Working it Out

I’m now a few months into my regular workout routine and am beginning to notice all kinds of positive physical perks; I’m down 15lbs, toning up and I feel better all the time but particularly while I’m exercising, my skin is looking good without foundation (but to be honest it was never really bad just not as clear and even looking pre-workout), and I swear my hair is growing faster.

Because I feel better while I exercise I have found myself looking forward to getting moving most days of the week- and a few people on Facebook have asked me to write about what I’ve been doing as far as workouts are concerned, so here it is;

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This 2009 Pussycat Dolls workout has been the biggest thing I’ve been doing; because my daughter will go down into the room where I workout and jump around to the music and has fun and so it has been a major player in the rotation. You do feel this; by the end of it you’re warmed up and sweaty and you feel great, plus you’re not just mindlessly hopping all over the place you’re actually dancing.

Pros; It’s fun, guys. The girls in it are smiley and seem like they’re legitimately having a good time, and they are also healthy looking and muscular because they’re probably real dancers; the choreographer is apparently super famous and when I Googled her she was in ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ that dance movie from the 80s which only further sold me on this video. To me these women are true body goals- muscular, healthy, fed people who exercise. The moves aren’t so difficult that you can’t do them, either, even if you’ve never had any kind of training (I haven’t). Plus, the music isn’t terrible- it’s better than the elevator pop in a lot of workout videos, even if you don’t love The Pussycat Dolls music (which I don’t- full disclosure, I used to work at a Lush in the Dallas Galleria where the in-store music ran off our iPods and anytime PCD songs came on I asked if we could please skip them, that’s how deep and real it is for me and I still like this workout video enough that I plan to buy the one released in 2011 as well).

Cons; OK this may not sound like a con, but I will lay it out for you and some of you might understand it; the last segment, when you do the “performance” of a routine to the song ‘Buttons’ they bring out and introduce the lead singer of The Pussycat Dolls for “extra inspiration”- meaning she dances with the girls who have been in every other segment of the workouts. She does one run through of the dance and sneers while she fans herself “now that’s a good warm-up. That’s a good warm-up.” Now, at this point you’re 46 minutes into this video; you’re sweating bullets, probably sporting a giant sweat circle on your shirt and you’re a thirsty mess- this wasn’t your warm-up. You’re warm- you’ve been warm. This is irritating because it feels like a taunt, and it’s not the only annoying thing she says in the next few minutes, but, oh well.

Thank goodness she skips the cool down.

So, overall, it’s fun and I like it; I have noticed that it has definitely been beneficial to me, I’m toning up and I will continue to do this workout a few times a week. I will also let you know how I like the one released a few years later when I pick it up in the next few weeks. (Update; my hubs brought the newer one home for me today as an early birthday present! So. Excited!)

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So I never watched The Biggest Loser; not even one episode. In fact, I only own this workout video because a former roommate gave it to me when she moved out because she hated it- for her, it was too hard. Well, it has it’s tough moments, definitely but it’s one of those circuit training videos that moves super quickly and at the end of it maybe you didn’t do all the moves without cheats (like me with my push-ups, I can only do 6 in a row and the rest are full cheat mode) but you still feel a huge sense of accomplishment. And your arms will look amazing right away.

Pros; It feels like you see results quickly because you’re doing strength training; plus, Jillian Michaels is a lot more fun than I realized before I actually used this video. She is encouraging, saying “we start where we start and go from there”, and reminding you to remember to eat consciously so you don’t waste all your effort and reminds you throughout the tough parts of the workout not to quit.

Cons; There’s a lot of ab work. This isn’t really a con, but ab work can be tough- it does get easier, though. Just keep going and stop and rest for a sec if you’re uncomfortable.

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This one is fun and short and leaves you sweaty and feeling like a million bucks; plus, it gives you a whole bunch of energy to start your day and you can customize it to do just cardio or just the sculpt or both. This was another reject from my former roomie, along with a bunch of yoga and Pilates videos. Thanks, girl!

Pros; The ability to customize it so you’re just hopping around for 20 minutes to get your blood moving. I don’t always feel like I have an hour to devote to exercise (although in those moments I now remind myself that I can trim an hour from something else and to not make excuses) so this 20 minute cardio “burst” is perfect for those days.

Cons; I can’t really think of any, although on days when I’m exhausted the bounciness can be hard to turn myself over to. That’s a me thing though and nothing to do with the workouts- Denise Austin is just great.

And, my goodness, as a side note that woman is 59 years old!

Long-term life goals.

Other than those 3 I do mix it up with some yoga and Pilates, I lift free weights (2 and 5lbs- ain’t nobody over here trying to get huge muscles, just toned muscles), use a resistance band (so I can pretend I’m cool and have a bow-flex machine) and jump rope (which is really hard but I’m also working on my endurance so I will get there I just have to stick with it).

It’s slow going and the weight isn’t flying off me because I’m not hardcore dieting but the scale is moving in the right direction; as the Facebook meme so eloquently states, I’m not where I want to be but I’m not where I was either.

I’ll keep pushing forward; anybody who wants to be my workout buddy and we can hold each other accountable and build each other up, you just let me know.

I’m your Huckleberry.   😉

Until next time!

Love,

The Chick and Her Chickadee

 

 

Tuesday Beauty Talks with Pops

Let me start this post by saying that my great-nephew is being born sometime today (or tomorrow, but I hope for his pretty mama’s sake that it just goes ahead and happens today); it’s so exciting!

