Bestie Date: Pip’s Donuts and Puppy Snuggles

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After my (Niki’s) return from a six week trip to Europe (pictures coming soon!) we were overdue for a bestie date. Long overdue. To remedy the situation, we drove to Pip’s Donuts, a place which Bekah discovered in my absence and couldn’t wait to show me. She was right, it’s pretty amazing! We ordered 12 mini donuts with a variety of toppings and the Chai Tasting Flight of 5 varieties of chai. A well-meaning woman walked by our table and asked us if we were going to eat “all those donuts?” Yes, ma’am. pipsdonuts1

The small size of the donut creates the perfect ratio of fried outside to soft inside, and all the toppings were delicious, even the bacon one. The chai flight was an interesting experience and we weren’t fond of all the flavors, but we were glad we tried them all for science.

After finishing our sinfully delicious donuts, we drove back to Bekah’s apartment to play with her sweet new corgi puppy, Dolly.bekahanddolly

Look at that face! 

dollyIsn’t she darling? We’re smitten!

-Niki and Bekah (and Dolly too!)usanddolly

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The Quest for Non-Toxic Deodorant

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Many moons ago I first heard about the dangers of deodorants that contain aluminum-based antiperspirants. It’s suspected that they can be linked to cancer and other illnesses. Whether or not these rumors are actually true, I like to avoid health hazards as much as possible, so I decided to go on the hunt for an all-natural deodorant. Since then, I’ve tried many different styles and brands. Some irritated my sensitive skin, some flat out didn’t work, and a few emerged victorious from amongst their brethren! Oh sorry, is my post about underarm hygiene getting too dramatic? I’ll try to tone it back…

Let’s talk about the misses first. The ones that absolutely failed in their appointed duties were the Crystal ones, both liquid and crystal, and the Fresh and Natural Deodorant Spray (couldn’t find a link, but I bought it at Marshalls.)

The mediocre category is comprised of the Jason Tea Tree Deodorant and the Schmidt’s Bergamot and Lime. To be honest, I didn’t give the Jason one much of a try, because I wasn’t fond of the scent and my sister told me it didn’t work for her. I may go back and give this one another go at some point.

The Schmidt’s deodorant gets rave reviews from a lot of people, but it irritated my skin because of the high levels of baking soda and the firm, slightly gritty texture. The scent is fabulous and I wish I could get in a perfume. If you have less sensitive skin and don’t mind having to scoop it out of a jar and apply it with your hands, I think this is a great option!
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On to the final four! The Nourish Organic deodorant in the scent Lavender Mint mostly makes it to this category for the pretty packaging and the delicious lavender, chocolate minty smell. What I dislike about this one is that it is pretty greasy and leaves oily patches on your clothes. Lame.

The Arm & Hammer Essentials is the first thing I tried in the semi-natural, non-antiperspirant realm. It does what it’s supposed to, and has a nice clean, citrus scent. It does contain baking soda, but not as much as the Schmidts.

The Tom’s Lavender deodorant is my second favorite. It’s a really gentle formula, but it still works really well. It smells like lavender, obviously.

My top pick, however, is the LaVanila Healthy Deodorant. I bought the travel sized version from Sephora in the Pure Vanilla scent and liked it enough to go back and buy a full size, but in the Vanilla Lemon scent. My advice is to skip the travel size. The texture was way more crumbly and made a huge mess of the inside of the tube. The full size is more expensive than your average deodorant, but it is the most effective all-natural option I have found. I mean, this stuff will keep me smelling fresh through a hot summers day or a work out, y’all. Also, both scents I’ve tried are amazing. The Pure Vanilla is warm, cozy and feminine, and the Vanilla Lemon is clean, bright, and a little more unisex/masculine, in the best way.

Do any of you have any suggestions for non-toxic deodorants? I’m always ready to try a new one in the name of science!

– Niki

Bestie Date: The Rose Garden and Salt & Straw

nikibecky 1Picture this: You’re strolling in a sun-warmed garden amongst thousands of beautiful roses of all colors, shapes, sizes and scents. After snapping a bunch of pictures, you get back in your car and set out in search of ice cream. You find it. The best ice cream the world (Portland, at least, but probably the world) has to offer. Sweet and creamy in a crispy waffle cone, mmmm…Let’s move on before I start drooling on my keyboard!

