Archive for January, 2014

T-Shirt Mania!

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

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There is nothing more classic or comfy than a t-shirt and jeans. I am lucky enough to work at a company that has a year-round casual dress code, so my t-shirt collection has grown exponentially over the years. I feel that t-shirts, like bumper stickers, tell you a lot about a person – what their interests are, causes they believe in, their sense of humor, etc.

I am asked a lot where I get my t-shirts. Most of the time, I get them at one of the stores or online shopping sites listed below. They all have a great variety, good customer service, and a consistently good selection of shirts that cover pop culture stuff that I like.

Busted Tees

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http://www.bustedtees.com
What I like: They have a great selection of funny shirts, and usually have some kind of sale.
What’s not so great: If you don’t buy during a sale, the prices are a bit high for my taste. Also, they use a variety of manufacturers for their shirts, so the sizing is not consistent. Check the size chart on each item (and the snazzy photo feature they have showing each shirt on several body types) before you buy.

Disneyland

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http://www.disneystore.com/disney-parks-product/mn/1001081/
What I like: Usually the best part is that I am in Disneyland. If you aren’t able to jet off to the parks though, you can buy a lot of the same merchandise available on their website. The quality is good and they often have vintage-style designs, which I love.
What’s not so great: Like Busted Tees, Disney is a bit pricey in the t-shirt department. They also have inconsistent sizing, so make sure to check the size chart before you buy.

Hot Topic

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http://www.hottopic.com/hottopic/Tees.jsp
What I like: This is one of the few brick and mortar places I buy t-shirts on a regular basis, and so being able to actually try the shirt on before I buy it is great. They have one of the better selections of pop-culture shirts, usually from the 80s, so I can get my nostalgia fix.
What’s not so great: Their “women’s” sizes are for no woman I have ever known. In most stores, I can wear a M or L size, but at Hot Topic, I am usually buying an XL or XXL. I don’t shop here as much as I used to for this very reason, but I still get a shirt here and there from them, so they are still on my list of go-to stores…for now.

Old Navy

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http://www.oldnavy.com
What I like: Like Hot Topic, I love that I can actually go to the store and try on my t-shirt before I buy it. They sizes are good, the shirts last well and don’t shrink up, and I can also get jeans while I am there. The shirts here usually revolve around superheroes, Star Wars, and cereal/food, so it’s the Jenny trifecta.
What’s not so great: The selection is small. At any given time, they usually have fewer than ten designs, so you have to check back seasonally to see what’s new. Also, not all of the styles are offered on the website, so if you can’t find your size in-store, the web is usually not a reliable back-up option.

TeeFury

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http://www.teefury.com
What I like: This is hands-down my favorite of all the t-shirt store options, and the majority of my collection is from this site. Each shirt is designed by a different artist, and they have very obscure designs like the worm from Labyrinth that says “allo” designed in the style of Hello Kitty, Ron Swanson saying “Give me all the bacon and eggs you have” in the style of Dr. Seuss and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog in the style of a record album cover. The list is endless. They are good quality shirts with consistent sizing (they print all of them through the same manufacturer), you can pick the color you want to have the design on, and they are only $11.
What’s not so great: There are only two things that I would say are “issues.” The first, and it’s also one of the cool things about the site, is that each shirt is only available for 24 hours. If you miss it, it’s usually gone. (UPDATE: TeeFury added a newer feature where you can purchase a selection of previously sold designs, at a higher price, in its Gallery page – score!) The only other challenge is that, although they have consistent sizing, you have to take a chance the first time you order and hope you used the sizing chart correctly. I found it to be accurate, and was correct in sizing with my first order.

My t-shirt collection embodies my varying taste in pop culture – it’s dominated by Star Wars, as well as a lot of sci-fi and cult shows (Firefly/Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog), and things I loved as a kid. They are bright, colorful, and fun, which is how I like to think of myself.

