Before, During, During, During, During and At Last!

So this post is entirely too long, no one but Zac and I will ooh or ahh at the scroll of a billion photos quite like anyone else because this was our life for the last year. Weekends, evenings, every spare moment it seemed went toward reconstructing our yard. So at the top is the short version, a few before and afters that show a bit of the payoff for our blood sweat and tears (the tears being all on my part).

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BEFORE – Photo credit to Scott :)



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So there was my beautiful little bungalow (top photo), a year ago exactly. Minding it’s own business, doing nothing wrong, it would soon undergo a massive destruction and reconstruction phase that would last until just last week. The demolition wasn’t by choice but because I came downstairs with a basket of laundry one day to discover sewage flooding my basement. Yes, the 100 year old sewage pipes made of clay (!) had been attacked by tree roots over the century and were now full of well-fertilized threads of vegetation. But, where to find the pipes? We had a few good ideas of where to look but. . . .

One thing led to another and. . . .  We still didn’t know where the elusive pipes had been laid 100 years ago
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Victory! Third try’s the charm.

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This is the demon of a tree that was growing up the pipes, we didn’t chop it to bits out of rage,  it was happily thriving right above the crumbling pipe so we had no choice but to rip it up.


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We now had an entirely shredded yard that had to be put back together. So why not fix all the sidewalks? And tear out the evergreen that made the yard impossible to use because of pine needles and sap? Underground sprinklers would improve the value of the house. And how about some pillars? Some lights outside would be nice for dark winter night. . .


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After Zac and I shoveled approximately 17,000 wheelbarrows of gravel, it was time to pour new sidewalks. We set up heaters under tarps to let it dry during the freezing nights of late autumn.

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Along came snow, but no time like the present to start building rock pillars and laying bricks. . .

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Time to climb up the half-dead spruce with spurs and a chainsaw! Danger is his middle name. may 2013 026


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My task was not only to photograph, but also to pull with all my might on a rope attached to the limbs that Zac was sawing off. The idea was that I would yank the falling branches away from the house and. . . toward myself. . . thereby saving the house from destruction.



The big day is here at last, sod arrives from Walla Walla on Monday morning, our crew of exuberant family, the Barleys, Jordan, Matthias, Lottie, Hartwell, and Meredith stand by to pounce on the pieces of green carpet. We had the whole thing done in three hours!



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Little Girl Pixie Hair Cut

Freyja’s hair “twizzeling” has gotten totally out of hand and left her nearly bald on top. I knew it was finally time to take action. (Notice in the pictures below my vain attempts to slick her frayed wisps down, making her look greasy and un-cared for.) Freyja has fine hair and not much of it, but I love the way this new little do works for her.

She on the other hand, took one look in the salon mirror and said, “Oh, cute, a boy hair cut,” completely nonplussed.

“Pixie, Freyja! It’s a pixie hair cut! Like a little fairy,” I reassured.

“Yeah. . . but a pixie that looks like a boy.. . can I have a lollipop now?”

At least she has her priorities straight.

This is "twizling" , done while sucking thumb, she inherited it from her Aunt Taite

This is “twizling” , done while sucking thumb, she inherited it from her Aunt Taite





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Oven baked Chimichangas


My Favorite is to serve this with fresh gaucamole.

When we arrived in our new home in Oregon we were greeted the best way we could be– with 2 weeks of hot meals delivered to our door! What was almost as good as the temporary royal treatment was that I stowed away a few new recipes that quickly became favorites.

This one is from my new pastor’s wife, Bonnie, and I love the technique used here which results in quick preparation, very little mess, and far less grease than traditional recipes. Also these are wonderful to make in a big batch and keep in the freezer.

Recipe: Oven baked Chimichangas

From: Bonnie

Make a filling– whatever you like–  I was inspired by a hamburger and lentil combo seasoned with garlic, onion, salt, cumin, pepper flakes, and whatever else you like. I love the added protein from the lentils, you could also use black beans with chicken and lime, or even make an entirely veggie one with beans, red and green peppers, onion, and tomatoes.

Place filling in large flour tortilla, fold the ends, and roll up. Set in baking dish

Melt butter and brush onto tortillas (I flip them over and do the whole thing, though you could just do the tops).

Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees (for the last few mintues of baking, remove and top with grated cheddar. Let them get slightly browned) Serve with sour cream, cilantro, chopped tomatoes, lettuce, avocado– or whatever your hear desires.


Boy and Girl Bedroom to Share

My basement was flooding, I had family staying for a visit, and my baby was a couple months old– this equaled the perfect time to paint the kids’ bedroom and re-decorate, according to my older, wiser sister Meghan. Of course it was nutso and I don’t think anyone ate anything for dinner that night besides some tortilla chips BUT we got most of the painting done that night. And now I love it. Blues and greys were definitely the right colors for a smallish upstairs room for 3 kids to share, it’s clean and calming.

Paint Colors are Ace Hardware Storm Cloud on the crib, Oyster on the walls, and Divine Whip on the trim. Elephant fabric for the curtains is from Spoonflower and took about 20 minutes to make. Someday I’ll get around to painting the bunk beds too.

Little Kumquats Give Away!

Little Kumquats was started by a couple of creative moms who found a welcome outlet in making unique clothing for their own little bambinos and, thanks to friends eager for clever, hand made baby gifts, turned it into a business.

Jessica Buck and Amanda Twilegar started stitching their one-of-a-kind tops and onesies May of 2012 to sell at local Farmer’s Markets in the La Grande area where the long-time friends could introduce their baby line to customers in person. The sales and feedback they got were exuberant so they just started sewing faster to keep up with demand! Soon a locally owned shop in Enterprise, Oregon wanted to carry the clothing and business by word of mouth kept them busy. Now, exactly when the two women find time to dream up their creations and whip them into reality is, of course once their toddlers are fast asleep for the night.

“We have found inspiration in books, pictures, children’s illustrations and food.” Jessica says, “Sometimes friends drop helpful hints too. We now both see potential and objects in fabric. So if either of us ever complements you on a top or shirt, it may be because we secretly want to ‘upcycle’ it!”

‘Upcycling’, a popular trend and friend to frugal creators, makes one more enjoyable step to the process. The two women love giving new life to used items by scouring shops for vintage fabrics, buttons and trim and Jessica once discovered at auction, an entire collection of beautiful, old, quilting fabric, lovingly saved over many years. She won the whole lot and put the scraps to use right away.

Little Kumquats is giving away two of their fabulous onesies! (One Jessica’s and one Amanda’s handiwork!)
Enter by doing ANY of the follwing (and of course comment below to tell us you did) :

1. Link this post on Facebook
2. Like this post on Facebook (see the handy button at top left corner of the post)
3. Like Little Kumquats on Facebook here
4. Email this post to a friend

Each option gets you an entry and there will be two winners! Winners can choose either boy or girl’s onesies in whatever size they’d like. Good luck, winner announced Monday October 1!

Girls’ Swimwear Sale

Here’s a great end of summer sale for you to take advantage of from Arrayed and Adorned (which we’ve featured before here).

30% off all Bathing Beauty girls swimwear when you order from Arrayed’s Etsy shop and mention this Pinkpeppers post!

Featured above is the “Popilla” suit available in sizes 2-13 and completely reversible for two suits in one. Visit her website too, to learn about the craftsmanship and creativity behind these suits and to see all the styles available.

Get yours soon, since they’re slipping away as fast as these last August days!

Our winner

and the winner is...

Our winner of the Jesus Storybook Bible is Carrie! Watch for it in the mail!

And thanks to everyone who participated.

Jesus Storybook Bible Give-away!

“Sometimes I go into Sunday schools and ask two questions of the children “How many people here think you have to be good for God to love you?” and “How many people here think God will stop loving you if you stop being good?”
I wrote this book for the children who put up their hands.”
- Sally Lloyd-Jones, author of the Jesus Storybook Bible

I don’t know if you have any of these in your household, but mine has some naughty little kids in it. Sometimes they are just plain awful. Right now for example after a fairly trying day, is nap time. Finally. But instead of listening to slumbering angels and I’m hearing bumping, crying and crashing coming from the room. I’ll be right back. . . .

