Dealing with Setbacks

Oh, setbacks. They are inevitable. And completely unavoidable.

I have been frustrated with myself and a few situations out of my control lately. When I get busy and overwhelmed, I have a habit of shutting down, hermiting, and waiting out the storm. Perhaps it is my Capricorn nature, but I much prefer to crawl under a rock or in my cave and wait. Oftentimes, it is the exact opposite of what I should be doing and what needs to be done in the moment.

dealing with setbacks

Smiling anyway. Sort of.

In planning Jim’s big birthday I got a surprise from our landlord that upset both of us and made us reconsider whether we should even stay in our new home. All has since settled down and the party went smoothly and perfectly but to say that that rattled my cage is an understatement.

Jim has had quite an adjustment to this big birthday as well. He is still very much mourning the loss of his best friend who died shortly after we moved. That, coupled with simply getting older and experiencing a workout setback that comes from aging (you just can’t run like you used to) has provided me with some shoring-up to do of my spouse and his needs.

Then there are my own setbacks which are constant in my chosen profession. There is no predicting sustainable work and whether or not auditions will work out the way you think. I have signed with a new agency at the same time as I am waiting in limbo on another and have been freshly rejected by yet another. It’s a game of one step forward and three steps back. I’ve also had some continuing medical fun that renders me somewhat incapacitated every 4 weeks. There is an end in sight to that, so long as my feet cooperate and heal. The icing on the cake was the nasty cold that was going around that socked both me and Jim. I spent the past weekend lying on the couch feeling miserable.

And so explains the short radio silence here. I’m working on learning to write through these things instead of hermiting. It’s a process. The first step is to write about it afterwards; eventually I might be able to write real-time. I hope my lessons in coping, however small, might help someone else. :)


 

In the midst of all of this, it was easy to lose perspective and feel sorry for myself and sorry for “us.” Occasionally I’d slip up and do so. However, I happen to believe that that is a mistake. While it’s ok to feel crummy and sad and miserable, at some point there is a need to shake it off, snap out of it, and start counting blessings instead. No one can tell you when it’s time, in fact, telling someone who feels badly to “feel better” or to “count your blessings” ranks as one of the most insensitive things to say. Tricky business indeed!

Feeling grumpy.

Feeling grumpy.

Luckily for me, I have been down this road before. I have had challenges before and the best part about challenges and setbacks is the ability to LEARN FROM THEM. My brain (and heart and everything else) have learned when it is time to stop moping and feeling sorry and to press on. A little tough love and self-discipline is the key and also the part that is no fun at all, at least until you are on the other side.

Perspective helps.
Choose to take the long view rather than the short. Remember that everything is temporary and nothing is guaranteed. Keep the attitude of gratitude for the here-and-now and what you already have. Someone else, somewhere else certainly has less going for them and greater challenges. Perspective.

With every negative thought, I tried to replace it with a positive alternative.
The more negative the thought, the harder it is to do and the more practice it takes. Examples:

  • This SUCKS. I hate everything about this.  This is an opportunity to learn something. Keep your eyes open.
  • WHY is this person being this way? This is terrible!!  This person is only acting in their own best interests, same as you. Try to understand their position and have compassion. There is something to learn here.
  • I will NEVER figure this out and succeed!  You won’t with that sentiment. Let’s try again, or regroup and visit this another time.
  • My body won’t cooperate! I hate this part!  I send this part love and compassion instead and ask it to heal. I accept my body as it is and love it.

This can be exhausting, especially if you are in a particularly tough spot where these thoughts pop up every few seconds (or more!). I’ve slept a lot and meditated to try to balance the load, which throws off the balance between down time and work time. It’s worth it, though. I find that I am no good to anyone, including myself, if I am not actively working to be my better self and my healed and healthy self.

Be gentle with yourself. Accept less than perfection.
As Winston Churchill said, “When you are going through hell, keep going.”  Note that Churchill doesn’t say how you are supposed to keep going. He doesn’t say “Keep going and demand perfection and then get mad at yourself when you can’t keep up with everything at once.”  When you are going through a rough patch, keep up with what is necessary. That might be more than you can manage already, so give yourself some kindness and don’t beat yourself up in the meantime. If you went to work and paid your bills and made sure you fed yourself and your kids today, Congratulations! You did what was necessary. Everything else is negotiable.

