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Russian Tip Key Lime Filled Cupcakes!  


My oldest daughter has chosen our family Key Lime Pie for her "birthday cake" for years now.  Her sister and I decided to shake things up a bit this year and we surprised her with Key Lime Cupcakes with a mouthwatering recipe I found here.  When I licked the beaters (yes I still lick beaters!  You are never too old to lick beaters!), I couldn't believe how delicious they were!  No, I did not tint them, they were that color already from the lime jello in the recipe.

Then to up the wow factor, I cored them and filled them with our family Key Lime Pie filling!  We use a recipe a family friend shared with us decades ago - fast, easy and so delicious!  (Recipe at bottom.)


I've been wanting to try the amazing Russian Frosting Tips for so long now, and this was my excuse to finally order some.  My favorite how-to video is by Renee Conner here.   I think hers are perfect!  I made up my frosting "plug" with the darker shade in the middle and the stripes of food coloring on the plastic like hers, but sadly, mine didn't have that great contrast hers does, but they still turned out pretty and this was my first try!  Everyone just loved them and they took about 15-20 minutes to do all of them compared to two days hand piping all the other flowers!  (It was my first attempt at hand piping flowers too!)  I was sad to see how the colors changed as they dried, but still, everyone loved them!


 
For my fellow pedestal and cloche lovers - I made from two plates, a candle stick, a clear glass base that broke off something my daughter had, some E-6000 and a cloche I found all by itself at Home Goods.  You can see how I used them for Resurrection Day dinner here.  They are two separate pedestals for more flexibility, but I adore them stacked!

I used this Russian Tip.  I'm showing it with a normal #12 round tip to show how much larger they are.


So pretty and fun!  I found that if one didn't look right, I just scraped it off with a knife and did it again!  The roses cover the entire surface, so you never know!  I chose to add two shades of green leaves for interest.


A word about the frosting itself.   I have done so much reading about these tips and watched so many tutorials, that I knew they need a stiffer frosting consistency.  They made it clear that too soft would not work with Russian Tips.  I searched for the "perfect" recipe for success, but it required a powerful mixer.  She had a Kitchen Aid and said that it gets difficult for it to mix too!  I have only a very wimpy hand mixer and not a lot of ability to do it by hand.  Wanting so very badly for this to turn out well, I even priced a Kitchen Aid!  Yeah!  That's not happening.  

I saw that Wilton sells a tub of frosting already made.  It said that if you wanted to do flowers, to add more powdered sugar to it and/or refrigerate it.  Not so.  I added and added and added and refrigerated it, but it stayed utterly soft as I hand piped the flowers for the other cupcakes.  Two days in my fridge and they stayed soft and sticky!  One day in the freezer and they only improved a little bit, only to return to utterly soft at room temperature.  

When it came to doing the Russian Tip flowers, I knew that wouldn't work.  I ended up putting lots of powdered sugar and Meringue Powder into it and refrigerating it a long time.  When we took it out and tried it, even my very strong youngest daughter couldn't get it to come out of the tube.  She warmed it with her hands and we laughed at the irony.  Eventually she got it started and then we were able to make these very pretty roses!  It's still too soft for the crisp results that look best, but they did hold their form.  Wish the darker centers had shown. Perhaps I needed to make it much, much darker than I did in the center.  Next time!

So, if you, like me, have been wanting to try the Russian Tips for ages - try them!  They are amazing!  Everyone just loved them and these cupcakes and filling are astonishingly delicious!  

Key Lime Pie

Ingredients

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 small can limeade frozen
1 small carton cool whip
Vanilla Wafers (for crust)
green food coloring

Instructions

Lay the wafers as crust on the bottom of the pie pan and stand them up along the rim.  Mix the other ingredients and pour in.  Chill.

Ok, now you can make our Key Lime Pie filled Key Lime Cupcakes topped with Russian Tip roses too!   Thanks for stopping by and God bless you!


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Resurrection Day & Instagram Tile Chargers  

Praise God, we have been blessed with another Resurrection Day!  I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of this blessing God has given us through His only son, Jesus Christ!  I can't wrap my mind around the fact that the all powerful, perfect and holy God of eternity loved us enough to give His pure and innocent, holy life to pay the price to redeem us from an eternity in hell and has conquered death for us and even offered to be our Savior letting us spend eternity in heaven with Him!  It's shout'n time!  So marvelous!  I hope you had a great Resurrection Day too!

I thought you might like to see that I finally finished my Instagram tile chargers!!  They are every bit as gorgeous as I'd dreamed they would be!

I did a tutorial about them here.  Making these I found that I didn't need to use anything except ModPodge and Rustoleum American Accents 2x Ultra Cover Gloss Clear to seal them.  I used the ModPodge to attach the images, then after they dried, another coat to seal them.  After they cured, I applied many coats of the gloss within one hour and allowed them to cure.  The end result is a very glossy surface that resists moisture and is good for normal heat.  You would never take something from the stove top or oven and put it on them, but it's good for normal temperatures that would be on your plate. 

