Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Favorites: Ashley Sofia

The first post of the Friday Favorite series covers Miss Ashley Sofia, an incredibly talented folk/rock musician who is beautiful both inside and out. While she is a fellow Tri Delt and soul sister from another mister, I am featuring  her today because I am a huge FAN of her music. What makes Ashley stand out from the crowd of other younger singers is that she is an artist, first and foremost. She plays, sings, and writes all her own music, and this certainly contributes to as why her music feels so pure and soulful.

Ashley grew up in the Adirondacks and loves the outdoors.  I love following her on Instagram as she often snaps breathtaking views from her hikes. Her photos are featured in today's dose of inspiration.

Ashley  describes her songs as "poems set to music." Her new album, "Love and Fury" will be released in December. However, lucky for you, her first single "Judas" has already been released! I highly suggest that you take a listen to it. I guarantee you will find yourself randomly singing along..."You're my Judas, You're my Judas, Ju-Ju-Judas. Now I see straight through ya." (I may have been given strange looks in the grocery store once or twice).

Ashley is an incredible storyteller through music and I asked her to share with me what inspires her when writing such beautiful stories:

"As painful as it is to share songs that come from the depths of my soul, it's important that people know these stories are real. These songs have given me courage and hope and solace, and as my career has grown, I've learned that they've helped my fan friends too. These songs aren't just for me anymore. They're for you. I want people to realize that when they hear me sing- that we're in this together"

If you want to learn more about this incredible woman head over to her website here. Below are a few of Ashleys favorites.

Have a great Friday everyone! I know Ashley will, she has a sold out show tonight in Albany!

*If you can't get enough Ashley Sofia, a few of my other favorites include...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thrifty Thursdays: DIY Hair Masque

I am so excited to kick off Thrifty Thursdays! Today, I want to help you save a little money while still being able to indulge your hair with a spa-quality treatment. This DIY masque is so ridiculously easy and low cost that you may wonder, like I did, why you haven't done it before. Coconut oil has become a huge component of my daily routine:  from  oil pulling in the morning to putting it on my lips as a natural has become my "go-to" for all things health and beauty. Therefore, it was inevitable that I eventually would try it in my hair. But, before I get into that, I want to first provide you with  a little " hair testimonial."

Growing up, I was a frequent passenger on the struggle bus  when it came to taming my hair. It was thick, frizzy, and I had no idea what to do with it. In fact, whenever I would go on vacation, I would get a blowout prior to leaving and try to make that baby last as long as I could.. However, tables turned when my best friend Jackie began her career as a hairdresser, and even more blessed that she is incredibly good at it.

She helped me to achieve the right color by fixing my "oops I dyed my hair red while I was at college in NY" incident, cut, and style. And so i wanted to hold up my end of the haircare routind by ensuring it was healthy. Whether out to breakfast or at the salon, I would anxiously await for my hair health report and she would say things such as "Lu, we gotta do a hair conditioning masque on you. Your hair is very dry." And so just like the kid on the football team who wants the coach to recognize him , I worked really hard to get Jackie's "pat on the back"/seal of approval for next time. 

I set out on my journey to healthy hair by going to Target to buy  biotin vitamins, eliminating any use of hair styling tools, and trying out numerous hair conditioning masques. Then I would greet her at each new visit with the hope that finally my hair would seem healthier and less dry. She'd often say something encouraging such as "getting there Lu,"  but just  like the "little squirt" football player, I wanted to score a touchdown

And so I am very excited to share with you all that during my last visit to the salon on Friday, Jackie said; "Lu your hair has never looked healthier" and with that nod of approval, I finally scored a touchdown! And you better believe I walked into the room like this for the next couple of days.  