Final step: Work to get OUT of the rough patch.
No one can tell you how long this lasts or how long it should last. You decide that for yourself, or factors out of your control do. The important thing is to move on and get up. If you do the bare necessities forever when you had the ability to do more, the guilt will catch up and stare you in the face and steal your sleep. Not that I would know about that. *ahem*  The ascension out of rough stuff could mean a major life shake-up with permanent change. It could mean getting up a little earlier or working harder. Whatever the answer is, it is out there and it could be the very thing you are avoiding doing. Not that I’d know about that one, either. :)

 

The challenges that Jim and I faced of late were really not that bad. We’ve had worse. We will have other challenges in the future, too, and some will be harder than this. There will be loss and adjustments down the road because there always are. But the better we get with working through them, the less painful the small stuff is. It becomes easier and faster to brush it off and keep going.

What are your current challenges and how are you coping?

New Blog Design and Layout!

I’m excited to reveal the rebranding for That Redhead! I’ve been working on a redesign for quite some time and looked at many, many different themes and layouts to get the job done.

Here’s a screenshot of the current homepage before I posted this update:

Modern Blogger theme from Pretty Darn Cute Designs. Genesis framework for WordPress sites.

 

In the end, after much searching, I decided to convert my WordPress site to the Genesis framework. I’ve heard nothing but great things and can now speak to just how easy it is to work with. There are many free themes available that work with Genesis but in the end, I decided to purchase a theme from Pretty Darn Cute Design and start customizing it. This was probably the most affordable way to go about a change like this, so long as you are somewhat web-savvy and can follow simple instructions. It was so easy and took less than a day’s efforts to make this shift with zero glitches.

I haven’t even begun to tap the full potential that Genesis offers, especially in terms of SEO (search engine optimization), but those are lessons I am looking forward to learn.

In my previous theme, I didn’t like that the sidebar and subscription button disappeared within individual blog posts and that isn’t an issue any more. I also decided the header, while cute, was a little too big and took up too much of the page, which is not recommended in any guide to blog design I’ve ever read. Problem solved! I might eventually come up with a custom logo but for now I am content with the clean lines and simplicity.

What do you think? Do you like the new look?

Sundress Remix thanks to ThredUp!

I’ve already written about how much I love ThredUp, one of the best places for high-quality secondhand designer goods on the web. That post is here.

I got an amazing like-new eShakti sundress and a Kate Spade wristlet from ThredUp recently for a lot less than new, full retail prices! What I love about sundress weather is how easy it is to style both a casual daytime look as well as a dressier nighttime look by merely changing the accessories. This is great if you have a busy summer schedule like me and are hopping from a brunch to a wedding on the weekend.

How to remix a summer sundress from day to night | That Redhead Casual sundress look via ThredUp | That Redhead Casual sundress look via ThredUp | That Redhead Marc by Marc Jacobs tote, simple belt, and Steven by Steve Madden gladiator sandals | That Redhead

The casual accessories are nothing elaborate: a tote to hold everything, a belt to define the waist, and flat, casual sandals.
Tote: Marc by Marc Jacobs
Belt: via Nordstrom
Sandals: Steven by Steve Madden (similar on sale)

Dressy sundress look via Thred Up | That Redhead Dressy sundress look via Thred Up | That Redhead Mint green Kate Spade wristlet via ThredUp | That Redhead Nine West polka dot heels, Kate Spade wristlet, J Crew earrings | That Redhead

To dress it up, I smoothed my hair into a very simple updo with about 6 bobby pins and an elastic. Then I added sparkly earrings, and substituted the accessories for dressier items that are sleeker.
Wristlet: Kate Spade via ThredUp (25% off 1st order for all new customers with code BEACH25, thru 6/30.)
Heels: Nine West via Macy’s (older style)
Belt: no label
Earrings: J Crew via eBay (I found more here!)

