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 Photography by Second Ave Photography

Impossible perfection really says it all. What is perfection for a woman? Can it even be achieved? The initial inspiration for this post was a vintage photo of Marilyn Monroe with rose petals covering her bosoms. The striking thing about that photo is she has a substantial scar across her abdomen from a previous gallbladder surgery. Originally, I was going to try and replicate that photo, but I decided against it. You cannot replicate someone else and I did not even want to try, especially Marilyn Monroe! The whole thought process made me think about today's beauty standards(judgements) for women. Everything needs to be sucked, tucked, and plucked to perfection. Lest ye be judged and you will be judged!

Impossible Perfection: A Boudoir Photo ShootImpossible Perfection: A Boudoir Photo Shoot
Women feel every ounce of scrutiny. Every sneer, every eye-roll, and every nasty comment is taken personally. Em Ford, whom is the UK beauty blogger of My Pale Skin blog, was attacked by her own followers when she did a bare face reveal to show the power of make up. Her reveal is stunning and revealed her heart aching struggles with acne. Her powerful video below is well worth the watch. Thank you Em Ford for showing the real you! To be vulnerable is indeed beautiful. The people judging you are really judging themselves. They are unhappy with who they are. Never give someone the authority to make you feel less than a person. You hold the power for true happiness. You deserve to be happy. In fact, I stopped answering my own YouTube comments. Why? Because, people usually left negative and deprecating comments. I talk too fast, I say "um" too much, negative, negative, bad, bad, etc...

Words online hurt just as much as words spoken to your face. In fact, people feel more comfortable leaving hurtful comments online, because they do not have to be responsible for their words. It is not just television, celebrities, bloggers, and social media that are perpetuating the "female perfection" myth. I believe for women it has become this impossible reality that makes us agonize over every portion of our body and leaves us constantly comparing ourselves to others. I never see a man agonizing over his hairy pot belly and thus, the time of agonizing is over for me. Once you are naked with flowers over your boobs, there is no hiding anymore. This is me.

Impossible Perfection: A Boudoir Photo Shoot
Me. I have stretch marks across my abdomen from birthing two children. My stomach is not perfectly flat. My boobs are certainly not where they used to be and you know what? That is okay. Maybe one day I will get everything tucked back into place, but if that day ever comes it will be for me. Only for me and because that is what "I" want. I will not get work done for my husband and certainly not for society Until then, exercise and diet will be my beautifying Excalibur!

On a side rant, have you ever been to the grocery store(or any store for that matter with no make up on). How were you treated or did you even notice? When I go to the store with a full face of make up, more strangers will say hi, smile at me, and engage in conversation. Store employees will go out of their way to offer me assistance. No make service. I swear!! If I need something bare face, I literally feel like I have to trip someone. For a woman, your personal appearance is a direct correlation on how you are treated. It is a fact. No matter what, society has taught me that I must be beautiful in order to get positive attention. Think about that society.

What are your thoughts on today's beauty standards for women? I want to hear about your personal experiences.
So you think you can thrift? Vintage Fashion.
So you think you can thrift? I am exploring and sharing my super awesome thrift store finds! I live in an incredible area rich in Civil War history: Northern Virginia. You never ever know what you will find in our local thrift stores. Old photos, authentic arrow heads, classic children's books, mint condition vintage clothing, and so forth. This week I found a beautiful dusty rose dress with a hooded shawl! It is such an interesting piece that I enlisted the help of my photographer and very good friend Blaire Ring of Second Ave Photography.
Vintage Fashion
The photography adventure started at 48 fields in Northern Virginia! My favorite photo is the one above. I am tip toeing through the tall grasses trying to avoid snakes, bugs, etc... Snakes and bugs aside, the grounds are untamed and beautiful! They have rustic and chippy buildings with a beautiful open area for a sunrise or sunset photo shoot. As you can see, Blaire did a tremendous job pulling out colors and creating a mysterious little pink riding hood ambiance.

This vintage dress has a label inside that reads "ILGWU" or the International Ladies Garment Worker Union. According to Vintage Fashion Guild, this company has been around since the 1900s and ceased business in the early 1990s. I felt like this dress was at least a 70s I could be right! Although, I am really attracted to 80s clothing without even knowing it sometimes. If you are really into vintage fashion and want to explore the history behind the fashion, then the Vintage Fashion Guild is your best online resource.
Vintage Fashion
Vintage Fashion
Vintage Fashion
Vintage Fashion
Vintage Fashion
Vintage fashion for me is the best kind of fashion. You have the Eco friendly aspect, but vintage pieces are incredibly unique and have seen so much life. You can feel the energy coming off a piece that has survived the ages. Other women have worn and loved this dress as I do too. Do you want to continue your vintage fashion journey? Join Ashley from Frugal Coupon Living and Katelyn from Lucky Bandit for their vintage fashion posts this week! Perhaps you have a vintage look to share? Instagram your recent vintage looks with the #icanthrift and I will re-post my favorites! Thanks for taking the time to walk back in time with me today.
A past life regression experience
Photography by Second Ave Photography

First, let me simply say that I do not know what I believe. This week I felt compelled to focus on my potential "past life" experiences. Perhaps, I need those lessons or experiences for an application in the present. I do not know. However, I had a strange Egyptian vision(?) this week when I closed my eyes right before bed. To me it appeared I was looking at someone's life from start to finish, but I cannot be sure(I think it may have been antibiotic induced). In the morning, I was discussing my experience with the hubs and he told me that General George Patton was sure that he was a Roman or Greek soldier in a previous life and he drew on those "past life" experiences to plan and execute his warfare tactics. Interesting right?

