Thursday, January 31

Protect Your Art Career

This subject has me bothered again, because the recession seems to make people desperate. I completely understand, and I too have felt it, but that doesn't mean that one should lower their standards. Stephen Silver (I've met him before, and he's a super nice guy), best know for Kim Possible, Clerks: The Animated Series, and Danny Phantom say it best in this video.  


Don't do work for free if it's your livelihood.
~Claudia

Wednesday, January 30

Eco Oral Hygiene: Izola Bamboo Toothbrushes


 Izola Bamboo Toothbrush Set - $12.50

I was so excited to finally get a wooden or bamboo toothbrush. No more plastic for me! Although a step in the right direction, these were a gift and I would have personally chosen a different brand.

Even though the handle is made out of bamboo, the bristles are nylon which is a synthetic polymer. I would have loved that the entire brush be safe for use and eco friendly. In the future I don't want any plastic in my mouth, and will buy a product that's completely biodegrade (packaging included because this was wrapped in plastic). Aside from that, the head of the brush is very large and I have a hard time getting into tight places. The bristles are hard too. So that's not cool either because I prefer, and have been recommended by my dentist, to use an ultra-soft one. It took some getting use to, and I have to be gentle when brushing.

Again, I'm so grateful for the generous gift and it made me challenge my old habits. I'm happy about that, and will continue using them until it's time to replace them.

Do you use a wooden or bamboo toothbrush? If so, what brand do you like?
♡ Claudia

Monday, January 28

A New Look for CLAUDIASUTTON.blogspot

As you can see the blog got a pretty big facelift over the weekend. Thank you so much for your patience with the mess. The pirate theme was fun, but it was time to let go.

I wanted to focus on rebranding. MAKE . LIFE . FUN  says it all. Which is something that reflected not only myself, but the content here on the blog. Also, streamlined minimalistic design is a favorite, so I wanted to go with something light and tranquil that kept with the 'lifestlye' theme of the writing. This new look also helps keep the reader focused on the content, and not the design, which is key.

There are a lot of new exciting things coming soon. So stay tuned and as always...

Cheers!
~Claudia

Friday, January 25

The Nutritional Benefits of Seaweed

 Seaweed Is A Must

Seaweed is amazing! It's a beauty food, and if you want to improve physically then this is for you. I've been buying and eating seaweed regularly now for a month and I must say that it took some time to get use to. I blend it into my morning breakfast juice and also eat it with lunch or dinner. So far it's working out great, and I can tell the difference in my complexion and energy levels. Health is beauty, and seaweed is one of the best remedies for that. Here's why:

Seaweed Benefits

- Skin. Seaweed is one of the few plants rich in vitamin B12, which is so wonderful because most individuals are seriously B12 deficient. It also contains just about every good thing imaginable. Seaweed is a source of vitamin A, B, C, E, fiber, amino acids, iron, magnesium, potassium, iodine, and is an even better source of calcium than milk. So all of this can help with skin conditions like eczema, acne, and scars. The skin is the largest organ of the body and is a reflection of what's going on internally. That's why we humans put such an emphasis on radiant glowing skin. Our primal programming yearns for this and seeks it out in others as well. Aging is not meant to be so extreme, and we accelerate it by poor lifestyle choices.

- Hair. Brittle dry hair and split ends will be a thing of the past. Hair can grow more quickly as well because of the iron content in seaweed. I have noticed this personally. My hair is growing longer than I thought it could. It's down to my low back now! I've even heard that seaweed can naturally help return the pigment back to grey hair, because of the B12 and other nutrients. Although, I've never met anyone personally that has experienced this. One would probably have to be very clean, and have an ideal lifestyle that promoted health in all ways to benefit in that way. Let me know if you know anyone that this has happened to. 

- Nails. Just like skin and hair, the nails are made out of the same building blocks. Seaweed nourishes nails, promotes growth, strength, and stops them from peeling. The vitamin C (beta carotene) in seaweed is what really helps them stay their best.

- Wellness. Seaweed is detoxifing and relieves all sorts of issues. It helps with high cholesterol, clearing plaque out of arteries, lymph drainage, poor circulation, dilated capillaries in the skin, arthritis, candida, chlamydia, herpes, excess fluid and fat, cellulite, a low sex drive, and even menopause. It also binds with heavy metals like mercury, environmental pollutants, radiation, etc. and expels it safely from the body by converting them into salts.

- Fullness. The fiber in seaweed contributes to a feeling of fullness when eaten in a meal. That way we feel satisfied and aren't prone to eat more. Also, Japanese researchers have discovered that seaweeds contains fucoxanthin which helps reduce the accumulation of fat in the body.

So get this little miracle from the sea into your diet straightaway!
This, along with removing unhealthy foods, will turn your life around. It's that powerful.
 
