Friday, March 27, 2015

What's In My Shower

*This post features complimentary products from DESSANGE Paris via Inluenster for testing purposes.

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A. St. Ives Even & Bright Face Scrub
I have been using this face scrub for about a year now and I still love it. Before I had William I had absolutely terrible, acne covered skin that I had to use salicylic acid on; after having William, or at least while I'm breastfeeding, my hormones have been awesome for my skin and I no longer need harsh face washes. This St. Ives scrub is fantastic, I really feel like it does even and brighten things up without drying out my already dry skin. Plus, it's affordable and smells yummy.

B. John Frieda Sheet Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Shampoo
This is my go to shampoo, I know that it works and it lasts for quite awhile. I wouldn't say that it makes my hair any blonder but it definitely keeps the color vibrant between colorings.

C. DESSANGE Paris California Blonde Illuminating Shampoo
This is a new hair care product to my regiment and I really like it! I would say that it is a step up from the John Frieda blonde shampoo and does an even better job at keeping my hair a nice blonde color in between colorings. I do find this shampoo to be a little bit drying and it really cleans the build up in your hair so I would recommend using this three or four times per week and using the John Frieda shampoo the other days.

D. OGX Argan Oil of Morocco Conditioner
I've been using this conditioner in combination with the John Frieda shampoo for about a year now and they work wonderfully tomorrow, my hair always feel silky and bright and shiny. I only put conditioner on my ends, never in my roots, otherwise it makes my hair too greasy and I leave it on for three to five minutes before washing it out (I usually shave my legs while it sits). This is by far the best conditioner that I have ever used and it's the cheapest!

E. Herbel Essences Honey I'm Strong Conditioner
So this is an interesting one. It completely failed on my hair, it just made it feel dry and gross, almost like I hadn't washed it. So why is it still in my shower? It's awesome to use as a shaving cream on my legs. Ha, I don't like wasting things and it gets the job done, even if it's not the job it was made for.

F. DESSANGE Paris California Blonde Brass Color Correcting Cream
If you're a "blonde" like me,one of the worst parts about coloring your hair, whether you go to a salon  or color from a box, your color will inevitably get a little bit brassy between colorings. The best way to combat brassy coloring is to use a purple shampoo once a week in the shower. In the past I've purchased a $30 bottle from my hair salon mostly because I didn't know of any other options. Well this cream is half the price and does just as good of a job at fighting off brassiness from creeping into your blonde hair. To use: lather a small amount of product into your hair and leave in for up to 15 minutes depending on desired strength.

G. up & up Exfoliating Body Wash with Pomegranate Seeds
I absolutely love this body wash. I don't even know how long I've using it, t's been so long. The best parts of this product: 1) it has the perfect amount of light exfoliating, 2) it smells fantastic, 3) it's not drying on my skin, and 4) it is so affordable.

Other products I love:
LUSH Sugar Scrub
LUSH Buffy Body Butter
St. Ives Blemish Control Apricot Scrub
St. Ives Oatmeal & Shea Butter Body Wash
Bath & Body Works Aromatherapy Eucalyptus Spearmint Bath Soak

What's in your shower?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Recipe | Purple Frosted Brownies for Epilepsy Awareness Day

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Today is Epilepsy Awareness Day. For anyone who does not know what epilepsy is, it is a neurological disorder marked by sudden, recurring, seizures, associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Many people do not know much about epilepsy, which is why an awareness day is necessary, but it is more common than people realize. One in ten people will have a seizure in their lifetime and one in one hundred people will develop epilepsy. This disorder is actually as common as breast cancer. With so many people suffering from this disorder, you would think that doctors would know everything about it, or at least a good bit about it, like they do breast cancer. But in two-thirds of epileptics, the cause is unknown.

Many of you know, but many of you may not known that my mom suffers from epilepsy. She was diagnosed while I was in middle school and it gradually became worse. My mom has not been able to drive for over five years and it's been even longer since she has been able to work (she worked most of her career as a NICU nurse which is not exactly the best environment to be having Grand Mal seizures). I have seen a countless number of seizures and have even caught her from falling a few times. She's been on every medication available to epileptic and still hasn't found a combination to stop the seizures. She has also had a VNS Implant, or Vagus Nerve Stimulation Implant, which is basically a pacemaker for the brain and electrically shocks her brain every five minutes in an attempt to sort of restart her brain to stop seizures. Sometimes it seems like it helps and then sometimes, like a few weeks ago when she had four seizures in a week, it seems not to help.

It's been a very long journey for our family, full of ups and downs and twists and turns. But through all of it, God has been faithful to our family and kept my mom safe during her seizures and we always feel like there is hope for her health to improve.

Our family is just one of many with this story. For more information on epilepsy, visit the Epilepsy Foundation.

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Now back to the happy stuff...chocolate. Months ago my mom requested that I make a purple-y recipe for Epilepsy Awareness Day since the color for epilepsy is purple. I attempted to make brownies with purple frosting but it turned out that I didn't have the food coloring that I thought that I had so the frosting came out a little too dark, but I promise that it does have a purple tint. I would have gone out and gotten the correct colors for it but I won't even lie, I made these a little bit last minute and didn't have time. 

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Purple Frosted Brownies
Yields: 8x8 pan          Prep Time: 20 minutes          Bake time: 28 minutes          Total Time: 48 minutes

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 tsp white vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, whisked
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

4 Tbsp butter, room temp
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
3 Tbsp almond milk
1/2 Tbsp honey (I used honey made with orange blossoms)
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
food coloring (either red and blue or just a purple)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease an 8x8" or 9x9" baking dish.

