Friday, August 16, 2013

Things a mother should teach her son

I have come across many different lists such as this one, while browsing through pinterest.

Some have suggestions I don't agree with.

Some I love.

One day I know, I will blink and my little boy will be a man.



When that day comes, I want to know that I've done my best to teach him all the important life lessons that will shape him into a great man.


So here is MY list:


1. The kitchen is for boys too! Learn how to cook and you will not only feed yourself, but you can impress a date with your dinner-making skills! No more frozen meals, YAY!
2. Manners and being polite will get you everywhere in life.
3. Keep great hygiene. Shower daily, keep your nails trim, and use deodorant. Do not go overboard with the aftershave or cologne.
4. Understand how to use basic tools and make minor car and household repairs. This will save you in so many future situations.
5. Violence is never the answer. Never hit a woman. Keep your hands to yourself in every dispute, unless you are defending yourself against an attack. Remember son, boys use fists, men use words.
6. What you do when no one can see you, defines you as a man.
7. Never be afraid to express your emotions. Do not harden your heart and hide your feelings because society tells you that real men don’t show emotions or share feelings. Real men are not afraid to show who they are emotionally; it is a sign of inner strength, not of weakness.
8. Do not fear money. Learn how to handle it. Balance a checkbook; keep track of your earnings, spending, investments, and savings.
9. Respect ALL religions, races, cultures, and orientations. Understand that just because someone isn’t like you, doesn’t make them wrong in any way, just different.
10. Be honest. But use your better judgment. If your honesty could affect someone negatively in a harmful or detrimental way, keep it to yourself. Honesty is a virtue, but it can also be a double-edged sword.
11. There are certain words that are NEVER okay for you to say. Retard is one of them. Learn what the others are, and why you should never say them.
12. Follow your dreams, and do not let the obstacles or struggles you face hold you back. Life is an adventure, live it!
13. Call your mother! Though every day would be nice, I know that life gets in the way. Remember that I long to hear your voice and see you, no matter what.
14. Whatever choices you make in life, whatever dreams or aspirations you have, know that I support you 100%, and always will.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Taking A Break

This year has been a very busy one for me so far: I enrolled in college at UOP studying for my bachelors of science in environmental science, I've also been sharpening my makeup artistry skills and portfolio, and my husband started a new job, which means I'm back to being a stay at home mom 24/7.

I've also had some hardships: my cat spooky (who was staying with my mom temporarily) passed away on New Years Day, and it devastated me. It was completely sudden, he was only 5, I had him since he was a month old, and he was my favorite cat/pet ever. I had him cremated and his ashes now sit in a beautiful engraved urn on my entry table.

My husband was unemployed for nearly the first half of 2013, and things were okay financially until the very end. We struggled for about 2 months, paying the bills, even getting groceries and diapers. We had no insurance, my son got very sick and we were about to sign up for financial assistance and medicaid when he got a great job at the last minute.

Right now things are getting back on track. My husband loves his job, we have gotten caught up on our bills and late payments, and we are in the process of getting insurance.

And last week happened.

I had an abscessed wisdom tooth a week ago, and my usual dentist couldn't see me without insurance, so I had to make an emergency hospital visit. The pain was unbearable. I had been going on 12 hours straight of unreeling, excruciating pain, without any pain medication (OTC pain relievers weren't doing a thing). The first hospital I went to was the one by our place, Dekalb Medical. I waited in line in the ER to get checked in for 30 minutes. Then I waited to be checked by a triage nurse for over 30 minutes. When she checked me, I was in tears. The pain was unforgiving, I needed pain relief fast. When I asked her about relief, she was cold and unflinching, and basically said that someone would come get me soon. She took my vitals, and didn't even ask what pain level I was at. I sat back down in the waiting room for over 45 minutes, crying like a baby. Finally, I my name was called, but it was to see the financial advisor desk. I went in, and the woman said to me that they don't typically see people with dental pain. She asked for insurance, when I said I didn't have any, she said I'd have to pay a $300 co-pay just to be seen. WTF. Who has $300 just to throw away like that? I said I couldn't pay it, and she handed me a sheet of paper that had one free clinic with dental on it, and told me to call them to be seen. I was refused service and any pain relief right there. I walked out, almost fainting in shock that I had been treated so horribly at a hospital, and at the fact that my pain had now tripled.

