Friday, December 28, 2012

Yuletide: A cash cow season?

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I know it’s almost Christmas when my son Jacob sings his favorite Christmas songs in the morning. Ah, the holiday cheer is in the air. For many, this is the time for best buys, best gifts, and best parties. 

I, Ingrid Callot, am a big fan of the Yuletide season. Who wouldn’t be, when we have the perfect excuse to splurge, party, and receive gifts. Although my family and I are among the happiest during this time of year, I always think that commercialization ruins what should be an otherwise happy season.

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Since time immemorial, commerce and businesses have dictated the way we spend our Christmas and New Year. There is the incessant hype to spend and splurge because it wouldn’t be that much fun if we do not burn holes in our pockets or, to say the least, if we do not shell out money.

For so long, I’ve been among those who would rush to the malls and buy whatever is on sale. I would decorate the house until there is no more space to decorate, and I would party until we cannot stomach what’s left on the table. But since I turned over a new leaf, I have vowed to myself that my family will never be victims of commercialization.

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This year, my family and I have decided that while we will have gift-giving and holiday feasts, we will be mindful of the meaning behind this celebration. While spending won’t be inevitable, we have recourse to a mindful spending and to a celebration where the focal point is on selfless giving than receiving. What is important is not the quantity, but the quality of the celebration. This time of the year should be about family, love, and selfless giving.

Read more on Myspace.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tips for Keeping New Year's Resolutions

Want to start the new year with a clean slate? This Do-It-Yourself.comarticle provides great insights on how you can make and keep your New Year’s resolutions.

 It’s the time of year again when we all gather to celebrate the New Year and make the resolution that it will be a better and more successful year than the one before. We’ve all made our New Year’s resolutions in years past, and while some of us meet with success, many of us flounder our goals before January is over. This year, however, really can be different. Here are some sure-fire ways to make sure that you make the best resolutions for your life and actually stick with them this year.

You might be surprised to hear that most New Year’s resolutions are doomed from the start. By making too many resolutions or by having unrealistic expectations, you are really just setting yourself up for failure and disappointment down the road. Keeping the number of resolutions under five is ideal.

Tip 1: Focus on a Goal

Make one of your resolutions the main focus, the one major goal you want to have for this year. Then make a couple of small resolutions that will keep you motivated and help you improve the smaller facets of your life. Make sure all of your goals are attainable and realistic. Don’t promise to exercise three hours every day or to read all of Shakespeare’s works within a month. Instead, make a commitment that you have a good chance of keeping.

Tip 2: Make a Plan

It is important to have a plan of action for any resolution, but especially for a major one. Plan the small steps you will take to attain your goal over the next year. Also, plan what you will do when you are tempted to give up on your resolution, like having an internal-dialogue ready or calling a close friend who knows about your goal. Writing your plans down and keeping them in a place where you can see them on a daily basis will help you stick to your resolution.

Tip 3: Recover Lost Commitments

Part of making realistic resolutions is realizing that you will have a day or even a week where you fall off track and lose commitment for your goal. This is normal, human behavior, and it will happen to everyone. What’s important is that you get back on track and renew your commitment to your resolution. Think positively about the steps you have achieved so far, and be confident that you can keep going. It takes time to build a habit into your life. The longer you stick with your goal, the better you will feel and the easier it will become.

Tip 4: Reward for Good Behavior

Sticking it out through the hard times is important, but so is rewarding yourself for the successes you’ve had. When you’ve accomplished a small part of your goal or stuck to your resolution for a certain amount of time, reward yourself! The best way to reward yourself is with something that coincides with your goal. If your resolution is to lose weight and you’ve lost five pounds, go buy a new outfit that you can enjoy wearing now that you are becoming a healthier person. This will not only be a reward to you now, but it will help you stay motivated to achieving your goals in the long term.

Tip 5: Create a Support System

Having a support system can be vital in staying committed to your New Year’s resolutions. Telling your family, friends, and even co-workers about your goals will keep you motivated to stick with them and reach success. These people can be very helpful when you are having a hard time sticking to your resolution and they will help you celebrate as you successfully keep this year’s resolutions.

The path to success may not be the easiest road, but it is certainly possible for everyone to keep their New Year’s resolutions and reap the benefits in the upcoming year!


Monday, December 17, 2012

Fears of Aging Color the Discussion of Gray Hair

A woman shares her experience with the dreaded grey hair, which everyone will get to experience as they grow old. Read more about it from this NY Times article.

