"And the day came when the risk it took to remain tightly closed in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to BLOOM…This is the Element of Freedom"

-Alicia Keys

29 January 2010

Product Review Friday: Lip Balm

If there was one product that I would have a hard time living without, it would be Lip Balm, or as Mom calls it, "Lip Chap." Not sure where that name came from, but I do come from a family that likes to make up names for ordinary things, so that is what we call it. Living in Colorado at 5,280 feet above sea level & in a dry climate, living without lip balm & lotion would be hard to do. Being a lover of natural products, I am going to give you a Lip Balm Review today.

1: Alba Botanica: I love this company, especially the Coconut Cream Lip Balm. It is my #1 Favorite. Great hint of coconut flavor & scent, but not overpowering or artificial. It also gives your lips a really nice sheen, without being too much. It is also really creamy & feels nice on the lips.

Alba Botanica is a environmentally-conscience company, with a large product line. I really, really love their bath & shower gels. Their body lotions are made without petrolatum or any other petroleum-based ingredients and they moisturize really well. Are they really expensive? No. They are reasonably priced & you can buy their lotions in large bottles(32 oz). I look for them on sale at Whole Foods & then I buy 2 for the price of 1!

2: Badger Balm: I found out about this line of natural care products when my sister gave me the Mocha Cocoa lip balm as a stocking stuffer one Christmas. The lip balms come in a slightly larger tube and they use Fair Trade Organic Cocoa Butter and Organic Olive Oil combined with other organic ingredients to make a rich and creamy lip balm.

I like Badger Balm not just because they make quality products, but they are a really fantastic & thoughtful company. They started in New Hampshire in 1995, in the kitchen of Bill & Katie Whyte and their daughters Mia, Emily and Rebecca. Bill Whyte would make a salve to help heal his hands, which suffered in the New Hampshire winters. He would make a batch of "The Original Healing Balm in his kitchen using Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Beeswax, Castor Oil, Aloe Vera and Essential Oil of Sweet Birch—a traditional New England herbal remedy." The stuff worked and it was the beginning of Badger Balm!
They are very family friendly & a company that has embraced a workplace policy of bringing babies to work with "the idea behind the program is to encourage the baby/parent bond in its most critical time, the first six months of life." {Wow. I was getting phone calls from our HR department when Reese was barely 3 weeks old, asking when I would be returning to work...needless to say, I didn't return to that job.} Obviously, they take in account safety issues when it comes to bringing a baby to work. They are thinking about what is really important to the families that work there. That is something to consider when you purchase things from a company like Badger Balm. Yes, they might be slightly more expensive, but the extra cost is buying you high quality products with ingredients that won't harm you, the earth, the people who provide the ingredients or the people who make the products. Plus, you are supporting a company that supports their employees & their families. You are making a difference, one tube of lip balm at a time.

**update***everything in quotes is from the Badger Balm website. Check it out to learn more!

3: Burt's Bees: Now, how could I not mention Burt's Bees? I have been using this delightful lip balm for years. It is comforting on your lips and has just enough peppermint oil to make them feel good. This is the original in the old school tin. My only issue with the tin is that it is hard to open, especially if you have lotion on your hands. You may laugh, but ask anyone who lives in Colorado & they will tell you that you have to put lotion on your hands about 100 times a day. Seriously.

They also make natural lip glosses that are deelish. Love them!

You may or not know this, but Clorox bought Burt's Bees about 2 years ago. I read a great article in the New York Times, which gives all the details of the story. It is very informative.

Well, there you have it. Short & sweet. Have a great weekend!

{All images are from each company's website}

28 January 2010

The But...Monkey

**This post is laden with swear words. Not intentionally, just sort of happened. Just thought I'd let you know before**

The But...Monkey. This was not a term that I even knew existed until the other night during a conversation I had with my Dad. My Dad is the best. We have our share of disagreements...He is the lone republican in our house full of Democrats, so you can imagine some of the conversations that take place when we are over at their house. Still, he is my Dad and he owns his own business & he is very hard working. He is also funny & makes up his own words for everything & I love him. Anyway, we were talking about various things & I told him about the last Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien and the post that I wrote about it. He then came back with, "yeah, but....I'm sure that the check for 33 million from NBC helped." This is when I was introduced to the technical term of But...Monkey. It better get ready to get its ass kicked. I don't use this word very often, but I hate the But...Monkey. It usually takes something positive and turns it into shit right before your very eyes!

