us that truly, some things are just innate. Like loving purses and nail polish and sparkles. I was like that, which was why I unwittingly assumed all girls were like that to one degree or another, and why I assumed I was ready for it. But here she was in all her GIRL GLORY saturated in Disney Princess culture, and I wasn't ready for it. It was easy for me, fun even, to paint her nails, dance in the kitchen like a ballerina and sing her princess songs. But what I wasn't prepared for was what all the princess stuff started to do to her self-worth.

My little mini-me.

I noticed it one day while I was in the bathroom in the morning putting my make-up on. She was mimicking me, putting on her pretend make-up. Then I started to do my hair. Like a reflection she began to do the same. Once I was finished, she closed her make-up purse and looked at me. "Am I pretty momma?" she asked. "Yes of course you are," I answered, but I felt unsettled.

Then a little later in the day, as is a usual occurrence for her, she put on her favorite princess dress and then asked again the question, "Am I pretty momma?" She had asked this question many times before, but for some reason today, it made me stop. It made me stop and think hard about why she was asking that question and what the answer meant to her. This 4 year old wanted nothing more in life at that moment than to look pretty and to be like one of the Disney princesses.

Now, lest I sound like a feminist (nothing wrong with that) or a Disney hater (nothing wrong with that either) I want to inject a thought. I do not think it's Disney's fault for creating a culture of girls obsessed with being pretty. I know the princess thing can seem out of control. But, I am the one who bought the movies, the dresses, the dolls. I am the one who took her to Disneyland to stand in line for an hour to meet Rapunzel and get her autograph.

So you can see, I do not think it's the princesses that made her feel this way. Disney princesses, for example, have absolutely no magical hold upon my oldest daughter who could care less and has had the same exposure and stood in the same line at Disneyland. This young generation of girls know something deep inside their being...it is a truth that draws them to the idea of being a princess. Their spirit remembers their heavenly nobility, they know something of royalty. But as they are drawn to the familiar story of the fairy tale, what is the narrative we are giving them? What is the meaning we are showing them? What is their ending?

I realized that I was the one to blame for not having instilled within my daughter a better meaning. I hadn't given her a sense of worth that went beyond her pretty face. It wasn't the Disney exposure that made her feel like being pretty was the most important thing, it was me not exposing her to other role models and praising her more often for how smart and kind she is. For Rae it was easy. Rae showed an interest in Olympic athletes, reading novels about smart and funny girls and we often praised her for her sense of humor and athleticism. It was easy to focus on other things with Rae because she didn't focus on the girly things. But with Lily, it would take conscious effort. But I knew, at that moment, that I needed to change my approach. My husband agreed. And I had, what I now call, "The Princess Talk" with my daughter, that I hope every aspiring princess has with their mother or, even better, their father. (Keep in mind this is my conversation with a 4 year old, it would sound different depending on the age of the girl.)

It came to me in a flash, in that same moment, after she asked me if she was pretty.

"Yes, but do you know what's more important than being pretty?" She looked at me confused, as if to ask what could be more important than that.
"No," she answered, obviously stumped.
"Being nice. Being nice is more important than being pretty. Because when you are nice you look pretty from the inside. When you are mean it makes you an ugly person." She looked at me, deep in thought."You know what else is more important than being pretty?"
"What mommy?" she was now very anxious to hear the answer.
"Being smart. Learning to read is more important than being pretty. But you know what is even better than that?"
"What, mommy, what!?" she inquired with real enthusiasm.
"You are a daughter of God. You are Heavenly Father's little girl and He loves you. He wants you to be happy and He wants you to be good and nice and He loves you even when you are not acting very pretty. He loves you no matter what."

Her face lit up as if something inside her began to spark. She knew what I was saying was true, and she felt it in her heart. She smiled and hugged me. And then off she ran, to play with her tea set and dolls as if nothing had happened. But something did happen. She learned what makes her beautiful and she learned that as a daughter of God she has infinite, unchanging worth.


We have had many conversations since then like that, and we will continue to have them. I make an effort that, although she may look adorable all dressed up in her princess clothes, to compliment her on other things than her looks. She is a pretty little girl. She gets lots of compliments from other people about how pretty she is. But as her mom and her dad, we choose to focus on her inner strengths. Because behind every pretty face is a precious spirit of our Heavenly Father, filled with potential, talent and abilities. She needs to know and remember that. Heck, as a woman, I need to remember that.

