sew lovely: I made a skirt from a tablecloth!

I developed an interest in sewing at a very young age.  My mother taught me how to sew and I took numerous sewing classes through our homeschool group.  I would sew clothes for myself, my dolls, and ventured into curtains, pillowcases, bags, and blankets as I got older.  I am very grateful my love of sewing has stayed with me into adulthood.  It's coming in very handy.  :)

In the months since Noah and I got married I've actually gained weight for the first time in I don't know how long.  I'm a lot happier and healthier than I was before, but sadly this also means I've outgrown some of my beloved clothing items.  I can no longer fit into my two favorite skirts from LOFT and this is what instigated one of my latest sewing projects.

Buying fabric from legit fabric stores is so expensive!  I remember the good old days when I could buy fabric for as little as $1 a yard.  But now you usually have to pay well over $3 a yard to get something even halfway decent.  Thrift stores have become my new fabric stores.  Blankets, sheets, curtains, cloth napkins, and even over-sized clothing can be transformed into whatever sewing project you desire.  I've managed to pick up these fabric materials for as little as $2 a piece/set.  You won't usually find yards and yards of fabric available, so making huge flowing curtains or a ball gown is out of the question.  But shirts, skirts, simple curtains, and even dresses are all possible with these thrifty finds.  When buying fabric from thrift stores I find it's easier to buy a fabric you like, maybe because it's in a favorite color or has a unique texture, and then think of something to make with it rather than doing it other way around.  I think it's a lot harder to find a specific kind of fabric for a project you've already dreamed up because then you're stuck in that box of expectation and the fabric you're dreaming of might not even exist at a price point you can afford.

To fill the skirt shaped hole in my heart I decided to make a swishy circle skirt out of a green tablecloth I bought for $2.  I used these two patterns as guidelines and set to work.  [StyleList] [Cotton and Curls]  The tablecloth was just big enough for the two half circle pieces I needed and there was even a little extra left on the sides which I added to the bottom of the skirt when it turned out a little shorter than I expected.  To mark the half circles I pinned one end of a piece of yarn to the middle of where the flat side of the half circle would be and put a knot in the yarn for my desired length.  I pulled the yarn tight and moved the end of it around in a half circle on the fabric and marked every so often where the knot fell on the fabric.  I used the waist equation from StyleList but I must have measured wrong or something because I ended up taking it in a couple inches so the waist of the skirt would sit in the right place on my waist.  Since I didn't want to use elastic or put in any gathers I needed the waist to be an exact size.  I did a zigzag stitch over all of the raw edges (so they won't fray over time) before folding them over for the seams and hems.  The black ribbon at the waist came from a beloved red dress that finally became too tight to wear comfortably.  The ribbon already had a tiny hem on the long edges so I just folded it in half long ways and sewed it over the top of the waist to finish it off nicely.  The side zipper came from a too-small pair of dress pants.  I finished off the zipper opening with a hook-and-eye closure.  Now I have a new skirt for only $2 and a couple of bits from some old clothes!

I really, really, really like my skirt!  :)  The color is great (I'm a huge fan of the color green) and I love how swishy and fancy it feels.  I am definitely going to make another one the next time I come across some skirt-appropriate fabric.  :)


writing wistfully

I've always enjoyed writing.  It's a way for me to relax, sort out my thoughts, share ideas, and experience words in a new way.  I've often felt I'm better at expressing myself through writing rather than speaking.  I'll stumble over my words while talking, be afraid of expressing my opinions, have difficulty finding a good time to join a conversation.  But with writing, it's just me doing the talking (typing).  I don't have to worry about waiting my turn, being talked over, or having an opinion different from the present consensus.  Just my words dancing across the screen, saying whatever I'd like to say, however I want to say it.

Many creative projects have been flying through my mind lately, but I often don't have the energy or motivation to do anything when I get home from work.  I know this lethargic feeling will be just as bad, if not worse, when we have children and I am a stay at home mom and we begin homeschooling.  One way or another I'll figure out how to push through the sluggishness, and to perhaps not expect so much of myself so I don't feel awful for taking time to relax and goof around on the internet for a bit.