Where was I? Oh yes, so this house has sinners in it, and after a particularly hard day of corrections and talks and more discipline and more talking, this children’s Bible is a great one to go back to. In it, my kids and I read about how God works long term, not with already perfect people, but ones that He is making perfect with his “Never stopping, Never giving up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever love.”

The stories from the Old and New Testament and told as ONE story- THE story, the story of Christ’s rescue mission to save all His creation from brokenness and sin. The conclusions and comparisons drawn within each story are sometimes downright profound but easy enough for little ones to grasp and often leave me a little bit teary eyed. Because that’s what the gospel does- brings us to our knees in awe of God’s love, in terms that babes can understand.

This is from the story of Abraham and Isaac carrying everything up the mountain to make their sacrifice to God: “Many years later, another Son would climb another hill, carrying wood on his back. Like Isaac, he would put his trust in his Father and do what his Father asked. He wouldn’t struggle, or run away. Who was He? God’s Son, his only Son- the Son He loved.”

This book is a re-telling- a paraphrase, and while I think it’s important for our kids to hear the inspired word of God in the Bible, this storybook is a fabulous for building on. Forgiveness is the theme of this book and all the naughty little kids in my house, including me- the biggest and often worst kid, need it every day. Get this book for your kids, grand kids, friends’ kids, nieces and nephews– and then read it with them.

Oh, and by the way– we’re giving one away! Enter below with a comment and share the link! We’ll announce the winner July 16.

If you’re reading this, Rachel– thank you again for introducing this book to us!!!

Breakfast Nook -Before and After



That top picture was the breakfast nook when we first moved in. It had shelves that were cute, but also clutter collectors and a funky little table that only allowed two people to squeeze in. So last year we ripped out shelves for a little extra room, painted walls and trim and got this:

I liked it better but it was still hard to fit our growing family in here for breakfast. So then Zac suprised me with the perfect solotuion as my Mother’s Day gift. He built a custom window seat to wrap around the windows with seating for 6! Nana made the adorable box pleat curtains (the only credit I can take is for sewing on the buttons)  I added a craigslist round table (painted with chalkboard paint for extra fun) and now we can all linger over coffee and chocolate milk here together.

Beadboard inset and reused trim make it feel original to the house


Mad Hungry

I don’t really get the name of Lucinda Scala Quinn’s TV show, Mad Hungry, but I’m intrigued. This woman cooks the way I like to cook, she uses ingredients that I actually buy , she creates good and beautiful food to be eaten as a family around a dinner table.

I was sick the other day (here’s a test, find out your greatest love by identifying the one thing you will drag your  rear out of bed after a few aspirins and a good nose blow to do. I discovered I still wanted to make a really tasty, lovely meal even though I felt like I’d been hit by a train that day. Stirring the polenta between sips of tea I realized, “Wow, I just really like to cook.” It brightened my day.) and wandered onto Youtube to watch some Mad Hungry videos. (Check this out, a chocolate cake made in one dish!) I was kind of hooked and then got to work creating one of her meals to see how it panned out.  I’d found it in Martha Stewart magazine and  had all the ingredients waiting in the fridge so didn’t want to put it off another night.

Pork chops with roasted peppers and capers served on cheesy polenta with collard greens

It was fabulous. Give it a try. Here’s the recipe, and don’t forget to serve it over the cheesy polenta with collard greens.

Oh and one more thing, I discovered that you can cut nice thick pork chops from a far less expensive pork tenderloin! You probably already knew this, but I didn’t and was pretty thrilled to be enlightened.


Line-dried laundry

It snowed on Saturday. Today it is 70 degrees and life is sunny. My newest favorite thing on is to line dry my laundry on days like this. I put up  a clothesline, bought wooden clothes pins, and got to work on the mountain of dirty clothes today. I love any excuse to be outside so the hike from the basement to side yard with baskets of wet things is worth it. And a tautly hung dress shirt will need almost no ironing when it comes off the line all crisp and fresh.

Also, I had this idea that I was saving us tons and tons of money per month by not using my  dryer. Yeah– Not true. I was sadly disillusioned when I calculated the cost on this fascinating little website and figured I save at most a whopping $12 a month. But I’m not to be thwarted – the sunshine, fresh outdoor smell on towels and sheets, and a good arm workout will keep me stringing my laundry up all summer. Until it snows again next week, that is.



