30 August 2012

Studio Desiree Giveaway

At the end of August I catch myself thinking about the warm colors that are about to adorn trees and bushes around. Autumn is my favorite season and I can't wait to share with you a great giveaway that will set you in a colorful autumn mood!

Ariana of Studio Desiree is devoted to the world of fiber - she can make anything from dyed fiber to woven works of art and custom designed clothing and jewelry and today she is offering one unique bracelet worth $50 to one lucky Kanelstrand reader.

The bracelet is made of many different types of hand dyed fibers and colors spun into a unique art yarn and wrapped onto a hard core to create an amazing bangle bracelet. This bracelet will fit a small to medium sized wrist and is about 2 inches at wide at the widest point.

Knowing me and my own felted bracelet creations, you can be sure that I would love to own it,  but for a week it is YOU that will have the chance, so take it!

In order to take part in this giveaway you have to fill out the Rafflecopter widget and that's it! The giveaway is open worldwide and ends on September 7th 2012.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Frugal Tips for Your Everyday

Have you ever wondered how to light a hard to reach candle when you don't have any long matches? Or how to keep your picture frames from rubbing against the wall for less than a dollar? Do you know how to freeze eggs? Even better, do you know how to shine your pans with a natural, earth-friendly ingredient?

Photo via DIY Home Sweet Home

Head on over to the DIY Home Sweet Home blog to read 101 tips on how to reuse, recycle and be frugal in everything you do!

Do you have a special frugal tip of your own? Share it with us in the comments!

28 August 2012

Simple Style: No-Heat Curls

This post is written by contributing author Paige Ronchetti.
This is the coolest thing I've tried in a while. We all know that heat damages our hair, so we try to avoid it. But what if we want curly hair for a special occasion? Foam rollers don't work that well (for me, anyway) and pin curls are the most time-consuming thing in the known universe. So what's a gal to do?

Curl your hair with a headband!

no-heat curls

I heard about this idea last week and was blown away by how easy it is. Three steps, that's all!

I left my headband on for a few hours, and then gently tugged it free. I used a regular brush to comb it out (because it will look really weird when you first unwrap it) and spritzed a bit of hairspray to keep things in place. That's it! Think about how much work pin curls and foam rollers are in comparison. Headbands for the win!

Bonus fourth step: enjoying your easy new trick.

How do you curl your hair? Have you tried this headband method?

Paige Ronchetti lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband. They have no kids and no pets, which gives them a lot of time for eating spicy food and looking for bargains. Paige's blog is Little Nostalgia is a collection of projects and pretty things. There you can find DIY tutorials, home decor inspiration, and affordable fashion ideas. When she is not blogging, Paige is working on her vintage-inspired jewelry lines, Little White Chapel and Oh Nostalgia. Connect to Paige via twitter or pinterest.

27 August 2012

5 Steps To Finding Your People On Twitter

This post is written by contributing author Genevieve Brazelton. 

The biggest reason small businesses never fully adopt a social media strategy is because they never feel like they're communicating with their people. Often I hear clients say, "I feel like I'm talking to an empty room."

It's hard to continue using Twitter, or any other platform, if you feel like no one's listening and you're not getting any sort of engagement. But remember, everybody starts with zero followers. Making connections and maintaining relationships takes effort, but that doesn't mean you need to spend hours a day to build your community.

girl feeding doves and a duck
Photo: kanelstrand

Here are 5 simple steps to help you find your people on Twitter:

1. Define Who You Want To Connect With
All social media platforms have different potentials for who you can connect with, so be realistic, but also specific. If you sell hand knit baby products you're probably not going to connect with a lot of potential customers on Twitter, but you will find bloggers who will be interested in writing about your product and shop owners who may want to place wholesale orders. If you're a coach you might want to focus on potential collaborators and industry publications.

2. Start With The Easy Connections
Don't make it harder than it needs to be, use colleagues, friends and family first to build your numbers. Ask them to tell their friends. You'll be surprised at how far this gets you in just a few days.

3. Follow The Bread Crumbs
Once you're connected to a base of familiar people start looking at who they're connected with. These are the first removed connections that can often become some of the most rewarding relationships. Don't just follow them, take a moment to send a quick tweet introducing yourself and bringing up your connection.

