Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tame the Mane! :) Tips for Curly Hair

I used to cry over my hair...A LOT!  Okay, that's all relative, and I was a teenager, so throw that in the mix. Regardless, my hair caused a lot of undue trauma at an already traumatic stage of life.  Honestly, I didn't learn how to really do my hair until I was in college...or perhaps graduated from college.  Needless to say it was an even more exciting accomplishment than my diploma in hand, if you can believe it!  It was cute when I was little, but as I grew older...yikes! :)   People used to tell me how lucky I was to have naturally curly hair, but I didn't believe them, until I learned to style it!  It's not as easy as everyone thinks it is to style, but at least now I see it as a blessing rather than the curse I used to think it was!

I have some pretty sweet pictures of my hair over the years.  Heck, I'll even share some with you.  Yes, this is a big step for me--opening up the "most beautiful" side of my childhood photo albums so that you can truly understand the progress that has been made.  Most importantly, I am opening myself up in such a way to help those in similar situations as I was!  If you, a friend, a family member, or your child has curly hair and no idea what to do with it...hopefully this post will be your saving grace!
Over the years my hair styling routine has changed and improved, but I will share with you where it is right now.  Obviously I don't have it down pat with perfect Hollywood-ready curls, but at least I don't cry anymore!  Keep in mind though that just like the snowflakes, no two curly-heads are alike so these tips may or may not work on your hair-type (there's my disclaimer)!

With no further tips for curly hair:

The Power of Product
The first rule of curly hair...never go all-natural!  Unless of course you are going for the "finger in a light socket" or "I'm trying out for the part of the lion in the Wizard of Oz" look.  Yes, my friends, product is powerful and ESSENTIAL when it comes to curly hair!  To illustrate this point, I am once again sharing my loveliest of looks with you all!

This is my hair with zero, zip, zilch product.  Sure I styled it essentially like I always do, but no product is a scary thing, as you can see.  It's much more frizzy with far less curl definition.

I usually use mousse, gel, and hairspray...that's right, ALL THREE!  
Mousse=body & flexibility
Hairspray=more control!

Oh, and if you live in a more humid area or a rainy climate, I highly recommend John Freida's Frizz Solution to put in your hair before anything else!

This is my hair styled exactly the same way, but WITH PRODUCT!  On days where I'm short on time, this is the look I go for (unless of course I'm in a hat, which is far more common now that I have kids!).  However, even on hat days I still use product!  The only time I don't use products is when I'm camping.  You know we are good friends if you ever see me like that! :)

I use cheap products because I tend to use a lot! Don't be afraid to use a lot of product...if you don't use enough then it's almost like you didn't use any.  If you find the right products then you don't need to worry about your hair being crunchy either!  Additionally, I don't spend a lot on products because I've used the expensive stuff and honestly have yet to see much of a difference in most things!  Maybe I'll change that tune one day, but so far that's what I've found personally!  My husband sure appreciates that as well! :)

Diffuse with Caution!

My true test of a good hair stylist, is not entirely the cut; it's the styling after the cut.  Much of my early life involved visits to beauticians who's goal it seemed was to get my hair as big as possible.  Since I've spent my entire life attempting to do just the opposite, when that happened then I knew my search for a hair stylist was not over!  Once I've found a stylist I like, I don't even have them style my hair on subsequent visits, just to save me time since I'm usually rushing home to my kids.  I just want to know that they can!  My old stylist used to tell me that I styled my hair better than she could anyways so she usually would just straighten it for me (something I only do on myself maybe once every three years nowadays!).

Lesson: beware of diffusing too quickly!  You have to hold the diffuser in place for at least 30 seconds before moving it to a new location on your head.  If you move around your head too quickly, you break apart the curls and just create frizz and some serious body.  Not a bad idea if you're headed to an 80's party, but otherwise, it's better not to dry your hair at all than to diffuse in too much of a hurry!  

