The Art of Tea and Downton Abbey

Today I have sworn myself to the task of making natural powder foundation.

But this afternoon, I indulged in a little guilty pleasure of mine: The Downton Abbey premier paired with a kettle of tea and a handful of truffles.

Over the past year I have become increasingly obsessed with the art of tea. It’s like magic in a cup. Not only does it give me a wonderfully romantic nostalgic feeling, but it’s also incredibly healthy. I always get excited when I discover that something I already like is actually good for me!

There are so many types of tea and so many benefits it’s hard to understand why some people “just aren’t tea drinkers”. It seems that Tea Drinkers and Coffee Drinkers are pitted against each other, as if you can’t appreciate both. Well, I do.

But today is about tea. My hope is to teach you something you didn’t already know and make a Tea Drinker out of you  yet.

The number one reason you should drink tea? The health benefits. If you suffer from anything from headaches to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you should be drinking tea. I found a handy list of teas that help with specific ailments that I’m sure you’ll find helpful:

Chamomile

click the pic to flip through a gallery complete with brewing instructions

If you’re not convinced by the health benefits, think about the fun.

I received a ton of fun, cute tea things for Christmas including this kettle

with this accessory that keeps your tea warm

this beautiful tea-infusing travel cup from Kati

and these adorable tea infusers

(infusers are little mesh baskets that hold your tea leaves so that they aren’t floating around in your cup)

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Besides all that, tea tastes amazing and don’t think you have to give up your caffeine boost. Black teas and several others contain caffeine. Although if you’re trying to kick the habit, there are also tons of teas that have little or no caffeine and you can always get decaffeinated (small caveat, some decaffeinating processes use harmful chemicals. If you’re drinking anything decaf, check if a chemical process was used or if the Swiss water method was used)

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So have I convinced you?

If you’re looking for something relaxing for this frigid evening (the wind chill is -10 here in Indiana!) put on a kettle (or warm up a mug of water in the micro) and settle in with a cuppa and the Downton Abbey season premier, which you can find at PBS.org.

And if you need something sweet with your tea check out this amazing recipe:

Caramel Stuffed Snickerdoodles

Caramel Stuffed Snickerdoodles. So quick and simple.

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Are you as obsessed with Downton Abbey as I am? The fashion alone makes the show worth watching not to mention the addictive drama and the oh-so quotable Lady Violet.

Tell me your favorite thing about the show in the comments and let’s get a conversation going.

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Now, if all that doesn’t put a little wonder in your week, I don’t know what will 🙂

Stay tuned for that powder foundation tutorial!

Love always,

-Tara

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Get Your Nails Did (Naturally)

As I predicted, I did not have time to try the homemade makeup recipe yesterday.

The odds aren’t looking a whole lot better today. Tomorrow I don’t have any music lessons so I’m determined to get it done then.

For today, I wanted to share something similar but even easier. I love doing my nails. I’m not all that good at it but the recent discovery of Winstonia nail stamping plates and other such marvels have made it easier and lots more fun.

I received some for Christmas and have tried out several designs already.

I also received these skinny nail tapes. And that’s what we’re talking about today.

If you haven’t caught on by now, I’m trying to cut out chemicals and live more naturally. Nail polish is one area I’m thus far failing at miserably.

Fortunately, there are a lot of toxin-free choices out there nowadays for the nail art obsessed. And these nail tapes are a great way to add a wow factor to an otherwise plain manicure, without any toxins or dangerous chemicals.

So, I’ve assembled a list of some great nail tape tutorials and ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Take a look, try some out and post the results. I tried one for New Year’s Eve and loved the way it turned out, but so far haven’t discovered the secret for making them stay put for more than a couple of days.

I’d love to see your results and read your tips so don’t be shy.

Enjoy!

No Link Ideas (no tutorials but you’re smart)

These are killer

Pink Negative Space Nails | All Nails Everything

Love the idea of having a blank space in between- reminds me of a backless dress

Id just choose one design and so it for all of the nails

Very “Tiffany’s”

17 Perfect Nail Designs With Striping Tape

Love the ring finger

17 Perfect Nail Designs With Striping Tape

Blue and gold always look good together

17 Perfect Nail Designs With Striping Tape

Looks great with upper finger rings

17 Perfect Nail Designs With Striping Tape

Not sure I could pull it off but I love looking at it!

And the tutorials: (click the pic)

Easy! - Pella Zab

I love textured nails and this one’s easy and classy

Manicure Monday: Chevron Nail Tutorial at LuLus.com!

striping-tape-manicure-revlon-indigo-night-maybelline-nail-polish-swatch

Would look great with other color combinations, too

And a couple of videos to make it even easier:

Black and Pink Tape Mani

Sea Foam and Gold with Pearls

(the pearls were a bit large for my taste but this one could be very cool with some adjustments)

Easy Striping and Scotch Tape Tutorial- Pink, Black, Silver

I Feel For Ya, Garfield

Monday. I hate Mondays.

