Monday, December 31

Five Ways to Make Sure You Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

This is a guest post from Jeremiah Brocka that writes about self-help, education, and addiction at Addiction Watch.

Every new year, people make resolutions to better themselves. Gyms and tracks are flooded with new members trying to lose weight, people take up new hobbies, etc. However, by the first stroke of March, the crowds have tapered off from all the cooking and dance classes, because people have given up their hopes of the New Year. How can you keep yours this year? Read on for 5 great tips for keeping that resolution.

Start Now
The longer you continue to do something, the more you are going to want and crave it. Now, that doesn't mean you must quit cigarettes cold turkey right this instant. However, make it easier on yourself for when New Year's Day rolls around. Limit yourself from a full pack to half a pack now, and then slowly cut down in the remaining days until New Years.

Set Realistic Goals
One of the reasons people fail at their resolutions is because they tend to create these tremendous goals. For example, individuals who drink too much say they are going to never have a sip of alcohol again once the ball comes down on midnight. For true alcoholics, this decision might be a necessary one. When it comes to people who simply need to cut back though, they might first aim to drink only on weekends and special occasions. As the months progress, they can decide to eliminate the weekends. Having small goals is often one of the best ways to achieve the overall goal.

Ask for Help
In some situations, it's going to be difficult to cut out the addiction by yourself. People who are addicted to drugs may need to seek the help of counselors if they simply cannot resolve the problem by themselves. Even those who have an addiction to food are often best served by a nutritionist who can tailor a diet plan that is specific to their particular needs. Of course, all help does not need to be of such a serious level. If your spouse goes for a run each morning and your resolution is to join him, tell him to make sure that he does not allow you to stay away.

Re-evaluating Goals
So you are now in the middle of March, and you realized that going to the gym every single day is not quite working. You have no time to clean the house, and you're simply beyond exhausted. You don't want to completely throw your goals to the curb, but something needs to change. Don't be afraid to re-evaluate your goals and to make a new plan. Certainly, you do not want to be changing things up every single week, but it's fine to make the decision to go to the gym every other day as opposed to every day.

Friday, December 14

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I was sad when I returned to the parking lot after my experience in Middle-earth. I love that world so much and I didn't want to leave again. Not that I didn't have some minor issues with the film, but overall I loved this movie and was quite happy to see this franchise back on the silver screen. At the last minute I decided to see it in 24fps just like the first films. It was a hard choice, but I haven't quite adjusted to faster frame rates just yet. It doesn't feel right to me to view films that way, like it's live theater or something, and they seem to lose their charming cinematic feel. It was unfortunate to miss out on the 3D, but not on the headache. Reports are claiming that it's really bad and I personally have had issues myself with 3D in the past. I would have done the 3D if it wasn't for the 48fps though.

One aspect that I didn't enjoy, even though the overall experience was wonderful, is that I wish there was less CG and more practical effects. I miss the full body creature makeup because it seemed so much more real and tactile. This film is cluttered with CG, and that definitely takes away from the gritty realistic feel of the first trilogy. That, and the perfect hair of the dwarfs bothered me a little. Great character designs, but I don't know where they find the time to tend to their intricate hairstyles while out on adventures.

Another thing I wasn't into was the humor and speech of the goblins, trolls, and orcs. In comparison to the first trilogy, this was poorly done, making them seem more human with comic relief that wasn't necessary or really working. Something more guttural or hissy would have been preferable.

Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed it, recommend it, and will be there next year when the second one comes out. The art direction, costumes, lighting, and sets were once again a thing to behold and it made me nostalgic for my first time. Espically Rivendell and the elves which will always be my favorite.

Happy movie watching!

Thursday, December 13

Looking to Break into the Arts World? 5 Useful Degrees You Should Consider

This is a guest post from Walter James that writes about the arts, education, and more. His proudest piece is on the ten best degrees for intellectuals.

Are you anxious to begin your career in the dazzling world of art? If so, you have many options for a long, fulfilling career. However, just as with any industry, the path to your dream career can be filled with competition and hardships. You really need to understand the art world if you wish to be successful in it. The best way to do that is to become properly educated. You need to have the right degree if you want to enter a competitive master's program that will connect you to the job of your dreams. The following degrees are the best choices for anyone who wants to work in the art world.

1) Applied Arts
If you want to be an artist, then you probably already have a good degree of talent. However, you will be taught to hone in on your abilities in art school. An applied arts program will give you the chance to expand your horizons and technique. Plus, you will be given the opportunity to work with new mediums. You cannot expect to become a great artist if you are not properly trained. Plus, a degree is the best option for people who want to become teachers or art dealers in addition to owning a studio.

2) Art History
Art History is a must for anyone who wants to work in the art world. However, it is the best degree for someone who wants to work in a museum or gallery. You need to know specific dates, styles, and artistic movements if you are going to be a professional. A degree of this nature can be broad or specific depending on the student's interests. Many Art History degrees also give lessons in curatorial management as well. An Art History degree is a must for someone who loves art, and wished to pursue it as a career.

3) Business
Business may seem like an odd choice for someone who wants to work in the art world. In truth, it is actually a great way for people to learn how to run a gallery or auction house. A Business degree combined with a focus in the arts is probably the most useful degree one could attain from an undergrad degree. It will prepare you for graduate work, or make you ready for a job in a prestigious firm such as Sotheby's or Christie's.

4) Graphic Design
Graphic design is the best major for the modern artist. You will be taught the best ways to produce work with digital media. You can then go on to a master's degree or work in an advertising firm. A graphic design degree is probably the most relevant and useful in today's world.

5) Classical Studies
Classical Studies is a focus on ancient culture, history, and art. This degree is ideal for someone who wishes to specialize in Greek and Roman art or architecture in graduate school. It is a unique degree that will stand out when applying to graduate schools.

Wednesday, December 12

Experience vs. Education - What Do You Need to Make it as an Artist?

This is a guest post from Walter James that writes about the arts, education, and career development. Recently, he has written a series of pieces on how to find the best online colleges for liberal arts degrees.