I OFTEN think longingly of buying a wig. My newly bought hair would be the little black dress of wigs. It would be my hair, or rather, someone else’s hair, but it would look the way mine did at its best: raven, not too long, not too short, glossy, curly without frizz and easy to wear.

I still have that kind of hair, somewhere in my mind, and somewhere in the vague recesses of eternal hope, I expect it to return, just as I expect that with enough discipline, I will be able to get into shape such that I can again wear that cotton red strapless dress I only wore twice: to my engagement party and to interview Brian Wilson (though that history alone might justify my keeping it).

The hair that I now see in the mirror is inconvenient impostor hair. It is still dark, but it has a hint of shellac to it; its color is solid where there should be hints of light, and the tone only varies toward the ends, where, thinned and frizzed, a faintly electric red takes over.

I dye my hair, and every time I do, my hair dies a little. What age was already doing slowly to its texture, in addition to its color, the dying process is only exacerbating in some sort of vicious death-spiral, like the relationship between global warming and air-conditioning: the more one suffers from the first, the more one needs the second, which only exacerbates the first.

Here is what burns: Within weeks of the coloring, still there is the creep, the inexorable encroaching of gray at my temples that make me think, with uneasiness, of the word “distinguished.” I see those hints of gray and I think of aging male executives with drooping eyes, I think of Birkenstocks and faded Barnes & Noble canvas bags, and I think I should maybe have my hair colored again.

But wasn’t I just there? Wasn’t I just in there, politely making small talk with Arnulfo, a kind and talented colorist who asks me questions about how my hair has fared with the concerned, exacting tones of a good internist? Wasn’t I just there, opening my wallet to pay in cash so that my husband, who would not really care, does not know exactly how much I spend to stop that creep of distinguished gray? Wasn’t I just there, my heart rate elevating with every passing wasted minute, waiting out the slathering on, the processing period, the shampoo, the rinse?

I never think more about buying a wig than I do in those last 10 minutes at the hair salon, itching out of my skin, not only at my scalp. “I’ll just go out with it wet!” I invariably tell Arnolfo toward the end as he goes for a hair dryer. I try to keep the hysteria out of my voice. I am not sure I have succeeded. Arnulfo generally looks at me with that same medical concern, this time concerned more about my mental health than my roots.

The salon where Arnulfo works, Cristiano Cora, offers a seemingly miraculous hair dye that requires only a 15-minute wait, though Arnolfo told me sadly that it is not as short for people with hair as coarse as mine. And there are the temporary fixes: powder sprays and mascara wands for stray graying strands and the like. I have something that looks like a thick lipstick, only it is so dark brown it is almost black. If I suddenly notice I am looking too distinguished, I sometimes apply this magic wand of product furtively to my roots in the office bathroom. It smells faintly cloying, and makes me think of the powder my grandmother used to wear, a beauty trick I knew she used more out of habit than conviction.

My wand is designed to look like lipstick, but somehow instead of that making it seem less strange, it only reminds me how strange lipstick is, a highly packaged, pigmented formula applied to the face. My ambivalence about one heightens my ambivalence about the other, causing midday existential questions about mortality and identity when I am merely trying to tamp down some self-consciousness about messy-looking roots.

I am, if nothing, a practical person. I buy black dresses in quantity, ideally ones with three-quarter-length sleeves so that they are flexible for every season. I am not going for noticeably stylish; I am going for the easiest thing that will look the most put-together. I am going for clothing that is a form of invisible, and that is what I would like, in many ways, in my hair.

But that is the problem with hair once it starts to turn gray: there is no version of invisible. There is always the tell. To dye one’s hair is to confess to caring, to fighting age: it fools no one, although it reveals the effort to do so. It only tells the viewer that I am someone who is unwilling and unready to give in to the physical symbols of aging, which is its own social signaling. But not to dye one’s hair is to make a whole other statement: I am someone who does not care. And I am not ready for that one, either.

As a child, when I thought determination could trump genes, I aspired to having blond hair like Barbie, or at least like Shelley Hack in that Charlie perfume ad (kind of now, kind of wow). Over time, that obsession faded and I made my peace with having Everywoman hair color, appreciating its globalist chic.