The clinic was bogus (it was an HIV clinic BTW, I DON'T HAVE HIV!!!), so in desperation I called my mom and she took me to Emory hospital. I signed in, waited 15 minutes, and the triage nurse saw me. She was warm and understanding, and let me know pain relief was on its way. I sat back down for all of 5 minutes when I was called back by another nurse. This nurse took me into a room, asked me a few questions, and immediately gave me a dental block for pain. She was very friendly and made me feel welcome and safe. She wrote me a prescription for antibiotics and pain medication, and told me to follow up with an oral surgeon fast. Payment was never asked.

I have an appointment with the oral surgeon to get my wisdom tooth removed next week :)

After that it will be my sons 2nd birthday on June 13th!

I am really excited about what my future holds with my career, and in order to maintain focus in school, I have to let some of my creative side projects, like this blog, go for the time being.

I'm only taking a short break, and when I can, I will post.

Thanks to all my followers! I will be back!

♡ Alaina ♡

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Look Better Naked



Life is far too short to waste hating your body and scrutinizing every pucker and pore. Here are some easy tricks for looking tighter, feeling smoother, and simply liking yourself better in the buff. 

1. Camouflage the dimpling and puckering. Until there's a cure for cellulite, the best treatment isn't a pricey cream. It's self tanner.
- After you've exfoliated, apply self tanning lotion evenly all over your body, blending well in a circular pattern to prevent streaks or spots.
- Wait at least 8 hours, then shower to remove any residue.
- This is the magic: a second layer. Take a can of self tanning spray, and spray it over your butt, thighs, and any other areas where you have cellulite.

2. Stand up straight. Good posture can take an inch or two off your midsection instantly. Imagine lifting up your rib cage as if there were a string going from your breastbone to the ceiling. At the same time, gently pull your shoulder blades back toward your spine.

3. Install a shower water filter. If your shower door or curtain has a chalky residue, you have hard water, and hard water dries out skin. It only takes 5 minutes to install a shower head water filter which will strain out the worst of the glow-sapping minerals.

4. Make your own body scrub. One of my favorite ways to get glowing skin is also the cheapest. Mix epsom salts with a cup of any of your best smelling oil -- olive, almond, rose, coconut... Leave a jar of it by your bathtub, and exfoliate at least once a week. It's so effective at removing dead skin and hydrating, you won't even need to moisturize when you step out of the shower.

5. Get moving. It's the act of exercising that makes you feel better about your body--even more so than any actual physical improvements.

6. Flatten your abs. Doing hundreds of crunches a day may seem virtuous, but they don't do anything for the muscles that run around the entire core of your body like a corset. To really flatten your abs, practice the yoga plank position--it strengthens the core and the obliques, drawing your midsection up and in.

7. Consider springing for sclerotherapy. If your legs are a web of spider veins, sclerotherapy can help. It's a procedure in which a dermatologist injects the veins with hypertonic saline solution so they collapse and disappear. It costs about $500 for both legs, which is a fraction of the cost of laser treatments, which don't even work as well.

8. Clean out your closet. This is a surprising way to feel better about your body. Give away anything that's too small--having those things hanging there isn't a motivation to lose weight; it's an excuse for your to beat yourself up every day. If you do drop the weight, you can buy yourself something new to celebrate--styles and your taste have probably changed anyway.

9. Battle bloat. Eliminate the sweeteners known as sugar alcohols from your diet to flatten your belly. Check your favorite mints, gum and protein bars for sorbitol, mannitol, and lactitol--dietitians have pinpointed all three as major causes of gastrointestinal bloat.

10. Pick up the pace. To see more results at the gym, put more energy into it. If you feel like you are snowshoeing on the elliptical machine, you're doing it wrong. Add a 15-second sprint to the cardio workout of your choice every two minutes--and kick that up to a sprint every minute during the last 10 minutes on the machine. This will keep you engaged in the activity, and time will fly by faster.

11. Abolish 'bacne'. Try a body wash with salicylic acid in the morning and a spot treatment with benzoyl peroxide at night. Just be sure to sleep in an old t-shirt or pajamas--the ingredient may discolor clothes.

12. Get rid of red bumps. You know those little red goose bumps on the backs of your arms or thighs? They aren't pimples or a rash, but a common inherited condition called Keratosis Pilaris (KP). You can get rid of them with twice a week exfoliation and a daily lactic acid moisturizer such as AmLactin. You have to keep it up though, if you stop treating KP, it will just come back.

13. Cover up bruises. To really cover them up good, you have to knock out the dark purple color first. Dab an apricot-colored lipstick all over the bruise, and blot with a tissue to reduce stickiness. Then apply a creamy concealer that exactly matches your skin tone, and set it all with a dusting of translucent powder. (You can also do the same thing with unsightly small tattoos)

14. Whisk away hair. Depilatories are easy, and the effects last longer than shaving. But the smell! Well, cosmetic chemists have finally cracked the code with Completely Bare's new Completely Gone Hair Vanishing Cream. It really does take the hair away without that rotten egg odor. It smells more like lemon--and works in 5 minutes.