Welcome to the world, little guy! You’re already so very loved!

Last night I was Face Timing with my Pops who lives far too far away in sunny Florida, and we were just chatting about what’s up with each of us and we came around to the subject of this blog and what I’ve been writing about.

“Am I to understand,” he asks me, “that you’re letting you gray hair grow out?”

“Yeah!” I chirp, all bubbles and excitement, “It will be a new era! I’ll be authentic! I’ll-”

But he’s already shaking his head- and when he speaks, he delivers some truth.

I’ll share it with you.

“I’ll save you the trouble of growing out your gray- you won’t like it. You won’t feel vital and attractive which are 2 things that at any age you have a right to feel and at your age in particular are more important than you realize. You love your dark hair, and it looks good on you. Wear it as long as you can.”

“But,” I start, persisting on, “I could let the silver grow in and blend it with blonde and-”

He’s shaking his head again.

More truth.

“You aren’t as gray you think- you’re graying like I did” (which I know is true because I got my hair directly from him, color, texture, premature graying) “and you won’t be talking about blending in a little blonde, you’re talking about having to massively lighten the parts that aren’t gray and there is much more of it than you believe. Just maintain your dark hair as long as it makes you feel good; and do whatever makes you feel vital and attractive. Wear your makeup, darken your roots, put on your perfume. These things make women feel their best for a reason- because it’s time you’re taking for yourself to do something you want to do. Take. That. Time.”

Hmmmmm . . . let’s stop and think about how good that advice is.

Adults are so busy getting everything done- working, maintaining our houses, cooking and taking care of our kids that we often feel guilty carving out time for ourselves whether it’s morning gym time, or a mani/pedi, or a few hours to have coffee with a friend, or to have highlights thrown into our hair for summer we often decide that it’s those places where we should cut in order to stretch our days a little, to get more un-fun things accomplished.

Some of that is just adulthood, but is there a part of it that stems from us feeling guilty or vain when we take time to do something nice for ourselves even if that something is a nice, long sweaty bout with the treadmill at the gym to start our day?

I want to think no, but part of it really is.

We’re told that adults that take time for themselves are selfish, but why?

Aren’t we better partners, parents, even friends and employees when we take time to do the things we love every so often?

Doesn’t that make us more satisfied, happier people?

I think so.

So that was the gist; do things that make you happy, big if you have the capability, small if that’s what applies and feel really good about doing it which is something my Pops has always stressed to us.

Whatever you decide to do, go for it and feel good about it.

Until next time!

Love,

The Chick and her Chickadee

 

Henna Happens . . . and, Sometimes, If You’re Really Lucky it Happens Right.

Ok, so in my recent post where we talked about my decision to chop off all my fried hair I talked a little bit about the color processes I’ve tried and what worked (or didn’t) work about them and my grey grow out which is, as I write this, still in effect.

One of the products I mentioned is henna; now, if the word henna sends you screaming for the hills you’re likely thinking of the extremely red/orange type of the 60s and you are not alone- what you might not know is that there are actually many formulas available in various shades on the market currently.

What I realized that I hadn’t specified in my post was the shade of henna I tried to use, nor that the fact that it didn’t turn out well was partially my doing (I didn’t read the instructions for grey coverage which were further down in the pamphlet than the full head application instructions were. My bad).

I had been using a light brown henna which was processing on my stripped hair and over my grey in an extremely red tone that 1) did not look natural on me and 2) did nothing to cover my grey roots and my very dark new growth of hair because henna does not lighten hair, never will.

So today I was going through a drawer downstairs and found an envelope of natural black henna from Henna Color Lab and paused to consider the things that I do know about color (limited though they have turned out to be), and then jumped online to look at the reviews to see what users had to say.

Suspicion confirmed; most of the customers who used Henna Color Lab’s Natural Black Henna to cover grey were people whose hair was dark brown naturally and they were now trying to blend their silver patches, but to do so you often have to go 1 shade darker than your natural color when blending grey new growth because the translucency of grey hair makes the color process a little bit lighter. There were overwhelmingly satisfied reviewers writing about this product; I may forfeit the grey grow out and give it a shot because, full disclosure, I don’t know if I’m ready to be silver all over my head yet.

I will wait another week or 2 until my scalp stops itching out of control (which I remember as a side effect of halting commercial hair-dye use when I stopped for 6 months last year- it was my scalp healing, but whoa is it uncomfortable).

If I decide to go for it and use the henna I will detail the process here, including what I mix it with and how to effectively do the henna double process necessary to cover grey hair- including pictures.

In the meantime, please do peruse the website of Henna Color Lab and see what you think!

Until next time!

Love,

The Chick and her Chickadee

My Blog Obsessions; the Good, the Bad and the Silly . . . Cue Western Music- I’ll Get My Poncho!

So this has been an interesting month or 2 for those of us who have blogs we read religiously; I have several and in March, the unthinkable happened . . .

The blog authors started, one by one, to retire from their writings.

First came Dottie Angel, and that was hard because I love pretty much everything about her- her humor, her style, her self-deprecation. Sigh. I love her so much, guys, that I even bought her Simplicity pattern to make her now famed frock.

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(Let me know if you all want me to do a post on this when I finally make it- I’m glad to, although I’m a novice with my sewing machine and a garment without sleeves is likely coming first while I get comfortable.)