Being in ministry, the weekends never feel much like weekends for me and Luke.

We don’t sleep in, we don’t rest and enjoy each other’s company, we don’t goof off and play Donkey Kong Country for exorbitant amounts of time. But I’m not about to complain.

Yesterday was a rare Sunday that we were caught up on what we needed to do (for the most part) and were able to spend some time lounging in bed after church and a nice lunch. We were back at the church at 4:00 to prepare for youth group and not home again until 7:30, but we both love the youth group kids and wouldn’t change anything.

All this to say; Mondays are the worst. Either 1) you do get a nice relaxing weekend and come Monday everything’s piled up and you so aren’t ready to tackle another week or 2) you had a productive weekend and worked steadily and you’re not rested enough to tackle another week. At least that’s how it feels to me.

So, to get to the point, today won’t be a super-involved post. I did want to share something I’ve been putting a lot of time and thought into, though.

As you know, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to live more naturally and healthfully. One of the ways I’m doing this is by kicking out chemicals and beginning to make my own hygiene, beauty and cleaning products. I decided to start with beauty products as that seemed like the most fun and immediately rewarding (something I need to keep myself motivated). I wanted an easy recipe to start with, and not too expensive. I found this free Kindle book on Amazon and am going to try out the Spicy Powder Foundation.

For detailed ingredients and instructions grab the Kindle book. If you’d rather try a recipe out first, you can follow my instructions and check back for pics and further tips later this week.

Ingredients: arrow root powder (or cornstarch if you KNOW your skin isn’t sensitive to corn or are willing to give it a try), cinnamon, cocoa powder, nutmeg, turmeric, ground ginger

Instructions: Pour about a tsp arrowroot or cornstarch onto a paper plate. Slowly add other spices (about 1/8 tsp at a time) until you’re happy with the color. Test frequently on the back of your hand. Use your current makeup as a quick comparison. KEEP TRACK of how much you add of each spice. Write it down as you go. When you’re finished, save the recipe, give it a shade name and keep it for future use. Store it in whatever little container you have/prefer and apply with a kabuki or fluffy brush.

(this is a kabuki brush from a brand i like)

You can double the batch and use half for a creamy foundation. We’ll tackle that later on.

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I’ll be doing that later this afternoon (or maybe later this week… my day is already getting away from me) and taking pictures to share the results with you, but for now I thought I’d share the recipe and see if you’d like to make this attempt with me. I also want to try out a super simple body scrub made from three kitchen ingredients.

Grl Look at Dat Body (Scrub)

click the pic for the original post for this scrub

As the author of “Kick Chemicals to the Curb” said, “If you can’t eat it, you probably shouldn’t be putting it on your skin.” 

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So what do you think? Maybe it seems a little odd and hippie-dippy to you, but keep in mind there are so many benefits of living naturally and no real reason not to. We’ll definitely be spending more time on this subject, but in the meantime have fun researching and experimenting with all the ways to live more naturally by diy-ing and making things your own (I love that you can make all of these look cute and it feels good knowing you made it yourself. They also make great gifts!)

Hopefully this makes your Monday a little better 🙂

Love always,

Tara

UPDATE: Apparently the Kindle book now costs $2.99 but it is well worth it!

3 New Types of New Year’s Resolutions

Today is the second day of the new year but to me it feels like the first.

January 1st is always a travelling/unpacking/catching-up day because we make the trip back from my grandparents’. A large portion of the day is spent in the car and the rest is spent doing laundry, putting things away and lamenting the egregious amounts of food we ate the past two days.

This year, swollen ankles and an aching back made for an even lovelier New’s Year Day.

Complaints aside, I’m looking forward to jumping in to my resolution list. First off, I have to actually make the list. As I said before, I had a general idea of three things I wanted to focus on, now I need to narrow them down.

General Idea #1- Live more naturally and healthfully

I plan to do this by…

Making, almost exclusively, from-scratch meals

Eating the recommended 5 fruits and veggies per day

Cutting out chemicals and preservatives from food, household and beauty products

Making an exercise plan and sticking to it (more on that after the baby comes)

These will clearly be ongoing processes.

I can’t dump all my makeup and cleaners in one day and I haven’t been grocery shopping yet for from-scratch meals. This is more of a goal to reach by the end of the year rather than something to start today and stick with all year.

