Best. Year. Ever.

Maybe?  I'm trying to be positive here, but am currently battling a nasty bout of bronchitis and am shaming myself for taking so long to update the site.  It got a bit crazy over the holidays, what with finding myself a brand spanking new day job and creating and adding a bunch of new holiday wares to my shop:

But anyways, enough excuses, because 2014 is going to filled with the moderately attainable promise of relatively frequent blog posts!  I have quite a few beauty reviews in the line-up, and possibly some fun canadian travel posts, as well as some plans for a bunch of fun new products.  Meanwhile, I've decided to do a short post on some natural ways to stay/get healthy now that the fickle winds of winter have decided to grace most of the US:

1. Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE)

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This stuff is absolutely the best, and I am 100% confident I would not be sick right now if I had not run out of this and stubbornly refused to get more.  I have told everyone I know about this, and basically everyone has politely ignored me except for one person who loves this stuff now.  I know it sounds a little hippie-ish, and if you taste it on its own it tastes like what one might imagine bile of the devil to taste like (which sounds like an incredible potion ingredient - mental note for next Halloween), but this stuff works better than any drugstore medicine I have ever tried at both preventing and shortening the length of illnesses.  True story: 3 years ago, LOML got sick like 3 times in one winter.  Each time, I drank this stuff like crazy and never got so much as a sniffle, despite the close quarters.  He refused to partake in the GSE because he thought it was crazy hippie juju like my green powders and chia seeds.  He finally took it on his third round and now is more obsessed with it than I am.  To use: mix about 20 drops in with orange or grapefruit juice (the only ones I have found that hide the taste) and drink it at least twice a day if you are near sick people or are already sick, or drop a few straight in your throat if you feel like testing out your gag reflex.  Seriously, when I say mix, I mean well and frequently, there is nothing worse than getting the last sip and it is all GSE and there is no more OJ left and suddenly it occurs to you that life without a tongue might not be so bad.  

2. Garlic

I used to crush up a clove and try to sneak it in with an apple slice, chuckling quietly at how easily I fooled myself until suddenly I wasn't fooled anymore and it tasted like an outrageously bad apple.  It is much easier to crush up a clove or two and sneak it into a bowl of soup as you heat it up.  It'll add a little spice to clear your sinuses and the garlic is a well-known home-remedy for fighting off illness.  Easy peasy.

3. Sneaky Power Greens

I am kinda notorious for eschewing any and all vegetables not pre-included in my Amy's Soup the second I get a sore throat.  Maybe it's just an excuse, but I just always want comfort food (no joke, lunch was a chocolate croissant yesterday), which is actually the opposite of what I should be eating.  However, today I found I could trick myself into eating vegetables by sneaking them into my cans of soup!  What's that you say?  You always make homemade soup chock full of fresh veggies when you have a cold?  Well congratulations, you are officially better than me, but for those who don't have the time/patience, it's super easy to add a little extra nutritional oomph to what I assume must be extremely lacking in a few months - 1 year old can of soup, I don't care how organic it is.  Today I tore up three giant kale leaves, massaged them a bit, and added them to my black bean soup right before I took it off the stove.  I could barely taste the addition, but I gave myself a big pat on the back for finally eating fresh greens, then rewarded myself with a caramel.  Balance, right?  But anyways, adding dandelion greens, spinach, or any other lovely green into your meals will boost up your vitamin and mineral intake to keep you healthy.

4. Epsom Bath

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Epsom salt baths are known to help detoxify and ease muscle aches while giving you a boost of magnesium, which many of us are lacking in.  Sweat your balls off by adding in some fresh ginger to add in some spice and decongest.  A great tutorial is here - make sure to plan it for a night when you can get plenty of time to yourself:  http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-7261/kick-your-cold-fast-with-a-detox-bath.html

That's it!  Of course you could always throw in a hot toddy, but you already knew that I'm sure. Hope you all had a healthy and happy start to 2014, and am absolutely looking forward to bothering you all more often!