What are some of your favorite t-shirts and what do they say about you? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below – I would love to hear from you!

Environmental Sustainability Lifestyle Apps

Friday, January 24th, 2014

A few weeks ago I promised a roundup and review of environmental sustainability lifestyle apps designed to help us live greener, more eco-conscious lives. I combed the App Store, looking at apps for both iPad and iPhone and I was quite surprised that there weren’t more options. The following seven apps stood out to me, for better or for worse. Hopefully you will find a few of these useful as you go through your own environmental sustainability journey.

RR_GoodGuide_012414GoodGuide
iPhone only
This was the most fun of all the apps I reviewed. There are a few distinctive features about the GoodGuide app that makes it stand out. First, every product in their database is reviewed on the criteria of health, environmental impact and social impact and assigned a blended score which is displayed on a red yellow or green background. This serves as a guide for how the product measures against comparable items. After the score, the next most valuable feature is the ability to filter on the issues that matter most to you. I chose nutrition, scientifically proven health hazards, animal welfare certifications and fair trade. Maybe organic, energy efficiency and pollution matter more to you — the filter is completely customizable. If a product you are considering has violations in any of the criteria you select, it is flagged and you are provided with info on why it failed the check. The GoodGuide app allows you to save lists of products to trust and brands to avoid for future reference. It has a barcode scanner, which you know means I ran around my house scanning everything in sight. Finally, I recently read an article about GoodGuide partnering with Target to rate some of their products and I’m looking forward to seeing that happen. This app is a freebie, but it would be worthwhile even as a paid app. It is intuitive, well designed and informative. I highly recommend giving it a try.

RR_Joulebug_012414JouleBug
iPhone only
This app is fun and educational. Creating good habits and doing simple things to green your life earns you digital pins and badges. You can keep your achievements to yourself, share them with the Joule Bug community or brag a little bit on your social media channels. I liked the interactivity and ease of use and found the advice to be sound and practical. My favorite video games are ones where you collect stuff to earn upgrades so it is no surprise I enjoyed the badge quest aspect. I’m working on an iPhone 4S and had a few crashes, but it wasn’t unbearable and I suspect the newer hardware probably supports the app better. I’ll be looking forward to bug fixes, though. The down side of this app — nobody on your Facebook feed cares if you “recycled on-the-go” or if you “planned a meat-free meal” but the tantalizing offer of bonus points may tempt you to overshare. If you have a hard time self-editing these sorts of social media posts, proceed with caution.

RR_Rippl_012414Rippl
iPhone only
Any sustainable habit you want to improve is in your hands with the ripple app. This free app is sponsored by Ocean Conservancy, the group that puts out the sustainable fish list every year. Using Rippl, you can set a new sustainability goal and receive reminders on your phone to help you stick with it. There are dozens of goals to choose from so you can choose according to your personal priorities. I chose “Carry A Reusable Mug” and I’m doing OK but there is much opportunity for improvement. On the days I forgot my mug it was a real bummer having to check the “NO” box. Worse yet, the app holds you accountable because you can’t clear the little red notification icon until you ‘fess up about how you did that day. Of the apps I tested, I think this one is the most likely to inspire real, lasting change.

RR_iRecycle_012414iRecycle
iPad/iPhone
Powered by Earth911.com this app helps you know what to do with all sorts of items at the end of their useful life. The app is based on your geographic location so it knows the rules for your local recycling program and even when and where the next local Household Hazardous Waste (think batteries, paint, chemicals, and tires) collection takes place. Earth911 advises on recycling everything from notebook paper to construction materials, electronics and auto parts. You won’t use this app every day, but when you need it you’ll be glad it is there. The lists are comprehensive and the links are super-useful. This would be an especially helpful app for someone like Jenny who is just starting an in-home recycle program.

