Monday, March 31, 2014

Weekend Wardrobe: Spring Edition


Sadly, there are no seasons where I live, but like I say time and time again, that is no reason not to get in the spirit right?. Specially when it's spring! Everyone's spirits are high, and fun, and free and some of the freshest trends start appearing. This year I am really loving two of them: pastels and florals.

From a casual day to a formal work affair, there are a ton of ways to incorporate these trends into your outfits without becoming boring or predictable. I used to be very afraid of mixing prints but now I'm getting out of my comfort zone and finding new ways in which to freshen my look.

The first outfit is very casual: a regular print tee, which I have been obsessed with lately, and of course a cute floral skater skirt to make the whole look more girly and feminine. This is perfect for a coffee date with friends or an afternoon at the mall. This casual-chic look is complete with a pair of simple cream pumps.

































This second outfit is more formal. A pastel top in a flowy fabric for the pop of color, and faux leather pants for the formal vibe make this a work-appropriate option, yet still fun and unexpected. Being a busy working mom, one of the things I look for in any outfit is its ability to make me look put together with minimal effort, and this one does exactly that. Surely this will become a staple for me this season.









What is your favorite spring trend? And what is your favorite thing about spring?




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Thursday, March 27, 2014

DIY Hair Mask

Few things are more pleasant than spending a night in, with a good book, a scented candle, a long bath and, of course, some pampering! It might sound high-maintenance, but it is in fact a surefire way to keep a busy mom's sanity.

As for the pampering part, I've got an idea here for you:
This hair mask is ridiculously easy to make (literally takes 5 minutes!), and it is perfect for dry, dull hair (like mine!). For those of you who heat style it on the regular, this one is for you too. If your hair is super oily, on the other hand, perhaps stay away from this one. The best part of this is that you probably already have all the ingredients in your kitchen! Whenever you are feeling like a little TLC is in order, just head to your pantry and in less than half an hour your hair will be a happy, hydrated camper, just perfect to welcome spring! woohoo!

Here is what you'll need:



- 1 Egg yolk: Its many proteins, vitamins and fatty acids nourish and moisturize dry hair.
- 1/2 Avocado: Also full of proteins that restore the health of your hair.
- 1/2 cup of milk: The nutrients in milk strengthen and fortify the hair's cells.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil: Olive oil is full of fatty acids that coat the hair and protect it from damage.

The process is as straightforward as they come:

1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, until you have no chunks left (trust me, they are not fun to rinse off, specially the avocado!).

2. Separate your dry hair into different sections (at least 2, but it varies according to how much hair you have).

3. Apply the mask from the ends up but avoid the roots, as they are normally much oilier than the rest of the hair.

4. Leave on for 15-20 minutes. A shower cap will make it more concentrated and prevent the mask from getting everywhere! Shampoo and condition to rinse off.

5. Marvel at your shiny locks!



I know it is not the prettiest-looking mask, but who cares about the mask if your hair looks amazing!




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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My DIY project: Affordable Decorations For Spring




I sometimes come across beautiful crafts on Pinterest and blogs, and I immediately fall in love with them and want to make them. Then I start actually reading the instructions... Look, I am not extremely gifted in the crafts department, so for me to actually attempt a craft project I need it to be easy and straightforward, yet still useful and pretty. Is that too much to ask?

Turns out no, it's not. I started "My DIY Project" to find just that: easy, simple projects that are great and look like they were a lot more difficult to make. My very first project is to attempt some cute decorations to welcome spring (not that we get any spring whatsoever where I live, but a girl can dream!). I did three mini-projects, perfect to celebrate the arrival of the colorful season. I focused on pink and gold, because I love those colors and go perfectly for the time of year. More importantly, they were incredibly easy and dirt cheap.

