Saturday, August 1, 2015

5 Favorite Reads

scary close

So after spending virtually all of last year not picking up a single book I was craving to jump back into reading. I didn't realize how much I had missed it and how lifegiving it was to take time every night to read. I have averaged a book a week most of the year so far (with a few lags here and there) and my to-read list grows almost daily... so many good books out there and not enough time!

I love reading book recommendation lists so I figured I should post mine. I'll preface this by pointing out that I'm obviously into best-seller books... I mean, they are best-sellers for a reason right? So if you're looking for some cool indie books, this ain't that! That said, these were all books I read in just a couple days because I just couldn't put them down. Lots of late nights and trying to squeeze in pages while cooking dinner happened reading these.

Here we go!

top 5 books


1. Unbroken
I just heard in passing that this was a good read and decided to give it a shot. So much more than just a good read... it was captivating and SO unbelievable (in the best way). It's a true story of a WWII veteran and his whole story from childhood and beyond is incredible and inspiring. Plus its always good to read about history. (They butchered the movie by the way, just read the book!)

2. Gone Girl
This is a really fun one. Her writing style is phenomenal and sucks you in immediately. It's a dark, twisty, insane quick read. I can't even say much without having spoilers sooo just read it! The movie is great too, but like usual the book is better.

3. The Husband's Secret
This is written in multiple first person narrative and it takes some time to get familiar with all the characters but it all comes together perfectly and about a quarter of the way through I was so invested I couldn't bear to stop reading. The story unfolds at the perfect pace and the payoff is far and away better than I was imagining. Also, the title and cover makes it seem like a weird romance novel but it totally isn't. I think I finished this 500 page book in 3 days... that might be a record for me.

4. The Girl On The Train
Another multiple first person narrative and this is the definition of a page turner. I know this has been on the top sellers list pretty much since it came out and it initially didn't sound that interesting to me but once I started I couldn't stop (there's a theme here..) and if I had to pick an absolute favorite from the year this one might take the cake. It moved me to tears, it was suspenseful and it was riveting through and through.

5. Yes Please 
A book written by Amy Poehler, thats all it takes to convince me it's a great read. But seriously, this was super funny and really interesting to read about her childhood, her early comedy years, her years at SNL and all that. I even cried. She's perfect.

Honorable mention: Scary Close by Donald Miller
I feel weird that I didn't include this just in the main list because I read this one twice already this year and feel like I'll read it over and over forever but when I was making the list I was only thinking about novels/memoirs and this is more of an inspirational book. But I need to still include it!
Anyway, this is the first donald miller book I've read so I can't say I've been a fan forever but this book alone makes me his biggest fan. He speaks so open and honestly about dropping your "act" and being yourself no matter what the cost. In a world where we're so caught up in impressing people and virtually presenting an entirely different version of ourselves, this book was like a breath of fresh air. He talks candidly about the risk involved in impressing less people in order to connect deeply with a few people and the freedom that comes along with that. I wish I could force everyone in this generation to read it.

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Any must-read books you've read recently I should add to my reading line-up for the rest of the year?

Friday, July 31, 2015

More sprout fun + custom chocolate bar wrappers

Custom Chocolate Bar Wraps
It was really hard to choose just two projects to share that I made with my Sprout since I had about a dozen I was working on and equally excited about (I can always share those later right?) but custom chocolate bar wrappers won out! It's not that I think straight from the store chocolate bars are awful (though some are) but I have a love affair with custom designing things like this for special occasions.

This time I stuck with very minimalistic designs and it only took like 10 minutes to draw all three on the sprout mat and print them off. I've been in love with the simple tree illustration from Fine little day so I free handed one, filled it in with black and copy+pasted it to fill the page up. So easy!