RR_DirtyDozen_012414Dirty Dozen
iPad/iPhone
The Environmental Working Group puts out Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists every year to inform consumers which produce items have the most or least pesticide exposure. I think the information is really valuable but consumer guides are available at their website. There’s not much here apart from the lists, so I didn’t find the app necessary. Still, it works properly and there’s certainly no harm in using it if an app is more convenient for you.

RR_TrashNothing_012414Trash Nothing!
iPad/iPhone
Trash Nothing! is a freecycling matching service. The terms of service state that users cannot sell or trade items and should only take things that are for personal use, not for resale. The idea is to have a free exchange of usable goods. Listings are organized into groups that serve a specific geographic area. Users can either list what they have to offer, or they can list things they need and hope someone has the item to spare. The group that serves my area isn’t very active and it seems like the “wanted” posts outnumber the “available” posts. Trash Nothing is a strong concept, but I didn’t see a compelling reason to use this in lieu of other forums like word-of-mouth, Facebook or Craig’s List. For me, this is one to skip, but results may vary depending on the activity level of your local freecycling community.

RR_GreenTips_012414Green Tips
iPad/iPhone
This app was pretty much the worst ever. It is a festival of advertisements with the occasional generic green living tip from their “Home” category thrown in. After you see a couple tips you get another advertisement. If you want to see tips from more categories you have to buy them at $0.99 each. You can also buy rights to an an ad-free version if you don’t want to be assailed by pop-ups constantly, but by the time you unlock everything and nix the ads to make this it usable, you’ve spent $4 on this “free” app and you get nothing you couldn’t accomplish with a Google search.

Do you have any favorite “green” apps? Did I list your favorite here? Or maybe I missed it? Join the conversation in the comments below. The Wilderness Girls love hearing from you!

Thank You for Being a Friend, Etsy!

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Bryan likes to joke that I act old for my age. He sees the glimmer in my eye when I see an ad for Viking Cruises, that bathtub with the door, or even the cane that stands on its own. I think I have always been a bit of an old soul. So, it is no surprise that The Golden Girls was one of my favorite shows growing up.

Who am I kidding? It’s still one of my favorite shows (and I may have a couple of seasons on DVD). I love Sophia’s crazy stores that always start with “Picture it..”, Rose’s sweet nature and St. Olaf stories, Dorothy’s quick wit, and Blanche’s Southern charm and obsession with youth.

I was surfing the net one afternoon and stumbled upon an article on People’s website called “15 Awesome Golden Girls Items You Didn’t Know You Needed,” and got extremely excited about the world of product on etsy that I didn’t know about.

I don’t know why I always forget about shopping etsy when I am looking for something unique (ether a gift or something for myself). Inspired, I decided to do my own search and share my favorite etsy Golden Girls items.

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1. The Golden Girls Spray Paint Tote Bag
2. I’m a Dorothy/Rose/Blanche/Sophia Print
3. Golden Girls Cupcake Toppers
4. The Golden Girls Brick People Toy Set
5. Golden Girls House Scale Model
6. Golden Girls Greeting Card (with cheesecake)
7. Golden Girls Magnets
8. Blanche’s Bedroom Fabric
9. Dorothy & Rose & Blance & Sophia T-Shirt

The great thing about etsy is not only that you can find unique products on even the most obscure pop culture, but that you are supporting small shop owners.

So, the next time you need a great gift, don’t forget about etsy. If you need a good starting point, check out Christina’s BFF Gift Guide.

Eco-Resolution: Starting a Recycle Bin

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

I usually don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Christina’s recent post sums up a big reason why – I tend to set the same stale goals and then get deflated the next year when I realize that in an entire year, I couldn’t accomplish what I was so excited to achieve the previous year. So, this year I decided that I wanted my goals to revolve around actual tasks, most of which are little items that are easy to do, but I keep putting off for one reason or another (time restraints, failing at it the first time, getting distracted by something shiny).

