Apr 3, 2012

Time for a Positive Note

I know...I've been mainlining the blog tonight..but it's been so long since I've posted :)

I keep saying I'll add in pics of our new home and haven't but it's coming. I just need to get my "spring" pics taken and I'll have one from each season to show. The views out here are breathtaking and definitely know how to calm me down when I have a typical anger fit. Moving out here has already worked wonders on my stress...but it still has so much to do!

This year, I'm determined to start taking steps toward self-sufficiency. Please know I don't do much of anything halfway...I'm all or nothing! I'm talking re-activating the flowers the lady we bought the house from planted (which were destroyed this past fall in the torrential rains we experienced), planting some new ones, turning a big part of my backyard into a vegetable garden, composting my own soil and learning how to do things that will build it out into a mini-farm (we're only on an acre).

Among the things I wanna learn are keeping chickens for eggs and emergency food; keeping bees for honey, wax, etc. for salves, candles and maybe some home-brewed mead; possibly moving on to goats for milk, which is good for drinking and beauty products (maybe with honey); growing some herbs and distilling my own oils; canning and preserving to make better use of my harvest; building my own solar panels and wind turbines (we're on a very windy hill)...the whole nine yards!

I've wanted this since I was a teenager doing energy healings and tarot readings...nothing says hippy utopia like your own mini-commune. It's like heaven to me.

Somehow, I've got to manage to make the whole thing workable. School starts back next month, I have online work and am in the process of putting my youngest back in daycare to take on a job outside the home as well. Somehow, I have to get through 50-hour days, do the impossible and pull yet another rabbit out of my ass. But I'm determined as hell to do as much as possible.

I'll keep you posted on my progress and will try to get around to posting those pics too! Till next time...g'night (it's 2am and tomorrows another early day!).

Frustrated with Freelancing!

I've decided to deviate from my (now) usual political rants to rant about something else, LOL

Don't get me wrong, I love oDesk but am becoming frustrated with the way clients are allowed to steal work from contractors, get by with not paying for work turned in, etc. I get it's a contract work situation, not an employment contract, but other freelance sites have systems in place to protect their contractors from situations like this (I know...I'm signed on to a couple of them).

A recent client of mine hired me for an article, to be ghostwritten in someone else's voice. I didn't really have time for it but really need the money, as I'm not working steadily at all and have bills to pay. I put current projects on hold to juggle the deadlines for each, understanding this one was due sooner.

In any case, I turned it in before the deadline, asking my client to respond to let me know if it meets his needs and, as is standard for me, reminding him of my complimentary revision policy to make sure it did. No response. I waited 2 weeks, tackling other work and staying very busy between it and home/family events, then tried contacting him again. This time I requested either feedback on my work or payment if it met his needs as is. Again, no response.

At this point, I'm starting to get mad. I can see he's been on the site hiring for other jobs but he can't take 2 minutes out to hold up his end of our contract. I contacted oDesk, knowing it's not their policy to allow disputes on Fixed Price projects (which I normally avoid but he had established a history of paying them, so I took a chance). However, the rep contacted my client on my behalf to request payment...still no response.

I waited a few more days, then finally decided to make my work illegal to steal. I check the site it was written for periodically and, so far, it hasn't been added but I wanted to be sure my work stayed my own, unless I was getting paid for it. I'm also considering putting an attorney on retainer but would like to avoid it if possible. I've already got two cases pending (custody thing with my ex and a medical dispute), so being forced to create a third would leave me seething and that's just no good for anyone that has to deal with me.

Being a karma balance person, I prefer to believe he'll shoot himself in the foot with his poor business practices, with no involvement on my part necessary. However, being a Scorpio, I'm prepared to ensure both feet get in the way if I'm pushed to do so. We'll see how it goes but I'm rooting for the more peaceful resolution. Anger's the easiest emotion for me to express but it's too easy...I still prefer the self-righteous indignation that comes with sitting by and watching idiots do themselves in, odd as that sounds for a hippy to admit.

Anyway, on a more positive note, the majority of my clients have been awesome, including my most current one! He's a god-send, very patient with my ever-shifting schedule of duties and encouraging of the work I produce. While I'd prefer getting more done for him each week (my schedule's fault, not his!), he's very much the type of client I enjoy working for. I've had many clients like him since starting with oDesk and they are the ones who make the stress of working from home worthwhile.

From the Grocery Store to the Spa

As you know, saving money and beauty products are two of my favorite things, so if I find something that mixes the two, it’s fabulous (and I’ll share)! I won’t keep you guessing here, I’m talking about turning a grocery store trip into a super-luxe home spa experience. A surprising number of foods do double-duty as cosmetics, with little to no change to their natural state, and have tons of benefits.

For starters, when you’re making your own cosmetics, you know exactly what you’re smearing on your skin, it’s usually loaded with nutrients your hair and skin needs anyway, plus you save some money. It’s so win-win, it’s worth trying at least once.
I think the biggest thing about it is, really, is knowing which foods to mix together and how to prepare it and all that. It’s really not as hard as you’d think. I’ve got some pretty good recipes to share with you. They’re easy to make, don’t require crazy ingredients you’ve never heard of and most are even good for sensitive skin. Let’s start with a list, go on to benefits and then we’ll get to the recipes.