This compelled me to do some additional past life experience research. So, I searched the Google and read that visions of a past life usually come in black and white. I also read that before bedtime is a good time to meditate with your eyes closed, but you must be awake and aware. I consulted Brian Weiss, a well known psychiatrist that specializes in past life regression, via YouTube. Although his voice is incredibly soothing, I did not visualize much of anything worth noting. However, I did feel extremely relaxed afterwards. I got much deeper on my own.

I felt drawn to an article(that I cannot find right now) that listed some stones that were helpful in enhancing past-life memories. I was drawn to one stone in particular: petrified wood. For some reason, it took me to my jewelry box. I pulled out a string of beautiful Tiger's Eye beads that were given to me by my husband's mother. The beads belonged to my husband's grandmother. Upon doing some additional research, I learned that Tiger's Eye is a form of petrified wood. It is earthly and helps to focus your energy. It felt uncanny to have and find them.

My first past life experience was last night before bedtime and I felt very relaxed. I was told to place the beads or stone over my third eye(over the brow area). It took about an hour, but I started seeing some black and white images. The images were chaotic, scattered, fast, and it was hard to see what was happening. I got an image very close and it appeared to be a Civil War soldier. Union. He had a magnificent mustache. He was brave, sure, and perhaps leading the charge. It felt like I was witness to it all. That is all I can remember, it took a very long time and lots of energy to get there.

I am not sure where this journey is taking me, but I feel like I need to go on it. Life is kinda like that. Recalling a past life experience is not for everyone. You have to be open to the possibility and allow yourself to take the journey. Your analytic brain has to be turned off for the duration. That....that has been the hardest part about exploring my past lives. What will or can you discover about yourself through a past life? Maybe you should try. Be open.

John Masters Organics DIY moisturizing hair mask recipe

John Masters is by far my favorite Organic haircare master! He utilizes fresh, Organic, and simple(yet effective) ingredients. One of my favorite products he produces is "Shine On", which is an aloe-based hair mask and moisturizing hair treatment. It is best for dry and damage hair. There is nothing better on the market for dry and damaged hair. Today, I am going to show you in three easy steps how to make your own "Shine On". Granted, the John Masters Organics "Shine On" recipe is far more complex, but the DIY version really does the trick. This is a Summer "must-have" hair product. It has been keeping my hair looking healthy, moisturized, and shiny all Summer long. Now you can make your very own "Shine On" that's affordable and as easy as 1-2-3!

Ingredients Needed
*Organic ingredients are optional.
1.) 1 cup of Organic aloe vera
2.) 4 drops of Organic lavender essential oil
3.) 1 tbsp of Organic argan oil

Mix the above ingredients together in a clean, dry, and glass storage container. Apply to wet hair from root to tip directly out of the shower and enjoy that soft silky hair!

So you think you can thrift? #icanthrift

So you think you can thrift? Yes, this title is a ripoff from "So you think you can dance?" But, I digress. Every week or every two weeks(depending on my finds) I will do a post, video, reveal my finds, and talk about the very best thrifting tips. I say thrifting, but you can apply these tips to garage sales, antique stores, and estate sales too. The main goal of this series is to ward off the second-hand stigma and to promote the Eco-friendly nature of thrifting. I want you to join me! Share your finds on social media by tagging @spunkyrealdeal and using the #icanthrift. I cannot wait to see some of your incredible finds! Be sure to include original tag price and retail value.

Why thrifting? First, it is a fun treasure hunt! I love the adventure of walking into a store and never knowing what you are going to find. Second, you can save lots of money. I would rather spend my extra money at a luxury spa or on travel with my family. Third, you are reducing your carbon foot print by reusing. Thrifting, garage sales, estate sales, and antique stores give extended life to items that would otherwise end up in our landfills and who knows where else doing damage to our environment!

So you think you can thrift? #icanthrift
Now that you've gotten an introduction to the series, let's move on to this week's finds! As a rule of thumb, I will generally tell you to avoid antique stores. Antique store prices are typically outrageous! But, as always, their are exceptions to every rule. The one exception is if the antique store has dealers. That means, you have a good chance of being better educated then the dealers and getting a great deal! I know, because it happened to me. My first find was actually at an antique store and it is a butchers block! Price tag $25. Retail value $100+. The butchers block is in very good to excellent condition. It has one minor stain and a few tiny scratches. An excellent find!

Best Thrift Tip #1.) Know the retail value of items you really want. That way when you find then in second-hand locations you know whether or not you are getting a good deal.