Something that I have wanted to do for months is start a recycle bin. I have done a great job in the past year of taking my reusable shopping bags with me to the store, and even have mastered a cleaning routine before I put them back in the car. After seeing the benefit of how many bags I have saved, as well as the inspiration I garnered from Rachael’s recent post on setting an environmental resolution each year, I decided that it was time to stop slacking, and get my recycle on!

Setting up a recycle bin is simple, especially if your city offers curbside pick-up:

1. Buy a trash can/bin to keep your recyclables in.
2. Print out a list of recyclable items (Rachael recommended this PDF).
3. If needed, put a sticker/printout/spray-painted stencil on the top of your recycle bin of the recycle logo. (You could also get a copy of recyclable items laminated and adhere it to the top of the bin for easy reference.)

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You have your new bin and it’s in the kitchen and labeled, so now what? This is where the intimidation factor came in for me. I know that there are some things that are recyclable and some that aren’t, and if you put something that shouldn’t be recycled with recyclables, it could ruin the entire batch. Talk about pressure!

I imagined that my life was going to be something like this Portlandia skit:

So, I decided to start small. For now, we are focusing on recycling cans, paper and bottles (glass or plastic). If we succeed in keeping up with our new eco-habit, we will expand our focus to more items on the recyclable list. After only a few days, we have done a great job with sorting, and I have made two trips out to our city recycle bin to empty the contents.

UPDATE: We have been using what Bryan calls “the hippie bin” for about three weeks now, and it’s going great. We quickly found ourselves recycling more than just the basics we initially committed to. Cheers to starting new habits!

Ginger Whiskey Cocktail

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

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A couple years ago one of my co-workers brought in a few cans of ginger ale along with a box of saltine crackers to ease an office full of upset stomachs – we were all miserable with the flu. I’d never tried it before – but a few sips later my tummy felt a bit better and I was hooked. Ginger ale is a staple ingredient for lots of my favorite cocktails, I use it in my brunch punch and it goes really well with spiced apple whiskey, too. I brought home a four pack of Bruce Cost Unfiltered Ginger Ale a couple of weeks ago and I can’t stop drinking it. It’s more spicy than it is sweet and you get little chunks of fresh ginger in each sip. Over the last few weeks I’ve been experimenting with recipes and loved the way it tasted paired with honey whiskey.

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Ginger Whiskey Cocktail, serves one

Ginger Ale
2 oz. Honey Whiskey
Lemon Juice

Add ice to your glass and fill halfway with ginger ale. Add 2 ounces of honey whiskey. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into your drink and save a slice for the garnish. Stir well and top off with ice and ginger ale.

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Cheers!

P.S. Check out this post for a list of bar cart essentials and tips for stocking your bar cart on a budget.

Upcycled Toys

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Living a more eco-conscious life means looking for opportunities to use what you have more often and buy new stuff less often. Upcycling, or “making stuff” as our grandparents called it, is a great way to use what you might otherwise discard and create a new, better thing from the materials. In my view, to count as a successful upcycle, an item needs to use something that would otherwise be waste and the end product should be different and better/cuter/more useful than the components it is made from.

I scoured Pinterest for cool upcycled toy projects and found mixed results. Some projects were super basic – give your kid a big box and tell her it is a rocket ship. Give her an empty oatmeal canister to use as a drum. That’s cool, but it’s not upcycling. Kids need to play with empty boxes, build forts out of bed sheets, and ward off foes and fiery dragons with nothing more than their courage, a cereal box shield and a wrapping paper-roll-turned-broadsword. Imaginative, unscripted play is vital to the development of a child’s imagination. So, while I 100% support reusing things, for this collection I disqualified pins I don’t see as true upcycles.

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Sumo Bowling Pins — These little guys, made by Leslie at Pink Stripey Socks rock my world. I’m searching fervently for the little aquapod bottles so I can make a set for my daughter. I realize it is technically cheating to buy a product just to upcycle the packaging but these guys are so cute that I can’t resist. I mean look at them! Can you blame me?