Here's the link to each print if you'd like to use them for anything: Mountains, Trees, Lines
Custom Chocolate Bar Wraps

Another fun way I used it last week was to create a page of everything that Beck loves at 20 months.
I used the 3D scanning projector to scan in his favorite toys (dinosaurs), his swim shorts, his favorite book and his blanket to create a little memory collage. I didn't take any video of the scanning action but it's super fascinating to watch and they have some videos online if you want to see!
DIY deodorant (that actually works!)
And last but not least, I took a short time lapse of me going through photos and writing on them with the mat. It is really easy to use (unlike other writing tablets I've tried)!
Sprout time lapse

Thanks HP for letting me try out the Sprout. I'm kind of in love with and learning more and more things I want to use it for everyday!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Make: Natural Deodorant (that actually works!)

DIY Natural Deodorant using essential oils
DIY deodorant (that actually works!)

I'm always making my own household things around here (especially with my newish found love in essential oils!) but they are usually unlabeled or worse... labeled with masking tape. The horror! Well, I got this fancy new computer called Sprout from HP a few months ago and I've been playing with it and learning how to use it and it wasn't until last week that I was like Duh... I can make cool labels for all my homemade concoctions now!

The sprout is incredible, with technology I can't really even fathom and it's SO fun to use (I have another project I'll be sharing in a couple days). It has a scanner/projector attached to the top that can scan 3D objects, and touch-sensitive mat that you can use to edit and create projects. The actual computer screen itself is a touch screen too. It's all just so amazing (and anyone that comes over needs to try it out). I'm not super great with using photoshop for design things since I'm a more hands on type of person and this is really nice for that—you can pull photos off the internet, drag them onto the mat, edit them, crop them, write on it, turn it sideways... all with your fingers. I made a little time lapse video for my next post... be excited!

DIY deodorant (that actually works!)
DIY deodorant (that actually works!)

I stuck with something super simple for the label since I don't have the best drawing skills and added text and I was done within a minute or two and sending it to the printer. Hooray!

DIY deodorant (that actually works!)
DIY deodorant (that actually works!)
Now, lets talk deodorant! I've made deodorant in the past and it worked fine but for some reason we ended up going back to something from the store. When we ran out a couple weeks ago Josh picked one up that was natural and wasn't test on animals... and it sucked (ahem..Toms).

I knew I had a bunch of essential oils that are antibacterial which would be great in a homemade deodorant since it's the bacteria that makes you stink. I read about this combo of essential oils in deodorant elsewhere and thought I'd give it a go. And the verdict is: it works so incredibly well and smells great too. We've both been using it everyday and it's been SO hot here and no odor from us whatsoever.

If you're a natural deodorant skeptic, this one will win you over.

Orange Peppermint Oregano Deodorant

1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot powder (I highly recommend this over cornstarch)
5 Tablepsoons coconut oil, melted
10 drops oregano essential oil
10 drops orange essential oil
10 drops peppermint essential oil

In a bowl mix together the dry ingredients. Add the essential oils to the melted coconut oil and stir it into the dry ingredients until it is very well mixed with no clumps. Put it in the refrigerator to solidify it. Use a pea-sized amount in each arm. Tip: Hold it in your arm for a few seconds before spreading around to melt it a bit.

If you make it and use it, let me know!


oh, bye July! (Currently...)

july

July has passed by without a peep from me here. Ooops! But right now I have a free minute and this juice was begging to be on the internet (wink) so I thought I'd do a Currently post just for fun.

Currently:

Reading: All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr. Really fun read so far. I've been a reading machine this year and I'm working on my list of favorites to share in a post soon!

Watching: If I get a chance to watch anything, documentaries on netflix are my jam. Any recs of what I should watch next?

Eating: Beck's goldfish right now ;) BUT.... we've also been juicing every day and it feels SO good to incorporate loads of veggies in each one and chug it down. Favorites are: beets apple ginger, cucumber kale apple, and carrot pear ginger.

Wondering: How long I have before Beck wakes up (always the question of the day!)

Shocked by: How much Beck is talking! It feels like he was just saying mama and milk last month and now he says more words than I could write down right now (hard ones like dinosaur and elephant!) and putting sentences together. It makes my heart explode and also want to cry all at the same time. He's not a baby anymore.