For example:

  • "Wow! The dinner you made was delicious, but...the wine you picked sort of sucked."

  • "The party was great, but...there were some things that were sort of disorganized."

Maybe I sound like I am being totally sensitive & even whiny, but it is sort of like the other person takes a pin and pops your balloon (the pin being the "but..." and the balloon being your idea, project, meal, party, etc). It is just disappointing. You most likely know where or what the negatives are. So my question is this: Why do other people always feel the need to point them out??

I am also learning that having a thicker skin helps in kicking the But...Monkey's ass.

P.S. After doing some research, okay googling 'But Monkey,' I found out there are several different meanings, including Laura Ingraham's site, where she even has some audio clips of famous But...Monkeys. (She is anti-but...monkey, but not the same way that I am. No surprise there) But don't worry, none of that shit will be linked to this blog...I like to keep my blog full of good vibes and I looked on her site & didn't see any of that there, but...I did see a lot of whining and complaining! Hahahahahaha...take that But...Monkey!

{photo from here}

26 January 2010

...To Get To Where I Want to Be

{Image is from Here}
A while back, I wrote this post about doing what I have never done in order to get to where I want to be in life...which really got me thinking. I started to see the areas in my life that needed some help & began to think of creative ways of getting there. I know that you need to write down your goals, think positively, etc. I always get caught up in trying to make it perfect (a word that I seriously dislike...), which keeps me from starting something in the first place. Maybe it is more the fear of doing something wrong that keeps me from starting something, not just trying to make it perfect.

I then found some inspiration in an unexpected place. The office that I work in! I laminated some Effective Affirmations for our Sales Manager & this sparked my interest. I started doing some research & decided that to cross the abyss From Saying to Doing, was to do just that. DO IT. Stop talking, researching, reading, thinking about it and JUST DO IT. So, I did. I made a list of the things about myself or my life that need some work in specific categories (Relationships-with myself & others, Emotions & Attitude, Health & Body, Finances, Career & Spirituality) on the left side of a sheet of paper. I then made an Effective Affirmation on the right side, using powerful words like "I AM," keeping it in the present & keeping it positive. {I come from a family of lovely people who tend to be glass-half-empty people. Love them, but I can not live my life like that. So positive thinking, here I come.} I came up with my affirmations, typed them up & made them look sweet and added a quote at the bottom of each side (I made them to be small, about 4.5" x 5.5" and printed & laminated 4 copies). I did it in excel & I wish that I knew how to put it on here, but I don't.

Here is the quote on the first side:

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13

Here is the quote on the second side (this is the first track on Alicia Keys' new & amazing album, Element of Freedom):
"And the day came when the risk it took to remain tightly closed in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to BLOOM...This is the Element of Freedom."
-Alicia Keys

{Image from Here}

I keep a copy in my planner, one by my bed, one in my car & one in my bathroom to recite while I am getting ready. I have said them out loud & silently, over & over and I will tell you that even though some of the affirmations are yet to come to fruition, they feel real. They are real because they are who I will be in the future. I must say that I am a believer, just based on how this simple thing has helped to change the way that I view myself and my capabilities.
If you need any help writing your Effective Affirmations, I highly recommend the site Positive Attitude Tips: How to Write An Effective Affirmation: 6 Easy Steps.

25 January 2010

Conan O'Brien's Farwell Speech

I don't know about you, but I love Conan O'Brien. I just love how goofy he is, with his crazy hair & long limbs. I was very sad on Friday night when I watched his last show as the Tonight Show host. To leave the show the way that he did, with grace & humility, even with all the drama, was really inspiring. For those of you who missed it, or were already in bed (you know who you are!!!), here is a clip:

*video is from Hulu & I found it on Tonic.com

What really struck me was when he said this:

"All I ask is one thing," O'Brien said, "and I'm asking this particular of young people that watch. Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it's my least favorite quality. It doesn't lead anywhere.
"Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get," O'Brien continued. "But if you work really hard, and you are kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen."