The supplies I used were:
- Several canvases in different sizes
- Acrylic paint in your favorite colors (I chose iridescent ones, because I wanted lots of shimmer!)
- Ribbon
- Used pots/ bottles/ mason jars.
- Circle sponge
- Wrapping paper


















































1. A little wall art
I am so useless at art, but I gave it a shot and was very proud of having left my comfort zone for this. Even if it didn't turn out amazing and stunning, it is mine and I actually quite like the imperfect look. For the first canvas, I was inspired by this statement wall. I think it is gorgeous and creative, so I decided to incorporate it onto my little canvas with one of my favorite sentences: "Trust The Universe". This took all of 15 minutes to make, plus drying time. Simple as that.

super chipped nails  (I know, I know!)
You can always go over with some white paint and correct little mistakes!



Then I took the larger canvas, and painted the whole surface with iridescent pink acrylic paint. Then all I did was cut out some stripes of gold ribbon and glue them, leaving about 1/2 inch between each of them to create the pink/gold stripes. Again, this took about 15 minutes.

The medium canvas I gave to my husband to decorate, and he opted for some chinese characters in gold and black, and some iridescent navy polka dots which he achieved with the circle sponge.




2. Pencil Holders
I have a *small* obsession with beauty/bath/body products. There, I said it. So I have a collection of used pots and containers, and this was the perfect opportunity to upcycle them. I simply bought three sheets of the most gorgeous wrapping paper I found at the store, and wrapped some of the pots with a different design. It was as easy as that. They now look a lot cuter and very useful to store all those bits and pieces we have lying around in the house.

Note: make sure your containers are clean. If you remove the tags (I did), wipe the container with some rubbing alcohol to completely remove all the sticky residue left.

On one of the pots, my husband drew a little tribal rose which I then painted pink, and also painted the rim gold.

And for the polka-dot one,  I simply used the circle sponge to dab some polka dots in different colors. Then I went over the rim of the pot with gold acrylic paint to give it a more "finished" look. It is a very simple pot, but the little pops of color make it perfect for spring and for planting some seeds or a cute little flower inside. This took all five minutes to make!



3. I then chose to use the big mason jar as a vase to give it an even more spring-y feel. I bought some cute fake flowers and put them in there, and don't they look pretty? Now they sit in my room.

I am a proud little bee now with my cute new spring decorations, imperfections and all!
Please let me know if you are going to try any of these :)


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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Reason Behind The Name

Image Source



Hello you all, and welcome to A Bunch of Radness, previously known as The Happy Life of a City Girl.

I mentioned last week that I was introducing some changes into my blog. When I decided to do it, I knew that the first thing that had to change was the name. It was not a name I could relate to anymore, nor did it relate to my content in any way. The blog became somewhat self-helpy and at the end I could not find any inspiration at all, which in turn translated into content I wasn't particularly fond of. None of that is good for a blog. And I specially didn't want something that I enjoyed so much to turn into something I did just for the sake of it.

So I did a lot of brainstorming, with the occasional help from my husband. I wanted a name that would be consistent with the direction I want my blog to be headed in, content-wise. One of those nights in bed, after discarding name after cringe-worthy name, it hit me. I want my blog to be great, to be enjoyed, to be useful, and fun to read (pretentious, much!?). When people head over to read it, I want them to think "This is some great stuff!", but mostly, I want it to be something I feel proud of. I want it to be rad, basically, for me and my readers alike. So the name conveys exactly what I want the blog to be: a bunch of rad stuff, a bunch of radness!! The second I thought of the name, I knew that was it. It fits my vision of the blog to a t.

To be consistent with the name change, some of the content had to change too. The Happy Life almost felt like a lecture at some point, which is something I myself don't particularly enjoy reading on other blogs. The content of ABoR will be much more focused on little projects that take me out of my comfort zone (some DIY, food, cocktails, perhaps some beauty inspiration and more). I want it to be something that really challenges me to improve and gain skill. It will be based on doing more stuff rather than talking (or writing) about it. And photography: Not only do I want to improve the quality of the photos on this blog, but I have also developed a love for photography during the past year. I want to explore it a lot more. Oh, and if you are interested, I can also share my experience with the Mastering Your DSLR course from A Beautiful Mess, which I started this week!!!