It's not how we look in the mirror that determines our worth. We are precious, everyone. We are all princesses in a way that exceeds our earthly imaginations. We have a Heavenly King as our Father. He cares so much about us and our happiness. He wants us to focus on what makes us beautiful inside; being kind, comforting and helping others, making the world a better place. What is more beautiful than a mother's tender touch, the hand that lifts the feeble or the woman who provides relief to the suffering?

Lily (and Rae) when you are grown I hope you read this. I hope you know the things that make you pretty.

So to my girls and all the girls who read this, I would ask you, "are you pretty?"

Travelogue: Salt Flats

My family and I spent President's Day at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah near the Nevada border. I have seen pictures of the flats before, but it is something you have to experience and see for yourself to appreciate the beauty. It is truly one of the most unique places I have been to. Unfortunately, I left my big camera at home, so all the photos are taken with my iphone.

We started off at a little rest stop before the actual flats where you can see the Salt Lake covering the flats like sheets of glass. It was absolutely stunning.









Friday, February 7, 2014

The Miracle of Prayer


I came across this quote last night while reading "Jesus the Christ." It made me think how blessed we are to have prayer, that we can talk to our Father in Heaven any time we want. But what happens following prayer is even more amazing to me. Watching miracles unfold in ways that could never be imagined, to see what could be passed off as coincidences if not viewed with an eye of faith, to see hearts soften, loads lightened and stumbling blocks turn into stepping stones, is when the miracle of prayer is really made manifest.

I have also been reading in Mosiah, in the Book of Mormon, which tells of a people who were once wicked under the reign of a tyrannous, idolatrous king but repented after being enslaved by their enemies and having a righteous king take the stead of his wicked father. The people were humbled by their enslavement and began to seek out their God for help. But an interesting thing happens. It says that, "the Lord was slow to hear their cry because of their iniquities; nevertheless the Lord did hear their cries, and began...to ease their burdens; yet the Lord did not see fit to deliver them out of bondage." (Mosiah 21: 15, Italics added.)

Because of their wickedness (they killed a prophet by fire, and lived riotously) the Lord was slow to hear their prayers....but He did hear them. Heavenly Father knew that they still had some experience to gain from their bondage, so He did not deliver them (at that time, although they were eventually delivered) but, he did ease their burdens and blessed them "by degrees in the land." (Mosiah Chapter 21:14-17.) I love this story because we are all sinners; we all have our own kind of bondage and we can learn much from Heavenly Father's response to their cries. The Lord is in the business of "making bad men good and good men better" and He knows how to accomplish this. Sometimes that means leaving them in their trial a little bit longer. Sometimes it's in deliverance. But always, He hears our prayers. And that is the miracle of prayer.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Frame-Worthy Waterlogues: Part One


The new Waterlogue app has taken over the web. It is an app that turns pictures into watercolor paintings. As a watercolor artist myself, I am impressed by the quality of the outcome (and not enraged that it takes away from the craft, although other artists may not feel the same way.) I embrace technology and think it has it's place. It will never replace the human touch, but it sure is fun to play around with! However, not all Waterlogues are created equal. Here are some basic tips to make your Waterlogues frame worthy. Let's start this series off with people, shall we?

How to Create Frame-Worthy Waterlogues of People
The downfall to this app is obvious. It lacks that "human touch" when creating portraits, it is after all a program, and will never replace what the human eye and hand can do to add life to the eyes and face of the subject. If you are going to create portraits with this app, you will be disappointed with its inability to create a realistic looking face (again, this takes a human touch.)  Instead, follow these tips:


Sunday, January 26, 2014

January Visiting Teaching Message; Christ Comforted

I came across a great quote the other day that had me thinking about the message I want to share with the sisters I visit teach. Below is an excerpt:

This and all non-watermarked images are free and available to download for printing. If you share this image online, please link back to my blog and give proper credit to the source. Thank you.

If the measure of our greatness is in our ability to comfort others, then I believe that our happiness must also depend upon it. Often times in the midst of a trial or as we are caught up in the stresses of life, our thoughts are turned inward and we seek to be comforted. Instead, in times of trial, if we seek to comfort others, I believe we will find the happiness and peace we seek. 

What does this have to do with January's message? Our Savior was the perfect example of this principle, as He is of all principles. When he was suffering on the cross, his heart was drawn out to comfort those around Him, not seeking any comfort of His own. 