Then there was the retirement of Kim Hutt from her fantastic (and hilarious) blog called What Claudia Wore; anybody else who loved the Babysitters Club books in the 80s will likely appreciate this site, where Hutt dissected (and poked hysterical but loving fun) at the series, everything from the more absurd plot lines to the book covers (because, really, why was Dawn ALWAYS wearing a Texas tuxedo? She’s from California). Her decision to semi-retire her blog and switch to a podcast was not a surprise, necessarily- before her June 2 post of this year her last post was in December of 2013, but it was a little bit disappointing. All good things must come to an end, though, I suppose- and there are tons of old blog posts to read through that are just as funny the second and third time around. Enjoy.

Sigh.

This one hurts because Maybe Matilda is another funny, self-deprecating blog about being an unapologetic homebody; because of that (and because of her deep love of Pixie cuts that I share) Rachel, the blog owner felt like my spirit animal, like a friend who didn’t know we were friends (because I lurk and I’m creepy, but that’s a story for another day). Evidently, the blog had stopped being fun for her (which seems to be a factor in all blog retirement posts, especially the one I will  share with you next) and time was a real factor as she has 2 kids to look after. I will miss her posts, though- I promise to post lots of awkward hair selfies in her stead, though. I won’t let you down, lady!

Anybody else remember Crunchy Betty? Her site The Whole Crunchy Blog was a fun stop to read about facial cleansing oils and all kinds of other hippie concoctions that I loved (I mean, c’mon- homemade lip balm?! You’re speaking my language!) and her retirement is not news- she actually retired her blog in June of 2014, but I wholeheartedly admit that I still check back to every so often. You know, just to see if she changed her mind. Hers is another site where there is a lot of older content to read and while not as self-effacing as some of the other sites, she is still entertaining in her own right.

Now here is one that is still (thankfully) up and running, for which I am grateful because Julia of Hooked on Houses is also my spirit animal; anybody who knows me in real life knows I am absolutely obsessed with houses, especially Victorians and Craftsman style houses. This site has everything from celebrity houses for sale to before and after photos of homes badly in need of a facelift- it is good fun if you have the time and inclination. But nothing in the world thrills me quite like the fact that Julia loves houses from movies and TV shows as much as I do. She has covered everything from both Lorelei and Rory’s house and the Dragonfly Inn (which was the Walton family home from TVs The Waltons) from The Gilmore Girls to the gorgeous and cozy yellow house in the 1987 movie Baby Boom with Diane Keaton (which is a real house, as awesome as that is to know!) There is a whole index of homes she has blogged about that we saw and loved onscreen- when you can, take the time. You won’t be sorry. My favorite all-time onscreen home, though, is none other than the Owens family house from the movie Practical Magic which she explores in wondrous detail; finding out that the Owens house was a shell and facade built for the movie on Whidbey Island in Washington State was disappointing. How could my favorite movie house be a facade and a sound stage?! I found with more digging online, however, that you can purchase house-plans to build it in real life. Double sigh. I’ve already warned the hubs that if we ever become eccentric and wealthy (instead of just plain old eccentric) that the Owens house is what I want. Luckily, it’s so attractive that he agreed without too much persuasion on my part.

That’s about all for today; I have plenty of other food blogs that I like and will tell you guys all about next week. In the meantime, what do you read when you have a little downtime?

Tell us in the comments here or on our FB page!

Until next time!

Love,

The Chick and her Chickadee

 

 

Wednesday Recipe Corner; Pizza Pancakes! Whoop Whoop!

Ok, so originally this week’s recipe was going to be a fab one for dill pickle pasta salad- but then my fabulous Gigi gifted us with a giant Tupperware container full of homemade pasta salad she made and wanted to share, sooooo my pasta salad post is being moved to next week.

I’m on a quest of sorts to find food that the Chickadee will eat without saying “um, no, Mama- I done” after less than one bite- this is a huge struggle at the moment.

Yesterday, for example she ate some baked chicken and a handful of peanuts at lunch, some string cheese and not much else throughout the day; this is partially due to her having molars still coming in and also due to her massive milk consumption.

So in my recipe search (which is ongoing) I found a great sounding one for pizza pancakes in Taste of Home’s Simple & Delicious publication and decided to give it a shot in our pizza obsessed household.

I really like Taste of Home- I have yet to make anything I found in one of their issues that doesn’t come out perfect on the first go. I believe it’s the home cook element of this that makes that and the cost effectiveness of their recipes as foolproof and budget friendly as they are.

I make a lot of the recipes they publish so you can probably expect to see them popping up rather frequently going forward- along with some other staples I love, a few of which I came up with myself.

Taste of Home Pizza Pancakes

What you need;

bisquick-original pepperoni

Bell Pepper
Bell Pepper

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Italian seasoning garlic-clove-and-powder

Kraft Mozzarella

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So, I mixed up the pancake batter first; whisk together 2 cups Bisquick, 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning and 1 teaspoon of garlic powder* (a quick note- the recipe doesn’t call for garlic powder but it NEEDS IT; don’t skip it) until combined and lumps are broken up. Set aside.

In a separate bowl whisk together 2 large eggs and 1 cup of milk (I use 2% but any variety would work) until a little frothy.

Now, make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the egg and milk mixture in, stirring gently until just combined and then (and this is super important and true of any kind of pancake or muffin batter) let it rest for 20 minutes.