General Idea #2- Become more spiritually disciplined

I plan to do this by…

Having a morning devotion that includes straight up scripture reading

Having at least one set-aside prayer time every day

Listening to more worship music

Memorizing verses/passages of scripture

General Idea #3- Use time more wisely

I plan to do this by…

Starting the day with spiritual discipline routines

Making a cleaning schedule

Prepping, cooking and freezing more homemade meals

Planning out posts and editorial tasks

Doing Rosetta Stone lessons at least 3x a week

Finishing at least one book per month

Practicing guitar at least 3x a week (not including teaching time and worship team practice)

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So there are my New Year’s resolutions. Pretty traditional approach. But maybe the traditional approach isn’t for you.

If that’s the case, look at these 3 new types of resolution lists I’ve come up with that might help you make this your best year yet.

#1 Try It List

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*Approach: Bucket List type *For: those who want this year to be more adventurous/want to step outside their comfort zones *Qualities: less stringent, more specific

HOW: Make a list of things you’ve wanted to try but made excuses, things you’ve been scared to try,  and/or changes you’ve been too uncomfortable to make. FOCUS ON: overcoming fears, being more adventurous, gaining experiences

#2 Less/More List

*Approach: Do This, Not That type *For: those who want a simple way to start new habits and kick old ones *Qualities: less stringent, more general

HOW: Make a list, divided down the middle, of things you want to do more of and things you want to do less of, in a more general sense. FOCUS ON: making small changes that lead to bigger ones; an ongoing process rather than a set of rules

#3 Year in Review List

*Approach: Taking stock *For: those who need encouragement and want to improve this year more than last *Qualities: less stringent, more reflective

HOW:  Look back at what you accomplished in 2014. Maybe you still have or know the previous year’s resolutions. How did you do with those? What other things did you accomplish that weren’t necessarily a resolution?  FOCUS ON: the positive. This is not a time to beat yourself up about the resolutions you didn’t meet, but  a time to reflect on the good things that happened and the ways you improved. Use that as a springboard for what you hope to accomplish this year. If you’re feeling pretty negative by the end of this list, resolution lists probably aren’t for you. (Bonus sub-category) Try making lists at the end of every week or every day of what you accomplished. As you do this, you’ll want to accomplish more so that you’ll have more to list by the end of each week (or day). Then at the end of 2015, you’ll have a much more positive Year in Review list.

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Remember not to get discouraged when you slip up. It’s hard to form new habits! Research says it takes at least 21 days to form a new habit, and that’s if you’re practicing it every day. If it’s something like a weekly yoga class, it’ll take longer to get into the habit of exercising, so don’t give up.

Whichever way, make sure you’re focusing on things that will help you improve yourself and your experiences. It’s important to be able to look at ourselves honestly and acknowledge our shortcomings without being too critical. If you’re a believer like me, just remember that it’s how God sees us that’s most important. Try to look at yourself through His eyes, especially when you’re not happy with the results of your last WeightWatchers weigh-in.

Thanks so much for reading. I hope you’re entering the new year with a positive outlook and a renewed spirit.

Later this week we’ll talk more about ways to make the most of this new year, as well as have a fun tutorial and some recipes.

Love always,

Tara

P.S. If one of your goals is to become more spiritually disciplined, join me in memorizing a verse/passage every other week or so. Here’s a link to a list of 24 verses with pretty printables of each one to help you get started.

24 Bible Verses to Memorize and Study in 2015

Ringing in the New You

The New Year is almost upon us. Are you ready for it?

I am.

2014 was a good year; I have no complaints. But I love a fresh start and  a blank slate to fill up with new exciting things. New Year’s is easily one of my favorite holidays.

Not only do I get to see extended family that I only see a couple of times a year, but I get to take stock of the past year and look forward to what I can do differently to make the next one better- or EVEN better.

I don’t make massive New Year’s resolution lists. I learned as a teenager that that doesn’t really work. Instead I try to think of a few broad goals, then narrow those down with some markers to keep myself on track.

A long list of super specific goals doesn’t work, but a short list of far too broad goals doesn’t work either. Research tells us that our brains respond better and we form habits easier when goals are specific, so you have to find a middle ground between the broad and minute.

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I recently learned of a book and blog called Mini-Habits.

I haven’t checked it out too much so I won’t endorse just yet but I thought the idea was interesting. The author explains that before Mini-Habits he was having trouble exercising consistently. He told himself one day that he would do just one push-up, but that quickly turned into a set of push-ups. He said it was then he realized that setting very small, impossible-to-fail goals motivates us to get them done and gives us a confidence boost when we do. Then, we often go above and beyond that tiny goal, which means more confidence and more getting things done. I thought about that for a while and decided he had a point. I remember telling myself the other day that I had to clean out the fridge. The leftovers were lurking and stressing me out. I told myself I would just dump all the food and soak the dishes, but not scrub them clean, dry them and put them away just yet. To my surprise I not only dumped the leftovers and rinsed them clean but proceeded to load them and all the rest of the dishes up and wash a whole load.

