Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Quilt

It's funny how the mind works.  I was drinking my coffee this morning and poking around on Pinterest, two of my favorite addictions, when I stumbled across an Emmet Kelly figurine post under the "Everything" option in Pinterest.  So, I started looking up Emmet Kelly figurines, which somehow also added a Precious Moments clown figurine in the search.  So of course I had to reminisce and look up Precious Moments, as my aunt, my mother's sister and whom I am named after, used to cross stitch Precious Moments scenes.  Many of the PM kids reminded me of another childhood character, Holly Hobbie.  I bet you can guess what I had to look up next!

And that brings me to the purpose of this post, childhood memories.  Specifically one childhood memory, a quilt.

There are few material things remaining in my life from my childhood; my quilt is one of them.  And though it is tattered and in disrepair, it is one of my most valuable possessions.

The quilt.  It is old and threadbare.  It is stained and faded.  Much of the quilting is now flat and there are a few holes in some of the squares.

My quilt.  It feels like home and smells like memories.  It is worn and soft, and nothing in the world can compare to its comfort.

You see, when I was a baby my grandmother made this particular quilt for me.  She spent the better part of a year (so I've been told) hand-stitching from start to finish a quilt for each of her grandkids as Christmas presents.  Both of my brothers got a quilt, one in blues and greens, and one in earthy tones.  Neither of my brothers still have their quilt.  They were long since lost or discarded.

My quilt, my precious quilt, is squares of pastel pink and a light summery green.  Each and every square was decorated with needlework of Holly Hobbie, enough squares to completely cover a twin-sized bed.  The style of needlework was embroidery, not cross stitch, with beautiful stylized stitches accented with decorative knots.  I can't even imagine the time my mother's mother put into making just this one quilt, all by hand, much less three.

This is what the needlepoint work originally
would have looked like on my quilt.
Through the course of a lifetime my quilt was used to keep me warm, as padding to sleep on, comfort when I was sick, a play mat for my kids as well as the children of my friends and family, and to warm my mother when she was battling cancer.  It has silently witnessed everything from birth to death of human and furry creatures a like.  It has felt the coolness of grass on a spring day and protected me from the burning sands of the beach on a hot summer's afternoon.  It has been eaten on, spilled on, bled on, thrown up on, had diapers changed on it, machine washed and rewashed, bleached, sun dried and dryer dried, even hand washed more than a few times, used as a couch cover, a chair throw, a car and hotel blanket when traveling, a crib/playpen "sheet", a pet bed, and yes, even as a cover for my own bed.

Now almost 40 years old, the lovingly-stitched Holly Hobbie scenes are long gone, the decades-old thread having been faded and worn away to nothing.  You can still faintly make out where some of the knots and stitches us to be.  The lining and edging are frayed and have holes in them.  Life, my life, has left a few permanent stains on the now delicate fabric of the quilt.  The stains that to others may seem unsightly, to me make it all the more beautiful because of the memories of a lifetime held within each one.

My grandmother has long since passed away, and sadly so has my mother.  But I have a quilt, and because of that I will always have a little bit of them with me.

My quilt


~sierra

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Influenster and the VowVoxBox

"Vow Vox Box"? Don't Panic!

You haven't missed any invitations or save the date notices.  There are no wedding plans, secret or otherwise.  However, #Influenster recently had another vox box program of products to sample that would go well with the pending blushing bride or possible potential maybe perhaps one day bride. Anyway, breathe.....

This was a smaller vox box but it was packed with some pretty great items from #SallyHansen, #Ecotools, #Puresilk, #Tide, and a coupon for a wedding website by #Riley&Grey.  So let me give you guys the run down.


The first item to try was of course Sally Hansen's the complete manicure nail polish in Barracuda Blue.  What a fun summer name for a pretty light blue polish.  Initially I tried it on both my fingers and toes.  As I figured, I'm not a color on my fingernails kind of girl.  I'm fairly boring in that department sticking with the tried and true french manicure.  But oh my little toesies!  They loved the blue, especially at the beach.  As you can see above.

It was just light enough to brighten up the toes, but not so dark to make people give your feet funny looks.  Well more funny looks.  Lets face it, feet can be kind of funny looking on their own.  But my little toes felt so pretty in pink.... er blushing in blue with this color.  It's a matte babyish sky blue.  Very pretty and feminine.  And definitely an option for the bride who might need that little "something in blue" on her special day.  Try doing a french manicure with Barracuda Blue colored tips instead of the normal white.  Elegant, colorful, and whimsical all in one.

