About Emily Smith Pearce

I'm the author of _Isabel and_the_Miracle_Baby_, a middle grade novel, and _Slowpoke_, an early reader.

Natural Beauty Care Products

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I don’t know about you, but this fall has been a little stressful. Hope everyone is practicing good self-care—getting rest, exercise, eating well and all that good stuff. I figure it’s a good time to share a few of my favorite natural beauty products. I find it can be difficult to find information about ones that really work and aren’t ridiculously expensive.

What do I mean by “natural?” Basically, less full of bad stuff like petroleum products and chemicals that might be harmful to us in the long run. I’m by no means a purist about this. I’ve taken a very slow approach of changing one product at a time.

I started out with shampoo and found it was really tough to find something I liked, didn’t have parabens, and was reasonably priced. Later I realized a lot of this had to do with the fact that it’s difficult to make liquid shampoo shelf-stable without a lot of preservatives. In the end I switched over to shampoo bars by Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve Company. In the beginning, your hair will feel a little bit different, but it’s really not a big transition, and I’ve been very happy with their products for the last few years.

When I switched to bar shampoo, I quit using conditioner almost entirely in favor of good ol’ white vinegar. I keep a plastic bottle of it in the shower, along with an upturned plastic cup. When it’s time to rinse, I pour about a tablespoon or so into the cup, fill with water, and then dump it over my head. The vinegar smooths the hair shaft down so you get much fewer tangles. I finish off with a tiny tiny dab of stay-in conditioner (Say Yes to Carrots or an even tinier dab of coconut oil).

I’ve tried a few different natural deodorants before with really lousy results, so I was thrilled to discover (thanks, sister-in-law!) Piper Wai, which smells great and works really well. It’s NOT an antiperspirant, but I don’t sweat much at all with it, and odor has never been a problem (as far as I know—lol!). Full disclosure: I don’t sweat much to start with, and I DO use a traditional deodorant in certain settings, i.e. wearing a silk dress at a wedding where I danced the night away.

Lastly, there’s MyChelle moisturizer, which uses the better kind of sunscreen in it, the barrier kind rather than the chemical kind. It doesn’t make you look or feel pasty. I’m a convert.

What about you? Have you tried and liked any natural care products? I am still on the hunt for something natural that will help me style my fine floppy hair. No luck so far with anything I’ve tried.

In other news, yes I’m still writing as much as possible and making progress on my projects. Currently reading I Will Always Write Back and watching Younger. Also glad Jane the Virgin is back. Working on some Halloween costumes I hope I can share soon. Cheers!

 

Cashmere Patchwork Throw #2

 

I’ve missed you, readers! I’ve been busy with work, writing, and taking care of the family. Meanwhile I have been crafting, but mostly on big projects where my progress has been slow.

Here’s one project that’s actually finished. If you’ve been around long, you may remember my previous similar project in different colors. This one is very much the same, made from thrifted cashmere sweaters.

It’s crazy hot in North Carolina, but this throw is already in high demand around here. There’s just nothing like wrapping yourself up in cashmere.

Read or watched anything good lately? I loved the indie film Sing Street, about an Irish 80s teenage band, created to impress the hero’s love interest. Also enjoyed reading The Nest, a funny novel about grown siblings fighting over their shared inheritance.

I’ve been thinking about my fall wardrobe and new ways to mix things up. For one, I’m working on getting things fixed that have needed it for some time: shoes, boots, clothes needing alterations, beads that need restringing. Have to replace some buttons on a sweater and am even going to attempt repairing some cashmere sweaters that have a hole—wish me luck! I’ll be reporting back on that.

Loving following Sherri Lynn Wood’s Instagram feed (@sherrilynnwood). She’s an artist/ quilter, and I always love her style, but this summer is special—she’s been doing a residency at the San Francisco dump (yes, the dump!) where she’s been uncovering amazing finds to make into quilts. I can’t wait to see her finished products. Nothing I love better than watching treasures be uncovered and made into art.

That’s all for now. Hope I can make it back here in the near future!

Log Cabin Blanket in Progress

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Hi everyone

I thought you might like to see the afghan I’m making from bits and bobs of wool from my yarn stash (with a much appreciated boost from my mother-in-law’s yarn stash). It’s a very loosy-goosy log cabin, sparked from the modern log cabin blanket in Mason-Dixon Knitting. (a funny, ideas-and-stories-based knitting book). The color in the last photograph is probably the most “true.”

I started the blanket last summer, and it’s been crawling along slowly since then. The brighter bits are yarn that I dyed with Kool-Aid an age ago. Yes, Kool-Aid! It actually dyes animal fibers very well and relatively easily.

I’m kind of loving this, if I do say so myself. The best part is that it doesn’t need to fit anyone.

Currently reading Pioneer Girl: the annotated autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. It predates all her novels, and it’s so interesting to see how she mined this never-published first effort for her later, much more polished work. Seeing the evolution of an author is always encouraging. We all start somewhere, right?

