Giving Up Dairy, Soy & Wheat for my Babies

Both of my boys have been super colicky babies. My older son E had such severe food sensitivities that he broke out in a horrible rash and diarrhea from allergens just passing through the breastmilk from my diet, before he was eating any food of his own. My younger son F had such severe reflux that I spent pretty much his entire first six months just doing laundry because of all of the vomiting. Prescription medication helped, and so did cutting out dairy/wheat/soy from my diet again. Thankfully, I am able to reintroduce wheat into my diet again but I am still limiting dairy until he has completely outgrown his reflux.

It was really depressing the first time when I realized I needed to eliminate those foods from my diet, but it seemed easier this time around. I realized from chatting with other moms in Facebook groups about breastfeeding that this is a surprisingly common issue that lots of new moms face. My grandpa even told me recently about how my dad and my uncle were both initially allergic to dairy and soy, so my grandmother had to feed them a 1950’s formula based on dehydrated, powdered meat, which he called “meat milk”. I didn’t believe it at first until I actually found an old advertisement online! Apparently “meat milk” was a real thing as awful as that sounds!

Here are some of my favorite tips for breastfeeding moms who want to try eliminating dairy/soy from their diets!

1. Embrace coconut/almond milks. They are have so many different varieties now, it’s great! There are even almond milk coffee creamers, pumpkin spice almond milk creamer (thanks Trader Joe’s!!), and more! My particular favorite is a coconut milk ice cream sandwich from So Delicious.
2. Make sure that you eat lots of leafy greens to get enough calcium/magnesium. Talk to your doctor about taking a supplement if you feel like you may not be getting enough from your diet once you cut out dairy. I used to eat a ton of dairy and I know my calcium/magnesium intakes were initially way too low when first cutting out dairy.

3. Embrace the art of making nut cheeses! I have learned that it is a lot of fun to make nut cheese! It comes out similar to goat cheese in texture and there are so many ways you can alter it! The key is pre-soaking the nuts for a few hours (I like cashews or macadamia nuts), then mixing in a food processor with a bit of water, lemon juice, and any herbs/seasoning you would like to mix in.

4. Skip the fake cheese/fake pizza substitutes. They are never satisfying in the same way, and you end up feeling cheated. Learn to appreciate fresh ingredients, and your cravings will adjust accordingly with time. πŸ™‚

5. Try coconut aminos instead of using soy sauce! Initially, I was making a homemade soy sauce substitute that I found via Pinterest every time we went out for sushi, but that got really tedious very quickly. I recently discovered using coconut aminos instead and it has been great! I actually prefer the taste to regular soy sauce now. πŸ™‚

6. Get comfortable reading ingredient labels. Scan to the end of the list first, where they list the common allergens in bold or caps lock. Soy is in so many foods that you wouldn’t expect! I’ve had to learn this the hard way with my 3 year old son who is still unfortunately allergic to soy but thankfully outgrew his dairy sensitivity.

7. Try out some paleo cookbooks for creative inspiration! I wish I had discovered those the first time around. I recently even found some great paleo slow cooker cookbooks that have been great!

8. Most important tip…if you look at it with a different mindset of that this is a fun creative challenge, instead of viewing it as a drag and a restriction, it will make it a lot more enjoyable!

Check out some of the tasty nuts cheese crostadas that I made recently for an event I hosted for my photography business! πŸ™‚

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A Thousand Words a Picture Does NOT Tell ;)

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I thought it would be hilarious to dress up as Chip & Joanna Gaines for Halloween. I wanted to get a picture of us in front of our shiplap covered fireplace and floating shelf mantle that we worked very hard to create, very Fixer Upper style. πŸ™‚ From an outside perspective, it looked like everything was picture perfect. In reality, I just did a really good job of framing the photo to exclude all of the chaos surrounding us. πŸ™‚ Want to know the real behind the scenes story? It has been so crazy here lately that even my mom called after she saw the photo and asked how we pulled that photo off (since really only very few people know the reality around here lol).

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For most of October, our boys traded off being sick, reaching a peak in late October when Baby F came down with an ear infection in both ears, and roseola…fever spiking at nearly 105 degrees. It was beyond stressful. The boys were getting stir crazy and the house was a chaotic mess from them being stuck inside for so long. Of course it all played out when I am in the midst of the busiest time of year for photographers, when I am already stressed to the max.