Storewide Sale!!

In honor of my very favorite holiday, All Hallows Eve, I'm giving all my lovely customers $5 off any order over $25!  Stock up on some Cinderella Pumpkin Seed favors for Halloween or Thanksgiving, Halloween decor* , or get something that WON'T haunt your dreams, like a narwhal mobile or an antique blue glass float (that would look SPECTACULAR on a holiday table!)

Use code HAUNTEDHALLOWEEN for any section from my Etsy shop.  Hurry - this offer expires October 31st!

 *All Halloween items ship priority - order by Saturday, October 26th for guaranteed Halloween delivery.  Free local pickup available for those local to Portland, OR.

This Nerd Stalked "10 Things I Hate About You" So You Don't Have To

This Nerd Stalked "10 Things I Hate About You" So You Don't Have To

Sooo...I kinda have a weird thing about film sets.  I am constantly intrigued by the ability of set designers and location scouts to turn places like Vancouver B.C into a charming East Coastal town, or a charming East Coastal town into Vancouver B.C, and my god WHY not just film in the place where it's supposed to be!? <<incoherent angry sputtering>> Yes yes, tax breaks and production issues and other stuff I don't care about.  Moving on.  Every movie or TV show that I watch gets IMDB'd immediately, strictly to see where it is filmed.  And not just the city, but the house and any place visited during said movie as well.  I blame it on my innate love of travel, and lack of funding to do so.  However, due to sites like www.movie-locations.com and hookedonhouses.net, I know I'm not alone.

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DIY Decaying Bat Skeletons: For the Halloween-obsessed, or the Criminally Insane

DIY Decaying Bat Skeletons: For the Halloween-obsessed, or the Criminally Insane

Sometimes, when you reach a certain level of delusion in Halloween Decorating mania,  you need to take a step back and think: do I feel like I belong in Martha Stewart Living, or do I belong in a place with padded walls?  These bats look like they came straight out of the nightmares of Bruce Wayne, and I felt a little bit like a mad scientist when I was making them.  If you are looking for a smiling, friendly bat that says "Boo! Happy Haunting!", then you my friend have come to the wrong blog.  This DIY takes your decor to a whole new level, without actually purchasing dead bats (which I scarily enough looked into before deciding that it was utter nonsense.  I would MAKE my own dead bats.)  Once you get the hang of it, you can start popping these babies out in bulk and hang them in trees, in a branch centerpiece, or various plant life.  Just keep them out of reach of cats, because mine wanted to kill Frederico with all of his being (yes, of course I named my bat.)

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Welcome To The Jungle Cruise...

Please exit the boat the same way you entered...pushing and shoving. 

Source here.  

Did you know that the Disneyworld Jungle Cruise has this crazy awesome cave you go through?  It is totally winning over Disneyland.


I love the Jungle Cruise ride, and I feel it is underappreciated next to the more popular Disney cousins, Pirates and Indiana Jones.  You can imagine how excited I was to discover that my soon-to-be born nephew's nursery is jungle themed!  Brilliant.  Time for a jungle mobile!  I was a little worried it would be Star Wars, and there ain't anything I can do with Star Wars.  Because this is all about me.

Se here are the pictures -- there is a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo!  And some hand-painted Macaw type birds that I kind of invented!  Baby Cockatiels!  Jungley vines!  And all held together by one vintage cheeky monkey.  And by cheeky, I mean cheeky, because when I dropped him on my foot, he was really f$&%ing smug about it.  Just for that, I had him hold everything up, instead of lazily swinging from a vine like I had originally planned.  (That, and he was kinda heavy, and I already didn't trust him at this point.)  Enjoy, and congrats to my big brother and his lovely wife!

What the baby sees, but with more twirling (I hung the vines and 2 birds on a branch separately, so they can move at slightly different paces.)

This jerk again.  He sure is adorable though.

Visit my Etsy shop here to see my available mobiles, or to order a custom-made mobile. 

