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

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