Pure Silk shaving cream was the next up to try.  I've never been one to use shaving cream, instead opting for body soap, shampoo, conditioner, or lotion... Basically just what ever was handy.  I have latin (Cuban) blood in my so unfortunately I tend to have to shave my legs rather frequently, especially in the summer.  Every other day isn't unheard of for me.  The first thing I noticed with the Pure Silk was I got a much closer shave.  This was honestly somewhat of a surprise for me because I didn't think it would make that much of a difference.  So close in fact that it was 5 days before I had to shave again.  A few shaves latter I started with a fresh razor and that familiar dread as they always leave me with little nicks and cuts the first shave or two.  Much to my surprise I walked away without even the tiniest cut.  I was so surprised by this fact that I spend a full 5 minutes standing in the bathroom in front of the mirror looking at my legs examining them for any tell-tale trickle of blood and just flabbergasted that I couldn't see even one drop.  Yay for Pure Silk.  It has turned my shaving routine from a torture to just routine.

The Tide To Go pen was the object I was least looking forward to testing as I have an allergy to Tide.  After much debate and thought I decided it would be safe to try.  It is after all just a small amount on a small spot on a single item of clothing.  It couldn't possibly cause too bad of an allergic reaction.  Of course, I had just spilled coffee on my favorite white tank top that I sleep in.  Tide to the rescue.  Coffee and mornings.... no I wasn't coherent enough to take pictures.  I wish I had.  The pen took the stain out in just seconds.  When I washed the shirt, I did so with regular laundry and not whites with beach.  When it came out of the dryer it was all pretty white with no coffee spots on it.  The Tide To Go pen found a new home in my purse.

Sadly, I did not use the website offer as I have no wedding to plan.  I did look around at their site a little and their offers.  This seems like it would be a great thing to do, especially if you are a bride planning a large wedding, or have family and/or bridal party members who do not live close to you.  It's just another wonderful way to commemorate your beautiful and special day.

Once again, thank you to Influenster, Sally Hansen, Ecotools, Pure Silk, Tide, and Riley & Grey for the items in the Vow Vox Box and allowing me to sample and test them.  The VoxBox program is always fun, helpful, and every time I learn both about new products and known products with new product line that I might not have otherwise.

~sierra

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Coffee is good for you when consumed responsibly... AKA a Fishy Tale

A tale about why coffee is good for you...

We have a salt water fish tank and our fishy eats frozen fish food.  Every morning I get up, let the p3 out to go potty, turn the light on the fish tank, and put a cube of the frozen fish food in a cup with some water to melt while I get coffee started.  I know.  I know!  That process of events is backwards.  Coffee should always come first.  But the other is a better use of time and keeps me from walking in circles.   Usually, I fix my cup, then take my coffee along with the plastic cup of fish food to the living room where Lt. Dan (our surviving fish) gets fed and I sit and sip my coffee enjoying the sunshine from the open door. This morning The first part of my routine flowed normally without problem.

That is until I went to fix my first cup of coffee....  I poured my cup of coffee, added creamer and sugar, grabbed the spoon, stirred, picked up the cup to take my first sip and paused.  Thank GOODNESS fish food has a fishy smell.  I had stirred the fish food and nearly too a long, not so comforting, first sip of.... fish food soup, mixed with creamer and sugar.  Talk about gastric disaster.  Fish cup emptied and rinsed, new fish food defrosted and fed to Lt. Dan AFTER I had a full half a cup of coffee.

Remember folks... Safety First - Coffee before anything!

~sierra

Friday, June 20, 2014

Humor or Horror in Housework

Remember the Steven King movie (and book) Maximum Overdrive, where all the machines come to life?  Or what about The Transformers and the Spark that brings electronics/machines to life?  Could that have happened already with our common, everyday house cleaning equipment?

Because I am convinced my dryer is carnivore, or a clothivore, or perhaps just a sockivore!

Why is it every time I do laundry an even number of socks go in but an odd number comes out?  Has it somehow had a spark and come to life needing a regular diet of tubular cotton fiber?  Perhaps it is seeking a certain flavor, something that reminds it of some far off planetary system it's collective intelligence called home; therefore it keeps trying different socks hoping to find that reminiscent taste? Kind of how we take a bite out of a chocolate and put it back in the box because it wasn't what we were looking for.  So the dryer eats only one sock out of a set, deciding it isn't the flavor it wants and therefore leaves the other one untouched?  Should I be amused at the daily dietary divergence of my dryer or horrified at the mass slaughter of socks that leaves the twin sock orphaned and alone?