While your batter is resting (and rising) get your other ingredients ready to stir in; measure out your mozzarella, chop your pepperoni and your bell pepper (or whatever you want as a mix-in for your pizza pancakes) and seed and chop your tomato. Combine the ingredients in a bowl and put to the side until your batter is done getting it’s beauty nap.

When your timer goes off gently fold your ingredients into the batter and heat your pan to medium heat (although you may have to adjust the heat down as the pan gets and stays hot, I always do) and measure out with a 1/4 cup measure to make the pancakes.

For this amount of pancakes a half a jar of traditional Prego worked perfectly as the “syrup”- this can be heating while you’re flipping pancakes.

Full disclosure, I had a bit of trouble flipping the pancakes- there is a lot going on in there and it took some practice (and finesse) to get it without having them fold over on the edges or end up on the side of the pan. I managed it by the time I was done, BUT it took a second because it’s awkward so be patient with yourself. And use a big spatula.

Ok, this recipe (which I will post a link to on the Taste of Home website) was delicious; the pancakes are dense and cheesy and satisfied the desire for pizza. There is also lots of fixings left over so if I wanted to make them again soon (and I do!) I could easily do so.

My hubs felt like the toppings got lost in denseness of the cake and he thinks that next time it might be fun to sprinkle some mozzarella on the pancakes when they’re done and see how that changes things.

More cheese, you say?

I’m all for it.

Ultimately, in spite of the challenges in executing the recipe we definitely voted it in to the family recipe box. FTW!

Thank you, Taste of Home and recipe contributor Maxine Smith from Owanka, SD!

You can get the full recipe and it’s dimensions (and see pics of the finished product) here!

Did the Chickadee like them, you ask?

She barely tasted one and declared herself “done”.

Better luck next time, I suppose!

(If you’re wondering why there are no pics of the pancakes from my kitchen, well, there are a few reasons; the pics came out dark for one thing and another is that photos downloaded from my phone, when loaded and edited to be upright on the computer, are sideways on mobile devices. Until I’m able to rectify the issue you might be seeing a lot of stock photos and URL links instead.)

Until next time!

Love,

The Chick and her Chickadee

 

When Your Hair Recovery Ends . . . In a Pixie Cut

So I have been on a quest to grow my hair back out for years- in fact, since 2004 when I got my first super short haircut, I have been practically urgent to grow it out, only getting it to about my shoulders before either getting sick of it or burning it chemically and chopping it off again.

The reason this always seems to be a pattern is the result of several factors; I greyed young (19) and have ever since been waging the battle of covering my grey new growth because it pops against my dark color, making it very visible, and I can only afford to cover it myself.

The grey being visible wouldn’t be such a big deal if people didn’t comment on it- even people I don’t know.

“Did you know you have some grey showing?”

“Are you balding?”

And, my favorite;

“Girl, you need to do those ROOTS!”

Thank you, stranger in Walmart- thank you.

I tried everything to cover those ROOTS without messing up my hair growth efforts; Natural Instincts, which has no ammonia, dark henna which doesn’t adhere to the grey roots but sure as heck darkens the length of my hair, Schwarzkopf Keratin color which did a decent job of sticking to the grey in it’s own right but came into this story so late in the game that I can’t tell how damaging it is or isn’t.

But my hair was tired; it had been through a lot in the last few years.

I wanted pretty curls for my wedding, which I had, but after the ceremony and pictures were over I started to hear my favorite pixie cut calling my name.

It might be nice, I thought, to start over and really take the lessons I’ve learned to heart this time; oh, and have the added bonus of being able to get a comb all the way through my hair which was not possible when my hair was grown out, the ends were too fragile and fuzzy.

After all, since this Granny hair thing is a trend nobody will notice if I grow out my grey, or better yet, they may think I did it on purpose; the added bonus of this is that anybody who points out my grey hair when I have a full head of it will look silly and I always enjoy when others make themselves look foolish with no help at all from me. 🙂

So I started getting it cut off in stages; a bob first, that was still fuzzy and impossible to comb through.

Next a little bit shorter, something like a few months of grown out pixie; I still had fuzzy spots.

That took us to where we are now.

A legitimate pixie.

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These were taken the day I had the cut done, which was exactly a week ago.

I’m loving being able to comb through my hair when it’s wet; which is the only time I do so when it’s short- the rest of the time I rough it up with my fingers and put product in it to give it that mussed look, but it always looks much better on the day after I wash it.

Dirty hair is so much more obedient.

I have had a few friends that follow me on Instagram ask what I use to style my pixie and it is these 3 things;

herbal essences dry shampoo

schwarzkopf-styliste-ultime-biotin-volume-and-texture-magic-volume-powder-0-35-oz_2551416

Aussie_newProducts_1290x1290_0062_Mega Aerosol Hairspray 42g_0119

I even put them on this post in the order that I use them; even when my hair is clean I often have to at least hit the front of it with dry shampoo just to give it a little extra oomph or it will, without fail, lay flat on my forehead and end up greasy.

Ah, bangs.

You’re cute, but you’re mean.

Then I shake a little Schwarzkopf volumizing powder into my hairline in the front and a little bit through the crown toward the back; but to rough up the sides and back I shake the powder into my hand and rub my fingertips together then get my hands into my cut and make it messy.

That’s how I like my pixies best; whether it’s a longer or shorter version of a pixie cut, I want it mussed up.

The messier the better.