Love Claudia xx

Thursday, January 24

Dragon's Dogma

When I first saw trailers for this game I was completely hooked already, and I knew that I wanted to play it. The Pawns are what captivated me the most, because I love companions in games. The character customization is awesome as well. I'm a sucker for that, because I love all of the control the game gives players to create their own unique Arisen and Pawn. For my game, I created a young strider girl that resembles myself, and a male fighter main Pawn. At end game I finished at 146 hours, completed many vocations for both my Pawn (Mage at the end) and myself (Assassin at the end), finished almost all of the quests, and Ser Maximilian ended up being my romantic partner even though I didn't court him. The rich world was so vast, with so many possibilities to choose from that I had a lot fun playing it and the experience (I got some DLC too) lasted me for months. I'm not going to play new game plus anytime soon because I'm gamed out, but it will definitely be worth checking out in the future. That, and the expansion Dark Arisen looks cool too.


So here are my thoughts about the game:

Pros

- Gransys is huge! I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful sandbox to run around in. 

- There's a nice mix of characters in this game, including the default Pawns. Not everyone is perfect looking and that gave an authentic quality to the world that I truly appreciate.

- Quests are fun, but traditional, and it's definitely more about the wonderful open-world experience.

- The large creature battles are epic! They're so fun and beautifully animated. One feels the rush each time a creature attacks. I bested my first small drake in Devilfire Grove at level 45, and "The Dragon" at level 60. 

- I love that there's barely any music in the game. This really gave the world an eerie realistic quality. We're so use to having a full score that when it's not there it can be quite intriguing. 

- It's pitch black at night and that's awesome. With just the light of a small lantern, one ventures out into the wild world never knowing what lies in wait. This is so cool to me and very realistic. I've been out in the wildness at night before, and know that without a full moon it's just like that.

- The map system is great. I love uncovering small portions at a time. It's so much fun, and I never felt lost.

- My favorite place is the Witchwood. I remember how scared I was the first time I traveled there because I thought that it would be infested with big monsters, but it was quite the opposite. It's a tranquil place, filled with life and a single small hut in the back where my favorite character dwells.

- The ending's awesome. It's unexpected and a wonderful experience full of exciting moments. I like how one can choose the path they want to take. There are so many possibilities. 


Cons

- The loading screens in this game are by far the worst thing about it, and they're so long that they have a tendency to take one out of the experience.

- This game lags like mad too. It seems to be quite a problem with spells, if there are loads of characters and creatures onscreen at once, and even the menus. There's so much lag. 

- I wish that the Pawn's voice acting was a little more varied. Not only the lack of voice actors to play them, which is noticeable, but they kept saying the same lines of dialogue over and over. They really want me to know that "wolves hunt in packs", because they say it a million times.  

- My Pawns didn't help me gather materials too often, even if they're set to do so. They just stand there all derp derp and let me do most of the work. Then I'm over-cumbered, and have to spend time to disperse the collected items. It's pretty annoying.

- It would be nice to have a moon, and moon cycles. As far as I can tell there isn't one! That kinda surprised me for such a realistic game. 

- The Japanese Rush cover band, as I like to call them, playing at the start menu is a bit awkward. It seems that a lot of titles are doing this now, where they use rock or heavy metal music for fantasy games and it just doesn't work. Oh well, that's so minor, but is still funny. I did catch myself humming it a few times though. I blame the redundancy.


Overall I highly recommend Dragon's Dogma to anyone out there that loves fantasy and sandbox games. It definitely keeps one intrigued for quite awhile, and is worth the time sink.

Happy gaming,
~Claudia

Wednesday, January 23

Eco Gaming: Game On, Responsibly

It's no surprise that I'm a gamer. I love video games, play them, and have worked in the video game industry. Games are a big part of my life. Hell, I'm even cosplaying one of my favorite game characters, but over the years I've changed a lot and have become more responsible about the way I play. We live in a beautiful world that encourages reusing, sharing, and buying digital instead of owning a hard copy of a price of media. We're learning to value eProducts just as much as something tactile and physical. Believe me I've had hardware, movies, and games die on me over the years just because they're old, despite the fact that I treat all of my belongings like collector's items. They still wear over the years and breakdown eventually.

Then we have the green factor, and the fact that these games, like all media, are made from precious resource. Take a look at this chart here that talks about some of the issues:


So that's a pretty big deal. But what can we do? What type of changes can we make to better the world in someway and still enjoy our games? Well I'm reminded of the old elementary school saying: Reduce first, then reuse, and lastly recycle. Read on for things that we can do:


Reduce

- When in doubt, go without. Perhaps sometimes not buying a new game is best. Is that title worth owning? Do I really need it? Going outside and having an adventure in the real world is just as fun as a game. Maybe it's time to travel, checkout the park across the street, or hangout more with friends and family.

- Buy digital instead of a physical copy. For the most part, I'm all digital these days and loving it. Sites like Steam, Amazon, Green Man Gaming, and Origin make it super easy to download games. One could even download straight to their console or cell phone using similar services. It's as easy as ever to go green.


Reuse

- Replay old favorites. I do this all the time! I've played my favorite game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time over 25 times. I've also clocked 230 hours in Final Fantasy XII, my close second for favorite game of all time, by going back after I beat it and completed almost all of the content. I love being in those worlds. We always say we're going to pop in an old classic and play again, but it's awesome when we actually do. It feels great to have that experience again, and if it's been a long while, some parts might even surprise you because they've been forgotten over time.