15. Quit smoking. Women who smoke have a more negative body image than those who don't. And the more you smoke, the worse you feel about yourself.

16. BEING KIND TO OTHER WOMEN. There's a reason this one is in all caps. This is one of the most important qualities a woman should have under her belt. It's obvious that feeling good in your own skin requires that you take it easy on that creature looking back at you in the mirror. Less obvious is being kind towards other women. There's nothing positive or attractive about criticizing another women's appearance. Even sitting around with your friends talking about how fat a certain celebrity looks or calling women 'cougars' is destructive--and it certainly doesn't make you feel any better about yourself. Quite the opposite in fact.

17. Banish sun spots. Just because you committed the sin of lying out in the sun in your youth doesn't mean you have to do penance forever. To banish sun spots on your chest, arms, and anywhere else, you can religiously smear on a product that combines a lightening agent--such as soy, kojic acid, or 2 percent hydroquinone--with an exfoliator daily for at least 2 months. If the spots haven't faded in 2 months, ask your dermatologist for prescription 4 percent hydroquinone--which can work in as quickly as a month, but can also irritate skin. Whenever you use it, be sure to prevent new spots from forming with a daily broad-spectrum sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30.

18. Consider a few sessions of laser hair removal if you get ingrown bikini line hairs. Not everyone has the time or money for the full course of six treatments, but even one or two sessions can really help thin out regrowth, making ingrown hairs less likely.

19. Minimize new stretch marks. Old stretch marks aren't going anywhere. But you can minimize new ones with a retinoid, which will accelerate healing. And if you want to at least try to reduce your chances of getting new ones from pregnancy or weight loss, rub cocoa butter or another heavy emollient on those areas--it makes the outer layer of the skin more pliable.

20. Tone your glutes faster. We all say we'd like a firmer butt. If you really mean it, try this: single-leg movements. Do 12 reps of a single-leg squat on each side. Stand up straight with your left leg out behind you and dip down as far as you can, then switch sides and do 12 more. You can bang out 4 or 5 sets in under 3 minutes. And you WILL see a difference.

Valentines Day Date Idea

I love the idea of recreating your favorite restaurants menu at home, so I did! Actually, I did almost a year ago that is. At that time my husbands favorite restaurant was Longhorn Steakhouse, and mine was The Cheesecake Factory. I made one menu from each, finding recipe copycats online and creating the menu with the found recipes.

I had the intention of making my husbands menu choices at home on his birthday, and maybe making my choices on our anniversary or some other holiday...which never happened.

But I do think it is a great idea for someone wanting to try out their favorite restaurants menu copycat recipes at home, and it also saves you money.



Longhorn Steakhouse Restaurant Copycat Recipes

Marinade
Honey Mustard
Prairie Dust
House Dressing
Pineapple Goldrush
Strawberry Goldrush
Grilled Lime Shrimp with Guacamole Ranch Dip
Wild West Shrimp
Steak


The Cheesecake Factory's Copycat Recipes

J.W. Pink Lemonade
Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes
Avocado Egg Rolls
Luau Salad
Chopped Salad
Meatloaf
Mashed Potatoes
Chicken Madeira
Bang Bang Chicken and Shrimp
Cajun Jambalaya Pasta
Romano Chicken
Cheesecake


The Menus I Made

Longhorn Steakhouse

Cheesecake Factory


You can make your own menus at home too, just find copycat recipes of your favorite restaurant and create a menu in Word with what you find. I added pictures, and even copied their menu item descriptions. Hope this idea inspires you! If it does, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Feel-Good Tricks for Blah Days

Next time life leaves you in a foul, everything sucks mood, employ these strategies to get an insta-lift.

1. Take an iPod time-out. Put in your ear buds, and lose yourself in your favorite tunes. A slower tempo will relax you, but music that's heavy and throbbing will let you work through anger or annoyance so you can get those negative emotions out of your system quickly.

Mmmmwwaahh!
2. Slick on red lip gloss. Red lips exude confidence and sex appeal. The reaction you get from others with help replace your bad mood with sexy self-assurance.

3. Crack up in front of your computer. It's impossible to feel bad when you're laughing, so download a video from funnyordie.com or collegehumor.com.