When trials of this life weigh you down, seek to follow the Lord's example and comfort others who stand in need of comfort. As you do so, you will be filled with peace and the love of our Heavenly Father and have the companionship of the Spirit. I have seen this principle work in my life. I have seen how quickly I can lose myself and unload my burdens as I take upon me the yoke or work of Christ, which is to serve and to love and to bless those around me.

Jesus said, "Come to me, all ye who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." How do we come to him? We come to Him by becoming like Him. We can only become like Him when we do what He would do if He were here. He so clearly set the example for us through His spotless life. He taught us that happiness comes, not by seeking our own comfort but by seeking to comfort those around us. 

President Henry B. Eyring teaches this beautiful concept and gives us a powerful promise: 
"By His words and His example, Christ has shown us how to draw closer to Him. Every child of Heavenly Father who has chosen to enter through the gate of baptism into His Church will have the opportunity in this life to be taught His gospel and to hear from His called servants His invitation, 'Come unto me.' Every covenant servant of His within His kingdom on earth...will receive His guidance by the Spirit as they bless and serve others for Him. And they will feel His love and find joy in being drawn closer to Him." ("Come Unto Me" April, 2013)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Cure Your Acne Naturally: Part 2





If you missed Part 1 of this Series, be sure read that first in order to heal acne from the inside.

 Acne Treatment Skin Care
Now for the part you've been waiting for, my acne treatment recipes. I want to repeat that if the other steps to improve your health have not been taken, even the most expensive, advanced treatments will not work for long. You might see temporary improvement, but your acne will return. The following acne formulas came about after searching desperately for an all-natural acne treatment. After years of having acne free skin from just doing the tips I've already mentioned, I had another acne breakout that resulted from experimenting with the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM.) I followed the prescription and chose grapeseed oil and castor oil. The result was disastrous. My then clear face began breaking out in tiny whiteheads all over my face. I attributed it to my pores detoxing and I stuck with it (using the 30 day rule). I ended the 30 days with a face full of pimples and a return to the days of looking for a cure for my acne.

This time I was already eating healthy and working out, so I needed something topically to treat it. In effort to make all my cosmetics, I set out to find a homemade formula that actually worked. I tried many different formulas and recipes. After months of experimentation, I was blessed to come across a wonderful resource and I want to give full credit where credit is due. The acne treatment I use was first published over at Bohemian Beauty by a lovely lady named Miri. The following recipes are from Miri's blog. 

Simple All Natural Acne Treatment
Step 1: Cleanse
Cleanse with hemp oil. If you have acne prone skin, Hemp oil is one of the only oils that will not clog your pores, despite the fact that it is an oil. In fact, it will dissolve the oil and "plugs" in your pores and pull them out. This works because oil dissolves oil. Not only that, but it will not overly dry out your skin like soap does, causing your skin to produce more oil and exasperate the problem. This is much like the oil cleansing method but you do not use castor oil. Here's what you do, wet a clean wash cloth with hot water, squeeze out excess water and place it over your face. Remove it once it cools down. You can repeat this step a couple of times for a deeper steam to really open up your pores or just do it once if you're pressed for time. Then put a quarter-sized amount of hemp oil in your hand and massage over your face for about a minute. Afterwards, run the wash cloth under hot water again, squeeze out excess water and use it to wipe off all the oil.

Step 2: Toner
Use witch hazel as a toner to wipe off any residue oil and make-up. (Avoid delicate eye area.) 

Step 3: Moisturize 
After you have cleansed and toned your face, use a few drops of Hemp oil to moisturize your face.



Intense Acne Treatment
For a more effective, quicker acne treatment, I highly suggest adding a salicylic acid toner to your regimen. It does require getting some cosmetic making ingredients, but I think it is well worth the effort. Salicylic acid is not technically a "natural" compound all though it originated from the bark of the Willow tree.

Should you use salicylic acid in your face care regimen?


I order mine from www.makingcosmetics.com and I have no problem using it. The type I order is synthetic, but again, I'd rather use a clinically proven synthetic ingredient in my homemade cosmetics than using a bunch of "all natural" ingredients that don't work and make my acne worse. At the end of the day, I feel comfortable with it because I make it from scratch and I would rather use acne homemade treatments than use a prescription where I have zero control over the ingredients used in making it. Again, this treatment is Intensive, so it's going to need a powerhouse like salicylic acid to be effective...and it works. You can try only using the all natural method listed above if you are concerned about using salicylic acid, but know that this toner is going to greatly speed up your results. 