This is my hair after it's been diffused.  It tends to define the curls a little bit more and give me just a bit more body than when I let it air dry.  Often I don't dry it all the way (partly due to time, and party because I like how it looks better when it dries most of the way with a diffuser and a little bit naturally!)

Get A Good Haircut

A proper haircut to fit your hair type is essential because all the product and diffusing in the world cannot correct a bad haircut!  I have mine tapered around my face in the front with slight layers in the back and on top.  I used to be afraid of layers, fearing that they would just make my hair look bigger.  Conversely, the layers help the curl to look more even and more defined!

The Routine
I brush my hair out in the shower while the conditioner is still in it so that it gets most of the tangles out without damaging it (I use Pantene moisture curl----love it!  Lately it's been hard for me to find so I've been using Pantene Smooth or Ultimate 10--love those too!).

Tip: NEVER brush curl hair when it's dry!  I know this goes against what many stylists say, but I'm speaking from experience!  In college I used to have "the big brush out" as my roommate called it before I got in the shower.  Not sure why I thought that was a good idea, but it provided entertainment for my roommates at least! :)  
It causes split ends and thus more frizz!  If you can't brush it in the shower, then use a spray bottle to get it REALLY wet before brushing it out!  Use a wide toothed brush with the little knobs on each point (not a comb unless you like to cause pain!).  Start with the tangles at the bottom and work your way up.  If your brushing your child's hair, put your other hand on their head to help keep it from pulling too hard when you hit a knot.  This will help with your more sensitive heads.

Then I brush it again while still in the shower after the conditioner is rinsed out.  I flip my head upside down and brush under and out (from the crown of the head out) for the top part and then flip it back up and brush under and out (nape of neck out) for the bottom (I know that sounds very specific, but I noticed when I brushed it from the neck to crown upside down it ended up really big and weird underneath--hope that makes sense.)

2. Mousse 
I flip my head upside down again.  Then I use a lot of mousse (baseball size when my hair was long) and scrunch that in all over, trying not to rub as that breaks the curls and makes them frizz more.  Right now I use Suave professionals for curl which I really like.  
Make sure to evenly distribute it!

3. Gel 
After that, I do the same thing with gel.  I use LA Looks--the blue kind because it's cheap and works just as good as the spendy ones I've tried.  When my hair was long I used about a golf ball size of gel.

4. Towel Dry/Scrunch
Then I carefully scrunch it with the towel (this is the first time I dry it in any way--the products seem to work best when your hair is really wet I've found).  I don't do a ton with the towel as it can make it really frizzy, just slow scrunching.

5. Hairspray
Finally I hairspray it all over with Suave max hold hairspray (I used to use flexi-hold but they stopped making it and I haven't liked other brands as much.)  It actually doesn't really dry crunchy, thankfully! 

6. Diffuse...slowly
Then it is diffusing time.  The thing I have found is that slow diffusing is the best.  Even when I go to salons they move the hair dryer up and down really fast and I've found that it makes my hair much bigger than if I scrunch up one section to my head, hold it in one place for like a minute, and then do another section.  After I go over my whole head once that way, then I do it all again once or twice (usually takes 15-20 min. when I have long hair, depending on how well I dry it--if I dry it all the way it has a bit more body than if I do it 3/4 of the way, which I tend to like best usually--depends on the day--you know how it is! :) 

This style of diffuser was like $3 on Amazon and can fit on the ends of most hairdryers (only if they have skinny heads though so keep that in mind).  Also, I dry my hair on a high setting and have melted out the insides of my diffuser because my blowdryer has too big of a head for it to fit all the way on. :)  So, it's a good idea to make sure it fits well, or that your blow dryer just has a diffuser that comes with it!

7.  Hairspray some more!
I usually hair spray it again after that a time or two as well and it gets a little crunchy but not that bad surprisingly considering how much I put in! By the end of the day the "limited crunchiness" is totally gone. :)  At this point I used my hands to "shape" my curls and overall look as much as possible.  

