Thoughts on buzzing my head

Posted on Sep 4, 2016
Thoughts on buzzing my head
This whole buzz-my-head-hope-it-grows-out-really-quick thing has been …interesting, to say the least.

A couple months ago when I took the plunge to buzz I had lots going through my head: I don’t want to keep bleaching it, it’s expensive to get the bleach stripped from my hair, I need a change & hair grows back, right?…
I texted Dylan after I buzzed it and declared “Welp I just buzzed my head! This could be the worst or best thing I could have done.”

It has pushed me out of my comfort zone, taken away the lifelong security blanket of ‘blonde hair don’t care’ and made me think about what my “beauty” means to me after stripping away the “tall blonde” title. I did care, I cared a lot about being blonde. It was comfortable, it was normal, it was part of my identity. I never knew how much it was until I buzzed that part of my ‘identity’ off.

It also started a lot of conversations with the elementary aged girls I work with about confidence and appearance. When I took my hat off at work after the buzz and the kids saw that my hair was pretty much gone there were a lot of gasps and comments like “Ms. Amber why would you do that!” & ” But, you were so pretty!” That last one stung …a lot. Kids are honest and say what is on their mind, they didn’t mean to hurt with that statement, but it hurt a little. I responded by saying “Hey, I’m still the same strong, confident girl I was before. My hair does not define me just like your hair does not define you.”  Now if I’m being honest, I was not so confident and pretty scared about the new do, but I said it without thinking so there had to be some truth in there right?

A week or so later I was comfortable enough to not wear a hat, I was picking the kids up from school and a couple kids, who were not in my program, came out of the school with “Woah! you’re hair is gone!” & “You changed your hair!” but one little boy came out and said “Ewww! Gross! What did you do to your hair?!” to which one of my 4th grade girls got up in his face waving her finger saying “She is still the same strong, confident woman as she was before! Now walk away!” ending with a palm in front of his face.
…I cried a little later that day recounting the story to someone else. Whether she got it or she was simply repeating me, I’m not sure, but it certainly helped my confidence that this ornery little 10 year old  believed in me through a minor but drastic cosmetic decision I made.

The population of students I work with is largely African American, I try to encourage and praise their decisions of natural hair because that is who they are and they are beautiful! I try to encourage them to embrace their heritage. I make attempts to have conversations about what beauty means to them, is it extensions, clothes, that bit of crazy shiny lipgloss they insist is their natural lips. Or, is it perhaps inside of them? It wasn’t until I buzzed my hair that I was forced to continue to put into practice those conversations in my own life.

Now I could go off on how damning our society is when it comes to looks and and how it puts an insane amount of value in these fleeting temporary frivolities, but I will save that for another time. If you’re thinking about pushing yourself, do it! It’s scary but maybe you will just find out a little more about yourself and how amazing (or possibly terrible) the people around you are.  Surround yourself with good and spread good to others.

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Plus: Short hair bed head is amazing! I wish this picture did it justice.
I was a tow head as a child and as I got older my hair grew darker, like dirty dishwater blonde darker. I have been lightening and coloring my hair since high school. I had no clue my hair was this dark and it is really interesting to see that their are some red hints and still blonde around my face. I didn’t know what I was hiding, but I like it.

-A

Garden Adventures & Edible Landscaping

Posted on Aug 24, 2016
Garden Adventures & Edible Landscaping

Our garden is out of control this year!
Each year I try new things in our garden, seeing what we like, what we could do without  and so on. It’s a gamble every year and every year there there are a couple items I think “I will not do that again!” … And then I do it again or something like it. Whatever. You live and you learn …and learn some more.

Lots of compost went into the garden and the results are tomato plants taller than me. We are also growing corn, luffa, butternut squash, roma tomatoes, cucs, kale, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, cherry tomatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, beans and a few other things. At last count there were 19 butternut squash growing on ONE VINE! It’s crazy.

