Sunday, February 28, 2010

Oh, Beans!

Holy cow - we had more snow last week. But, it's kind of starting to feel like old hat, you know? Admittedly, I could get use to all these snow days ;)

Anyway, this time around, I decided to make some warm, yummy comfort food while I weathered our latest storm. The Pioneer Woman and her absolutely fabulous cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, provided the perfect recipe: beans and cornbread.

As much as I love beans, I've only ever eaten them from the can. But, after cooking them from raw, I may never go back. It's certainly more economical (I halved her recipe, which called for 4 cups of beans, and still have plenty to freeze), and it's super simple. In a nutshell, you boil the water and beans, then lower the heat, cover the pot, and forget about them for 3 hours. Season to taste, and done. Fabulous!

Wait, let me back up. Did I forget to mention that the recipe calls for bacon? Yes ma'am! One of my favorite things about The Pioneer Woman Cooks, is her unashamed love of bacon. All you need to do is cut up the raw bacon and add it to the beans before boiling. Of course, I had to fry up the rest. You know, just to make sure it would taste ok.

And here is my glorious pot full of beans. Just scoop those suckers into a bowl, add some shredded cheese and sour cream, serve with cornbread, and you have the perfect, simple, comfort meal. Yum!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Do You No 'Poo?

I do!

Don't worry, the reference to "no 'poo" has absolutely nothing to do with bowel movements (if that were the case, I would probably need to see a doctor, stat!).

No 'poo, or the 'poo free method, refers to no shampoo. As in, not using shampoo to wash your hair.

I have been 'poo free for almost two years now after learning about the method from my sister-in-law Leah at The Suburban Gal and I decided to do a no 'poo post after being inspired by a hair themed post written my good friend Kara at Lil Miss Wisecracker.

In a nutshell, the 'poo free method involves washing your hair with baking soda and rinsing with either apple cider vinegar or lemon juice depending on your hair color (no 'poo is also known as the BS/ACV or BS/LJ method). As a blonde, I use lemon juice since the apple cider vinegar has the potential to turn blonde hair brassy. But, generally, most no 'poo folks use ACV (don't worry, the vinegar smell fades quickly as your hair dries and you'll get used to it in the shower pretty quickly).

The Basics of The 'Poo Free Method:

What you need: Baking Soda, ACV or LJ, and a cup

What to do:
Make a paste in your hand with approx. 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda and a few drops of water.
Scrub the paste into your hair, just near the scalp - you do not need to scrub the ends of your hair with the paste - that's what the ACV or LJ is for.
Focus on areas that tend to be greasiest for you (i.e. bangs, around your temples, etc.).
Rinse well with water.
Make a rinse in a large cup with approx. 1 part ACV or LJ and 9 parts water.
If your hair is long enough, gather it together and soak the ends in the rinse for 30 seconds or so, then pour the rinse over your hair.
Rinse well with water.

It's that simple!

From here, you can decide whether or not to use conditioner. I personally use it only once in a blue moon because my hair is still soft and manageable without it. So, why bother with the extra step?

Why No 'Poo?

Foregoing shampoo leads to happier, healthier hair.

Why? Because shampoo strips your hair of its natural oils. This is why folks who wash their hair everyday still complain of having greasy locks - their scalp is essentially working overtime to produce all the oils that have been scrubbed away.

Generally, just a quick rinse with water will remove any dirt that has built up in your hair. Using BS will go the extra mile to remove any build up from hair products. It also has natural deodorizing properties and you will not do damage to your hair or scalp unless you use a lot of it.

Going no 'poo means that you will not need to wash your hair as often.

Some folks are able to do one wash a week. Some will wash every other day, with a quick rinse on the "off" days.

There really are not hard and fast rules - depending on your hair type, you may need to experiment with the amounts of BS or ACV / LJ that you use, or experiment with washing more or less often. Just follow the basic elements of the method and find what works best for you.

I generally wash every two to three days, sometimes with a rinse in-between, and sometimes not.

The 'poo free method is also economical.

It'll only cost about $7 to buy a decently sized box of baking soda and large bottle or ACV or LJ and they will last you for months. It costs about the same amount to buy a good shampoo that will only last about a month, at best.