If it's not looking very good (you never know sometimes depending on the humidity, when my last haircut was, etc.) then I may pin parts up, add a headband, or go for the full-on pony-tail.  If there's one thing I've learned, it's to go with the flow.  If you try to fight too much with curly hair, you end up with a fro!  Not to mention you just get frustrated with no solution!

Hope that helps all the fellow "curlies" out there!  
Please feel free to comment, ask questions, or add your own tips.  I'm always looking to improve the process!

Here is "the process" on video if that helps ya!

How to Style Curly Hair Part One
How to Style Curly Hair Part Two

© 2014 Leaflet Radiance All Rights Reserved

Friday, March 21, 2014

Tackling the Mess of Medicine

When I was a kid, we had a HUGE toolbox that was designated as our family “medicine cabinet.”  It was an awesome idea because it was big enough to hold everything, could be locked to keep kids out, and it had different sections to hold different kinds of medicines.  However, try as my mom did to keep it orderly, she had four kids (three of which were boys…I’m just sayin’ J) so things inevitably got thrown in and not put back in the proper locations.  Many a night was spent digging around trying to find the needed relief in the black hole of our medicine box.

So, when I got married and needed a place to put our medicines, I immediately found an unused toolbox to do the trick.  However, mine was small and our collection quickly outgrew its home.  So, I searched for a new idea, something that perhaps could keep medicines away from kids, yet easily accessible and could keep things generally in their places for easy access. 

This is what I came up with:  Five general categorized “bins” for keeping not only our current medicines, but big enough to hold a backup of everything too!  Now we don’t have to rush out in the middle of the night for more meds when one runs out unexpectedly!  I love that feature, especially with kids!  We store ours in our master bedroom closet shelf so kids can’t reach it, but we can get to it easily.  The best part is, that even when medicines get thrown back in, they are at least in their categorical containers so you don’t have to dig too deep to find them!

The categories:
  • ·      Intestinal
  • ·      Cold, Sinus, & Allergies
  • ·      Bandages, Disinfectants, Antiseptics, & Ointments
  • ·      Pain Relief
  • ·      Other First-Aid Supplies (This is where I put thermometers, rubbers gloves, etc.)

© 2014 Leaflet Radiance All Rights Reserved

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Perfect Mother

If you have ever had "one of those days" as a mother, you have to check out: 
We all have our strengths and weaknesses.  The idea is to share them with each other and celebrate them together, not compare and tear ourselves or each other down!  We each have an important place in this world and in our families to fulfill.  As Sheri Dew put it so well, 
"No one can take your place!"

Saturday, March 8, 2014

15 Tricks to Making the Most of Small Spaces

When I was in college I "had the privilege" of sharing a tiny apartment with five other girls.  Can anyone say Sardines?!  There were two of us in each bedroom with barely enough room between the beds to walk!  To top it all off, we ALL shared ONE...that's right...ONE bathroom!  Luckily I shared my room with a good friend, because it was a bit too close for comfort as it was!  Over my single years I lived with over 30 different people...yep I've got lots of people-experience! :)  Needless to say after several years of living with roommates in confined spaces, I learned to make the most of the space I was given.  So, for those of you who feel like your whole world can practically fit in one tiny room, this post is for you!

1. Decorative Storage

Who says organization has to be only in Rubbermaid bins and ugly boxes? (Don't get me wrong, I love my Rubbermaid, but not in my living room!)  
There are a plethora (don't you love that word?) of decorative storage options, so think out of the box (or perhaps inside the box in this case)!  Grandma's antiques, gift boxes, travel souvenirs, the possibilities are endless!

2. Baskets & Bins
Baskets, baskets, and more baskets!
My friends and family have always mocked (or actually still mock) me for my love of baskets, but can I just tell you, it is a love that pays in full!  My baskets have provided order, organization, and easy moving (everything is already packed!)  My old roommate visited my house last year and commented on how she finally understood why I had so many baskets...(finally someone gets me! :); every one has a purpose, and not only does it make everything look nicer, but everything is easier to find and put away!