4. Switch on your desk lamp. Harsh overhead lighting can amplify stress and irritation, while a softer glow can help soothe you.

5. Surround yourself with yellow and orange. Studies show that people become more joyful in those warm, bright colors. Possibly because they remind us of the sun. If you don't have a yellow or orange garment to wear, pick up flowers in those hues.

My Happy Place
6. Visualize your happy place. Maybe it's a tropical beach or your childhood bedroom. Whatever the location, close your eyes and conjure up the image. Changing your mind's wallpaper to a place you adore will make you happy.

7. Have a quickie. If sex isn't possible, reveling in the memory of a sack session will flood your system with blissful sensations.

8. Put on clothes you look hot in. Every woman has something in her closet that gets her positive feedback from friends, coworkers, and random strangers. Change into it--even if it's just a par of sex-kittenish heels--and enjoy the ego boost.

9. Snack on citrus fruits. They can improve your mood. And because they take time to peel, you'll likely eat slowly and not end up pigging out.

10. Breathe away bad vibes. Inhale slowly and deeply for 5 seconds, then exhale for 5. You'll breathe yourself into a more affirmative mind-set.

11. Be a nature girl. Eat lunch in a park. Lie on the grass in your backyard, and watch birds fly overhead. Exposure to the outdoors will lower your heart rate and defuse a pessimistic outlook.

Warm Spinach Salad

This is by far one of the best salads I've ever made. And its a weight watchers recipe. The flavor combinations in this salad are incredible and filling, and a serving is only 5 points!


Warm Spinach Salad with Bacon, Chicken & Blue Cheese

Ingredients

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
5 oz. fresh baby spinach
2 cups uncooked radicchio, chopped
6 slices uncooked reduced fat bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 lb. cooked skinless, boneless chicken breast, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 large granny smith apple, thinly sliced
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

Instructions

In a small bowl, combine vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper; set aside.
Toss spinach and radicchio in a large serving bowl; set aside. 
Heat a large nonstick skillet over low heat; add bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until crispy and browned, about 7 to 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate; let drain.
Set same skillet over high heat; add mushrooms and onion and cook, stirring often, until onions begin to brown, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add vinegar mixture and chicken to skillet; cook, stirring, to heat chicken, about 1 minute. Spoon over spinach mixture and toss to wilt lightly; garnish with bacon, apple and blue cheese. Serve warm. Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Spa Night

Whenever I can, I try to have a spa night once a week. Really all spa night is, is a couple of hours of pampering myself and letting go of the stresses of the day. I wait until everyone is in bed, then I spring into action. First, I undress and put on my bath robe and slippers. Then to create the most 'spa-like' atmosphere, I play some relaxing meditative music, light a few candles, and fix myself a glass of water with either sliced cucumbers or sliced citrus and fresh mint (spa water). Let the pampering begin.

A lot of what you need can come from your kitchen.


Baking soda, apple cider vinegar (great for hair rinse), salt, cucumber, olive oil, lemon, sugar and honey.


If I'm planning on taking a shower, I start with a moisturizing hair mask. If you do this, wait to do your facial until AFTER your shower.

You need:

coconut oil
avocado
coconut milk

1. Mash up avocado until smooth.
2. Add coconut oil and milk.
3. Heat in microwave for 20 seconds.
4. Slather all over hair.
5. Leave on for 30 minutes or longer (I leave it on for an hour).
6. Do any of the below treatments (except facial) while waiting.
7. Wash it out in the shower and if your hair needs it, use conditioner too.


Dry brushing (do before you shower)

Right before I jump in the shower, I try to remember to dry brush my skin. All you do is take a natural bristle brush and lightly brush skin in circular motions all over body to exfoliate and improve circulation. If you do not have a natural bristle brush, then use a body scrub in the shower.


DIY Body Scrub

You will need:

5 tbsp. sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon

1. Mix the salt and olive oil together in a bowl.
2. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze over salt/oil mixture.
3. Mix and mash.
4. Scrub body in shower with this using circular motions.
5. Rinse.



.




If I'm not planning on showering, I start with a facial first.

I start with a DIY facial.