Planning: We're loosely starting to plan a few vacations for the upcoming months. A lazy week at the beach reading books and playing with Beck is on the agenda for now... though I'm still absolutely dying to get our butts somewhere tropical. White sand, clear blue water are my priorities.

Learning: more in depth about essential oils. I have this reference guide that talks about the historical data, plant origins, what each one is used for, etc. It's so fascinating! People have been using these for hundreds (actually, thousands) of years. I could nerd out for hours flipping through the book.

Laughing at: the socalitybarbie instagram. Have you seen it? Whoever came up with the idea is a genius (its not me, but I wish it was!) and I can't get enough of it.



july

Saturday, June 20, 2015

New essential oils goodies!

YL essential oils
So I've probably made it clear by now that purchasing the starter kit from Young Living was one of the best decisions we've made as a family so far. I like them a lot... and I talk about them a lot (If we're friends in real life, you know this x100) and I feel like everyone needs to make the investment (save $ for a couple months!) because it's SO worth it. It's not just for hippies or weirdos, promise. (Though I am that weirdo that made a pretty video about essential oils)

Anyway, you can read more about how I got into them (and my skepticism) and why I chose the brand I did and yada yada by clicking on the essential oils tag where I keep all the posts but I wanted to pop in and talk about the brand new kit they released that replaced the one I first bought and started out with.

The one I got is awesome and thought it couldn't get much better but it did. They replaced 3 oils with Copaiba, Digize, and RC which are literally 3 of my favorites and are SUPER amazing to have on hand for keeping you and your fams healthy. (They were the 3 I always recommended getting after you got the main ones with the kit). So this is an awesome upgrade! They also improved the packaging and branding and added tiny little bottles so you can take them on the go or share with a friend or something.

And I thought this graphic that some friends put together perfectly showed how diverse the oils in the starter kit are. They do this and even more...
What can YL oils do for you?


I wish I could sit down with all of you and tell you face to face how much these dang little oils have done and let you smell them and borrow them. But since I can't you could always email me and pick my brain, I have a ton of experience with them now and will openly share just about anything :) So don't hesitate to do that if you're curious about something! [ vanillaandlace@gmail.com ]
 Brand New Premium Starter Kit from YL from Abi Porter on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

UP MOVE Update.

Up Move Update
Up Move Update

I've been using the UP MOVE for about a month and I'm still obsessed with it. As a total type-A, goal oriented person this little guy has been a dream, the app is so straight-forward, organized and accurate and I'm like a little kid checking on it 30 times a day to see where I'm at as far as my daily goal.

It has little encouragements that you can get during the day to tell you you've made it half-way or hit your goal and what-not, it's a fun feature. And if you haven't met your goals, it calculates your average and has you aim to beat those everyday. Like I said, awesome!

I've been playing around with the food feature on the app too. You can input everything you eat and it calculates the total carbs, proteins, sugars, etc and organizes it all so well. It also keeps track of calories in vs. calories out so if you were trying to lose weight that could be a really helpful tool.

Over the course of the last month I've slowly built my average up to 9,000 steps and have even hit my 10,000 goal a few times... woot woot! Progress made! I'm trying to convince some of my friends to get one so we can have competitions for steps, wouldn't that be fun? You can see a screenshot of what my activity looked like on a day we did a hike in this photo. The 'longest idle' function is a kick in the butt to get moving.

Anyway, I totally love this thing and religiously wear it everyday and also every night to track my sleep. If you're in the market for something like this I highly recommend it (you can purchase one here), it's the best one I've tried yet!

Up Move Update
This post was created in partnership with Jawbone. As always, all opinions and words are entirely my own and I'm super grateful to have the opportunity to collaborate with companies like this. 

Make: Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Dishwasher Detergent

Yet another homemade product, are you sick of me yet? Well, I initially made this out of necessity. We had run out of dishwasher detergent and the dishes in the sink we're piling up and I was desperate. And a friend and I were recently talking about making it ourselves anyway so I looked up a couple recipes and I already had everything so I gave it a go.