It is only now, as I get older, that I see the real advantage of blond hair: it ages so nicely. Aging with blond hair offers the choice of keeping up those fake honeyed tones that we associate with wealth or glamour — artifice, yes, but artifice that is imbued with its own appeal, that is separate from authenticity, but rewardednonetheless. Artificially dark hair at a certain age has no such luxurious associations; to the contrary, I am afraid.

I would buy a wig, except that, too, would be its own tell: young hair would contrast with my skin, its color too harsh. I read somewhere that people can guess other people’s age, from behind, from a surprising distance, and with surprising accuracy. It is surely some Darwinian assessment the brain does, below consciousness, to determine mate-worthiness or vulnerability, calculating at lightning speed factors like posture, width and hair color. The most sophisticated hair dyes, I am afraid, do not stand a chance at fooling thousands of years of evolutionary insight.

It is just hair. But it is one of those reminders of our own limits. Maybe if I really committed to it, I could lose 10 pounds and tone my upper arms, or I could sleep eight hours a night and look generally fresher. None of that might actually be true, but people generally believe that there are some signs of age we can vanquish with virtue and discipline. Clearly, no amount of discipline will turn my hair back to what it was: my one vanity, shiny, natural, unusual, so dark it was dramatic. To battle the encroachment of gray is to battle the exigencies of aging, and one of these days, I will have to make my peace with both.

I almost look forward to it.


REPOST: How to Make Your Own Aromatherapy Oils

This article from teaches you how to make your own relaxing aromatherapy oils.

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Distilling essential oils is a long process, and it means quite a large capital outlay for a small amount of oil. Buying essential oils is also expensive, but there is a way you can get the therapeutic benefits of aromatic oils and vinegars quite cheaply at home.


To begin, you will need a collection of clean, sterilized bottles and jars. You can recycle jam jars, and glass bottles, but you need to wash them thoroughly first in hot soapy water, then boil in a large saucepan for 20 minutes.

You will need at least one standard American cup of plant material. For your first attempts, use strongly aromatic plants like lavender, rose petals or rosemary. These will give you an oil that can be put to many uses around the home.

The oil you use should be related to the purpose you have in mind – you can use baby oil or almond oil for cosmetics, safflower or canola for general purposes, and olive oil for cooking.

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 Place the plant material in your jar or bottle. If you are using a bottle, you can push stems of lavender or rosemary into the bottle.

Now pour the oil over the plant material, making sure the bottle or jar is full. As a rough rule of thumb, use two cups of oil to one cup of plant material. You don't need to warm the oil before you pour it in the bottle or jar.

Now cap the bottle or jar tightly and place it in a warm spot. This could be a sunny place on the veranda or windowsill, or in a warm cupboard, such as an airing cupboard or next to the hot water heater. Leave the oil to infuse for a few days, or until the plant material begins to brown. Take the cap off and sniff - if it is not strong enough for you, strain the liquid, fill the jar with fresh plant material, and pour the oil back over it. Leave for another few days. Keep doping this until the mixture is as aromatic as you want.

Additonal Tips:

 If the plant material used is very strong, such as a strongly scented rose, or jasmine, you should get a good scent just changing the plant material once or twice.

When the oils are done to your liking, strain thoroughly and put in a clean bottle. Keep your aromatic oil in a cool place, or add to recipes for lotions and creams.

For example, if you want a rose scented cleansing cream, make up a batch of rose oil and add a tablespoon to a jar of plain sorbolene cream and whip it up. To make a wrinkle fighting night cream, add the contents of six Vitamin E oil capsules and whip them in as well.

You can use any strongly scented flower petals, and the range is as wide as the scented flowers in your garden. Try jasmine, frangipani, honeysuckle, marigold, violets - the choice is endless.

For culinary use, put some sprigs of herbs, such as rosemary, thyme or basil, into a tall bottle, and pour over good quality cooking oil such as safflower or olive. You can also add garlic, chilies or whatever seasoning takes your fancy. Leave where the sun can warm the bottles for a couple of weeks.

You use the same method for making aromatic vinegar. Choose a good quality wine or apple cider vinegar and pour it over your herb sprigs. Leave for a few days in a warm place and you will have a delicious addition to salad dressings.

This Ingrid Callot Facebook page shares some other DIY projects that stay-at-home moms can try.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A merry, appetizing Christmas: Banquet decoration ideas for an enchanting holiday feast

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The joyous feeling during the holidays is not only because of the gifts received or the mouthwatering food that we stuff our cheeks with, but also because of the vibes that emanate from the decorations that can be seen everywhere.