Last week I started refashioning a men's dress shirt.  I'm thinking it will most likely turn out to be something like this.  I haven't been able to work on it since last Friday but I'm hoping towards the end of next week I can get back at it.  Tomorrow and Saturday I am photographing the Lutherans For Life 2014 National Conference in Grand Rapids.  For a few days I'll be busy editing so I can send off the the finished images as soon as I can, but after that I'll finally get to finish my shirt project.

I was not needed at work today so I finally got bake cookies from a recipe I've been wanting to try for ages.  I think they turned out pretty well.  You could probably use half the sugar it calls for and substitute half the white flour with whole wheat flour.  I'm planning to write those tips down when I copy the recipe for my recipe box.

Tonight is one of the few nights when I can sit quietly by myself and sip some wine while enjoying one of my favorite movies:  Julie&Julia.  I have watched this movie more times than I can count but I still love it.  The story always inspires me to cook new things, write on my blog, and attempt creative projects.  Sometimes I wish I could regularly write on my blog interesting recipes, tutorials, projects, something that would attract and inspire fellow creatives.  But between housekeeping, cooking, working, and what little time my husband and I actually get to spend together, keeping up such involvement with my blog is just not possible right now.  So I will content myself with the occasional few minutes of writing I can squeeze in a couple times a month and the even more sparse blog posts where I can actually share photos and details of one of my recent accomplishments.

Now I'm going to get back to my movie and this crochet pattern I'm trying out.  Hopefully in the future I'll be able to share my new shirt, hat, and some fun recipes with y'all!  :)


crochet baby blankets

In my career of crochet I have made numerous stuffed animals, scarves, fingerless gloves, wash cloths, hats, and two baby blankets.  Both blankets have been for the children of my sister and her husband.  The first was for their son Isaac who is two years old now and the second is for their daughter Lucy who was born just last week!

Isaac's blanket was a bit of a challenge for me.  I chose to do the entire blanket in popcorn stitches (although the pattern I used called it a "blackberry salad" pattern) which I didn't realize would make it take an eternity to finish.  I worked on it for six months before finally deciding it was big enough to be finished.  The blanket didn't turn out nearly as big as I envisioned but it looked great and to this day is still Isaac's favorite blanket.  :)

Lucy's blanket was much easier to handle.  My sister picked a simple ripple pattern which turned out a lot prettier than I thought it would.  It was hard to find time to work on it in the middle of getting married and moving to Michigan but towards the beginning of July I made a point to work on it for at least an hour every day which turned into working on it for multiple hours at a time.  After I used up the first skein of each color I decided to call it good and finish it off with a border.  I found some instructions for transitioning the ripple pattern into a straight border and then finished with a lacey shell pattern from this awesome crochet book I recently picked up at Barnes & Noble.

I've always loved creating things by hand and crochet is one of my favorite ways to do this.  It's fun seeing cute stuff animals or beautiful scarves materialize right before your eyes and knowing you're the one who made them.  It gives me a great sense of accomplishment to be able to create so many wonderful and unique items.  :)


stuffed green peppers

Here's a dish I've been wanting to try for a while.  I love that it's so versatile and has the potential to be as healthy or unhealthy as you wish to make it.  You can make it completely meatless, put a Mexican or Italian spin on it, or add some eggs and have it for breakfast!

I couldn't really figure out why some recipes told you to boil the peppers before stuffing them and others didn't.  After I started cooking them in the oven I figured out it's probably because if your filling is already cooked then the peppers don't need to be in the oven as long so it's best to boil them beforehand.  I didn't boil my peppers because it seemed like an unnecessary step.  It turned out though that Noah and I preferred having the peppers still be a little crunchy instead of soft and mushy like they would have been had I boiled them.

A couple other things I learned:  If you're putting cheese on top of your stuffed peppers it's best to wait until they have a few minutes of baking time left rather than putting it on when you first put them in the oven.  Also, I probably should have added a little more tomato sauce because as the peppers bake in the oven the liquid gets dried up.  Not that the filling turned out really dry, but it just probably would have tasted nice with more sauce.