- Borrow or trade with a friend. My friends and I do this all the time. We have a similar respect for the way we treat our media, so I trust them with my beloved games and likewise. When the 3DS came out my amazing friends trusted me with not only a game that I wanted to play, but also let me borrow the handheld. How great is that! Then I didn't have to own one for myself. Also, if there's an awesome library in your area they might offer video games as well.


Recycle

- Buy and sell used games. The concept: One in, one out, is a good saying to remember. Also, it's wonderful that someone else can use the game again and potentially love it just the same. Personally, I use Craigslists, Ebay, GameStop, and GameFly to sell and buy used games. 

- Properly recycle broken games. It's easier than ever these days to find a recycling center that will take old media. Use Earth911 to find a facility near you. By doing this, the toxic parts can be removed responsibly and the usable materials can be reprocessed into new products.

It's as simple and easy as that to make a change. Game on my dear friends!
~Claudia

Monday, January 21

Craigslist Joe Documentary

When I first saw the trailer for this documentary I couldn't wait to see it. Craigslist Joe is about a guy that travels around the US with only the clothes on his back, a backpack, passport, computer, cell phone, and a toothbrush. He then proceeds to live off of only Craigslist for a month and the hospitably of others by offering his services in return depending on the needs of the individuals. 

This concept is amazing! I'm truly inspired by it. Not only did he have a life-changing adventure, but he also touched the hearts of those he met along the way. I've always dreamt of doing something like this myself with people that I've known online for years. In exchange for travel, a place to sleep, or some produce, I would offer lifestyle mentoring, art advice, or even just company. This movie made me realize that there are a lot of amazing people out there and the need for community is stronger than ever. That's why we gather here online, is it not? We're all searching for something out there in the world, and perhaps going out into it instead of staying in is the only place to truly find it.   

Watch the trailer here:

Also, here's a wonderful interview:


Would you let someone into your world to broaden your horizons?
Happy movie watching!
~Claudia

Friday, January 18

How to Make: New Candles from Your Old Candles

Claudia’s Corner videos are dedicated to topics
outside the realm of digital art.

How to Make: New Candles from Your Old Candles

For more information, please read the YouTube info box.


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

---

Please let me know what you think and if you have any questions feel free to ask.

♡ Claudia

Thursday, January 17

Hungry for Change Documentary

I can't get enough of food documentaries! I love them, because they're a good reminder of how to live. The last one I watched is called Hungry for Change, and is the follow up to the popular Food Matters (which was brilliant as well). Both are wonderfully informative and help to keep one on the right track.

One new thing that I learned from Hungry for Change is that the body stores toxins in fat. Therefore, if an individual is consuming or topically applying any toxins, the body will not allow that last layer of fat to be burnt off. For me, this is incredible because that explains why it's so hard to get rid of that last little inch of belly fat. The body's protecting itself by storing the toxins in it, and it will not shed it until toxins stop coming in.

I'm still guilty of eating some processed foods, using conventional hair dye, makeup, and toiletries. So if I want to get rid of fat, I have to take that into consideration. The way I see it is that it's like tug of war, the choices one makes will either lead to optimal health, or it will keep us at a standstill or possibly worse.

So check out the trailer here:

Happy movie watching.
~Claudia

Wednesday, January 16

Not All Organic Eggs Are Good?

"No company will continue a practice or product that you the consumer will not buy. It's vitally important that you understand this, because this gives you ultimate power to change the world you live in" - Ethos

Recently I was educated about the egg industry, and it made me a sad girl. I can't even believe what I learned, and it made me realize that I can no longer hide behind an organic food label.

So what is it that I learned? Well, some large organic labels have factory farm conditions. It doesn't matter how the chickens are treated as long as the end product, the egg, is organic. Sure there's no antibiotics, and they're fed all-natural feed, but what I didn't know is that the specifications of how much time the birds spend outdoors is not enforced, they still get debeaked, detoed, and all of the male one-day-old chicks are ground up alive because they cannot be used for egg production.

I cried. Again, I'll repeat that, all the beautiful baby boys go down a conveyor belt and into a GRINDER ALIVE. They're thrown out like garbage. Now, I understand that death is natural, and part of life, but this is not one of those cases. This is cruelty, and disgusting disrespect for a living being.

What gets to me the most is that I feel like I was part of the problem because I bought these eggs not knowing about the situation. Well, now that I'm wiser but sadder, I will do my part and either go completely without, or buy eggs from a local organic farm at the market that's respectable and responsible. Which is something that I've always thought the organic label guarantied. 

I truly with all of my being believe in that quote above and will not be a part of the problem. Apparently it's not that hard to find a local farm that sells good organic eggs. There's a list on Cornucopia.org that makes it really easy by ranking all egg farms.