So again I welcome you to A Bunch of Radness. I hope you enjoy it and stay here a while. Change is a good thing!



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Monday, March 10, 2014

Reinventions




You know that feeling, when you really love something, and then one day you wake up and realize it is just not fulfilling you anymore? That is exactly the way I have been feeling about my blog lately. Not about blogging (hell, no!) and don't worry, I will definitely continue blogging on here!  But some things will change, like the layout and color scheme, because right now they are being extremely detrimental to my creativity and I think that's inevitably starting to reflect on the content.

So I am writing today to let you all know that I am taking a bit of time "off", (a week or two tops!) while I finish reinventing this little space on the internet and getting it all set up until it is exactly what I envision. I have a pretty good idea now of what I want my blog to feel like and what message I want it to communicate.

Reinventing yourself when you feel like you are not moving forward is one of the bravest and best things in life. It brings new perspective, and it is refreshing and liberating. That is exactly what I intend with these changes.

Some bloggers completely remodel their blogs overnight and their readers wake up one day to find a brand new site. More often than not, the change is pretty good, but some readers don't react to it very well when it is so sudden. So after careful consideration, I am taking the risk of letting you guys now beforehand, this way you know to expect some things to change in the near future.

If you like The Happy Life Of A City Girl, please stay tuned as what is coming (I hope) will be a much needed breath of fresh air for all of us. A HLCG 2.0 if you will.




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Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday Roundup: Books On My To-Read List

This week I made a life-changing discovery. Well, that's not entirely accurate: I've known about it for a while know, but only this week did I dare try it.

I'm talking about Audible.com. It is a company owned by Amazon which sells audiobooks. Basically like a Kindle in audio form. I always thought of it as rather childish, like a mom reading a bedtime story to a toddler, and I get enough of that every night, let me tell you. But this week I bit the bullet.
(And before I keep going, no, this post is NOT sponsored by Audible nor Amazon. I just really really like it!)

I have always been a bookworm. My whole life. When I was little I always say books when my parents would ask me what I wanted for Christmas or my birthday. During my teenage years I thought I was super cool (I wasn't) and thought reading was uncool too, but then at university I found my long-lost love again. I married another bookworm, but with a toddler and full time jobs we just couldn't find the time to read as much as we would like to.

And then came Audible. I downloaded my first book (The Fault In Our Stars) and I am so ridiculously engrossed in it. The things that would take time from my day, such as driving and doing my makeup, I can now do while listening to books too! Talk about two birds with one stone!  I no longer have to put time aside for reading, as I can just plug my headphones into my phone at any given time, and voilà! I finished The Fault In Our Stars in three days, something that I had not done since my son arrived.

I am now craving many, many more books to make up for all the lost time. And, as you can see, the list is long so let's get cracking:


1. Divergent, Insurgent and Allegiant  by Veronica Roth
First of all, what a great name this author has!
Second, I know I am coming late to this party as everyone has been raving about this trilogy for quite a while. But what can I say? I guess I only read best-sellers much later than anyone else (like with "The Fault In Our Stars" and "50 Shades Of Grey").



2. Inferno: A Novel, by Dan Brown
Normally whenever Dan Brown releases anything I read it within the week because I obsess over every single novel he writes. But with Inferno I suppose life got in the way and I haven't read it yet. I am sure it will be just as un-put-down-able as everything else he's ever written, and I really can't wait to download it.




3. Mary, Called Magdalene by Margaret George
This isn't normally a book I would be attracted to. But my friend Caro has raved about it so much and insisted so many times that I need to read it, that I have got to see what all the fuzz is about. Margaret George has written about the lives of some of the most compelling women of all time (Helen of Troy, Mary Magdalene, Cleopatra, among many others). But she tells their stories in such an enthralling way that her books are impossible to put down (according to my friend. I'll be sure to pass judgement on that when I'm done with the book).



4. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
And while we are on the topic of biographies, someone who I find absolutely fascinating is Steve Jobs. His vision, his business skills, his speeches... One of my most favorite quotes of all time is his: "Only the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do." (Super cliché but true!). I have been eyeing this book for a while, and now it has officially made it onto the list of books to read next.