Stuffed Green Peppers

2 green peppers washed, cut in half, de-seeded
Olive oil
1 pound of ground turkey
4 mushrooms cut into small pieces
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup tomato sauce (1 cup or more would probably work just fine too.)
Cheese for topping (Noah used muenster, I used Swiss.)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

I started by putting some olive oil in a pan on the stove on low heat and adding the ground turkey, mushrooms, onions, and garlic.  I waited until everything started sizzling and the turkey began browning before adding the seasonings and tomato sauce.  Simmer the mixture until the ground turkey is browned, the mushrooms are soft, and the onions translucent.  You can try to cook out the extra liquid but it really won't hurt the peppers if you leave it in there.  It'll just leak out in the pan in the oven later.

Get out a baking pan or casserole dish that will comfortably accommodate your peppers and nestle them in there open side up.  You don't have to worry about spraying the pan, the peppers won't stick.  You also don't have to worry about getting the peppers too full  of your mixture.  It's ok to heap it on there.  Once your mixture is done simmering you can start loading it into your peppers.  Pack it down into the crevices of your peppers to make sure it's taking up all of the available space.

Put your peppers in the oven and bake them for around 30 minutes.  You can bake them a little longer or shorter depending on how soft you want them to be.  If you bake them longer just make sure the filling isn't drying out.  If you want your cheese to be melted and bubbly put it on top of your peppers when they have 5-10 minutes of baking time left.  I put it on right before I first put them in the oven, which was fine, but I could have cooked the peppers longer if I didn't need to worry about the cheese burning from being in there too long.

Noah and I both really enjoyed the stuffed peppers.  They made a very delicious lunch and were a nice change from what we've been eating lately.  Noah said they reminded him of the cabbage rolls his mom has made before.  With how easy and flexible this recipe is I'm going to pick up more peppers when I find them cheap at the store (we got these at Aldi for 99 cents for two) and play around with different fillings.  I'd love to try it with different colors of bell peppers!  Now I'm wanting to make another one of my favorite vegetable recipes: stuffed tomatoes.  :)


cinnamon raisin bread

I really love baking.  There is just something so cozy and comforting about whipping together ingredients and baking them into the most wonderful thing you've ever tasted which just so happens to make your home smell delicious at the same time.  Occasionally I've worked it out to where I've pulled something tasty out of the oven right before Noah gets home from work so the apartment is filled with a heavenly aroma when he arrives.  He loves it.  :)

From cookies to muffins to scrumptious chocolate cake with homemade cream cheese frosting (my most favorite frosting in the world!), baking is one of the most wonderful things you can do in the kitchen.  It's sweet, delightful, and everyone loves it.

Even with my immense love of baking I have yet to master the art of baking yeast breads.  When I was still living with my parents the yeast would always have to be prepared twice when I tried to bake yeast breads.  Every time I would heat up the water too much and kill the yeast.  And every time my mother would come to the rescue and fix my mistake.  This is why I love quick breads.  They can't be used for sandwiches but they are sweet, easy, versatile, and don't require yeast!

I came across a wonderful quick bread version of cinnamon raisin bread and it is so good I made it twice!  Well, I also made it twice because I wanted to modify it a bit.

The recipe says for you to mix a half cup of raisins into the batter and then you pour the batter into your baking pan one third at a time and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture in between each layer and on the very top of the batter before putting it in the oven to bake.

While the results were super tasty, I felt like it needed more raisins and the cinnamon swirl wasn't sufficiently spread throughout the bread.  I happened to be out grocery shopping the next day and picked up some more raisins to give the recipe another shot.

