Pinteresting!

Lately I’ve been actually doing some of the things I’ve pinned. I know – crazy idea, right? I’d even say some of them are becoming household staples.

  1. Borax + washing soda + Fels-Naptha soap = laundry detergent. I just made my second batch – I think the first was in May! It’s easy. It’s cheap. It’s effective. It’s free of a lot of nasty chemicals. If you have any doubts about how clean it can get clothes… I used to use Fels-Naptha to clean my paintbrushes when I did oil painting. It knows its cleaning business.

  2. These sweet potatoes (scroll down the post). Oh my goodness. These are SO good! And really easy. The only tough thing is waiting for them to be ready! I even made them for a friend who doesn’t like sweet potatoes and they were a hit. What I love about it is that I can just cut up half a potato and cook them in my toaster oven for a one-person portion.

  3. I made this meat-veggie-potatoes-in-one-dish meal last weekend. Again, super easy (sense a theme with my homemaking?) and quite delicious! The one thing I’ll do different next time is marinate the chicken breasts beforehand. They didn’t have a ton of flavor, although it was still good. But the carrots and potatoes were amazing! I will definitely be using this in the future. I think it’ll be a great choice for taking meals to new parents. One dish to stick in the oven and one dish to return.

  4. The little man I nanny and I made a hug like this for his dada to take to work. He really enjoyed making it and I think it was a hit with its recipient. We didn’t do a hand print; I traced his hands on construction paper which he had colored.

Have you been putting any pins to practice? Let me know how it’s gone!

xoxo,
Alanna

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Waltzing around the Interwebz

Just a quick pop-in to share some lovely things I found around the Interwebz!

  1. This post from Ann Voskamp – the idea of eating the Word as dessert after every meal, combined with the beautiful photos, made my heart full. Looking forward to having a family one day and making this part of our meal routine.
  2. From the sublime to the rather shallow… how incredible is Erdem’s Resort 2013 collection? The navy and plum colors, the florals, the cuts and tailoring… gah! I would wear every. single. piece. Except perhaps the bikini/high heels combo. Not so practical for the nanny of a toddler!
  3. Incredible, strong, honest, and TRUE article on why we shouldn’t be reading 50 Shades of Gray. Thank you, Erin, for being brave to voice the wisdom God gave you!

Be back later, folks! I have several posts planned and this time I mean to actually follow through!

xoxo,
Alanna

2012 Spring Fling!

AllGloriousWithin I participated in the 2012 Spring Fling hosted by Erin and L! I was paired with the fabulous Evanne to exchange packages of encouragement with the rule that we must send each other flip-flops! I love sending packages of goodies to people so this was so much fun. In addition, I got to meet another sweet blogger friend. Evanne has a fun blog with a mix of craftiness, DIY, fashion, and life. I can tell she has a strong passion for life and a bubbly personality. Please go check out her blog; I highly recommend it!

And… it was a pretty good deal for me on the receiving end. Look at the wonderful contents of my package from Evanne!

Adorable giraffe-print flip-flops (with an added bow!); personalized mini-pail (holding some of the ribbons that had adorned some of the items); two spring nail polish colors; the mini Smashbook (more on that later); feather earrings from Evanne’s shop; little bird earrings, tabs for the Smashbook; a blue wood bangle (and it actually fits my thin hands and wrist!); cute post-its and notepad; and a pretty card with a sweet message.

I have to show you close-ups of the pretty earrings:

Aren’t they both beautiful? You really should check out Evanne’s shop; in addition to fun feather earrings, she has many other beautiful pieces. Also make sure to check out all the other participants and their fun packages!

I’m so glad I got to participate! It truly was so much fun to pick things out and pack up Evanne’s package. And I’m not going to lie: receiving her package was pretty great, too! I have found great contentment and peace in my financial situation this past year and of course I don’t think that “stuff” means happiness. That being sad, I’m like any girl and pretty new things put a smile on my face. It was great to receive the package just as I was starting my new job. It felt like a celebration of the difficult year past and the new beginnings! Thank you, Evanne, for the thought you put into everything!

xoxo,
Alanna

P.S. I found a great online, FREE photo editor – iPiccy.com! All the photos in this post were edited using iPiccy. And, no, they didn’t pay me to say that, I just wanted to share this with you!