Face it; Christmas won’t be complete without the towering trees adorned with candy canes, shiny and glittery balls, poinsettias, and the symbolic star atop. With the alluring aesthetics that wrap the whole world during the holidays, the festive feeling is but automatic. In line with this, I, Ingrid Callot, am a big fan of all-out decorating during the holidays, which I start a month before the big day and often end a few days after New Year.

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As we seldom experience snow in Van Nuys, my theme almost every year revolves around “winter wonderland.” This year, I’m going all white. I believe the monochromatic shades of white, grey, taupe, and a bit of black, will make a perfect palette this year.

Apart from filling our humble abode with Christmas ornaments, some of which I managed to craft by myself, in every possible spot, I, Ingrid Callot, also do extensive planning for our family’s Christmas celebrations, including the Christmas eve sit-down dinner and the Christmas day family get-together, focusing not only on the menu, but also on the table setting.

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Instead of dressing the chairs in white cloth, I will be placing wings on them, as inspired by this heavenly holiday table theme I saw online. A big vase of white stargazers and tulips will be the centerpiece. For the name plates, I’m still undecided if I should go for pinecone holders or small gift boxes with dedication cards, where the names of the guests will be written. For the utensils, I’d definitely prepare our chinaware and silverware for added sophistication.

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I’ll most probably do the same table setting for our family get-together for practicality purposes, but the buffet table will have a special corner for sweets. Cake stands will be filled with chocolates, muffins, macarons, cupcakes, and candies, which will all be in white.

For more home styling tips, visit this Facebook page.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Are you a workaholic mom who cannot find time to have your nails done in the salon? Learn how to achieve salon-perfect manicure and pedicure from this article. 

There's nothing quite like breaking away for a salon manicure and pedicure, but busy moms know how hard it is to find two free hours for the pampering nail treatments. To help you out, we've got some expert tips for achieving a salon-perfect manicure and pedicure at home.

Still questioning the whole DIY manicure and pedicure? Don't. The following tips, courtesy of nail expert and Orly Educational Manager Catherine Baek, break down the process so you can achieve flawless nails yourself — without having to shell out cash and head to the salon. Trust us — we were skeptical too, until we tried these savvy manicure and pedicure tips. The key? Be patient, don't expect perfection the first time and don't rush the steps.


First, prep work is very important. Begin by removing all the old nail lacquer from your nails. Use Orly's Slip-it Off Gentle (or your favorite nail polish remover) to easily erase the left over lacquer with a sponge removal system. "It's quick, easy and you don't need messy sticky cotton balls," says Baek.


Follow up with trimming and cutting your nails. Pick a desired length and shape, and use Orly's Buffing Trio (or your favorite nail clipper and emery board) to file, shape and smooth your nails. "There are three sides. First use the 240 grit (the black side) to determine your shape," Baek explains. "You should always use 180 or higher to prevent from shredding or damaging the free edge of the natural nails. Smooth with 400 (white side). Very important: Try to keep all of your nails the same length. Keep in mind that shape can determine if it looks professional or not."

Not sure how to file your nails? Here's how, according to Baek: File flat to the tip and do not angle the file as you shape. You want the tip of the nail to be as thick as possible for strength, and filing at an angle will weaken the edge. Also, file one direction from each side to the center of the nail.


Keep your cuticles nice and clean. When your cuticles have been pushed back, it creates a clean and professional look. Apply a drop of cuticle oil and lightly massage your cuticles. Then soak your fingers in a bowl of warm water. Next, brush on cuticle remover, such as Orly Cutique, wait three minutes and then push your cuticles with an orange wooden stick. Then, rinse with water. Make sure you remove any residue with nail polish remover as it will affect how the polish stays on your nails.


Just like you apply a primer for your foundation, it's best if you apply a base coat for your nails. A base coat helps the nail polish adhere to your nails and prevents discoloration of your nail plate.


Follow with a thin application of nail polish of your choice. Start with one hand first and paint one nail at a time. Then move on to the other hand. Repeat with a second coat of polish. Finish it off with your favorite top coat to seal the polish. 


After your application, double check your work. Most likely, you've applied your nail polish slightly onto your skin. Don't worry. You can "fake it like a pro" with Flawless Fixer Corrector Pen. It will correct any mistakes, including the hard-to-reach grooves around the nails, with an easy to use precise tip.