Either way, I am convinced that yes, my dryer does in fact snack on socks, and lint is the undigested remains of said socks.

~sierra sugar

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and boys.... oh my!

So I watched the first ‪#‎Transformers‬ movie last night with him. I must admit I was pleasantly surprised and quite enjoyed it.

When I was in high school I remember scoffing at the advertisements for the new movie coming out... "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". I swore up and down it was going to be stupid and no way was I going to watch it. A friend of mine took me out on a date to see "Tales from the Crypt" which was in theatres at the same time, or so I thought that's what we were going to see. He already bought our tickets, so we spent some time playing games in the arcade in the mall across from the theatre (hey we were in high school!).  When it was time, we went to find our seats. I didn't pay attention to where I was walking so much, I just followed him. Let the boy be the "man".  You know, all those girly things we do to make men feel in charge.

Of course he tricked me. Sneaky bugger! He was taking me to see 
‪#‎TMNT‬ instead. I remember being upset and ready to walk out of the theatre. He begged me to sit down and just give it a chance. "Don't make a scene" I think were his exact words. So I sat. Arms crossed, back stiff, silently seething. About 5 minutes into the show or so, I don't remember exactly, but I started to relax. By the end of the movie I had laughed, cried, and was looking forward to hopefully a TMNT 2.

When the first #Transformer movie first came out back in 2007 (?) I scoffed and swore it would be stupid and I'd never watch it. Sound familiar? When Allen and I went to the movies a few weeks back one of the trailers was for the 4th Transformer movie coming out this summer, in #IMAX 3D. I was surprised at not only how interesting the Transformer trailer seemed, also happy to see that it had Mark Wahlberg in it. He turned out to be one truly amazing actor. Allen said he wanted to see it when it came out, I agreed. He asked me if I'd seen the first 3. I shook my head no. So, I was told I needed to see them first.

I think I need to stop saying "That looks stupid, I'll never watch it". Just because the theme is a "boy" theme doesn't mean a girl can't enjoy it. We want guys to watch chick flicks with us (sometimes), so I need to be more open-minded and watch boy stuff too. It's just a bonus that I end up enjoying the boy stuff!

~sierra sugar

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Clear Skin and Blue Skies Ahead. It's Summertime!

It's summer time.  The weather is warmer.  The sun is out.  And you want to be out in that fresh air enjoying life.  Sunshine and the subsequent Vitamin D from sun exposure has its benefits.  We need a little bit of those UV rays to prevent things like Rickets and Depression.  Not all sun exposure is bad.  Moderation is the key to life.  But this post isn't about the pros and cons of lazy days out on the beach, in the sand and salt water, soaking up copious amounts of natural Vitamin D in the form of refreshing, warming tropical sunshine...... sorry, got a little sidetracked there with my day dream.

Ok, so you want to be out enjoying the summer life.  Lazy days on the beach, or lake, or any other outdoor activity.  But, if you're like me sunshine puts a nice spotlight on any problem areas on your face.  It's embarrassing to admit, but I have always struggled with acne and large pores.  I remember being in the 6th grade and begging my mom to let me wear make up so I could try to hide the large dark pores across my nose.  And as an adult, I still suffer from this less than flattering condition.

Another guilty confession:  I am addicted to Pinterest.

Last night while waiting out my frequent visitor, insomnia, I was scrolling through Pinterest when I spied something that really caught my attention.  A natural skin treatment to help reduce large pores (blackheads) on the nose and smooth skin.  I couldn't wait to try it.  In my haste I failed to take a picture for before and after results.  My apologies.

What was this remedy?  Something most of us have in our kitchens.  Lemon juice and baking soda!



After doing a little research on the subject and finding many variables to this "recipe" I decided to go with the simplest method.  Hey, simple is better!  I used a small ramekin,

These are Ramekins!


squeezed in about a Tablespoon of lemon juice (the recipe said to squeeze a lemon for fresh juice.  I didn't have one on hand but I had a bottle of lemon juice *not from concentrate*)



then started adding baking soda a little at a time, stirring to make a paste.  Don't be alarmed, it will fizz and foam.  It is a chemical reaction between the two ingredients and shows that your baking soda hasn't gone stale.  Just keep adding a little at a time and stirring until the foaming goes down enough to add some more.

Baking Soda foaming when mixed with Lemon Juice


The goal is to create a thick, creamy paste.  Then using my fingers I smeared the paste all over my nose, cheeks, chin, and center of my forehead (typical T-zone areas).  Basically anywhere I suffer most from acne and large pores.  I spent a few minutes scrubbing it in (for exfoliation) and then I let it sit on my face for 20 minutes.  Like most face masks the paste dries and pulls at your skin.