Art is a field into which many decide to venture, and it's quite broad. From painters and sculptors to writers and actors, art is really ever expanding. Some will say that a degree in an artistic field is useless, and they are quite incorrect. However, experience is a necessary factor of the equation as well. Since both experience and education are generally necessary components to succeeding in this field, what needs to be taken into consideration to determine the best path for yourself?

Current Success
Sometimes, education might fall to the wayside if you are already quite successful in the field. Perhaps you wrote an excellent novel right after high school, and now this work of art is bringing you in a sizable amount of money. In this scenario, obtaining a college degree might not be too useful if you continue to work as a novelist. However, if you wish to start teaching at a public high school, receiving an education degree is likely necessary.

Specific Plans
The difference between experience and education comes more into play when you start to discuss your specific plans for the future. For example, maybe you are more of a behind-the-scenes type of person and wish to work as a stagehand. In this case, a trade school, coupled with plenty of experience working with the stage crew on local and high school productions, will likely be the better route than a traditional college degree. Discussing your specific goals with an academic adviser will help to paint a better picture of the route you should take.

Making Contacts
In any field, knowing powerful and reputable individuals is one of the pathways to success. However, this truth becomes even more relevant in the arts, which is an extremely difficult business to break into. When it comes to making contacts, both experience and education are very important. Clearly, if you are working on local or even state productions, then you are meeting with individuals in the field. In receiving a formal education, you can make contacts with professors, peers, advisers and professionals at your internships.

Backup Plans
To truly make it as an artist, you're likely going to need some money to support you while embarking on artistic adventures. Remember, some gigs might be unpaid at first. Obtaining experience does not always guarantee a paycheck at the end of the production or writing a novel. Therefore, attending college is a smart idea, especially if you decide to double major. Having another field of study in which you can engage can help to pay the bills while you are busy dabbling in the wonderful world of the arts.

When you are deciding whether to jump right into job experiences or head off to college, the most important factors to consider are your ultimate goals. Once you have clearly defined that goal, find out what the requirements are for such a position. This way, you'll truly know what type of experience and/or education you must have to secure this job. Also, consider your other goals - do you want to have kids soon? Do you want to have money so that you can travel? Consider these options when deciding whether to obtain a credential or simply go for the gold first.

Tuesday, December 11

Break the Addiction to Lip Balm and Cure Chapped Lips

I know what you're thinking, "Not my precious ChapStick! It's my favorite, and it works. I swear!" Well it doesn't do any good, and if anything, it keeps lips chapped. Here's why:

Most lip balms are made of mineral oil, which is a by-product of the distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline. This toxic oil coats the lips making them seem smooth, but in actuality it's like a layer of plastic on the lips/skin which prevents it from breathing. Natural moisturizing cannot occur, making chapped lips worst by drying them out even more. Using Petroleum Jelly is just as bad.

Then there's the issue of artificial colors and flavors that do the same thing. They make matters worst and are most likely made with fragrance or synthetic dyes that cause cancer, damage the immune system, and cause brain issues. The same can be said for any food or cosmetic that contains these ingredients.


Here are some real ways to combat chapped lips:

- Stop licking lips. Human saliva drys out the lips and leaves it exposed to dry air. So try to break the habit of licking lips. It doesn't help matters if one is wearing a tasty artificially-favored gloss that promotes licking. 

- Drink more water. Chapped lips occur mostly in the cold autumn and winter months when air is dry from heaters and fireplaces. This means dehydration is most likely a factor. Make sure to get plenty of water, not only from drinking, but from fruits and veggies with a high water content as well.

- Go for the greens. To keep lips/skin from drying out, make sure to eat loads of awesome dark greens. Broccoli, spinach, lettuce, and dandelion are particularly rich in vitamin A which encourages cell turnover, deters dryness, and helps keep the skin supple. I have a great example of this, because it seems like I was immune to dry lips all season and then I went out and ate some crappy food at a restaurant. The next morning, no joke, my lips were all chapped and cracked open down the center. All because of poor food choices! Let your food be your medicine, even for chapped lips.

- Get some sun. Again, this isn't a coincidence that chapped lips happen more in the overcast months of the year. Some time in the sun helps heal dry skin and eczema, and the same goes with lips because of the much needed vitamin D. Perhaps it's time to book that dreamy vacation in sunny paradise.

- Exfoliate in the shower. This helps so much, and I wish I would have learned about it sooner! The skin on our lips is practically the same as the skin on our body. If in need, a good exfoliation works wonders. I find that this is easiest in the shower after the lips are dampened by water. Just take a soft wash cloth and gently buff dry skin off in a circular motion. This will be an instant improvement, and it's now a part of my normal routine year-round to help keep chapped lips at bay.

- When in doubt go without. The body knows what it's doing and it wants to heal itself. We just have to be kind to it, and stop getting in the way. If you want to take the natural approach to healing it faster, try applying jojoba oil (recommendation because it's a light oil and similar to the skins own sebum), olive oil, or coconut oil. This is especially helpful right after a shower or bath because water strips the skin of moisture.

Good luck, keep at it, and it will improve. Promise.
♡ Claudia

Monday, December 10

Heal Your Face by Markus Rothkranz

Heal Your Face was actually how I discovered Markus' work and I'm so glad I did because it has changed my life for the better. I just stubble upon an interview one day and knew that I had to read the book, and keep in contact with Markus (he's great by the way, and so kind). To my surprise he had loads of other content, so I didn't want to start with this one first. Heal Yourself 101 is a must read before Heal Your Face because it goes hand and hand with what he talks about in it.

They're both so profound and I've learned a ton of new things, some of which I already implemented in my daily routine. Also, I look at others and myself differently now. It's fascinating how the face can tell so much. Here's some of the things I've changed already:

Lots of Seaweed - The one thing that Markus recommends to take away from the book above all else is to eat more seaweed because it helps with just about everything. I started blending some fresh seaweed into my morning juices and I started eating more with lunch as well. It's going to be a new Claudia staple. 