I just love how they turned out and here's my Resurrection Day tablescape with them.  The shiny Electra/Barbie doll eggs (from Walmart) go perfectly and held M&M eggs inside!  I made my pedestals out of two plates and a lonely cloche from Home Goods, a clear candle stick and a clear base broken off something my daughter had.  A little E-6000 and there you have some gorgeous and unique pedestals with a cloche for almost nothing.  I have been LOVING them stacked together with my Instagram Tile Charger tablescape. 


A few years ago, my youngest daughter sent me an enormous Hello Kitty edible arrangement for my birthday.  It was sooooo gorgeous!  I carefully kept all the skewers to reuse one day, and this meal was the day!  I followed this tutorial and made this happy arrangement.  It has a recipe for the pretty fruit dip with the sprinkles in front of the pedestals.  Talk about festive!  I was unable to find the Peeps cookie cutter locally and I couldn't get it from Amazon in time, so I used Peeps candy instead.  I found that using the plunger style cookie/pastry cutters left clear impressions on the melons, so there are chicks and Easter eggs made from them as well as stars, hearts, circles and cubes.  Fun!


 The Honey Roasted Carrots to the right of the pedestals were a HUGE hit too.  I made them from this recipe, using a bag of little carrots instead of the full carrots with leaves in the recipe.  I plan to make more tonight!


The Honeyed Ricotta Asparagus Bundles from this recipe were FANTASTIC too! Not only a great presentation, but oh so DELICIOUS!  The recipe called for three asparagus spears per bundle, but having extras left over, I ended up with five per bundle and it worked just fine!  I can't wait to make more!


I have wanted to make these gorgeous crescent roll carrots for YEARS!  I used the recipe here.  Yeah!  And just in case you have been wanting to make them too, I did go buy the metal cream horn forms, but there are only six per box, so I also made the aluminum foil forms for two of them and they worked just great too.  My thoughts are that since the metal forms are $3-6 for six of them, if you plan to make these more than once you'd be better off buying the horns than wasting all that foil every time you make them.  Just my opinion as I hate waste and unnecessarily fill up our landfills.


Have you noticed something different about our back door in this picture?  Our living/dining room has a brutal exposure in the summer and we have a plasma TV.  When we brought it home years ago we instantly found it was a giant black MIRROR and the reflection of all four windows and the door made it literally impossible to see the TV.  Being in the deep South, our southern sun also makes this living space unbearable in the hot months.  The answer to both issues has been perfect!  The yummy, soft brown blackout drapes work on the windows, but our metal door was another issue.  I didn't like the magnetic curtain rods and didn't want "curtains" that would be noticeable.  My oldest daughter came up with the perfect answer!  She bought blackout fabric yard goods that are a very similar color to our woodwork color.  We folded the fabric over and sewed a casing at the top and bottom and inserted heavy duty magnets in them, stitching around them to hold them in place.  Now when we need it, we just lift the top of it above the windows and it stays, no matter what!  When we don't want it, it hangs unnoticably below the window just waiting to assist the next time!  By putting the magnets inside the casing the magnets do not mark the door at all.  It stays put 100% of the time and it's wipe clean!  Ahhhh!  Well done darlin!

Back to the food - on the right above is the delectable Creamsicle Fluff from this recipe.  Oh it's SO GOOD!   And so pretty!

The festive bread nests with the eggs in the center looked gorgeous, but the recipe was not a winner at my house.  It was dry and tasteless.  I used the recipe here.  The tutorial was great, but next time I'll try a different recipe.

I also had a Pinterest fail on the drinks.  The recipe was for an alcoholic drink.  I substituted ginger ale.  I don't think that should have made it opaque instead of the dreamy translucency of the original tutorial here.  I don't know why mine wasn't gorgeous like her image below.  Sad about it's murky appearance, but oh it did taste wonderful!  Wish I knew the answer as this would be a PERFECT beverage for bridal and baby showers! *sigh*

 

These are Lemon Dill Chicken Salad Stuffed Eggs from my absolutely favorite blog, Home Is Where The Boat Is.  I highly recommend this blog to EVERYONE!  She has an astounding God given gift for making this world BEAUTIFUL and has fantastic recipes!  Run, don't walk to her blog and follow her so you don't miss a single day of her inspiration!

I so appreciate all the people who shared their recipes on line and hope you try some of these too.  Thanks for stopping by and God bless you all!





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Making Lemonade...Cake Pops!  

You know how life so often hands us a lemon and we get to figure out how to make it into lemonade?  Well, I think this is a great story of just that!

While grocery shopping, I saw a big box of very pretty cupcakes marked down.  It was so much less than I could make them for, and I was having company for dinner.  I bought them and oh so carefully nestled them into place for the ride home, thinking I'd embellish them in some way to make them special.  When I got home, it looked like I had been demolition driving with a heat lamp over them!  I knew I should take a picture, but I didn't.  

As I looked at them, knowing I didn't want to serve that mess to company, the lemonade solution came to me.  What was I seeing?  Cake...and frosting.............. CAKE POPS!!!!  Why not?

I love this lemonade! 