Find a Farm in Your Area:

Or one can always use an egg substitute for vegan baking:
1 egg = 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
or
1 egg = 1/3 cup applesauce

Cheers, and let's all do our part to make this world we live in a better place.
~Claudia

Tuesday, January 15

Claudia's Cosplay of Fran from Final Fantasy XII


FFXII FRAN COSTUME

"That's what sky pirates do, they fly do they not?"
- Fran FF12

Start Date: 11/04/08
Completion Estimate: 12/31/17
Prep Time: 4-5hrs to get into costume
Total Spent: $584.33
Estimated Total Price: $700 - $850

Fran Portrait painted by Claudia


Why I chose to make this costume:
There is no other character that has spoken to me over the years the way that Fran does. She is everything that I appreciate: Strong, intelligent, beautiful, eloquent, cunning, down to earth, in tune with nature, free, and above all else she's a pirate! I relate to this all so much and find that we have much in common. She's one of three sisters, left the safety of her family, still yearns for the nature that she once knew but moved to a large city to expand her horizons, has an unquenchable sense of adventure, is very fit, and has a fun accent. Even her costume's something that mirrors her personality. It's organic shapes and plant-like design are so beautiful. Her sense of confidence to wear such a thing is impressive too. Something I myself had to come to grips with if I wanted to pull this off the best I can. The female form is elegant and natural. The way I see it is that she's so comfortable with her body that it works to her advance. Similar to how a tribeswoman wears a lone cloth; that's purely functional, free, and acceptable. Which is something that the western culture has forgotten. So this will be my test, and I'm proud to wear it.

My thoughts on this costume:
This is one of the hardest, but most artistic, challenges I've had yet. That's why it's taken me so very long to produce. It tests all of my abilities, which is both indescribably rewarding and excruciatingly frustrating. All of the skills that I have learned at university are coming into play now for this costume. Everything from sculpting, to mixed media, painting, Photoshop, photography, makeup art, acting, and understanding how to portray a character through body language and emotion. Along with my traditional training, the Internet has supplied me with many wonderful videos, articles, and lessons that have helped me throughout the process. Which I'm very grateful for every piece of useful information I've found.

Fran's costume is armor heavy, which presents a different type of challenge than sewing. It's also skintight, so I must maintain a figure that reflects the shape of the character. There's not much room for error, and if my body changes I simply wouldn't be able to fit into it. With that being said, I'm excited to bring this great character to life, and I'll give it my all. She'll be my one, and only, signature cosplay.

Character Reference:
Fran the Sky Pirate Video
Fran Full Body CG
Fran Full Body Ingame Model
Fran Head Shot Cutscene Model
Fran and Balthier Cutscene Models

How I made this costume: (More Coming Soon! Check Back to Follow the Progress Here)
Pre-Planning | Body | Hair | Helmet | Hair Clip | Choker | Bodysuit | Arm Armor | Gloves | Leg Armor | Shoes

Special Thanks:
Aaron - Thank you for being there for me, loving me, and supporting me throughout it all. You truly are my wonderful leading man.
 ---
CaptJapan - Thank you for the encouragement throughout the years and all of the support with the awesome ingame reference. I couldn't have done it without your help.
---
Renzukuken - Thank you so much for the high quality screenshots of Fran. They helped me out immensely.
---
To all the talented cosplayers out there and lovely people who've encouraged me along the way. You inspire me to give it my all, and never stop trying.

♡ Claudia (AKA Fran)

Monday, January 14

A Day in the Life of Claudia: My Work from Home Advice

A lot of people ask me about my schedule. How do you work from home? How do you stay on task? How do you have time for healthy choices? So to address those questions, I wanted to show you a typical weekday of mine; from the time that I get up, to the time I go to bed. All of these practices help me maintain a high level of productivity, that also allows for healthy living, rest, and playtime. This is something that took time. One good habit after another replaced the old ones until I got to where I wanted to be. It's so important to maintain a healthy lifestyle along with whatever it is that you do, whether you're a student, a working professional, or enjoying retirement. This will allow you to be your very best, both mind and body.

Working from home doing anything, not just art, blogging, and YouTube, will take dedication and hard work. To save you time and cut to the chase, here's what I do to maintain that lifestyle now.

Morning
6:00am - 7:00am
This is when I wake up to start the day. I set the alarm clock to 7am just as a precaution, because normally I naturally wake up with the sun a little bit before it goes off. My body is so use to it that it just wakes up when I'm fully rested. When I get out of bed I pull all of the currents open in the house to let in the light because the sun helps wake and energize me. One needs a healthy dose of it to fully function.

7:15am
I wash my face with warm water and take care of my skin with my natural daily regime. It's one factor that keeps my skin at it's best and the water also helps to wake me up.

7:30am
To start the morning off right, I go down to the kitchen and grab a tall glass of cold water with a tablespoon of raw organic apple cider vinegar or lemon juice (I like to mix it up). This on an empty stomach will promote a healthy metabolism and help make the stomach more acidic to optimally digest food.

8:00am
After water, I make tea. I do this to make sure that I'm getting adequate amounts of water in the morning before food. That, and I love a good warm cup of tea when it's cool in the morning. I stay away from caffeine with the exception of green or white tea, but usually choose to stick with a lovely tisane, such as chamomile or mint.

8:30am 
It's sunbathing and push-up time! So in the spring and summer months I lay out for 20 minutes in the sun. Just ten minutes on each side is enough to get sufficient vitamin D for the day. If there is no sun to lay in, then I move on to push-ups. I do my 45 each morning.