Papaya - Helps the liver and has loads of vitamin C, which is great for the skin. Sadly I had never tried one before, and I wanted to change that. So I got one, and blended it too. I was surprised by its smell and taste though. It was more bland than I imagined and had a soft musky aroma. Nevertheless, it's something that I'll eat now from time to time, keeping it in my rotation of fruits. 

Cut Back on Hot Liquids - This one surprised me, but it makes sense. It's not natural to drink hot things and it should be kept at a minimum. I never drank super hot liquids anyway because I knew that that can damage the throat and cause cancer, but now I'm going to limit it further and let my teasanes cool down more. What happens is that the body thinks it has a fever and increases the white blood cell count, we get a little high from it (that's why hot liquids are so comforting), but then over time it can wear on the body if it happens too often. Fascinating indeed that something so minor could be a big deal. 

Spend Time in a Dry Sauna - Saunas in general are great because they're so relaxing and can even burn fat after 30 minutes. I'm so fortunate to have one of these, so I have no excuses and I love going because it feels so good. I can pair 10-15 minutes of sauna time with exercising to get a full hours worth of sweating. It cannot be a wet sauna though, because the chlorine in the water is not so good.

Broccoli - Helps fight sugar additions! I never knew this and is a must for when I can't help my sugar cravings. This usually happens after birthdays or holidays, when I have problems giving it up again.

Onions - I never knew how epic onions are either. Like super epic, good for practically everything, and help keep the body young. So I need to find a way to eat more onions. I blend garlic in my juice, so why not start doing onions too. Haha, nobody is going to partake in my blended juices with me anymore because they're getting too scary and hardcore. Seaweed, garlic, and onion smoothies. Yum! Does the body good.

It's a must read. Get it here:

"Unhappy with your face? Your body is trying to tell you something. Every line, wrinkle, spot, mole, and crease means something. They did NOT just randomly show up on your face. Every part of your face is connected to an organ or body part. If that body part is not functioning properly, it will show up on your face. No amount of cream will change that. If you want to improve your face, you must improve your health. And lucky for you - your face tells you exactly what's wrong with you. Forget plastic surgery - you can do it yourself. After reading this book, you will never look at people (or yourself) the same way again. You will instantly be able to tell what issues they have. And they will wonder why you now look 20 years younger!"

Cheers and here's to happy, healthy living.
~Claudia

Thursday, December 6

Vegan Brownies Perfect for the Holidays

 Oh the delicious decadence!

I don't know about you, but this time of year is the hardest on me as far as diet is concerned. For the most part my good habits go out the window, because the nostalgia kicks in and I want to partake in all of the yummy sweet holiday treats that I enjoyed as a child. Every year I tell myself to behave, and every year it doesn't happen. It's very hard to fight.

So if a little cheating is inevitable for the holidays, try this amazing brownie recipe (can be made vegan with a few tweaks). My friend made them for a party and I had to ask for the recipe because it was so good.


~~Makes about 24 brownies~~
(All ingredients are preferably organic)
1 (16 ounce) jar of creamy raw almond butter
2 eggs
1 cup of raw honey
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of cacao powder
1/2 teaspoon of Celtic sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 cup of dark chocolate chips

Optional
1 cup of raw walnuts
1 cup of raisins

Vegan Egg Substitutions
1 egg = 1 flaxseed mixture*
or
1 egg = 1/3 cup applesauce

* 1 tablespoon of flaxseed meal mixed with 3 tablespoons of hot water. 
Let mixture sit for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until it gets gooey like an egg
---
In a large bowl, blend almond butter until smooth
Blend in eggs, then the honey and vanilla
Blend in cacao, salt and baking soda, then fold in chocolate chips
Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish or cupcake pan with coconut oil
Pour batter into dish
Bake at 325° for 30-35 minutes


There you have it! We enjoyed the vegan variety and they were heavenly. No gluten and no dairy for the win! I'm not claiming these are healthy whatsoever, they're just a happy middle ground. It's a treat without most of the really harmful ingredients like chemicals, dairy, flour, peanuts, white sugar, and processed oils.

Make it for your loved ones this holiday season.
~Claudia

Wednesday, December 5

Look of the Month :: Winter 2012 :: December

I absolutely love this time of year. Who doesn't! I'm getting excited to travel to snow-covered lands and gather with loved ones to celebrate the holidays. It's getting so cold out, but nothing compares to a good snowfall, and I'm hoping to have a white Christmas this year. That would just be splendid. So of course to complement that completely, here's a rich vampy party look for the end of the year. Dark oxbloods are still all the rage, so don't be nervous to play up both eyes and lips this season. It's rare that one can, so go for it and have fun.            

The current look is:
D E C E M B E R  2 0 1 2


Color trends for this month:
Oxblood, crimson red, cream, black, and antique gold

Current motivation for the look:
 The end of the year, nighttime, and holiday parties


Previous Looks this Year:

J A N U A R Y  2 0 1 2

F E B R U A R Y  2 0 1 2

M A R C H  2 0 1 2

A P R I L  2 0 1 2

M A Y  2 0 1 2

J U N E  2 0 1 2

J U L Y  2 0 1 2

A U G U S T  2 0 1 2

S E P T E M B E R  2 0 1 2

O C T O B E R  2 0 1 2

N O V E M B E R  2 0 1 2

Please feel free to express yourself as well! Share links, tips, or any other suggestions in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

 xoxo,
~Claudia

Thursday, November 29

The Stranger Speaks


A promo piece personally commissioned for Robert "The Stranger" Dean.

This work is a symbolic reflection of Robert and the things most dear to him. Painted in Photoshop in 12 hours. Two pieces were created one with the "blindfold" and the other without, which he has in his possession and will show to the world if he sees fit.