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday, y’all! Do you have any plans for the weekend? I’m spending some time with a good friend in the morning tomorrow (giving her a haircut!) and then I cater in the evening. It’s at a beautiful location where I’ve never served before. I’m excited to see what it looks like for an event (wedding, I think)!

So. Really exciting: I’m guest-posting over at Run with Scissors today! Janel is one of my favorite bloggers ever, and I’m thrilled and privileged to be helping her out while she’s focusing on bonding with her brand new baby, Amelia. It’s a fun make-up DIY and I’ve been waiting ever-so-patiently to share it with y’all! If you’re stopping over for the first time from RWS: WELCOME! Would you like some tea? Cookies?

Cuteness!

Today there’s a live kitten-cam over on HelloGiggles! Apparently the kittens and their mama were rescued after a fire, I think. They’re with a foster right now but will be up for adoption in a few weeks. It’s adorable… they’re playing and falling all over each other right now. I’ve had it up for about an hour now; it’s probably really a bad idea because it makes me want to go get a kitten. No, self! Two cats are enough!

Nomnomnom!

I made this recipe for baked apple chips yesterday (via a friend… via Pinterest). They. Were. AMAZING! I ate the entire batch in one sitting (it was only 2 apples worth and a few slices burnt). So easy and so healthy. My observations: I think I cut the slices too thin, hence the burning. Don’t cut the slices thinner than 1/4″ at the least! Also, the friend who tried them out first suggested checking them every 20 mins. I’m glad I did. I flipped them at an hour and set a timer again for 20 mins but they were burnt even by then (the recipe calls for 2 hours of baking). I think I’m going to make more this afternoon…

Okay… I need to shower (euw, I worked out and then have been cleaning). And I have to finish a fun project I plan to feature here on the blog! Hope you’re having a great Friday and remember: it’s the weekend!

xoxo,
Alanna

Undefeated

I just got back from a special showing of the documentary Undefeated with Brenda. Y’all… Y’ALL. Go see it! It is such an inspiring, yet approachable, story. Seriously, I was starting to tear up not even 10 minutes into the film. Really honest scenes of life in the highschool’s community. In my town. Hard to realize such desperate squalor is a short drive from me.

It’s the story of the volunteer (VOLUNTEER) football coaches of Manassas High in North Memphis and how they took a 110 year old program known as the “whipping boy” of Tennessee and turned it into a winning team. But more importantly, it’s the story of lives impacted and changed. On both sides of the equation. Coaches to players, players to coaches.

Over and over again, Coach Bill Courtney pumps up his team to win, but most importantly he reminds them that the central thing is heart and character. Character, he reminds them after both wins and losses, is what you do with your failures, not your successes.

It’s a story of giving and sacrifice, learning and being humbled. It’s a reminder to forget our selfish concerns and do something for the sake of someone else (and that’s a near direct quote from the movie).

At the end of the film, we actually got to have a short question and answer session with Coaches Courtney and Ray. The last question was from a young boy who asked, “Who taught you so much about character?” Coach Courtney looked thoughtful for a second and then answered with conviction, “Jesus.”

Friends… let us be teachable with Jesus. We never know how He may end up using us!

xoxo,
Alanna

Inspiration

You might not like Mondays as much as I do, so I thought I’d share some blogginspiration for you. Just a few things that lifted my spirit this week…

  1. Hands down, these pictures of sweet Lucy made me smile:

    I’ve been following Lucy’s story from nearly the beginning. The Krulls are friends of church friends of mine. Kate is an amazing woman: humble, faithful, vulnerable, open, strong. She write with raw emotion and I can’t count the times I’ve wept as I’ve read the blog. The way she’s clung to her Heavenly Father through Lucy’s battle with cancer is amazing. Seeing Lucy so happy and strong after so many months definitely made me happy tonight!
  2. Found this girl through the Indie Christmas link party. How adorable is she? Most definitely an apropos name – Sweetness Itself. I share some things with her – pastor’s kid, homeschooled, went to a Christian college, blogging, etc. She has such a sweet heart and it shows through every post.
  3. Another sweet girl from the Indie Christmas link-up. This post is stinkin’ cute! Um, I think I’d really like to be on that coffee date.
  4. I found this blog through Pinterest. Beautiful typography settings of Scripture and hymn lyrics. I get SO excited when I see an update on NewsFire (my feed reader of choice).