You need:

facial cleanser
exfoliating scrub
lip scrub: sea salt and coconut oil
washcloth
biore pore strip
face mask (clay based for oily skin or a cream/gel mask for dry skin)
or
make your own mask (1 tbsp. plain greek yogurt and 1/2 tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice, mix and spread over face)
2 thin slices of cucumber or potato
face moisturizer

1. Clean. Remove all traces of makeup and dirt with a cleanser, washing your neck and ears too. Rinse.
2. Exfoliate. Using your fingers, gently rub the scrub in circular motions all over your face. Focus on areas around your nose and forehead if you are prone to oily skin. Go the extra mile and do a lip scrub. Make a paste from the salt and coconut oil and apply to lips in a thick coat. Let sit for a few minutes, then scrub with your finger to remove flakes. Rinse off. After this step you can apply a moisturizing lip balm, though I usually just add some honey to my lips for natural moisturizer.
3. Steam. Fill your sink with warm water and soak a washcloth in it. Ring it out and press it to your face, covering it. Let sit for a minute. Repeat 2-3 times.
4. Wet your nose, and apply the biore pore strip. Press it into the skin gently, ensuring it gets into your pores.
5. Mask. Apply your choice of mask (around the nose strip), and while you're waiting for it to dry, slice 2 thin slices of cucumber or potato and lie down, placing the slices over your eyes. Relax for at least 5 minutes, or until its time to rinse the mask off. Gently peel the nose strip off, and rinse the mask off with warm water. Splash face with cold water to close pores.
6. Hydrate. Apply your choice of face moisturizer all over, including your neck.



Next I whiten my teeth.

You need:

baking soda
juice from 1/4 of a lemon

1. Mix desired amount of baking soda with lemon juice to make a paste.
2. Apply to teeth using a clean toothbrush.
3. Scrub into teeth with toothbrush.
4. Let sit for at least 2 minutes.
5. Rinse mouth out with water, and you can either brush your teeth now or wait until later.



Then I give my feet special treatment with a pedicure.

You will need:

nail polish remover
cotton balls
nail clippers
emory board
large bowl (one big enough to put your feet into)
epsom salts and aromatherapy oil of choice (I use lavender)
1/4 cup of whole fat milk (optional)
cuticle remover cream (burts bees has a great one)
cuticle stick (orangewood stick works best)
pumice stone
towel
foot cream
nail polish of choice
topcoat
cotton swabs

1. Remove old nail polish from toes with nail polish remover soaked cotton balls.
2. Cut and file nails using nail clippers and an emory board. Cut nails straight across to avoid ingrown nails. File nails in one direction until they are all even and slightly rounded at the corners.
3. Soak your feet. Fill a large bowl with warm water, throw in some epsom salts and a few drops of aromatherapy oil, and soak your feet for at least 10 minutes. If you have it, I suggest adding some full fat whole milk to the bath for its dead skin loosening effects. The more callused your feet, the longer they need to soak.
4. Take care of cuticles. Apply cuticle remover cream to base of nails and rub in. Leave on for a minute, then using a cuticle stick, push cuticles back gently.
5. Scrub your feet. Use a wet pumice stone to slough away the dead skin on the bottoms of your feet. focusing on the balls, bottoms and sides of your heels and around the toes. Stop if your feet start to turn red, or feel sensitive.
6. Moisturize. Dry feet thoroughly with a towel, and massage in a thick foot cream focusing on feet and your calves. You can even dab a bit of coconut oil or olive oil onto your nails and rub in for extra moisturizing power.
7. Polish toes. Use nail polish remover and a cotton ball to remove any residual oil from nails. Then apply a thin coat of your nail polish to all toes, let dry, then apply a second coat. Once this dries, I apply a clear topcoat to seal in polish and protect it from scuffs and chips. Clean up any mistakes with a cotton swab soaked in nail polish remover. Let nails dry for at least 40 minutes. While waiting for them to dry, I give myself a manicure to cut time.


DIY Manicure

You will need:

nail polish remover
cotton balls
nail clippers
emory board file
bowl
full fat milk and aromatherapy oil
cuticle remover cream
cuticle stick
nail polish of choice
clear top coat


1. Start by removing old nail polish from nails using remover soaked cotton balls.
2. Clip and file your nails using the same technique as mentioned above in the pedicure.
3. Fill a bowl with warm water, warm milk and a drop of aromatherapy oil. Soak nails for 5 minutes. Pat dry.
4. Apply cuticle remover to base of nails, massaging into nail bed, let sit for a minute. Using a cuticle stick, gently push back cuticles with a circular motion.
5. Soak a cotton ball with nail polish remover and wipe off nails.
6. Polish nails as mentioned above in pedicure instructions.
7. Clean up any polish mistakes using a cotton swab soaked in polish remover.
8. Let nails dry for at least 20 minutes. I spend this time flipping through magazines or reading my nook while sipping on the 'spa' water.

Lastly, I massage coconut oil into my skin all over and apply moisturizing lip balm to my lips before blowing out the candles and calling it a night.