So here is what I learned in my hair recovery journey that I can share with you, because while I’m good with my pixie cut and may have ended up back here regardless had I not severely burned my hair with chemicals, I know not everyone would be happy cutting their hair as short as mine.

Also, my journey isn’t over; even with all that I’ve cut off my ends are still fried in places- my color is uneven, and noticeably so. Most of it is a medium reddish brown through the length and there a is a prominent lock in the front that is darn near black (you can see it clearly in the photo I took on my couch sitting in the sun- that dark patch is over-dyed hair, it’s not an illusion).

Now that I have made the decision to stop dyeing my hair altogether for the time being the mismatched color scheme will only get worse before it gets better- starting with my section that is super grey in the front and sides, and on to the back where I don’t have much grey at all. I will be cutting off a lot of box hair-dye sins in the next year.

And my hair will only get shorter before I get to a point that I deem it healthy enough to start growing out again, my goal being a head full of virgin hair before I have my stylist do another thing with my color- because that’s the thing.

I have proven to myself that I can’t dye my hair responsibly- I end up with it being too dark and then I want to lighten it so I use what I have at my disposal which are chemicals I am maybe not meant to work with because I don’t have the knowledge necessary to avoid a disaster.

Sure, color at the stylist is expensive, especially when the word “correction” is attached; the time, the tools, the expertise- they add up quickly.

But they are worth every second in the chair, every hard truth from your stylist and every single dime.

To not end up with hair so fried you can’t comb it?

Yep, I would say it’s worth it.

I will be documenting my grey hair grow out and the different ways I keep my pixie cut fun!

I’m also thinking of asking one of my licensed hair stylist friends to sit down with me for a q&a on the dangers of box dye and how you can keep your locks touched up without having the situation spiral down into a catastrophe- is that something everyone would appreciate and benefit from?

Let me know in the comments here or on our FB page!

Until next time!

Love,

The Chick and her Chickadee

5 Steps to Faking a Clean House 101; A Few Dos and Don’ts

We’ve all been there; you’re down to the wire, not a lot of time to deep clean your digs- maybe you’ve been working a whole bunch or been sick, or aren’t sleeping well.

The temptation in those moments to cut corners on time is HUGE and trust me I know and have been there myself; but there are a few things you can do to save a little time and a few things you should never, ever do.

A few habits can keep you from living among unbearable clutter and also cut your time (and disaster quota) when you do get around to deep cleaning.

Check it out!

The Dos;

  1. Find a good multi-surface cleaner you like that can handle anything you throw at it; this way you can clean, say, your TV stand and screen all in one go or clean your bathroom mirror and counter in a few swipes. One bottle, a couple minutes. Boom, done. My favorite go-to multi-surface cleaning solution is Pledge Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner; it cleans glass, wood, plastic- whatever you need, it has you covered, and you really only have to haul that one bottle around from room to room. It also comes in an array of scents so you have a vast amount of choices. My favorite is the apple cinnamon because it smells like oatmeal cookies and who doesn’t love that smell? What. Don’t Judge me.

Pledge

2. Do your dishes as soon as you finish using them. I know this sounds like your Mom, but if nothing else, if your dishes are done your house may not be sparkling but at least it won’t smell like old food. Plus, if they don’t stack up, they don’t get foul smelling and you don’t have to spend precious time scrubbing icky dried on crap off your pretty dishes because, well, ew. That’s why. Plus, if somebody stops by that’s just one thing you don’t have to worry about; I didn’t have time to mop but at least they don’t know I had French toast for breakfast. It’s a little thing, but it’s mighty.

Dish-Rack1

3. Put your stuff away; this is another small but mighty thing that packs a huge punch for 2 reasons. The first reason is that you can fake a clean house if there are no clothes lying around, your books and movies are put away and your coat is hung up, that kind of thing; the second is that when you do get around to deep cleaning it takes far less time if you don’t have to put everything away first. Again, I know I sound like your Mama, but just putting away your stuff can buy you a little grace time until you need to bust out the scrubbing bubbles and a sponge.

organized closet

4. Walk through your house or apartment with a trash bag once a week; whether it’s to pick up Walmart receipts or stray paper, magazines, or to make a donation bag for books, clothes, whatever- just do this. Make it a habit. Get the clutter out and your place will look so much more put together; remember that most cooking magazine websites (I mention this because these are my downfall) have the same recipes they print in hard copy available online, and they offer virtual recipe boxes so you can add your favorites and get the bulky magazines out of your house. This can be hard to do but once you make it a habit it keeps clutter at bay with a minimum of effort.

1386294-trashbag

5. This may be touchy for some but, if you have pets, stay on top of their business. Vacuum or lint roll their hair off the furniture, sweep up their bottomless supply of loose fur that ends up on the floor, and scoop your litter-box- every day. I used to have cats and I can tell you from experience that I became immune to the smell of their indoor kitty potty but everybody I brought over knew that I had a cat or 2 before I said a word if I hadn’t made a point of scooping and tending to that litter-box regularly. Now I have dogs and instead of cat scent my house can end up Doritos scented and covered in hair if I don’t watch it, so every pet comes with housekeeping challenges, you just take it as part of the territory when you bring them home but remember to let their loving fur face be the indicator that they live there, not their stinky feet or cat box.

cat-and-dog-ftr

 

The Don’ts;

When you get down to actual cleaning everyone has their own way of doing things and I can’t tell you what will work best for you; if blasting Rhianna Radio on Pandora and tanking up on coffee works best for you, like it does for some people (me), you certainly know it.