Wir haben einen gewinner !


“We have a winner!” And her name is Ali Tong!

Congratulations! You’ll be  getting your wunderbar kikipop shipped auf Deutchland very soon!

Wooden Pacifier Chain

Hooray a give-away!

(Don’t just “like”  You must leave a comment below to be entered!!)

After hunting for pacifiers in ever nook and cranny of the house/car/stroller/crib I decided baby number three needed a pacifier chain. And not just any plastic piece of junk, I wanted one of those adorable wooden ones made in Germany.

 So I began my online search which led me to Etsy and then to Kikipop Wunderwelt- the land of trendy baby accessories. The adorable, bright colored chains of beads are not mass made and are painted with non-toxic paint so you don’t have to worry about the wood going in your baby’s mouth (because of that, the little painted face on the mushroom wore off with use, but otherwise, this is a durable, baby-friendly gem).  I was so in love with how it looked dangling from Rhys’ sleepers I asked if Kikpop would give one away to one of you to enjoy.  See below to enter the give away!

Boy or girl pacifier clip, choose one!

Same rules as usual- each of these options will get you an entry:

1) Like this post on facebook (handy little button on upper left corner)

2) Share the link another way. . . text, email, pony express. . .

3) If you’re on etsy- mark kikipop wunderwelt as one of your favorite shops here

 Tell us what you did with a  comment below!! Contest over on Sunday, April 29. Winner may choose between the girl or boy pacifier chain, good luck!

Chocolate Chai Cookies

I am feeling a little bit alive again now that Rhys is 9 weeks old. We turned the “survival only” corner a couple weeks ago and I’m doing things normal people do again. Like baking, having people over for dinner, watercoloring with my kids  . . . . flossing my teeth. Anything not necessary for the sustenance of life pretty much goes out the window when we’re in newborn phase. So, here I am with ALL 3 children napping and finally ready to post something.

You might remember me raving about Arrowhead’s Chocolate Chai Truffle, well. . . this little cookie is the child of that truffle, dreamed up and created in my kitchen. And this is what I realized: making a recipe is hard. You can’t just tell people, “keep tasting the dough and adding ginger and sugar until you think it’s right” — highly unhelpful. So I kept notes, made changes, threw a batch or two in the trash, sent plates of them to Zac’s office and two ladies’ get-togethers for reviews– and came up with this. I’m sure it’s by no means perfect yet. Sooooooo, if you make these, I want to know what you thought!! What would you/did you change? Too spicy? (That’s been my biggest wonder, even though I like the little kick of pepper.) Also if anyone tried making it with fresh ginger, I’d be really curious to know how that turns out. . . . .  Now If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go collapse on the sofa with an Advil before the kids wake up.


Chocolate Chai Cookies

2 1/4 C flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. ginger

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

1 tsp. ground black pepper

2 Tbs. cocoa powder

1 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. salt

1 C sugar (plus more for rolling)

3/4 C  oil

1/2 C molasses

1 egg

1 C chocolate chips

In a large bowl mix together the first 10 ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and spices).  Add oil, molasses and egg and mix until combined. Mix in chocolate chips last. Form into balls a little smaller than golf balls and roll in sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 6 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Yields 30 cookies.

The winner of Principia Soap is. . .



Your Principia soaps will be arriving soon, enjoy!

If you didn’t win the soaps,  you  have until Sunday evening to enter to win our book give-away Five lucky winners will be announced Monday.

Check it out and enter!!


Valentine Soap Give Away!

Every time I walk in the door of my mother in law’s house these days I pause in the entry to take a sniff. Hmmmm, rose today? With a bit of lavender? Actually I have a terrible nose for deciphering scents which is why I’ll never make a sommelier, so I stop trying to guess and maker her tell me, “What kind of soap did you pour today?” Totally wrong- it’s peppermint and there’s a beautiful green batch of basil lemon bars waiting on the counter to be cut.