9:00am
Now it's breakfast time. I have a rule about no drinks during food or 30 minutes before or after. This is because liquid can dilute stomach acids, therefore making it harder to do it's job and break down food properly. So I don't start preparing food until at least 30 minutes has past. That, and I've read that it's good to drink before eating breakfast, hence the name 'break - fast'. When one eats we are breaking the 7-8 hour fast after sleeping. For breakfast I always make blended juice from a variety of fresh organic greens, veggies, fruits, spices, nuts, and seeds. Or once or twice a week I'll cook one organic brown egg over easy (the yoke is best eaten raw) with cayenne pepper, black pepper, and a tiny pinch of sea salt to go along with it, and just make less blended juice that day. Eating correctly will give you the much needed nutrients to work throughout the day and provide the best energy-filled performance no matter what one does.

10:00am
I write for my blog. Sometimes if there's extra time I start earlier in the morning like before breakfast, but depending on the content I'm writing, it will take a few hours to complete. So I will wrap up my post sometime before lunchtime ideally.

10:30am
Now it's time to floss and brush my teeth. Just like the water in the stomach, I do not brush my teeth until 30 minutes after food and drink. The enamel on our teeth is affected by it, even natural foods. Acidic food and drink softens the enamel on our teeth, which can be disrupted if brushing occurs too soon after. One can literately brush their enamel away day after day! So to prevent this, all we have to do is wait a bit. It takes about 30 minutes for the enamel to return to it's full strength and then brushing is no longer an issue. If I have any bleeding gums (which rarely happens, and means that they're infected) I will swish hydrogen peroxide around for a minute to kill the germs and stop the bleeding.  

11:00am 
Water or tea (depends on the season) time again! I make sure to get a lot of water, and always 30 minutes after tending to my teeth.

Midday
11:15am - 12:45pm 
This is the time I respond to messages and questions. I get hundreds of messages from all of my sites, and try to respond to the oldest ones first. Please be patient, and if you don't hear from me around this time, that means that a reply will come another day.

1:00pm 
Lunchtime! Excellent! My food rules are simple: Try to stay as close to nature as possible, mostly vegan, and spend most of the time chewing. The stomach will not digest large chunks properly so it's vital to chew one's food. Sometimes for lunch I'll blend more juice, have fresh organic locally-grown produce, lots of dried seaweed, some organic steamed vegetables, organic vegan (substitute the meat with beans) corn tortilla tacos without cheese, organic brown rice with organic marinara sauce, or mashed potatoes with garlic and parsley. Those are my typical lunch choices. When I was at Microsoft, my office mate would turn around to find me eating a whole raw cucumber or something similar. It truly is that simple! But when working from home I do normally spend time to make something, and I always eat at the dinning room table for all meals.

Afternoon
2:00pm - 4:00pm
This is the time set aside for freelancing, personal art projects, and YouTube videos. Each day I work on these large long-term projects and eventually complete them over time. This is how I make a living and can work from my home office. I'm a minimalist, so I make my flexible income work. That's the key to living a happy life.  

3:00pm 
Another water or tea break and I make sure to do it an hour or so before working out so I'm hydrated, but can use the bathroom before I start exercising so it doesn't get in the way.

4:00pm - 5:30pm
My work day is over, I shutdown the computer, and it's now time for exercise, because it's the perfect way to separate work from play. It's the way that I transition and calm the brain. I usually go outside on a walk or do P90X videos on rainy/extremely cold days. Stretching and yoga are my favorite.

Evening
5:30pm
I have more water after my work out and start preparing to make dinner, making sure there is enough time between water and dinner time, which is promptly at 6:00pm.

6:00pm
Dinnertime! I always have fresh seasonal organic locally-grown produce for dinner or fresh homemade organic popcorn with organic virgin coconut oil, sea salt, and a touch of organic Earth Balance along with a piece of fruit for dessert. I basically alternate these, or in the warmer spring and summer months I also like to make salads with my homemade honey mustard thyme dressing.

7:00pm - 9:30pm
Playtime! I have the rest of the evening to relax and do whatever my heart desires. It could be hangout (my personal favorite), talk on the phone, play games, watch movies, read, surf the web, more art, more learning, bathe/shower, etc. So there's always time for everything in the day, nothing has to suffer because there's plenty of time for work/projects and play/rest.

8:30pm - 9pm
Slowly start dimming the lights down during this time so the brain has a chance to get sleepy. The pineal gland governs our wake/sleep cycle, so it's important that it has the opportunity to produce melatonin at this time.

9:30pm 
Get ready for bed. I clean and moisturize my face again if I didn't already do so after a bath or shower. I don't wash everything from the neck down everyday because that's too harsh on the skin and hair (especially in the dry cold winter months). That would also weaken the immune system, so I usually shower/bathe every other day and only wash my hair every week (hair stylists will tell you this as well if you want to keep dyed hair looking fresh or to prevent dry or oily hair). I also brush my teeth again for the evening, then it's time to shut the curtains and slip into bed.

10:00pm - 10:30pm
Ideally, I'm sleeping and dreaming by this point. Keeping quality sleep consistent will help keep me young and energized. One can only truly function their best with proper sleep.