Then move on to following the movers and shakers in your industry. This can be top bloggers, retail outlets, even your competitors and role models. Look at who they're connected with and start following the relevant people in those circles.

Not all will follow back, but if you're providing interesting content many of them will. We're all hungry to meet more people who will be useful to us.

4. Use Lists
Twitter's list function is often overlooked, but highly useful. Segregate the people you're following into groups that make sense to you based on why you're following them and how they fit into your social circle.

I've made lists for current clients, potential clients, friends, writers, influencers, etc. That way when I want to see what all my clients and prospective clients are struggling with for blog post ideas I don't have to wade through all the other chatter to find it. Then I look to the conversations my influencers are having and see where I might be able to jump in.

5. Attend Twitter Chats
Attending and participating in Twitter chats allowed me to not only grow my Twitter following by 50-100 people a month, most of these followers were exactly who I was looking for.

It takes a little effort to find the chats, but a few google searches should turn up relevant chat in your industry. Then all you need to do is make an effort to add something to the conversation either in the form of an intelligent question or informative answer. You'll be having a conversation with others interested in the same things you are.

I've participated in chats for young female entrepreneurs, local Etsy groups, and blog communities. Some are weekly, others monthly and you don't need to attend regularly to get something out of them.

Put in a few hours a week and you'll have growing following that you actually talk to in no time.

What are some of your favorite ways to find new people on Twitter?

Genevieve Brazelton endlessly researches the newest ideas in creative and social media marketing so you don’t have to. Genevieve’s strength is her keen outside perspective and sometimes infuriating logic that puts structure to dreams and lays out paths to goals. She is also the business side of Lightbox SF. Read more about her here.
Connect to Genevieve via twitter or facebook.

25 August 2012

A Word on Originality

This post is written by contributing author Anabel Bouza. 

Inventors are the trailblazers that succeed at connecting invisible dots before anyone else. 

Much training goes into sharpening these dot-connecting skills - we go to school for it, or spend a ridiculous amount of time improving upon our innate gift - and yet, aren't these proverbial dots readily available to everyone? Why don't we stumble upon truly brilliant solutions more often during our creative endeavors?

Illustration by Anabel Bouza
When creating something, we ride successive waves of ideas. We follow this or that accident down a path, chasing perfection in fragments. Eventually we encounter a thing of beauty, hungrily recognize it as a success, and clasp our hands around it. 

Could it be that Beauty is, in this case, getting in the way of true creativity? Are visual artists aesthetes first and creative second? 

Emily Levine said that in the finished object, all the possibilities have collapsed into one. By stopping whenever we get that glimpse of beauty, we effectively desist at the threshold of less explored variations. Maybe the hastily adoption of a first good result is a hazard to genuine innovation.

This learned and rarely questioned knee-jerk behavior could be likened to a ship that takes us from one destination to the next, safely and without event: no sea monsters to overcome, but no sight of undiscovered shores, either.

Anabel Bouza insists there's powerful magic in the action of creating something out of a vague vision, a chill of inspiration. She is an illustrator with a passion for nature, paper manipulation, and pointing her camera at things.

Her appreciation for simplicity dates back to a former life in Cuba - her strange homeland - where she refined the ability to see the alternative uses of common objects, and the enchanting side of things. She's often found blogging as
Weird Amiga, hard at work in her sunny studio, or staring at things as if looking at them for the first time. Her tiny family is comprised of her husband & a turtle; they're new to the city of Chicago, and they love it. Connect to Anabel via facebook and twitter.

24 August 2012

How a Solo Vacation Can Light Your Fire

The pen sits comfortably in my hand and yet my handwriting is wobbly. But not because I haven't written in a real notebook for ages. I woke up at dawn to catch a bus that will take me on a long, 7-hour journey to the seaside of my childhood.

Things have been changing in the past 20 years but somehow I have stubbornly failed to notice. I am touring a country that now exists only in my childhood memories. So, writing on a notebook with a pen is the most appropriate way to document my thoughts. Computers and childhood memories don't go well together.

Spending 2 weeks with family is quite exhilarating but only now, at the first step of my journey alone I can hear my thoughts.