Easy and doable, right? Isn’t summer great? :)

Like-new clothes from brands you love! Up to 90% off retail.

 

*links contain affiliates. read more about that here.

Summer Layers

Smart summer layering for chilly nights and lakeside fun with That Redhead.

I can’t get “Summer Lovin’” out of my head! So I thought I’d pass the earworm along. ;)

Sometimes, sandwiched between seriously hot and steamy summer days, you end up with a cool and breezy day. Or perhaps you are planning on spending time near the water. Lake Michigan is always a little chilly, even in June. I like to layer so I can adjust accordingly and when I layer I love to mix prints!

Summer layering for chilly nights and lakeside fun.

Summer layering for chilly nights and lakeside fun.

Texture and mixed prints.

Summer layering for chilly nights and lakeside fun.

Striped flats from Banana Republic.

Mixing prints and coordinating manicure.

How much do I love that there are hot pink whales on that shirt? SO MUCH! Also note the “half-tucked” shirt. I’m a fan of this trick. It keeps the shirts looking neat and tailored in the front and keeps you lean and slim, but doesn’t add bulk in the back.

Shirt: Merona via Target
Sweater: clearance at Target
Shorts: clearance at Target
Sunglasses: Tory Burch via Nordstrom
Ballet Flats: Banana Republic (similar)
Manicure: DIY, tutorial HERE

Happy Summer Layering and cool breezes!

New Modeling Comp Cards! New Agency! New New!

Ah! I’m so excited I have to share all the good news. I just printed new comp (short for “composite”) cards. I had been agonizing over which shots to include and what format to use for a long time. I had a meeting with a new agency in Milwaukee called Ohlsson Model Management two weeks ago, and the extra good news is that they decided to sign me. The other, often uncredited benefit of meeting with new agencies is the fresh eyes on your portfolio that remind you what your best shots are and what you should be prioritizing.

Without further ado, the front and back of my comp card:

That Redhead, Christiana Herbert, comp card front. Always put your best face forward with your website and name!

That Redhead, Christiana Herbert, composite card reverse side. Always include stats, contact, and multiple shots!

 

The front of the comp card is usually a headshot and I’ve heard it recommended that it should be one without a lot of makeup where you seem friendly and approachable and easy to work with. Especially if you, like me, plan on concentrating more on lifestyle and commercial work which is nearly always very friendly-looking models. Your name and website are a good idea here, too. Without even turning over the card, the viewer knows what I look like, knows I have nice teeth (important in commercial work!), and can find me online to get in contact with me.

The back of the card is where the term “composite” comes into play. These should be good images that showcase what your body looks like on camera and your range. In this case, I chose a bridal editorial image, a glamour/beauty shot, and three commercial shots (one casual, one fitness, and one business). I also have all of my vital info (or “stats”) so that producers and casting agents can start to suss out whether I fit the image they have in mind. I NEVER put my phone number on my resumé or my comp card. If you are exclusively signed by an agency, list that phone number. But you never know where this card might end up once you pass it out so unless you like weird text messages and calls, don’t put your personal number on it. You can always write it in if someone needs it. Better safe than sorry, kids!

I must credit Birdesign on Etsy for the instant download that I translated into my own file via Photoshop. What a great layout. The print job was handled by Indigo Digital Printing, who I simply cannot recommend enough. They did all my wedding print jobs, too.

Yes, it’s true that many agencies are switching to a virtual format where paper comp cards are no longer needed. It’s arguable that a working model would even need them in New York or Los Angeles. Chicago is still a little traditional and I value being able to hand something out that has all my vital information. Furthermore, I am not done looking for agents just yet. I am signed with more than one agency and until I find the best fit where an exclusive contract is a good decision, I will keep sending out my headshot, resumé, and comp card. In paper form. To all the agencies I would like to work with. Often. ;)

So there’s my good news on more than one count. Excitement!

Thanks for cheering me on!