If this sounds like the perfect afternoon, and you live in the Portland area, here are our suggestions for a bestie date!saladI met Bekah at her apartment, and we shared a really good salad and some iced tea. I made the salad with kale, avocado, strawberries and almonds with a balsamic vinaigrette. Yum! Feta or goat cheese would have been a perfect addition, but alas, I had none.

bekah 1After lunch, we drove out to the Portland International Rose Test Garden. We decided to dress up a little just for the fun of it! Bekah said to me at one point “We should dress like this more often. I feel more powerful and that people respect us more!” Bekah wore a vintage lace dress she found at Buffalo Exchange (another fun bestie date idea!), and some thrifted heels.

rose 2niki 2I wore a thrifted vintage skirt, a top from Loft and heels from Naturalizer.

salt and straw signAfter we’d had our fill of roses, we drove to Salt & Straw, our absolute most favoritist ice cream shop in the world! If you live anywhere near the Portland area and you’ve never been, drop what you’re doing, grab your GPS and go now! You won’t regret it! They have unique and delicious flavors that are well worth the line. They’re also generous with their samples, so you can taste a bunch of flavors before making your final decision.

ice cream We sat on a bench outside to eat our ice cream, and were treated to a most Portlandia-esque sight. A guy in boots, a gold cape and a gold mask was “singing” and slow dancing dramatically to music. He was accompanied by an enthusiastic friend who alternated between dancing, playing percussion and waving a plastic sword around. It was very…odd. The thing about Portland, is that no one was even fazed by it. They just walked right past. Bekah and I, though, thought it was quite bizarre…

raspberriesOur last stop on the way home was The Barn for some fresh produce, because we’re grown-ups with kitchens who get excited about boring grown-up things like fruits and vegetables.

rose 1 I’ll leave you with a rather melodramatic quote from Dale Carnegie.

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.

So go on, stop and smell the roses! And eat ice cream…Let’s not forget the ice cream…

– Niki and Bekah

Our Summer Bucket Lists

haystack rockHere in the Pacific Northwest, it usually doesn’t start to feel like summer until after the 4th of July. But it’s 90 degrees  in Portland today, so I’ve finally realized that it’s time to get into that summery state of mind! Being a grown up, I no longer have a summer break to look forward to, but that won’t stop me from trying to make fun plans!  Here are some of the things I’m looking forward too this summer!

To Do:

Go to the beach! The Oregon Coast calls to me!

Make a stick biscuit. You haven’t truly experienced campfire cooking until you’ve wrapped canned biscuit dough around a large stick, roasted it to perfection and filled it with butter and jam. Yum! It’s a camping must!

Host a pool party, complete with cheesy but fun games (Marco Polo, anyone?) and a beach-y playlist!

To Read:

The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis. I have a secret love for science fiction, and when it’s filled with deep theological meaning, well, what could be better?

To Decorate:

I have found my dream couch. It’s from Ikea, of all places. Now I just have to see if I can convince my room mate (AKA my brother) to go in on it with me. Maybe if I emphasize how much more comfortable it is than our current couch…To Wear:

I like to wear tank tops in the summer to avoid the whole farmer’s tan phenomenon. Currently, I’m contemplating this one (linen!) and this one (cheaper alternative!) from Everlane. Also drooling over this one from Anthropologie. Why must it be so expensive?

To Make:

There are so many sewing projects I want to work on, but this one is at the top of my list! I have visions of it being the perfect summer dress! I already bought the fabric (it’s a drapey black and white abstract print from Joanns) and now I just have to download the lovely pattern and actually sew it up!

What’s on your summer bucket list?

– Niki

This is summer is a lot of firsts for we Joneses! Our first full summer married, our first summer in our apartment, our first summer being awesome…oh, wait, no, we’ve always been awesome. Heh heh. With all of these firsts happening, it really makes me want to pack as many  special memories into every moment! Here is what’s at the top of my list:

To Do:

Going swimming, at least once a week is a must for this girl.

To Read:

I’m working on ‘The Hunger Games’ right now, which is remarkably better than I expected. I was afraid to jump on the ‘Hunger Games’ band wagon, mostly because I thought it’d be another tacky, tweenage fantasy. It’s not.

To Decorate:

I’m on the hunt for the perfect area rug for my living room! Something like these.

rug 2 rug 3

To Wear:

I love dresses. Is there anything more comfortable on hot summer days? I think not. This cute, simple dress looks like the easiest thing ever. I’m also loving this one.

To Make:

I’m working on creating a mismatched set of dining room chairs, all painted dark navy! I just need to find one more chair. Wish me luck!

– Bekah

No Shampoo?