What had I done differently you might ask? I had begun using a coconut oil masque once a week. And guess what you can get a big ol' jar of the stuff at Ocean State Job lot for under $6!  Below you will find the DIY coconut masque tutorial and your daily dose of inspiration. This post is dedicated to Miss Jacqueline Angelos, who has always taught me to go after what I want and been along for so much more than just my hair journey these past 12 years. Love you boo! 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesdays: a Boy and his Apple

Courtesy of: Redefining Rich

Today is the first Wordless Wednesday post! Each Wednesday, I will share only a photo. This photo can pull at your heartstrings, inspire you, or simply make you feel good. I welcome your entries for each week so please  email them to me here.  Have a great Wednesday! Below is your daily dose of inspiration...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Thankful Tuesdays: Gratitude Journaling

And so today begins the "Thankful Tuesday" series. I truly believe that it is important to hit the pause button for a few moments each day and simply remember all that we are thankful for. Before I begin, let me explain what led me to this daily gratitude activity. A few months ago, I became very interested in starting a daily yoga practice and so I bought the clothes, the mat, the blocks, the DVDs, and even a box of cards containing different yoga poses. Have you ever tried something and liked it so much that you wanted to take on its persona? Or maybe you even started practicing a certain activity simply because you thought you should?  And as you began to explore this hobby deeper, you began to mimic what others in the field were doing. Just as a 5 year old girl longs to have a purse that is like her mom's, you began wearing the same Lulu yoga pants as your yoga instructor. Well I can certainly say I have been on both ends of this spectrum. While I've had training clients mimic everything from my clothes to my hairstyle, I could also go into great detail over the numerous times I took on another persona such as my "rock-star" phase in which I asked  for a guitar on my 12th  birthday, signed up for lessons, began wearing black eyeliner, and created a screen name titled MBzlilroxstar. (And in case you need an AOL translation, that would stand for "Michelle Branch's little rock-star"). This phase of my life, along with the vegan, law school, and showgirl phases quickly came to screeching halts when I discovered they weren't true to me.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that when I decided that I truly enjoyed practicing yoga, I firmly believed that the appropriate "yogi" thing to do was to begin  keeping a yoga journal. And so I set out to TJ Maxx to buy a beautiful, leather-bound journal. That following day, I sat down on my newly purchased yoga mat, lit a relaxing scented candle, turned on my "Yoga" Pandora list, and with my favorite blue pen wrote the date at the top corner of the crisp, white page as neatly as possible. I began my first entry with the sentence; "My yoga practice today was a YogaWorks DVD at 6pm." I continued on with these "entries" for a few more days until  suddenly it struck me that this journal was simply one of my many daily lists. By writing down what I had done for yoga that day I had turned my journal practice into a recording of events.

I alarmingly realized that I was creating a harsh reminder for myself of the days that I did not find time to practice. When I saw that I did not “find time” for yoga that day, I associated it with yet another thing that I could not check off my to-do list.

That's when I decided to use my journal to write down the 5 things that I am most grateful for each day. At first, this felt extremely silly. I would simply write entries 2-3 sentences long such as"I am grateful for... 1. being able to drive with the windows down today 2. my new sneakers that I got today..." However, what I came to realize from this daily practice that no matter how tough the day was, it was very easy to find 5 things to be grateful for. 

At the end of each daily gratitude entry, I like to write down a quote that feels relevant to that particular day. This activity has become a part of my morning routine, in which I  create good energy in the form of an affirmation that I can carry forward with me for that day. Since I have begun the gratitude practice, I have found myself changing my outlook on the day's events and appreciating all in which I do have. There is so much that we take for granted, but yet we'd be lost without. And so I invite you to take a few moments today and recognize what you are grateful for. I would like to share with you that one of my grateful things that I listed in my journal today is how grateful I am for all of your support in the launching of the Creatively Lu blog and I literally feel chills knowing that I am  able to share a very valuable lesson for living my life with you all. Below is the "takeaway" quote for today.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Make it Mondays: Walnut Streusel Bread

For my first "Make it Monday" post, I thought it would be appropriate to share a bread recipe with you all. As we approach the holiday season and the temperature begins to drop FAST, I find myself baking more  in order to "cope". At least once a week from November until the spring, I bake some sort of bread as a way to warm up. And believe me these breads get devoured fast! Therefore, my suggestion to you is to make sure that you set aside a big piece for yourself. You may even want to hide it! It's amazing how quickly your family and friends turn into raccoons scouring a trashcan when they like something. 

 Last night, we had our first fire of the season in the fireplace and so I wanted to make the house feel even  cozier by baking a bread that smelled delicious. Walnut streusel is my dad's favorite bread and since he was asleep by the time I was done baking  (8:30pm), I left him a big piece by his car keys for breakfast in the morning.