Step 1: Cleanse
Cleanse with hemp oil. Same as the procedure listed above. 

Step 2: Toner
After washing with hemp oil, wipe your face using a cotton pad with toner. Below is the recipe I use. This is directly from Miri at Bohemian Beauty. All ingredients can be purchased at www.makingcosmetics.com.
 Ingredients:
  • hot water (hydrosol or distilled water)
  • rubbing alcohol (to dissolve the salicylic acid)
  • salicylic acid powder
  • Triethanolamine (the pH elevator)
To make 2 ounces of toner:
2 ounces equals 12 teaspoons. I have to figure it out this way to get the percentages right!
In a glass bowl, mix together
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salicylic acid powder (don't use crushed aspirin; it's not the same thing)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of alcohol
Stir until the SA powder dissolves. If the powder doesn't dissolve completely, add another 1/4 teaspoon of alcohol at a time until it does. Make sure you stir it WELL after each addition. Sometimes that's all it takes to make it dissolve. To raise the temperature of the alcohol/SA mixture, nest the bowl in a bigger bowl with hot tap water in it. Let it sit for a few minutes. Add about 11 teaspoons of hot water to your blend. Stir until the SA dissolves. Add two drops of Triethanolamine at a time until the pH is between 3.5 and 4.5. Voila! That should do it.

Step 3: Moisturize 
After you have cleansed and toned your face, use a few drops of Hemp oil Serum to moisturize your face.

Intense Acne Serum
Hemp oil
1-5 drops of essential oils (I use thyme, lavender, geranium, carrot seed oil, neroli, patchouli and tea tree oil.) 

Here are some other essential oil suggestions:
  • Essential oils for Oily skin: Cedarwood, Geranium, Clary, Lavender, Ylang-ylang, Lemon, Peppermint, Calendula, Frankincense, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Juniper, Grapefruit, Rosemary, Neroli
  • Essential oils for Mature skin: Rose, Geranium, Myrrh, Patchouli, Lavender, Citrus, Frankincense, Neroli, Fennel, Clary, Rosewood, Sage, Cypress, Sandalwood, Carrot Seed, Sea Buckthorn Extract
  • Essential oils for Acne: Thyme, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Grapefruit, Rosewood, Rose, Lavender, Clove (use sparingly), Jasmine, Sandalwood, Lemon, Patchouli, Chamomile


That's it! Those are the acne treatments I used to clear up my acne. Sometimes my acne is mild enough that just the health changes work. Other times I need to employ my Intensive Care Acne Treatment to wipe it out. The regimen you use will depend on the severity of your acne and how quickly you want to see results. Regardless of what you choose, try it out for at least 30 days and have patience. Remember that as you detox, heal your gut and take control of your health, clear skin will be a natural result. Healthy, glowing skin is the result of being healthy on the inside. Don't lose hope! The treatments I listed work! I wish you the best on your journey to better health and clearer skin.



Any questions or suggestions? Leave me a comment below!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Cure Your Acne Naturally: Part 1


All cases of acne are different. The first step to curing your acne is discovering the type of acne you have. Some people get hormonal acne, other people get acne from clogged pores or from poor diet or stress. What type of acne do you have? Here's a helpful blog post about different types of acne. Here's an acne map from imlookingfabulous.com:


#9&10 should say avoid acid forming foods

Below is a useful guide from mononicole.wordpress.com showing the different types of pimples. Whiteheads and papules are the type of acne that I suffered from and will be what I will discuss today. Pustules and cysts are usually hormonal, hereditary or bacterial acne and sometimes require medical attention. I recommend that you consult a dermatologist if you have severe acne.


My Story
As an adolescent I never had anything more than the occasional monthly zit or two. It wasn't until after the birth of my second child that I began having my first experience with acne. It started with just a few breakouts, but eventually covered my entire face. I was devastated. I tried so many different face washes and lotions to get rid of it. I tried practically every over-the-counter acne face wash and lotion. I tried products from Clinique, Mary Kay, ProActive and Murad. I must have spent hundreds of dollars over the course of two years trying to clear my acne. Luckily, I practically became a make-up artist and learned how to hide most of my acne, but it was still embarrassing and I could never leave the house without make-up. I even went to bed with make-up on because I didn't want my husband to see my ugly scars and forming zits. I got to the point where it began to affect my self-esteem.