This time I used one cup of raisins but I didn't mix them into the batter.  Another change I made was using both brown and white sugar in the cinnamon sugar mixture to give it another kind of sweetness and flavor.  I didn't keep track of how many layers of batter and cinnamon sugar mixture I put in the pan, but I did make sure to cover the entire bottom of the pan with batter before continuing with the rest of the layers.  I poured in some batter, sprinkled raisins over the batter, sprinkled the cinnamon sugar mixture on top of that, and kept going until everything was used up.  I made sure though that I had enough raisins and cinnamon sugar mixture to sprinkle on the very top to make the bread pretty.  :)

I was much happier with the results this time around.  The raisins and cinnamon sugar mixture were spread out much better in the bread and made it taste even more wonderful than the first time I baked it!  I'll definitely be keeping this recipe around for those frigid winter days when the apartment needs to be warmed up and smell like cinnamon.  :)


opo squash?

What is an opo squash?  To be honest, I didn't really know what it was when I picked it up at the grocery store.  It was big, green, and had a funny name; so I bought it.  During the same shopping trip I bought a rutabaga which I turned into fries (the taste reminded me of sweet potatoes) and some impressive looking leeks that we used for chicken and leek casserole, a recipe from Noah's sister.  This is what happens when I go grocery shopping without my husband.  I buy weird things.

Opo squash is an oriental squash native to Southeast Asia and can also be called "calabash", "bottle gourd", or "long melon" (among many more names).  The taste is similar to summer squash and cucumber.

I wasn't really sure what to do with it.  When I googled recipes a lot of different soups came up.  I didn't really feel like making it into a soup though, and Noah isn't crazy about soup to begin with, so I continued searching.  I settled on a recipe that called for zucchini and simply used the opo squash instead.  Because what better thing is there to do on a hot summer day than roast vegetables in the oven for an hour?

Like what usually happens when I find recipes online, I didn't follow it to the letter.
Zucchini = Opo Squash
Four Medium Potatoes = About Ten Red Potatoes
Red Bell Pepper = A Bunch Of Little Sweet Peppers
I minced up the garlic clove, sliced up a lonely onion and added it to the mix, left out the paprika, sprinkled a little black pepper and salt over the top, left out the breadcrumbs, and added the olive oil sparingly because I get the feeling recipes like this call for too much oil and the vegetables turn out really slippery.

I chopped this all up the day before and stuck it in the fridge so it would be ready to pop in the oven.  This also gave the vegetables a chance to mingle and be friends.

Making big dishes like this is a gamble when there are only two people in the house.  What if one of you don't like it?  What if you both don't like it?  A big pan of funny tasting vegetables isn't going to disappear by itself.  But making big dishes is also helpful because then you don't have to cook as much and some recipes you can freeze and save for later (soup and chili are great candidates for the freezer).

The next day I popped the vegetables in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour and stirred them around every 20 minutes.  (Make sure you chop up the potatoes into small enough pieces.  I ran across a couple chunks that didn't get cooked all the way because they were too big.)  We had it for lunch with baked ziti leftover from Sunday dinner with Noah's family and a really delicious fresh mango.

Verdict on the opo squash?  It's good!  Neither of us were terribly hungry for lunch (probably because we stayed up too late the night before which led to sleeping in late followed by a late breakfast) but we ate enough to decide that we like it.  Noah even took some with him to work for dinner.  If he likes it enough to take it to work that's when I know I've found something good.  :)  The taste of the opo squash reminded me very much of zucchini.  I couldn't taste the peppers much, maybe they needed to be chopped up smaller so they would mix in better with the other vegetables, but the potatoes were great and the sliced onion added a nice sweetness to the mix.  You want to know what else was sweet?  The seeds from the opo squash!  In my research I didn't find anything that said the seeds needed to be removed so I left them attached to the meat of the squash and they did just fine.

Baking or roasting vegetables in the oven is a nice change from salads or warming up frozen vegetables.  It's especially handy if you do all the chopping the day before and have the pan ready to pop in the oven an hour before you're planning to eat.  I'm going to keep this in mind for the future and mix it up with different vegetables.  Carrots, tomatoes, onions, different kinds of squash.....  :)


married in michigan

Hello, world!