 

How to Keep a Clean House in 30 Minutes a Day

Today is a rainy and stormy day in Chicago. So let’s talk about chores, since I’d never waste a day of sunshine on such drudgery!

Before the big move to the north end of Chicago, the husband and I had a housekeeper. I miss the weekly cleaning she did. It kept us organized and tidy and released the time that usually is taken up by chores. However, it’s not free and in our new world order of pinching pennies where we can, we haven’t hired any cleaners in months.

That means we can either live in filth (not an option), or we have to work harder to keep up with the daily messes and find time to mop the floors and scrub the bathroom. Our first modus operandi of “wait to see who cleans the toilet first” is not recommended. I was always the one who caved. Similarly, Jim was forever cleaning up my glasses and plates that I leave around the house. Oops.

So, being the research nerd I am, I googled up a solution and came across lots of cleaning charts that promised to divide and conquer. None was quite right for our house so eventually I typed up one of my own, printed it out, and stuck it to the fridge.

 

How to Get A Clean House in 30 Minutes a Day.So far, so good. Instead of flapping around each day wondering what the most efficient use of time might be, it’s now already decided. It’s also up for revision, depending on what works best. I can already see that maybe I’ll flip-flop the kitchen and bathroom chores around since Jim is the King of the Kitchen and he has more time at home on Thursdays.

If you’re working on your own chore schedule, here are a few of my tips:

  • Decide what your standards are. Do you freak out if there are dishes left in the sink? Do you need to make your bed every day? Can you keep up with laundry on a daily basis or does it tend to pile up unless you buckle down and get a bunch done at once? Strategize these things for your “daily” chores list.
  • Think about your house. Is it easier to focus on one room every day and get it completely clean, or do you prefer to vacuum the whole house at once? You can see what my answer is. Since we have <2000 square feet all on one floor, it’s easier to wheel out the vacuum once rather than multiple times in a week. Your mileage may vary if you have multiple floors and a bigger house than me.
  • I prefer to keep the weekends open for yard work and bigger projects. You might decide that Saturday is another work day and to keep Sunday free. Think about your schedule and that of the family’s.
  • Divide and conquer. Group “like” tasks together. It might not seem logical to work on filing on the same day you polish all the mirrors in the house, but for me it has made sense to clear all the flat surfaces in one day.
  • Don’t overbook yourself. Think about what you can do in 30 minutes a day and do your best. I don’t have kids but when I was growing up, my Mom expected us to take on parts of the chore list ourselves, especially in our own rooms. Enlist help from the rest of the family and make it a family set of standards.
  • Don’t stress out. Life is full of variables. Things will shift and change. This past weekend, for example, we had multiple house guests. I’m still finishing laundry on Wednesday and I haven’t cleaned as deeply in the kitchen as I would like to today. The point is to devote 30 minutes every day to working on these chores so that they don’t build up and require 2-3 hours of cleaning in one sitting.

Let me know what you think and tell me about your cleaning schedule. How do you divvy up the chores in your house?

And let’s hope for some sunshine tomorrow so I can take some new photos! :)

 

Monday Manicure: Simple DIY Feathers Nail Art

How to do an easy nail art manicure via That Redhead. Simple DIY Feathers Tutorial.

Ah, it’s been too long since I did a Monday Manicure here. It’s also been too long since my nails were done! I blame the upheaval of moving and unpacking- nothing destroys a manicure faster so I decided why bother. That led to my nails looking like this:

Healthy, long, naked fingernails.

I grow some pretty impressive claws when I’m not keeping them trimmed and filed short (my preference) for regular manicures. Blame the avocados and almond milk, I guess. ;)

Anyway, I decided that I wanted to do something fun with my nails since we had an 11 year old girl staying with us over the weekend who is obsessed with nail art. I figured she would approve and I was right! (It’s so validating to be “right” to a pre-teen who usually scorns all things adult as “boring”). This is simple, as promised, and shouldn’t take much longer than a regular manicure.