Wow! So there you go. That's my current schedule on the weekdays, and how I balance everything so the weekends stay spontaneous and full of fun. That's also when I go to the farmer's market and do house cleaning as well. It's seems like everything works out!

Best,
~Claudia

Thursday, January 10

Look of the Month :: Winter 2013 :: January

Another year has come and gone. It's always exciting though, because there are so many new possibilities. This winter is all about the glamour. White is the new black this season, so have fun with it and take the time to dress up a bit more. Makeup trends are pretty straight forward, mostly focusing on eyeliner and bright cream or matte lips. My sister just gave me a new lipstick as a holiday gift, so this look is based around that color. 

The current look is:
J A N U A R Y  2 0 1 3


Color trends for this month:
Oxblood, navy, dark beige, white, and silver

Current motivation for the look:
 Early nights, rain in the city, and elegance

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

Wednesday, January 9

San Francisco Bay Area Continues to Ban Plastic Bags

Sure it's a step in the right direction, but why does it take a ban on using one-use plastic bags to get people to stop using them? Why wouldn't one make that choice by themselves? Well, I guess it's one for the team because all retailers in my area, including the farmer's markets, have stopped supplying plastic bags for people and some even charge for paper bags. Hurrah! I'm so happy about that because it's going to force a change. Old habits will die hard though for some out there.

Switching to cloth or hemp reusable bags is a pretty easy, even though it might take a few weeks to readjust to it. I've been doing it for years now, and even reuse plastic bags by washing them when I need them each week for the market. This makes them last for years and it feels great to be eco friendly.

It's never too late to stop using one-use plastic bags, and make the wise choice to switch. Who knows, maybe the ban will be country wide soon. No matter what, it's time for a change.

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

Tuesday, January 8

No More Insomnia: How to Get a Good Night's Sleep

Getting 7-8 hours of quality sleep seems to be a big problem these days. We're so distracted by our jobs and gadgets that it's hard to get proper shut-eye. Then when we finally do crawl into bed, we can't seem to turn off our brain and it's still going a mile per minute. So how do we solve this problem? Read on to find out, because sleep is so very important for our health and overall well-being. It's what keeps us young, and is the time when the mind and body heal. Don't neglect it.


What prevents quality sleep

- Any light after the sun goes down. It's natural for us to go to bed with the sun. When it gets dark our body releases melatonin, a hormone made by the pineal gland in the brain that makes us drowsy because it's telling us that it's time to sleep. The problem in our modern world is that as soon as it gets dark out, we turn on the lights, watch television, or spend hours in front of the computer. Therefore keeping the brain from producing that useful hormone. In the wintertime I would force myself to stay up late because I thought I was being lazy for wanting to go to bed at 10pm but it was really my brain responding to the short days.
 
- Exercising too late in the day. Exercising increases the metabolism, produces endorphins, and raises body temperature. All of which are great, but will keep one up at night. This much needed energy boost is best for the beginning of the day when we need to feel pumped up, not in the evening when we are trying to relax and get ready for bed.

- Eating too late at night. Food is fuel, so any late meal or snack is going to give the body energy it doesn't need. It's custom in America for dinner to be the largest meal, but that's so wrong in many ways and can be a tough habit to break. It should actually be the smallest meal, and all of that extra food will definitely keep a person up at night. Especially anything with caffeine like coffee, tea, or chocolate.

- Working too late. If we work until we hit the sack, then it's almost impossible to stop thinking about it when we're trying to fall asleep. This could be anything too, not just a job. Hobbies, games, the internet, etc. can all burden the mind during that critical hour before bed. It seems that there's no time for rest these days.

- An irregular sleep schedule. Going to bed at different times can be a contributing factor of insomnia. Naturally the sun would keep us on schedule, but because we refuse to heed its generosity, we slowly become out of balance. This cycle is immensely more significant than most realize. Our quality of life can depend on it. We can either be a zombie barely getting by, or a fully energized being ready to take on the day.

So now let's take a look at some of the things we can do to reverse this. Be patient, and in due time it's possible to get the sleep you crave. Just stick with it, and make it a must.   


Habits to promote proper sleep

- Dim the lights down around 8:30-9pm. Want to feel younger and completely full of energy? Then turn off those lights and start going to bed earlier. The hours between 10pm and 2am are called regenerative sleep or what I like to call 'the magical healing hours.' This is when the body restores itself! So if you're not sleeping during this time, you're truly missing out and night after night are becoming more run-down, because this is when our body's biological clock (circadian rhythm) dictates various healing processes that take place. When the sun goes down that means it's time to slowly get ready for bed. Start dimming/turning off all of the lights and screens. Your brain will do the rest of the work.

- Exercise before the sun goes down. Getting pumped up early in the morning is ideal for maintaining energy throughout the day. Or do what I do and take a long walk just before twilight to calm the mind and transition from the work day to a restful evening. Whatever it may be, exercise before it gets dark out.

- Do not eat four hours before bedtime. This is serious! Again, food is fuel. There is no point to fueling up (especially with junk food like dessert or caffeine) with food or drink before bed. Did you know that it takes at most ten hours for caffeine to go through the body? Indeed it does. Also, if one goes to bed with food in their stomachs, then digestion takes precedence over healing. Do not mess with those precious regenerative hours because it will age you. So make sure to have your last meal four hours before bedtime. That late-night snack is not worth it at all.