We “finished” up our renovation projects on my home based studio/office during my maternity leave a few months ago (I say finished in quotes because I always seem to come up with some new crazy project idea for my poor husband). Now we are trying to focus on finishing up our crazy projects on our actual house with the little free time that we have. Things have been a chaotic mess as a result. Walls have come down, flooring is temporarily filled in with patches of awful concrete, etc. We keep trying to make plans with friends, family and neighbors but things keep coming up in the chaos and we feel like we’ve had several months of antisocial behavior as a result lol.

Previously, we had a bed in our master bedroom that we made. My husband made the bed frame, and I made the padded headboard. It seemed great in theory, until slimy toddler hands kept jumping up onto our bed and destroying my pretty satin headboard. So that looked nice for literally about a day! My husband asked me to visualize my dream bedroom and tell him what that included. I said that I have always wanted an antique white armoire and a pretty black antique style wrought iron bed frame. Literally since junior high, that is what I have been hoping to have some day. So I started searching online to find those two items. I found an amazing white armoire that I love (and happens to look really cute with the vanity I already had!), and found an adorable bed frame on sale from Target, and a beautiful white quilt from Overstock.com. I was so excited…my dream bedroom should be arriving any day via UPS! πŸ™‚ Then reality hit…..

The bed frame arrived severely banged up and damaged. The bedspread arrived in a defective size, definitely not proper king size bed measurements. I spent over four hours on the phone trying to resolve both of the issues. We ended up with a damaged bed frame in a box sitting in the middle of our living room for a few weeks while we sorted out all of the details of the mess. The big huge box was in front of our fireplace, and was driving me nuts. My mom saw the picture of us in front of the fireplace and was so confused…she immediate called and asked what happened to the big huge box and all of the mess around it lol. We literally shoved it out of the way just for the picture!

While the baby’s fever broke by Halloween, the boys were still feeling a bit under the weather and not up for a whole lot. They were being particularly crazy while I had my tripod set up for the photo above. πŸ™‚ I realized I had been working so much lately that I forgot to do laundry, and our 3 year old son E was out of clean clothes, particularly clean underwear lol. He was running around in circles while I had the tripod set up, yelling “no underwear today, woo hoo!!” Baby F is my little gardening helper (I call him Mr Green Thumb because he jumps out of bed every day, excited to come garden with me in the morning, and loves pinching/harassing all of my plants). πŸ™‚ Since F had been sick and it had been a bit cool and rainy, he hadn’t been allowed to come outside and garden for a bit. He was trying to escape out the door into the garden while we had the tripod set up lol.

Later that day, E fell asleep for a rare but much needed nap, and I finally caved and let F play with my little herb garden planter outside our front door. While he was happily pinching my basil, my husband came up with a funny idea to take a cell phone pic of him as a “sweaty” Chip Gaines. So hilarious if you know how often this poor guy is actually this sweaty on his “days off work” while he’s working on our house lol. This time it was just water though. πŸ™‚ I am thankful that I have this great man to keep me sane in the chaos of our lives. πŸ™‚ He keeps me laughing when things get challenging!

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I can’t even believe it but our sweet little Baby F is nine months old today! It is bittersweet for me as he is getting older. More of his nature loving personality is coming out, and I see more and more of myself in his personality (even though he is the spitting image of my husband!). My husband and E groan when I say it’s time for everyone to help work on the garden, but when Baby F hears me say that, he crawls as fast as he can to get outside, with a big smile on his face. πŸ™‚ I am sad because I know he will be our last baby, and after spending so much time pregnant over the course of 5 years, it is hard to believe the baby portion of our lives is nearing an end. I am looking forward to having quite an enthusiastic little partner by my side in the garden though! πŸ™‚

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I’m back! Lots of changes around here! Front of house updates….

I stopped blogging here on my lifestyle blog a while back after there were a couple of negative incidents that I just didn’t feel like dealing with anymore. Lately, I have really been missing documenting our crazy journey with our garden and our endless list of projects for fixing up our little fixer upper house. My photo studio finally feels “finished” and all of the projects in there are done, so now we are able to focus our energy on finishing up the projects in our house. We had dedicated time previously for working on our house and then projects for my studio kept coming up and our house had to keep getting pushed to the back burner.

