DIY Stencils In Word

DIY Wall lettering

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Word art stencils are one of my favorite frugal decor hacks. I have used this trick all over my house to personalize and decorate.  I am going to give you instructions to do it yourself. But if you feel overwhelmed I have included a sample file at the end of the post.

Continue reading “DIY Stencils In Word”

22 Out of the Box Gift Ideas


There is nothing worse than giving a gift only to find out that it has been collecting dust, or worse yet it was re-gifted. Here are 22 out of the box gift ideas that should not take up much space but should be used long before the dust settles.

I thought it would be really neat last year to make homemade gifts for most everyone on my list. I found out just before Thanksgiving that my mother in law doesn’t like the smell of the body butter we made. So into the closet it goes. I hate to give something to someone that they will not use or enjoy. I feel like I have wasted my money on something that will at some point add to the landfills.

I am a big fan of subscriptions, memberships, and experience gifts. You will see quite a few of those on this list. Continue reading “22 Out of the Box Gift Ideas”

12 Tips for Awesome Naturally Curly Hair

curly hair

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I have naturally curly hair.  My hair stylist says it’s off-the-charts curly.  She told me that after I asked her why all the “curly” hairstyles in the magazines were more wavy than curly.

When I was younger, I hated my hair.  I tried everything to make it straight instead of curly but I never succeeded.  It just looked dumb.  See what I mean:

curly hair

curly hair

curly hair

Then one day, I’m not sure how it happened, I figured out that if I left it alone, it curled really nicely and looked much better than when I tried to straighten it.  From then on I never looked back.  I let my curls have their freedom!

And the truth is, I’m one of the laziest people alive when it comes to hair.  I’ve always joked that God gave me curly hair because he knew I hated messing with my hair.

My son and daughter have naturally curly hair, too.  My son keeps his really short so it doesn’t have much opportunity to curl.  My daughter has long, gorgeous, spiral curls.  I taught her from an early age to love her curly hair and she always has.  It’s part of who she is.

curly hair

After dealing with curly hair my whole life, I’ve learned a few things that might help others who have naturally curly hair:

1.       Don’t brush it.  I don’t own a brush or comb.  For a while I had a pick but I don’t even have one of those anymore.  I just use my fingers.  They do a fine job.

2.       Don’t blow dry it.  If you must, you must.  But if you have a choice, don’t.  Curly hair lacks moisture and drying it with a dryer makes it drier and brittle.  After I get my hair trimmed in the winter, the stylist always wants to dry it but I never let her.  I’d rather go out with it wet than put it through that.

3.       Don’t touch it after it’s dry.  When it’s almost dry, you can give it a little fluff but after that, don’t touch it again.  Curly hair does not like to be messed with after it’s dry.  Just leave it alone.

4.       Get it trimmed regularly.  When I was younger, I made the mistake of not getting regular trims.  My hair looked pretty wild most of the time.  I think if I had gotten those trims it would have looked a lot better.

curly hair

5.       Use an appropriate styling product.  There are lots of products out there designed for curly hair.  Some of them work and some of them don’t.  It also depends on what type of curly hair you have.  My daughter uses gel.  I was using foam but now I’m trying a cream.  The gel doesn’t work well for me but the cream and foam don’t work well for her.  So try different things until you find something that works.  And don’t be surprised if it suddenly stops working.  They do that sometimes.  When that happens, look for something new.

curly hair
I’ve been using the suave whipped cream but it’s not working as well. I bought the Samy but haven’t tried it yet. I’ve been using the Umberto which is a cream. It’s working pretty well but it’s really expensive.

6.       Don’t wash your hair too often.  Again, everyone is different but I wash mine twice a week and that’s plenty.  Too much washing makes it even drier.

7.       Use conditioner.  I don’t do this but my daughter does.  If she had to choose between shampoo and conditioner, she would go for conditioner.  In fact, she tells me that she doesn’t use shampoo – only conditioner.

8.       Don’t be surprised when humid weather wrecks your hairstyle.  It does that.  But what I’ve noticed is that when I think my hair looks horrible, no one else even notices.  Curly hair is wild anyway so a little humidity doesn’t really change it all that much – at least in the eyes of others.

9.       Wet your hair daily.  This may not be necessary for everyone with curly hair, but I wet my hair every day.  I would never think of leaving the house without wetting it first.  Finger combing it doesn’t work when it’s dry.  And using a brush on it would make it look like a lion’s mane.  So I wet it every morning when I shower.  Then I towel dry it, put cream on it, and shape it with my fingers.  It’s like getting a fresh start every morning.