Photo: kanelstrand

Have you taken a solo vacation?
Or have you ever spent a single day deliberately enjoying your own company? You should! Especially if you're afraid of it. Your fear is a sign that there is much to be explored. If you love company, make a change - go out alone! Challenge your prejudices and habits and set out on a date with that part of you that you've been systematically neglecting.

Take it slow
Being on your own will let you get out of the comfortable routine of always being surrounded by people. Once in the stormy sea of the unknown you will feel unexpected delight. Even if you can only afford a day, make it worth - walk slowly, notice the details, listen to your thoughts and write them down. They will feel flattered and will repay you with creativity.

Remember to Š°bsorb every little detail along the way. Try to be present in the moment and to appreciate all sounds, aromas, or anything that comes along. Not all will be perfectly set but remember, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder". If you are positive you will be able to see the beauty around. Forget your daily woes and concentrate on the moment, be it just climbing a tree or looking at a floating leaf. These are simple pleasures that will talk to your soul.

Make it a routine
Try to spend a deliberate solo vacation once a year. It is not necessary to be a full-fledged two-week luxury vacation. It can be a few days, or even just one. The point is to give your mind space and tranquility and to start following its rhythm. And you will be enchanted by the results, I promise.

Me? My fire is lit, even though I am still on my first day. My creative juices are flowing and I am impatient to see what follows. I am grateful to my husband who almost forced me to go on a solo vacation and proved yet again that he is my guiding light.

How about you? Would you take the solo vacation step?

20 August 2012

How to Make Aloe Vera Gel at Home

I remember the day when I tried treating a freshly squeezed pimple with a freshly cut Aloe Vera leaf. In my list of beauty discoveries, Aloe Vera sits high up, along with baking soda for hair and banana peels for acne. In fact, I bet Aloe Vera and banana peels are interchangeable, you should try that!
Photo: Garry Knight

Aloe Vera is equally good for acne and sunburn but you can use it in a number of other ways, for example:
  • to treat seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis, 
  • on cooking burns, 
  • for rejuvenating face masks,
  • as a skin moisturizer
  • instead of shampoo,
  • to tame frizzy hair.
Instead of buying Aloe Vera gel from the store you can make it yourself at home following any of these 5 tutorials:

How to make Aloe Vera gel
DIY Aloe Vera gel
How to make your own Aloe Vera gel
Homemade Aloe Vera gel
How to make Aloe Vera gel video
What do you use Aloe Gel for?

16 August 2012

Conscious Living: Working Hard

This post is written by contributing author Shelly Kerry. 

Have you been working too much? Hopefully it’s doing something you love or the extra work load is bringing in the financial support you need to pursue your goals. Sometimes it's neither and it can be painful.  However, this can be reality. Not everyone has a second income to rely on. Not everyone is in the right financial place to pursue their dreams full-time.

I have been that person for some time now. Knowing that I am working hard towards creating something incredibly wonderful often pulls me through. However, there are days when optimism is not so easy and I feel tired.  This is when I have to step back, rely on my own advice and regroup.  Here are some simple yet life changing reminders to use if you find yourself in this same place.

You will get sick if you work too hard
Sorry but my Grandmother’s advice is true. It happened to a friend of mine earlier this year. 80 hour work weeks, 40 + doing what she really didn’t want to be doing, left her with four days of vertigo. I had no idea but vertigo is a really big bummer. What it did offer her was days of being in bed and realizing she couldn’t go on like this anymore. She is super ambitious, obviously, and the other 40 hours a week was being spent growing what has become a super successful business. I believe that getting sick was her body saying, “Damn it. Listen to me. You are ready to go on your own. Now do it.”

If you aren’t quite there yet that’s ok too. Give yourself a little break. Try to remember the beauty of patience. This is where I am at. I am constantly talking to myself. Everything will pay off. The power of positive thought can prevent us from moving too fast and eventually falling ill.

Creating a board or filling a scrapbook with reminders of your end goals with the word Patience in big bold letters at the top can be a great tool. Keep it someplace handy.

Photo: kanelstrand
Tweak the way you think
You have a job that pays fairly well but you really don’t love it. The people you work with are great. It is not an unhealthy environment. It just isn’t what you want to be doing. However, it offers you the freedom to do so many other things. In rough economic times, it offers stability. 