  • The big bunny pedestal is a new gift from my daughters from Pier 1.  I have been soooooo wanting him to go with my Pottery Barn bunny cupcake pedestal that I've loved for years.  I'm so excited to have them and so grateful!  Doesn't he look perfect holding the cake pops?  They go so perfectly with my daughter's Easter plates that I just found this afternoon.  They were among things she never took with her when she moved out.  :)  It all couldn't have gone together better if I'd planned the entire thing!!!
  • The cloche on the cupcake pedestal is from Home Goods.  
  • The ceramic chick and bunny baskets and matching salt and pepper shakers are Hallmark, bought from Kohl's.  
  • The tablecloth, (my favorite!) was from Bed, Bath & Beyond.  
  • The gorgeous crystal chargers were from Hobby Lobby (not actually chargers, but on clearance as the last remaining pieces of three tiered servers).  The eggs were paper maché from Hobby Lobby too.  I covered some with old book pages and mod podged diamond dust on them, painted some silver, some were left plain and some with only diamond dust.  I love them all!  A very easy project with a BIG payoff in person!  The moss filling the clay pots is from there too.
  • The glasses are Libby's Gibraltar from Walmart as are the napkins and candles too.  
  • The tiny clay pots and the flocked green bunnies were from Michael's.
  • I think the Easter plates were from Cracker Barrel.
  • The napkin ring roses were from MacRae's.
  • The flatware is Oneida's Michelangelo, also gifts from my wonderful daughters!
  • That just leaves the white basket weave plates.  They were from an outlet store in Nashville that no longer exists. 
Right after I got the new bunny pedestal, I posted a picture of it on Instagram and Bed, Bath & Beyond are featuring it!  I'm so honored!  LOL, I know so little about all that, that I have no idea where to look to find them featuring it!  I'm not even certain that I responded correctly, as they directed, so they can feature it, but they asked and I gave it my best effort!  LOL  This was the picture I posted:


He's holding pillars we cut from our much loved Bradford Pear tree that fell this time last year.  Also, some wild flowers.  It went with the spring garden motif of this tablescape.

BTW, If anyone wants to follow me on Instagram, my name is "lynettesphotoart" - LOL, big surprise huh?!?!?!

Thanks for dropping by and hope you enjoyed your glass of lemonade!!!  God bless you and yours!

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Who Knew? Curly Hair!  

This is such a funny story and such a shocking surprise!  I hope you'll read on and enjoy the journey with me.  It's all good - really!

We all know that some things will change as we age.  We've seen it in those around us.  We've watched it on TV and in movies.  It's no surprise...but there is a BIG surprise here!

We also know that we keep learning our entire lives.  There have been SO MANY things I've discovered in recent years that I wish I'd known all my life.  Little things about how I run our house or how I manage daily necessities.  Like figuring out that though I can't afford those amazing pull out drawers and shelves in my cabinets, I can achieve the exact same convenience, ease of access and ability to utilize every single square inch of my cabinets by using plastic trays, bins and even cut down cardboard boxes!  Oh yeah!  Life changing as the ability to crouch to get things out of lower cabinets becomes more difficult.  And by writing the names of spices on the lids, then when I pull the tray out, I instantly know which one to grab without searching through them every time!  (I know I've posted that project, but can't seem to locate it just now.)

However, I have run into a "change" that I have never heard of and would never have dreamed of and it's turned my world up-side-down!  One morning a few weeks ago, I woke to find my hair was one solid MAT from my ears to my waist!  I don't mean tangled, I mean a solid mat like behind your dog's ears!  I've never had even a tiny one before.  And so began my journey of discovery.  It turns out that EVERYTHING I have ever done concerning my hair was monumentally WRONG!  Who knew?  Thank God for the internet and so many people sharing knowledge!!!!

As I said, it was a SOLID mat, like in FELTING!  After all normal efforts failed to return it to HAIR, I thought, THE SHOWER!  The running water will help me untangle it and I can slather all manner of conditioners and oils into it!  That'll do it!  I even grabbed my giant jar of coconut oil and brought it with me.

Water made it worse (as I later learned on-line).  No hair product made any difference at all.  I turned to the coconut oil as a last resort.  I knew it would be solid as the house is cold, but I didn't realize it would take a chisel to chip any out of it at all!  I tried to melt chunks in my hand, then worked it into my hair.  I put so much in, but it made no difference at all.  I worked on it until I ran out of hot water!!!!

For TWO DAYS I worked on it!  Yes!  TWO DAYS!  I toyed with the idea of calling a beauty parlor and asking what they'd charge to "comb my hair", but their shrieks of laughter filled my imagination.

I gave up and did the unimaginable...I phoned my grown daughter in a neighboring town and asked her to "come comb my hair"!!!!  The irony was not lost on me!  All those years I cared for her gorgeous waist length hair and now I'm asking her to make a trip JUST to COMB MY hair!  LOL!  Was this the start of my second childhood???

Bless her heart, she came right away.  I had managed to move the mat from my ears to my shoulders, but all the rest was still solid.  I told her she could just cut it off, but she wouldn't.  After she'd worked on it for a very long time, and worked tons of coconut oil into it, I thought to ask for a photo.

(The cute "bend" is from having put it up in a towel.)