After lots of research over three years and a class last month in San Diego Becky has been avidly pouring soap this winter every chance she gets. The results are simply gorgeous. I was especially excited about her new spa bar and the two Valentine soaps so I convinced her to give a few away to one of you lucky ducks. Read below to enter, and just wait till you smell them!


Rose Geranium Soap, made with oils of olive, Palm Kernel, Palm and Shea Butter. Crushed roses on the top make me think it looks like a piece of cake you could eat!

All these bathing beauties are for sale – $5 a bar or buy 5 bars and get the 6th free! To order, contact Becky at Please specify if you’d like shipping in time for Valentine’s Day

These creamy white bars are poured into intricate molds and scented with essential peppermint oil and a little dash of fairy sparkle dust. Available in four different storybook pictures- $8 a bar.



Almost too pretty to use, but they feel too good on your skin not to!

I love this polka dot funnel pour bar, the colors are what it's all about. Lightly scented with peppermint essential oil.

This swoon-worthy bar is laced with champagne citrus scents. And it's cute to boot with hand- swirled hearts in red.

Spa bars-A complex fragrance of Lemon Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Tea tree oil with the addition of Oregon Blue Green Algae makes this sedate and soothing. And ridiculously pretty to look at.

Becky is giving away four of her newest soaps! A spa bar, a rose geranium, a heart, and a polka dot, all beautifully packaged to give for Valentine’s day or keep and spoil yourself!

Here’s how to enter: Three ways for three chances in the random drawing–

1) “Like” this post or share it anyway your heart desires (Tell us you did in a comment!)

2) “Like” Principia on facebook here (Again, tell us in your comment!)

3) Give us your best ideas for naming the 3 new heart, rose, and polka dot soaps. (Give us your ideas in a comment, or email them to

Winner to be announced Monday February 8!


We have a winner!

What'll it be?


You’re the winner of a box of 12 truffles from Arrowhead Chocolate, so go ahead and choose your fancy: milk or dark chocolate, or go for a mix! Enjoy!




Felted Soap


Here’s a great project for any time of the year, for adults or kids. My mother-in-law has been making gorgeous soap for a while now and came across the idea of felting soap. Basically you are creating a washcloth around your bar of soap that will shrink around the bar until it is all used up. I showed everyone how to do it at Christmas and Meghan captured it all in beautiful photos, as is her way. You can get creative with fun colors and designs and I love that this craft is useful (not to mention kind of addictive once you do a few.)

Here’s what you need:

A bar of good quality soap – doesn’t matter what shape

Roving wool (this is where we found gorgeous colors for cheap)

A nylon sock

A washboard-like surface (we used bamboo place mats, but any finely ridged surface works)

Hot water

Felting Needles (You don’t have to do this part, but I think it’s the most fun.)

First select some colors of roving wool (you can use multiple ones) and wrap tightly around your bar of soap. Cover all the bar.


It won't look perfect, but try to go for an even, thick layer that doesn't leave any corners exposed.

Carefully place the wrapped soap into your nylon sock.

Get the whole thing soaking wet with hot water and scrub every side of the bar on your mat. Check the progress of the felting by pulling off the sock, and if the felt is not holding together yet, keep going.


To add a design like the little Christmas tree above, simply shape a rough shape out of wool and place on the still wet bar of soap. Prick and poke into shape until it is completely adhered to the bar. You can layer your design, like I did with the little white dots on the tree.

Let your creations dry out for a good day or so, the fibers will shrink and look even better once they are dry. To use, simply wet the bar in the tub and scrub away! Perfect for kid's dirty feet in the summer!


My mom-in-law and I just did a little batch of Valentine soaps with hearts in red white and pink. Get inspired (or just cheat and buy some, we won’t tell) by these super cute designs on etsy. I love this bird one.


Arrowhead Chocolates Give Away!

This give-away is over. Sad, I know, but check the home page for other sporadic give-aways.

Hooray, a give-away!

My favorite chocolate shop is giving away a box of truffles to one of you lucky souls! See below to enter. . . .


Ever since this shop opened  last winter I’ve been dying to take my family to Arrowhead Chocolate. Every time I go, I feel spoiled – like I’ve just stepped off the street in Seattle or Portland rather than little cow town Joseph, Oregon.  So while everyone was visiting last weekend for New Years, this was top on the list of things to do.  We sat there drinking in the smells, tastes, and mountain view and when the ever-camera-toting-Meghan was invited behind the counter to photograph to her heart’s desire, we knew a beautiful blog post was in order.