DIY TV Toy — This crafty upcycle has amazing DIY instructions to turn a tissue box into a toy TV with customized “channels” for your kiddo to change or create. Playing with this toy is a great way to switch off the electronics and use imagination instead.

DIY I-Spy Bottle — I saw my first I-Spy bottle about a year ago and I thought it was such fun. It was the kind you buy from the store with the little beads and wee plastic tchotchskies inside. Where was this invention when I was a kid on car trips? This version uses stuff you find around the house and in the dreaded junk drawer. It’s made with found materials and if you buy your rice in bulk, this toy will cost just pennies to make.

Super Hero Bracelets — These power cuffs a la Wonder Woman are made from spent toilet tissue rolls, glitter and Mod Podge. The tutorial is high quality and includes some pro-tips from the creator’s experience. Just last week my two-year-old appeared from her room dressed in a Yo Gabba Gabba tee-shirt paired with her Hello Kitty tutu and Darth Vader mask. My husband was never more proud. This is a child in desperate need of Bracelets of Victory to complete her look.

Recycle Sort Game — This is maybe the easiest to make of all of the toys and games I found. I love it for being a practical, customizable teaching tool. Want your kids to understand what goes in the trash and what goes in the recycle bin? Make a game of it – literally.

Do you have some favorite upcycled toy ideas? How about fond memories of playing with a sweet cardboard box? We got a brand new avocado green dishwasher in ’81 and I probably got 100 hours of fun out of that carton. The Wilderness Girls love hearing your thoughts so please share them in the comments below.

Laundry Room Inspiration

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

When we moved into our house in the fall of 2012, none of the walls were painted. The builder wanted to charge a few thousand dollars to paint the interior walls and ceilings. Rob & I were convinced it would be no big deal to do the painting ourselves. We might have underestimated the amount of work that was ahead of us. More than a year later, we still have a few rooms left to paint.

Originally a makeover for the laundry room was pretty low on our home project to-do list. It wasn’t until Rob installed the garage door opener a few weeks ago that it got bumped way up that list. We have to walk through the laundry room to get to the garage and now every morning I walk through that drab, vanilla colored room and think “this room needs color!”

This should be a quick and easy makeover. The room is small and it’s a utilitarian space so no tchotchkes allowed. Instead I’ll focus on adding color to the room through paint and framed art. To keep the room neat and tidy, I plan to add storage bins and hang cabinets. I’ve put together a board that includes the inspiration photos, colors, art and DIY projects that I’ll use to bring the room together.

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1. Make it Yours Print
2. DIY Laundry Soap Storage
3. Brushed Rose by Valspar
4. Plum & Bow Zooey Dot Rug
5. Locker Basket
6. Alabax Medium Light
7. White Penny Tile
8. Nova Trellis Wall Stencil
9. Black & White Wall Hook

I’ve just started this project and I’m planning to do a few update posts along the way as projects are completed. Here is my to-do list:

* empty out room
* paint walls & ceiling
* stencil wall
* hang cabinets
* buy rug
* change out light fixture
* buy new storage bins
* DIY laundry soap storage
* hang art & household organizer
* install tile

My Father’s Daughter

Monday, January 13th, 2014

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When I interviewed for my current job, I had to meet with the CEO as a part of the process. His interview, I was warned, was not going to be based on the technical skills that the job required, as he trusted those that had already interviewed me to judge that. His goal was to see if I was a personality fit. I had no idea what to expect. He then asked me, “What traits did you get from your father that you are most proud of?” I answered, didn’t think much of it, but looking back, realize that it’s a question we should all ask ourselves.

We all have said, “Oh no! I’m turning into my parents!” when we do something that makes us feel like we’re getting old. But what about when we do something good? We don’t often give credit when we exhibit a positive behavior Dad or Mom modeled.