It took forever, but in the end, she only had to cut off a few inches.  When dried, it looks much shorter.  I am FOREVER grateful to her!!!  Thankfully, God has given me a fantastic daughter who rescued me!

From the crisis, the story is unfolding...or "untangling" LOL!  As she worked, she said there seemed to be little pieces of something black in it...

You need to know that we keep the house veeeeery cold in the winter to be able to pay our heating bills.  My daily attire includes boots, many layers and usually a coat.  Sometimes I also wear a hat, scarf and mittens (with the fingers open so I can work).  All that to explain that at night, I often wear a hat and scarf...a black fluffy scarf.  Yep! 

A little more back story...

My hair started thinning horrifyingly a couple of years ago.  All of a sudden when I looked in a mirror one day, I could see through my hair to behind me.  The doctor and hair dresser both said it was my imagination.  No.  I was never able to see behind me in the mirror before.  It's awful.  I started scarfing Biotin.  I don't know that it helps at all, but I still take it.  We all know hair thins for most of us as we age.  Still cruddy when it happens!

In recent months, my hair has been becoming more tangly.  I've never really had a problem with tangles before, even when I had a long, very curly perm.  Oh it was so beautiful, but too expensive to keep perming.  Oddly, I never had tangling or needed extra products for it?  Say, if you look at the bottom of the right column, there's a picture of me and my baby Muffy when I had that perm!

Back to "recently" - first I had to stop using a brush, then I started using a really wide toothed comb and my fingers to finger-comb. 

More recently I'd been having so much trouble with tangling when I washed my hair, that it had become a real chore.  I dreaded washing my hair now.  It was a BIG, exhausting job!  It was also not good for my thinning hair to put it through all that trauma every time.  I want to KEEP every strand I have!!!

It got so bad that, though I felt silly, I went to Walmart and looked for a detangler in the ethnic isle.  Silly because I'm about as white as you can be and felt out of place there.  There were SO MANY and pricey too!  I ended up actually seeking out a black female employee in the hair care department to ask for recommendations for a detangler.  She sent me home with a baby detangler that I was trying, but it wasn't really helping.

I had been very loosely braiding my hair for sleep, to keep it controlled and make sleeping easier (pulling etc.).  That didn't last long though.  Soon I couldn't separate my hair into three sections TO braid it!  I went back to just leaving it loose.  Two nights before the hairmare I had thought, hmmmm, if I wear my neck scarf OVER the hair (instead of under) to sleep, maybe that will control it.  The first night went fine.  The second night...behold the felted head!!!  She was finding bits of that scarf matted into my hair nightmare!!!   

Once she had me combed, I was afraid to go to bed lest it happen again.   I stayed up all night researching "how to sleep with curly  hair" on-line to try to avoid a repeat!

I have always had loose waives and tight ringlets at the nape of my neck.  I never would have thought of myself as "curly".  Since the top layer of my hair was always loose waives, and the underneath only a little more wavy, the ringlets at my neck seemed out of place.  As I read and watched videos, I learned everything I have ever done with my hair was wrong!  Pieces started fitting together. 

I remembered that the few perms I had through life always resulted with shocked hairdressers and me dubbed "poodle woman" by my girls.  When mouse and "scrunching" hit the TV, I found it gave me much more pronounced waives, but still didn't think of myself as "curly".

But here is the shock on "changes as we age" ... this last year, less actually, I have been getting more and more CURLY!  Under the blah top layer, I now have coils way too tight to insert a pencil into.  A doctor said hormone changes cause some women's hair to get curlier with age.  That can't be it for me as I had a full panel done just months earlier that showed there isn't a measurable speck of Estrogen in me and almost no Testosterone (yes girls, we are supposed to have a healthy chunk of that too, just not near as much as men).  So it's not a hormone change making me more curly.  I'd thought that maybe with less hair weighing it down (the thinning), more curl was showing.  I still don't know.  It's a MYSTERY!!!!

I have learned a lot on line about curly hair and here is some of it.  I hope it helps you.  There's a whole new vocabulary for curly haired girls, plopping, clumping, defining, co-wash, no-poo, pineapple, etc.!!!  You need to give up everything you thought you knew about hair care and be open to new ways.