Don't Let Acne Rob Your Happiness
I'm not sure what caused the epiphany, but one day I realized that I couldn't keep worrying about my face or keep spending money on acne solutions. I couldn't continue to let my acne rob me of my happiness. I decided to just live with it and to be happy with myself no matter what I looked like. It was a liberating thing to let go of the worry and realize that my worth did not fluctuate based upon the condition of my face. My acne didn't go away with this epiphany. In fact, it wasn't until several months later that I began to see my face clear up. But I stopped letting it bother me and I was a lot happier for doing that! So that is my first word of advice to anyone seeking a cure for their acne. Love yourself now. Don't wait to be happy until your face clears up. You are beautiful and valuable because you are a child of Heavenly Father.

Focus on Your Health
Most likely you have been dealing with your acne backwards. If you try to treat your acne topically before you treat it internally, then your efforts will be wasted. It's like trying to keep clean while wading in the mud. You have to get out of the mud first. My acne cleared up after I stopped focusing on my acne and started to focus on my health. My acne cleared up almost accidentally, as a natural by-product to my healthier lifestyle.

Acne Heals Slowly
The thing you need to be realistic about as you begin to implement the advice I'm going to share is that healing acne takes time. It can take up to 2-3 months to have a completely clear face again. Some people will see improvements almost immediately, others it will take longer. For some it will take a full month to see any changes. One of the biggest mistakes in acne treatment is to make too many changes too quickly. Whatever you try, give it at least a full 30 days. Otherwise you will just aggravate and increase your acne. Trust me. I know how frustrating it can be to wait, but it's worth it! Unless your face is actively getting worse, don't stop the treatment. I am going to share with you the changes I made that helped to cure my acne, but keep in mind that it will take time and everyone is different.

Start With Sugar
Stop making excuses and just make the commitment today to stop eating so much sugar and junk food. I was one of the people that would rather pay $100 for a cure-all face wash than to get rid of sugar. But even then, expensive acne treatments will not work because you haven't gotten rid of one of the biggest contributors to acne. I had a horrible soda habit and I didn't think it was a big deal or contributing to my acne. But eliminating soda was the #1 thing that made the biggest difference in my acne. If you do nothing else, limit the amount of sugar you have and you will be surprised at the improvement in your complexion. You may not have to do anything else. Do not ignore this advice because it seems too simple. Sometimes the best answers are the ones right in front of us. Every time I start to break out again I can always trace it back to having too much sugar. Once your face is clear, for most people, the occasional treat will not cause a problem. It's the daily doses of sugar that cause the problem. But until your face is clear, I would stay away from all soda, candy, ice cream, and any other heavy-sugar-laden food.

Identify Food Triggers
Sometimes clearing your acne is as easy as eliminating foods that trigger your acne. Some of the biggest offenders are wheat and dairy. How do you know if you have a food allergy? Try the elimination diet method. You eliminate the 8 major food allergy offenders, dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat for 28 days to allow your gut time to heal. This is a good time to eat rice and broth and other gentle foods. Slowly add back in fish, shellfish, nuts, tree nuts and eggs and add back dairy and wheat last. Add the foods one at a time with a week in between. If your acne and general health improves during the 28 days of elimination, then you can be sure you've got some type of food allergy or sensitivity. If your acne or adverse symptoms return when reintroducing any of the foods, then you have identified which one (if not multiple ones) you are either allergic or sensitive too. I personally used this method to heal my gut and determine that I had a gluten sensitivity. Later on I used a special method of acupressure to reverse my sensitivity, but that's a topic for another post!

Balance Hormones
Since acne is often caused by an imbalance in hormones, it might be worth your time to focus on balancing your hormones. Some theories suggest that acne is caused by an excess of the hormone androgen. The human body is complex and more specifically, our hormone balance is an intricate and delicate matter with many domino affects. If you suspect you are having a severe hormonal imbalance, visiting your doctor and getting some blood work done might be beneficial to you. At any rate, there are a few natural treatments that you can try to see if it helps. For an amazing article about balancing your hormones naturally, read this post from Wellness Mama. One simple treatment is increasing the amount of fiber in your diet. Fiber can actually help to eliminate excess androgen and estrogen in the body. I add a little ground flax to my morning green smoothie for an easy way to make sure I get enough fiber. Which leads me to the next treatment...

