Tuesday, March 3, 2015

012. DIY Coco-Mint Scrub

My Coco-Mint Scrub
First of all, I love coffee. I love the smell of coffee and I love drinking coffee. For awhile now, whenever I dump out the old coffee grounds into the trash, I feel a little bad. There are numerous uses for coffee grounds and I have heard them all. It wasn't until last week that I felt inspired to actually do something with them.

One of my friends and coworkers makes coffee scrubs and brought me some in a cute little jar. My first thought was, "Yes! Now I know what to do with all of my coffee grounds!" My second thought was, "I should probably try this stuff before I make some." So, the next time I took a shower, I used it all over my body, except for my face, and it was amazing. My skin instantly felt smoother. I have been using it every morning in the shower on my feet and elbows, and every other day on the rest of my body. Scrubs are a great way of removing dead skin and coffee is full of antioxidants.

Since I drink coffee every morning, I decided to try and make my own today. My friend uses olive oil as a base in her scrub and it works wonderfully. I happen to be infatuated with coconut oil, so I scoured the internet for a recipe that incorporates coconut oil and found this one.

Before we move forward with the scrub, I would like to give coconut oil some love for a minute. I have been using coconut oil on my face in place of moisturizer for the past few months and it's fabulous.  I was scared to put coconut oil on my face, because it is greasy and I thought it was going to make me break out. Well, I am happy to report that I have not had any breakouts. The main reason it hasn't clogged my pours is because coconut oil is a natural anti fungal and antibacterial substance. I will continue to use coconut oil on my skin because I save money on face moisturizer. Plus, moisturizers typically are full of chemicals and random crap that most of us can't even pronounce. A lot of times, those creams are doing more harm than good. I encourage everyone to give it a try! But first, a couple of tips when using coconut oil on your face.

  • Use a high-quality coconut oil. I use the organic, virgin, cold-pressed, and unrefined coconut oil. Using refined coconut oil will more than likely lead to breakouts because the coconut oil is not in its rawest state. 
  • A little goes a long way with coconut oil. Start with a small amount and apply more as needed.
  • Let the coconut oil absorb into your skin before applying any powdery make-up. Otherwise, it will go on a little streaky. 
Okay, that's enough about my love affair with coconut oil. Back to my Coco-Mint Scrub. Yeah, I just came up with the name. The beauty of making your own scrub, you can name it whatever you want! 

  • 1 ½ cup of coarse sea salt
  • 1 cup of dried coffee grounds
  • 1 cup of melted coconut oil                                        
  • 5-15 drops of peppermint essential oil


The first step is to dry your coffee grounds. I scooped the grounds from this morning's pot of coffee and placed them on a foil lined cookie sheet. I used foil because it creates less of a mess. Place the cookie sheet in the oven at 150 degrees for 1 hour. Next mix the sea salt and coffee grounds together in a bowl. Next add the coconut oil. I recommend melting the solid oil in the microwave or on the stove top first, because it is easier to stir in its liquid form. Then, add peppermint essential oil drops. Finally, put your scrub into an airtight jar or container and use whenever you want. Feel free to play around with different types of oils and essential oils.

Coffee grounds fresh out of the oven!

I love adding these stickers to things I make. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

011. Backyard Camp-out

This past Friday night, I had my 2 oldest nieces over for a backyard camp-out. Overall, I would say it was a success. My sister dropped the girls off with their little suitcases and a container of plastic animals (Sadie). When we finally got to our backyard, James was there to help us set up the tent. As soon as it was somewhat assembled, they both jumped in. I then snapped the only 2 photos I took that night. I wish I would have had my camera ready, but it forced me to stay present with them, rather than taking a hundred photos.

We made s'mores over the fire, played hide-and-seek (which was really fun), chased Henry around, sat on James' dirt bike (Mabie was obsessed and did not want to get off), colored, read books, watched a movie in the air-conditioned house, and then headed to bed. Sleeping on an air mattress with 2 children is not the best night's sleep I have ever had, but fun nonetheless.