3. Bed Risers
Bed risers are lifesavers in small rooms!
Make use of space under the bed!  Besides, if you use it for storage, it is much less likely to become the abyss of lost toys!  In college we ALWAYS put our beds on cinder blocks for this option since we were dirt poor.  However, when I graduated, I was introduced to these puppies at Bed Bath and Beyond...they look much nicer, won't gouge a hole in the side of your leg when you scrape them like the cinder blocks (speaking from experience), and are much lighter to carry up several flights of stairs! :)

Once you free up that space, you can use it for more than you can imagine!  We store all of our luggage, bins of toys, bed rails, all kinds of things under our beds.

4. Look Behind Your Doors
Use the space behind your doors! 
Put hooks up anywhere and everywhere you can!  The greatest thing is that they don't even have to be permanent!  Walk down the isles of Ross, Marshalls, Target, or even the dollar store sometimes and you will find tons of over-the-door hooks or temporary hooks that you can use for pretty cheap.  They free up a ton of shelf space!  Or, just nail a board in your garage, put nails in it, and Boom!  Easy storage space!

Don't forget your cupboard doors either!  I hook my bibs there so they can dry and I don't have to see them out!  I've also put hooks on the backs of cupboards for measuring cups & spoons, etc.  Just keep in mind those kinds of things do make noise when you open the door if you store them there! :)  So you may not want to do that if yours are metal!

5. Look Down
Don't leave empty space under your
hanging clothes.  Use it!

Utilize the space under your hanging clothing in your closet.  Shoe racks, boxes, storage drawers, yep I've got it all under mine!  The shoe rack in this picture on the right was actually the "cubbies" I had made for my classroom when I taught school.   When I quit teaching to stay home with my kids, I had no idea where to put it in my house, until I decided to use it as a shoe rack.  I love it!

I do the same in my kids' rooms, where you can see I used a paper organizer from my classroom for the baby's shoes!  Look around your house, you probably already have more organizers than you think!

Use hanging shelves if you don't have much drawer or floor space and need more places for shoes, sweaters, diapers, gloves, scarves, or smaller items.

6. Fold Clothes Vertically & Fold Towels in Thirds 
I must give credit where credit is due for this next one.  One of my favorite blogs of all time: Harvard Homemaker‎   had this great suggestion to store your clothes vertically in drawers.  It changed my life!  I can't even begin to tell you how much extra space I discovered in the drawers and clothing storage boxes of my house!

Additionally, folding your towels in thirds instead of halves gives you a lot more space in your cupboards, besides the fact that it looks much nicer.  We always did that in my house growing up so I didn't realize until I moved away from home that everyone didn't do it that way.  Well, they should! :)  My mom was/is and amazing organizer so I should have known it wasn't standard procedure I guess!

7. Use Drawer Organizers
Use drawer organizers to divide the space into smaller segments.  It keeps things in their place, and makes it look so much better.  I found mine (on the left) at Ikea, Marshalls, and Ross.  The one on the right is actually a desk organizer that I had lying around with no use for it, until one day I thought of what a great bathroom drawer organizer it would be and voila!  No more rolling chapstick! :)

Use small boxes (gift boxes, makeup boxes, etc. to subdivide drawers as well.  It makes such a difference!

Change the directions of your organizers or put them in the middle of a drawer to subdivide the drawer even more.  I did this with our kitchen utensils organizer and it gave me two separate sections in the drawer so things weren't rolling around as much.  Play with them!  