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My dad is one of my best friends, and someone I admire a lot. He grew up in a small town in southern Ohio, had a paper route as a kid, played football in high school, and worked various jobs (including a summer stint as an ice cream man) to put himself through college. He progressed through several finance jobs before moving into the role of CFO at various hospitals around the country. In my almost 36 years, he has given me a lot of great advice.

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These are some of the most important lessons that I have learned from my dad:

Sometimes, you have to be your own cheerleader.

When I was in my 20s, I would complain to my dad about not getting the kudos at work I felt I deserved. He told me that it is unrealistic to expect that I would get a big deal made every time I did something well, and that I should learn to be proud of myself. It’s one of the greatest lessons he taught me, and it took me until I was in my 30s to really “get it.” What’s funny is that I now almost find myself embarrassed when I get called out publicly for something I did well. It’s quite a change from how I was just a decade ago!

Strive to do your best.

I was a straight-A student for most of my academic life, and am still a perfectionist. I always judged my accomplishments against a grade or compared them to other’s achievements. Then it happened – I took an Algebra class in high school that, despite hours of studying and hard work, resulted in my first C. I was so scared that I was going to disappoint my dad. Instead of getting a lecture, he sat me down and asked me one simple question – “Did you do your best?” When I responded that I had, he said “Then that is all I can ask of you. I will never be disappointed in your grades if you can come to me and tell me that you worked your hardest to achieve that grade.” His attitude was, and is, that no matter what you do in life, if you strive to do your best, and give every challenge your utmost effort, you should never be disappointed in yourself.

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There is no norm.

My dad can fit into any group. He’s been the sharp businessman in the fancy suit and he’s been the bearded biker in the leather vest. He’s mastered the boardroom and the cornhole board. The reason he does so well in these seemingly different worlds is that he doesn’t see the people as all that different. He taught me that everyone has something to offer and if you judge someone by how they look or where they’re from, you’re going to miss out. People’s different upbringing gives them new perspectives and you’ll get to enjoy those varying points of view if you remember that everyone has a story to tell.

Don’t be afraid to try something new.

Growing up, I always remember my dad pining for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He was not an experienced rider, but he loved the idea of living the Harley lifestyle – hitting the open road, finding new adventures, and leaving the stresses of everyday behind you. He finally got his bike in his 40s, learned to ride it, and now goes on bi-annual cross-country trips to visit our family in Memphis. He has never been afraid to try something new, whether it’s running a half marathon, or eating escargot for the first time (which he did during one of his first business dinners). His good example and support helped me start trying one new experience every year before my birthday. I have had experiences that I loved, like participating in the Tinkerbell Half Marathon, and experiences that didn’t work out so well, like the time I took a motorcycle safety class with him, and discovered that I am too intimidated to ride safely on the open road. No matter what the outcome, the important thing was that I pushed myself to try something new.

There are dozens more ways that I find myself emulating traits that I see in my dad, but these four things seem to be the ones I see most often in my day-to-day life. I am really proud to be my father’s daughter, and his friend.

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The next time you find yourself complaining that you are acting just like your mom or dad, I challenge you to stop and come up with one behavior that your mom or dad influenced that you are proud of.

My Favorite Beauty Products

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Typically, I’m not an overly “girly” girl, but I am a little obsessed with beauty products. I blame my Aunt Dee for this obsession as she’s the one who introduced me to makeup. When I was little, I’d spend hours organizing the makeup in her bathroom cabinet. To this day we still talk beauty and show off our latest and greatest finds when we’re together. I rarely brave the mall unless I need to pick something up from Sephora. Rob doesn’t understand why I don’t just order online. But, I could spend hours browsing around, looking for new products to try out. In the past I’ve tried to justify my pricey mineral makeup by mixing in lots of drug store brands. Lately I’ve been on the hunt for more natural, cruelty free brands that make products I can add into my regimen. There are lots more than there used to be! Here are a handful of products I’ve been using for years and a few new favorites too:

