Wednesday, April 29, 2009

100% Pure

Lately in the attempt to be less of a planet-murderer, I've begun the painful process of reducing my large collection of bath and beauty products and trying to replace some of them with more natural alternatives. During the spending hiatus, I realized that if I cut back on the number of products I use, I could afford better, more natural alternatives. The switch to natural has been challenging though, since companies have gotten into the act of marketing almost completely unnatural products as natural, and then charging twice as much for them. One $15 shampoo which I'll decline to name contained almost all the same synthetic ingredients as my current drugstore shampoo with a bit of tea tree oil thrown in at the bottom, and it was marketed as "containing natural ingredients". Riiight.

The good news is that if you look, there are product lines out there which do utilize (mostly) natural ingredients in their products, and don't attempt any label-trickery. One that's come on my radar just recently is 100% Pure. They are 100% natural and 100% vegetarian, and they have some pretty awesome-looking products. They aren't super-cheap, but they won't require you to take out a loan against your house, either. I haven't tried any yet, but I am definitely considering ordering some for when my decidedly non-natural current products run out.
A few that are tempting me (pictured above, from top):
  • Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream ($19) contains natural caffeine for those of us whose plan to get back to nature doesn't include looking like raccoons in the morning.
  • Organic Pomengranate Antioxidant Hydration SPF20 ($26) is one of their more expensive products but think of it this way: it's a moisturizer, antioxidant, and sunblock all in one.
  • Cherry Honey Facial Scrub ($18). Unlike many "natural" scrubs, this one does not contain ground-up seeds or pits which have sharp edges that can scratch and irritate delicate facial skin. Instead, it uses jojoba beads to get the job done.
Have any of you made the switch to more eco-friendly products lately? If so, what brands have you tried?

Images via 100% Pure's website (see links)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Guess where I'm going?

I am posting late today because I have been crazy with work. I'm heading off to Chicago for a conference Thursday morning and that means that I have to fit five days' worth of work into three days. Eeps!

That said, I am not going to complain. Chicago is one of my favorite cities if not THE favorite, so I'm very excited to get a chance to go (squee!), even if I am going to be spending most of my time in the conference. I also haven't been to Chicago since high school, so I thought I would ask you all: what would you suggest I do with the one night of free time I have? I know we are within walking distance of Michigan Avenue, Millenium Park, and some other goodies. I'll probably be in a group so who knows if I'll actually be able to follow your suggestions, but I'd love to hear them! And of course, I will keep you all posted on what actually goes down.

And what's your favorite city on earth?

Image via wikipedia

Monday, April 27, 2009

ThinkGeek: Because we're really all huge nerds inside (yes, even you pretend-cool people)

ThinkGeek is one of those websites I can count on to have lots of funny and sort of genius stuff at any given time. They especially have a great collection of silly office supplies, which I amused myself by flipping through this weekend.

A couple of my faves:
Origami sticky note pads. So you won't feel so bad about the fifty billion sticky notes littering your walls (it totally counts as recycling).

Paper voodoo notepad. For your a-hole boss when he wants to you to come in on Saturday. Again.
And my personal fave, inanimate object stickers. No real use to these, I just think having a face on my stapler might be amusing.

Alright, so they're all pretty silly/useless items (and I'll admit, probably a little immature) but- funny, no?

All images via (see links)

Friday, April 24, 2009

20-Minute Workout

I've been trying to get my booty (and everything else!) in shape more lately but time has been a huge issue. With a thesis, two jobs, and classes, it's hard to find the time or energy for working out. Running is pretty easy to squeeze into a day (it takes no time to lace up and head out the door) but strength workouts are a bit trickier because they usually involve, you know, going to the gym. Lately my best friend has been the 20-minute workout over on Real Simple's website. It really does only take 20-minutes and while it's not the most intense workout you'll ever do, it works every body part. It also takes minimal equiptment (weights and a chair) so it's easy to do at home between classes and work, which I love.
What quickie workouts do you know of?
(PS: I'm posting more than once today to make up for a slow week so check out the post below too!)
Image via

If I had lots of disposable income...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Anthropologie makes some of the cutest dresses ever. All three of these would be great for today (it's in the 70's and sunny!) with cute sandals. I'd also wear the first one, which is more of a tunic than a dress to be honest, with skinny jeans or capris. And I just LOVE the braided straps on the third one.
All images via Anthropologie

Thursday, April 23, 2009

How about a vacation?