That’s all for tonight, folks. I hope you have a lovely week – it’s the first week of Advent, my absolute favorite time of year!

xoxo
Alanna

Autumn

Forever Young: 1908 via Shorpy

Have you heard of Shorpy? It’s a blog of high quality vintage photographs. Most are of very ordinary, day-to-day scenes. It’s such a cool glimpse into history! And yeah… this photo has nothing to do with Autumn, but it was one of the entries today and I love it. If I weren’t sure to subject my children to the trauma of being ridiculed for their dorky outfits, I think I might dress my future kids like this… love the bloused dresses with full skirts, the big hair bows… and the little boys – so dapper! I love the little one in a bonnet.

This morning was my third year to participate in the Mid-South Race for the Cure. This year was a little bittersweet; my first time to run in memory of my Grandma C, not in honor. She was a survivor for 47 years but passed away this past Winter. I also had plans to run with a pretty cool friend of mine, J. She was one of the amazing ladies with whom I traveled to Honduras this summer. Unfortunately the shuttles were slooooow and backed up, and I arrived on site literally as the first runners crossed the start lesson. I had to back track to get my timing chip kicked in (and then got confused because it was different than last year and so my time stunk because of trying to figure it out AND being stuck in the middle of walkers for the first 3/4 mile) but crossed the finish line soon after J. I’m a little bummed I didn’t get a proper start because it felt like my best yet… but oh, well. Anyway, I got to hang out with J., who not only is an 8-year survivor but today is also her 60th birthday!

Honored to run!

The rest of the day has been just a beautiful, perfect Autumn day. I had hot shower and long nap after the race (shall we say I did not sleep the proper length in prep for a race last night) and then my roomie M. and I went to Fresh Market for a tasting event… which was sadly underwhelming (except for the uh-MAZE-ing sea-bass). I mean underwhelming as in there were only a few sample stations – it was all delicious. However we did some research and discovered that Whole Foods has their Thanksgiving tasting event next week which M. says is wonderful. Yep. Free + Food = Exciting in our book! We also spent the afternoon taking our recycling to the collection center and then looking at beautiful clothing at Memphis’s poshest shopping center. Well, M. made some purchases, but as I remain sadly poor, I just browsed. Home again for Muddy’s cupcakes (I had Cinnamon Bun – NOM!) and tea while listening to a new favorite band!

New fav!

M. heard Page CXVI at her church recently and purchased their Hymns IV CD. I’m listening to the previous 3 Hymns albums on Spotify right now. So lovely… I am something of a traditionalist and will always love singing hymns heartily to the accompaniment of an organ, but I do really appreciate new arrangements. The Amazing Grace on Hymns IV is beautiful. And read what’s behind the band’s name:

The name comes from a reference to page 116 in our copy of The Magician’s Nephewby C.S. Lewis. It is a poignant passage where Aslan begins to sing Narnia into creation out of a black void.

It starts, “In the darkness something was happening at last. A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. There was hardly even a tune. But it was, beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bear it.”
~ C.S. Lewis

Beautiful.

I hope you’re having a lovely weekend! Stay warm up there in the snow, y’all Yankee Northerners! We Southerners will continue to enjoy our perfect, crisp, sunny Autumn weather!

xoxo
Alanna

Some beauty recommendations…

Sorry. I’ve been such a bad blogger. I did have an excuse last weekend… I went away last minute. But I’ll tell you about that later, once I upload some pictures from my phone. Gotta illustrate the story, you know.

Do you sometimes get creative log-jam? Not really writer’s block or a creative desert. It’s just so much ideas and potential swirling around that I get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. My mind’s like, “I want to tell you about my favorite beauty products! I want to write about self-deprecation and self-image! I want to post dreams for my future apartment decorating! I want to share some charities and causes that have touched my heart!” And then I don’t do anything and that is so not the best way to get it all out. Well, it’s the complete opposite of being creative. Hello Captain Obvious!