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Every now and then I have to stop and seriously consider the question “Am I a hippie?” I asked myself this when I decided to stop using shampoo. I read a bunch of articles on the internet about the benefits of  giving up shampoo. People were boasting healthier, shinier locks that didn’t need to be washed as often, not to mention the monetary savings. That all sounded fabulous, so I decided to give it a go. I switched to using baking soda and vinegar to clean my hair. That’s right, the same ingredients as we’ve all used to make volcanoes in our homeschool science classes.  My hair is just as clean as it was when I was using shampoo and I’m keeping all the harsh chemicals in traditional shampoo away from my hair, which is good (in my opinion).

So how do you use baking soda as shampoo?  I like to put about a tablespoon in a plastic cup and then take that into the shower with me. I fill the cup with about a cup water and stir the baking soda in with my fingers then pour it over my head. I scrub my scalp then rinse. You can keep a bottle of vinegar (apple cider or white) in the shower as well. Mix about a tablespoon of vinegar into a cup or so of water then pour this over your hair. I pour some over the ends of my hair first, then pour the rest over my scalp. You can let this sit for a few minutes or rinse it out right away. If you rinse thoroughly, you shouldn’t notice any vinegar smell after your hair dries.

– Niki

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I’m serious, guys,  Niki is a crazy hippie! Run for your lives!!!!!!! Ha ha….sigh…okay, I’m kidding. She’s not crazy, or even that much of a hippie….(a whole lot of hipster, though, don’t tell her I said that!) and she smells great…..I like to steal her perfume, but that’s a story for another day. Heh heh.

So, you can trust her, as I do. I am, admittedly, a little more of a loose cannon, but you can trust me too. (and THEY never heard from you again…dun dun dun) With that said…. I too jumped on the ‘no shampoo’ band wagon. Honestly, I’ve been a doubter for years. I gave it a weak, halfhearted attempt a few years ago, but at the time, I was washing my hair on a daily basis, which was not very healthy for me, or my hair. Since then, I’ve switched to washing my hair two to three times a week, using baking soda as shampoo, and apple cider vinegar as conditioner. I started just last week, but it’s already made a big difference. My hair is staying cleaner longer, which is a huge deal for me, and has more volume all the time (which, is my main goal for my thin hair). I still use this dry shampoo to touch up extra greasy spots on the days I don’t wash it, but not nearly as much as when I was using traditional shampoo.

So far, I’m loving all the benefits of this method, and would definitely recommend it!

–  Bekah

She Wore…Stripes and Florals

stripesandflorals1This edition of “She Wore” features stripes and florals, two of our favorite patterns.  Wearing two patterns at the same time isn’t as hard as it sounds.  Here’s what we came up with…

bekah3Bekah’s adorable blouse was the inspiration for this theme.  It has the whole stripes and florals thing built right into it.  How convenient!

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Outfit Details: Top: thrifted. Skirt: Old Navy. niki2I wore my favorite striped shirt with floral Keds.  Sometimes pattern mixing is as easy as that.  Start simple, y’all.

niki1Outfit Details: Tee: thrifted.  Jeans: Old Navy.  Floral Keds: Ross.

stripesandflorals2We were all dressed up with no place to go, so we went for a walk in the woods and picked wildflowers.  We felt like a 21st century version of Anne Shirley and Diana Barry.  I mean, if they had lived in the modern era, they would totally go traipsing in the woods to take selfies, right?

– Niki and Bekah

3 Healthy (and quick) Breakfast Ideas

breakfastfoods1Eating a healthy breakfast doesn’t have to be a daunting task.  You don’t have to spend forever in the kitchen crafting an artisan omelet (unless you have the time and motivation!) but you don’t have to give in to the siren song of the Lucky Charms either.  Here are my favorite 3 ways to enjoy a healthy breakfast on a weekday morning.granola

Yogurt with granola.  No recipe needed here.  Put your favorite yogurt in a bowl and top it with your favorite granola (homemade would be ideal).  Bonus points if you have some fruit laying around to add as a finishing touch.  Simple and satisfying.smoothie

Ah, the smoothie.  So many flavor possibilities, so little time. This particular smoothie is of the chocolate peanut butter variety.

You will need:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup milk of your choice (I used almond)
  • 1 tsp. cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. PB2 powder or a spoonful of regular peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds (optional)

Add ingredients to blender and blend until smooth and delicious.

avocadotoastAnd my new-found love, avocado toast.  Avocado toast is kind of trendy right now, but it totally deserves it.  Toast a piece of bread, spread sliced avocado on it, add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Yum!  There are lots of variations on this simple concept, but this is the quick and easy way I like it.

What’s you’re favorite healthy breakfast?

– Niki

Spring Capsule Wardrobe Challenge

capsule wardrobe post edit 1At the beginning of the year, I challenged myself to clear out my closet, leaving only 35 articles of clothing behind to wear for the rest of the winter.  It went very well, so I am challenging myself to do the same thing for spring.  If you want to join me in this somewhat minimalistic journey, or are just curious about how and why I did it, read on!