Here I am, married and living in Michigan now.  :)

Moving to Michigan was quite an adjustment at first.  My first week living at Noah's parent's house was rough.  I moped around pretty much that whole week.  I shed many tears and spent a lot of time in Noah's arms while he comforted me.  After that first week though I felt a lot better and we got busy with the remaining wedding preparations and found out we could move our things into our apartment much sooner than we were originally told.  That was such a blessing.

Our wedding was everything we hoped it would be.  It was all so beautiful and put together so nicely.  Noah was dashingly handsome in his morning dress and I felt so pretty in my lace gown.  Our photographer was fun and professional, our bridal party was fantastic, the ceremony was full of the faith we share in Christ, our families were overjoyed, the reception was relaxed, and the food was delicious.  The entire day was perfect.  :)

We had a blast on our honeymoon in Mackinaw City and Traverse City.  It was exciting getting to go on our first vacation together as husband and wife.  We ate fudge, rode a tandem bicycle (I didn't enjoy that much), got caught in a huge downpour (while on the bicycle), watched ships go through the Soo Locks, took hundreds of photos, ate delicious pizza in Petoskey, I bought a cute teapot in Traverse City along with some fancy tea, we hiked across the Sleeping Bear Dunes (I thought I was going to die but instead I just got VERY sunburned), frequently said hello the to the alpacas at the bed and breakfast where we stayed, enjoyed the most amazing raspberry chocolate tart in the world, strolled through downtown Traverse City numerous times, and we even contemplated staying an extra night because we were enjoying ourselves so much.  We were starting to get exhausted though and my sunburn was painful, so we decided to head home as planned.

There was another adjustment period as we got settled into our apartment.  Coming to terms with how far away I live now from my family was a little difficult.  There were a few days where I was sad and feeling like I just wasn't getting the hang of cooking meals and taking care of our home.  Like the stupendous husband he is, Noah assured me over and over that I'm doing a fantastic job and how impressed he is with everything I've been accomplishing.  He's also been helping me learn how to relax and take things easy, that I don't need to be busy every day because there isn't really a whole lot that needs to be done with it being just the two of us.  The other day before he went to work Noah lovingly told me, "You're not allowed to do anything while I'm gone.  Your job today is to watch Doctor Who and crochet.  This apartment better not be clean when I get home." :)

So here we are.  Married for a month, living in our apartment, enjoying each other, running errands or being lazy together early in the day before Noah goes to work.  I clean, go grocery shopping, and do whatever else while he's working.  And then we get to spend more time together when he gets home before we go to sleep.  We're starting to fall into a routine which will get messed up when I find a job, but for now we're enjoying what we have going on.  Being married is lovely and I couldn't imagine experiencing it with anyone more wonderful.  :)


i am not a wedding planner

I am not insanely organized or a master of multitasking.  I get overwhelmed when I have a lot of things to accomplish in a short (or long) amount of time.  I have to think for a long time and weigh all of the different options before making a decision.  And then I change my mind.  I make to-do lists that take me weeks to finish and I forget things I was told two minutes ago.  If I had to plan our wedding on my own, I would go insane.  It would certainly be too much for me to handle all by my lonesome.

This is one of the many reasons why I am so thankful for Noah.  He is organized.  He's kept track of our wedding planning on wonderful spreadsheets and to-do lists.  He has made  most of the phone calls to vendors and is good at finding useful information quickly.  When I start to freak out about things he calmly listens to my worries and then tells me, "Hey, it'll all be ok.  I love you."  And those are exactly the words I need to hear.  Every time.

I don't know what I would do without him.  Not just with wedding planning, but with my life in general.  And the feeling is mutual.  We can't imagine our lives apart from each other and we're so excitedly looking forward to being married.  Only eighty days left!  :)


103 days

Here I am stuck in Michigan because of the snow.  Again.  I don't even live here yet and already more than once my trip home has been delayed by the weather.  I certainly enjoy getting to spend a little extra time with Noah before heading back home to wait for our next visit.  But it will be even better when we don't have to make these six-hour trips anymore and we're so thankful we have to travel through only one winter before we're married.