Two words of advice that I am constantly reminding myself – Be grateful.  You have a job.  As of July 2012, the unemployment rate in the United States is at 8.3%. This is not great. This alone can be depressing but can also be a great motivator to creating something of your own.

Bottom line, the power of positive thinking is vital here. Think daily about all the positive ways your current position is helping you. Does your current job offer you great benefits? Are you able to spend all holidays and weekends with your family? I don’t think I have to tell you all the benefits of positive thinking.  Not only can it help you appreciate your current situation but it can also keep you out of what I call the negative hole.  Make a list of everything that is good right now. Make a promise to say three things you are grateful for every night before you go to sleep.

The negative black hole
If you have never fallen in the black hole then I want to meet you and pinch your arm to make sure you are real. It isn’t a pretty place. Not everyone is comfortable with sharing their black hole experience and that is ok. However, if you think no one knows the only person you are kidding is yourself.  It starts with one negative thought and sometimes it lasts only 5 minutes, sometimes a day, a week and sadly for some a life time. 

This hole can be paralyzing if you let it. And don’t get me wrong, it is ok to be negative sometimes. It’s normal. It’s your recovery that matters.  Have you set up ways to recognize when this is happening to you? What are your triggers? Is it a certain person? Do not hang out with them when you start to feel this way. Is it a poor diet? What are the beginning signs of not feeling well?

I am an optimistic person but I am also super sensitive. My emotions are very obvious. I found the beauty of connection and laughter a long time ago and it saves me every time. If your super negative energy is filling the office and you find yourself at lunch alone then apologize. Admit you have been cranky, make your mates some cookies and laugh about it. You aren’t alone.
Spend time finding your own ways of creating happiness.



Pat yourself on the back for working so hard.

Be thankful that you have dreams.

Give yourself a break and rest.

Shelly is the motivation and creativity side of Lightbox SF. As a jewelry designer she has spent many years testing and honing the skills and discipline needed to run your own creative business while still having time for friends, family and fun. She puts her wealth of experience to use in the Creating Space service - healthy living advice to help keep you motivated and make the most out of your already busy schedule. She will help you find both the physical and emotional space so you can pursue your dreams and she’ll always insist there’s time for yourself.

Shelly will be pursuing a Core Strengths coaching certificate through San Francisco State University in 2013. Connect to Shelly via twitter or facebook.

15 August 2012

DIY Sewing: Adding Darts

This post is written by contributing author Paige Ronchetti.

Well, it's happened again. I scored a secondhand dress that fits doesn't quite fit perfectly. I loved the color and the ruffles on the shoulders... but it didn't have a lot of shape. That might work for some people, but it's not exactly spectacular on me.

Time to add some darts!

With my last project I showed you how to take in the side seams of a dress, but that one had more of a structured fit. In this case, we need some darts to add a waistline. This a smidge more complicated than sewing side seams, but still on the easy side of the coin.

--awesome dress
--straight pins
--tape measure or ruler
--sewing machine or needle and thread

What to do:
First, try on the dress and make note of the baggiest areas. I used the darts at the bust line as my starting point. I measured while wearing the dress, and I noted that I would have to start pinning about four inches below them (this will vary depending on how tall you are).

Next, remove the dress and lay it on a flat surface. Take your straight pins and section off two identical darts on the back. The middle of the dart should contain the most fabric, gradually thinning out the longer it goes. To make sure things are symmetrical, measure from both side seams and from one dart to the other. They should also be the same length.

Now turn the dress right side out and check that the outer layer of fabric will lay smoothly. There will be little gaps between the pins (which is normal), but none of the fabric should pull or seem crooked. This is how mine looked when it was ready to roll:

Finally, sew along the side of your pins. You can use a machine, but I actually did this one by hand. The fabric is more delicate than what I normally work with (it feels like chiffon, but the label is missing), and I didn't want to goof it up. I tend to zoom along with my machine, so going by hand forced me to slow down and keep things smooth.

And that's it! As long as you measure twice and sew once, you'll be good to go.