5. The Husband's Secret, by Liane Moriarty
Everyone is talking about this book where a husband gives his wife a letter ONLY to be opened after his death. Curiosity gets the best of her and she opens it, apparently unveiling never-imagined secrets of her significant other's life. Very mysterious! I love a book whose description leaves me desperate to find out what happens next.



6. The Storyteller, by Jodi Picoult
She used to be my absolute favorite author while I was at Uni. And then, sometime after "House Rules" I just never picked up her books again. They started becoming a little predictable for me, if I'm being honest. But I am willing to give her another chance with The Storyteller, and hopefully our long-lost love will be rekindled (ok, that just sounded really weird!).


7. The Casual Vacancy, by J. K. Rowling
The reason I haven't read this book is because I don't want to spoil J. K. Rowling for me. I am not a Harry Potter obsessed or anything, but I still really loved all the books, and I'm afraid that by not liking The Casual Vacancy, it would ruin the HP books. Which I know is completely ridiculous. So I am finally giving in: I will download it, crossing my fingers that I will love it just as much as I did the little witches and wizards of Hogwarts.


8. The Future Of The Mind, by Michio Kaku
Ok, not necessarily the type of book that you would just love to listen to on a quick drive from work. But I find this topic fascinating nonetheless: the mysteries of the brain and the inconceivable potential that lives within us but that we just don't know how to access. Kaku is a theoretical physicist (like Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory!) and he explores how far neuroscience might take humanity. To me, it sounds as nerdy as it does interesting!

I would really appreciate any other recommendations of books I definitely MUST read!
Any books you have loved lately?




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Thursday, March 6, 2014

5 Aids In The Pursuit Of Personal Satisfaction





Last week when my mom came to visit and stayed with us, she said something that resonated with me. We were talking about our move to the other end of the world, and the rationale behind it. She listened to all my carefully listed reasons why we should definitely move, and leave this city that I have been known to *sometimes* refer to as a hot, little town with no culture.

Then she smiled and very slowly said:

"You need to make sure that the main reason you are moving is not in order to seek happiness elsewhere. Happiness is where you want it to be."

That sure got me thinking. A LOT. I had to revisit all the times I had ranted nonstop about how much I hate it here. Yes, it has its many flaws and disadvantages. But the main things in life, those that some call "priorities", are all met here. Happy child getting a good education? Check! A nice little apartment for the three of us? you bet! Food always in the pantry? yep. Bills get paid on time? sure enough.
I literally have everything I could possibly want to live a happy life. So why do we get that feeling that we are missing something, that the grass is greener... across the pond?

After all these thoughts coming at a thousand miles per hour, I felt like the most ungrateful brat ever. I cannot let myself fall into the trap of never being satisfied and always wanting something bigger, better, newer. I won't let it happen. And so that's how I came up with the following five ways in which I have made my life a whole lot happier and more satisfied with my life in the last week, and yes, I have started enjoying myself a hundred times more (and who doesn't want that!?).

1. For every negative thought that crosses your mind, immediately think of three positive ones. For example, the most common negative thought I get (nearly every single day) is "Gosh, people here have absolutely no clue how to drive!". But then I make myself think of three things I do like: "I enjoy my job"; "we are selling lots of houses this month"; "My commute is relatively short compared to other cities", you get the idea. That immediately stops me from going on and on in my mind about the traffic issue, as I used to do.

2. There is this little app called "Happier". It is free, and the idea behind it is that (hopefully) three times a day you write a short note about something that made you happy, or that made you smile. It can be as simple as "The salad for lunch was great" or as big as "I got a promotion at work." Every day has something good in it, even the worst ones, and this app is great for helping you realize it and be more aware of those little moments. Also, you can see other people's happy moments, which can be quite heart-warming sometimes.

3. Be more thankful. I made a vow to myself to not leave my bed in the morning before thanking the universe three times for all my blessings. (And I am using "universe" generally. You can thank God, Buddha, the sun for all I care, just make sure you find stuff to be grateful for). You probably won't have to look too far to find those things you are truly and utterly thankful for.