I realized this morning that when our second son was born, apparently my URL for this blog expired and since I was in the hospital, I missed the email about renewing. I had assumed that it was set to auto renew but it was not. So now of course, someone has purchased my old domain so here I am, starting fresh with this blog, with a brand new URL, aliciainwonderlandlifestyleblog.com. I actually like this better since it helps give more differentiation between this blog and my photography blog (http://aliciainwonderlandphotography.com/blog).

So I am going to start posting some updates on what we have been working on lately! The front of our house has always driven me crazy. Our little house has had several small additions from the previous owners, and it wasn’t all necessarily done properly. The laundry room was added on, the entry room was added on at another time, and of course my office/studio area was also an addition too. Unfortunately, the way that they did everything, they used a different type of siding for each addition, and the roofing was not done well. The fascia and soffits were rotting and my husband kept starting to work on replacing it all but kept getting sidetracked with other projects and life with two little kids!

I finally couldn’t take it anymore and started trying to come up with a faster, easier way to get the exterior of our house (and my studio) looking better and less dingy and falling apart. I realized that I don’t like the look of fascia and soffits anyway, and much prefer the way the house looks with them removed! We want to eventually replace all of the siding anyway, but that is such an involved project and it means both my husband and I lining up time when neither of us is working so we can get that done. That may have to wait until next year. πŸ™‚ So in the mean time, I was tired of the dingy, ugly cream exterior paint color that we have had since we moved here. Every time we drive up to the house, my husband and I both felt this sense of YUCK when we saw that color. It was just a subtle change, but my husband went through and used a paint sprayer and gave the front a fresh coat of creamy white paint to freshen things up a bit. I am so relieved that it is starting to look better! I can’t wait until it is all the way finished, but in the mean time, this is a much better improvement! πŸ™‚

I had previously painted our front door a dark green, which I quickly grew tired of. Now it is painted a matte black and I love it. It gets dusty pretty fast but other than that, I love the color. Eventually I still want to replace the door with a craftsman style door, but for now this is okay. I loved the screen door my in-laws got for their house in Texas, so we ordered the same one (from Lowes) and I love having a wreath hanging from the screen door. Our next door neighbors have a big huge magnolia tree and I love seeing it outside our bedroom window when I wake up in the morning. It made me fall in love with magnolia flowers and leaves, before I recently started watching Fixer Upper. πŸ™‚ In the Spring & Summer, I had a different magnolia wreath on the door that I found at Michael’s and it has big pretty white magnolia flowers. For Fall/Winter, I thought this one from Magnolia Market would be nice to switch things up a bit.

I found the Texas star for my husband, and I like the HOME sign on the opposite side since it helps get rid of confusion when my clients arrive and have to figure out which door is my studio and which is our house. I love the new exterior lights since they feel kind of like a mix between industrial style and seaside cottage.

Since our house used to be a nursing home, there were handicapped ramps outside every door previously. That actually surprisingly came in handy during the periods when I needed to use a wheelchair (my pelvis dislocated/fractured during labor with our first son). Now that I am done being pregnant, my husband was excited to start smashing up the concrete ramp outside our front door. He hasn’t 100% finished that project, but it is nice that we can actually fit a real door mat now in front of the screen door. πŸ™‚ I actually bought two matching door mats, one for my office and one for our house, but then realized the one in front of our house door wouldn’t fit because of the ramp and he started demo-ing the ramp the next day while I was out. I was a bit shocked to come home and see what he had been up to while I was gone lol. We were watching a standup comedian recently on Netflix who talked about her “party goblin” and my husband and I joked that he and I each have a “Project Goblin”…we will be working on one project and then the Project Goblin will come along and say “hey the house would look so much better if you got rid of that ramp! Let’s smash stuff up now!” And so thanks to Project Goblin, we always seem to have about 50 projects going on simultaneously. πŸ™‚

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I did a front door makeover post previously (here), and the cross I had made for our door before unfortunately got smashed up by some quite rude Trick or Treaters one year. I tried to repair it, but it kept falling apart. I ended up taking the one I had made for our son’s bedroom and relocating it to the front door and I actually like this one a lot better anyway. πŸ™‚
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I had some window boxes up in the front for a while now, but realized I never posted any pictures of them. They were nothing special, just your average metal window boxes from Big Lots with coco liners. I thought they were cute at first, but they really do not hold the moisture well in the soil. I had to end up watering them every day or every other day with a little bit of water since they dried out so fast, and it started to feel like a huge burden. I absolutely love having window boxes, but started to feel like a prisoner to the house with needing to make sure they were watered so often. Since our older son has recently started preschool, I started thinking about ways I could streamline my morning routine, and watering the window boxes took up a significant chunk of time each day. My husband suggested installing a drip system emitter on each window box but I like my window boxes densely planted which mean so many tubes and emitters and it would just end up looking ugly. I was determined to find another solution!