Suggestions:
  1. All curly hair is different.  You need to experiment to find what works for you.
  2. The tangling is due to the curling.
  3. Everyone sheds 80-100 hairs every day.  Straight hair falls out freely, but shed curly hairs get stuck in our curls, contributing to matting.  When detangling, we are working the loose hairs out of our curls.
  4. The frizzing is due to dryness, even if your hair doesn't appear dry.
  5. Sleep on satin pillow cases to reduce friction as curly hair is fragile.
  6. For many, sleeping in a "pineapple" helps.  That's pulling it all on top and loosely banding so you aren't rolling around in it as you sleep.  Mine didn't work well this way as it's so very long, fine and thin.  I don't have the volume to make it work well.
  7. Brushing for most is a bad idea.  Wide toothed combs and finger combing are good.  Yeah!  At least I had finger combing right! 
  8. Never use a cotton towel - it frizzes the hair.  ???  Use a T-shirt!
  9. Then there's "plopping" - a way of putting wet hair up in a T-shirt.  I am doing that after every hair washing now.  A bonus is that putting your clothes on is easier without your hair getting bound up in your bra etc.  It's a breeze putting makeup on with your hair plopped too!
  10. Don't use HOT water on your  hair!  It strips essential oils from the hair that helps define the curls and reduce frizz.  I didn't even know what "defining curls" meant.  It just means that instead of the unruly wild mass I had, defining the curls makes them stick together into visible curls.
  11. Don't use shampoo with sulfates in them.  It also strips the oils as above.  
  12. Don't use products with silicone in them, they require sulfates to wash out.
  13. Don't use products with any kind of alcohol in them.  They also strip the oils.
  14. You don't even need to use "shampoo" - the "no-poo" movement.  Basically, because of the undesirable effects of shampoo on curly hair, many now "wash" with conditioner - "co-wash".  There are some cleaning agents in conditioners too and enough to do the job for our kind of hair apparently.  I'm currently using a sulfate free shampoo, but will experiment with co-washing once I get a handle on this and my hair settles down.
  15. Curlies should only wash about once a week.  With dryer hair, they don't get as greasy looking and it's gentler on the hair to "wash" more seldom and the oils are good for the curls.  I do get oily at the temples after three days.
  16. Finishing a wash with cold water closes the cuticle, reducing friz.  Ummmm...not this girl yet!  It's very cold in my house and I just can't make myself try that one yet!  Maybe in the heat of our Southern summer!!!  :)
  17. One person counseled to THINK about your hair and what you're doing with it/to it.  Don't treat it like a wig.  It's your hair and curlies need deliberate, special care.
The entire "how to" of a shower/hair wash is different.  I've watched tons of videos on how others do it.  They mostly don't mention when you get the "shower" part done, only the hair.  I started trying to do it all in the shower, with hot water going so I didn't freeze into a solid cube.  I found that I, like many on the videos, need an hour or more just to get detangled.  I run out of water and shudder to think of the electric bill!  So I am currently using this routine:
  1. I plan to use only water soluble products.  My goal is no sulfates, no silicone, no alcohol.  This way I do not have to use shampoo if I don't want to and they are more gentle to hair.  Many of these products can be "reactivated" simply by re-wetting and scrunching with a T-shirt the next day.
  2. Have the T-shirt arranged on the counter to plop when ready.
  3. Have sulfate free shampoo, or conditioner if you are washing with it and a wide toothed comb (just in case) in the shower.
  4. Get in and wet hair. 
  5. Shampoo scalp gently.  I'm using Shae Moisture Curl & Shine Shampoo. DO NOT PILE HAIR UP ON TOP OF HEAD TO LATHER LIKE ON TV, LIKE YOU ALWAYS HAVE!  IT JUST MAKES TANGLES!!!  (Oh how I wish I'd known this from the beginning - I've had long hair almost all my life!)
  6. Add some water from the shower and let the shampoo flow down your hair, rubbing between your palms as you go so as to clean, but not tangle.  (Never ever would have thought of that!!!)
  7. You can carefully squish the hanging hair too if you like, to work the shampoo/conditioner through it.  Like the scrunching motion.
  8. Rinse the same way.
  9. Then I use a very small amount Tresemmé Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner and all the tangles practically slip out by them selves!  Even better, it's under $6 for 25 oz!!!!  Just such a small dab works like magic!  I don't thoroughly rinse it out so I keep that amazing moisturizing.  
  10. Squish into hair with your hands in sort of a scrunching motion.  You should hear a "squish" sound.
  11. Consciously, deliberately, carefully work your fingers through the hair from tips to roots, detangling as you go.  As a last case alternative, use the wide toothed comb. 
  12. What do you do with the shed hairs that end up everywhere?  I stick them to the shower wall in a glob to collect them and save my shower plumbing.  I also put an inexpensive cover over the drain that's designed to catch hair.  It was $10.49 at Target.  When I get out of the shower, I get a square of TP to easily remove the hair I've collected, from the wall and the drain, and put them in the trash can (my plumber says never the toilet!).  