*If you have sensitive skin, 20 minutes might be too long.  Start with 5 minutes and work your way up to what you can tolerate.  It will burn a little but shouldn't be terribly uncomfortable.

After 20 minutes I simply rinsed my face with cool water and patted dry.  I could immediately feel the change.  My skin felt noticeably smoother.  Grabbing a mirror and standing in the sunlight to examine my nose I was happily surprised to see a very noticeable shrinkage in the diameter of the pores across my nose.  Not gone, but yes smaller.

I let my face breathe for an hour or so and then applied a little bit of coconut oil, which is fantastic for skin care, especially for oily skin.  The coconut oil absorbs into your skin completely after about 5 minutes leaving it soft and supple, not greasy.  And it has antibacterial properties to help fight against breakouts.



I am thinking the lemon juice/baking soda scrub/mask is a bit too harsh to use every day, but perhaps once or twice a week.  Also of note, both lemon juice and baking soda have whitening/lightening properties.  It may take some time, but over time with continued use these ingredients may lighten skin blemishes and spots.

Of course, there are many other uses and benefits, as well as side effects.  If you have skin sensitivity test in a small area for a short amount of time first.  If you are allergic to either ingredient don't use at all.  It probably wouldn't be the best idea to use this skin scrub/mask immediately before heading out into the sunshine either.  Be good to your skin.  Be kind.  Be gentle.  Take care of it and it will take care of you.

I've also read where people have splashed their face with a mixture of 1 cup water and 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar as a toner.  ACV is another one of those handy kitchen items that has so many practical uses and is great for the body, skin, and hair.

Perhaps I'll cover uses for ACV and other kitchen items another day.  In the meantime you can do your own research and tests.  Here are a list of some great natural products to keep in the house for use on your skin, in your body, or around the house.

Baking Soda
Apple Cider Vinegar
Coconut Oil
Honey
Sugar
Turmeric
Lemons/Lemon Juice
White Vinegar
Sea Salt
Essential Oils

I am sure there are many others I am forgetting to list.  Know of some or have your own experiences and tips?  Leave a comment.  I would love to hear your stories.

~sierra sugar

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Next Step from Vitamin Shoppe

I was excited to try these protein shake samples received in my‪#‎GoVoxBox‬ from Influenster




Having used Whey protein shakes in the past to help manage my weight and blood sugar levels, I am hypoglycemic.  I also used them as nutritional supplements for my mother when she was struggling with cancer and unable to eat.  There are many benefits to protein supplements and they come in a variety of types and flavors.  Even weight loss brand names have gotten in on the hype - Weight Watchers and Adkins.  

Having used many different brands in the past and tried almost every flavor, I have learned that I am not a fan of most flavors besides chocolate. That being said I started with the flavor I usually like least.  Just like our mother's used to tell us when there was something on our plate we didn't like... eat it first.  I mixed up half of the vanilla one as was instructed with water, not milk as many other brands of protein supplements suggest.  One sip and I had to throw it out. It was bitter and very watery.  




On to plan number two. Taking the remaining vanilla mix, I  mixed in some frozen peaches and a little milk to make it more like a smoothy. Again, I ended up throwing it out after one sip. 

Having confirmed my absolute dislike for the vanilla I moved on to the chocolate.  This time however, I started with skim milk instead of water, and a little ice for thickness. I was sure I would like this one.  Just about every other brand of protein shake I've ever tried I liked in the chocolate flavor.  However, after the first sip I was ready to toss it. Instead, I let it sit for a few minutes and cleaned my palate with some water just incase I was still tasting remains of the vanilla and/or peach, then tried again.  Still no improvement. After trying a few more sips just to be sure I came to the conclusion there was no possible way I could finish the shake.  The taste of these shakes was just too horrible. 

I've used several different brands of Whey protein and diet supplement shakes to include both Weight Watchers and Adkins among others from our local health food store. The‪#‎NextStepShakes‬ have a bitter taste that lingers on the tongue. I could barely swallow the first sip much less an entire 8oz. After completing the taste tests and cleaning up the kitchen I still had this lingering bitter taste in my mouth and coating my tongue and I had to go brush my teeth thoroughly.  

While I appreciate the samples sent through the ‪#‎Influenster‬ ‪#‎VoxBox‬ program and the cooperation with ‪#‎VitaminShoppe‬ and ‪#‎NextStep‬, this is one product I will not be purchasing.

~sierra