Some Practical 'Poo Free Advice:

I'll be honest, as you are transitioning to no 'poo, your hair will probably be pretty gross for the first two weeks or so as your scalp adjusts. Be tough! Don't fall into the temptation to wash your hair everyday during these two weeks. Just remember, after a few days, your hair will adjust and look fabulous. Just make hats and pony tails your friend for a little while.

If your hair gets a bit on the greasy side between washings, you can use a bit of cornstarch to absorb some of the oils. Use a cheap make-up brush to apply the cornstarch to your hair and then comb it through. Make sure do this before you get dressed for the day, especially if you're wearing black! (yes, I've made this mistake before).

When going to get your hair cut, I've found that it works best to wash it right before heading to the salon so that it will be nice and clean and they won't insist on washing it with shampoo before you get snipped. However, if you love getting your hair washed (as I do), you can simply just have them use conditioner. This way, you will not have start over with the transition phase, and you still get a nice scalp massage. It's also fun to see the stylists' reactions when you tell them that you are 'poo free. They are usually pleasantly surprised.

Invest in a shower cap. Yes, you will look totally dorky when you wear (let me tell you about how much Dan loves my shower cap...), but it will make for easier showers on your "off" days.

Wrap Up

So that's what the 'poo free method is all about. Yes, it's a lot of information. I wanted to try and hit all the questions I had when I was first starting the 'poo free method. But, trust me on this one, once you get started, it really is very simple.

If you have any more questions, this website is a great resource. It offers a lot of troubleshooting advice (i.e. what to do it your hair is too greasy, too dry, too brittle, etc.) and will answer any questions you may have about the ingredients in 'poo free and why they work for your hair.

So, what do you think? Do you use the BS/ACV or the BS/LJ method? If not, do you think you will you give it a try? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to ask some questions, too - I'll answer them in the comments.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spreading the Bloggy Love

I feel incredibly honored! Today, I found out that not one, two lovely ladies nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger award.

The first nomination comes from Rene at ReneW Your Space, a wonderful blog written by a Professional Organizer. Yes - you read that right! In case the title of my blog didn't give it away, I am probably one of the most unorganized people you'll ever meet. So, I find Rene's blog truly inspiring!!

The second nomination came from Lisa at A Double Shot of Espresso. She is a wife and mom and her blog is light-hearted and fun with a great sense of humor.

Thank you both for the nomination and, of course, congratulations to both of you, too! :)

Since I already bored with you my seven "interesting" things, I'll forego that tonight. However I'm all about spreading the love. So, here are seven more ladies who are also beautiful bloggers:

The rules of the award are simple: 1.) Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog, 2.) Copy the award and paste it onto your blog, 3.) Let us know 7 interesting things about you, 4.) Nominate 7 other beautiful bloggers.

Post It Note Tuesday: Music Montage

To join in, click on Supah's post-it note, above.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fabulous, Friend-Filled Weekend

On Friday, my good friend Amanda at A Mess of a Dreamer With The Nerve to Adore You kicked off her 24th year with a Harry Potter themed birthday party. She went all out and and stuck with her theme to a T. She crocheted fuzzy little Pygmy Puffs, made some custom labeled Butter Beer from the Three Broomsticks, and (my favorite part!) dressed her front door like a brick wall in Diagon Alley (guests had to tap the bricks with a wand in order to be permitted entrance). The guest of honor was also dressed to match the theme in a Gryffindor sweater and tie (she's basically a dead ringer for Ginny Weasley).

The party was a ton of fun! It's been a long time since I've spent time with my friends all together. I also forgot how fun themed birthday parties are. I couldn't tell you the last time I've been one that wasn't for a wee relative. Thanks, Amanda, for hosting such a great regression party and helping us forget about being adults for a few hours. Happy Birthday!! :)

Our good friends Greg and Erika, who live in Maine, came down for the party and spent a long weekend visiting friends in the area. They stayed with us Friday and Saturday night and we had a wonderful time catching up (we haven't seen them since August!). On Saturday, Greg cooked us an amazing dinner of turkey kielbasa sautéed in brown sugar (I'm really anxious to duplicate his recipe - so yummy!!!), whole grain garlic pasta with red and yellow peppers, and various other steamed veggies. Following dinner, we played games until nearly 2:00 a.m. including a couple very intense rounds of Scene It - movie edition and Disney/Pixar edition.