  13. When it's detangled, I use a claw clip and without coiling, twisting or anything I would have previously done, I put the clip half way down the length of my hair and then clip it to the top of my head to keep out of the flow of water while I bathe.  I have not created any new tangles, but this keeps it out of the water as I finish my shower. 
  14. Now is when I wash my body, shave, everything non-hair that is needed.  It may sound odd saying this, but I didn't find one video laying it out.  This is working for me.  And while I do this, the water dripping from my hair isn't a problem, falling in the shower. 
  15. Rinse your body off.
  16. I normally apply my Curl Keeper in the shower, just before getting out, but sometimes after I get out.  Apply generously from roots to tips.  Squish into hair with your hands in sort of a scrunching motion.  You should hear a "squish" sound.
  17. Once I get out of the shower, I do one of two things:
    1. I leave my hair over my head, dripping into the shower while I dry my body (from outside the shower), then I plop my hair in the T-shirt and dress.  OR
    2. I plop my hair in the T-shirt then dry my body and dress.
  18. Before plopping, apply any other styling products you want.  I am currently using Marc Anthony's Curl Envy.  I use a shockingly small amount (given the length of my hair) and it forms a nice cast.  Once dry, I scrunch it a couple of times to break the cast and it's soft and happy.  Finger comb and scrunch into the hair, hearing the "squishing" sound to distribute it evenly.
  19. After I apply the styling product, I scrunch and hold five seconds letting all the excess drip into the shower or sink.  I do this all over my head until it stops dripping.
  20. Plopping is as simple as picking a long sleeved T-shirt, laying it on the counter/commode with the neck closest to me.  With my hair over my head, I let it coil onto the center of the T-shirt, then bring the bottom of the T-shirt to the back of my neck and pull the arms around my head and back to the front where I tie them in a knot. 
  21. It's easy to dress with the hair safely out of the way. 
  22. It only takes a minute to dress.  I leave my plop at least 10 minutes, up to an hour.  
  23. When I take it out of the plop, I squish/scrunch the hair thoroughly, using the T-shirt. 
  24. As I do this, I'm continuing to handle my hair thoughtfully and deliberately to keep it detangled.
  25. Now I make my part and scrunch a LOT with the T-shirt, holding for 5 seconds to let the curl return to it's natural state.  I scrunch with hair over my head and also upright leaning to each side with it hanging down.
  26. Everyone agrees that letting it air dry WITHOUT TOUCHING IT WITH YOUR FINGERS (apparently it makes it frizz) is the best thing to do.  So hard not to touch it!!!
  27. Mine, though thin and fine, takes most of the day to dry on it's own, so this isn't being workable for me.
  28. They say you can use a diffuser till the hair is 80% dry and I find out that I've been using a diffuser (blow dryer) wrong for decades!  They say to hold it vertically at the bottom of your hair and guide the hair to coil up on top of the diffuser.  You do that till it's against your head THEN you turn it on!  Low to medium heat and only 30-45 seconds!  Then TURN IT OFF and pull it away from hair.  WHO KNEW?????   Really?  Who knew?  What a difference it makes!
  29. Even using the diffuser, it takes half a day for my hair to dry and that's with TONS of scrunching with the T-shirt.  I'm hoping to improve with more practice cause this is a ridiculous amount of time, effort and money to put into HAIR!  LOL!
  30. When it's dry, flip your head upside down and rub your scalp with your fingertips.  I always did this part.  It fluffs it and makes it look more natural.
  31. If the top is flat, I got Roller Ball Clips that you clip across your part and wherever you want on your head and leave for just 10-20 min.  They even help when the hair is dry.  I have learned that sometimes they make undesirable effects that I then have to dampen and scrunch again.  I have so little hair that they don't work fantastically on my wet hair, but better on it dry.
  32. I have better results using a mini version of the Diva Clips.  They are HUGE!  My thin fine hair couldn't handle them at all.  Even the Roller Clips want to lay flat on my head (due to lack of volume).  So I got the old fashioned pin curl clips and use them the same way as the Diva Clips, to lift the top of my hair from the roots.  I use them for the last little time of drying, not the entire time.  It's tricky removing them as the hinge part wants to tangle in my curls and that kills them.  Slowly and carefully!!!
  33. Any section of hair that isn't curling nicely, I just re-wet with my fingers, curl around two fingers, then I wrap my towel around my fingers and squeeze to absorb the moisture before releasing the curl.  Voilá!
I will say that I'm shocked at the difference in my hair after just a month of this new regime.  I guess I've been handling my hair type wrong all my life and now that it's even curlier, the crisis brought me to where I should have been all along.  I could have had much lovelier hair all along, had I known.  On the down side, it was so much cheaper only using a cheap shampoo and conditioner and occasionally a spritz of spray rather than all these products and none of them cheap!  It was also almost no work vs this life-consuming regime.