Acure Organics Shampoo & Conditioner Review

Acure Organics Shampoo & Conditioner Review

 

Being the kind of person that very much dislikes dousing herself with toxins and carcinogens for the sake of my hair, I will do quite a bit of research and try some products that most friends and family members might define as "crazy hippie crap" in order to not only reduce the chemicals in my shower, but also to support more natural brands instead of ones that knowingly inject poison into bunny eyeballs for the sake of swishy Pantene hair. That said, drugstore shampoo smells awesome.  Not to mention that for the most part, they leave your hair looking pretty consistent, which is not always the case with natural brands no sir.  But the cons outweigh the pros, so I truck on in my quest to find the perfect shampoo/conditioner.

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Hyper-Healthified Quinoa & Hemp Seed Tabouli

Hyper-Healthified Quinoa & Hemp Seed Tabouli

Tabouli.  One of the few salads I actually LOVE.  And not just because it is usually accompanied by delicious falafel and hummus.  I keep it in the fridge all week and snack on it whenever I want to snack on chips and it usually kicks the craving (and leaves my breath minty fresh). It is typically made with bulgur, a quick-cooking wheat product, however, I added some superfoods instead to make mine a bit healthier, which also makes it gluten-free for those of you that are sensitive.  Quinoa is a great source of protein, iron, fiber, and magnesium, and hemp seeds (or hemp hearts) has easily-digestible protein that contains all nine of the essential amino acids, as well as the perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3s, in addition to Vitamin E and other trace minerals.  Hemp seeds also contain an especially beneficial type of omega-6 fat called GLA, which can improve metabolism and promote fat loss. I use shelled, raw hemp seeds: Navitas Naturals and Manitoba Harvest are good brands to try.  Even if you are not a fan of the nutty taste, I couldn't even taste it in the tabouli.

On to the recipe- Hemp Seed and Quinoa Tabouli:

 

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Decorating For The Seasons

London Snow.  Not sure of the source, but good job, anonymous person.

One of my favorite things about moving from Venice to Oregon is that there are actual seasons here.  Leaves explode into orange and red in the Fall, and snowdrifts sometimes grace us for Christmas.  

There are definite pros and cons to this. February generally marks the time that winter weather ceases to be the charming "lets catch a snowflake with our tongue!" and more "F&%$ this."  Regardless, I try to appreciate the seasons for as long as my finicky nature will allow, and part of that is making my house match the seasons.  Maybe this is just me, but just the smell of apple cider makes me long for hay rides and pumpkin patches, just as the fragrance of salted air and dead fish make me twitchy for Summer vacation and boardwalk taffy.  Creating a seasonally influenced atmosphere not only makes guests feel instantly at home, but just makes you happier and less inclined to kick your car every time the window is frozen over.  Plus, happy people just don't shoot their husbands.  They just don't.

Karlovy Vary in the beautiful Czech Republic.

Karlovy Vary in the beautiful Czech Republic.

We tend to have three major parties a year - Halloween, Christmas, and some kind of summertime shindig, and every single time, people come up to me telling me that my house looks like a completely different home, which is because it does.  I approach my living space like it's a movie set - I want it to be "Addams Family" around Halloween, "Little Women" at Christmas, and a mixture of "Something's Gotta Give" & "Pirates of the Caribbean" during the summer.  Notice I left out the Spring, because, eh.  However, if allergy season is your jam, it would be super easy.  Pick flowers.  Sneeze.  Done.

 

So here are my tips in no particular order on decorating in general, and seasonal transformations with minimal investment and time.  I mean, it will take some time.  This blog post does not include an order form for a house elf.  But, it doesn't take as long as you think, nor cost as much as you would expect, especially if you build up inventory over time.  Now, I'm guessing there will be a few of you out there who are thinking, "Why would I do this?  I like my house to look the same all the time."  Well, why are you reading this then?  Don't read this, you bore.