- Put work up at a reasonable time. This is hard, I know, but if it doesn't happen work thoughts will generally start creeping back in when trying to go to sleep. Again, I find that the best way I can separate work from rest is by turning off the computer before I go on my walk. That way when I return home my free/rest time begins. It works out perfectly because I do it every weekday and now it's a habit. So by the time I get ready for bed, I have distanced my mind from work and can typically fall asleep fast.

- Make a sleep schedule. Get to bed the same time every night and wake up the same time each morning. It feels so good to be in tune with the sun. It's natural, why fight it. I find what works best for me is to get ready for bed at 9:30pm and be in bed and most likely sleeping by 10pm. I set my alarm clock for 7am to start the day and sometimes find that the sun peaking through the window before 7am will wake me up before the alarm sounds. That's such a good feeling to wake up naturally. Nothing gets better than that. If going to bed by 10pm is not easy, try for a reasonable time then go to bed and wake up five minutes earlier each day until you reach your bedtime goal. When you get there, stick with it!

Sleep is too important to skip out on. Everything in life will improve once
sleep is no longer an issue. Start tonight, why wait another day.

Best,
~Claudia

Monday, January 7

The Secret to a Happy Life: The Big 6

"There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, 
or accept the responsibility for changing them." - Denis Waitley

So this post is a big one, hence the title "The Big 6." After all of my years of reflection and searching I can confidently say that these six points are the areas in life that need to to be balanced for an individual to feel satisfied and content. If they're not, most likely one can't be truly happy. Here are the factors:

L O V E
Not just in the common romantic way, but all aspects of love. This can be love from family, a spouse/lover, pets, God/Gods, friends, peers, etc. Even the respect from colleagues or the community could be a perfect example. If we are loved and give love then all is well. Also, we must learn to love ourselves because that's key to receiving love from others. This is something that's easier said than done with a society that values beauty and consumerism. We are continuously told that we're not good enough, or to buy this product because it will fill the void in our lives. No, it won't, and it's easy to fall for it. Unless it's a necessary basic need like food or shelter, most consumable goods will not make a person happy. But something as simple as a hug can shift a mood in an instant. The brain can't resist because touch is so crucial to the human species. We feel loved when we are touched. So when we feel loved, we give it in return and the cycle continues. 

F R E E D O M
We tend to forget about true freedom in this modern fast-paced world. We willingly slave away day after day under artificial light, so that we can earn money to get out of debt or buy more stuff that keeps us miserable. Sure, it makes us happy for a moment but then we realize that it was not genuine and that the stimulation faded fast. We live in a system that keeps us intentional numb. That's why vacations are so amazing, because it's a time of relaxation, exploration, growth, movement, and satisfaction. Then of course we have other forms of freedom like expression and creation. Both of which are so important. Something as simple as the freedom to be open and honest can lift loads of weight off the shoulders, and if done in a respectable manner, others will appreciate it more so. Being true to who you are in all aspects is vital for happiness, because that unique gift, skill, or talent cannot be found anywhere else but within. Express it, and live it.   

F O O D
Notice how I wrote 'food' and not 'diet'. Food is much more essential than diet. Starting with the way it's grown or produced, to when it enters and exits one's body. The whole process is extremely important. Supporting fair trade organic methods of farming with responsible packaging is so rewarding because being in tune with nature is incredible, and everything's connected. If one is truly in balance then they will care about such things. We're all affected by our food choices, whether it's living on a clean planet together or having a well balanced mind and body. Did you know that some processed food can actually make you tired, angry, and depressed? These chemicals send signals to the brain, therefore making us miserable. Who would want that? Instead, a great diet full of fresh living greens, veggies, fruits, spices, nuts, and seeds can turn all of that around. It can heal disease and keep us young.

M O V E M E N T
Motion is a beautiful thing, both mentally and physically. If we're not moving we feel dead inside. Get up and move! Numerous studies are even conducted about excising outside vs in a gym. Can you guess which one's more awesome? Going outside to workout of course is way better. It's because our brains response to the sun, fresh air, and vibrancy of the colors, especially the blues and greens which are calming and exhilarating. It's way more eco friendly as well, because there are no lights and equipment, and most importantly it's more simulating because one is actually in motion. Exercising outdoors can be quite the daily adventure! Pick a new path each time and explore. Then of course we can't forget about mental movement too. Learning and creating expands the mind and makes us feel complete when we achieve something new or complete a task. It could be big or small, but being in motion keeps us content and healthy.

R E S T
This works together with movement and is so underrated! I would work myself until I was sick all the time. No sleep, and no balance. Work, work, and more work. Well, as wonderful as achievements are, one has to still rest properly to become a fully functional human being. There has to be downtime to let the mind calm. One tip I learned in college when studying is that the brain can only learn up to 30 minutes at a time. So taking small breaks in between was critical to retaining the information. The same can be said for proper sleep. This is when the body heals and restores itself. If one is not psychically well, then we cannot possibly be our best mentally. Enjoy the break.