Saturday afternoon I also had the pleasure of seeing my bestest buddy and favorite dancer, Genevieve, perform with her company in Philly at the Painted Bride. The show, Zata, was a production by Indigenous Pitch, a dance collective that not only supports a diverse range of local dance companies, but also uses dance as a form therapy for children affected by natural and socio-economic disasters. I'm a big fan of the work that they do and it was great to support them and see a fabulous show at the same time.

Greg and Erika left Sunday morning, and after church., Dan and I spent most of the day vegging out, watching movies, and cuddling on the couch. Basically, the perfect thing to do on a Sunday afternoon. All in all, I pretty much loved everything about this weekend.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Love Hansen's Soda

I would like to officially proclaim my love for Hansen's Natural Cane Soda. It is one of life's little blessings.

Although I have sampled it before (and loved it), I had not yet seen it in any of my local groceries... until this week! You can imagine my delight when I found it in Genaurdi's just nonchalantly tucked in among the Pepsi's. I let out a squeal of joy. And then squealed again when I saw that they were on sale. I mean really, how could I not buy some?

What makes this soda so fab? Not only is free of preservatives, sodium, caffeine, and flippin' high fructose corn syrup (as the name suggests, it's sweetened with natural cane sugar), it also comes in several unique (and delicious!!) flavors. This time around, I purchased Cherry Vanilla Creme and Kiwi Strawberry and they are both amazing. There really is a noticeable, more clean, flavor versus regular soda.

Oddly, I have also noticed that Hansen's makes me burp a heck of a lot more. They are also louder and longer. Don't know what that means really, but it's fun to torment the husband with my loud, drawn out burps - especially when I'm dressed in a skirt and wearing pearls. I am all kinds of classy, I know ;)

And yes, I know I'm supposed to be eating healthy and not drinking much soda, but I promise I've been good! It's all in moderation.

Anywho - the moral of the story is that I love Hansen's Soda.... And, you should, too! :D

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day Blog Exchange

Domestic Dork

Last night, I had the pleasure of meeting Steph from A Grande Life for the Valentine's Day Blog Exchange hosted by Holly from Domestic Dork (thanks for hosting, Holly! It was a lot of fun).

We were both excited when we were matched up and realized that we lived so close to one another (about 15 mins). So, we decided it made a lot more sense to get together to exchange our goodies than to spend the money to ship them. Plus, it was a great excuse to grab dinner together at Panera Bread ;)

Unfortunately, we didn't quite get together in time for Valentine's Day (missed it by one day!), but after getting pummeled by two huge, record-breaking snow storms back-to-back, we had to do some rescheduling (and the snow almost thwarted us again last night!).

However, it was well worth the wait. We had a great time chatting, networking, getting to know each other, and, of course, exchanging our v-day goodies!

Steph got me a beautiful wrist strap for my camera. She read how I've been longing for an SLR and got the strap for me as inspiration (how thoughtful!). It's also perfect for my current camera and I love the fabric she picked:

I was also very excited to see how much she enjoyed my gift: a record bowl filled with conversation hearts, a "Love" banner made with felt, rick-rack, and felt buttons, and a little Valentine's Monster for her son, E (check out her v-day exchange post - there's an adorable picture of him cuddling it that made me super happy).

The Valentine's Day Blog Exchange was great fun. Thanks again for camera strap, Steph. I love it! And, of course, big thanks to Holly for organizing.

Paper Fan Wall Art

I've alluded to my thrifty wall art a couple of times in previous posts, and finally, it's time for the "grand unveiling".


The idea came from the lovely blog, Blue Cricket Designs. As soon as I saw her paper fan post, I knew it needed to happen in my apartment. It's such a quick and easy way to add interest and a pop of color to a bare wall.

I'll skip the step-by-step instructions, since they are already detailed over at Blue Cricket, but here are a few shots of the process:

In addition to her instructions, however, I will add I had to use a lot of sticky tack to get them to stay put! In the interest of conserving my sticky tack, I started with just a couple little dabs, but after the majority of the fans fell off, I realized that I really had to gob it on there (it works best placed in the center of the fan).

This is definitely project that you can accomplish in an hour or so. But, what I love most about it is how darn cheap it was!! I happened to have all the supplies on hand (scrapbook paper, glue gun, and sticky tack), so it cost me $0.00 (my favorite price!). Even if you need to pick up sticky tack and scrapbook paper, the project would still be well under $10 - doesn't get much better than that!