2. Stir together warm, melted butter, sugar, vanilla, cocoa, salt, and vinegar in a large bowl. Whisk in eggs. Fold in flour. Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 28-30 minutes or until knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

3. Once the brownies are cool, prepare the frosting. Place all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Mix all of the ingredients until well combined and smooth and fluffy. Add in the food coloring and continue to whisk until you're happy with the consistency and color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. 

4. Scoop the frosting on top of the brownies and spread until smooth. Slice the frosted brownies and store in the fridge.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Happy Lists | eleven

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| Life Happy |
* got to visit with my best friend this weekend
* William is already starting to look like a toddler (what?!)
* we have some flower blooms popping up in our front yard
* sunshine
* William is like thirty seconds away from walking

| Food Happy |
* chocolate coconut milk ice cream
* I made these delicious cheddar chive and bacon biscuits for a church breakfast
* this was a yummy creamy (vegan) pasta dish
* Kashi 7 Grains crackers
* I am going to make homemade almond milk this week!

| Internet Happy |
* Dani of CoffeeBreakwithDani is just awesome, really love this recent video
* finding my journaling + scrapbooking board quite inspiring
* did you see this modern tea party? Too cute!
* love this quote and how it's written
* if you're local and between the ages of 18-30something come to YA 4th Friday!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Recipe | Chocolate Peanut Butter Meltaway Cookies

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Chocolate and peanut butter. One of the most classic combinations. They go together like peanut butter and jelly, sweet and salty, or twos pees in a pod. So good. I wasn't originally planning on adding chocolate to these peanut butter cookies but they were literally screaming for chocolate.

Okay, maybe not literally.

Actually, in the first place I wasn't even trying to make this type of cookie. I was attempting a crispy peanut butter, butter-y shortbread cookie. I ended up with a sort of shortbread cookie that literally just melts in your mouth. Not exactly what I was going for, but nonetheless, pretty darn delicious.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Beltway Cookies
Yields: 1 dozen          Prep Time: 15 minutes + chill time          Bake Time: 14 minutes          Total Time: 1 1/2 hours +

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 heaping cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
pinch sea salt
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions
1. In a large bowl, combine peanut butter and butter. Set aside.

2. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to peanut butter/butter mixture. Mix until no longer crumbly. Dump batter onto a sheet of parchment paper. Form the dough into a log. Roll the dough up in the parchment paper and refrigerate for at least one hour, but the longer the better, up to 24 hours. 

3. Once ready to bake, pull the dough out until it warms to about room temperature, or until you can slice it easily with a sharp knife. Preheat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the log into slices about 1/3 of an inch to half an inch thick. Place on prepared baking sheet, they can be fairly close together, as they do not spread much. Bake for 12-14 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking.

4. Once the cookies are cool to the touch, place the dark chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and melt at thirty second increments, stirring in between, until smooth and creamy. Using a spoon, drizzle and sort of splatter the chocolate onto the cookies. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

DIY | Kitchen Island

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I've never shared a DIY tutorial quite like this one. Not only did I take photos, but I decided to make a video to go along with it (scroll to the bottom to see it on this page)! Yeah that's right...I have a YouTube channel. I'm not sure how often I'll end up posting on the channel but maybe once a week. It'll sort of be like my blog in that I will make videos about whatever I feel like sharing! So one day it could be a DIY tutorial and the next it could be a make up haul or cooking video! Go ahead and subscribe to my channel to stay up to date.

If you're new to the whole subscribing to videos on YouTube rather than simply searching for things whenever, here are a few of my favorite channels: Blogilates, CoffeeBreakwithDani, WhatsUpMoms, SarahBethYoga, Zoella, and The Small Things Blog.

Now that you're all subscribed to my channel, time to get back to making a pretty customized kitchen island.

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DIY | Kitchen Island
Cost: under $150          Time: 1 1/2 days          Level: Easy

Supplies
Unfinished kitchen island (I'm using this one from IKEA)
White Paint (I used leftover white wall paint that I found in a closet)
Wood Stain + Sealer in "Natural Finish" (I used a combination stain/sealer)
Brushes/Rollers
Drop Cloth
optional: Painters' Tape (if you want to be sure that you don't get paint on the wheels, etc.)
                Colored paint (for the insides of the drawers)


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Steps
1. I started by staining the counter area. I wasn't sure how many coats I would end up needing which is why I started here but in the end I did two coats of stain on the counter.

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2. Next, paint the body of the island. For the majority of the island, I used a small foam roller, did a couple of coats with that and then went in with a brush to get the areas that the roller couldn't reach. The number of coats you need to do will depend on the type of paint you use, but I think I ended up with two or three coats. Learn from my mistakes and do not paint the wheels or the middle of the drawer cavity space or the bottom of the drawers.

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If you would like, you can paint the insides of the drawers a fun color to give it a little pop. I am again using leftover wall paint in the color "Forsythia Blossom" from Olympic Paint (my kitchen wall color).

Let dry for 24 hours. Keep the drawers out so they can dry as well.

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In just a few simple steps you will have a beautiful kitchen island that works as a prep table, storage solution, or even buffet as needed! I am absolutely in love with the finished product, I store it in my dining room and keep a jar of fresh flowers on it as well as a container of cookies but I can easily pull it into the kitchen area for prepping dinner.

If you use this tutorial, be sure to share it using #littlecitycrafts so I can see your project as well!

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