But sometimes things go wrong, and here’s where I can help.

  1. Don’t vacuum your area rugs. Just. Don’t. It may seem like a time saver, and sure it does save you the 10 seconds you would lose picking the rug up off the floor first but you will for sure lose that time and more buying a new rug when the vacuum chews the edges and trim up and spits them out like they taste yucky. Don’t do it.

Repair_fringe-1

2. Don’t mix your chemicals. We’re all adults so you probably already know this, but just on the off chance that you don’t and I’m saving you some damage to your lungs, then you’re welcome. Don’t mix bleach based cleaner with anything else, especially something ammonia based- it will not end well for anything you put it on or anybody in your house, particularly you since you’ll be closest to it. The mix of fumes is highly toxic not to mention unnecessary- bleach based chemicals work perfectly all by themselves for the tougher jobs (like toilet bowls) and the rest can be done with gentle, essential oil based cleaners that are easy on your lungs and the environment. My favorite essential oil based cleaner right now is Parsley Plus Cleaner by Earth Friendly- I usually get mine at my local Walmart, but I did find a 22oz bottle on sale for $2.92. You can find that here.

9746_parsleyplus_feb2014

3. Don’t throw your stuff under the bed or into your closet, or sweep it under the couch. This is another just don’t. It makes it impossible to sweep under there/get organized/find things and I promise if you live with anybody else it will drive them insane- do not even get me started on my former roommate who chose to clean that way. Suffice to say the day I moved out I was delirious with glee that I would never again pull the couch out to sweep and find long lost socks and crap hiding under the furniture. Take the extra minute to put things away in a semi-organized way and I promise you will be happier for it.

bad closet

4. Don’t leave your clean laundry chillin’ in a heap in your laundry basket after you pull it from the dryer. We’ve all done it- and this is a huge issue of mine that I struggle with. Your clothes will be wrinkled and the room that the basket is sitting in will no doubt look unkempt until you put the clothes away or cycle through all the clean clothes in it and haul it back down to the laundry room to start all over again. As I said, this is something I struggle with but am always more comfortable when I put the clothes away right out of the dryer (and I don’t have to hear it from the hubs either. Bonus win!)

stock-photo-clothes-in-a-laundry-basket-isolated-on-white-background-153580106

5. Finally, don’t don’t DON’T use the same sponge on every surface in your bathroom. Just think about the amount (and kind) of gross germs lingering in your toilet bowl after you clean and brush it and then consider whether you would want those same germs coming in contact with your North end after evacuating your South end. Since I’m guessing the answer is no, there are a few ways to avoid this. You can either cycle your sponges or only use sponges on surfaces that don’t potentially have a coating of E. coli the way your throne might. To cycle sponges you simply relegate your sink and bath sponges to floor sponges when they start to lose less of their scrubby power and then in the last sad stage of sponge life they can become toilet sponges. Easy peasy (if you can keep them straight). To employ the other option you can either use disposable Lysol or Clorox wipes when cleaning your toilet and then throw them in your trash bag and be done (I don’t suggest flushing them. Don’t).

And there you go! Good ways to fake a clean house until you have time to make it and some ways to avoid illness and disaster when you do have time to make it legit; if you’re feeling super ambitious check out this article on 10 ways to change your bad housekeeping habits.

Next week is going to be busy here in Chick and Chickadee Land; we’ll talk meal planning, my favorite pasta salad recipe this summer, my new pixie cut (and how I make it look messy and fun), my finally implemented cleaning schedule and much more!

Have a great weekend all!

Until next time!

Love,

The Chick and her Chickadee

Feeling the Burn and Stuff; Working Out and Why It’s Great (Even When I’m Lazy)

It started with a pair of 98 cent flip-flops from Walmart.

You know the ones; just due North of the bins of boxed movie candy in some main aisle of your local Walmart, beckoning as you head over to buy deodorant or paint, in an array of colors and under a dollar.

You guys, I live in these all summer; they’re comfy, surprisingly durable and show off my vividly painted toenails- and if they do happen to snap or something, well, no big deal.

So, one day a few weeks ago (maybe a month), the hubs and I take the Chickadee down to our local creek to go wade in; she’s still young enough to not want to swim but still be delighted to stand there with us and splash a lot, and to her going to the creek is a huge treat.

We’re standing in the shallowest part, just off shore, when my foot sinks into the mud and rocks, yanking off my flip flop and sending it downstream.

I hesitate for a minute (which turned out to be too long); do I go after it?

Do I let it go and grab another pair during one of my many visits to Walmart?

I decide to go after it.

Now, I haven’t ever been a huge work-out person; I see the benefits, I have experienced them firsthand, but I am often tired and lazy and full of excuses why I won’t squeeze in some type of physical activity.

I have often taken for granted that in spite of my laziness I can decide to work out on a whim and it’s not terribly difficult to get into the swing, but the bulk of my adulthood I waited tables and stood all day- I never gave that it’s proper due for my level of mediocre and unintentional fitness.

I simply never made the correlation.

Now I’m a stay at home Mom whose housecleaning isn’t giving me that same stamina and endurance that walking for hours on end and lifting huge trays, heavy with food, did.