I started looking into self-watering window boxes, and most were way out of my budget. I didn’t want to end up spending near $500 just to save myself some time and save a little water. Then I found some from Gardeners.com and they were much more affordable! I also ordered their special self-watering planter soil and got a fresh start with some new fall annuals (and some leftovers from my summer window boxes). I put in some Dusty Miller, pansies, ornamental kale, stock, along with the older geraniums, string of bananas and daisies. I am so excited with these new window boxes! I feel like it is going to save me so much stress every week…not having to worry about whether or not my window box flowers are about to drop dead because I overslept on a day when we are having a random heat wave! πŸ™‚

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Previously, I had my herb garden under the arbor in our front yard (seen in this post), but the whole thing didn’t work out as I had hoped there. Everything started getting drowned in pine needles since that spot is so close to two of our big pine trees. The little fence started getting worn out and leaning, and just looked really shabby really quickly. So I relocated the herbs elsewhere.

I like my herbs to be as close to the kitchen as possible but since there is a big pine tree right outside the kitchen door, I have to put the herbs outside other doors. I don’t want to have to walk all around the backyard to collect herbs in the dark when I am cooking dinner. I put the culinary herbs that prefer consistently moist conditions here under the laundry room window. I put all of my herbs for flavored teas in my wheelbarrow planter near the bench (actually going to be swapped out for a regular planter soon because I am tired of the “Pinteresty trash-to-treasure” look to it). All of my Mediterranean herbs got relocated alongside our patio and I will do a post once I finish revising that area soon. πŸ™‚

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Curious about the original before picture? I realized for some reason I never really took any before pictures of this area of the house, but here is a picture from the listing when our house was for sale. You can see that the planter area under the laundry room window was pretty pathetic looking before my husband added a much better edging to that area!

I blurred out part of our house number for privacy, but you can see that the house numbers were listed in quite an ugly, outdated font. They have been driving me nuts for a while and I finally ordered some new numbers (my husband hasn’t put them up yet). When I explained to him that the font on those numbers was driving me crazy, he sighed an exhausted sigh of frustration. He said, “sometimes I wish I hadn’t married a woman who has been educated in design and fonts and aesthetics. Ignorance is bliss!” I feel sorry for him with my never ending list of projects but the new numbers are going to look so much better! I can’t wait to show the finished result! πŸ™‚
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Rose Care Tips

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I have had so much going on lately that I haven’t had the time to blog as much as I would like to ideally. I do however always have my phone with me, so I am making an effort to give lots of gardening tips lately with my Instagram photos of our garden You can find me at http://www.instagram.com/aliciainwonderlandphotos πŸ™‚ The photo above is an example of one of my recent garden grams!

Also, I recently discovered Periscope, which is so much fun! You can post little live broadcast videos, right from your cell phone (which can also be watched later on replay)! I just uploaded a couple of videos about how I take care of our roses, and how I use them as an important part of my diet. I am really excited about adding these gardening videos into my blogging routine. Be sure to check them out! You can watch the replay of the first one here, and the second part here. Enjoy! πŸ™‚

Spring/Summer Garden Tour!

It’s been a while since I posted an updated garden tour! The last time I posted a garden tour was in the winter, and we were planning to work on our pondless waterfall near our bridge and our dry riverbed going down the slope of the hill in our front yard. We intentionally ordered the rocks and boulders to be delivered in the winter so we would be able to work on moving the rocks in the cool weather. As luck would have it, we had one unusually cold week this past winter where we actually had a bit of frost, and the rest of the winter felt way to warm to encourage us to move a bunch of heavy rocks around! Spring started early this year in our garden due to the unusually warm winter, which was great for my photo sessions! Since things got into bloom so early, I got way busier with the photography business than I had expected around that time, and some of the garden plans got pushed back for a bit (and blogging here too!).