For this particular bread, I had only made a full fat version prior to last night. This time, however, I wanted to try substituting certain ingredients for more healthier versions. My dad is not one to like "healthy" tasting foods and so I knew that I could not substitute for flavor. In my opinion, when you are trying to satisfy a craving, you need to fully satisfy it. With great success, no one could tell the difference! I hope you all enjoy this recipe and curl up with a blanket, your favorite TV show (the Voice is tonight!), and enjoy the smell of sweet cinnamon fill up your whole house as the bread bakes. Hey, you may even grow a little more comfortable with the idea that winter is upon us. 

Have a wonderful Monday and I look forward to sharing many more "Make It Mondays" with you all!       

So Here Goes Nothing...

Today is DAY ONE of the blog and I am beyond excited to launch this baby! I have binders full of helpful posts ready to be shared with you all.

I'm sure that many of you have a  Pinterest account which contains a plethora of boards filled with good intentions. For instance, maybe while at work last week you pinned a baked ziti recipe to your "cooking" board, a "how to clean your oven" article to your "household tips" board, and a treadmill workout to your "get healthy" board. As you pin, you say to yourself; "Oh I'll try this tomorrow." Suddenly, that tomorrow becomes next Friday, next month, and then next year. Believe me, I've been there. 

Your life can grow so chaotic that you find yourself eating  your meals in the car and catching up with loved ones over the phone while simultaneously working out on the elliptical and watching shows from your DVR. So it is no surprise that when Tuesday night rolls around and your craving for pasta sets in, it is unlikely that you will pull up that baked ziti recipe from your Pinterest. And lets say you do pull it up, are you going to head over to the grocery store to get all of the required ingredients?  Suddenly the takeout menu is looking mighty fine. Just like that guy at the bar who is a 4 at 10 pm but suddenly an 8 at midnight, we settle for what we got in front of us. And just like that your pasta recipe pin and your "how to clean your oven" pin remain stuck in the  perfect, virtual world that you have created, along with the 992 other "good intended" pins. 

Therefore, when you finally decide to clean your oven the day of Thanksgiving in order to remove the burnt drippings from last year's turkey prior cooking this year's, that pin has been long forgotten. But, that's what I'm here for you all! I've lived and I've learned. Why? Because I've already cleaned my oven the day of Thanksgiving last year. 

I'm here as a guide. I can tell you the best tasting/easiest/healthiest recipes for pasta. And even better... I can tell you how to alter certain ingredients for vegetarian, vegan, and allergy "friendly" options.  And as far as for that oven tip, I can tell you that the best solution is  baking soda mixed with little bit of water. Lather the paste all over your oven with an old paint brush, let it sit for a few hours, and voila!...the blackened "leftovers" will literally  fall off when you wipe the oven with an old damp rag. So before I throw too many tips your way, let me break down how each day's blog posts will go...

M: Make it Mondays. This could be anything from  a recipe to DIY to a craft.
T:Thankful Tuesdays. In honor of Thanksgiving I am going to share with you some of the things that I am grateful for, but more importantly the lessons I have learned from each. I can promise you that while they are heartfelt, they are also comical. 
W:Wordless Wednesdays. This will be a day in which I simply post an inspirational photo. I invite you to  share your favorites with me. Whether its a picture of your favorite point on your run, the breathtaking, pink sky you snapped on your phone while leaving work that day, your child, your pet (in some cases you feel this is your child) name it, Ill display it! 
Th:Thrifty Thursdays. I am sort of a con osier for finding deals and this will be a place to share them with you all. From "how to grocery shop at Ocean State Job Lot" to  "how to make gifts from dollar store finds" to "DIY hair masks" (approved by my best friend who is a  hairdresser ofcourse!)... I will share tips/tricks for saving you major money.
Fri:Favorite Fridays. Here I will share my favorite things from the best free  yoga video on YouTube to my favorite blogs, books, movies, beauty products...You name it, I'll share it!
Sat/Sun:Weekend Adventures, Here I will share some part of my weekend that I really enjoyed that may inspire you to go out and try. For instance, this past weekend I cooked dinner for the homeless shelter. I do this about once a month and it is an easy way to give back to your community.
Quotes:Each daily post will end with an inspiring quote, as your takeaway for the day.