Mabie was excited. Notice Henry is the background.
Sadie pulling the sleeping bag in and Henry relaxing in the grass.
I really enjoyed Friday with James and the girls. They are extremely funny and sweet and had us laughing most of their visit. I love to watch James interact with the girls. During hide-and-seek, James instructed them to hide in the most random spots. Mabie ran to hide in the tent and I could hear her zip open the door and Sadie went under the tent. When I found Mabie she couldn't contain her excitement that her sister was underneath her hiding spot. If I wouldn't have heard Sadie, Mabie's fixation on the lump under the tent would have given away her sister's location. James then helped them hide on top of the washer. When I opened the door, they were both pleased with their creative hiding spot.

Later, we decided to give Henry a bath after noticing a couple of fleas (damn you summer)! Sadie, the animal lover, joined me. Throughout the entire process she kept petting him and in her most reassuring voice saying, "It's okay buddy. You're doing a good job. It's okay boy." So sweet! I know I say it a lot and even write about it, but I absolutely love being an aunt.

I was able to be in the moment with Sadie and Mabie. I tend to be a worrier and forget to be present. You cannot do that with a 6 and 3 year old in your care. Children want your time and attention, which reminds me of a quote a saw a few weeks ago, "Your children need your presence more than your presents." 

Memories are more valuable than stuff.

Monday, July 28, 2014

010. Clear Intentions and Changes

It's strange how if you really want something in your life and you are clear about your intentions, you can create it. At least that's been my experience. Of course you can't sit idly by and wait for things to happen. You must take action and I have.

My sweet niece with a painting I made for her.
I opened an Etsy shop about a year ago. You can read more about that here. I tend to be a bit of a procrastinator, but only when it directly affects me, (choosing a major, graduating college, applying for jobs, setting goals, exercising, writing, etcetera). On the other hand, if anyone else needs something from me, I will jump through hoops to finish the task. I am aware that it's important to take care of me and I'm working on it.

Anyway, last week something awesome happened...I sold 5 paintings in 7 days. That is the most I have sold within that amount of time. People were actually buying my creations! I suddenly felt motivated and created each order as they came in and rushed to the post office. Customers were waiting on me, so I felt motivated. I told Jamie about the recent orders and she was ecstatic. My sister has been a huge supporter of me tapping into my creativity, along with my partner James. Jamie informed me that one of my paintings has been pinned (Pinterest) more than 400 times. I mean, that's pretty amazing.

The timing of these sales is perfect. I recently accepted a part-time position at the domestic violence agency I work for. The position is educating teens about intimate partner violence, healthy relationships, communication skills, media literacy and more. It is definitely something I have wanted to do for a long time as a paid employee, rather than a volunteer. Taking the position is really scary, because as of mid-September my hours will be cut in half. I instantly wondered how I was going to supplement my income. I called James to talk it out, I talked to friends and family members. I know that I want to sell my paintings and refinished furniture (with James teaching me how to and working with me), but I don't know if this will be enough to keep me financially secure. It's also really against everything I have grown up seeing and expecting for my life (working a 9-5, Monday through Friday job). Either way, I set the intention that this is what I want for my life.

I purchased this to refinish it...but it hasn't happened yet. Damn you procrastination.
I am going to continue the momentum I have and continue to work towards being a successful Etsy shop owner and see where this journey leads me. I trust that it will work out.  The reality of working 20 hours per week, will free up a lot of time for me to focus on being creative and not procrastinating. Also, I have time to find other ways to supplement my income.

Friday, June 27, 2014

009. Nature, Connection and Creativity

Sunday was such a great day. It's been a while since James and I explored nature together. When we first started dating we frequently went on mini-adventures. Then, day to day responsibilities of life got in the way of us actually getting to enjoy life. Ironic, right?

We decided to head to the Icehouse Canyon Trail in Mt. Baldy with Henry in tow...of course! When we arrived, it seemed that we were the only ones without trekking poles (I had to Google the technical term for this post) and I was a little worried. James assured me that we could do without, and up we went.