Friday, November 23

Look of the Month :: Fall 2012 :: November

I remember it like it was only yesterday when I saw the news about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, my soon to be favorite video game of all time, coming out for the N64 on November 23rd in North America. I was so young and so excited. It was the first 3D Zelda, with a wonderfully fantastic world full of adventure and fantasy. It was an unforgettable experience, and I can confidently say that it has influenced me not only as an artist, but as a person. Fascinating how entertainment can be so inspiring.

One of my most memorable moments from the game was meeting my favorite character, Zelda, for the first time as an adult. She's so beautiful, and has such a wonderfully alluring wise and compassionate presences about her. Something that I admire very much. So today, to honor the release date of my beloved game back in 1998, this month I wanted to do Adult Princess Zelda's look from the original ingame model. It's something that I've wanted to perfect for sometime now and finally do the character justice on my end. Besides, what girl doesn't want to be a princess for a day. Wear it with confidence.          

The current look is:
N O V E M B E R  2 0 1 2


Color inspiration:
Orchid, soft pale pink, royal purple, white, and yellow gold

Current motivation for the look:
Ocarina of Time Princess Zelda


Previous Looks this Year:

J A N U A R Y  2 0 1 2

F E B R U A R Y  2 0 1 2

M A R C H  2 0 1 2

A P R I L  2 0 1 2

M A Y  2 0 1 2

J U N E  2 0 1 2

J U L Y  2 0 1 2

A U G U S T  2 0 1 2

S E P T E M B E R  2 0 1 2 

O C T O B E R  2 0 1 2

Please feel free to express yourself as well! Share links, tips, or any other suggestions in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

 xoxo,
~Claudia

Monday, November 5

Purge Sugar from the Body with Loquat Leaf Tea

Oh my! I ate way too much Halloween candy this season and I feel like crap. It's like clockwork, every holiday I binge on sweet, salty, or fatty treats and I see and feel the repercussions the following weeks. So now it's detox time, and my family came to the rescue by giving me some loquat leaves.

Have you ever heard of Loquat Leaf Tea? Well I hadn't until recently. It's from a wonderful Asian fruit tree that's been used for thousands of years for various remedies. The glossy oval leaves are dried when green (the plants potency is best preserve when green), and used to make a powerful tea.

Dried Loquat Leaves 

Five Leaves Broken Up in a Saucepan

Hot Loquat Leaf Tea

All one does is break off five leaves (I was fortunate to be given my leaves dried), and simmer them in filtered water, covered with a lid, for 15 minutes. That's it! Then the wonderful healing tea is ready and can be served hot or cold. I love the taste, and it reminds me a bit of black tea. This golden medicinal brew is great for purging the body of sugar and is even recognized by the Chinese government as an anti-diabetic. So this is perfect for a candy addict such as myself. The tea also helps dissolve thick mucus and phlegm, regulates blood pressure, soothes indigestion, diarrhea, and upset stomach. 

I'm starting to feel much better already. Thank goodness for nature's medicine, 
and perhaps next year I'll do better with the holiday goody cravings.

Love Claudia xx

Monday, October 29

Cloud Alas is Ambitious

"Ambitious" is the word most used to describe the Wachowski's latest film Cloud Alas, and I couldn't agree more. I was extremely excited about this film because of the trailer. It looked like something fresh and new; something that might be wonderfully memorable. I love the Wachowski's work, V for Vendetta being my favorite of theirs, and the star-studded cast made me excited to see all of them dressed up as various characters, special effects makeup and all. I love movies like that, and it mixes genres so well.

One thing to note is that this film was really violent, which was something that the green-band trailer hid well. I'm reminded of the same thing happening for Pan's Labyrinth because I though that it was a fantasy film, not a violent war film with fantasy elements. So like that, I didn't enjoy it as much and was unfortunately surprised by the brutally. That aside, I wanted to like the story too but I didn't feel that there was a huge payoff and left the theater with so many questions. I ended up searching online for a summery when I got home, but that's no way to experience a work. It should stand alone without a written exclamation about what's happening. 

Also the story would have been stronger if the events were presented to the viewer in sequential order like in the book (not that I've read it), and not mixed up like it was in the film. That would have given the audience little morsels to ponder about one at a time, and help give reason to appreciate the direct connections that impacted the future for certain characters and events. Which perhaps would have given the viewer a more substantial profound experience.

Overall Cloud Alas is something that I won't recommend, but if one is still curious about it, wait for it to come out on Blu-ray/Streaming. Again, ambitious is the best way to describe it.

Cheers and happy movie watching.
~Claudia

Friday, October 26

Using Henna Hair Color for the First Time

For my birthday I wanted to switch up my hair routine and try a new color. As some of you already know, I wasn't born with bright red hair. It's all thanks to my trusty chemical hair dye, which is something I'm not proud of, but I love the vibrant color so I continue to poison myself in the name of beauty. It's a guilty pleasure for sure, however, I know that putting toxic junk on my head every month is beyond evil and I wanted to stop.

I told myself that after my birthday I was going to switch over to natural henna hair dye. This made me both excited and nervous. Excited because it's all natural henna (it's a flowering plant used to dye skin, hair, and nails) that colors hair without damaging it, but nervous because it's something new and I didn't know if it would turn out good. That, and I read that it's extremely messy and takes a long time to process.

Mahogany Powder Henna $6.99

So I finally got the courage to try it, and went to my local beauty store to pick out a box of bright red Colora Henna Powder in the color Mahogany. Now I already knew that the sample color, like most products, was an exaggeration of the color and that it wouldn't be an exact match. I could live with something a bit more natural as long as it wasn't that drastic. Henna is more of a subtle change, especially for dark hair.

Instructions and Henna Powder Before Mixing

A Plastic Bag to Cover My Head and Plastic Gloves

On the day that I decided to dye my hair, I took all of my belongings out of the bathroom and laid newspaper down on the counter tops and the floor. I'm good at dyeing my hair traditionally, and rarely make a mess, but I was warned that this was different. It's like putting mud on your hair. So I followed the instructions careful, and mixed the powder with water until the desired consistence was achieve. Then I started slapping it on my head. It was such an odd feeling. It was cold and it smelt wonderful, like a soft tea-like aroma. I didn't do too bad, but it was a little messier than cream products. So I was grateful that I put newspaper on the counter, but the paper on the floor wasn't necessary.