So today since I’m a bit headache-y and tired, I’m going to start with the silliest, easiest post… taking you through my beauty regimen, sort of, through the different products I love. Sound boring? Well, go visit another blog! I’m totally okay with that. I, however, love to read others’ opinions on products. I have been trying over the last couple years to really be careful about the ingredients in the stuff I put on my body. AND I have a budget. In this day and age, it’s easy to find healthy, environmental beauty products. It’s not so easy to find them at a normal girl’s price. So here’s some stuff I found that’s good for you and for your pocketbook!

Boots Expert Sensitive Gentle Eye Makeup Removal Lotion

I just got this a couple weeks ago from Target. At $4.99 it’s compatible with most other makeup removers. All the ingredients (and there aren’t many) are natural… the best part? This is the best stinkin’ makeup remover I’ve ever used! I dab a little on either side of a cotton ball and that’s enough to clean both eyes. Yeah BOTH. One side of the cotton ball per eye. And I have friend who hasn’t been able to find a makeup remover that doesn’t make her eyes sting. She was with me this weekend and borrowed it… and it doesn’t make her eyes sting. She was impressed. At night, I usually use just all-natural soap or mix a little baking soda and water to cleanse my face. Baking soda is an awesome beauty product. Keep reading…

I am a Curly Girl and proud of it!

This book literally changed my hair’s life. I had discovered a few of the suggestions on my own but once I plunged in to the CG method full-steam, my hair went from a frizzy, hot mess to silky ringlets (okay, most of the time – I still have bad hair days). Really. I wish I had a good comparison shot. Shampoo hasn’t touched my scalp since January 9, 2005 and my hair couldn’t be happier. Before you freak out, yes I do wash my hair! Curly hair is very dry and delicate and most shampoos are far too harsh. Right now, I’m on an every other pattern. One day I cleanse my scalp with conditioner, the next with a baking soda paste, a brown sugar + baking soda paste, or just brown sugar. My hair loves baking products!

Conditioner

Smells so good!

Keeps mosquitoes away!

Grr… I wish I knew how to get the photos on one line. Anyway, I use Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition conditioner because a) it smells good, b) it’s cheap, and c) it’s silicone-free and full of natural, real ingredients! I just started using the Garnier Fructis Pure Clean gel… my hair likes it! Plus, it’s got citronella in it. I swear it helps keep the mosquitoes away. Seriously – I was in the pool with friends a few weeks ago. Normally I get eaten up. Several of them were struggling to keep the skeeters away and I wasn’t bothered at all!

I LOVE THIS!

I bought the Physician’s Formula Organicwear Jumbo Lash Mascara after reading a review in InStyle. Let me say… it is SO worth it! One of the things I love best about it – besides the natural ingredients – is that it doesn’t clump or dry “stiff!” You know how most mascaras make your lashes feel stiff and crunchy? When this dries, your lashes are springy and soft, almost like you don’t have anything on! This is about the only really healthy makeup I use. Currently I use some Cover Girl mineral foundation. I don’t love it but it works and I had it on hand (remember, unemployed = no money). I was using ELF’s mineral foundation and sheer powder, which are AMAZING and $5 each. Seriously… worked like BareMinerals. But Target stopped carrying them – Boo! I need to order from the site. When I have money.

A must-have lotion

Couldn’t live without this lotion – okay yes I can but I’d rather not. It’s very light but moisturizes longer and better than any other lotion I’ve tried. It’s very natural. And it lasts forever. I bought it probably almost two years ago and still have a lot left. It’s only $10-15 at Whole Foods, or on their website. I just saw they have conditioner, too! Must try it out.

So there you go. A long, and perhaps boring, post on some of my favorite beauty products! What are some of your must-haves?

xoxo
Alanna

Where Children Sleep

A friend of mine posted a link to a photography project by James Mollison. It’s a preview of his new book, “Where Children Sleep.” It’s a beautiful but sometimes heartbreaking collection of photos of children and the places they sleep (okay, so that’s probably self-explanatory). I won’t say much because the photos tell their own stories…

When Children Sleep

You Can’t Hold It

Through my dear friend Brenda, I’m privileged to know singer/songwriter Myla Smith. Besides been ridiculously talented, she’s a bubbly, sweet person who’s great fun to be around. She just released her latest music video, which is awesome. She had asked if I would be an extra in it, but sadly I couldn’t the day they were filming. I’m bummed because it’s totally awesome. Check it out: