spice rack makeover

As I pursue my desire to breathe more fully this year, one of the things I have done is declutter and simplify the spaces around me.
After making my way through the spaces I live and work, I found that one place making me feel, well, claustrophobic, was the shelf of spices in the kitchen.  Something had to be done!

spice rack makeover

The first step was to organize what i already had. 
A handful of the spices in the cupboard were new and used often, but many of them had been around for years or were rarely being used.  I tossed out what was expired and offered up duplicates or things I don’t use often to friends.

Next, a new collection of spices was built.
I made a list of what I use most and consulted some friends and websites to round out the list.  I ended with 20 seasonings, as follows:
salt
pepper
alpine touch (Montanas special spice)

cumin
onion powder
coriander
paprika
oregano
sage
rosemary
thyme
cloves
ginger
cinnamon
allspice
chili powder
curry powder
bay leaves
fennel seed

Obviously, this was catered toward my preferences, but I did find it nice to encounter lists like this along the way.
The new spices that were needed were purchased in the bulk spice section, which both allowed the correct amount to be purchased for the size of the jars and was much cheaper than buying them in containers.

Then came the actual makeover of the spice rack. 
I had been carrying around an old spice rack for years, but didn’t really like the appearance or selection of spices, so it was the perfect candidate for a makeover.
old rack
The spice jars were cleaned and old labels peeled off.
old labels

Acrylic craft paint was used to give the rack the perfect new color and finish.
painting

Simple letter stickers were used to label the lids of the jars
new labels

Finally the jars were filled, the rack was filled, a new space was made on the counter for the rack and, voila, makeover complete!
finished spice rack

Thanks to this spice rack makeover, I can cook without the claustrophobia. 🙂

breathe

One of the most awesome things I do every year is devote some focused time to, put simply, reflect on where I’ve been, where I am and where I want to be, both literally and figuratively.  I do most of this through both a self-designed personal retreat and a program called the Stratejoy Holiday Council.  Once the dust of this reflection settles, one of the many things I emerge with is a theme.  It may be a word or a phrase.  It may have a whole story that builds up to it or it may have been born out of my time of reflection.  It falls into the rhythm of my heartbeat, speaks truth and inspires my goals.  For me, the value of my theme for the year (or whatever amount of time it remains) is grand.

All that said, I wanted to share my theme for the present time.

Breathe.

I could write much more to draw out the beauty of how this theme developed and what it means to me, but, instead, I will share the visual representation and encourage this process of listening to your own voice, creating a collage of cravings and moving with more strength and love through YOUR journey. 🙂

breathe

hold on


I came to discover this song and the band while in college in Colorado.  Sadly, Newcomers Home disbanded almost ten years ago, so this expression of Hold On is what I cling to.  However, I have had the opportunity to see the lead singer, Katie Herzig, in concert several times and love following her solo career as well.  In fact, at one of her concerts a couple years ago I had the chance to speak with her and tell her how much I love this song.  She told me how much she used to love performing it, which made my heart so happy.
Anyway…
Oh, this song.  I don’t know how to speak about it in a way that justifies the power and beauty it possesses.  It reaches into the depths of my soul and breathes it out.  It exposes the complexity of the fear and hope and love that I feel.  It makes me feel calm and passionate at the same time.  It is meant to be a part of my world and has surfaced once again as an important part to the start of my year.  I LOVE this song.   And that is why I want to share it.
Happy New Year!

homemade peppermint foot cream and scrub

Feet.  Our poor, tender, hard-working feet.  Don’t they deserve a break?
Between a summer of heat, hiking and sandals, jobs that keep me on my feet 12 hours a day and the moment I smashed my big toe on the crush pad this fall (toe is fine, but toenail is gone), I know mine have certainly earned some pampering.
So, I went searching for some ways to treat my feet and was enticed by these pepperminty options. It only takes 9 ingredients to make both the cream and the scrub, several of which may already be sitting on the bathroom and/or kitchen shelves.
DSCN0665

 

PEPPERMINT FOOT CREAM

Ingredients:
1 T. Cocoa Butter
1/4 cup Shea Butter (I used a little more)
2 T. Coconut Oil
1 T. Avocado Oil
1 t. Vitamin E Oil
1/4 t. Tea Tree Essential Oil
1/4 t. Peppermint Essential Oil
1-2 t. Peppermint Extract (optional)

My process:
1. Soften/melt cocoa butter. (Mine is in a microwavable container)
2. Combine all ingredients
3. Place container in freezer for 5 minutes.
4. Stir well and enjoy!

I am including the original instructions below as my process was a little more simple, but created more of a heavy lotion than a cream.  Though I love what I created, I look forward to following these steps more closely and making a nice fluffy cream.

1.In a double boiler, melt the cocoa butter, shea butter, coconut oil, and avocado oil.  Mix well and remove from heat.
2. Let cool until it starts to set up. Put it in the fridge or freezer to help this process go a little faster. Once cooled, add in remaining ingredients.
3. Using a hand mixer, whip lotion and then pour into desired container.

found recipe via pinterest on Robyns View

DSCN0659

PEPPERMINT FOOT SCRUB

Ingredients:
3.5 T. Sea Salt (I used Epsom Salt)
1 t. Vitamin E Oil
1/2 t. Olive Oil
5 Drops Peppermint Essential Oil

Combine Ingredients in bowl.  I made double the recipe, so that I had enough for a few uses.

To Use:
Massage scrub all over feet and then rinse off.

found recipe via pinterest on The Sensible Mom

I had such a great time creating and using these simple and delicious foot treatments.  One of my favorite things about the process was the minty smell that filled the house on a rainy Monday morning.  I also loved the results and look forward to using these products often.

Treat your feet and enjoy!!

 

 

and now…

…to explain my absence…

I made a conscious decision to take a break from blogging. It was well into the holiday season and I had an awesome new job and some fabulous new projects going. Opportunities were abundant. I was feeling overwhelmed by time and did not want my blog to be something that drained me. I always desire for writing/blogging/creating to be something that challenges and inspires,  so giving myself a little breathing room to shift focus was intentional.

Stepping away for eight months, however, was never the plan and feels a bit shocking in the present.

I got lost in the new things, which in and of themselves were not at all bad, but before I knew it, I was just sucked up into day to day life survival and my own pulse was feeling faint.

Don’t get me wrong. There have been many awesome things that have happened over the last year. My world has included an incredible and successful new business with a company I love, people that I can’t even fathom not knowing, a fabulous creative space, good hard work, plenty of wine, laughter, positive changes, moments of rejuvenation and lots of inspiration. The problem is that I feel weary and have never craved health, creativity and balance more.

Image found on GabbieBrownsblog via pinterest

 And, so, now it is time to return. It is time to bring some focus back toward the things that help my heart to beat strong. It is time to find a way to embrace moxie again. Now it is time to maintain all of the fabulous new things, but to also do what I need to do .

If I have any point in this whole post, it is that I am finally starting to accept the possibility that by making my own heartbeat my focus, all of the other things that extend will carry more life.

This is huge.

And guess what? I can’t even prove that it is true yet, but I look forward to sharing as I journey on.

take time

taketimefull
found on saying images via pinterest

awake

I was introduced to the beautiful words of Mark Nepo earlier this year and was quite taken with them.  These were, at that time and again today when I stumbled upon them, both relevant and alluring…

A Thousand Pools
by Mark Nepo

I am awake. It wasn’t always so.
It may not last for long. So let me
say this while my heart is beating like
a river. This life is more than one can
bear. It’s taken years to learn this, to
feel this, to know this in my bones.
I am not talking about giving up or
persevering. I mean we’re not designed
to bear it in the first place. Anymore
than the sun bears the sky or the wind
bears the thousands of leaves it moves
through. I am awake. This time I stum-
bled to it. I was productive. Some said
on fire. Then I tripped on something
ordinary. Like a pebble in your shoe.
And I fell out of the dance I had
created. The one by which I knew
my worth. I couldn’t get it back. It
depressed me for months. But like a
whale I kept diving down and coming
up. Despite the parting of my dream.
Now I’m awake as I never imagined.
This doesn’t preclude pain or weather
or disappointment. These as well as joy
land in some lake I have carried since
birth. It stills whatever enters without
silencing our heart. Like an endless
pool that clears after a violent rain,
you can see through me. Come.
Look. I am awake.

apple cider sangria

sangria glass
First of all, apple beverages are delicious.  Let’s get that clear.  Apple juice, apple wine, apple cider.  LOVE, love, love.  So, naturally, upon discovering this autumn apple cider champagne sangria recipe on the beautiful blog kirantarun, it had to be made!

Confession:  I totally made this for Thanksgiving last year, but was lazy about sharing it with the blogosphere.  However, the good news is I loved it so much that I am making it again and choosing to be less lazy.🙂

My days journey toward sangria began with a LOT of apples.  I started by making cider, which basically equates to cutting up said lot of apples and boiling them for hours.  Then, the liquid gets separated from the rest of the apple remains through a process I have not quite mastered, as it takes me about 3 different strainers and at least that many bowls and pitchers to accomplish.  So worth it though.  And don’t worry about the non-liquid part of that apple boil because that got turned into apple butter!  Also takes several hours of boiling. Also so worth it!
a LOT of apples
I could talk more about the cider and butter, but right now, this is about sangria.  (However, if you have the time to make cider and/or butter and have your house smell like apples and cinnamon all day long, I highly recommend it)
Back to the sangria…delicious, crisp fall holiday feeling, spicy fig and cranberry soaked sangria.  Yum.

sangriaIngredients:
3 apples, sliced (I used a couple different types…honey crisp are great!)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup halved dried figs
1 cup fruity red wine (I used Merlot)
3 cups apple cider
4 whole cinnamon sticks
1/2 tbsp whole cloves
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg

something bubbly or sparkly like champagne (I use a sparkling muscat from a local winery for this)

Directions:
Super simple.
1. Combine the ingredients (less the sparkly) and let them soak together (overnight, if possible).
2. When ready to drink, pour into glass and top off with whatever type of bubbles or sparkles you choose.
3. Enjoy!

Again, this was totally inspired by this post.  (thank you)

I will post more pics later. 🙂

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

ode to joy indeed

Recently, I saw this video and was totally inspired.  It is a musical flashmob that took place as part of a celebration in Sabadell, Spain.
Last night, I watched Brandi Carlile perform with the Oregon Symphony and was also totally inspired.  During the performance last night, I was wishing that everyone I knew could be there for the experience and was also reminded and moved to share this video.
Music has so much power to inspire.  In fact, it is indescribable, which is why there really isn’t much else I can say here.
Enjoy!

tiny beautiful things

“You will learn a lot about yourself if you stretch in the direction of goodness, of bigness, of kindness, of forgiveness, of emotional bravery. Be a warrior for love.”
―Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

I have not read Wild (yet). I have a note in my journal from January that says, “read Wild“. There is even a copy sitting in the house.  I will read it.  But the first book I ever read by Cheryl Strayed will always be tiny beautiful things.

On the surface, this book is simply a collection of advice column letters and answers.  But, if your heart is open, it is so much more than that.

This is the sort of stuff that makes my heart want.  It is people.  It is stories.  It is real.  It is all three combined.  And then those real people are brave enough to reach out by writing in to an advice column.  In return, this beautiful writer, then known only as “Sugar”, reaches back with such raw emotion, both delicate and passionate, woven into words that address real life in a way that made me want to laugh and scream and cry all at once.

Read it if you are a human that lives in the real world and wants to embrace real life.

pinspiration

It is a rainy and rare lazy Saturday afternoon and pinterest has me rather inspired by some cozy ideas that seem to match my mood.  Since I am in a bloggy mood as well, here are a few of my favorite new pins from today…

1. Coffee Aroma Candles
Seriously, how simple and fabulous is this?
Candle holder + coffee beans + tea light = house smells like a coffee shop.

2. Dresser Bench
I am super inspired by this.  It would be a fun project and would make such a great item for an entry, bedroom or guest room!


I would normally link this to original site,
but this was on etsy and is no longer available
.

3. Pumpkin Bread Pudding
I read these seven words in the description of this and was sold:
cinnamon, ginger, pumpkin, spiced, bourbon soaked raisins
Can’t wait to try it!

4. Cozy Knit Scarf
I want to put this on right now.  I love the mood of it.  I love the color.  I love the style.
Also, I have had this theory that I am going to break out the knitting supplies and this might be the inspiration that causes me to actually follow through!

things i never needed

Take a long hard look at my face
Take away the things I can’t replace
Take my heart, go on take it away
I’ve got nothing to say

Take away this sense of regret
Take the things I need to forget
Take the mistakes I haven’t made yet
They’re all I have left

I don’t want to be the one who lets you down
All I did was run myself around
I wish I could have seen through your eyes
Maybe then I would have realized
I’m the only one who’s bleeding
For the things I never needed
The things I never needed

Take a good long look at yourself
Take the weight off everyone else
Take the hardest blow that was dealt
It’s all on your shoulders

I don’t want to be the one who lets you down
All I did was run myself around
I wish I could have seen through your eyes
Maybe then I would have realized
I’m the only one who’s bleeding
For the things I never needed
The things I never needed

blueberry lemonade sangria

I was browsing the little recipe cards at New Seasons the other day and this sounded delicious, so I picked it up.  Sweet and simple, it was delicious.
blueberry lemonade sangria

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
1 (12oz) can frozen pink lemonade concentrate
1 bottle dry white wine (I used chardonnay)
1 liter lemon-lime soda (I used sprite)

Mix the berries, lemonade concentrate and wine together and chill.  Add cold soda and serve!

I poured the mixture into glasses and then added the soda, along with a couple frozen strawberries.

Cheers!

birch lake

hungry horse view
Jewel Basin is a gem of a hiking area in northwest Montana located between Kalispell and Hungry Horse Reservoir.  It boasts 15000+ acres, abundant wildlife, 27 lakes and 35 miles of trails, most of which are open only to hikers.
Getting to the main access to the area (Camp Misery Trailhead) is a journey itself, heading from Echo Lake 7 miles up a sometimes steep and curvy dirt road (Jewel Basin Rd. #5392).  From the trailhead, you can choose between dozens of desired destinations.  Though there are signs at junctions marking trail numbers, a map is helpful along the trail.
201318-001From Camp Misery, it is about three miles to the edge of Birch lake via either trail #717 to #7 or trails #8 and #68 to #7.  Trail #717 follows the outer edge of a mountain and provides an incredible view of the Flathead.  Trails #8 and #68 travel through a more forested area and provide more shade on hot days.
With a gain of less than 1000′ in elevation and plenty of wildflowers to accompany the view, the trek to Birch Lake is a perfect, somewhat relaxed, partial day hike.
birch lake 1birch lake 2Once there, a 1.5 mile trail follows the edge of the lake where many spots can be found for picnics, fishing, watching for wildlife, swimming, making camp or just taking it all in.  Whether this lake is your destination or just a stop along the way, it is exciting to know that it is just the beginning of what Jewel Basin has to offer.

break the shell

For the second time this year, India Arie has made an appearance in the “pretty much the most pertinent song that could possibly exist right now for me” section of my life.

shining on

ImageI’m back!  I have been through a whirlwind of self-reflection over the last couple months and needed some time to focus on, well, myself.  Thank you to everyone who has been commenting, tweeting and emailing to encourage me to keep up with the moxie!  It means so much to me.  I can’t imagine a more perfect way to reemerge into my online world than with a quote from my friend Molly at stratejoy.
Let your brilliance shine!

the sea and the soul

waves

“The voice of the sea speaks to the soul.”
~Kate Chopin

tutu fun

DSCN0310-001What turned into an explosion of tulle, glitter and tutu fun started quite innocently with a picture of a dancer that inspired me.  In response to that  inspiration, I decided to make myself a tutu.  Normal, right?  Once said tutu was created, I thought, “This would be a great project for all the kids I take care of!”, not fully realizing I was secretly on a mission to invade my world (and employers and friends houses) with glitter.  That was followed by the creation of several more tutus for my friends and their kids.  Dropping surprise tutu packages in the mail for a bunch of little girls is pretty stinking fun.  At the end of the day, which I doubt the “tutu project day” has officially ended, I created or helped create 11 tutus.  Okay, yeah, touching story I know, but shall we get to how to make the tutus???  Yes.
What’s great about this project is that it is fairly simple and inexpensive and has the potential to infuse joy/expression/fun for quite some time.  I had heard that there was a no-sew way to make tutus, so I just googled it and found a video on youtube, which I am also including as a link at the end of the post.

What’s Needed:
fabric (which will probably be mostly tulle)
hairband or ribbon
scissors

Collages41-001What To Do:
1.  First, a trip to the fabric/craft store is in order. 
I ended up on several trips and buying a variety of colors and types of tulle.  I also found some rolls of tulle, which saved some of the cutting.

(I find the thinner tulle to be more clingy and glittery tulle to be very generous in sharing its glitter with anything it touches as random fyi’s)

In addition to tulle, pick up ribbon or stretchy fabric headbands for the waistband if you don’t have those things.