Have you worked on any sewing projects lately? Or found a great secondhand piece that needs a little work? Are there any sewing tips/tricks you've been itching to learn? I take requests!

Paige Ronchetti lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband. They have no kids and no pets, which gives them a lot of time for eating spicy food and looking for bargains. Paige's blog is Little Nostalgia is a collection of projects and pretty things. There you can find DIY tutorials, home decor inspiration, and affordable fashion ideas. When she is not blogging, Paige is working on her vintage-inspired jewelry lines, Little White Chapel and Oh Nostalgia. Connect to Paige via twitter or pinterest.

13 August 2012

Simple Poetry: I Wonder Which is Louder

The forest, the beach, the songs of birds, the waves and the wind. You've read those words so often on this blog. You know they are the road signs of my inspiration. Bright, big and flashy. Burning red. Calming yellow. They show me the way, or whisper directions in my ear. I don't mind either method.

As long as I have my eyes open and my ears can hear I will be welcoming you on my journeys of simplicity.

Photo: kanelstrand

It is time for yet another simple pleasure of life - one that has been with me for all my conscious existence - poetry.

If you cannot write poetry, you should try - without hesitation or judgment.

If you are writing poetry, please share it with us in the comments.

For poetry should not remain hidden. It is a universal form of connection with other minds. It is a way to understand our emotions and to find our place in the world. Poetry is beneficial to our inner peace. It is an act of peace in itself.

Let us create together the world we want to inhabit.

Here is a glimpse into mine:

I wonder which is louder
the forest, or the ocean;
for both are green and restless
and are in constant motion.

the ocean has the songs
that mesmerize the sailor
of fish and mermaids blond
which push him to the border.

the forest moves its needles
like fingers on a keyboard
and in the ears of squirrels
it plays the gentlest chord,

the birds with beaks of magic
throw feathers like a curtain,
with threads of sound and frolic
entwine the forest and the ocean.

Now it's time for you to show me yours.

08 August 2012

Summer Giveaway with Spearmint And Thyme

Summer and flowers go so perfectly well together, don't you think!

How about this summer you adorn your hair with beautiful tiny flowers that will never fade?

To make your summer even more colorful and fragrant I teamed with Jennifer of Spearmint and Thyme - a small artist run business in the heart of the English Countryside dedicated to making unique hair accessories for special occasions.

Jennifer takes pride in "growing" her flower pieces in her home-based studio.

In her etsy shop you will find flower hair accessories and other pretties for all occasions. Hand sculpted rose hair pins in a variety of lush colors to match any outfit and wedding palette are abundant, bouquets of bridal combs and flower fascinators are also available for the picking. From lilies to daisies to chrysanthemums, Jennifer's handmade flowers will stay fresh and won't wilt in your hair.

For one week starting today you have the chance to win this awesome set of 4 candy colored, peach powered hair pins and a hair comb by Spearmint and Thyme, worth $27!

They are handmade from mulberry paper, a sturdy rice paper made from the bark fibers of the Mulberry Tree. The paper is great for creating intricate floral designs that look realistic and delicate whilst remaining durable.

Jennifer has securely attached the sculpted flowers with various techniques including wire wrapping to ensure that they are secure - with proper care you should be able to wear these pins year after year!

The giveaway is open to Kanelstrand subscribers, so if you still aren't one, make sure you follow this blog via email or RSS feed and state how you follow in the comments 

The giveaway is open Worldwide until August 15th, 2012. To enter, follow the Rafflecopter widget.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

05 August 2012

The Best Way to Get Rid of Blackheads? Baking Soda!

If you told me 5 years ago that baking soda could be used for anything other than baking (and cleaning silver) I would have been highly suspicious, to say the least.

Fast-forward to 2011:
I've been seeing every now and then blog posts about people ditching conventional shampoos in favor of simple baking soda - a method called "no-pooing". In fact, those posts and forum topics got so many that I decided to try the method myself. Lo and behold, it worked!

It worked so well that today we don't have a single shampoo bottle at home.

Slow-motion to 2012:
Washing my hair with baking soda has given me healthier and stronger hair. In my weekly ceremonies of bringing the kitchen to the bathroom I've had thoughts crossing my mind. Mostly about applying baking soda as a facial scrub to clean blackheads.