L O W  S T R E S S
Just let it go...That says it all, but is yet so difficult sometimes. I find that the more I detach myself from certain things in life, the more content I become. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean not caring. I mean being able to let go of things I can't control, showing forgiveness, or even embracing a minimalist lifestyle. As far as minimalism is concerned, the more clutter, debt, and distractions we have the more stressed out we become over time. It's like excess baggage that weighs down on an individual. Money comes into play too: Is there enough, how is it spent, does it cover basic needs, etc. Is that new toy (insert random material possession here) really going to make you happy or just put you into debt? Whatever it may be, learning how to identify and eliminate excess stress is essential and that plays a huge role in happiness.   

Remember these points in the future when life is unbalanced. 
Acceptance of change and a willingness to act is what's truly key. 

~Claudia

Friday, January 4

Poudre River




Photography from my amazing trip up to the icy Poudre River in the Rocky Mountains.


Also check out the Poudre River Photography Video here:

Thursday, January 3

Does Hydrogen Peroxide Naturally Whiten Teeth?

Awhile back I began a new experiment that furthered my research for whiter teeth using natural methods. So far I have found no solution to achieving extremely white teeth in a natural way, but I wanted to test out longer trials based on some of my first experiments. I'm not one to blindly promote or endorse a remedy without trying it out first. All of the things mentioned on my sites are practices that I love and work wonders. If they don't, I'll let you know that way you can save your time and money.

So on we go! I decided to test out hydrogen peroxide for three months straight. Last time I only did ten days, so I wanted to see if this method would work better over a long period of time. Same as before, all I had to do was gargle it once daily like mouthwash for a minute and spit.

Here's my results after three months:  


Month 1: No sensitivity. Teeth look about the same.
Month 2: No sensitivity. Teeth look about the same.
Month 3: No sensitivity. Teeth look about the same.

I even waited an extra month after finishing to see if I could notice a change. If it took time to process, or perhaps even return to a more natural ivory color if they were indeed whitened a bit. Nothing happened though, and there was absolutely no difference in the color of my teeth. Now, I have very white ivory colored teeth as it is because I take care of them the best I can, so the only way I could see this working is maybe if an individual has extremely yellow teeth. Perhaps they would get some results.

Unreal electric-white smiles only became super popular in the 90's after a ton of celebrities started getting their teeth bleached at the dentist. It does seem to be an unnecessary high standard, and all of these experiments are making it clear to me that it's not suppose to be naturally possible. A healthy ivory is quite flattering, but I wanted to explore all possibilities first to bust any myths about these methods actually working.

Please feel free to leave any natural tips that work for you. Perhaps it will shed light on the subject.
♡ Claudia

Wednesday, January 2

Make a Lasting Change - Raise Your Standards

I found this video a few months ago and wanted to wait to share it after the New Year had past. It encourages one to keep going with goals and dreams by raising your standards. When I first heard about this it was profound. We do choose what to do and be in life. One stepping stone at a time our lives are formed, and those choices add up. People that have happy lives have high standards, and it's not about being conceited. It's more about self-respect and making progress.

Tony Robbins: New Year - New Life


I wish you all the best with keeping your resolutions this year,
and if you didn't make one, it's never too late.

~Claudia

Tuesday, January 1

New Year's Resolutions

"Life isn't about finding yourself; life is about creating yourself." - George Bernard Shaw

Let's do this everyone! It's resolution time and I'm so excited to continue growing and evolving this fine year. This is a time when we feed off each other's positive energy and passions, which inspires us to become better people in some way. Something that recently impacted me was this article by David Wong of Cracked.com. Read this with a logical and open mind. I promise it will inspire you:


It was like a light-bulb moment for me, and made sense because the examples are so true. The article talks about how an individual is only as valuable as what they can do for someone else. I have found this to be true in my own life as well. The times when I feel the most satisfied is when giving back to the world in some way. Whether that be through artwork that inspires, teaching and promoting health, giving to local charities, choosing to live a minimalist lifestyle to converse precious resources, or perhaps spending the time to respond to anyone that writes to me for help. Giving back is the only way to go, and that also relates to prosperity because others will give back in return.

Another personal example of prosperity in action is the fact that I can make a living off of freelancing, blogging, and YouTube. For that I'm eternally grateful, because without you and your encouragement that would not be possible. More helpful blog articles and tutorial videos are definitely on the way. So stay tuned and perhaps recommend the sites to anyone you think might like them as well.

Now on to the resolutions! Share yours with me. I want to hear all about your wonderful inspiring goals.  
Here are mine for this year: 

- Keep cleaning up the diet. Specifically more seaweed, and try new things I haven't yet like guava, durian, and bee pollen.

- Work on not stressing and worrying. I've noticed that it's starting to creep back in and I want to catch it right away before it continues to become a problem again.

- Start becoming consistent with YouTube videos. This is a big one for me and I'm going to start posting biweekly, so look out for those tutorials!

- Last, but definitely the most exciting, is that I'm going to finish up art projects that I've started. The most awesome being a cosplay of Fran from Final Fantasy XII that I've been working on for over four years. I'm thrilled to start that up again and share the progress along the way.

I wish you all well with your goals and aspirations this year. Make it happen.
Love Claudia xx

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