I know, I know, I told you all I'd be posting on time today and here I am posting at 5pm.

Today is one of those days where all I can say is that I need a vacation. I usually try to be super positive on One Happy Panda (because honestly, do we need another blog devoted to complaining?) but really, not much has gone right for me today.

I'll elaborate (if you don't want to hear about my complaining, skip this paragraph). It all started when I woke up late and had about 15 minutes to get ready for work- never a good start to the day. While washing my face, I counted about 5 new pimples on my chin as well. Great. I thought I had finally gotten the acne under control, too. I got out the door on time, though all I had time to eat for breakfast was toast and I practically had to run to work to be there by 7:15. But then at work, nothing goes right and everything takes twice as long as it usually does so I get terribly far behind and super stressed. Whatever. I have an hour break before my class, so I figure I can chill out for an hour and collect myself. No such luck. Turns out I forgot to do a very important homework assignment that is due the minute I walk in the door, and I have to scramble to get that done before class. I manage it though, and only show up two minutes late for class. Just in time to realize that we have a pop quiz which I am so not prepared for. Awesome. But whatever, I make it through class and come home to check my email only to find a notice that one of my scholarships (worth about $3,000 a year) is in jeopardy and could very well be cut because of state budget issues next year. Just what I needed.

On top of that, I have a doctors appointment tomorrow that's stressing me because I had blood tests done last week and they called me in to "discuss" my results. Which means something has to be positive, or they'd just tell me over the phone. And I got a reminder call just now telling me to bring in my list of medications. Which means whatever it is, they probably want me to take medication for it. Did I mention that prescriptions are expensive with my health insurance?

On the upside, at least now I'm pretty much done today. My plans right now include a nap, some therapeutic housecleaning, and maybe a self-pedi because my feet are pretty raunch. And then I'll feel 100% better and be back to cheerful blogging tomorrow, promise.

But I'm still seriously dreaming of getting away somewhere nice right now. A beach would be good, or Berlin (see above), which for some reason I've always been obsessed with visiting.

You tell me: what's your dream vacation?

Berlin image via an unknown source- email me if you know where it's from so I can credit it properly.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The General Craziness of Being

Hi All-

Just a quick note to explain that I may be MIA for the next day not because I don't like you all but because life has gotten a bit crazy. It's midterms weeks and I've got some tomorrow, plus projects and a thesis proposal to whip out. So in addition to not having a blog post today, I may be neglectful of One Happy Panda tomorrow as well. I hope you all will forgive me.

It'll be back to your regularly scheduled blogging by Thursday, promise!


PS: If anyone has any amazing zit remedies, please by all means share. Let's just say I've been a little stressed lately, and my face is rebelling.

Red panda image via wikipedia

Monday, April 20, 2009

Best Worst Music Ever

Over the weekend I was walking down High Street when someone drove by just blaring their music out of their open car windows, and I happened to catch a whiff of the song. And I kid you not, they were playing MMMBop. Does anyone else remember that song?

Well, I do.

When I was in elementary school, I think I played that song on repeat every.single.night. for months on end. I was officially obsessed. I thought the Hanson brothers were the hottest thing on earth in all their girly long-haired glory. Obviously, Taylor was the hottest. This was when I still had a thing for blondes with blue eyes (something I got over a looong time ago).