A basic shopping list may look like this:

• Honey
• Milk (regular, goat or even powdered)
• Oatmeal
• Eggs
• Plain yogurt
• Avocados
• Carrots
• Apples or natural applesauce
• Olive or grapeseed oil

And if you wanna go more luxe, include:

• Strawberries
• Sugar
• Cocoa (or dark chocolate to grate)
• Red wine (even the cheapest kind works!)
• Coffee

You may have some of these in your kitchen already and, if you do, you’ll save even more money. Also, if you have any unscented cleansers, body washes, bubble baths, etc. lying around, some of these can be added in for an extra boost. A good example is cocoa, powdered milk or coffee grounds.

How does food make such good cosmetics, anyway?

Ironically enough, the same foods that are good for eating are also good for your outside too, because they are so loaded with vitamins and things you need. I’m talking anti-oxidants, proteins, alpha-hydroxy acids…the whole works! A lot of the store-bought cosmetics add this stuff in, but it’s naturally in a lot of the foods we eat. So, what can the foods on this list do for you?

• Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) – Apples have an AHA called malic acid, which is very gentle on skin, dissolves dead skin cells, clears blackheads and fades dark spots. Milk/yogurt has lactic acid, another AHA that moisturizes and brightens skin. Strawberries contain salicylic acid, which is good for cystic acne and is also an AHA.

Wine has many AHAs, including tartaric, lactic, malic and citric acid. Glycolic acid is used in many chemical peels and can be found in grapes. It’s important to note, when using fruit acids, that it can make you more prone to sunburn. If you make your own AHA peels, be sure to use extra/higher SPF sunscreen and/or mineral makeup (which contains titanium, a natural sunscreen)!

• Cleans/refines pores – Oatmeal is one of the best for this, because it can get a lot of the gunk out that can lead to acne and is better for sensitive skin than the sticky strips are, while yogurt and eggs can tighten and refine pores.

• Exfoliates – Coffee grounds, sugar and even salt are all good for this but so are the seeds in the strawberries.

• Smoothes/softens – Raw honey may just be the world’s best natural moisturizer, being good for dry and acne-prone skin, as well as having enzymes and anti-bacterial properties. Eggs have a natural emollient, which soothes and softens skin. Avocado is a good alternative to honey, because it has healthy oils in it that makes it perfect for dry skin and hair.

• Vitamin infusion – Wine, chocolate, carrots and strawberries have anti-oxidants, which help your skin fight free radicals known to age your skin. Eggs and milk/yogurt are high in protein, which helps strengthen hair and can aid skin in building collagen. The coffee has caffeine, which technically isn’t a vitamin, but is good for increasing circulation and, some say, reducing cellulite, so it’s worth noting.

So, we know what this stuff is and what’s in it, but how to mix the cosmetics? Like I said before, it’s actually really simple and mostly involves mushing it up and applying it to your hair or skin. Yeah, it sounds messy but it’s a lot of fun and the results speak for themselves. Let’s get started!


• Pore “Sucker” Mask – Take some oatmeal and grind it as coarse or fine as you want in a blender or food processor. Wet with water or milk to make a paste. You can basically add anything you want, depending on the type of mask you need. Try applesauce, honey or some mashed avocado! Apply and leave on a few minutes (10-30, your choice), then rinse off thoroughly.

• Pore-tein Acne Mask – Beat 2-3 egg whites, saving the yolks for something else, like hair conditioner. Apply to your face, leave on 20 min and rinse with lukewarm (not hot!) water.

• VitaMoisture Mask – Take 1 mashed avocado, 1 cooked and mashed carrot, 1 beaten egg, 2-3 tbsp honey and either 2 tbsp yogurt or milk powder, mix it together in a bowl and apply to your face/neck. Leave on 10-15 min, then rinse with cool water. This mask can even be used as a homemade body wrap!

• CafĂ© Latte with Oatmeal-Honey Biscotti Mask – Mix 1-2 t. ground oatmeal with 1 t. cocoa, then add 1 tbsp. honey and enough milk or yogurt to make a paste. Apply to your skin and leave on 15-20 min before rinsing off with warm water. You can add coffee grounds too if you want, for circulation and more exfoliation.

• Strawberry Smooth-ee Mask – Mash up 1 strawberry. Add in ½ t. sugar and powdered milk (or 1 t. honey and 1 tbsp. yogurt) to make a paste. Apply to your face, leaving on 10-15 min before rinsing in warm water. This can be used as a hand and foot scrub too.

• Sweet Red Bath – Add as much as 1 cup of honey and a few cups of red wine to your bath. This will clarify and soften your skin...and leave you feeling pampered!


• Strengthening Shampoo – Beat a couple of eggs and massage into your hair before rinsing. You could add 1 t. olive oil for moisture and added shine but, if you do, you should balance the ph-level with something acidic (like ½ to 1 t. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice).

• Strengthening Conditioner – There are 2 versions of this to choose from:

o Beat 1 egg yolk and mix with ½ t. olive oil, then ¾ c. lukewarm water. Massage into clean hair, leave on 10 min before rinsing with warm water.

o Beat 1 egg white and mix with ¼ c. yogurt. Apply to clean hair and leave on 10-15 min then rinse with warm water.

• Avocad-Oil Conditioning Mask – Mash an avocado and add about a teaspoon of olive oil. Mix and apply the paste to clean hair. Leave on 30-45 min (with or without a head wrap), then rinse well with warm water. You could even add a cooked and mashed carrot for extra vitamin action.

These recipes can be customized for whatever you need for your skin or hair type. Your only limitation is your own imagination. Now, go grab some of your girlfriends and have a home spa party!