Something's Gotta Give set, compliments of Hooked on Houses.  I am obsessed with this writing nook.

Little Women - another one from Hooked on Houses - this driveway kills me.  Click through for more shots of the whole house, and if you are a serial movie house stalker like me, feel free to consider the next three hours shot on this website.

My neutral sofa that I'm still crazy in love with, as much as one can be with a piece of furniture.  OK, maybe not quite as much, as I have seen "Married to the Eiffel Tower", and those women have a lot of love for inanimate objects and OMG she consummated her marriage.  No joke.  It is a must see.

Step 1: Start with a neutral base.   Whenever I advise on Interior decoration, I always try to steer people away from big furniture pieces with a pattern or a trendy color.  Save the patterns and oxblood for pillows, painted walls, or easily replaceable items, and go neutral for couches and sofas, beds, rugs, dressers, and armoires. I bought some really nice white silk comforters for each bed that look great on their own, but can easily have a duvet thrown on them.  Basically anything that you wouldn't purchase on a whim.  

"But I want an ochre chaise!" you say.  Me too, my friend, me too.  How much fun is it hearing a song you like?   So, so fun.  How much fun is it to hear that song every goddamn day for years on end and changing the radio would cost you $1500+?  The answer is not f%*&ing fun.  Neutrals might be boring to some (I actually like them), but they won't make you want to claw your eyes out with regret in 2 years when you wonder how you ever liked a mod floral print.  If you are still against it, take a snoop through your closet.  You know that stash of items in the corner that you bought years (or decades) ago but can't get rid of because you only wore it 3 times and it was on Sex & The City which was a cultural icon for women and OMG you were totally a Samantha*?  You're never wearing that again, and it was probably ugly.  Yet, you probably still wear that classic LBD or boots that go with everything. However, just because you buy neutral big ticket items doesn't mean they need to be boring.  Hold out for great pieces that encompass you as a person, not just how you view yourself at that point in your life.  

 *I was totally a Carrie.  Until I saw the movies and I was like, ugh, I am a none of the above. 

Words cannot describe how badly I wanted this.

Step 2: Stock up seasonally.  But not at the beginning.  As much as you want to go out and rampage Pottery Barn the second they get reindeer decanters in, hold off until January, when they will be half the price.  Unless money isn't an issue for you, in which case, go wild.  The big benefit to this is that next year, when you break into your bins o' decor its like a brand new present for you, because you will definitely have forgotten that you bought it.  The con is no immediate gratification, but if TIME Magazine is correct, then that's what's wrong with this generation anyway.  I am a believer in quality, not quantity,  I would rather have 4 gorgeous ornaments on a tree than 200 tacky ones.  This way, I get 10-15 ornaments that I love each year to add on next year for the price of 5, or some coral pillowcases in September to dress up the guest bed.  When it comes to candles, it's a hit or miss whether to stock up after the fact.  You might think they lose some scent in storage for a year, but if you go high quality, I've found that they don't.  I keep my Winter owl Anthropologie candle in the linen closet because it is my favorite thing ever and I don't want it to break in storage, and every time I take a towel out I am assaulted with the loveliest sugared pine smell ever, and it is 2 1/2 years old.

Step 3: Stock up seasonally, but the opposite of what I just said.  You may want to change out your linen curtains for some heavier, richer fabrics, so might as well invest in some thermal curtains that will save you money all Winter, then change out for something lighter to let the sun in when you aren't clinging to every ounce of heat in your house.  In this case it really wouldn't make sense to buy in February, because you won't get the benefits of them when you need it, and the selection in the warmer months would be dismal.  Same goes for electric fireplaces (though those can and should be left up year-round) and any indoor plants or other functional items.  (Yes, plants are functional.  THEY PURIFY YOUR AIR.  Do you want to breathe in rank, toxic air?)  Also, pumpkins.  Cable knit throws.  There are a lot more but you get the gist, just use your judgment - can you possibly wait or is there a good reason to buy now?