  1. Trim and file nails as desired and push back the cuticles, cutting only the hangnails. Cuticles are important and you shouldn’t cut them off completely.
  2. Pick out your colors. I wanted the “feathers” to really pop so I chose white as my base. Pick colors that are complimentary together and ideally ones you wear often so your nails will coordinate with more than one outfit. As a redhead, I wear a lot of blue and green so I chose mint, royal blue, and jade.
  3. Do a quick coat of base coat. I like Orly’s Rubberized base coat.
  4. Polish two thin coats of opaque white nail polish (or the color you chose). They don’t have to be perfect but usually one coat isn’t enough coverage. Thin coats are preferred so they dry faster. (see photo below)
  5. Wait a couple of minutes until the base color is dry to the touch, then add your first “feather.” If you have experience in painting, you already know the rule of starting with the lightest color FIRST. This is important. If I had used the mint color on top of one of the darker ones, I would risk picking up the darker color on the brush and contaminating my bottle of lighter color. Plus, I wanted the colors to overlap and mint won’t cover the darker shades.
  6. I used the width of the nail polish brush itself to determine the size of the stripe, or “feather.” It doesn’t have to be perfect, which adds to the freedom of the design and also the ease of actually being able to do this yourself. Be sure to practice a few times on a scrap piece of paper to get the amount of polish right. When in doubt, use less since you can always touch it up with another thin coat. (see photo below)
  7. Do the darker colors and let your nails dry for a bit.
  8. Finish with a coat of shiny top coat, being careful to try to use as few strokes as possible so you don’t pick up the colors at the tip and then drag them through the white part of the nail.
  9. Enjoy the compliments on your fabulous nails!

Step One of Simple DIY Feathers Nail Art Tutorial. Two coats of white nail polish.

Step Two of Simple DIY Feathers Nail Art Tutorial. Adding first feather.

Final result of Simple DIY Feathers Nail Art Tutorial. Colors used from OPI, Essie, and China Glaze.

The colors I used were: Nina Ultra Pro French White, China Glaze Re-Fresh Mint, OPI Jade is the New Black, and Essie Butler Please.

If you like this look, you might also like this look I did before: Mint and Blue French Manicure.

What’s on your nails today?

Spotlight: ThredUp, Reinventing the Secondhand Scene

I am excited to announce that I am going to start throwing light on brands and companies that are doing sustainable fashion right and making ethical consumerism look chic and easy.

For my first feature, I’d like to shout out a company I’ve only recently discovered: ThredUp. It’s one of those fantastic success stories that inspire. The founder and CEO, James Reinhart realized one day that he didn’t like any of his clothes despite having many of them. In his words he started ThredUp “because I believed there had to be a better way to manage all the clothing I was no longer wearing. And if I had this problem as a guy, women must have it way worse!”

Well, James, you’re right. It’s even harder for women, as I’ve catalogued here on my blog. Apart from the other statistics that I’ve posted here and here, according to ThredUp “Women, on average, spend $1,700 a year on clothing. Despite that expense, they are only wearing about 20% of their wardrobes!” Yikes!!

Enter James and his brilliant business idea to rethink pre-owned clothing. It’s pretty simple: ThredUp buys clothes in excellent condition from you and sells them at discounted prices to other people who would like to have designer labels for less and lessen their environmental impact. No need to go hunting through the racks at your local thrift store, unless you dig that sort of thing. Anything that ThredUp decides not to sell, they donate for you unless you pay extra to have it sent back to you. Believe it or not, this company is only going on 14 months old! By their last calculation, they have already upcycled over 1.5 MILLION pounds of unwanted items that might have otherwise ended up in the trash or collecting dust.

As soon as I heard about this company, I knew I had to get on board. I ordered my first “closet clean out” bag and it arrived a few days later, packaged ingeniously with full instructions. I’m amazed to say that even though I have been purging stuff regularly since my big move in March, the green polka-dotted bag is already halfway filled with stuff. Once I’m finished with it, I simply seal it up and either give it to my postal carrier or drop it off at at FedEx Office location. That’s it! They’ll get back to me with an offer for the clothes they accept and I can take store credit or cash.

That Redhead recommends cleaning out your closet with ThredUp! That Redhead recommends cleaning out your closet with ThredUp!