One year ago yesterday was the day Noah first e-mailed me.  He had been on the dating website for about a month.  I had been on there less than a week.  Y'all already know how things turned out after that first e-mail.  We are now 103 days away from our wedding.

103 days.  We're steadily wrapping up the rest of our wedding plans.  Next month we're going to start looking for an apartment.  I can't wait to start making our home a cozy, happy, welcoming place to be.  I'll move to Michigan a couple weeks before our wedding and stay at Noah's parent's house while we move the rest of my belongings into our apartment.  Time is quickly running out.  I should probably get some more packing done....

As the wind blows and the snow rushes around outside, I'm thinking about how much our lives are going to change.  In truth, they already have been changing drastically.  We're already moving toward being husband and wife, thinking of each other in that way, making each other our top priorities in our lives.  Talking together, laughing together, making plans, coming to decisions, disagreeing, reconciling, loving each other.

Neither of us fully understands what marriage will be like.  We know God will be our foundation.  We know it's going to be wonderful.  We know it's going to be hard.  We know there's no one else we would rather experience it with than each other.

It's 103 days until we become husband and wife.  We can't wait!  :)


sleeping with curly hair: testing a silk pillowcase

Hello!  I've finally found time in my busy life to write another blog post for all of my fellow curly girls!  :)

Imagine this:  You are having the best hair day ever.  Your hair is curly, bouncy, big, and beautiful.  At night you fall asleep blissfully dreaming of your curly locks... only to wake up in the morning to a frizzy, flat, matted, non-curly mess.  Sad face.

Why did this happen?  Well, if you move around a lot in your sleep (like I do) then your hair was brushing against your pillowcase all night long.  If you do not have a silk or satin pillowcase (like I didn't) this continuous brushing against rough fabric was squishing and frazzling your curls all night long.

What is a curly girl to do when she wants her beautiful curly hair to last longer than one day?  She has a few options.

The pineapple.  No, not the fruit.  When a curly girl talks about "pineappling" her hair she means she put it up in a high ponytail before going to bed.  Here are handy instructions for this very easy hair technique.  When your hair is up like this, only the underside, the side no one sees when your hair is down, gets brushed against your pillow during the night.  In the morning you simply take your hair out of the ponytail, fluff, and have beautiful curls just like you did the day before.  Problem solved!  For my curly hair, however, the pineapple doesn't work.  My hair is thick and heavy.  Every time I've tried to sleep with my hair pineappled I ended up taking it out because the weight pulling on my head was too uncomfortable.  My hair is also coarse, not soft, so it's very resistant to being pulled in a direction it wasn't already going.

If the pineapple doesn't work for you, then maybe a silk sleeping cap is your solution.  Yep, it's pretty much what it sounds like.  To me, they kind of look like floppy chef hats.  The silk is slick and soft so it won't frazzle your hair and having your hair in a cap keeps it off of your pillowcase.  This option didn't appeal to me much, so I haven't tried it, but maybe it would work for you!

If pineappling doesn't work and you don't want to wear a sleeping cap, then how about changing your pillowcase?  Sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase won't frizz your curls like other materials will and it allows you to sleep without your hair being piled on top of your head or encased in a sleeping cap.  This is the option I decided to try out.  I bought a pillowcase online (they come in many different colors!) and took before and after pictures to see if there was any difference.  There is some debate over whether silk or satin is best.  I picked silk because it seemed like the better choice.

I wasn't having the best hair day to start with, so bear with me that my hair doesn't look amazingly fantastic.  There's a slight color difference between the photos just because of the different times of day the photos were taken.

In the morning I thought my hair was maybe just a tad frizzier and my curls were more spread out.  But it was certainly worlds better than the frizzy, matted mess I've been waking up with for so long.  I am very happy with the results!  The silk pillowcase was also very comfortable to sleep on.  I didn't slip off of it during the night and it didn't slip off of the bed either.  The pillowcase has an envelope flap to keep it on the pillow which I thought was very handy.