Henna After Mixing With Water

Then it was time to wait for a whole hour. This wasn't fun, because I noticed that as the henna dried that it was flaking off, so I didn't want to leave my bathroom. As a matter of fact, I just stood in the bathtub because I didn't want to get it anywhere. It was boring, so I decided to do squats for an hour as I watched videos on my iPad. I'm sure it would have been an entertaining sight to see.

After the excruciating hour was up, I used my handheld showerhead to wash it out completely and made sure to keep my head down to not get it all over the shower walls. This took forever it seemed, because it was like washing dry sand out of hair. A messy process indeed.

When I got out to look at the color I was completely disappointed (so much so that I didn't even want to take a photo). It didn't change my dark color at all. I did read that it's best to keep henna on for a few hours, but I didn't have the patience for it. That, and I wanted to follow the instructions precisely to see what would happen, which stated to only leave it for one hour. Also, henna is suppose to make one's hair thicker by coating the follicle and tame frizz. Not that I have a problem in this area, but I didn't notice a different in my hair texture at all. So I was disappointed by that as well.

This hair experiment was still worth it because now I know that I tried and it wasn't right for me. I'm sure that blondes would have a much better experience because light hair is easier to color. At least I went one month without chemical dye, but it's back to my old ways next time. Also I didn't use compound henna, which makes it okay to switch back without a bad reaction. Lastly, I've decided that I'm going natural next year though, so the countdown begins. Ten more months of bright red and then I'm calling it quits. I'm excited for the change, but I'll also enjoy my last few months as a redhead.

If you've tried henna hair dye, or have any coloring tips in general, feel free to share them. 
I would love to hear about your experience. 

Cheers and happy hair dyeing.
~Claudia

Friday, October 19

Broken Toe Experience: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

This is me rolling around the house with my office chair and mop-stick cane

As most of you already know I broke three of my toes in May, and I'm finally now able to say that I'm back to normal. I'm not going to try running anytime soon, but I can pretty much get around like normal, stand on my toes to stretch, and can go longer distances like before. So it took five months for me to completely get well again. Which is a bit long because 2-4 months is the average time, but I did have three toes to heal and was out both of my legs.

Also, I want to share my experience with you. I'm not going to hold anything back because if this post can help someone out there in some way then I'm thankful. It could be beneficial to know exactly what happened, and perhaps others could learn from some of my mistakes. I was surprised by how common it is to break a toe. It seems like everyone that heard about my injury, or saw me hobbling around told me their toe stories. Sports injuries, tripping, falling, running into furniture, wearing high heels (like me), or just walking are all very common ways to fracture a toe. It doesn't take much to injury those delicate little bones, so I guess it was my turn now. What a life experience indeed.

~ Month 1 ~

The night it happened I was out on the town for a very special occasion walking the hills of San Francisco in four-inch stiletto heels. Now as mad as this sounds I wear these shoes a lot and for longer periods, so I don't know what it was about this particular night that caused the stress fractures. I was wearing a very tight dress, ate a huge three-course meal plus dessert (which included things I typically don't eat like dairy, gluten, and hard alcohol, let alone a lot of cooked foods), and then walked back afterward. I felt so sick! I had never eaten that much before, and that dress was not helping one bit because it wasn't stretchy.

The day after was when I noticed the swelling, but I didn't think anything of it because it wasn't that bad. I thought it was just the typical soreness from walking in heels, so I ignored it and went on with my work day. It was only the left foot at first, but it continued to get worse as the day went on.

The second day it was really noticeable and swollen, but I still continued working because the world doesn't wait for anyone. Then by the third day it was awful, it hurt so bad that I could barely concentrate on anything else, and couldn't put any weight on it. So I got around limping with my right leg only, and that's when that side started to give way as well. The middle toe on my right foot started to show signs of similar issues. It's to my understanding that if I didn't try to go on as normal, and walk only using the right foot I probably wouldn't have snapped that toe too. So the lesson is to get in bed and off your feet right away. I let my work get in the way because I was worried about meeting a deadline, and I'm ashamed of that. Fear causes us to do the most stupid things and work could have waited. 

So I had two purple feet swollen to twice their average size. Sleep was almost impossible and I was averaging about 3-4 hours a night if I was lucky. I didn't get out of bed because I couldn't. There was no way I could walk. Going to the bathroom was the only exception and it left me exhausted and in tears every time I tried. That's what made me devise the plan of using a mop stick as a cane and my office chair as a wheel chair. Or I would crawl around on the floor using my arms, dragging both legs behind me.

Bathing wasn't an option because I couldn't get into the tub so I would washed up with a cloth in bed. I ate and brushed my teeth in bed as well. Another thing that was great was wearing pants that unsnap down the sides, because that was way better than normal pants that could only be removed by slipping them off. Any type of touch or movement was excruciating. 

Keeping the feet elevated and iced was key! When I put them down they hurt like hell because of the swelling. Also, I was stubborn about icing them at first because I was under the impression that it won't help, but that was just me being afraid of the cold. Of course I found that icing every half an hour, like instructed, was ideal and was a real relief.

Lastly, I remember a study about how patients would heal faster if they had a window in their hospital room. This may be because of a lot of things: more sun, the view is soothing, fresh air, etc. So I made sure to keep the shades and windows open in the bedroom. It did help, it kept me calm and hopeful.

~ Month 2 ~

I was still in bed most of his month as well, but using the bathroom was easier. I could use my arms to hold onto the bathroom counter, putting almost all of my weight on them instead of the feet. Also, I started to get brave about bathing and brushing my teeth in the bathroom. I would use my arms to get up on the side of the tub (my arms are pretty strong now), and then pull one leg at a time into the water as I cursed, cried, and screamed. As soon as they were in the hot water it was like heaven, because they're buoyant and I couldn't feel them anymore. That, and I used Epsom salt and a mixture of rosemary, rue, basil, and wintergreen to sooth the bones and aching muscles. I never wanted to get out and would stay there for an hour, but alas, when the time came I would use my arms to lift myself up and over again.