8. Subdivide Cupboards 
With Plastic Drawers

I had a bunch of these plastic drawers all around my classroom when I taught school and used them for the kids to turn in assignments, substitute instructions, etc.  They are so handy.  However, when I quit teaching, I had so many drawers that I didn't know what to do with them.  I'd invested too much money to want to give them away, so I started looking around my house.  Lo and behold I found places and uses for them everywhere!  These hold my makeup & hair accessories but I use them for my daughters hair bows, all those pamphlets for our electronics and house gadgets that we want to keep but don't know where to store, baby food jars so they aren't rolling around the pantry, craft supplies, you name it!  They are awesome! 

9. Shoe Organizers 
are not just for shoes!
Another of the Harvard Homemaker ideas that made me ecstatic was to use over-the-door shoe organizers to store just about anything!  I bought one for my pantry this week and freed up an entire shelf!  Not to mention it's so much easier to find everything now that it's in plain sight and not tucked in a drawer or behind forty other things!  Love it!  I may have to go on a shopping spree and buy a whole bunch more of them for all over my house!

10. The Magic of the Can Dispenser
I will post more on this one later (we have the plans to make them), but get or make FIFO (first in first out) can dispensers for your pantry!  No more fighting with falling cans that don't stack or wondering which are about to expire.  They are amazing!  My husband made mine...and yes, he is the greatest ever!  I just want to kiss him every time I look at my pantry! :)  
11. Buy or Make Furniture 
That Organizes & Stores!
We don't have cable at my house, but we do have a Roku and Netflix, which are just as good or better in my opinion!  Anyways, once upon a time we had an HGTV station on our Roku (miss those days by the way!) where I saw a piece of furniture I just had to have!  It was a TV stand that had baskets for storage built in (again my love of baskets shines through :)).  We only had a baby at the time, but I was planning ahead thinking that it would be a great way to store toys without having to see them in my living room.  Lo and behold, my handy husband came through again and designed this TV stand around my favorite baskets from Target!  It has been so wonderful when other kids come over too, because now they all know where to find and put away toys in our living room!  
Another huge recommendation I have is to invest in storage ottomans and benches.  We store a ton of stuffed animals and dolls in ours, but it doesn't look like Raggedy Ann and Andy took over our living room!
12. Use Racks in Kitchen Cupboards
I have had some of the smallest kitchen's on the face of the planet, especially in my single years when I got to share these minuscule spaces with several other girls.  One of the greatest inventions for small kitchen spaces is the kitchen rack!  Not sure if that's the technical name...but we'll call it that for fun.  Look at how it doubles the storage space in my cupboards!  Not to mention now I can see everything that's there instead of having to dig behind a bunch of things to get what I want! 

You can also use the racks to hold things into place, such as Tupperware lids!  Don't waste a whole drawer for those babies!  Besides, it makes it hard to find the one you're looking for that way.  Stack them vertically and use a rack to hold them there.  I praise the day I started doing this! 
Spice racks are handy too and can be used to store anything small in your cupboards, not just spices.  Be creative!

13. Turn Wall Space into Storage Space with Pegboards
My husband, heaven bless him, puts up with my constant reorganization in spite of his lack of desire for it.  However, when he wants to be organized (such as with his tools) he has the potential and the ability to do so!  He put up a pegboard in our garage and has fit a ton of his tools on it.  Not only does it make them easy access, but he always puts them away since it's so easy to do!  I have also seen pegboards used in craft rooms, toy rooms, etc.  You can buy different hooks or containers to put on them and store just about anything this way.  Someday when I have an office that isn't part of my living room, I may venture to put one there!

14. Double Hang Clothes on Hangers or Install Lower Rods
When you have a small closet, you have to make the most of it.  If you can install a lower rod that is ideal, but if you're in a rental that's not always an option.  So, you can double hang clothes on a single hanger instead! 

15. Use Belt Racks for Multiple Things
I don't know about you, but we have very little drawer space in our bedrooms.  So, I use the space behind our closet doors for a lot of things (as you have seen).  Belt racks are great not only for belts but for ties, headbands, scarves, etc.!

I hope this has been helpful!  I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and other ideas you may have for making the most of small would others so PLEASE feel free to comment! :)

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