And it got me thinking about all the seemingly bad-but-oh-so-good music I've listened to over the years, probably around 90% of which was created in the 90's (think Spice Girls), though I do have a soft spot for cheesy 80's love ballads. Funny how things that were once cool are now terribly cheesy.

What's the best-worst music you've ever listened to?

PS: My Hanson tape totally went missing after a couple months of nonstop use and I'd always thought I lost it, but now I'm thinking maybe my dad had something to do with it. I'm on to you, Dad (though honestly, I couldn't blame you).

PS Again: I like to think my music taste has improved since then. Just so you all don't think I'm a total loser.

Hanson image via, where it did not get very good ratings. Ha.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Etsy Finds: Pretty Birdies

Lately I've been loving anything with a bird on it, seriously. I'm blaming it on spring, along with all my other obesessions this time of year (see below for some yellow lovin').
Some of my favorite bird-related etsy finds:
  • Pretty mint-green bird pillow (from joom).
  • Polka-dots AND a cute birdie? I'm pretty sure this notepad is designed for me (from boygirlparty).
  • I don't wear a ton of necklaces, but I'm drawn to the whimsy of this pretty bird one (from VirginiaGeiger Jewels).
  • A take-it-everywhere blue canvas tote with an adorable birdie print (from Kainkain).

(PS: I will be getting links to the items up later, but you can also do a seller search on etsy if you like them- Internet Explorer hates me right now and has crashed about six times every time I try to open etsy to get the links. And this is why I normally use Firefox.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Yellow for Spring

I always know it's spring when I start craving pops of yellow every where. It isn't even my favorite color, but I get obsessed with it every year when the weather starts to warm.

From Top:
  • Cute girl in an even cuter yellow dress from The Sartorialist (I think this is from last year, or the one before).
  • Yellow flowers and a beaker as a vase (and I'm a dum-dum and forgot to mark the source down).
  • Pops of yellow in a kitchen (via the late Domino).
  • Yellow boots (and awesome wallpaper!) via Cup of Jo.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How often do you work out?

So today I went to the doctor to get checked out for a possible thyroid issue, and I found out that *gulp* I weigh about twelve pounds more than I did last summer. I hardly ever weigh myself, so it came as a bit of a shock to me. But then I realized that with all the stress eating I've been doing this year (think candy, lots of it) and the fact that I've cut waaay back on running (from almost every day to...maybe once a week) I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised. I'm not too worried, since I'm still within a healthy BMI range. Still, it made me realize that I really need to get back on track health-wise.

And that put me in the mood for a little workout discussion:

When I'm not being a lazy-butt like I am now, I generally do a little running several times a week and some yoga poses (planks, in pariticular) for stretching and strength. Sometimes I'll use free weights I have at home, but I'm pretty casual about it. I live right next to a university gym for which I have free admission, but I don't like working out in a crowded gym all that much, probably because I'm way too self-conscious around all the buff gym junkies.

Your turn: how do you work out? Are you more casual or structured? Do you prefer the gym or your home/outside? And what types of workouts do you do (yoga, pilates, strength, running)? I'd love to hear if anyone has tried an "alternative" type of workout like bellydancing- those classes sound so cool!

PS: Has anyone tried programs like Body by Glamour or the Self Challenge? I'm curious about these, but I don't know how well they might work since I'm less worried about weight loss and more worried about getting back on track.

Image via

Dress Love

By Dace via Bliss
This dress has been making its rounds on the blogworld and I figured I'd go ahead and hop on the bandwagon. I just love LOVE the soft oversized plaid print and the unusual neckline. Target needs to get hoppin' and make me a more affordable knockoff, but I have a feeling I'm just going to have to sit here and lust after the original.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Guest Blog Alert!

I've got a guest blog going on at Amber Alert today, so if you have a few minutes hop on over and check it out!

But don't forget to check out my usual Monday spending hiatus post below :)

Panda image via Wikipedia.