Step 4: Don't go gimmicky.  I know I'm one to speak as I pretty much buy anything with a skull on it from August - October, but for the most part, steer clear of holiday-ey stuff for stuff that need not be holiday.  Want to decorate your front porch for the Winter?  Great.  Don't buy a "'Tis the Season" or "Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel" doormat.  Or a mistletoe laden wreath.  Focus on Winter items that you can leave up.  What about an antique sled? Or a pinecone collection?  You can always accent it with Holiday accents.  Same for Summer.  No July 4th serving dishes.  And don't get me started on Valentine's decor.  You don't want stuff you can use for a month, you want stuff you can use over time that doesn't lose its charm after an event is over.  There is nothing worse than cleaning up after a Holiday party, because not only are you likely hungover, and said Holiday is over, but then suddenly everything you thought was charming about the Holiday looks SO ANNOYING and you want it out right now, so this step helps eliminate some of that hassle.

Step 5: STORAGE.  It's important.  When you see a good deal on good rubber bins, stock up on more than you think you need and get some good labels. Do not just throw them all in a trash bag then stick them out by the shed and then when you open them next year there are spiders living in them.  BIG spiders.  Clearly this has happened to me.  Learn from my mistake that resulted in me tossing out an entire bag of decorations and rocking maniacally in the closet for over an hour.

I'm a huge fan of chalkboard labels, because you don't have to worry about putting everything back into the right box, and they are super easy to make. Courtesy of Outside the Box!  - visit the site for more directions.

It is also sitting on top of a rusted old wine barrel that we rescued from the boondocks, that caused us much grief in the transportation.

Step 6: Be interesting.  Choose items that have a history or a story.   If you abhor vintage, make something yourself.  Go out of the box.  In the Summer, I put away all my darker throws and make everything lighter.  I break out the seashells, and put my antique model boats everywhere, but my favorite items are one of a kind, like my ships telegraph lamp and an old ships wheel mirror LOML found in my in-laws garage.  These things aren't for everybody, but that's why they're not mass-marketed.  I'm not saying you can't shop at an IKEA, just balance it with something that sets you apart from a model home.  And obviously my idea of Summer is quite nautical.  Yours might be completely different, so make it your own.

An oyster tree.  Not sure where this is from but it's spectacular.

Step 7: Multitask. Sometimes, items that look really "Summery" or "Autumn-ey" can still be repurposed for other seasons.  I have a miniature Christmas tree in my hallway each year decorated with shells with a starfish on top.  Use the same color theme year round if you want.  While deep reds and warm blues will always signify a cozy wintry fire and hot cocoa to me, there is no getting around the fact that the image to the right would be magnificent during the holidays.

Courtesy of The Knot.

This actually happened, and it doesn't even embarrass me.

Who wouldn't want a fireplace of bones?

Step 8 : Be independent.  Which might mean disregarding everything I just said.  If any of the above steps made you angry because you really love your heart shaped china or lime green etagere, or you really think your haphazard storage system is super effective, that means you have some passion for it which I can never hate on.  One of my friends has a relative that owns over 200 light up Santas and proudly displays them on his roof every year, and I think that is badass, although I would never sleep in that house for fear they would come alive and graft reindeer antlers on me for some sick, arthouse statement against the killing of reindeer.  Rock your own style because that is what will make you happiest.  My enchanting mother has a collection of Kachina dolls that I hate with a passion, but she adores them, and despite how much she respects me as a designer, no amount of complaining or disgust on my part will make her move them from the premium focal point of the house.  Now that is true love, my friends.  For her Kachina dolls.  It still really creeps me out that I have to look at a mutant half wolf half human who is on the attack every time I visit, but I respect her for not caving into my incessant demands.  The point is, if you MUST have your turquoise and yellow chevron stripe sofa, then go for it, but please do let me know how you feel about it in 3 years, because, as the love of my life likes to remind me, I love to say "I told you so."  Deal?