And, even more exciting, I also ordered two super cute items that are arriving later this week. Stay tuned for an official ThredUp-styled outfit! I can’t wait to show you how chic secondhand fashion can be!

Want to clean out your closet and get cash? Looking for Kate Spade (my favorite!), Tory Burch, Coach, and other designer items for much, much less? And moms, did I mention that they also do kids’ clothes? Check out ThredUp and let me know how it goes!

Like-new clothes from brands you love! Up to 90% off retail.

*This post contains affiliate markups. Please support the merchants who support this blogger! Want to know how that works? Read about working with me, sponsorships, and more under the “Work With Me” tab above. Thanks, lovelies!*

Grandpa

Last weekend, Jim and I got in our car and drove down to Pekin, Illinois where generations of my father’s family have been born and buried. And when I say generations, what I mean is that both of my father’s parents have a Civil War veteran who enlisted in that area and survived. The roots are quite deep.

My grandma died last summer, quickly and shockingly, and it’s a topic that I’ve only just been able to really start addressing in a retrospective way that is finally losing some of the fresh pain and sadness. That has left me with one remaining grandparent, which is my grandpa Glenn. My other grandpa died long before I was born so he’s really the only one I ever had. And he more than made up for that absence when I was small; I really thought that I had the coolest grandpa around. I had young enough grandparents to keep up with me and my sisters, since I was born before either of them were even 60 years old. I have memories of tree houses and doll cradles he built, fairs and festivals, diving lessons, and even being allowed to “fix” his hair. He dressed as Santa every year for Christmas and, by virtue of his junk and antiques shop, always had something new for us to play with every time we visited. He was one of the first people I knew who made a living from his creativity: he worked as a photographer, which in a small town meant he photographed tractors and farm equipment with the occasional wedding. He is the source of my wanderlust and desire for adventure.

Christiana and Grandpa

In short, I had the sort of grandparents that kids dream about. The immense blessing and privilege of that has never escaped me. As an adult, things have been a little more difficult. It became clear to me, once I grew up, that the relationship between my grandparents was not exactly harmonious. It culminated in my grandpa’s decision to live separately for the remaining years of Grandma’s life, which caused her constant heartache. Healthcare and pensions are tricky, so they were never able to divorce. Years went by without so much as a peep from him; he often avoided the rest of the family when we were visiting.

So I turned my full focus to Grandma and made sure to call and visit regularly. In her absence, I only wish I had more time and more memories. It’s never enough, is it? When my wedding day dawned, the only grandparent still alive between Jim and myself was Grandpa and he was too frail to come to the ceremony. They were all there in photographic display and energetic blessing, but nothing compares to really kissing your grandparents’ faces on such a day.

My Grandpa, the one who used to throw me onto his shoulders and build tree houses, is living in a full-time care facility, reduced most days to a humility I’m not used to seeing in him. He is starting to lose track of dates, times, names, places. All the data that marks our lives to tell us who we are, where we are, and what we’ve learned is beginning to slip away. He is left with his baggage and his regrets and the slightly-fuzzy memories upon which they were founded. His older brother, whose shadow he at once hated and admired, haunts him still. He couldn’t remember when his brother died but he could remember the details of a war story I’d never heard before that he wished was his own instead.

It’s a conflicting situation. I could choose to resent his past choices that hurt me and especially hurt others. I could choose to be angry, to remind him of the error in his ways and list all of his sins to shame him. I could choose to ignore everything and blithely pretend that my Grandpa is still the heroic figure I believed in when I was little. I could choose to be sad and commiserate with him about life’s cruelty. There are days when I am all of these feelings in part. But they are not my final choice because I believe that feelings are a direct result of how we choose to perceive the world.

I have chosen to forgive. While life can be cruel, he made his own choices. I can be sympathetic, remembering where life began for him and the challenges he faced. I can be thankful, because some of his choices were great and made my life better. I can be grateful for the amazing memories I have; I can cherish and protect them from the tarnish of jaded, hurt retrospect. I can even be glad for poor choices he made since those influenced my father to be a better role model and mentor. I have chosen to let peace wash over me and replace everything else that once stood in its way.