Spending Hiatus Update: The Final Week

Money poster by Howard Sokol via
Well everyone, this is it: the spending hiatus is now officially over. I have gone three months without buying (almost) anything unessential. I've slipped up (more than once) and cheated just a little- but overall, I've avoided the mindless shopping and unintentional buys that I am famous for. And you know what? It feels pretty darn good.

I don't have any confessions to make this week. I have been doing background research for what will hopefully be an exciting thesis project, so I haven't had time to even think about shopping. Well, that's a lie. I've totally thought about it- but there hasn't been any time to set foot in a store outside of buying the essential groceries. And on top of that, I knew I didn't want to go out with a confession, because then I'd feel like I didn't make much progress. I wanted to go out on a high note.

As far as what happens now, I'm still not totally clear on that. I thought that after three months of shopping I'd be hitting up the mall like it was my long lost best friend the first chance I got. But honestly? I haven't felt like it. I just don't feel like I need anything right now, and while there are lots of things I could spend my money on, I'd rather save it up for when I really want something. I think the spending hiatus has had the long-term effect of helping me realize that.

There is an official game plan of course. I've set up a maximum amount of money every month for "unessential" items (think eating out, makeup, clothes, etc.). Whenever I buy something unessential, I put a "U" next to the purchase amount in my checkbook- which I have to write my purchases in anyway because I rarely use cash. When the "U" amounts add up to my maximum amount, I'm done for the month. I liked this idea because it gives me the flexibility to buy what I want guilt-free, while still controlling how much I spend overall. I like having the flexibility to spend or save as I wish, because I know I always find my way around rigid "rule" systems, even if I'm the one who set up the rules. Of course, I'll fill you all in on how my new system goes ;)

Oh, and if you're thinking of trying to control spending yourself, here's a list of shopping alternatives I made back in February.

And you can read all of the spending hiatus posts here.

Last chance readers: gimme all your sage spending advice! How do you control it?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sleep Makeover Update: Week Six

So a month and a half ago I started this sleep makeover hoping I would eventually get to 7 hours of sleep a night and a much earlier bedtime. Well this week, in addition to sharing where I am now, I thought I'd do a little before-and-after comparison:
  • Before: Averaging 5 hours a night. Now: 7.07 hours (score!)
  • Before: Average bedtime of whenever I fell asleep (usually around 2-3am). Now: 12:30am on average. Not exactly where I want to be (I'm aiming for 11pm) but much, much closer.
  • Before: Sleepy and grouchy almost every day. Now: Not sleepy during the day anymore, and (usually) not grouchy :)
Honestly, I feel so much better since I've started sleeping better. I'm still not a morning person, but I don't fight getting up as much anymore, with the exception of when it's really cold outside. I don't feel as irritable, and I don't eat as much junk food during the day. Okay, I eat some junk food, but not as much. And now, I'm wondering how well I could do if I started aiming for 8 hours a night. New goal, anybody?

Weekly bedroom pic: this is another one from the former Domino website (rest in peace). I originally saved it because I LOVED how they arranged the pictures over the bed. I only hope one of these days to be able to do a casual-but-still-balanced picture arrangement like that. I also really love the bird on the pillows and the cool lamp next to the bed. What do you all think?

Alright, readers, tell me: how do you sleep normally? Am I crazy to aim for 8 hours?

As always, you can read the rest of my sleep makeover posts here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mini Smellies

Fragrances are fickle things: you never know how they're going to treat you until you try them out for awhile. Which is why when I'm thinking of trying a new fragrance, I usually look for a mini version. They're less expensive, and I can always buy the full size after I run out if I really like it. But honestly, by the time I get through 1oz. of the stuff, I'm usually ready to move on to something new. I guess I'm fickle, too.

I'm considering the 1oz. bottle of Fresh Sugar Lemon, which can be had on Sephora for around $25. I don't wear a lot of perfume when it's warm outside, so this would probably last me most of the summer.