4. I realized that by always thinking of the stuff I wanted, I was making myself miserable. I mentioned once that I am pretty addicted to "online window shopping", i.e. I love browsing all sorts of stuff on the internet that I know I am not going to buy. And then I ended up feeling shitty because I really wanted the stuff but couldn't afford it or I just could not justify the expense. Now I've stopped doing it (for the most part) and I feel much better, and have not fallen again for the "Oh, how I wish I had this ...  and this... and this ...." . News flash: there will ALWAYS be stuff you won't have, so if you keep going down that rabbit hole you will never be truly satisfied!
I have been thinking of getting this print from Etsy, just to have a constant reminder that I can never let the things I want make me forget the things I do have.
There is a fine line between having goals and aspirations, and failing to live the present because we are too focused on the future.

5. Let small things slide. I would be incredibly hypocritical if I said that I am even remotely good at this one. But at least I am trying to be...  I let small things bother me way too much than they should. If you are like this too, find something that really relaxes you: a nice, warm bath; yoga; painting; exercising... for me, for example, is sitting down with a coffee and writing with no timeframe, or listening to a book on audible (new hobby!!!), and I get that feeling of happiness and fulfillment (it's the small things, like point 2!). Whatever it is that brings you that calmness, do it more often! It can be easily overlooked, with daily life getting in the way, but that daily life will be much better the more relaxed you live it.


So anyway, I am trying to follow these five steps, to ensure that every decision in my life is motivated by real reasons and not by a feeling that I can find something better somewhere else.





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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

You Know You Are A Confident Person When...

If there was something that I was lacking during my teenage years, it was confidence. I have been too much of a perfectionist my whole life, and I used to define my self-worth by what others think of me. My mom tried hard for many years to stop me from focusing on external factors, and to start worrying about how I see myself, but it was always easier said (or heard, for that matter) than done for me.



Only now, when I am rapidly approaching my 26th year of life, have I started realizing that what you read in all those Pinterest quotes is actually true: real happiness can only be found within ourselves; the art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things, and many more. I believe I am a confident woman now, with the tools to be able to give the finger to society when some aspect of me doesn't necessarily conform to its cookie-cutter standards. I am far from perfect; my many quirks and flaws (those that I desperately tried to mask in the past) are actually what make me, me and I have finally learned to come to terms with that. This is particularly hard to do when you grow up in a culture that defines you solely based on the way you look. But really, there is nothing more refreshing and liberating than to feel you are being true to yourself and not giving a crap about other people's judgmental nonsense.

Confidence takes many forms. It involves a lot of respect and love towards oneself; it takes strength, and it takes courage, but it always pays off. Being confident for me, for instance, means:

- Putting yourself out there is often underrated. Having a little space on the internet where you post your feelings, thoughts, emotions (and the occasional embarrassing pic!) is brave. People behind a computer screen are much more... "direct" (nice way to put it) than in real life, so sharing stuff for anyone to see and read is no minor feat.

- It takes tenacity and a strong spirit to be true to yourself. I talk about this a lot, because only last year I was able to clearly define myself and learn who I really am and what I want from life. It was eye-opening to say the least. I now feel so silly that I "wasted" all these years being who I am not.
We are not cookies out of the same mould so why try to be a version of what society deems "acceptable"? Screw that! For instance, no one in my broad circle of acquaintances writes, not even for a hobby, and here I am doing it, after many years of knowing that I loved it but being too frightened of being labelled "uncool". Now? No one can stop me!

- You have flaws, and so does everyone, but I think a great part of becoming more confident is to not take yourself too seriously. This for me is very difficult, because like I said, I am quite the perfectionist, but I am getting better at it, and have learned to make fun of myself from time to time (such as here). By this I don't mean that you shouldn't try to improve your weak spots, but that you need to accept the fact that you can't possibly excel at everything. Yes, I'll never be a chef, so what? is that really going to define my happiness?