Now that I’m trying to get more caught up and find a bit of balance again, I figured it was time to post an updated garden tour here! I previously posted this on my photography blog, so I apologize if you are seeing this again as a repeat. However, there is a lot of detailed info in this post that I didn’t share on the photography blog. πŸ™‚ If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check out how are little gardens have been progressing over the past several months!

Our son got a new playhouse recently! We originally wanted to build him a play room in this area, but the cost of construction and permits was ridiculously high here, so we opted for a big playhouse instead. πŸ™‚ In Los Angeles, as long as a playhouse or shed is 10’x12′ or smaller, no permit is needed, so this was a great solution. Our bedrooms are ridiculously tiny, so it was nice to be able to move some of his toys out of the real house. πŸ™‚
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My husband realized a few months ago that the pergola that was in our patio previously was rotting and literally about to collapse on our son’s play area. He very quickly tore it down and replaced it with a new patio cover. Since he worked so hard on it, one day I decided to set him up a special little “man patio” area. πŸ™‚ Most of the garden is pretty feminine in design, so I thought he would like his own little area of the patio for lounging. Originally, I had his hammock chairs set up here, but we quickly realized that hammock chairs + slate patio + kids is not a good combo so those were put away.
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The dry waterfall behind our bridge is still in the same place it was previously…untouched lol. However, I still love the bridge and from certain angles it is still very useable for me for photo sessions!
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I added lots of reclaimed windows/doors/picture frames as garden decor. Originally, I was saving the windows and doors to build a greenhouse, but then we realized we wouldn’t be needing them. Removing every bit of glass was a pain but I love the finished result! I had a tarp spread out on the ground, smashed through the glass (while wearing goggles), and then removed each tiny bit of glass with pliers.
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Our vegetable cage has been working very well in keeping all animals out! Our son can now reach the latches on the doors, so I have found them left unlocked a few times which gave me a scare. πŸ™‚
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My beautiful new greenhouse! It wasn’t completely finished here, and I will have to post new photos soon. I found this beauty on Craigslist…someone had built it out of reclaimed windows then had to get rid of it due to a landlord dispute. My wonderful husband disassembled it, brought it home, and put it back together again for me. πŸ™‚ I just love it!BY0A5933BY0A5855 BY0A5857 BY0A5858 BY0A5859 BY0A5862 BY0A5864 BY0A5865 BY0A5868 BY0A5871 BY0A5872 BY0A5874 BY0A5878 BY0A5879 BY0A5880 BY0A5881
Our massive fig tree below. We will never understand why the previous owners planted this massive tree in a raised planter, so the tree starts several feet off the ground. I’m sure the tree was small to start out, but use a little common sense, people! Always plan how big something will eventually get once mature!

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I painted and re-covered the papasan chairs in my patio! I love this fabric that I found…it reminds me of the stripes on my favorite baby carrier. πŸ™‚
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Now on to the front yard garden! I set up a little bench area which is nice in the evening and for photo sessions. I also moved our windmill and several other items to the front to go with the country feel that our red barn shed gives. πŸ™‚
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My herb garden and climbing Cecil Brunner roses! These roses mostly only bloom in the spring (we are starting to get a second bloom cycle now though and I will have to take another photo with some blooms…this photo was from in June when the spring blooms had faded). When I was a little kid, my grandparents used to have me help with their gardening when I would go to their house. My grandma always told me that if I was a flower, I would be a Cecil Brunner rose. I always assumed she meant because they are tiny, delicate and pink (my favorite color). However, now that I finally have some of my own, I am starting to wonder if that’s what she really meant lol. I am a very sweet, caring, giving person, unless you cross me…then the Sicilian temper I inherited from my grandmother comes out. My husband and I recently realized that those sweet little tiny pink roses have the most painful thorn of any rose in our garden if you handle the rose incorrectly. If you are gentle with them the thorns don’t bother you at all…but try to rush when you are working with them and they will leave you crying. TouchΓ©, Grandma!
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I made some progress on our dry riverbed before I got pregnant. Not finished, but enough to use for photo sessions with newborns! πŸ™‚ My work on the dry riverbed will have to come to a complete halt for now though since I am not allowed to lift any heavy items right now.
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And some aerial photos my husband took!
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We haven’t quite finished up our evening lighting design yet, but here’s a few photos of the start of the project!
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Garden Updates and Current Projects

It’s been a while since I posted an update with our garden remodel, so here is our winter update. πŸ™‚ We are approaching the end of our list of garden projects, both in the front and the back. It has been such a massive undertaking, and we have spent all of our free time in the past year working on these projects!