So you think you can thrift? #icanthrift
The next find this week is my soapstone pot with copper handles. I came upon this beautiful stone pot at our local thrift store. Original tag $10. I did not have any knowledge of soapstone, but with the weight and beauty I bet this piece was far more expensive. Upon further research, this pot is Brazilian and for a small piece such as this a retail value of $100+. Think prehistoric iron skillet. Brand new and an excellent find!

The last find is the dress I am wearing in the video above! I frequently find clothing brand new with the tags still on them! Last week, I found a Beyond Yoga dress brand new with the tags for $7. Retail value? $180! Stay with me my friends. I will show you how to navigate any thrifting location like a seasoned veteran. See you next week!
Look Ma, I'm on TV! Two days ago, a post caught my attention in our Virginia Bloggers Club Facebook group. María José Ovalle(the popular blogger of a Very Busy Mama) posted about a news opportunity with ABC 7 news for Good Morning Washington. By the time I got to the post, several people had already responded and liked the post. I knew that meant the opportunity was most likely taken. I did not feel defeated however: there was a phone number and a contact name. I grabbed my smart phone at lightning speed and dialed the numbers hopefully.

Upon talking to the contact person, she informed me that the opportunity was indeed available. What luck! I promptly stated that I would do it and to kindly send me details. Elated and terrified, I knew this opportunity was meant for me. A long series of events had to unfold in order for me to get this engagement. Two well-qualified and wonderful bloggers turned down the gig before it even got to me. I do believe it is better to be lucky than good. A few hours later, I found myself talking with Mary Garcia(the amazing foodie blogger of a Goodie Godmother). She already responded to the opportunity, however, she turned it down.

This is where the real adventure begins. I received an e-mail with all the required information on Qrunch Foods(the topic of discussion), how to act on camera, and most importantly time/location of the LIVE skit. Step 1.) complete. Step 2.), locate Qrunch Foods quinoa veggie burgers! Finding them was a bit tricky, but it really only took two grocery store stops. Next, I needed to memorize vital information about the company and quinoa. I never had quinoa until two days ago, but it is indeed addictive and delicious. By the way, if you are looking for a incredible quinoa veggie burger then you have to try Qrunch Foods. They have several flavors: Classic, Spicy Italian, Curry, Spicy Buffalo, and Green Chile. Brand name dropping aside, I was terrified. Terrified is a strong word, but I was. 

Scared yes, but not enough to fain a secret illness and cancel. Honestly, I felt ready and looking back at the video I was. Although I left two hours early, I barely made it to the station on time. I am a very timely person and thinking about being late made me nauseous. Especially, for a LIVE skit on Good Morning Washington! Luckily, my husband occasionally works in the same building and THAT is the main reason why I made it. He gave me detailed instructions on the driving routes I should take/avoid, where to park, and little details that saved me precious time. 

Upon arrival, I had no idea which floor ABC 7 news was on. I guessed and came to a floor that looked like it was a winner. It appeared a bit vacant, but it had the ABC 7 news logo embossed on the windows! I tried the door and nothing. So, I asked the "man at the desk". "Take the escalator downstairs", he said. With my heels and all my veggie burger possessions, I tried not to plummet head first down the escalator as time is ticking away. At this point, it is close to 9:30 am and the LIVE skit is at 9:45 am. Lord, have mercy! I have arrived.
I pulled the door hard and entered the studio. "Heather"? They were definitely waiting for me.  I turned to my left and saw a ray of sunshine beaming next to me. "Denise Austin", she said smiling and shaking my hand. Wow, really?! My mom had some of her first VHS exercise videos! She looks outstanding. As you can see, her biceps are a thing of beauty!

They swiftly escorted us to the back where there are bathrooms and chocolates. Thank goodness! I thought it would be the worst time ever to pee myself, so I quickly ran to the bathroom before anyone could approach me. I had precooked the Qrunch Foods veggie burgers and had all the fixings in my plastic grocery bag. I had cherries too, but spilled half of them in the car...rush hour is a real jerk. I was approached by two really nice people(who were obviously running the show and keeping everything flowing properly) and they told me I would be taken to a staging area soon to set up.

I realized*head slap*, that I should have composed my quinoa burgers before leaving the house! I took out my crappy butter knife and started butchering the tomato and slicing the fresh mozzarella. Also, I forgot the other box of quinoa at home and my fresh lettuce. All I had for the camera was an open and mangled box of quinoa veggie burgers. Then I was asked, "Do you have a table cloth"? Nope. I did not even have plates! I had no idea that I needed all this stuff! What a rookie! You cannot tell in the video, but the quinoa veggie burgers are sitting on a plastic Tupperware lid. Wow, right?

Thankfully, the news anchor that I chatted with was a pro! Autria Godfrey put me at ease and really led the way. I pretty much blacked-out during the conversation, so I was relieved to find out my husband video taped it for me. I ran out as soon as the taping was through after thanking everyone and apologizing for my rookie incompetence. I can only hope that they will have me back someday.

Moral of the story? Go for it. Give it your all and do not back down from a challenge. Risk failure and with it great rewards. Also, bring plates and a tablecloth.
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