After correction and careful inspection, add a couple drops of Flash Dry or any quick-dry nail polish to your nails. It will instantly dry your nails and will prevent any other mistakes.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Eatocracy: In the dead of winter, orange you glad clementines?

Clementine oranges have a way of taking you out of your seasonal funk. Read more about this fruit from an article posted by Kat Kinsman.  Here's the write-up:

Here in the cold, dark, horrible nub end months of the year, I jam clementines into my mouth like it's my job. Two, four, six at a sitting, I'll dig the edge of my least-ragged nail into the rind and claw away the loose skin to reveal the dewy, seedless segments inside. Rinds pile up in pungent heaps on every flat surface around me - exoskeletons shed by sweet-blooded alien insects that have come to Earth to lift me from my seasonal funk.
I'd stop and take them to a trash bin, but that would mean precious seconds not spent stuffing oranges into my face in the manner of a crazed bonobo. I will set upon a cheap, plywood crate or red net sack full of clementines and dispatch quarters, thirds, halves at a time until there is nothing left but a fine mist of citrus oil coating all nearby surfaces like a cheery arterial spray.
I am certain it is horrifying to watch, and it is in the best interest of all my personal and professional relationships that these little fruits are only available for a brief period each winter.
These "clementine" oranges are named for Father Clement Rodier, who some say accidentally bred the mandarin hybrid in the garden of his Algerian orphanage in 1902. Others maintain that they emerged in China a goodly chunk of time before that.
According to the late citrus scholar Robert Willard Hodgson, clementines were then introduced into the United States in 1909 and brought to California from Florida in 1914 by H. S. Fawcett of the Citrus Research Center, Riverside. He noted also that the 1914-15 catalogue of the Fancher Creek Nurseries of Fresno, California, mentioned "a new early mandarin from Algeria which later proved to be indistinguishable from clementine."
They could have developed in an opulent palazzo, outer space, or an outhouse for all I care. What matters to me is that California and various countries in Europe (especially Spain) and North Africa (notably Morocco) start shipping out crates of these sweet, easy-peeling oranges in perfect coincidence with my annual descent into winter blues, and I could not be more grateful.
Yes, technically they're available in many grocery stores year 'round, but that's just a cruel tease. Try biting into a clem before roughly the onset of Daylight Saving Time, and you'll end up with a puss full of pucker. Peel one around Valentine's Day and you might as well be gnawing into the carton in which it came. Flavor-wise it's a waiting game, and it's worth it - both for its sweet burst of liquid sunshine, and for what that does to my psyche.
Empirically, I know that citrus is at its peak in the late fall and into winter, but the Sunkist marketing of my youth seems to have burned beach volleyball, blue skies and eternal summer into the same brain cells as those containing all my memories of eating and drinking oranges. I can live with that, so long as the act of peeling open a clementine (ideally in one piece - it's a snack and a game all in one!) offers me a brief respite from being plunged into grey gloom at four o'clock in the afternoon.
Or it could be the Vitamin C which veritably drips from clementines, and is thought to help lift depression (not to mention scurvy, dysentery, boil-producing skin infections and other dread pirate diseases). Mostly, I just know that somehow, it works - that with each fragrant rind piled up on the table, I'm peeling away the darkness and letting a little sun splash in.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Social media pressure to be a DIY mom?

This Lisa Steinke article published in shares the pressure that mothers feel due to social media in terms of having their own DIY projects.


It seems like all around you, your mom friends are either pinning some kid-inspired DIY idea to Pinterest or posting their latest homemade creation on Facebook.



Your best attempt at a craft is drawing a stick figure on the note you put in your child’s lunch. So how do you not feel the social media pressure to become suddenly crafty and tap into your own talents instead?

Quit having a DIY envy pity party

When clicking through Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, (you name the social media site), it's easy to feel like you're back in school again, walking the halls of your junior high or high school and feeling as if every girl around you has on a better, more fashionable outfit. We all remember them — the girls who looked so effortlessly put together in outfit combinations we don't remember seeing at the mall. And now those same girls are the moms we see splattering photos of their latest DIY crafts across social media and making us feel envious yet again.

Well, the pity party needs to stop here and now. Log off (insert name of social media site in question) and repeat this mantra: Just because I don't feel I'm a crafty mom, doesn't mean I don't have things to offer my child. And it also doesn't mean I can't succeed at a DIY project...