Green Smoothies
Incorporating green smoothies was one of the first healthy changes I made that made a huge difference in how my skin looked and my energy levels. Not only do green smoothies help detox the body, they also give your skin a healthy glow. Green smoothies are an easy way to get your daily serving of vegetables. There is no specific recipe for green smoothies, just a guideline to follow which makes them incredibly easy to make. Here's the general idea:

Fill your blender with:
3-4 cups of green leafy veggies (spinach, parsley, kale, etc.)
Add a cup of frozen fruit (berries are a great choice)
Add 1/2 to a whole banana or 1/2 of an avocado
Add enough filtered water to get the ingredients to start blending (usually about a cup or so)
Optional: Whey protein, yogurt or kefir
Optional: Sweeten with 1 cup of 100% fruit juice, maple syrup (do not use honey as it will clump up), coconut water (or coconut powder)
Optional add-ins: TBS of Ground flax-seed, maca powder, bee pollen, aloe vera, probiotics or chia seeds

Don't Forget
Most people trying to clear up acne already know the importance of washing your face daily and removing make-up at night. But don't forget to change pillow cases, clean make-up brushes, use a clean wash cloth everyday and clean your cell phone screen often. If you're using old make-up try buying new make-up. Switch to a powder mineral make-up which is much less likely to clog your pores. I love Bare Mineral products. The less make-up you can wear, the better. Use a concealer stick to spot-treat and cover pimples instead of using concealer all over your face.

The Obvious
I'm sure I don't need to state the obvious, but in case you don't already know, it bares repeating. You should be drinking plenty of water each day, exercising and getting plenty of sleep. Water is the cheapest and best way to detox your body. It is often overlooked because it seems too simple, like cutting out sugar. Get yourself a new water bottle to motivate yourself to drink more water during the day. Exercise improves the body's circulation which helps improve your complexion. Get your heart rate up at least 3 times a week at minimum. It can be as simple as dancing in your kitchen or going for a hike. Don't overcomplicated it, just get out and move. Getting enough sleep improves your overall health, not to mention it will help with those bags under your eyes. These three things are easier said than done, but are vital to a healthy body and clear skin. If you aren't doing them, then don't waste your time on anything else. Employ these free acne solutions before moving on to the others.

Now that we've covered taking care of acne from the inside, now it's time for Part 2 where I reveal my topical acne treatments that really work!

Life is Good: Journal Entry

Here's an old blog entry that I wrote about my journey into the world of optimism. The glass has been half full and overflowing ever since this epiphany of mine.

November 21, 2008


A while back when I was running my 5k loop in training for my triathlons, I saw a bumper sticker on a car that said "Life is Good." It was stuck to a rather nice car, in front of an extravagant house, nestled in a rich neighborhood. And I thought to myself, yes, life is probably good for you. (I know I was being extremely judgmental, but I'm just being honest in what was crossing my mind at the time.)

The more I thought about that sticker while I was running, the more I grew to dislike it. Life is good? What kind of person could endorse such an unrealistic generalization? They are obviously in some state of denial, or having too many happy pills. Sure, life is good ON MOST DAYS. Sure life has incredible MOMENTS. But to generalize and say "Life is good...PERIOD" was a little too much for me. And it just rubbed me wrong.

More than anything, I just laughed at the ridiculous sticker and ultimately forgot about it. That is until I ran across the slogan again a few months later. I found a little shop in St. George that sold a whole bunch of products by the "Life is Good" company. Again I was perturbed by it. It didn't make me angry, it just made me shake my head. While I was standing there in that little shop I thought,"it should say something more along the lines of 'make life good' or 'good things happen.'" And I began to think in more depth why the current wording bothered me so much. I'm not a negative person, I really love my life and am extremely happy with it. But my life hasn't always been good. Any of you that know me well know that I went through a lot as a child with a mentally ill mother and other unfavorable circumstances. And I can say from experience that life is not good for everyone at all times. 

I think because of that, one of my pet peeves is people who are one step past optimism--in denial and crossing over into ignorance. I know a certain person who is like this where you can't even point out the simple facts like "we are lost" or "it is raining" or "people are dying in such and such country" without them thinking you are a downer. I like honesty. I dislike dishonest optimism, or disillusioned optimism. Real optimism is as defined in the dictionary:

"a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome." 