I’ll start with the front yard.

We recently decided to hire some guys to build us a new barn shed that we could use for storage and as a workshop area. We were in the middle of a bunch of projects in my studio, so it seemed like a great idea to hire out some of the work for once. Unfortunately, the guys we hired did an awful job and did not finish in one day as promised, so finishing the shed is another thing that got added to my husband’s to-do list. 😦

Our grapevines finally lost all of their leaves recently, so I need to do my yearly pruning on those. I love using the grapevine as a photo backdrop, so I can’t wait until those leaves start to fill in again!
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We have been planning to add a dry riverbed going through the sloping areas of our front yard, including this area. We just had 12 tons of rocks and boulders delivered last night. We are excited but quite overwhelmed. πŸ™‚
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A while back, we received our official certifications as a wildlife habitat from the National Wildlife Federation! That was very exciting.Β  aliciainwonderlandblog
We added fencing around the lower part of our front yard and a gate which keeps our son contained when I am gardening in our front yard. We had some delays with finishing the fence in the upper part though since the posts went right along the line of some large tree roots. Finishing up that part and adding the dry riverbed up here too are on our list of things to do.aliciainwonderlandblog
My succulent fountain is filling in so nicely! Not bad for a free find!
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Most of my perennial flowers are currently pruned or dormant for winter, but I was very excited yesterday when I saw the first few blooms on my heartleaf geraniums. πŸ™‚ These are one of my favorites!
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Now for the back yard! Our son’s play area and his garden…not too much has changed here lately. I love that this area is adjacent to both our living room and my studio. That way, he can play outside and I can keep an eye on him while I work on other things.
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This flowers in the lower area of this planter got frost damaged at the beginning of last month, so those will have to be replaced soon. My roses are all currently pruned for winter and I can’t wait until they start blooming again!
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My husband initially thought I was coming up with crazy ideas when I told him I wanted to paint the accent pieces on our pergola the accent color that I used on the brick retaining walls. I love the pop of color on the pergola!
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My rambling roses that are I am training to climb up the pergola are unfortunately deciduous, but they are starting to get some new leaves again!aliciainwonderlandblog
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I special ordered most of my climbing roses last year, and for this gazebo, one of the roses that I was sent was an incorrect variety. I received a white rose instead of a pink rose. I was not happy about it and felt a bit nuts, like the red queen in Alice in Wonderland. I suppose that would make me the pink queen. πŸ™‚ Anyway, there was a delay with my reorder, and now the one leg on that gazebo is not as covered as the other two. I’m going to give that particular rose some extra TLC so hopefully it will catch up quickly this year. πŸ™‚aliciainwonderlandblog
The roses on our other gazebo are doing great!
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I did a couple of photoshoots in this gazebo over the weekend for clients, and I am so excited about using it going forward. They came out pretty amazing. πŸ™‚
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Here’s a sneak peek of one of the photoshoots I did in this gazebo so far!
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I also used this bridge in a session yesterday, even though this area is not actually finished yet (I did a few creative things to disguise that fact). We are going to use the rocks we ordered to build a dry pond and waterfall around this bridge. I can’t wait until that part is finished…then I plan to do “fishing” mini sessions! πŸ™‚
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My nasturtiums are back and quite full already! Last year they almost overwhelmed the garden!
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My husband finished our massive cage around the vegetable beds! Now we can have our veggies without fear of them being dug up by raccoons and/or possums or whoever it was that was causing all of the destruction.
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We hope to have the rest of these projects finished soon, so I will post more updates in about a month or so!

Wellness Wednesday: My Low-Maintenace, DIY, Non-toxic Beauty Routine

I know that many people are fed up with seeing posts online (mostly via Facebook) about essential oils, nail products, skin care, body wraps, eyelash extensions, etc. I apologize in advance because I am not trying to be one of “those people”. Simply put, I have found a few things that have been major game changers for me in my beauty routine, and I am just excited to share with you all. Before our son was born, keeping my hair and makeup well-kept was much easier. While I was always very health-conscious and concerned about using products that were environmentally friendly, I tended to use whatever worked best in the beauty department before I was a mom. Ever since I was pregnant with our son, my whole perspective on beauty products changed (previous post here). I started searching for natural options, and things free of all of the toxins. It has been an interesting journey, to say the least. Some things that I have tried did not go well.