He is right. I would have never thought that my life would turn out like it has. Navigating through the unknown of an unexpected pregnancy & single parenthood, falling in love with the most wonderful & incredible man, and learning to love and appreciate who I am is proof that life never turns out quite like we think it will. Isn't that what makes things interesting and keeps us grateful?
Work Hard & Be Kind.

P.S. I also love Conando, one of Conan's famous alter-egos...how could I resist the fake Mustache?

{photo from here}

22 January 2010

Product Review Friday: Chocolate!

"...And it melts, God forgive me, it melts ever so slowly on your tongue, and tortures you with pleasure." --Chocolat (the movie, 2000)

Well, maybe it is because it is Friday, maybe it is simply because I am a woman, I don't know. Who cares because today is Product Review Friday & we are going to discuss the sweetness of Chocolate. While I am no expert, I do know of a few companies who make chocolate the delectable & wonderful treat that it is. If you would like to know more about the history of chocolate, you can read more here and here and here.

Karl Fazer: This is a chocolate company from Finland. The recipe for this famous chocolate hasn't changed since it came out in 1922 and is a closely guarded secret. In 2001, the blue wrapper color became Finland's first registered color trademark. This ensures that they have the sole rights to sell chocolate in a blue wrapper. My Finnish Brother-In-Law brings this wonderful chocolate to our house every Christmas & we love it.
{The Famous Fazer Milk Chocolate}
{The Geisha Chocolate with Hazelnuts}

Chocolove: This is a local chocolate company, based out of Boulder, Colorado. I like to give a bar of their chocolate when I give someone a gift. The wrapping adds a nice touch, but the best part is the love poem that is inside each chocolate bar. They have a wide variety of flavors and some very dark chocolate (77% extra strong dark), which is one of my favorite things ever. I like being able to support a local company & share some Colorado goods with my out of town friends & family. They also have their "Chocolatour" line, which is their line "of single origin, vintage chocolate bars and offers a world tour of chocolate." Locally Dee-licious....

{Chocolatour: Tanzania 2007}

{Chocolove: with a love poem inside}

Vosges Haut-Chocolat: This is not your ordinary chocolate company. Here is their mission statement:

"The Vosges Haut-Chocolat mission is to create a luxury chocolate experience rooted in a sensory journey of bringing about awareness to indigenous cultures through the exploration of spices, herbs, roots, flowers, fruits, nuts, chocolate and the obscure. We invite you to be aware and open to the many cultures, artists and theories of the world's people, through the medium of chocolate. What better way to learn about a culture, person or object than through eating. If we can embrace the idea of trying something new such as the perplexing oddity of curry and chocolate, we just may come one step closer to bringing peace to the world through chocolate. One Love, One Chocolate."

So, after reading that, you shouldn't be surprised at some of their chocolate pairings. These are just some of the Exotic Chocolate Bar line:
Barcelona Exotic Candy Bar Hickory smoked almonds + Fleur de Sel sea salt + deep milk chocolate- This one sounds right up my alley!
Mo's Dark Chocolate Bacon Bar Applewood bacon + alderwood smoked salt + 62% dark chocolate
Red Fire Exotic Candy Bar Mexican ancho & chipotle chillies + Ceylon cinnamon dark chocolate

{Black Pearl Exotic Candy Bar: Ginger + wasabi + black sesame seeds + 55% dark chocolate}

I heard somewhere that men love ice cream like women love chocolate & that ice cream has a similar effect on men, like the effect chocolate has on women. I don't know about that...I do know that a couple of weeks ago, I burst into tears for no apparent reason and shortly thereafter, found myself making whoopie pies. Oh, the power of female hormones...

{image from here}

Hope that you have a lovely weekend!

20 January 2010

I lost 31 pounds this weekend!

{photo from here}

No, it is not what you are thinking. As you know, I am in the process of cleaning out & organizing our 3rd bedroom. It was always designated as "The Craft Room" but after we moved and got married and went on our honeymoon, things were just sort of placed in there. So, it sort of became the catch-all room, with no systems or storage. I had tried to organize, but when you spend only an hour or so in there, never to return until the next time you get a chance, nothing really ever gets done.