Point being, there might be something to this theory that could possibly help with your New Year’s resolutions.

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So what kind of goals are you setting for yourself? Right now, I have three broad goals that I’m working on narrowing down:

1. Live more naturally and healthfully

2. Become more spiritually disciplined

3. Use time more wisely

That last one will definitely include making a cleaning schedule of sorts to keep up on those less-frequent chores that I seldom get around to doing (dusting, vacuuming, cleaning the oven, etc., as opposed to dishes, laundry and de-cluttering which are always there reminding me, nay, forcing me, to get it done) The second will definitely include doing some sort of devotion with prayer time every day. I have no excuse for not doing this already. As for the first one, Luke and I are really focusing on avoiding preservatives, GMOs, unnatural ingredients and chemicals. On top of that, we’re trying to eat less empty calories and consume more vitamins, antioxidants, lean protein and healthy fats. As for exercise, I haven’t even started planning that, seeing as the pregnancy makes things a little tricky. After the baby’s here and the initial exhaustion wears off we plan on, well, planning, I guess.

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Enough rambling! I’d like to hear from you, and I ‘d like to leave you with some fun things. New Year’s isn’t all about making major life changes; it’s also about parties and good times. Here are a few blog posts and things to help you ring in the New Year.

1. Get Pretty

Line your inner rim with gold for subtle sparkle.

with this Buzzfeed list

2. You need killer hair with that pretty face

gorgeous-new-year's-eve-hairstyle-ideas_05

Love this list (especially that bun) from Top Inspired

3. Guys, I haven’t forgotten you

e0b1132256766258c00e32c455a04494

Proper Kid Problems

4. Party time

ClaasyClutter.net

5. Food

buffalo chicken bites 1

How To This and That

6. Crafts

19 Quick And Easy New Year's Eve Crafts For Kids

How to This and That

7. Resolutions Apps

Sworkit

hongkiat.com

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That should get you started on your best year yet.

Seriously, let me know what you’re thinking. We could all use tips and advice so if you have any, please share.

I have a few fun tutorials coming up so stay tuned (especially if “more diy” is one of your resolutions).

Love always,

Tara

P.S. Please enjoy this lovely duet about New Year’s Eve by the loveable Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon Levitt

Screenshot (6)

Last Minute Christmas Bucket List

100_0649

Christmas is in 10 days. How did this happen?!

We’ve been talking a lot about Advent and making the most of this season. Today I’m going to share my Advent activity list. Hopefully you (and I!) can squeeze a few of these in and make the season a little more wonderful.

Wrap presents

Decorate the house

DIY Christmas pallet sign

Watch a Christmas special

Make hot cocoa and popcorn

Learn Christmas songs on guitar

Eat caramel corn and do a puzzle

Drive around and look at lights

Make Christmas card holder

Take a walk In the snow

Indoor s’mores

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As you can see I haven’t made much leeway with it yet. I made a prettier copy that maybe you want to save and print:

Advent List

There are lots of other activities that I left off that’d be especially great for kids (i.e., sledding!)

Never heard of Indoor S’mores? You are missing out. I love to make “gourmet” s’mores and add all kinds of different chocolate-y toppings, like replacing the chocolate bar with a Reese’s Cup or dunking the thing in melted chocolate (seriously making myself hungry right now).

It’s really simple, especially if you have a toaster oven.

Line your toaster oven rack or a baking sheet in foil

Lay down a graham cracker square for each person

Top with a marshmallow (you can also add chocolate now if you like it really melt-y)

Broil carefully for just a minute or so (keep an eye on those suckers!)

OR

Toast on high for a couple of minutes keeping an eye on the marshmallows

Quickly add the chocolate/peanut butter cup/Carmello bar/what-have-you

Allow to melt and add top graham cracker

That’s it. You’re five minutes away from delicious s’mores, no camp fire required.

If you’re having a holiday party or family gathering, have a s’mores bar with lots of toppings. Here are my suggestions (graham crackers and marshmallows go without saying):

Sprinkles

Peanut butter

Chocolate Jimmies

Regular size Reese’s Cups

Andes Mints or mint chocolate chips

Thinly sliced strawberries, bananas or kiwis

Candy melts or baking chocolate (for drizzling/dipping)

Chocolate coins for a Christmas twist on the regular chocolate

Redi Wip

Mini Crunch Bars

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Here’s a fun menu I found to give you some ideas for mixing up your s’mores ingredients

You could have a competition for who can create the tastiest gourmet s’more!

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Have any more suggestions for me?

What other Advent activities do you and yours do every year?

Are you going to a Christmas Eve service?

Let me know in the comments.

Check back later this week for some last minute gift ideas!

Until then, Love always,

-Tara