Brushing my teeth was okay too. I used the toilet to sit on and elevated both feet on the tub (putting them down killed because of the swelling) while quickly taking care of that.

I also wanted to mention that my diet was extremely clean at this time. Eating only the best fresh organic greens, veggies, fruits, and spices that promote bone healing (fresh dill and garlic). I think I was eating so well (with the exception of random gummy bear gifts to try to make me feel better), that I was experiencing some detox symptoms too. Which is not awesome. Ideally I wouldn't choose to clean out while going through this all, but I know that it's the best thing for healing. That, and staying in the sun is great for broken bones too. So I would sit with my feet on a pile of pillows in the sunlight that was shining through my balcony window. Greens are nature's sunscreen, and I get plenty of protection from eating them. No toxic sunscreens needed.

Speaking of toxic garbage, I'm reminded of how bad it is to take some pain killers at this time because it can severely delay or prevent fractures from healing. No drugs for me EVER. I found it to be humorous how many times I was asked, "What are you taking for it?" That's the answer to everything these days, and it's almost shocking how acceptable and normal it is.

Something else that I did early on this month, which I should have done on day one, is bandaged the broken toes to the strongest neighboring toe. This is called the buddy method. Doctors can't do much for toes, and it's not common to get a cast, so this method works wonders. It helps straighten the toes when healing, and helps the swelling a lot. That, and with the toes bandaged up, no unnecessary movement can be made.

~ Month 3 ~

I didn't need the office chair any more, and started to get around using only the mop stick cane. I was also finally able to hobble up and down stair, leave the house to go on very short errands like the farmer's market, visit friends for short spells, began stretch exercises (the P90X stretch routine), and start receiving treatment from my physical therapist. He wished I would have seen him earlier because he could have relieved some of the pain and helped healing along via acupuncture. I just couldn't move, and quite honestly, I was afraid of the pain so I didn't go in sooner. The first acupuncture session hurt so bad that he had to hold me down and get me to breathe correctly. I have never jumped up like that from acupuncture, but there was just so much built up toxins and fluids in the feet that it was unbearable. Of course it helped so much, and after the appointment I could tell a big difference.

Unfortunately, I also needed work done on my back, neck, and hips. Two months of being bedridden can leave the body in such disarray, so I would come in every other week for more therapy. I almost needed more work done on those areas than my toes. What was happening is that the muscles, specifically the left side of my neck, were so tight that they were pinching nerves. I couldn't lift my arm up past my shoulder without being in agony. So I had to go in to get more deep tissue work done.

~ Month 4 ~

The pain in my neck and shoulder has dulled a little, but my sacrum and pelvis are aching so much so that I couldn't lay or sit on them properly. I woke up during the night a lot, and dreaded sleeping because it hurt so much. I also didn't need the cane anymore and started limping around without it. My feet would still swell a bit in mornings, but that would go away within and hour or so.

However, I was able to walk longer distances though. I could go for about 30-40 minutes without getting weary, but I noticed that the back of my right heel and ankle started to get sore from this. I was warned about this happening from others, and it was like reteaching myself how to walk all over again. My therapist advised that I wrap the ankle and heel in a bandage, which worked out great and made it go away within a few weeks. 

Psychical therapy was also something that I kept up with this month and one session towards the end of the month caused me a lot of pain. My therapist needed to do deep tissue massage work on my toes and feet to loosen up the stiff muscles and it was so unendurable that he had me crying. It was also recommended at this time that I go see their chiropractor because my sacrum had shifted in my pelvis which was causing the sacroiliac joint a lot of issues. I was terrified about this, because if I couldn't even touch the area or lay down properly, how was physically forcing the sacrum back into alignment going to feel? I was reminded of the scene in The Dark Knight Rises when Batman has to get his spine realigned. Not good times, however it was all for the best because the chiropractor appointments helped so much and didn't hurt much at all. He was so great and gentle, and I definitely want to do more in the future just for overall well being.

Lastly, I was reminded to continue to lay down and elevate my feet over my heart. This is something I hadn't been doing since the second month because I was pushing myself to blog, do videos, and respond to messages. So I disappeared for a while online again and just rested.

~ Month 5 ~

This month wasn't too bad. I traveled to Michigan to rest and get away from everything for a bit, and that was a very good thing. The fresh air, wholesome food, and time with my family was just what I needed. It's incredible how much the mind dictates healing. It seems like I just needed to keep my mind off my problems for a bit, and my family helped keep me busy.

Also, when I got back to California, I decided that it was time to try some closed-toed shoes because my feet weren't swelling anymore. It went well for the most part, and now I'm back in the swing of things. Other than that, the pain has dulled quite a bit all round and I'm able to do most things again. It was a descent month.


So there you have it. That's what I've been dealing with these past five months, and it still fascinates me how the entire body can suffer from being bedridden. I'm so grateful to have my health again, and if you know someone that's going through something similar, please pass this info down to them. It's better to be aware of these things than to be left in the dark. That's why it was important to me to share, and my heart goes out to anyone else struggling with something similar. 

Rest up and get well soon.
~Claudia

Monday, October 15

The Making of Om


I wanted to share this fantastic video with all of you. It's incredible how much work goes on behind the scenes to create something like this, and I was only a small part of it. A big thank you goes out to Mark Crossland at Jagadaia Music as well for featuring me and my work. It's quite the honor.

Cheers,
~Claudia

Friday, October 12

Look of the Month :: Fall 2012 :: October

October has always been an active month for me, probably like it is for most people as well. It's the beginning of the holidays, the cold air brings us inside together, exciting new work opportunities always seem to pop up, there are places to go, and people to see in the evenings. It's a great month.