What's your perfume habit: full sized all the way or do you like to try 'em before you buy 'em? Or do you forego the smellies alltogether? (PS: Sometimes I just like to smell like soap.)

Image via where you can find all sorts of mini smellies.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Quirky Pictures Day!

(I'm totally late with the blog post today- it's been a crazy busy day and I have not been home since 7am. Oh, and did I mention it's snowing in Columbus? Yes, snowing. In April. Urgh.)

Every now and then I stumble across something that for whatever reason catches my fancy and think "gee, I should take a picture of that". Well now, thanks to cell phone cameras, I can. Here are a few of the quirky (and okay, somewhat random) pictures I've picked up over the past few years:

You read that right, elephant poo poo paper. That way when you have to write a letter to someone you don't like, you can send them a piece of poo at the same time.
Mind you obey that last half-MPH. No going 13 MPH here!
Oh, just 50 lbs of Swiss cheese. You know, in case you get hungry. Or if you're not that hungry, it doubles as furniture.
When I first saw this car, I assumed it must be one of those advertisement vehicles, but there was no logo on it or anything. Apparently someone just really liked cows.
Pineapple turkey, courtesy of Hil's mom, every Thanksgiving.

Anybody else take pictures of random quirky things, or am I just an oddball?

Photos in this post are all my own. Excuse the horrible picture quality- we're working with a cell phone camera here.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Spending Hiatus Update: Week Eleven!

Money poster by Howard Sokol via
Only one week left in the spending hiatus! I'm so excited to be able to get out there and buy a few pretty things for spring and summer, although with the weather like it is today (cold and drizzling rain) it seems like warm weather may never come. Le sigh.

Still, I'm feeling pretty upbeat this week because I did a decent job of avoiding the siren call of stores and spring clearances. I was pretty distracted anyway, with the start of classes. And plus, there's nothing like spending a few hundred dollars on textbooks to make you not feel like shopping, right? Textbooks, of course, being one expense I couldn't get away from.

So this week, instead of shopping, I:
  • Got my butt in gear for classes! One week down and nine to go until summer freedom :) (and by freedom, I mean summer jobs)
  • Did laundry like a responsible adult, with Hilary, on a Friday night. Because we have sweet social lives like that (and because I hate going to the creepy laundromat alone). I must admit, I bought a magazine to keep us occupied while we waited for clothes to wash and dry, so that was a bit of an unessential expense. I don't feel too bad though, given that we would have been bored just sitting there.
  • Moved my living room furniture around! I know this may not sound exciting to some, but I love the fact that my living room now has a little extra space in it, which is golden in an apartment as small as mine. Plus, I'm pretty proud of managing to move all the heavy stuff myself, with the exception of calling Nathan over to put the microwave on top of the fridge. Mostly because I almost broke it trying to do it myself.
  • And the Sarahs and I went to the gallery hop on Saturday night, which I talked about doing back in week seven. This time we found a rather amazing little pizza restaurant that made unusual (and delicious) organic pizzas. Then I promptly forgot its name. But I'm sure I'll be back one of these days, and then I'll remember.
Gallery Hop Night: via the Short North Arts District
Last week I talked about how I was still working out my plans for "phasing out" of the spending hiatus. I know I've gained a new awareness of spending thanks to this spending hiatus but I also know that all changes can be reversed pretty quickly if you aren't careful, much like a dieter who goes "off" a diet and promptly gains all their weight back. So while I don't plan on cutting spending completely out of my life, I do plan on cutting way back, starting with making a budget that will allow me so much money a month on "unessential" things. That way, I can still shop, but I'm controlling how much I spent. And I plan on writing it down *gulp* and reporting back to you all within a month or so to keep myself accountable. My other challenge will be to avoid all emotional/boredom shopping in general. I've learned that that's when I do the most damage, and it's usually not on things I even really want.