Taking a break to drink water/play with rocks.

The hike was a pretty steep incline the entire way up complete with rocks, narrow passageways, and old stone steps. As we continued our ascent, we followed along a creek. Henry kept up with us, climbing the rocks we easily stepped over. He would occasionally stop and drink from the creek or attempt to dig rocks out of the dirt (per usual).

I enjoyed being disconnected from my cell phone, computer, and just the general noise of the world. It gave me time to truly be in the moment and feel connected to myself and James. I value the non-distracted time James and I spend together. When you live with a partner, it's easy to fall into a rut of not spending quality time together. It was wonderful being together without any interruptions.

At one point, we stopped for a moment to drink some water and have a snack. We came upon a stone fireplace. We both were fascinated by this, not sure what the story was behind the stone remains. So of course, I had to research what this fireplace used to belong to. I found some interesting information about an old wood and stone resort. The resort existed in the area from 1921 to the 1980's, before burning down in a mysterious fire. I love history.

A fireplace is all that remains of Ice House Canyon Resort.  

Trees. Glorious trees.
On our drive home we started talking about what we should do that day. It was pretty apparent that both of us were feeling like we wanted to do something creative. James said he wanted to build a workbench and I felt like painting. We looked up plans and went to the local hardware store to buy the supplies for his workbench. When we got home, James immediately started working on his project. I haven't painted in a while, but there was something about connecting to myself and connecting to my partner that really inspired me to sit down at a canvas and just start painting. I set my easel in the backyard and began painting images of trees.

Sunday was a great reminder of the similar interests that James and I share. We both enjoy nature, being active, creating and exploring. Lately with bills, chores, and other obligations, we forget to sit still, live simply and do the things that light the fire inside of us. I am grateful for the time we spend together.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

008. On Being an Aunt

I'm going to be 30 in less than 6 months. I do not currently have children, but I am an aunt. I love being an aunt. I have 3 nieces who I absolutely adore. I regularly have a funny or cute story about something Sadie or Mabie said or did to share with anyone who will listen. As Charlotte becomes older, I'm sure I will have plenty more stories to add. 
Sadie and I at the park.

Mabie and I on a walk.
Recently, my 5 year old niece, Sadie has become quite the reader. Last night, Sadie read me one of her favorite books, Pete the Cat. I cannot express how amazing it is to listen to her read. I love the way she changes her voice and the emphasis she puts on certain words.

Since she was about 6 months old, I would sit her in my lap and read to her. Overtime, she evolved from trying to rip the pages out to wanting to turn the pages herself. Sadie has become a child who absolutely loves books. When I was in college she would take my books and "read" them. Since then, each time I see her, it is extremely rare if she doesn't ask me to read to her. When we go shopping, she wants me to buy her a book, which usually turns into multiple books.  

It is such an amazing transition to witness her read to me. Books have been really important in my family. Each of us has spent a significant amount of time reading to Sadie and Mabie. A few days ago, Sadie decided to take on that very role and read Pete the Cat to my newest niece, Charlotte, who is 2 months old. Charlotte was laying on the couch with her mom and I. Sadie walked over to us, with her book in hand, and said she wanted to read to Charlotte.

Sadie held the book up, showing Charlotte the pictures. She read each page, pausing to ask Charlotte questions like, "can you guess what happens next?" Then replying, "you're right Charlotte! Good job!" Charlotte was cooing and smiling at her cousin. The interaction between the two of them was one of the sweetest things I have ever witnessed.

Watching the girls grow and change has been one of the most amazing things and I cannot imagine not having them in my life. I have found a new level of patience and appreciation for children through spending time with the girls. 
Charlotte and I. 
One day, when James and I choose to have children, I can only hope that they will be as intelligent, creative and funny as our nieces are. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

007. The Love Project: James and I

I have started "The Love Project" and I thought it would be fun to write the first story on James and I. I have mentioned that I love love. I have learned over the years that there is an ebb and flow to all loves.