I sat at the edge of his bed. Hands trembling, he carefully paged through a stack of papers, an assorted pile of memories, photos, and documents that remind him of the things he is beginning to forget. He slowly dug out a pencil box filled with newspaper clippings and photos- some of which were about me. Obituaries, mementos, photos…in the end, none of these things will travel with him when he moves into the great beyond. We won’t take anything with us but the contents of our souls and the choices we’ve made to help or hurt others in this lifetime.

In that moment, I felt nothing but love tinged with pity. Closer to 90 than to 80, his life now fits into a few small drawers and a cupboard. It doesn’t really matter what he wears, whether it matches or is new and stylish. He has one pair of shoes in which he shuffles the hallways behind his walker, leashed to an oxygen tank wherever he goes. There are still a few things he can do for himself and he cherishes his remaining small bits of independence. He still has his odd quirks: eating fastidiously despite his shaking hands and turning on the TV so that no one hears bathroom noises. Soon enough, though, those quirks will fade away and so will his independence. He knows this and speaks accordingly.

Christiana and Grandpa 2013

What is there to give someone who needs everything and nothing? I can’t make him well, I can’t undo the past, and I can’t give him forgiveness for others. He needs no physical object that I can bring him.

What I chose to bring him was my open heart, mind, and arms. I chose to bring him a silly birthday card. I chose to bring him ears to listen and eyes to see. I chose to give him time, which falls too rapidly in the hourglass already. I chose to give him love.

Dandelion Love

“I don’t care what anyone says,” I remarked to Jim this weekend, “I love dandelions!”

“That sounds like a book title or perhaps a good name for your memoirs. Of course you love them,” he grinned.

“I’m going to write a blog about dandelions!” I declared.

 

And that was the genesis of this blog post and the associated photos. It’s amazing where the “seeds” come from, isn’t it?

That Redhead's dandelion hippie crown.

I must admit I’ve never understood the hatred of dandelions. After all, the name is comprised of both the words “dandy” and “lion” which seems pretty spectacular to me. They are fluffy and yellow and cheerful, a sure sign of spring and amongst the first flowers to feed the bumblebees who are hungry to start their season of pollination and honey-making. After they flower, they turn into these ethereal poofs of seeds with which I learned to make wishes when I was very young. Much to the chagrin of the lawn-maintaining homeowners in my area, I’m sure, but that never stops me. Apart from their visual charm and use in the animal kingdom, dandelions are one of the oldest herbs that humans have cultivated and eaten for both nutritional and medicinal value.

I remain determined to enjoy them, even as a responsible adult. I don’t suppose I would let them take over my front yard, but I think it unnecessary to exterminate dandelions in the open grass in the park. I learned to braid crowns of flowers when I was small, thanks to my crafty momma. We often picked the clover in our yard and braided it just before my dad mowed the lawn and destroyed the few blossoms we left. I’ve since learned that just about any long-stemmed flower with a sturdy constitution will work for instant hippie magic. Dandelions work well and make for a very happy crown!

That Redhead's dandelion hippie crown.

That Redhead's dandelion hippie crown; mocking jay book quote by Suzanne Collins.

If you can braid, you can braid a crown of flowers.

  1. Start with an ample fistful of blossoms with long stems. Pick three and braid tightly at first.
  2. Feed in new blossoms every so often, either to keep the length going or sooner as I did to make for a more blossom-heavy crown.
  3. Once you have reached the end, braid as long as you can until you have several inches of braided stems. Make a loop and tuck the ends back through a part in the braid to secure.
  4. You can then stick the loop over the three blossoms you began with to finish your crown. Alternately, you can simply pin the crown with bobby pins and keep things super secure.
  5. Wear your crown with the goofy sense of joy that I am so fond of. Frolic. Repeat.
  6. AND, if you should happen to take photos of your crowns, please share here or on social media! I’d love to see it.

What’s the verdict on dandelions? Lovely flowers… or nasty weeds? :)