If baking soda is good for the scalp, it should be good for the skin on my face, right?

And my face... although I have amiable features my face has always been on the oily side. Well into my 30s I feel I still haven't passed puberty in certain days of the month. Quite bothering and humiliating at times.

Cleaning my face with baking soda once a week, in addition to washing my hair, became a ritual I didn't put much thought in until the day my husband noticed my face was visibly cleaner. Without expecting any fast results (or any results whatsoever) I had incorporated the new routine and the greatest part was that it worked!
baking soda against blackheads
Image: Alessandro Pautasso

As any person with long acne/blackhead/oily skin history I have tried virtually any commercial product. 15+ years is a long time to try any new magical lotion and yet, nothing cleaned my face quite well.

Until I tried simply rubbing some baking soda on my damp face.

Here is how to get rid of your blackheads

You need:
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • damp face

1. Make sure your face is clean. I don't use any facial cleanser for that. Instead I wash my face thoroughly with plain water a few times a day.

2. Dampen your face. I find it most convenient to apply this method while taking a shower. The warm water opens up the pores.

3. Get the baking soda with your damp fingers and start massaging it onto your skin with circular motions. Don't press hard, just massage. Concentrate on the areas where you get most blackheads - the forehead, the nose, the chin, etc.

4. Rub for 30 seconds and rinse. Avoid leaving the baking soda on your skin for longer periods, that wouldn't make it more effective and it may irritate your skin.

Your skin will be visibly clean after the first application!

The baking soda scrub is also effective in keeping your body smooth, so you can use it on your body as well!

Note: Don't apply baking soda on open wounds and squeezed pimples. Better treat them with banana peels. If the baking soda scrub stings, rinse off immediately. Stop immediately if you have any reactions such as a rash or an increase in acne. When in doubt seek advice from a dermatologist.

With the baking soda scrub you are not only saving money and achieving great results, are making an environmentally conscious choice! 

02 August 2012

The Banana Beauty and the Girl

Imagine a tiny, short-haired girl. Her eyes look bigger than life because her eyeglasses are too thick. The dark brown frames leave a thick white mark on her nose and cheeks during the summer while the rest of her face grows darker in the sun. She loves to read. If you ask her what she'd like to become when she grows older she'd shyly answer: "A poet". At 6 she's already written her first poem.

This girl is dreaming of a life in writing and considers the pictures in her books as her possessions. She often wonders how the illustrator managed to draw the exact same toys she owns. It will take her years to realize she never had them, only played with them in her mind, while flipping the pages. 
That is exactly how the girl looked at the age of 6.

You will find this girl sitting quietly on the top while everyone else is sleighing downhill in the snow. She's pondering if being famous is better than being an honest nobody. Funny how she's defined the opposition at the age of 6.

She thinks that writing a book is the most extraordinary achievement in life, one she can never accomplish because, let's face it, extraordinary things happen to other people. 

Well, this girl was wrong.

28 years later she quietly started this blog, never suspecting the impact it will have on her and her readers. At the end of her first year of blogging she quietly put an image on the top of the right sidebar, saying Banana Beauty - 7 days to better skin and hair.

Her first book. 

It hurried to life unexpectedly, while she was busy making other plans. But the book's spring to life couldn't have been more natural either. This girl had invested hours, days, months into learning how to live green, how to take care of her body with respect and without toxic ingredients. She spent days guiding her readers to the same philosophy and sharing tips about using fruit on the skin and hair.

The hundreds of thousands of visitors agreed that her methods were working.

And so, the book was born. Do you want to flip through its pages? Here is a preview:

Quietly hundreds of readers started purchasing it.

Quietly (and gratefully) she stared in awe of the miracle of Internet and its ability to connect people hungry for knowledge.

Today this girl wants to share her first book with you.

Read more about the magic you will find inside.

This book will save you tons of money from beauty treatments. And it will leave your skin and hair clean, healthy and joyful, I promise.

Purchase it on Etsy.

Thank you for bringing out the best in me.

Tomorrow one of you who commented under this post will be chosen to win a copy of Banana Beauty!

edit: Congratulations to Gigi (commenter number 5), who won a copy of Banana Beauty!