I had always been able to get 2-3 days per shampoo.  With the products I first tried with this new curly girl thing, I had much nicer day 2 and 3 hair with minimal refreshing.  Mostly I just got up, flipped it over my head, rubbed my fingers against my scalp to fluff, then moistened and scrunched a very few strands around my face. 

I've literally spent several hundred dollars buying products suggested by video tutorials and that comply with the lengthy list of "do not use products with these ingredients on your curly hair!".  I guess it's like they said, every curly hair is different.  Experiment and see what works for you!  I have ruled a lot of products out and settled for now on these.

Now as you look at these "after" pictures, be merciful remembering I'm wearing LOTS of layers of clothes as it's COLD in here!!!  :)  Hey, that's my "plopping" T-shirt drying in the background!  LOL!  Isn't God great???  Even though I have thin fine hair, by His giving me the curls, it looks like I have SO MUCH more than I really do!  Thank you God!!!!  Really!


I can't believe all that's natural!  A lifetime of thinking I had yuck hair when all I had to do was know how to care for it!  I'm pulling the top aside to show you how much curlier it is underneath, but now even the top is curly!  :(  It's not to my waist any more since the "hairmare" :(  But it will grow again!  When it's wet, it's still past my waist.

After the hairmare, for a while I frequently had smaller mats try to form at my neck.  I sprayed them with water, then detangler and worked a small amount of conditioner into it.  They came out pretty easily that way.  Now that I'm using the Tresemmé conditioner, that never hasn't happened again!

And I'm overjoyed to tell you that I can easily divide my hair into three sections to braid for sleep now!  When some people braid their hair then take it out later, it's all weirdly bent.  I find that loosely braiding my hair now does not change my curl pattern at all.  I take the braid out, fling it over my head, rub my fingers on my scalp to fluff it and it's just like it was before braiding!

I even tried sleeping with it all on top my head on one of those fat bendy curlers.  I use three huge bobby pins to secure it to my head as the weight of it was pulling my hair when I laid down.  No problem with the pins.  My hair was dry when I put it up and it looked no different in the morning at all.  It also had no tangles and the curls looked just like the day before.  I found it uncomfortable and made sleeping difficult.

So, if you are aging and getting the surprise of your life waking up with felted curly hair, know you aren't alone!  And if you're just now learning how to take care of the hair God gave you 61 years ago, well you aren't alone on that one either and it's a hoot!  I hope this information has helped and saved you the days of searching the net for answers that I put in.

Thanks for dropping by, and reading till the end!!!  God bless you and yours this new year!

UPDATE:
I found both the Curl Envy and the Tresemmé Naturals at CVS on sales!!  :)

An important development was finding EWG's Skin Deep website and then their free app.  They collect the ingredient data for countless products and rate them 1 to 10 for safety based on the ingredients.  They give you ratings for three categories:  cancer, developmental/reprotoxicity and allergy.  That's awesome because many times they show a "low" risk for the first two and a "high" risk for allergy.  Well, if I've used it a long time and had no reaction, I feel I can ignore that number.  They show you which ingredients are of concern too, rating them.  It's pretty awesome!

I had noticed some of the new hair products I was trying printed in the directions to "wash hands after use".  I thought that odd, but innocently didn't put it together that there were scary things in it.  Boy do I wash after doing my hair now!

All around it's been eye-opening and a bit jarring.  I scanned all the health and beauty products I have.  They didn't have all of them listed, but say now that someone scanned them, they will look into it.  I found I'd been using a product rated 9 out of 10!!!  No more!  Things I'd never have thought of being a risk, like my Ultra Calming Makeup Removing Wipes, rated a 6.  Very unsettling, I found that the L'Oreal Mineral Makeup powder I've used for YEARS, the first makeup I put right on my skin, is a 7!  

Now I use the app to scan products at the store before purchasing them.  It's very helpful.  Thank you EWG!!!!!

For the hair products I'm currently using, they rated like this and the risk numbers were entirely "allergy":
Shae Moisture Curl & Shine Shampoo - 1
Tresemmé Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner - 4
Curl Keeper - not rated
Marc Anthony's Curl Envy - 5

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Glorious fun with tiles!  

A while ago I saw some magnets made of 2"x2" tiles on Pinterest.  They were so adorable!  The idea of making some has been swirling in my dreams for a while now.  Here's the preview image from The Surznick Common Room:


http://www.thesurznickcommonroom.com/2014/06/diy-instagram-magnets.html

I finally got to make some with my daughter's design on them and and they are SO adorable!   She gave them to her employees as part of her "goodbye" gifts, since she is being transferred. 

I've been mulling over ideas for what else I could do with these cuties for a while now.  I love magnets, but there are only so many you can have/give to others and I LOVE this idea and want to do LOTS of it! 

The basic idea is the cool 3D look of 2"x2” tiles with miniature “Instagram” pictures on them, and frost that off with getting to save and enjoy your most favorite images on things that are actually useful, not out of sight in a book or drawer!  

I came up with a few ideas and made mock ups in PhotoShop to see how they would look.  I do this to be sure I will like the final results when a project will either cost more than just a little or will take a lot of time and effort, just to be sure before I start.  I started with a photo of my table and then graphically added the tile pieces with black backing and turned the color of my placemats black too.

I do not own the images on the tiles in these mock ups.  I used many of my fav Instagram images for these mockups, so I could get a genuine idea of how it would look.  No copyright infringement is intended, only compliments!  These projects have not been made yet, just mock ups.  Ok, the disclaimer handled, now for the fun stuff!

My first original and exciting idea was to make a table runner of them.  If a few are pretty, more is better, right???  I love the idea of a "hot pad" the entire length of the table, how awesome is that??  I love the look and it would be SO handy without the utilitarian look of a trivet!  I'd have a 12" plain black drop at both ends.  The fabric runner underneath not only protects the tabletop, but frames the images perfectly!

The tiles wouldn't need to be attached to the fabric, which would make storage much easier, the fabric washable and the runner/placemats usable for other tablescapes as well.  Who has room for lots of one-use-things?  The tiles come with 36 2" squares attached in a square.  Their weight is enough to hold them in place on the fabric runner and are a good size to stack easily for storage.  

I'd use plain black placemats and napkins at the place settings to go with it and plain white dishes.  The need for a heat proof sealant is problematic, though I'm sure it's solvable.