I had actually planned to do this post months ago, but it took me a while to be able to put it all together. Plus, there were a few variations that I wanted to experiment with to make sure that I was giving the best possible advice.

The first thing in my repertoire is dry shampoo. I have very curly (frizzy) hair, and curly hair always tends to be dryer because of the uneven hair cuticle. One of the best ways to care for curly hair is to not wash it every day. That works great for a busy mom because it takes me a long time to blow dry my hair (air-drying is not an option for me…my hair is way too wild and it just gets too matted, tangled and unruly for me, despite a lifetime of trying everything and anything to get it to air-dry nicely). Let’s be honest though…skipping shampoos does wonders for my hair (and my time management), but my scalp is oily so it is kind of a double-edged sword. I used to buy those fancy dry shampoos in a bottle that you spray in your hair, which worked great. However the good ones are expensive, and full of pollutants and strange chemicals. I decided to try making my own dry shampoo, and this has been amazing.

Recipe:
1. 2 tablespoons corn starch
2. 2 tablespoons cocoa (or cacao) powder (omit for blonde hair)
3. 3-4 drops eachΒ dōTERRA essential oil: lemon (for cleansing), melaluca (also known as tea tree – for itching and cleansing), lavender (for cleansing and soothing), and peppermint (invigorating and refreshing).
4. Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse a few times until well blended.
5. Transfer contents to mason jar or other container.
6. When using, dab small amounts of the powder onto scalp with a makeup brush, massage into scalp, then brush thoroughly.

It helps with oilyness, itchy scalp, gives your hair a great refresh between washings, and saves tons of time (and money)!
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The next thing on my list is my recipe for the perfect detangler/leave-in conditioner/texture and shine spray for perfect beachy waves and curls. I use fresh aloe vera for a lot of things, especially when any of us gets a cut, scrape, bruise, rash, etc. It has such amazing soothing and healing properties for our skin, and I started to wonder if it would do the same for my hair. Spoiler alert…it does. πŸ™‚ I have spent most of my life hating my hair, wishing that I had been born with anything other than such frizzy, unruly hair. I am not exaggerating by any means, but ever since I started making this spray, I have finally started loving my hair for the first time ever. See, major game changer, right?

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1. To start making the spray, a piece of fresh aloe vera plant is essential. Cut off a piece about an inch in length, and place it in a food processor or blender. Liquify the entire piece until it is mostly smooth and creamy.
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2. Then poor that mixture over a very fine mesh strainer. It is slow to strain, but you want to separate out all of the fresh juice, leaving behind the bigger chunks and bits.aliciainwonderlandblog
3. Then mix about 1 teaspoon of the aloe vera juice with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, 2-3 teaspoons of filtered or distilled water, and 8-10 drops dōTERRA lavender oil (for soothing and healing the hair, as well as masking the scent of the raw aloe vera).
4. Mix well and pour into a spray bottle.
5. Spray onto hair before styling, when tangled, etc. Keep refrigerated between uses. Let sit out for a few minutes before using to reach room temperature, and shake very well before applying.

The other major breakthrough I’ve had with my hair lately has been with these jumbo foam curlers that I found at Target (similar ones here). My mom used to use foam curlers on my hair when I was a kid, and I wanted to try it out in an effort to use less heat styling. The first few attempts with the foam rollers were a bit disappointing. I even tried using them with things like coconut oil, steam, etc. and everything had slightly disappointing results. However, once I came up with the spray above, my results were drastically different. My hair came out with perfect Pinterest-worthy big waves and curls, without using the curling iron or hot rollers! This may not work the same if you are lucky enough to have naturally straight hair, but if you have wavy, curly, or frizzy hair, I definitely highly recommend trying this out!