<3 Brittany

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Love Story

In honor of Valentine's Day (because I'm a sucker for all things sappy, romantic, pink, heart-shaped, and/or chocolate-covered), I decided to write mine and Daniel's (slightly fictionalized) love story. Enjoy!

The Courting of Daniel & Brittany

Once upon time, in the far away land of New Jersey, was born a young lass named Brittany Beth. In a town not so far away from Brittany, lived a certain young lad, named Daniel Joseph. Although the two star-crossed lovers lived but a stones throw from one another, they were not destined to meet until much later in their lives.

Many years later, on a rainy day in late August, Brittany moved to a magical land called Eastern University. Unbeknownst to her, the young lad, Daniel, had also moved to this magical land on the very same day!

The pair first crossed paths in their Tae Kwon Do class, but spoke nary a word to each other. You see, each one looked upon the other with contempt, both believing that the other was insufferable. A relationship for this pair did seem likely.

But, alas! There was a light at the end of the tunnel.

As it turned out, Brittany and Daniel shared a mutual friend and the three discovered a new-found love of swing dancing. Ever so slowly, our star-crossed lovers began to commune with one another. And, what's this? Realized they had a lot in common. They both acknowledged that their first impressions were quite wrong, indeed!

Soon, the pair were spending much time together, touring the mystical bowling alleys of South Jersey, enjoying fine cuisine at such hot spots as Wawa and The Phily Diner, and, of course, dancing the night away whenever possible.

It quickly became clear that Brittany and Daniel were falling love. Their courtship officially began upon Brittany's receiving of note from Daniel, which stated that "he really like her" and "wanted to know if she felt the same".

Brittany's heart was a-flutter! And, although Daniel would insist years later that the line "do you like me? Yes or No - check one", which was also scrawled on the note, was meant to be a joke, he did not refute his lady when she announced to a group of their friends several days later that they were dating (he was glad to be past the pesky business of asking her out and relieved that he didn't actually have to do it).

Their courtship continued for several years and the two would speak of marriage and dream of their lives together. Brittany did not know that Daniel already possessed a lovely ring of diamond and pink sapphire and his mind was a-buzz with ideas of how to propose.

His plans came to fruition on a chilly Thursday evening - Valentine's Day in the year of our Lord, two thousand and eight.

The young lad and young lad lass went to go swing dance with many of their friends, as they did each Thursday. Early in the evening, Daniel presented Brittany with flowers, thus filling her with joy. "How good of him to remember Valentine's Day!" she thought. But, little did she know, the best was yet to come.

As the evening drew on, and the music swelled, the star-crossed lovers found themselves dancing with one another. Brittany could not help but notice the moisture on Daniel's palms, but thought nothing of it.

Suddenly, she was spun into a dip as Daniel's accomplice slyly slid the lovely ring into his waiting palm. As Brittany was stood back up and spun back around, she was shocked to see that her partner was not standing.

What's this? He was bowed before her on a single knee.

Before she could make sense of the scene set before her, the music stopped and air was electric with anticipation. She could feel all eyes upon them. And then she heard her love speak:

"Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"

Still surprised and completely in awe of the event, Brittany's eyes welled with tears as she whispered an emphatic "Yes!"

Daniel slid the lovely ring of diamond and pink sapphire onto her awaiting finger and the two embraced. Both were filled indescribable excitement and joy and couldn't help but laugh.

The room exploded with shouts of congratulations as the music swelled once more and their friends engulfed them. It was indeed a magical night for our young lad and lass.

A few short months later, after much planning, the two married in the most beautiful of ceremonies, filled with music and dancing and those who were dearest to their hearts. Never was there a happier bride or groom.

And They Lived Happily Ever After.

don't worry - it's the ring finger! ;)

<3 Brittany

Snowpocalypse: The Sequel

I went out in the snow just long enough Tuesday night and Wednesday to snap a few photos around the apartment complex (I really am a huge cold weather wimp!).

A couple night time photos while braving the elements to take out the recycling:

The view from our balcony, early Wednesday morning:

My poor "garden":

It may be cold and inconvenient, but it's just so lovely:

Did you hear that there's more snow being predicted for Monday? Unbelievable. Thankfully, it won't be nearly as much.

I also just found out that Eastern will be closed again tomorrow for the third day in a row!! (why wasn't I lucky enough to be a student when this storm hit?)

I've never been more anxious for spring!

<3 Brittany