So, I caught up to my flip-flop but by the time I did it had floated into a grove of downed trees; I couldn’t find a way to get in that didn’t involve submerging my head and ducking under the murky water to swim under a tree trunk, or climbing over it and going into even murkier murky water so I left it, turned back and began to swim back to my family.

Against the current.

OK, I have to admit that I had always regarded the creek as a lazy, slow-moving small body of water; never did it ever occur to me that, while I’m a strong swimmer, my level of fitness (low, oh so woefully low) would work against me as quickly as it did, but it happened.

And how.

I struggled 3/4 of the way back (because, of course, on the return swim I arced out away from the places where I could put my feet on the bottom and stand for a second, leaving myself no choice but to tread water the entire way) and that last 1/4 I flipped on my back and did the laziest backstroke you’ve ever seen to get me to shore.

I have never been more ashamed of myself than I was as I sat on the rocky bottom of the creek when I reached my family at shore; I’m not that old, had never felt that level of physical incapability, and did not ever want to feel that way again.

We headed home and I immediately threw on workout gear and struggled through 40 minutes of strength training thinking, you know what?

The best time to start is right now.

It’s one month later and I have fallen into a routine that is working well for me; 3 days on, one day off (this works for me because it’s more effective than my “I will start on Monday” shtick has been in the past, it gives me no excuses to weasel out) and no dieting (because I truly hate it) although I have made an effort to be more sensible.

I’ve been doing dance workouts and strength training (free weights and push-ups) and it’s getting easier with each workout, the Chickadee has been doing the dance workouts with me (in her toddler way); the time will come soon where I have to start challenging myself more, and I welcome that moment when it arrives.

As of right now I have lost 6lbs; this feels remarkable to me since no amount of watching my diet in the last 3 years has helped me to shed one single lb.

Very exciting!

If anybody would like to know the specific workouts I’ve been doing, the mild diet tweaks I’ve made and what size weights I’ve been using please let me know in the comments section here or on our FB page (@ChickandChickadee).

After all, we’re all here to encourage and build each other up, right?

Until next time!

Love,

The Chick and her Chickadee

 

 

The Man is Right; Less is Definitely More

With the holidays now squarely behind us and my small family back home, life is returning to normal.

It’s been a busy few months here in Chick and Chickadee Land; the wedding, keeping our home running smoothly and the last week, which was spring break for my husband and the week where we made some awesome memories as a family.

Instead of being a letdown to get home and back to business as usual, it has been a tremendous relief; the Chickadee was sick for part of last week and then I got what she had.

I’m still recovering, but I’m older so, you know, it feels like the illness has been less miserable for me (decongestants, man. They are my friend the last few days.)

I started catching up on my reading in the last few days, and one of the things I’ve taken to reading in the last few months has been Rory Feek’s blog entitled This Life I Live.

There isn’t a person on social media who hasn’t at least gained some knowledge of the events that have rocked the Feek household in the last few years, but particularly in the last few months; watching the decline of Joey Feek and her eventual succumbing to cancer has certainly had the public’s attention.

It’s tragic.

It’s hard to put ourselves in Joey Feek’s shoes, and most people don’t want to; she was only 40 years old and left behind a devoted husband and beautiful toddler, the idea of which is heartbreaking and scary to us.

I have talked with people of late who feel horrified and sad at the circumstances.

For myself, I feel humbled.

I knew nothing of Joey or Rory Feek until she was ill and publicly fighting a battle for her life, and I am ashamed to admit that at first I was very hesitant to read about her.

It felt too nosy and voyeuristic to know so much about this woman who had never been on my radar when she was well; to have her grab my attention when she was terminally ill made me feel ghoulish to some extent, as though I was fascinated by her plight, which was never the case at all.

I realized not long ago that she triggers my deepest compassion and empathy, for she went through what would be my greatest fear; waiting until later in life to become a mother and then being separated from my precious daughter by something heinously out of my control.

Where I was humbled and continue to be so is by her grace at every turn in her plight, putting her daughter and husband first and remaining true to her faith until the bittersweet end.

Everyone has different beliefs and I am the first to admit that while I am a Christian I have a long way to go in my faith before I could ever give myself over to that kind of pure trust in my creator; watching a woman so young being called home and still having that sweet trust has made me want to strive for that kind of faith myself.

Which leads me to what I read today;

In a blog entitled “Less is More” Rory Feek addresses what we are all wondering; how is their 2 year old daughter, Indiana, doing less than a month after her mother has passed away?

In his straightforward, unassuming way he answers that question, giving the credit to Joey for stepping back in what would be her last weeks on this Earth and allowing their daughter to fall more in love with her Daddy and less in love with Joey herself.

Knowing her time was short and that if she continued to allow herself to be the focus it would make her absence more difficult for everyone, especially her very small child, she did the unthinkable.

She selflessly distanced herself in order to make the transition as easy as something that absolutely heart-wrenching could be for the people she loved and would leave behind, when that couldn’t have been easy for her.

Odds are she fought with her own desire to wring every moment of time she could with her baby for her child’s own good.

Rory Feek thanks her and gives her the credit she deserves by admitting that he wouldn’t have been able to do the same if the shoe was on the other foot, and that due to her selflessness in letting him become their daughter’s focus their baby hasn’t asked for her Mama at all.

The idea that this was Joey Feek’s intention is just another testament to the kind of person she was and the legacy she left behind; perhaps an extension of her legacy is the people who will try, when they hear her story, to obtain a little of that faith and graciousness themselves.