5 fun ways Pinterest can inspire your life

Was your last DIY attempt an epic fail?

Tell us you've at least tried to make something yourself. Because if you haven't, that's the first place to start. There are a lot of, shall we say, easier projects out there that might take a lot less time and effort than you think. There's tons of help out there, like the Pinterest tutorials board which offers a step-by-step guide in how to make just about anything.

Although it is important to know your limitations. If you can't draw, don't take on a project that involves drawing. You get the idea. But if you can't do so much as glue a button on a piece of paper without it turning into a mess, it's OK. It's time to figure out what "non-crafty" things you can do for your child. (And by the way, don't get down on yourself. On her last project, you have no idea how many wrongsthat DIY mom you're jealous of on Pinterest had before she got it right.)


You don't have to be crafty to be creative

Are you a writer? If so, write a poem or a story for your little one. Do you have a love of art? Take her to a museum. Whatever your expertise, there is a way for you to share that with your child. It's important to remember that just because you don't have something handmade to give her, doesn't mean you aren't creative.

And whatever you end up doing, don't forget to post a picture on that social networking site of you and your child enjoying yourselves!

Don't forget, it's the thought that counts

When your child comes home from school with a craft she made for you that's so confusing it takes you a while to figure out what it is, you would never tell her that she failed to make you happy. The same can be said for anything you create for your son or daughter. Your child will be happy with whatever you are able to do for her simply because it's an act of love.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Feature: American Design Club Launches

This Daily Candy article shares a new shop that carries products with impeccable and unique designs masquerading and looking a lot like DIY projects - only better.

The first rule of American Design Club — you don’t talk about American Design Club — is easy to follow.

You’ll be too busy shopping.

The new virtual co-op (a spin-off of the cult-followed, Brooklyn-based network known for nurturing made-in-the-USA design talent) is a marketplace for all things unusual and inspiring.

American artisans (a.k.a. members) you’ve never heard of (Kiel Mead’s reclaimed driftwood wall hooks and bottle openers, Chen Chen & Kai Williams’s resin accessories, AKMD’s cast-aluminum origami bowls) mingle with familiar faces (Heart Parts eating utensils, Reed Wilson’s cheeky doormats).

Die-hard dedication to imagination and play results in intriguing solo projects (Pat Kim’s color-block wooden rocket ships) and group endeavors (a not-so-secret collaboration with paper brand Knock Knock is slated for early next month).

Those in the know call it AmDC.

Welcome to the club.

Available at, $6-$250.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Ingrid Callot: ‘Going green’

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“It’s not that easy being green,” says Kermit the Frog, but going green is. Okay, it’s a hard sell, but drub that last line as Ingrid Callot’s, would you? That may be an existentialist truth from a puppet, but as a side note, I always imagine this Sesame pal taking an extra mile to relate that angst to the big bad world that’s going gray and bald. It’s time to go green, folks.

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With the “going green” trend doing a crazy run on shirts, mugs, and banners, I guess people have to take the message to the heart. Going green is a lifestyle, but not so much at a level that you will obligate yourself to carry life in style through chic organic stuff, diets, and hybrid cars. You wouldn’t see Ingrid Callot going to that extent of lavish obsession. Besides, on products, I choose quality cheap than cheap quality. Going green is both a mindset and honest practice of keeping an eco-friendly lifestyle.

While “going green” effectively starts as a personal mission, it also has to inspire communal action. It must create good values and practices that have the capacity to make a difference. By and large, going green, as a popular trend, is easy. It just needs some real pop.

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For more information on Ingrid Callot, follow this Twitter page.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Ingrid Callot: Power tools for DIY moms

Hello! If you’ve been reading my blog for quite some time now, you have probably figured out that I, Ingrid Callot, do a lot of DIY projects around the house. Although my husband Roger already owns a lot of power tools, I have my own, too.

My top four favorite DIY power tools are the following (and I’m sure many moms out there would also love to have these tools for their mini-household projects):

Cordless jigsaw. I particularly like this tool because it’s so handy. The versions with the cord are way too bulky for me. Mine also does a special task of cutting curves.

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Claw hammer. Although it is not a power tool in the truest sense of the word, I love the claw hammer because it’s a perfect tool for almost all of my Ingrid Callot projects. I’ve had mine for years now and it’s still sturdy and as good as new.

Orbit sander. I like my power sander. It works best for creating detailed jobs and does not leave my arms tired and feeling heavy.