Scale that idea down and I got placemats!  They are no thicker than many chargers I've seen, or the woven hyacinth ones I have (in the mock ups above, from Home Goods).  I love it!  Just as cool as the runner, but smaller and wouldn't have to be heat proof!  One could use just the square of tiles (36 tiles) as it comes for a square charger, and could sit them on black square placemats. 

I'm not a square placemat girl.  I want enough room to put everything right on my placemat and charger!  It just so happens that one and a half sheets of tiles, laid together perfectly fit standard rectangular Hemstitched placemats!   By pushing them together, you can't tell the last 3 rows aren't attached to the big square.
Example of the Hemstitched placemat.





Sweeeeet!!  I don't know about you, but I'm over the moon about this!  I just adore this!!!  So in love with this!

Another project I thought of using these precious little tiles is a serving tray!  I can't wait to make one of these too!!!!  LOVE IT!!!



Buy an inexpensive tray, cement the tiles in place and top with a piece of glass!  Voila!  (I don't grout these projects because you loose that wonderful 3D look and feel.)

This is how I did it:

For the magnets I made, I went to Lowes and Home Depot shopping the tiles.  Lowes had some I really liked.  They were much thinner than many and the edges are roughly beveled, but they aren't white.  They're way too much off white.  Home Depot had white, but they were thick, heavy and a whopping $10 per sheet compared to Lowe's $3 per sheet. 

For the Instagram effect, I needed the edges to be white.  Just for the record, acrylic craft paint won't work.  I bought a can of Rustoleum primer and paint in one and sprayed them white.


Once cured, they are perfect!

The substance they are connected with cuts easily with a razor knife.  I found that a bit of it stays on the tiles.  Just a little more attention with the knife removed the residue.

My results were best this way:
  • have your design laser printed
  • have a dry wash cloth handy
  • brush a thin layer of ModPodge on the back of the pictures
  • position the picture on a tile
  • use the cloth to gently press the picture down, absorb any excess ModPodge and move it into perfect placement
What tore up using my fingers went on perfectly with the cloth!

Let it dry, then add a layer of glossy ModPodge over the top to seal it.  Frankly I plan to buy a can of glossy spray sealant for paper and try it next time.  I already had the ModPodge, but the texture it leaves is not ideal for my liking on this project.

Once this dried thoroughly, I used the wonderful, marvelous E-6000 cement from Hobby Lobby to attach the magnets to the backs.  Thanks to Michael's 40% off coupon, 52 magnets were $5.88 including tax.  Let the cement cure and they are ready to move to their new "homes", beautifying whatever you have that's metal!

I can't wait to make the placemats and tray!  I mean I REALLY can't wait!  I'm in the process of going through my image files and choosing my favorites to use.  SO MANY YEARS OF PICTURES!!!!!  Ahhhhh!  A big job for a perfectionist, but a blessing too with so many wonderful memories as I go through them.  I'm also going to use scripture inspirations throughout the project too which will make them so much more uplifting and awesome!  There's nothing like being reminded of God's Word, His Holiness, His righteousness, His goodness and faithfulness toward His children to lift your spirits and really make your day!

I hope you enjoyed this and maybe got inspired to make some for yourself!  I'm thinking CHRISTMAS GIFTS too!  You could make a project from someone's Instagram account and give them to them as a gift!  I've got to think they'd love it as they loved their images enough to post for the world to see.  

Thanks for dropping by and God bless you and yours!

UPDATE:  I have now made three trays for Christmas gifts and have a tip to help in case you try them.

When I finally found trays that would work with the 2" increments I needed, I ended up needing more than one solid sheet of tiles.  This creates an issue of the additional rows of tiles not always aligning perfectly to the main sheet of tile, if I just laid them in the tray as planned.  The easiest solution is to cement the tiles to the tray with E-6000.  However, I wanted the tiles to be removable in case someone wanted to use just the tray alone =  no permanent installation.

I know I could caulk/grout the tiles together and then lay them in the trays as a solid unit, but I LOVE the 3D look and even the little spacer connectors.  Just LOVE it and don't want to do anything to loose that 3D.  I was sad when I tiled my kitchen backsplash and the dimension disappeared when I grouted.  Not again!!!  :)  I adore the 3D of these little tiles!

I am putting the tiles in black trays, so whatever I did needed to be black, and veeeery thin as the handle openings just accommodate the tiles.  I had some black screening left from re-screening my back door.  Perfect! 
  • First I got rid of any little tags of the stuff they stick the tiles together with (to regulate their spacing).
  • Then I laid them on their face on foil (to protect my surface).
  • I ran a bead of E-6000 around all the outer edges, then a dot in every tile's corners.
  • I carefully laid the black screen scrap over them, pressing them into the cement.
  • Then I did the same for the loose rows, putting some cement on the connecting spots too.
  • I pressed the screen down being sure the loose rows were snug and lined up perfectly.
  • Let cure 24 hrs.
Now there is an "invisible", strong common backing for all the tiles.  They can be handled as one sheet and will always line up perfectly.  Their new owners will be able to remove them for any reason, as well as change out the images on them by ModPodging new ones over the top.   Yeah!  They are all so cute!  I can't wait to see people's responses!

Hope this helps!

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