A couple of weeks ago, my very good friend Ale ("Alley") came over to visit. We have been friends since we were in high school & have had fun together no matter what we are doing. She understands me really well & can give me the truth without hurting my feelings...and I really needed that this time around! She came over to help me come up with a plan to get the room to be what I want & need it to be. Ale is currently living in New York City and is in the process of starting up her own organizing company. She helped me draft up a plan & come up with some ideas of what to do, so that I could do it when she was back in NYC. The beauty of the whole thing is that this allowed me to do it on my own, while having a plan that helped guide the process along. I needed to do it on my own in order to gain the confidence that I am good at organizing my things & that I am totally capable of setting up systems that will help keep things running smoothly. She called me the night before I started to see what I was planning on doing the next day & also during the following days of organizing.

I started by taking (almost) every single thing out of the room and putting each box, bag or item in a designated spot: all desk/paper/correspondence/bills in one area, all crafting stuff in another, etc. I was shocked and a little embarrassed at the amount of stuff that came out of that little room! Bit by bit, pile by pile and bag by bag (I have inherited my grandmother's ability to organize by putting things into cute bags, only I leave them in the bags "to put away later" and later never seems to happen often enough!). Last night, as I was surveying my progress, I decided to weigh the bags that I have filled with paper: 2 to be recycled & 1 for shredding. All together, they weighed 31 pounds. THIRTY-ONE POUNDS OF PAPER. I know that admitting this is making me seem like a hoarder or something, but I am not. Really. Hoarders see nothing wrong with what is surrounding them & I saw everything that was wrong. I just didn't have a system to keep me in check and I didn't have one place to put paper related items. It was just stuff that had accumulated, but now it is gone & it feels so good. I literally feel lighter. I know that all of you neat-nicks out there are thinking "how did she accumulate that much stuff?" I think it some of it was me trying to do too many things, not having one place to take care of paper-related things, not maintaining so things don't get out of hand, etc. I took a NO MERCY position and feel so much better. I am proud of myself in a way that I have never been before. It was a huge job & I did it on my own & on my own terms & that feels fucking amazing.

P.S. After reading this post on Small Notebook For a Simple Home blog, I feel much better knowing that I am not the only one out there who struggles with the paper monster!

19 January 2010

Oprah: No Phone Zone Pledge

I watched Oprah yesterday and was moved to tears by her show on the deadly dangers of talking & texting while driving. It made me realize that I am guilty of talking on the phone while I drive and it really made me aware of how dangerous it is.

So, I took the pledge:

"I pledge to make my car a No Phone Zone. Beginning right now, I will do my part to help put an end to distracted driving by not texting or using my phone while I am driving. I will ask other drivers I know to do the same. I pledge to make a difference."

I know that it is hard, especially on your way home from work or if you are having a really bad day. It seems that is the time that I usually call someone. I thought that I wasn't on the highway, so it wasn't as dangerous, etc. But it is. I would never forgive myself if I hurt my child or someone else, just because I was on the phone.

Here are 2 examples of driving while talking on your cell phone:

{Undistracted Driving}

{Distracted Driving}

Notice how the peripheral becomes unfocused. It is almost like having tunnel vision-the details (people, bikes, animals, etc) fade out of sight.

Will you join me in taking the pledge? Here is the link to Oprah.com

(banner & photos from Oprah.com)

17 January 2010

Lady Gaga: This is one amazing woman...

{Photo & quote from Oprah.com}

I had the pleasure of watching Lady Gaga on Oprah (a rerun of her Friday show) on Friday night, while I was in the tedious process of organizing my craft room. I took Friday off of work and took just about everything out of the room and put it in the living & dining room, in order to have space to sort & work. I was feeling bad and sort of stupid as I looked around the room at all this stuff. Then I heard Lady Gaga say this, as the message that she wants to send to her fan base:

"I want them to free themselves, and I want them to be proud of who they are. I want them to celebrate all the things they don't like about themselves the way that I did, and to be truly happy from the inside."

What a lovely & comforting thing to hear, especially when you are not feeling very good about the things that you suck at. I began to realize that cleaning out my craft room is really more than just cleaning out and clearing out. It is more about shedding some of the things that have held me down for so long, while also accepting the things about myself that I don't really like. I began to see that what I was doing really was good & that it would have been a problem if I hadn't been doing anything about it at all, or if I had insisted that there wasn't a problem in the first place. I have been trying to be more accepting of myself & to be okay with my shortcomings. I still have a ton of work ahead of me, but I am really proud of the progress that I have made. I will post some pictures as soon as I can!