The shop was started by parent/daughter team Bruce, Wendy, and Erica Reininger who combined their diverse backgrounds to pull off an irresistible concoction of  handmade artisan food and drink, delightfully rustic- modern-Scandi decor, and welcoming service that makes you smile every time you order a mocha ( if you weren’t already smiling. You are surrounded by chocolate after all.)

Bruce brought his skills learned while apprenticing for nearly a year with a Swiss-trained master chocolatier. “It was a unique and special opportunity to learn from a man who wished to pass on his knowledge and chose to teach him,” says Erica, adding that her dad has built on his education to create many recipes and techniques exclusively his own. Try for one,  the new Foxfire Masala Chai Truffle made by infusing cream with loose leaf tea for a creamy bite of rich spice and chocolate that leaves your taste buds happily overwhelmed.

Erica, who worked in graphic design in Portland before coming back to Wallowa County, has lent her eye to shaping everything from the logo and décor to packaging and website.  The “V” logo you’ll find on your box of truffles goes back to the cowboy days of the family-owned Arrowhead Ranch when the symbol was used for cattle branding. “We thought it was a good idea to stick with the original logo and name that has been a part of this county for so long,” says Erica, “Anything our family does commercially we do under the Arrowhead name and logo.” That goes for their other businesses too which include guest cabins for rent and growing organic produce for local farmer’s markets, caterers, and the community.

And as for the shop itself, Erica has struck a balance of vintage and modern by integrating old fence boards from the farm for shelving and signs, a fresh white and lime green color pallet, and whimsical touches like the carved and painted mountain goat head on the wall.  “It was important to me to hit the right note with the shop’s design, to give it an updated but unpretentious feel, where folks of all ages could enjoy a cup of coffee and a treat, and feel welcomed.”

If Joseph, Oregon is a little far off the beaten path for a road trip, just drop a few well-timed hints to your Valentine to check out the online shop. (Coming in time for February 14, decadent molded chocolate hearts decorated with white, dark, and milk chocolate and beautiful packaging in custom made wooden boxes.)


I'm pretty sure I could use one of these in my kitchen.



I can’t get enough of their mochas (served with a drippy chocolate spoon to go with it!), the freshly whipped cream on all the drinks, and the  caramels with sea salt. . . . Oh, and the new chai truffle.


Cocoa pods




So enjoy the...


coffee and the...

the spectacular view.


Drooling yet? Thankfully you’re in luck– enter to win a box of 12 Arrowhead chocolates and choose from dark, milk or a mix of chocolate truffles to arrive with love from Eastern Oregon. Check out the mouthwatering combinations here!

No, you don’t have to find a golden ticket to win, instead go ahead and:

1) Share the link via facebook, text, email, messenger pigeon, whatever- and let us know you did in a comment below.

2) Get another entry by  ”Liking” Arrowhead on facebook here

Random winner to be announced next Monday, January 15!





No Heat Hair Curling


Basically I have bad hair right now. (A trend in our family). So while it grows out, I’ve had to get creative. This is a pretty fun updo that results in wavy curls when you take it out. Often I put freshly washed hair (just a little damp still with some root pump and/or mousse) up in the morning and then take it out for the evening so it’s all curly.

Here’s a video to show you how. (And geesh, what an adorable blog)

I’ve also tried the three sock method, which also worked well and was surprisingly comfortable to sleep in. Attractive to sleep in? That’s another question. Zac kept asking, “So. . . what do you have against a curling iron?” Here’s how to do that.


On Monday I’m going to turn 25- in the salon. Hair and pedicure- hours of off-my-feet bliss. Deciding on a hair style always makes me feel crazy though. Here are some of my ideas, with help from a friend, so far.

Pinned Image

Pinned ImageMedium hair with long bangsMy best haircut was when I brought in a picture of Reece WitherspoonGot this done at Aveda, it rocked.

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Have you ever whacked off your hair short? And liked it? It's so tempting but scary.