10.     Touch it up with a curling iron if you need to.  For a while, I had one section of curls that was misbehaving badly.  I think it was while it was growing out.  My daughter-in-law told me to touch-it up with the curling iron.  I tried.  I really did.  But remember – I’m lazy when it comes to working with my hair.  I don’t really know how to use a curling iron.  So I gave up.  But for other people, a touch-it might make the difference between feeling good about your hair and hating it.

11.     Don’t expect it to look the same every day.  You can do the exact same thing every day and it still won’t look the same.  It just doesn’t.

12.     And finally, be prepared for changes when your hair starts to gray.  I wasn’t prepared and it caught me by surprise.  I noticed that the strands of hair that are gray tend to be bendy instead of curly.  And the texture is different.  I’ve also noticed the side hair is a little straighter.  So far it hasn’t affected the overall look of my hair and I don’t think it will.  My mom has naturally curly hair, too, and hers is all gray now.  It looks very pretty so I’m expecting (and hoping) that mine will, too.

curly hair
See how it’s not quite as curly as it used to be. Parts of it are straighter. And the gray hair obviously doesn’t handle the color evenly either. I need to work on that!

So if you have naturally curly hair and you haven’t given it its freedom yet, maybe now’s the time.  Let it curl and you’ll be surprised at how much better it looks.

Do you have naturally curly hair?  Do you have any tips to add to the ones above?

Other style articles are available in the style index.

Tangle Teezer Tames Tangled Hair

Tangle Teezer

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My 4-year-old granddaughter does NOT like having her hair brushed and it’s always a battle!  One time I was attempting to brush her hair and she kept covering her hair with her hands.  Then she said:  “Don’t forget there’s brains in there.”

However, her mama recently found a brush that makes the battle a little easier.  I was so impressed with the magic brush that I got one, too.  Combined with a few sprays of No More Tangles, brushing Ivy’s hair got a lot easier.

The brush is called the Tangle Teezer and you can get it from or directly from the tangle teezer website for about $15.  It’s an odd looking brush but it sure does a good job.

Tangle Teezer

Tangle Teezer

Tangle Teezer

tangle teezer 2

Now that’s not to say that brushing Ivy’s hair is easy now – it’s still not easy but it’s a lot better.  The Tangle Teezer doesn’t pull as much as a regular brush.  And to make it even easier, I’ve been letting Ivy brush her own hair with the Tangle Teezer and then I just touch it up.

Tangle Teezer

So if you have a kid who resists having his/her hair brushed because of the tangles, or if you struggle with tangles in your own hair, try the Tangle Teezer.  It’s awesome.

DISCLAIMER:  I did not receive compensation for this post.  I just like the product.

More style and beauty posts are available in the Style Index.

Rock It and Roll It!

Sure Fire Tips to Make Hot Rolling Your Hair Easy and Fun!

Ashley in hot rollers

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The stereotype of hot rollers is that you roll your hair right before you put on your formal. I, however, have found hot rolling to be easy enough that I can do it right before throwing on a pair of yoga pants and a t-shirt. And with different sized rollers, you can choose high volume, waves or curls to complete whatever ensemble you’re aspiring to. Win-win.

My Aunt Eileen gave me her set to try, and now, I’m not sure I’d could live without them. So after playing around to see how they work, I came up with some tips that help me get a long-lasting look that takes less than 20 minutes.

Choose your size carefully.  If you’re just looking for some body, the jumbo size is your best bet. Loose curls are a product of a large roller, etc. etc. Experiment first and figure out what you like best and what works with your hair type.

Hot Sets or Hairspray.  Before you roll, lightly mist your whole head with a setting product. If you don’t have a setting product, hairspray will work in a pinch. This helps your hair grab the curls better and will help your “do” to last.

Let Them Heat Up! Give your rollers a while to heat. Depending on what type of hot rollers you have, they may heat up fast or they may take several minutes to reach their highest temp. WAIT! Make sure they’re completely warmed up before using them.

Perfection is Not Necessary.  Hot rollers don’t look as precise as someone with perm rods in her hair at the salon. Just make sure the ends are wrapped well and let them be wild!

Fluff it.  After removing your hot rollers, don’t stop there. Run your fingers through a bit to loosen up individual sections. Fluff, tease and don’t forget to finish with a quick mist of hairspray.