I have been fascinated with the idea of edible landscaping and making our yard work for us more and produce more. Our main vegetable garden is in our neighbor’s back yard and over the winter I started thinking about ways that I could better utilize our yard. Enter edible landscaping. Edible landscaping is essentially using spaces that many would commonly use for ornamental plants and flowers for things like edible plants and herbs or mix it into existing flowerscapes. So I had Dylan dig up a bit of our front yard and some of our back yard. We planted things like beans, sunflowers, cabbage, nasturtiums, corn, collards, lettuces, broccoli, chamomile, luffa and a bunch of herbs.

Edible landscape things I learned this year:
Black Beans take over EV ERY THING!
Collards grow significantly larger than you expect
You need mulch, oh man do you need mulch.

So here’s a few photos of the garden.

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-Zon

Our Candle Making Adventures

Posted on Jan 15, 2016
Our Candle Making Adventures

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Well folks, we have been wanting to try our hand at candle making for a while now and it finally happened! We did it!  They are far from perfect but they happened and we are looking forward to doing it again. We love beeswax and have been discovering new uses for it in our life as of late. I have been really wanting beeswax tapered candles for our dining room table but each time we came across some they were on the pricey side so Dylan suggested we just make them. I was mega giddy about this new project.

Now let me start this off by saying this is not an in-depth tutorial but merely a photo journal of how we did it and what did/did not work for us. I found this video by Way Out West very helpful and highly suggest it.

We started off with a basic kit from Micheals. This seemed the best route for us since everything we needed to start was included in this kit. Use one of those 40% coupons in your email or download the app or just go here. The kit came with pretty much everything we needed  and then we also bought a roll of cotton wick and a block of beeswax.

We started off with the paraffin wax to get our feet wet, then later did the beeswax but for the sake of this post you’ll be seeing both intermittently.

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We chopped up all the wax. This was a tough job, Dylan took over this task while I heated up the water for the double boiler and prepared the wicks for the tapers.  I set up our clothes drying rack for the taper candles to dry on.  I tied nuts on the end of the wicks for weights.

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We made our double boiler with a tall wide mouth mason jar and a pan on the stove. I feel like the beeswax took a little longer to melt than the paraffin wax.

I have learned from decrystallizing my honey to place a washcloth between the jar and the bottom of the pan. Works like a charm and the washcloth comes out just fine.

I used some bamboo chopsticks for stirring and to help move the wax around to melt it down.

As seen in the video link I shared earlier, they used a bucket of water to cool the wax. We also did this.

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I ended up with very lumpy candles towards the end. I am uncertain what the cause for this was. It could’ve have been water drops on the wax after cooling it in the water or it could be just air pockets from hurried dippings towards the end.

We poured the rest of the wax after the tapers into found containers  and jars throughout the house and the votive molds that came with the candle kit.

Bobby pins, clothes pins and chopsticks were excellent tools to hold the wicks center.

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It was fun watching the candles cool and harden. To speed up some of the process I placed the containers in the fridge. This was quite efficient.

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So overall it was fun. I still can’t decide if I like the imperfectness of our lumpy tapered candles but they happened and I will burn them either way. Dylan says they look ‘fun.’  I think he was just trying to be a supportive husband.  All of our container candles turned out great! We have a nice little stock pile of candles set aside now.

The beeswax burns nice and clean and we are looking to see if we can possibly buy it locally next time.  We know we can buy it from our co-op and I believe it is local since the honey we have bought there is local. However, if you’re in the Pittsburgh area and have a great connection to some beeswax, we’re interested.

We have slowly picked up candlesticks holders here and there but one of my more proud holders is a simple pipe fitting adapter that we picked up at Lowe’s randomly. It’s a great size and super cheap.

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For a fun match container DIY go here.

-Zon

Little things | November

Posted on Nov 23, 2015
Little things | November

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We recently got our camera fixed. (Thanks Andy!)  It’s been so nice to have a camera to use again other than my iphone.