Again I dropped it, and didn't really think about it again until I was in the car with my mom one day and happened to see the sticker again. Finally, out of frustration I explained why I disliked the sticker and in explanation of my views ended with "I'm just a realist, mom." To which she responded with a hint of humor "that's what all pessimists say!" At that point I couldn't respond. There seemed to be a little too much truth to what she was saying. 

Once again, I abandoned the thought and once again it was brought to my attention. (Isn't it funny how God has a way of working with us until we get things right?) In church our Stake President (who is in charge of four or five congregations in our neighborhood) got up and said very poignantly "I want you to know that life is good, that the glass is half full." Immediately I was humbled. Here is a man, that I believe to be full of inspiration, who seemed to speak directly to me, telling me that life is good. Could it be more clear than it is now, that the Lord wants me to know that life is good. The Lord knows everything, He knows all the suffering and all of the sadness in the world, He knows all the suffering and sadness in my life and yet He spoke to my heart that life is still good despite it all.

So during this season of introspection and gratitude I feel myself compelled to a sense of optimism and gratefulness. Grateful because God knows me and has compassion on me and my thick scull. And optimistic that despite it all, life really is good.

The Gratitude Experiment



I have written about gratitude before on this blog as it is something I feel passionate about. I have come to learn that gratitude is something more than writing a list of your blessings. It's a deep acknowledgement that everything you have comes from God and is calculated for your best interest. Further, gratitude isn't just about being thankful for what you have. It is being thankful for the good and the bad, for the abundance and the lack in our lives. It's seeing your blessings and God's goodness in all situations and giving thanks for it.

While it is relatively easy to be thankful in your abundance, it seems almost impossible at times to be grateful when things are going wrong in your life. I have found it is also extremely hard to be grateful when you are feeling cheated or deprived or frustrated.

Here's an example. Lately, the driver side door in my van does not unlock. This requires me to unlock the passenger side and crawl into the driver seat or reach over and unlock it and then walk around the car to get in. It's extremely frustrating, as you can imagine. It's at those moments that I feel intense ingratitude for my car. Ok, so that's the nice way to say that I pretty much want to take a baseball bat to it. But I know that I am supposed to be grateful for all that I have. It seems impossible to be thankful for a car that is falling apart. But the reality is, that is my lot in life right now. If God felt that I needed a nicer car He would help us to have the money to buy one, but that hasn't happened. But He has blessed me with a car. He has blessed me with the ability to fill my car with gas. And honestly, I know that is a blessing!

So this is how my gratitude experiment started. Every time I feel ungrateful or want to complain or groan or take a baseball bat to something, I try to find sincere gratitude in that moment. Leaky faucets become a blessing because you acknowledge you have clean, running water and most of the world does not. Whiny children become a blessing when you acknowledge that they are healthy and safe as you tuck them in at night. This gratitude experiment forces you to look past the annoyance to see the treasure. And I promise there are treasures in every frustration, heartache and problem.

The cool thing has been, that as I have done this, I have really felt my gratitude deepen. I have learned so much in the process. I have learned that sometimes God withholds certain blessings from us because we need to learn how to be grateful for what he's already given us. I have also come to learn that sometimes blessings don't come in the form we expect. Sometimes the greatest blessing comes in our lack, rather than in our abundance. Truly, in my want I have gained more than I could ever have had in my abundance. And that has made my life abundantly better.

I challenge you to participate in the gratitude experiment. Look for ways to be grateful. Keep digging until you hit sincere, real gratitude that flows freely from you. And then remember to thank Heavenly Father for giving you those blessings out of His infinite goodness. He is good, and He knows what we need and He knows what will make us happy in the long run. He knows the things we need to grow and to have joy. Most of the time those "things" aren't things at all.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Kitchen Shelf Styling



I have swapped out these shelves so many times over the years. My recent version includes a vintage addition. I added some of the plates I scored for .50 cents at the thrift store. They have a tribal theme going on that I really like. 


I was going for symmetry and color cohesion. In my opinion decorating with symmetry is the easiest, but it only works when you have matching pairs.


This version is eclectic, colorful and fun. There's no symmetry but putting the items together in like-colors make it look somehow organized. This version is by far my favorite. It's a great way to show off quirky collections, especially if you did not get a large china set for your wedding. (Who does anymore? I wish I had!)