13 January 2010

Modern Wallpaper at its finest

I am late posting this, but who really cares? You won't once you see the eye candy I am about to show you! This is just a taste of the delicious wallpaper samples I'm dishing out tonight. I also hope that it changes the way that you think about wallpaper. Get ready to throw those old stereotypes out the window! Remember that wallpaper can be used instead of the colored accent wall in a room, or on just a small wall. It doesn't have to be on every wall in a room.
As I mentioned in the previous post, wallpaper has become a bit of an obsession for me. I love the graphic and artistic turn it has taken, although trust me, there is still some bad and I mean pastel-flowers-chicken-&-cow-watering-can-&-sunflower bad wallpapers out there. Maybe that is a bad example, but you get the idea. I am really here to highlight some of the amazing & modern papers for your walls.

It was so fun to look for some of these on the Internet...it was hard to limit it them to just a few. But don't fret, my lovelies, these won't be the last....

Cole & Son: This company has been making wallpaper since 1873. They still use some of their original equipment combined with modern technology. They feature some wallpapers designed by famous designers, including Vivienne Westwood. They are the maker of the incredible wallpaper that I posted yesterday. I have seen it all over the place, but it really is beautiful, isn't it?


Here it is again, being used in a completely different way:{www.cole-and-son.com}

Flavor Paper: A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Definitely bold, but sexy! In particular, I love that they handscreen their unique wallcoverings. This company is based out of New Orleans, but are opening another location in NYC. Check it!

"Mustachio" in Graphite
{I particularly love this one, as I love mustaches. Not real ones, but fake ones. We made mustaches-on-a-stick for the photo booth we made for our wedding & I laugh whenever I see them}

"Cherry Forever"

-a design by the original owner, Ted

I have a couple of designers that I wanted to talk about tonight, but my husband's laptop is acting sort of crazy, so they will have to wait until later...maybe this is a sign that I need to buy my own computer....

12 January 2010

My Obsession

{Photo from Here}

No, it is not the kitchen in the photo above!

I am finding it difficult to make the time to post...true to form, I tend to make things difficult by writing a long post or including a lot of links to various websites, which hinders my ability to post on a regular basis. I do have a couple up my sleeve which should make their way to the blogosphere soon enough, so....

In the meantime..................

Let me share with you my obsession. I have been loving this for about a year now, when I noticed it slowly making a comeback and I am so excited!!

What the hell is it then, you ask?


This isn't your 60's psychedelic or 70's groove or 80's pastel flower wallpaper, all of which carry the burden of being famously difficult to put up and hideous to remove, not to mention the fact that people roll their eyes and shudder in disgust at the mere mention of the word: wallpaper

Here are a few examples of why wallpaper has such a terrible reputation (and judging by these photos, it is rightly so!):

The 60's

{Photo from flickr-jlemmerstream}

The 70's

{Photo from Here}
The 80's

{Photo from Here}

{Photo from Here}

I grew up in a house that was decorated in the late 1970's. My parents had yellow shag carpet with this awesome white wallpaper with big yellow roses. I loved it! I had wallpaper in my bedroom that had children and balloons, all in yellow, green & orange on a white background. Sounds creepy, but it totally wasn't. The best part of the wallpaper was a sign that was printed on it that said "Keep off the Grass" Hilarious. That didn't keep me off the grass! hahaha. I have tried to find it online, but it seems to be an impossible search. I need to dig up some pictures and scan them in. I know that before I was born, my sister had a wallpaper in her room that was a jungle theme and she used to come into my parents room crying because she was afraid of the snake that was on the wallpaper...no wonder wallpaper freaks people out!!

So, by now you are probably wondering where I am going with this. I will be opening your eyes the Wallpaper of the 21st Century tomorrow. It is modern, beautiful, easy to install and some of it will totally blow your mind.

Here is a little taste of what is to come:

This is a picture of the house that belongs to Joslyn Taylor of the amazing blog (and first blog I ever read!), Simple Lovely. Another one of my favorite design sites, Design*Sponge featured a Sneak Peek of her house (you can check it out here). I fell in love with this wallpaper as soon as I saw it and that is what started the obsession.

See you tomorrow!

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