2. Cut fabric into strips.  The size of the strips will depend on the size and style of tutu that you want to create, but they should be twice the length desired for the tutu (because they will basically be folded)
The width doesn’t really matter. but I made most of mine about 3 or 4 inches wide.

The easiest way to cut the strips is to cut a large piece of fabric to the correct length, roll it up and then cut into pieces.

3.  Attach the fabric to the waistband.  This process is absolutely easy enough for a child to do, but might take a few tries to get the hang of.

First, fold a cut strip of the tulle in half.

Then, hold the loop side next to or under the ribbon or hair band.

Finally, pull the ends around the waistband and through the loop to secure.

(check out the link to the video below if that doesn’t make sense)🙂

Once a strip of fabric has been secured, it can be pulled tight or left loose.  It is really a matter of preference.  I like them a little loose so that I can still move them around a bit if I want to squeeze a different color in somewhere or simply get more strips onto the tutu.

If a ribbon is being used, I recommend measuring it around the waist and tying knots on both ends where the ribbon meets, leaving plenty of ribbon for making a tie in the back when it is worn.  This way, all of the tulle will stay secured within the knots and it will also be easier to tie later.

When using the hairbands, try them on the childs waist first to make sure that it doesn’t feel too tight.

Attach tulle strips to the waistband until you are satisfied with the amount of fabric on the tutu!  Have fun with the colors and varieties of fabric.

4. Dance!🙂

Check out this youtube no-sew tutu tutorial if you need a more visual instruction.

Also, here is a photo from my other blog that I took of one of the kiddos dancing around in their new tutu if you feel like checking it out.

Have fun!

love is why

love is why

found on pinterest from weweremade2love.tumbler.com

the makeup cleanse

makeup overflowHaving a hard time digging out your favorite lip gloss every morning?  Mascara getting clumpy?   If cosmetics are starting to feel more like clutter, cleaning out the makeup bag can be an easy way to simplify and treat your skin well.
Makeup doesn’t last forever and over time it can harbor bacteria which causes skin irritation and breakouts as well as other infections such as conjunctivitis (pinkeye).  So, how do you know when makeup should be tossed?  If it starts to smell funny, definitely toss it.  If the consistency or color starts to change or you notice skin irritation when it is applied, its probably time to ditch it as well.  Otherwise, here is a general timeline for the healthy life of most products:

Foundation:
Water-based: 12 months  Oil-based: 18 months
Concealer: 12-18 months
Powder/Blush: 1-3 years
Mascara: 3-6 months
Liquid/Cream Eyeliner or Shadows: 6-12 months
Eyeshadow: 1-3 years
Eye/Lip Pencils: 1-3 years
Lisptick/Lip Gloss: 1-2 years
Nail Polish: 1-5 years

A few extra tips:
Treat Your Makeup Well. 
There are several things you can you can do to extend the life of your makeup.  First of all, store it in a cool and dry location.  That makeup sitting in the sunny car or open on the bathroom counter while you shower is going to go bad more quickly than the makeup in a fun bag on your dresser.  In addition to storage location, sharpen lip and eye pencils regularly and try not to pump mascara too much Both of these tricks, along with the next tip, will fight bacteria. 

DSCN9992 (5)-001Wash Your Brushes!  This is one of the most important things you can do for your makeup and your face.  If you have never washed your makeup brushes, prepare to be disgusted.  You can purchase a brush cleaner if you like or just use a mild soap of some sort.  I prefer to use a natural shampoo because, to me, brushes are more like hair.  Wash your brushes in the bathroom sink with water and soap and then lay them out to air dry.  This should be done often.  I try to do it every month.  If you use other applicators, such as sponges, be sure to wash or replace those often as well.

Keep Organized.  If you keep your makeup organized and accessible, you will save money, time and sanity.  Store makeup you use on an everyday basis in a handy location and in a way that makes it easy to move around.  You could use a fun makeup bag or colorful containers such as bowls or baskets.  Any excess can be stored in a makeup bag, bin or mini drawers and kept in a drawer or closet so that it is not in the way when you don’t need it. 

Have Fun With It!  Learn some new makeup tips.  Treat yourself to a new color or makeup bag. Have a spa day and use that nail polish.  Or go on a girls night out with that glitter blush you’ve been ignoring!🙂
Enjoy your makeup cleanse!

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