Here I was going for a more feminine, antique look. There's not much symmetry again, but it has balance. I played with the balance of light and dark, tall and short items. This version is much more "gut guided" than any other. When in doubt, find a picture of styled shelf that you love and use it as inspiration when you are thrifting or picking through your possessions. I like to set a whole bunch of items on my table and move them around until I find a good grouping of things.


This version was when I was experimenting with books in the shelf, very early on. Not sure why I zoomed in so much. I had a really cool rainbow theme...way before the first rainbow bookshelf I'd ever seen on the blogosphere. Mixing books with kitchenware can be tricky. My shelf is above a little desk area, so I could pull off books and it didn't seem out of place. My opinion is that plates and books need to be mixed carefully or they just look odd together. Instead, try mixing books with a cool collection of bottles or some other collection of trinkets like antique spools, cameras, etc.



Which version do you like the most?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

No-Fail Popovers in High Altitude



Popovers are a family tradition in our home. My great-grandmother used to make these for our family. Since being married I have not been able to make a successful batch of popovers. I followed my mother's recipe to a T....room temperature ingredients, pouring mixture into a hot pan, etc. This year I finally figured out what I've been doing wrong! I grew up on sea level in Washington and now I live in Utah at 4,350 ft above sea level. Since I am not an expert chef, I always neglect to adjust for high altitude. So, after a little trial and error, I have found a no-fail recipe for cooking popovers in high altitude locations.

Ingredients
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus softened butter for greasing pans
1 1/2 cups unsifted flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups milk, at room temperature

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Generously grease (average sized) muffin tins with softened butter. Place the pans in the oven for exactly 2 minutes to preheat. If you are like me and can't wait several hours for the eggs and milk to reach room temperature, you can place them in warm water for a few minutes to heat them up (be careful to not cook the eggs!) Whisk together the flour, salt, eggs, milk, and melted butter until smooth. The batter should be runny. Fill the hot pans less than half full. Bake for 5 minutes then lower heat to 400 degrees and cook for another 15 minutes, for a total of 20 minutes. Do not open the oven at all! Serve hot with butter, jam or syrup. Makes 24 popovers.



Saturday, December 28, 2013

Evolution of a Mantel




How often do you rearrange your mantel? Seasonally, a couple of times a year or once a decade? I keep the bones of the mantel the same and change the decorations seasonally. I was ready for a new look for my mantel, as I mentioned in my last post. For fun, I thought I would review the different mantel stylings I've switched out over the years and finish with the latest version.


This photo makes me cringe! Here is the original styling I had on my mantel. And this was long before I got my Nikon, hence the yellow lighting.



This was not long after when I started updating my house and opened my vintage shop on Etsy. My sister and I found the mirror for only $10! It was a gold, splattered paint color. Not my favorite. 



I spray painted the mirror a peacock blue and added my vintage brass collection for some nice contrast. Ignore the tv remote that snuck into the photo...



 Here is another version, my favorite go-to, stacked books.



 For a while these black statues graced the mantel. They make frequent appearances on my mantel.



Here, I swapped out the ugly glass sconces for these black lampshades. It was an easy update. Then I added some blue/grey books and antique cameras for a monochromatic scheme.



Here it is all decked out for Christmas this year:



Here is my recent change. I swapped out the blue spiral mirror for a more simple, streamlined Ikea mirror. I like the clean lines. I loved the blue mirror, but I was ready for a change. I also added some antique gold stamped lino prints. It is very simple, but for now, I am liking it. That is until I'm ready for another change again....




Which mantel styling do you like the best?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Living Room, Updated

I love the holidays, but just as soon as December 26th comes around I am ready to move on to the new year and take the Christmas decorations down. One of my new year goals is to organize and drastically cut the clutter in my house. I have a split personality when it comes to decorating my house. I love simple, but I also love to collect things. It's no secret that my love for antiques and vintage things has triggered the hoarder in me, and my desire to show off my collections has made my tiny home look cluttered. So, as I frequently do, I am purging and rearranging so that there is more "white space" in my house.

When I'm cleaning I always start at one end of the house and move to the other end. So, my first redo is my living room. Oh my poor living room. It's had more rearranging than any other room. I could show about 10 different versions throughout the years. Anyway, here's the latest:




I like to update my chalkboard art seasonally...here's our New Year's Inspiration:


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