There are lots of “Capsule Wardrobe” guidelines and ideas floating around the web.  I read a bunch of them, picking and choosing the ideas I wanted to use.  Here are my own personal rules that I came up with.

  1. Only 35 items or less!  This includes outerwear, shoes, tops, pants, skirts, dresses, etc.  This does not include pajamas, workout gear, work uniforms or accessories.  If you want to include accessories as part of the challenge, go for it.
  2. Swaps are allowed.  For example, if you find something new that you really, really love, you can add it to your closet in exchange for taking another item out.
  3. Box it up!  This helps those of us who struggle with indecision.  Box up items that aren’t in season or that you can’t quite bring yourself to part with.  That way, if you miss something (you probably won’t) you can dig it out.  At the end of the season, you can re-evaluate the items you set aside.capsule wardrobe post edit 2

Other tips:

  • Not everything has to match, but you also don’t need to have something in every color under the rainbow.  Stick to colors you like to wear and that go well together (for the most part.)  The majority of my clothes are grey, white, black and blue.
  • Evaluate your lifestyle and plan accordingly.  I hardly ever go anywhere that isn’t super casual.  In fact, I didn’t include a nice dress in my 35 items, because it’s so rare that I need to wear one.  If you have an office job, though, or are invited to lots of fancy parties with fancy people, make sure you include appropriate items in your closet.
  • Embrace your own personal style!  My likes and dislikes aren’t the same as yours and that’s cool.  Figure out what you love to wear and build your capsule wardrobe around those things.  I love skinny jeans and slouchy tees and sweaters, so that’s a lot of what I own.

This isn’t meant to be a exercise in misery, but a fun journey of self-discovery.  Cheesy, much?  Yeah.  But seriously.  I love having an organized closet with only things that I love wearing.  This approach may not be for you, but you don’t know until you try!

– Niki

P.S.  If I’ve piqued your interest in “capsule wardrobes” this blog is full of lots of inspiration and tips.

DIY Tree Branch Jewelry Hanger

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When I was first decorating my new room, I needed some way to store/display my jewelry.  I decided to try to make one from a tree branch, and I really love the way it turned out!  It’s super easy to make with some basic hammer skills and a very functional way to store necklaces so they don’t get tangled.jewelryhanger3

You will need:

  • A stick/branch.  I found mine on the ground right next to my house.
  • A Hammer
  • Nails, preferable on the small/medium side
  • A string, chain or ribbon for hanging.  I used twine, but I might swap it out with a ribbon or a piece of lace.

First, plan out the spacing for your nails.  How many do you want and how far apart?  Once you’ve made these crucial decisions, hammer those bad boys in! This is a little tricky, since the branch isn’t a flat surface, but I believe in you.  Just keep your fingers out of the way as much as possible.  Tie the string onto the two ends and hang from a nail on your way.  Arrange your jewelry as desired!

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There are lots of possibilities for variation on this project.  Spray paint the branch a fun color, hang photos from it, make a huge one and hang coats on it, make a tiny one and hang bracelets or earrings from it, etc.

Hope you enjoyed my bohemian/rustic/maybe slightly redneck jewelry display solution!

-Niki

Earl Grey Ice Cream with Lemon Curd

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This ice cream began as a random conversation in the car.  Bekah and I were trying to decide how to express our personalities through ice cream flavors.  Honeydew and rose petal, citrus and mint, etc.  As we were tossing around different flavor combinations, we stumbled upon genius.  Earl Grey tea flavored ice cream with generous swirls of lemon curd!  Immediately we knew our dreams had to become reality.   So today, Bekah dug out her ice cream maker and we set to work!

icecream2You will need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup Earl Grey Syrup (recipe at the bottom of the post)
  • 1 or 2 drops of lavender essential oil (optional!)
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd, store bought or homemade

Whisk the eggs until they start to get frothy, then slowly whisk in the sugar.  Stir until smooth, then add cream, milk, Earl Grey Syrup and lavender oil.  Once well mixed, pour into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturers directions.

When you’re ice cream base has finished chilling, gently fold in lemon curd.  Put your ice cream in the freezer to let it harden up before serving.

So, so yummy!

Earl Grey Syrup Recipe

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 Earl Grey teabags

In a small saucepan, heat the water and sugar at medium high heat until all the sugar dissolves.  Steep the tea bags in the heated syrup for 3-5 minutes, then remove.  Let cool.

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This ice cream will change your life…..I know we will never be the same.

 

Enjoy! We sure did!

– Bekah and Niki