- I understand now that acknowledging your strengths isn't cocky or pretentious, it is healthy and a sign of high self-esteem. Stand up to the world, say "Yes, I am actually really good at (insert verb here), thank you very much."

- Identify which things in your life you should have 100% say over (stuff like career choices, motherhood, etc.) I believe that if you feel strongly about an aspect of your life and you are doing YOUR very best, you owe it to yourself to not care what other people's versions of very best are.
Sure, accept well-intentioned advice, but don't base your life solely on what other people think. For me, the key aspect of my life where I don't let ANYONE meddle except (obviously!) my husband, is the way we raise our son. People will always love commenting (sometimes nicely and sometimes not so!) on how you are doing raising another person, and I made it a habit of never listening to them when I know all they want is to impose their beliefs on us. You raise your kids how you see fit, we'll raise ours how we see fit, thank you very much. (rant over, but it was really infuriating when people said stuff to me like "seriously!? strawberries!? he is only 8 months old! the alergies! the reflux! the poisooooon!!!").

- Oh, the comfort zone... This one is a biggie! It is never easy to leave it, but I think that everyone should. It builds character and, more importantly in my opinion, creates the best memories and learning experiences. When you are confident in yourself, leaving the comfort zone excites you: you know you are equipped with the tools you need to tackle the hard road ahead. When you aren't, you run the risk of always being too afraid to leave the comfort zone and starting to long for a life that isn't the one you are living.

- Surrounding yourself with people who value you and bring you up instead of down is paramount. Those people that belittle others in order to make themselves feel better are the ones you need to stay miles away from. Confidence means realizing who is actually being constructive to your life, and who is only filling it with regret and self-doubt, and having the strength to stay away from them.
For many years I really struggled with the mean-spirited comments someone close to me used to make. I still have to see them on a regular basis, but only recently have I gotten to the point where I no longer let them have the power to bring me down. And you know what? since their comments are not getting the desired results, they have decreased immensely.

- Jealousy. For me, this was linked to being (again!) too perfectionist during my high school years so I used to get jealous sometimes when I didn't get the highest grades or didn't have the prettiest clothes or the prettiest face. I was being totally ridiculous, but not only that, I was forgetting how lucky I was and many of my qualities were overlooked for trying to be the first at some competition that only existed in my head. There are always people who are prettier / smarter / richer / funnier, and that is a reality of life, which the sooner we accept the happier we will be.

It seems like I've been writing forever (are you still there?), and I didn't quite expect the post to turn out quite so serious. But I think it is so important to be happy with who we are, flaws and all, and if perhaps you are having one of those weeks when you are second-guessing yourself too much, this post might be of some help.



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Monday, March 3, 2014

My Style: Sunday Layers (In Hot Weather!)




Hello and welcome to another style post!
I haven't done these very often, but I find them really fun and intend on doing them more frequently from now on.
This week my pick were layers. You might be thinking: "Have you gone insane!? layers in a city that is perpetually 90º F  (30 - 35 ºC)!!!!?" And for the most part, you'd be right, but the thing is, when the weather is so preposterous, every single place blasts their air conditioning. So I've identified those places where I immediately freeze upon entering, and yesterday I knew I was going to one of them (our mall) so I decided to layer it up.












































Graphic tees are everywhere now that people are getting into spring mode, and I love me a good graphic tee, so I wore one with little wolves and birds, and on top I wore a green button down shirt that I "stole" from my mom (and when I say stole, I mean that I mentioned it was cute once, and she let me keep it). And then I just wore my black zippered tights.

Accessories were kept simple, with a vintage statement necklace, and outside I also wore a hat I've had since forever (can't even remember where it's from!). My glasses are from Detour by the blogger Zoella, and you can get them here.

Once inside, my hair was a lot more under control:

























This was a perfect option for a Sunday outing. The button down shirt was very lightweight for this weather, but perfectly comfortable inside too, and when it got too warm I just took it off just and left the sleeveless tee. Finally, the outfit was completed by my all-time black pumps, and voilà.



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