How else do you think I could control post-hiatus spending? Spill your wisdom, dear readers.

And, as always, you can read the rest of the spending hiatus posts here.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Can we discuss body image for a sec?

True story: yesterday I was in Target checking out the super cute bathing suits (okay, and I was supposed to be buying toothpaste, but shhh) and over heard the lady next to me talking to her daughter, who looked to be maybe 8 years old or so. And I thought "cute, a mother-daughter shopping excursion". It was so adorable when the girl very seriously informed her mom that she should get the "one with the spots" (a navy blue polka-dotted bikini, girl had good taste). At which the mother replied...

"...Mommy is too digusting and fat for that suit."

Um, what?

I generally try to focus on things that make me happy for One Happy Panda, but every now and then I feel the need to share something that just bothers me. The fact that some women feel so bad about their bodies that they'll call themselves "disgusting" in front of their daughters makes me so sad. Because you know, young girls pick up on their body image from the women they look up to, like their moms. And some day when that girl hits puberty and becomes a perfectly curvy size 8 like her mother, how is she going to feel? Disgusting and fat?

I'm not innocent of putting myself down in front of others. I used to do it all the time. But eventually I realized that body image is contagious. When you put your body down, other women (and men?) feel the need to do the same for their bodies. Happily, it seems to work in the reverse too. When you're happy with your body and take care of it, other people do the same.

So in the name of universal body happiness, can we all agree to give our bodies a little bit of the love they deserve?

PS: Speaking of polka dotted bathing suits, I think the one above (from VS) is totally adorable. And on sale. Tempting.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sleep Makeover Update: Week Five

Okay so my Thursday sleep makeover post is a bit late today because I (ironically) slept in this morning and didn't get anything done before work. And I'm putting it in bullet form because it's not really coherent enough to make paragraphs.
  • My first week back in classes after break, and I got *drumroll* 6.7 hours a night! So close to my goal of 7, but not quite there. That's also an hour per night less than last week, but last week I didn't have any classes.
  • It's also almost an hour per night more than when I started the makeover- a huge improvement.
  • I've decided that one of the things that really helps me most is switching off the computer and tv well before I go to bed. When I'm up on the computer right before bed, I have a much harder time getting to sleep.
  • I've realized that I'm a complete scaredy cat. Every single bump or creak in the night wakes me up and has me convinced that someone is definitely breaking into my apartment, and then I get too creeped out to sleep. Which is bad when you live in an old apartment building with 7 other tenants (lots of bumps and creaks).
  • White noise really helps drown out the scary bumps in the night.
  • I still suck at going to bed early, and I don't even know why I find it so difficult. My average bedtime is now about 1am, which is actually a 2 hour improvement from when I started, but still isn't early enough. I'm aiming for midnight by my next update :) Wish me luck!
  • I don't feel as energetic as I did last week- all the more incentive to get back up to 7 hours a night!
PS: What do you think of the bedroom above? I'm actually kind of digging the tree branch headboard thing they've got going on there. Not sure what I think about what appears to be a grasshopper hobby horse. But I love the overall natural feel- nature always makes me feel relaxed (all the more reason to get flowers!).

As always, you can read the rest of the sleep makeover posts here.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Speaking of Flowers...

If you love flowers but have no idea where to start (um, like me), the Sunset Plant Finder is a pretty cool tool. You can search plants by climate, type, and water/sun requirements. You can even search for houseplants (great for us city people). Then you get a list of potential plants with both the scientific and common name, plus info like care instructions. How much easier could it get?

The plant pictured above is the bellis perennis, or English Daisy. So pretty!

(via Apartment Therapy)

Spring Daffodils

Don't these spring daffodils look lovely? Le sigh.

According to the folks over at AT, they're in season too. I will be on the lookout for them in my local grocery store tonight.

PS: I also think the wooden hippo in the middle picture is awesome.

Have a hankering for spring flowers too? What's your flower of choice?