So for this look I wanted to stay simple yet sultry, almost with a retro Twiggy feel to the makeup, focusing most of the attention on the lower lash line. It's definitely something to go with all of that oxblood, and if you're feeling a little extra confident, switch up the nude lips with a bright red. I did that a few days ago and it was just lovely. Fashion this season is all about decedent colors, prints, and textures (like velvet), so makeup is trending pretty matte right now, specifically lips and nails, to counterbalance that beautifully.          

The current look is:
O C T O B E R  2 0 1 2


Color trends for this month:
Oxblood, eggplant, sepia, black, and gold

Current motivation for the look:
New beginnings, the unknown, and meeting people


Previous Looks this Year:

J A N U A R Y  2 0 1 2

F E B R U A R Y  2 0 1 2

M A R C H  2 0 1 2

A P R I L  2 0 1 2

M A Y  2 0 1 2

J U N E  2 0 1 2

J U L Y  2 0 1 2

A U G U S T  2 0 1 2 

S E P T E M B E R  2 0 1 2

Please feel free to express yourself as well! Share links, tips, or any other suggestions in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

 xoxo,
~Claudia

Thursday, October 11

Raw Fava Bean Salad

So unfortunately I was living under a rock because I didn't know what fava beans were. How uncultured, I know. It wasn't until I watched Markus Rothkranz' video about them (they're mentioned in his book too), and how to make a fantastic bean salad, that I realized I wanted in on this too.

Fava Bean Recipe for HGH, Anti-Aging, Bodybuilding, and Weight Loss


I was fortunate to finally find some, after months of searching, at a market up in Northern California. Let me tell you first hand that they're amazing. Not only yummy, but so cute as well. It was like being a little kid again and discovering a new thing for the very first time. I got a kick out of the bean pods and the little stems that hold them in place. It felt like I was in for a treat, and believe me I was.

They're so good and I want more!

Just follow Markus' instructions in the video, because that's pretty much what I did. With the exception of replacing the hot habanero pepper with cayenne pepper (just because I didn't have any on hand) and adding a good amount of fresh dill to the mix. I have been eating a lot of dill because I'm trying to strengthen my bones.

Waiting was the hard part, because I was eager to taste it. I made it while making breakfast, then I left it to marinate, as instructed, until lunch. It was so good! I pretty much just had that with a large cucumber, and a peach. That's it, and it's very filling. So have fun, and give it a try this season.

Cheers,
~Claudia

Tuesday, October 9

How To Fix A KitchenAid Blender Coupling

So my precious blender died on me recently and I was sad because I was in the middle of making breakfast (that juice didn't turn out so good). My drive coupling had been wearing out on me for the past couple of months, but I ignored it because I didn't think it would be a problem anytime soon.

Oh the madness! There was black everywhere.

Well it was, and when I turned on the blender that morning I heard a weird noise and turned it off immediately. I found that the coupling prongs were completely sawed off, therefore being too short to work. I was devastated because I can't live without my blender, so I got on Amazon right away to order a replacement part.

Surprisingly, despite the lengthy delivery estimate, it came very quickly within a few days and I wasted no time getting my blender back into action.

KitchenAid Blender Coupling 9704230 and a large flat screwdriver.

It was a pretty simple process. All one needs is the new coupling and a large flat screwdriver. This video here was helpful as well and I watched it a few times before attempting my repairs:

Video Tutorial

 Finally! It took me about 10 minutes to get that thing off.

  Good as new!

So all one does is pries the old coupling off by placing the screwdriver in between the metal plate and the old coupling, then raise up on it while turning. This is hard though! It requires a lot of strength because the metal on the bottom of the old coupling has to be bent out of shape for it to come off. I finally did it, but as one can see, I kinda nicked the white part of the blender a bit on the right side. I was not pleased with that, so to avoid doing the same thing, just try to keep the screwdriver on only the metal part underneath the coupling. It seems like it's inevitable for the metal to get marked up, but it's okay because after all the metal scrapes are cleared away (clean the threads too), the new coupling just screws right on and hides the imperfections.

So that pretty much did it. I'm back to blending juice, life is good, and it's not giving me anymore problems. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and happy blending!

~Claudia

Friday, October 5

Elba Equestrian Complex




Photography from my stroll through the beautiful Elba Equestrian Complex in Mid Michigan.


Also check out the Elba Equestrian Complex Photography Video here:

Thursday, October 4

Family Woods




Photography from my meandering around our family's backyard woods in Michigan.


Also check out the Family Woods Photography Video here:

Wednesday, October 3

Back From Michigan

Oh wow! It's good to be back, but I miss my family so much already. Time flies when you're having fun and I always enjoy my stay in Michigan. It's like a time capsule for me. Not too much changes over the years and I like it that way because it's a good change of pace from the hustle and bustle of California.

I got in late Wednesday night and that gave me the opportunity to get some girl time in with my sister Carin. We went out to eat, and caught up before heading home. Carla arrived from Colorado a few days after, and it was a full nest once more. I'm sure my parents were just ecstatic, but I do find it to be humorous that it only takes about three days for my mother to treat me like I'm ten again. Perhaps that will never change, and I submit in a respectful way but laugh about it later.

Homemade carrot, peach, celery, cucumber juice. 

I juiced for the first time too! I was so excited about that. I always use my blender, but this time around Carin spoiled me with her juicer. Sadly, I used up all of my organic farmer's market produce for one breakfast. I was surprised by how much that thing gobbled up, but I still want one of my own someday. So I was out all of the food that I brought with me, except that wasn't a big deal because Mom had a wonderful little garden and fresh wild dandelions waiting for me at their home.

Fresh wild dandelions full of awesome.

The longer the root the better the plant.

It's a rare treat that I can eat wild plants fresh and straight from the ground in a place that I know is safe. I was so excited about that because wild plants are more nutritious than ones that are coddled on a farm. Their roots grow very deep, and just think about how many plants were competing for that same place in the sun. So besides the fresh wild dandelions, I had carrot greens, lavender (which I also used a bug repellent), tomatoes, and cucumbers. It was awesome, and I'm feeling much better than when I came.

Flint Farmer's Market.