Making your own cleaners is hit or miss, they usually get the job done "enough" but for me I need them to work extremely well, not just "its good for a natural product". A semi-clean house is not clean in my nook. So I was skeptical to say the least! But we've been using it in every load of dishes for a week and they are crystal clear and clean. I'm SO impressed. Honestly, this works just as well as the tabs we were using up from costco before we ran out. I know the added essential oils have a lot to do with it, they are super potent and help break down grease. And thieves has anti-bacterial properties so its a super cleaning machine!

I don't feel the NEED to make every single thing that's in our house but if it saves us money, I'm all about it. And I like knowing exactly what's going on our dishes to clean them. Everything in non-toxic in this concoction.

Note: I didn't plan on putting them in ice cube trays to make tabs. I added a tiny bit of water to mix in the oils really good but left it as a powder and it hardened rock solid in the jar after an hour. So I dug it out with a fork and put it in molds this time to save it. Next time I'll just blend up the dry ingredients and mix in the oils by hand and just keep it as a powder. One less step!

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Ingredients:

2 cups washing soda
1 cup baking soda
1 cup citric acid
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 teaspoon castile soap
10 drops of thieves essential oil
10 drops of lemon essential oil
*1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar (I skipped this, see note above)

Directions:

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl
mix in castile soap and the thieves and lemon essential oil
Stir until the soap and essential oils are mixed throughout, you may need to do this by hand
Put the mixture in a jar and use a heaping tablespoon in each load. I usually add vinegar to the rinse aid compartment too.

*If you want to make hard tabs to use:
Skip the 1tsp of castile soap. Gradually add vinegar a little bit at a time and mix well (some fizzing will occur and the mixture will start to clump) You may not need the entire amount of vinegar, so add it a little at a time.
pack well into two ice cube trays (take your time doing this and make sure they are well compacted)
set ice cube trays out to dry for at least 24 hours in a sunny spot
take tabs out of trays and store in a tight-lidded container

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Lipstick: My top 5 favorites!

Lipstick: My top 5!
Lipstick: My top 5!

I've developed quite a knack for lipstick these days. I could literally spend an hour of every trip to Target looking up and down the cosmetic aisle for a lipstick that will be my next victim (AKA get worn obsessively). I don't really branch out though, I tend to stick to the coral/orange/red vibe... all in the matte variety and I don't stray from it. Not kidding, I don't have any pinks/nudes/etc or any glossy lipstick. Change is hard.

But since I do only use ones in this color palette I know the shades well and have returned many I didn't like and have thus narrowed down my favorite five! For right now, at least.

Pictured above (from R-L) is
NYX matte in Indie flick - This one is definitely the most orangey but not too much. It wears well, stays on and isn't too drying like mattes can be
Revlon Coralberry - I recently got this to replace the very first lipstick I ever ran out of which was Vegas volt by MAC. I read online that this was an exact dupe and it is! It's corally with gold hints. It was my first true [lipstick] love. It's not a matte lipstick but it definitely isn't glossy either
NYX soft matte lip balm in Antwerp - I love this formula so much! The color doesn't fade, it feels like nothing is on your lips and it smells like cupcakes. I have a few other colors (the orange and red ones) and I love them all.
Revlon color burst in Striking spectaculaire - This was a recent find and I'm totally obsessed with it. It feels AMAZING on your lips (and its minty) and it doesn't get dry or bleed. This is my favorite true red.
Topshop matte in Rio rio - I randomly picked this one up when I was in NY and it instantly shot to the top of my list of favorites. The color is amaaaazing and its buttery but matte. Definitely worth ordering if you're not near Topshop.

There you have it! All of these are drugstore lipsticks with the exception of the topshop one and can be bought for $6-$7... which is right up my alley! And since I'm always looking for new ones, do you have any suggestions for me to try?

And here's a swatch test to get a better idea of the colors
Top to bottom:
Revlon color burst - Striking Spectaculaire
NYX Soft matte lip balm - Antwerp
NYX matte lipstick - Indie Flick
Revlon - Coralberry
Topshop Matte - Rio rio
Lipstick: My top 5!
Lipstick: My top 5!
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