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1. Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer, $36 – Great for gals that wear mineral makeup. It goes on like velvet and doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin.
2. Badger Balm Sleep Balm, $10 – I keep this on my nightstand for sleepless nights; it contains organic botanicals that encourage relaxation and it’s also soothing on dry lips.
3. L’oreal Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hairspray, $15 – Strong hold without the helmet head. I wore this on my (crazy windy) wedding day and my hair didn’t move. I love that you can brush it out; sometimes I use it like dry shampoo on my bangs.
4. Benefit Cosmetics Boo Boo Zap, $16 – This fast-acting acne treatment is great for treating pesky blemishes that pop up overnight or after a long day at the office.
5. Everyday Shea Vanilla Mint Shampoo, $11 – This shampoo uses unrefined shea butter and virgin coconut oil to cleanse your hair without stripping it’s natural oils. I’ll admit it took some getting used to (your hair needs time to adjust) but I love how healthy my hair feels now. And, no more oily hair!
6. Arbonne Lip Polish in Posh, $24 – I’m a little obsessed with this stuff. It’s super shiny but not at all sticky. Posh is a pretty shade of pink that will work for just about any skin type.
7. Earth to Skin Heal Tastic, $10 – I hate shoes. When I’m not at work, you’ll find me barefoot or in flip-flops. My feet take a beating and this balm is a lifesaver!
8. Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush, $26 – This brand has got the Midas touch. I had a hard time choosing just one Tarte product, but this blush is by far my favorite. It goes on great over a made-up face or bare skin and it makes my skin glow.

Creating Routines for Success

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

I started thinking about my New Year’s Resolution several weeks ago. I have a lot of stuff to do in a day and sometimes it feels like the day gets away from me and I haven’t done anything. I’m chronically late for appointments and work, my bedroom is a disaster zone (Jenny’s post yesterday has me inspired, so more on this to come), I never know what to wear in the morning, I forget to pack my lunch as if I’m not going to get hungry mid-day and I’m always, always, always halfway through an art or craft, blog post or sewing project. It’s exhausting. It’s disappointing. It is time to stop the madness. What I need is a nice set of routines: morning, evening and Sunday night.

I found my first bit of inspiration in the blog post Bookend Your Day: The Power of Morning and Evening Routines by Brett and Kate McKay. The authors offer an analogy that makes great sense to me. “Imagine a string with a series of beads on it. The beads represent your goals, relationships, and priorities. Tip the string this way or that way, and the beads easily slide off and onto the floor. But tie a knot on each end of the string, and the beads stay put. Those knots are your morning and evening routines. They keep the priorities of your life from falling apart and thus help you progress and become a better [person].”

In planning for these new routines, I turned to a piece I read and shared to Facebook recently, How Barack Obama Gets Things Done by Sean Blanda. As busy as I think I am, the President is a zillion times busier and he makes stuff happen. His healthy habits for productivity include:

1. Get a head start on your day the night before (that way you’re already ahead when you wake up).
2. Limit decision fatigue (he doesn’t ever decide what he eats or wears).
3. Shut out your critics (I must figure out how to silence the critic within).
4. Exercise (if the Pres can make 45 minutes in the AM for cardio, maybe I can too).
5. Your personal time is sacred (his moments are gym time, family dinner, and quiet time at night).

I don’t expect to wake up tomorrow and be a changed woman. Imagining I’ll move from chaos to order with the flip of a calendar page is the sure path to disastrous failure. Instead, I’m going to start with small changes and work from there. In 2014 I resolve to be to work on time, put together (including makeup), and happily sipping from a reusable mug coffee that I made myself and prepped the night before. Piece by piece I will build upon my successes and create morning and evening routines for myself that will nurture my success and keep my priorities a priority.

Do you make resolutions? Do you have any for 2014? The Wilderness Girls would love to hear about them, so please share. Happy New Year!