Here’s a few little things lately.

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Morning Dylan

Mornings… am I right?

 

-Amber

Match Container DIY

Posted on Feb 17, 2015
Match Container DIY

Matches are great!  We use candles a lot throughout the house and rather than using lighters we use matches.
It was time to buy more matches for our house and I remembered a little idea I read about in a Martha Stewart Living magazine back in October. The idea was to give a small hostess gift of some matches in a pretty container. I really liked the idea so I decided to do a slightly cheaper spin on it.

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You will need some neat containers.  Thrift stores and antique malls are great places to grab a few pretty and unique jars.  You could also use a cracked tea cup, a discarded spice jar or a burned out candle container, or you could even make a container Get clever!

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Supplies:
Container/jar
Strike on box matches
Wood die cut
Scissors
Wood glue stick (important to purchase non-flammable)
Paint and brush (optional)
Bakers twine (optional)

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1. Remove stickers from thrifted jars and wash thoroughly.  Make sure container is clean and dry before placing matches inside.

2.  Paint wood die cuts. This is an optional step and is not a necessary part of the process but I liked the idea of adding a little color. Die cuts were chosen by shape according to the containers they were to be matched up to, I even tried a little bow tie die cut. I used a teal wood stain and a acrylic pale gray.  Die cuts and paints can be purchased at any craft store.

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3. Cut the strike pads off the match boxes. Make sure the strike pads are cut to size for the die cuts.

4. Fill dry containers with matches. I filled a couple haphazard and others I lined up for an organized look.

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5.  Once the paint is completely dry, paste the strike pads to the die cuts and place under a weighted object for about five minutes. This allows for the strike pad to dry flat and not curl.

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6. Place strike boards with their corresponding containers.  Keep container in a cool, dry place where it is easily accessible and ready to use for your candles and other pyro activities.

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Attach a tag shaped die cut with bakers twine, write a note on the opposing side and give as a gift. Everybody can use matches, right!

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My husband made a sweet little clay vase for me and I really thought it was perfect for the matches and this way we could use it more. We placed it on the kitchen table to be used for candlelight meals. It is by far my favorite match container.

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You can also use strike anywhere matches and fine grit sandpaper, however that route tends to be a little more expensive and the box matches are only $.97 cents.

If you have a really fun container that you do this project with or even an alternative container, I would love to see it! Just leave a comment or @ me on instragram.

Have Fun!

-Zon

Simple Shaved Ice

Posted on Feb 8, 2014
Simple Shaved Ice
I get the winter time blues and can’t wait for the warmer temps to come. We have been having ice cream every now and then and while I absolutely love ice cream and will drop everything to go get some I don’t want to make a habit of eating it often late at night.  I don’t think it’s bad I just think I need to moderate it a bit.
I decided I wanted to experiment with some sorbets. I was thinking vegan sorbets would be fun, I have a friend who is experimenting with removing dairy from her diet so I wanted to make something she could eat it.
This tastes a bit like summertime in your mouth and could easily be put into popsicle molds for the kiddos.
I wanted to keep the recipe simple. Simple process, Simple ingredients. But when I took it out of the freezer to try it I couldn’t get the scoop in and was a little bummed that my experiment failed. Then I switched ice cream scoops…
My sorbet turned into a shaved ice recipe.  Turned a flop into something new.
I made three different kinds: Mango Strawberry, Berry Mix and Strawberry Lemonade. The Strawberry Lemonade was my favorite. I have literally made myself sick from drinking too many of Red Robin’s Speckled Lemonades, Lord have mercy those things are good! So to say that it was my favorite was an understatement. 
You will need:
1 lb of frozen organic fruit thawed (16 oz)
1 1/2 c. of water
Zest of one clean lemon
Juice of 1 organic lemon
3/4 c. organic sugar
1. In a medium sauce pan heat water, lemon juice and sugar. Heat until sugar is dissolved let cool for a few minutes.
2. Prepare an open mouth container to pour your mixture in. I used old bred pans with parchment paper place in the bottom so I could easily pull the ice out later if need be.
3. Place frozen fruit in a food processor (or a blender could work) with lemon zest. Blend.
4. Add lemon water mixture into food processor. Blend until smooth.
5. Pour into your open container. Place in freezer. 
6. Once fully frozen you can shave it and eat! Be sure to use a sturdy spoon or ice cream scoop to shave your ice.