Currently watching “Younger” (soooo funny) and the O.J. mini-series. Really interesting to look back on that period and reflect.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

 

 

Paintings of St. Maarten and Anguilla

Hi everyone and happy New Year! Sorry to have been absent so long. In October I was unexpectedly recruited into a part-time job (nonprofit development, my old stomping grounds) and have been careful to preserve my writing time when I’m not at work.

In the meantime, I’ve still been cooking and crafting, though a little more slowly perhaps.

I recently had the opportunity to go on a family trip to St. Maarten and Anguilla and wanted to share some iPad paintings I created while there. I had more time to paint on St. Maarten, so most of them (except the first one) are from there.

Hope you enjoy!

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iPad Art to Digital Prints

iPad Painting Print

I’m not sure what took me so long, but I finally bit the bullet and got some of my iPad art professionally printed with archival inks and artist-grade paper.

I used Picture Salon, and I am so thrilled with the results. The colors are so vibrant, so true to the originals. I used bright white paper and printed them as big as Picture Salon recommended (9 x 12 with a border). For more about the process of making these digital paintings, click here. For posts about my artwork in general, click here.

In other news, had a couple of recent critiques on a work in progress (novel) that really gave me a shot in the arm. So great to get some helpful feedback. This writing thing can be too solitary at times.

Currently reading Erik Larson’s Thunderstruck. What about you?

Mjeddrah: One Pot Lentil and Rice Supper

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Lately, I seem to have lost my cooking mojo again. The peanut gallery is wearing me down. They want a rotation of about four meals (that we all agree on) and when I repeat one of those, there is complaining. We have instituted a new no complaints policy, but still, I’m at a loss as to what to cook. I’d rather not have to coax them to eat each bite. Not to mention that I’m sick of those four meals. Sometimes I just stare at the refrigerator as if inspiration will strike. Ever have those days?

Usually I think of my kids as being fairly adventurous, and maybe they are, on the whole. Maybe they’ve taken a break.

At any rate, the other night, I decided to take a break from worrying about what they wanted. I found this recipe in Crescent Dragonwagon’s Bean by Bean (yes, that’s her real name—look it up). I decided I’d make it for the hubs and me, and the kids could make themselves some eggs or PB&J.

Mjeddrah is a Middle Eastern rice and lentil dish with spices, carrots, and onions. It sounded so lovely and comfort-foody but also interesting and nutritious. It’s a definite repeat, though I have to say, I would  double the recipe for us. Ms. Dragonwagon recommends it will feed 4-6, but I could’ve eaten the whole pot myself, seeing as how we had no side dishes. Unless, maybe we had spinach salad. I may have cooked my spinach into the mjeddrah. Not sure. There were no leftovers, and only two of us ate it.

Anyhoo, what are your tricks for feeding the whole family peaceably (besides takeout, of course)? I’m looking into some various meal prep menus or services to get us out of our rut.

For other cooking posts, click here.

Child’s Drawing to T-shirt Design

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Hello everyone! I didn’t mean to disappear for so long. Hope to be here again more regularly.

Here’s a little something we made back in June for Father’s Day. Our son had been drawing his own version of the mascot for Daddy’s favorite football team. (Yes, it’s that team. No, I’m not going to weigh in on Deflategate). Anyway, I loved my son’s spin on the mascot and thought it would make a great T-shirt.

It was a little tricky because of the skinny details, so I definitely had to help my son, but I’m really pleased with how it worked out. I made a freezer paper stencil (google that and you’ll find plenty of tutorials). The paint is craft-grade acrylic mixed with textile medium to make it adhere to the fabric.Textile medium is available at most any craft store.

The T-shirt was a big hit with the hubs. If you’re trying your own, I’d just recommend something without lots of skinny details. A simple shape with just one color would be much easier.

Freezer Paper Stencil Image

Some new-to-me podcasts I’ve been enjoying: Again with This?, which is basically hate-watching Beverly Hills 90210. Somehow it hits the spot. Also, Gilmore Guys, discussing episodes of Gilmore Girls. They are two twenty-something guys definitely not hate-watching but having the most charming conversations about themes, characters, and fashion on the show. It’s my jam.

Summer shows we’ve enjoyed: Playing House, UnReal, Younger, The Jim Gaffigan Show, and we’re about to watch Mr. Robot. Sorry, I’m too lazy to link, but you can find them lots of places.

I’ve been reading a good bit but nothing that I feel you must also read. Somewhat related, super discouraged that my son’s public elementary school will have no librarian this year. And, no, do not tell me volunteers can fill that position. Hearing that only makes it worse because I know how wrong it is. I lived with a similar situation for a couple of years growing up, and it was not pretty. A bonafide school librarian makes an enormous amount of difference in the quality of a child’s education.

Bright spot: we have the day off today, and I took my little guy to the public library and let him get a stack of mysteries. He often gives me grief about his strict screen time limits, but today, he is hanging out in his bedroom hammock, reading away.

Tonight, I’m going to see the documentary Meet the Patels about a local Indian-American family looking for a bride for their son. Sounded so interesting on NPR.

What have you been up to? Read or watched or listened to anything good?