In these often brash and graceless times, it’s people like this that should take the attention, the faithful, the humble and the unassuming.

In a world full of Kim and Kanyes, be a Joey and Rory.

I know that’s what I want.

You can read Rory Feek’s blog entry here.

Until next time.

Love,

The Chick and her Chickadee

Wait . . . What is My Skin DOING? . . . Is It . . . Oh, Yeah, That’s Right. I’m In My 30s

So, some people will hate me for saying this, but I’ve never had trouble with my skin.

A handful of breakouts scattered through my teen years and a particularly memorable one in my 20s that I’m lucky not to have a scar from, but otherwise, my skin has been relatively chill waters.

I had the occasional misstep with a product here and there, but always being a bit of a skincare and makeup junkie I usually was able to quickly chase any skincare mistakes with a reasonable solution with nothing more to show for my oopsie than a few dollars lost that I wouldn’t get back.

Then I entered my mid-30s.

And had a baby.

Suddenly, I had 2 new unwieldy issues to contend with that I didn’t understand at first;

  1. A very dry head of hair that was formerly so greasy I used to have to wash it religiously every day (this turned out to be a result of medications I was given when I got sick at the end of my pregnancy and bad home dyeing decisions and was remedied by simply cutting of something like 6 inches of hair), and,

2. Skin that was low maintenance and now was sensitive, extremely combination with the dry parts being painfully so and a tendency to burst into red patches when I would exfoliate.

Clearly, I needed to change things up.

So I went on the hunt.

It took almost a year of trial and error before I got a handle on my skin, but I finally got a skincare arsenal of go to products that work well for me and I love.

skin therapy cleansing oil aveeno cleanser

The first thing I went in search of was an effective 2 step cleansing system (I figured this may help me eliminate the need to exfoliate altogether- more on how that worked out for me in just a minute); I had gotten a catalog in the mail for a company called DHC and decided to try their deep cleansing oil as a first step, chased with Say Yes to Carrots Cream Face Wash. It alleviated the dryness some, and I LOVED the cleansing oil- but it’s pricey, at almost 30 dollars a bottle. Luckily, there are plenty of new formulas being introduced all the time at various price points (Burt’s Bees, Eclos (a subsidiary of Freeman), Neutrogena and Garnier all have a version) but my best formula so far has been the one from Palmers. A delicious smelling mix of Rosehip, Jojoba and Grapeseed oils with a big dose of Vitamin C, this oil has been a wonderful addition to my skincare routine that settles my sometimes moody skin right down and makes it less dull (ah, 30s you are fun. And mean.) Followed by the soap-free, soy enriched goodness that is Aveeno’s Positively Radiant cleanser, this was the first development that got my skin back on the road to happiness. As an extra boost you can get both on drugstore.com for under 20 bucks! Such a steal.

thayers witch hazel

For a toner I was on the quest for something a little more on the gentle side; I actually was so oily for so many years that I used Sea Breeze much longer than most people are able to, only stopping when redness and flakiness became a huge issue. I have always loved witch hazel as a more natural alternative, but if you go this route read your label carefully; quite a few formulas of witch hazel contain alcohol which countermands all the efforts I’m making to get my skin to mellow out and can cause your skin to grease up when it overreacts to being stripped of it’s natural oils. Luckily, Thayers makes a few different formulas that are alcohol free, enriched with aloe and either smell like rose petals or lavender. I have the rose petal right now and it tones and preps my skin for moisturizer without any redness or resulting greasiness from swiping alcohol across your face (and smells soooo good). I think when I reorder (also on drugstore.com) I will grab the lavender and see how I like it.

simple rich moisture aveeno ultra calming

At night, when I want a little extra dewiness (and needing an SPF isn’t an issue) I love to cap my skin routine off with Simple Replenishing Rich Moisturizer; it’s thick so a little bit goes a long way, and it absorbs quickly. It also has no fragrance and is nice and gentle. For daytime I like my Aveeno Ultra-Calming Moisturizer as it is formulated specifically to ease any redness; the miracle in this formula that aids this is something called fever few, which is in the same family as chamomile. It’s been my go to since 2005, I love it!

I was on my way, and things were looking up on the skin care front!

My skin was dewier and less red,  BUT here’s the thing; when I would go to apply my makeup it wasn’t going on as smoothly as I knew it could.

It was flaky in spots or clumpy in others.

There was no avoiding it.

I had to crack the code on what kind of exfoliant would work on skin as touchy as mine, since the traditional scrub type wasn’t working anymore.

Then a friend of mine (you know who you are, woman) told me about this amazing product from Japan that she thought would be perfect for me.

It was a chemical exfoliant, very gentle, that should work great for me since scrubs left me red-faced and unhappy, and even if it was pricier than I would have liked I needed to give it a shot.

cure aqua gel

I scoured online and quickly found that you can buy this on amazon.com for about 28 dollars, so I went for it.

Oh.

My.

GOODNESS.

It begins to work immediately when you apply it to dry skin and instead of having to scrub at dead, dry skin it just kind of . . . rolls OFF when you rinse it, like a really cool (and slightly icky) science experiment.

No scrubbing.

No redness.

Just soft, miraculously exfoliated skin that is a smooth canvas on which to paint how you like.

What are some of your skincare go-tos?

Let me know in the comments here or on our FB page!

Until next time, all!

Love,

The Chick and her Chickadee