January 2011...Someone was in love...

James and I have been dating for 3 years as of today. I love that our anniversary is the first day of Spring. Prior to dating, James and I knew each other for about 2 years. He was Jamie's friend. James would tell Jamie that he liked me and I would reply, "Never going to happen." I had just ended a 6 1/2 year relationship and I was struggling with who I was and what I wanted for my life. I loved hanging out with James, but I truly did not want to lose him as a friend. Also, I tend to be more on the serious side and at that time I saw him as my silly friend.

In January 2011, James and I started hanging out almost daily. I began to see past just his silliness and saw a truly deep and thoughtful person. We would go to museums, get coffee, and just pretty much any other random adventure that we could think of. I just wanted to be with him. He helped me with an art project and went with me to interview my Nana for my Senior Project while I was at Cal Poly Pomona. The three of us sat in a coffee shop and discussed our family and our lives and it was amazing.

By February, we were together every day, but I was still under the impression that we were just friends...or I wanted to believe that we were. I was so nervous to even consider entering into a romantic relationship. I did not want to lose my independence and melt into another partner. Throughout February and March we would talk about everything, specifically relationships. We would say what we wanted in relationships in a roundabout way, all the while knowing that we both were talking about if we ever started dating. We talk about that today and laugh.

 Just a few days before we started dating.
On March 20, 2011 we finally decided to explore what could be. I am so happy that we did.

James is the most supportive person I have ever dated. He inspires me to be a better version of myself. He accepts me just the way I am (quirks and all) and I accept him. We see each other as equals and we have an unbelievable amount of fun together. He is funny, intelligent, compassionate and extremely creative. We both are able to be maintain our independence and individuality within our relationship. We are 2 separate people that choose to be together. We are on the same team. James has taught me a lot about love and I am grateful. We have had our fair share of arguments and misunderstandings, but that does not change the bond that we share. We are human.
This is my favorite poem about romantic love:

"Let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other's cup, but not drink from one cup. 
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. 
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, 
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. 
Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping. 
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together: 
For the pillars of the temple stand apart, 
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.”
--Kahlil Gibran

If you are interested in being part of "The Love Project," let me know! 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

006. The Love Project

Found on Pitzer's Campus

I love love. I have learned over the years that there is an ebb and flow to all loves. Once the feeling of butterflies begins to fade, there is an opportunity to either stay or go. If you choose to stay...there is something amazing that can occur...intimacy. Relationships have stages and everyone experiences those stages at different times. I find it fascinating.

I have decided to do something I am calling, "The Love Project." I plan to interview and photograph couples (specifically couples that are out of the "honeymoon" phase...and to clarify not all relationships even have a honeymoon phase) and ask them questions about their relationships.

Throughout the past 3 years I have worked with a domestic violence agency. During this time, I have heard stories of the most abusive and unhealthy relationships. I have also had the opportunity to educate others about the difference between healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships. I have always been extremely interested in the dynamics of intimate relationships. What we see in the media about intimate relationships is not reality. We see the head over heels, honeymoon, exciting part. How often do we see the reality of choosing to be in a long-term relationship? I can tell you, not very often.

Working with clients, there was usually an opportunity to discuss healthy relationships. Many of the women would look at me with confusion and ask, "what exactly is a healthy relationship?" Additionally, many others would tell me that they did not believe that healthy relationships existed at all. Overall, regardless if someone has or hasn't been in an abusive relationship, they may not understand what it takes to make a relationship work and to do so in a healthy manner. As soon as the newness wears off, on to the next relationship. Part of the problem is that our society sets up and reinforces such unrealistic and unattainable ideals about intimate relationships. I want to show real life examples.

I feel like it is time to look at the love in the world. I want to write about it. I want to photograph it. "The Love Project" is still in the planning phase. If you are interested in being part of this process (either planning and/or participating) please email me at ashleymadelines@gmail.com.