I have found the solution to my frizzy second day hair!  :)  What do you think will work for your curly hair?  Are there more options I didn't talk about?  I did recently see something about hair tubes which kind of looks like pineappling and using a sleeping cap at the same time.  Maybe you'd like to give that a shot?


becoming a curly girl (part two)

It was in November of 2012 that I was first told about the Curly Girl Method.  A friend of mine recommended the book to me after I expressed frustration over not being able to find a way to let my hair be curly without using a curling iron or having it be frizzy and poofy.

Written by Lorraine Massey, the Curly Girl Handbook taught me to think differently about a lot of things.  I learned about hair products and how the majority of them are filled with harmful chemicals that shouldn't be used on your hair at all.  Coating your hair in these damaging substances dries it out, locks out moisture, and interferes with your hair's natural texture and shape.  Curly hair is different from straight hair in a lot of ways.  One difference is that it is more porous, which means curly hair soaks up whatever is put on it much more than straight hair does.  It frighteningly absorbs the sulfate in shampoos which leads to dry, moisture stripped, un-curly locks.  Following sulfate shampoo with conditioners full of silicone makes it even worse.  Scott Musgrave wrote a fantastic post about why certain hair product ingredients are so terribly bad for your hair.

The phrase "straighten your mind, not your hair" is used throughout the handbook and the curly girl community.  What this means is you have to accept your hair the way it is naturally instead of trying to change it into something it's not.  When you start using gentle, sulfate-free cleansers, organic conditioners, and other products formulated without harsh ingredients, your formerly frizzy mess of a hair will be transformed into gorgeous curls/waves and you'll wonder why it took so long for you to try the curly girl method.

I'll get into more detail later on about products and the curly girl method, but if you're curious here are some great videos for you to watch.

November of 2012 was the last time I used a straightener or curling iron on my hair.  I bought the Curly Girl Handbook, read it in no time flat, and immediately searched for the kinds of products they talked about.  I didn't use DevaCurl products (the line developed by Lorraine Massey) for a long time because I thought they were too expensive.  I tried several different products, but they all still had sulfates and silicones in them even though they claimed not to.  (I'll get more into that topic in another post.)  I did see a difference in my hair while using those other products, yes, but it wasn't until I began using DevaCurl that my curls started lasting longer, there was a significant decrease in frizz, and my hair really started looking and feeling healthy.

Here's a history of my curls since I started the Curly Girl Method.

- December 2012.  Fledgling curls.  Not looking too great because of the products I was using and it takes a while to grow out damaged hair, but my hair was still curly nonetheless.

- March 2013.  Still experimenting with products and how to use them.  My hair was curly, but the curls didn't stay in very well and my hair was frizzy pretty much all the time.

- June 2013.  This is when I finally went to a professional curly hair stylist, Cass Carnahan.  I learned oh so much at my first appointment with her.  It was like reading the Curly Girl Handbook but a thousand times better because she answered all of my questions and explained everything so very well.  For some reason whenever Cass cuts and and styles my hair, my curls are a lot more loose.  They're tighter when I do my hair at home, but also frizzier, so I guess there had to be a trade off.  After my first curly appointment is when I gave in and purchased DevaCurl products.

- August 2013.  I saw a huge difference in my curls after getting to talk to a curly hair expert and when I started using DevaCurl!  It was amazing!  My hair was beautiful, healthy, and curly!!

- October 2013.  This was taken before my second curly appointment with Cass.  My hair was doing just fine, but I wanted to get the longer layers trimmed even with the rest of my hair.  It felt and looked much fuller and healthier even after that little change and I enjoyed another chance to talk to Cass about all things curly.  I even got my mom to go along with me and have her own scheduled appointment.  :)

It's been over a year since I started using the Curly Girl Method and I am beyond thrilled with how my hair looks and feels.  It's curly, it's beautiful, it's healthy, it's still a little frizzy from time to time, but I'm ok with a few misplaced hairs after the terrible mess it used to be.  I've always loved my hair because of it's color (yep, natural redhead!) but now I love it even more because of its curls.  Curls!!!  I wish I had known ages ago my hair had the potential to curl like this.  Never ever again will a straightener or curling iron touch my hair.  It's beautiful in its natural state, just the way God made it.  :)

Click here to read part one!

becoming a curly girl (part one)

I haven't always known about my curly hair potential.  It was an educational process of discovery and acceptance that led me to curly hair happiness.  I learned how to take care of my hair in a way that let it be itself without the frizzy aggravation I was so used to.