I typically use organic ingredients so I feel good about the things I am putting in my body and when you have a gluten sensitivity you can’t be too careful.  A lot of ice creams have some foreign ingredients So this was a snack that I could feel good about eating.

-Zon

My Mornings

Posted on Feb 4, 2014
My Mornings
My office yesterday morning and a lot of mornings recently. Tea times at Big Dog in South Side by the window with pretty snow falling outside. If it is going to be cold there had better be snow that comes along with that cold, that’s how I feel about it.
Also that R2D2 is a usb drive, it’s the best!
Jamming my friend Carter’s new album. The album came out this morning on itunes!  Check it out if you get a chance it is so so good! . Proud of him! 

-Zon

Shop Oh Melisa

Posted on Feb 3, 2014
Shop Oh Melisa
I have a lot of friends with cute kids, I feel like they need to know about my friend Melisa’s shop. 
My friend Melisa is a ridiculously creative momma. She has an etsy where she sells her little hand embroidered applique onesies, tees, and other unique items. I mean how cute is the Piranha plant applique from Mario?!  Ridiculous! I love it!
Right now, Melisa is offering a special coupon code to amberZon readers! Use code AMBERZON14 at check out in her etsy and receive 15% off your purchase! How great is that?!  

And robots?! My not so secret love is little robots. I have books, tattoos and little mini toys. I wouldn’t say obsessed but close to it. Along with Wonder Woman, I love Wonder Woman!  

 

All of her creations are made from scraps, usually salvaged or re purposed which makes each piece unique and special! It’s something you can feel good about. A unique handmade gift on a cute kid, what could be better?
She makes some cute adult tops as well. This Sweater looks like something you’d snag at Anthropologie. She’s stinking creative!
So don’t forget go to her esty shop to get your little ones some cute onsies or tees for valentine’s day or just because. Use the code AMBERZON14 and get 15% off!
Also go check her blog, plus a few other crafty friends, at Ain’t That the Berries.
Or follow her on facebook and keep up with all the creative goodies as they hit her shop!

-Zon

Gluten Free Salmon Fritters

Posted on Jan 30, 2014
Gluten Free Salmon Fritters
I like fish. Salmon is high on the list. These fritters are a little addictive to me. Pair it with a yummy cocktail sauce and I’m set. Something about them makes me feel like a 5 year old eating fish sticks for lunch, but I’m alright with that.
You will need:
1 can of salmon, drained and deboned
1 tbs. of gluten free bread crumbs
juice of half a lemon
1 egg
Place the salmon in a medium mixing bowl. Scramble and add egg to salmon. Mix. As weird as it is I prefer to mix it with my hands, I feel like it really mixes into the fish. Squirt lemon juice in and salt and pepper if desired. Add bread crumbs slowly, mix with hands. You don’t want it too dry just enough to make it packable and form into patties.  Sprinkle olive oil into a skillet and fry fritters until lightly golden brown on both sides.
Expect a few crumbles around the edges. They’re the best part!
-Zon

Scarf Giveaway Winner!

Posted on Jan 29, 2014
Scarf Giveaway Winner!
The winner of the scarf I was doing a giveaway for was Cpatch7. She entered via  my instagram!
I also shared this little DIY I did for Brashear Kids. A super easy, budget friendly, healthy valentine to make and give away. Go check out the full tutorial here.
-Zon