Basic instructions:

  • Start with a section (a bit smaller than the width of the roller) at the top of your head. Roll and clip. Continue back until you have reached the back of your neck.
  • Section out the area in front of the ear and roll.
  • Make a new section behind the ear. Separate and roll.
  • Any left over areas can be rolled with a random curler.
  • Go play (or do dishes) for 10-15 minutes or until rollers are completely cool.
  • Gently unwind each roller individually.
  • Fluff, tease and go!

If you’re like me, you may need to see it done. There are lots of great videos on YouTube about how to hot roll your hair!

Any questions or comments? I’d love to hear your feedback!



When I have a few bucks in pocket from a birthday or Christmas, the first place my money takes me is Sephora.  I LOVE Sephora.  Here’s why:

Makeup to die for – These products will set you back but sometimes a splurge is worth it! With brands like Urban Decay, Lorac and Too Faced, you can’t go wrong. They have shadow pallets of all colors (which is my guilty pleasure), liners with pigment you wouldn’t believe and lipsticks for the divas.  Ahhhh, yes.

Skincare – Sephora also carries lots of skin care options and they have the GOOD stuff!  Clinique and Origins line their skin care wall which gives you an opportunity to browse, smell and assess each product without a pushy sales associate or a counter in your way.

Testers – You can try EVERYTHING! I kid you not. If you like something, there are disposable lipstick applicators, Q-tips and cotton balls at the end of every aisle. You don’t have to ask for help. You can just go get what you need and try what you want. Because of this very thing, I always leave Sephora looking like Krusty the Clown.  It’s magnificent.

Staff – In my experience, the staff has always been knowledgeable and willing. They know their stuff and they also love the opportunity to help you pick out the right product.  They would also love to do your makeup and they do a great job.

Rewards – If you get addicted to something that Sephora sells and you frequently return to indulge, they have a very nice rewards program in place which gives you discounts, free stuff and even a birthday gift!

So, if you like makeup and haven’t paid a visit (no pun intended) to Sephora, give it a try.  It’s like my Chuck E. Cheese.  Let me know what you think and if you go for a visit!  And how much you end up spending…

Winter Sucks! (all the moisture out of your skin)

winter 1

Even those of us with the best skin have a dry skin battle every now and again. Here are some tips on how to ease the winter “ash”.

Cooler Shower/No Baths – The first thing you want to do when you get up and out from under the warm covers is hop into a hot shower.  Resist the urge. Hot water sucks the moisture from your skin causing that tight itchy feeling. Sitting in a tub of water for an extended period of time will do the same.  Water is generally hard on skin because it washes away natural oils.  So the cooler and faster your shower can be, the better.

Bubble Bath = NO WAY!  – Bubble bath is essentially a highly scented, highly concentrated low-quality soap.  Soap is even MORE notorious for breaking down the skin’s natural oils – even more so than water.  So, if you must take a hot bath, skip the suds.

Better your Body Wash – If you usually opt for the cheapest bar of soap on the market, you might want to consider looking into something that’s gentle or moisturizing or…BOTH!  A Dove bar or body wash could be a great option.  Dove has a rich lather and is ¼ moisturizer.  Dove also makes a sensitive skin bar if you have trouble with fragrance.  Also, baby body wash is made for soft, sensitive baby skin and can be found in a lightly scented bar or bottle.  Might be worth a try for these long winter months.

Kick the Lotion Up a Notch – Toss the highly-perfumed lotions for a while. Those lotion contain a killer ingredient – alcohol.  While applying this lotion, you are actually syphoning out more moisture than you are replenishing.  Opt for a high quality brand like Curel, Lubriderm or Vaseline.  These are made for replenishing lost moisture and can be found in a lightly-fragranced version if you like a little scent.  AND…try and motivate yourself to moisturize EVERY DAY after your shower.  Even if your skin isn’t bugging you, consider it preventative maintenance.

Bundle Up – Direct contact with frigid outside air can damage skin and even cause painful windburn.  Protect your skin by wearing a coat, hat and gloves when going outside.

Drink Water!This sounds like a no-brainer but sometimes we forget how much our daily intake of water affects us! Water keeps everything balanced – even our skin.  Not only is water a direct hydrant for your body, but it helps maintain good metabolism (body balance) which helps your skin produce the right amount of oil to keep it moist.  2 for 1!

We love hearing from you!  What do you do to help protect yourself from winter skin? What kinds of products do you like that help keep your skin hydrated?