Here is a journey back in time through the tortures my hair experienced before I knew of its curly potential.

I was 16 or so in these pictures.

This is how I wore my hair for a very long time.  Frizzy, poofy, often shampooed twice in the shower with damaging sulfate shampoo because it never felt like the water got all the way through it.  Such was my life.  Forever unhappy with my hair and jealous of my sister's smooth, straight locks.  I avoided straighteners and curling irons because I knew they were bad for your hair, but I couldn't resist them forever.

I cut my hair short.  Bangs came soon after and I straightened my hair all the time.

What followed was continuous straightening and curling.  It took me 45 minutes to either straighten or curl my hair and it always felt so dry but then so dirty the day after I took a shower.  I would take showers at night and then do my hair in the morning because it took so long for my hair to dry and I could avoid some of the poof and frizz if I let it dry and get flattened overnight.

My hair was such a bother.  I planned my schedule around it.  If it was going to rain, I didn't bother trying anything with it because I knew it would just frizz into a giant poof ball.  On those days I raked back into a ponytail or french braid.  When I had to drive 45 minutes in the morning to get to my college classes, I would get up even earlier so I had enough time to make my hair look presentable.

I attempted a couple times to let my hair go natural, but it didn't work very well because I didn't know about damaging ingredients in hair products.  I filled my hair up with chemicals that dried it out just like the curling and straightening did.  (I also had to twist it into a bunch of pin curls after I showered to get it to look even slightly curly.)  It never stayed nice through to the second day which meant I had to take another shower and and start the process all over again.  This routine didn't damage my hair any less than the straightening and curling did.

My hair was dry, flat, lifeless, awful, and sad.  People talk about coloring and perming being bad for your hair.  Well, curling irons and straighteners are the same way.  They damage your hair mercilessly.  I finally chopped it short (again) thinking it would be easier to manage if I just straightened it all the time.  This happened in August of 2012, a few months before I learned about the curly girl world.

Click here for part two!


getting married

With this new year comes exciting changes in my life.

In five months I will be marrying the most wonderful man in the world.  I can't remember what my life was like before I met Noah and I am so fervently looking forward to being his wife and having him as my husband.

Another change coming this year is that I will be moving to Michigan to live with my love when we get married.  Nine years ago I moved from Texas to Illinois with my family.  For the longest time I said I wasn't going to move any farther north or east of where I am now (so I wouldn't live anywhere even colder).  I guess God has a sense of humor.  :)

Long distant relationships aren't easy.  Hours of driving, so much money spent on gas, missing each other as soon our visit is over.  It's not fun.  We express our frustrations with being separated by bickering with each other when we're not together.  Not very lovely, I know, but it doesn't happen on purpose.  It happens because only the two of us understand how we feel about being apart, how hard it is, and how much we want to be together.

My dearest Noah.  I can't wait to marry him.  :)  We are both looking forward so much to our beautiful May wedding in Michigan and spending the rest of our lives together.

Getting married is a bit of a scary thing though.  You're promising to spend the rest of your life with someone.  Think about that for a minute.  The rest of your life.  The ups and downs, the good and the bad, the times when everything is perfect and the times when you're not the greatest person in the world.  All of it.  You're promising to share every little bit of your life with someone, and they are promising the same.  The fact that I'll be moving away from my family adds to the scariness a little and I'm sure the reality of it all will hit me even more as our wedding date gets closer.

Despite the trepidation, I'm more excited than anything else.  I'm excited about being married to Noah and the home we will share.  I can't wait to sit in church together every week and do devotions together in our home every day.  I'm looking forward to the struggles we will face together and the joys we will share.  I can't wait to be Noah's and for him to be mine.

I'm looking forward to it all so much.  :)