Pretty autumnal gourds at the market.

We also went the Flint Farmer's Market, which is suppose to be one of the best in the United States, but I was a bit disappointed by it. Why? Just because there was only one organic stand there. Only one! So out of all of that beautiful produce, only one small stand was organic. I was talking to those farmers and they told me that there just isn't an interest in it, and I was completely shocked. It does make me extremely grateful that I live here in California, because it's so easy to find proper food.

Lastly, I can't forget the nature walks and parties that we all enjoyed. My father's side of the family had a large get-together and it was nice to catch up with everyone. My sisters even each threw parties of their own, so I was a busy girl and stayed up way past my bedtime. A rare treat indeed, but I was completely exhausted. That, and I would eat well for lunch, but then would have a million cookies for dessert. Oh well. I made up for it with all of the walking I did. I went out alone in our family's woods later and just meandered through all of the paths. I absolutely love it out there. There's so much life, and the soil is so rich that it's black. I even walked barefoot for a bit because I had forgotten how it felt to have the cool earth beneath my feet.

Found this little guy on the road.

My family and I also ventured out to the Elba Equestrian Complex, which was absolutely fantastic. It's a quiet place for riders to take their horses and just enjoy the wilderness. We didn't ride, but my sister did bring her dog and it was fun to see him enjoy himself. A little too much at times, because he ended up getting wet at the end because the river just looked too enticing.

So as always, good things must come to an end. I hope to return to Michigan again soon, although it typically takes me two years or so to get around to it. Perhaps that will improve in the future.

♡ Claudia

Tuesday, September 18

Look of the Month :: Fall 2012 :: September

Okay, it's time to get out and live a little. I'm packing my bag (I travel extremely light) for Michigan and I can't wait to see my family. I've been wearing this makeup as a way to celebrate finally getting out of of the house and the change of a new season. As always, fall is a wonderful time of year and is when we can take risks in fashion and makeup. Darks are back, so be daring. Have fun this month; I know will.     

The current look is:
S E P T E M B E R  2 0 1 2


Color trends for this month:
Dusty pink, grey, nude, white, and pewter

Current motivation for the look:
Traveling, large parties, and elegance


Previous Looks this Year:

J A N U A R Y  2 0 1 2

F E B R U A R Y  2 0 1 2

M A R C H  2 0 1 2

A P R I L  2 0 1 2

M A Y  2 0 1 2

J U N E  2 0 1 2

J U L Y  2 0 1 2

A U G U S T  2 0 1 2

Please feel free to express yourself as well! Share links, tips, or any other suggestions in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

 xoxo,
~Claudia

Monday, September 17

Ask Claudia: Unicorns Aren't Real?

"Ask Claudia" is a series that helps me help you. That way I can address frequently asked questions in a creative and interactive way, which may also be useful to others that have similar inquiries in the future.

Ask Claudia: Unicorns Aren't Real?

For more information, please read the YouTube info box.


Content, editing, and compositing by Claudia Sutton.
Music composed by Alvin Muolic.

A kindergarten drawing very similar to my first one.

---

Want to be featured? Please feel free to leave me your questions on YouTube.

♡ Claudia

Thursday, September 13

Another Birthday Has Come and Gone

Wow, how did this happen so fast? It seems like my year just flew by. I'm still recovering from the broken toes, but wanted to try to get out yesterday for a bit of fun and luckily was surprised by my stamina. All of the birthday excitement kicked in and I almost forgot all about it. That was the best part.

One thing I do on every birthday is take a portrait for memories. It's like my own personal time lapse. School photos would always be taken around this time of year; so for me it was more personal because my birthday was so close to the dates and it ended up being an accurate representation of my year. So of course being the nostalgic person that I am, I continued the yearly tradition as a way to record my special day.

Here's this years photo

It was also nice because the picture gave me an excuse to dress up a bit, something that I've missed doing these past months. I just haven't had the energy to try very hard because of the injury.

So again, it was nice to get out yesterday. I went out eat at the evil Cheesecake Factory and then went to Santana Row in San Jose for a little shopping spree at one of my favorite stores 100% Pure. It was awesome as always and I got two products that I've wanted to try out for my hair, along with a wonderful biodegradable cloth bag (they're given out free instead of conventional paper or plastic bags), and body cream samples. I'm excited to see how they work out, and of course they're all natural so that makes me a happy girl.

Smooth & Moisture Hair Balm and Honey Coconut Milk Conditioner

Lastly and more responsibly, I received more needed physical therapy and chiropractic appointments for a birthday gift. I'm quite grateful and really appreciate such things. Even though I'm always petrified by going in now, because they tend to be painful. My session today went pretty well though. Also, my amazing family chipped in to buy me a plane ticket to Michigan so that I can see them and focus on rest and recovery for some time. I'm extremely happy about this, and it will help so much. I really want to get better soon!

Cheers,
~Claudia

Monday, August 27

Look of the Month :: Summer 2012 :: August

The look this month was from my first filmed YouTube video, and the same makeup from this photo here. I wanted to stay very natural and neutral with this look since it was my first appearance on video. Something elegantly simple mixed with a lot of contouring and highlighting because I was on camera. More so then what I would do for everyday life; but that was necessary to accentuate the face when filming or being photographed so that the plains of the face appear more structured. I'm quite pleased with how it came out, and I highly recommend this look if you're doing something similar. It's a great way to look pretty but not too made up. That way you're the focus, and not your makeup.    

The current look is:
A U G U S T  2 0 1 2


Color trends for this month:
Hot pink, lime green, aqua, white, and gold

Current motivation for the look:
Filming, natural beauty, and having fun


Previous Looks this Year:

J A N U A R Y  2 0 1 2

F E B R U A R Y  2 0 1 2

M A R C H  2 0 1 2

A P R I L  2 0 1 2

M A Y  2 0 1 2

J U N E  2 0 1 2

J U L Y  2 0 1 2

Please feel free to express yourself as well! Share links, tips, or any other suggestions in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

 xoxo,
~Claudia

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