I start with blow drying my hair to smooth it out. Then as I am getting ready for bed at night, I put in the aloe vera-lavender spray, brushing well to work the spray through. Then I section my hair into chunks and put in the big foam rollers. It works incredibly well, and my hair stays nicer all day than it does when I use the curling iron or hot rollers! It took my husband and son a few days to stop laughing at my hair in rollers each night, but they definitely appreciate seeing my hair down and nicely styled instead of shoved into an ugly bun in desperation. πŸ™‚

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Cell phone selfie of my hair…first time I was ever proud of my hair. πŸ™‚
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Speaking of getting ready for bed, I also made a natural makeup remover. Previously, I had always been afraid to use anything oily on my face because I tend to have acne-prone skin (thanks hormonal imbalance!). Then I kept reading online about how people were having great results with using coconut oil and castor oil to remove their makeup, and how it applies the like-dissolves-like principle. I knew that my regular face washing routine was not fully removing all of my makeup each night, so I decided to give it a try. Surprisingly, it works great, and has not given me any breakouts! I just apply it, massage it in, and wipe it off with a soft towel.

For the makeup remover, I mixed together:
1. 3 tablespoons organic coconut oil
2. 1 tablespoon organic castor oil
3. 3 drops each dōTERRA lavender (for cleansing and soothing), frankincense (for skin renewal and anti-aging), and melaluca oils (for cleansing and anti-acne).

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The last thing on my list has been something that I’m sure many people have heard of, but perhaps have not considered trying yet. I’m talking about Jamberry nails. When I was pregnant with our son, I started trying all different types of natural nail polish. None of the non-toxic options seemed to last longer than a day without chipping, even on my toe nails. I honestly don’t care if my fingernails are polished unless I am going to a fancy event (with all of my gardening, crafting, and cleaning the house, I am just happy if my fingernails are all the same length and clean), but I can’t stand going in public with unpolished toe nails. Since we live in Southern California, we keep our sandals in heavy rotation most of the year (it is almost November and still in the 80 degree range most afternoons lately).

I have been using Jamberry nail wraps for the past several months on my toes and have been so happy with them! They stay on for weeks at a time, which is amazing! They even hold up through all of my barefoot gardening and beach walks. πŸ™‚ Over the past few months, I found a few tips that work best for me with applying the Jamberry nails. The first couple of times I applied them they were okay, but once I got the hang of a few tricks, they have been beyond amazing.

Alicia in Wonderland blog - low maintenance, nontoxic DIY beauty

If you haven’t heard of Jamberry nails before, they are basically like a DIY, non-toxic alternative to salon gel manicures. They are adhesive strips that you apply to your nails with a hair dryer. It is pretty simple and great for moms because you don’t have to worry about your kids coming over and smudging your perfectly painted fresh pedicure (has happened to me many times before I tried these)! Also, they have so many fun, amazing designs to choose from! I have seen some nail wraps at the drug stores, but the patterns available there do not come anywhere close the the amazing options that Jamberry has available. πŸ™‚

Here are my tips for the perfect Jamberry manicure/pedicure:
1. Be sure to prep your nails well. Soak to make sure they are nice and clean.
2. Dry completely, then push back/clip any messy cuticles.
3. Lightly buff your nails, trim, and file them to get them prepared.
4. Wipe nails with rubbing alcohol pad.
5. Apply Jamberry strips per instructions.
6. Be sure to trim any excess tiny bits around the edges and sides of your nails. Anything that is not trimmed off will lift up, leaving your manicure or pedicure falling off when it could stay on for much longer otherwise. The easiest way I have found to trim all those excess bits is with a pair of sharp cuticle nippers (seen below).
7. Pay attention to the size and shape of your nails when applying. I am very petite, which means I have small feet, and therefore tiny little toe nails. I initially had a problem with keeping my pinky toe nail polished, but then I realized a trick that worked best for me. The cuticle bed of my pinky toe is tiny and flat, not rounded like the other toes. Once I trimmed off that rounded bit on the pinky toe wrap, it stayed on much longer! Trimming to fit your own toe nails’ shape/size is the most important part. πŸ™‚
8. Don’t rush when using the hair dryer to apply them. If you need to, stop the process and come back to the next few nails instead of cutting the applying time short. I often do a few nails, deal with the round of “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom”, and then come back to finish up the rest. πŸ˜‰

Alicia in Wonderland blog - low maintenance, nontoxic DIY beauty

If you would like to try Jamberry nails for yourself (and I definitely recommend that you do!), I have a Jamberry party set up over on Facebook here that you can join! My friend Kristin set up the event (and has very patiently rescheduled it multiple times for me while I tried to get this blog post together!), and she has a way of making these Jamberry parties so much fun. πŸ™‚

*Disclaimer: the post above contains affiliate links for your convenience. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to treat, prevent or cure any disease.