Handsaw. Mine is the version with three interchangeable blades. It serves me well with several of my little DIY projects.

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So if you’re planning to get yourself or your moms something practical this Christmas, consider giving them these functional tools as a gift.

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Learn more DIY tips by following Ingrid Callot on Facebook.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

All for floral: Ingrid Callot on decorating the home with floral accents

My love for nature goes beyond my garden and my home. In true Ingrid Callot fashion, decorating the home requires little budget and a dash of creativity. Of course, decorating a house and making it cozier can never be accomplished without my signature d├ęcor – a touch of nature.

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According to studies, plants do not only make a home look inviting, but they also relieve stress. I definitely agree with this. I often find myself gravitating toward the patio whenever I feel frazzled. I suggest incorporating a little bit of nature in everyone’s home. A basic step is by placing potted house plants in various areas in the house.

For people like me who are into something more vibrant, floral decorations are definitely the right choice. I love creating my own flower arrangements using flowers that I, Ingrid Callot, handpicked from my garden or bought fresh from the market. I place these flower on top of the table near the door, in the center table in the living room, on dividers near the kitchen, and even in the bathroom. They are instant pick-me-uppers and can definitely brighten up the whole appeal of the house.

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Those who are not so fond of real plants or potted plants may opt to decorate their homes with floral-printed curtains instead. Wallpapers with floral prints are also good home accents. To not make the interior design overwhelming, the wall can be decorated with strips of floral wallpaper placed alternately or in between painted walls in an equally vibrant color.

Ingrid Callot is an expert in creating do-it-yourself home decorations.

Another great design, which I stumbled upon Martha Stewart’s site, is called textile wall art. It is a gallery display that uses fabrics wrapped around panels and hung on the wall. By choosing varying fabrics with different colors and flower patterns, one may come up with a wall art that costs less, but prettifies no less.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

The economy and the kids: Ingrid Callot on making kids understand

I, Ingrid Callot, worry about my son’s future, since our country is constantly immersed in economic turmoil. And I’m sure many of you would agree when I say that when parents are affected by this hardship, it’s likely that the kids are, too. Thus, you have to be ready when your little ones ask these innocent but meaningful questions: What does layoff mean? Are we going to lose our house? What’s a recession?

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How do you shield your children from needless anxieties without being overprotective? Here are some points to consider:

Give straight answers. Kids these days are aware, to a certain degree, of what’s going on. They pick it up from friends or neighbors. When you lie to them, your credibility as a parent weakens.

Blogger Ingrid Callot has made a lifetime commitment of living a sustainable lifestyle with her husband Roger and son Jacob.

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Give definite answers only when you’re sure of them. Don’t say “we will never lose our house” only to find out that the bank has sequestered your right to ownership. Instead, say something truthful: “We’re not sure about it, but no matter what happens, we will stick it out together.”

Work together as a couple. Your kids need to know only what’s essential for them. Both you and your partner should be in agreement of what to tell the kids and what to be quiet about.

There’s no need to keep your children in the dark. They are part of the family; therefore they have the right to know. Not only will this make them feel important about getting involved, but this will also enhance your bond as a family.

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Ingrid Callot on losing weight and keeping it off

They call me the Green Queen, but I am also known as Ingrid Callot, mother to adorable 10-year-old Jacob and wife to dapper husband Roger. 

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I know that a lot of women out there would agree with me when I say that although I may find myself typical or ordinary, I still have the innate drive to change the world with baby steps and without the luxury of wealth or power. And in doing so, I have to start with myself, by committing to a healthy body and losing weight—permanently. 

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With hundreds of weight-loss programs and downright flimflams promising quick weight loss results, women find themselves at the brink of confusion, discouragement, and most of the time, failure. I, Ingrid Callot, say that a successful and long-term weight loss program is one that combines a healthy, calorie-controlled diet with exercise. This takes permanent changes in lifestyle, inner motivation, and a whole lot of positive attitude—not at all easy and quick, but the process of getting there is a journey women can savor and enjoy. Here are a few items that can help: 

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1. Lessen sugar intake in drinks. When the craving gets intense, just think that with every sugary drink comes lots of sugar, which causes blood sugar level to spike and the production of glucagon, a hormone which utilizes fat as energy, to stop.
2. Eat whole. Whole food like brown bread and rice, veggies and fruits are all-natural and fiber-rich. They tend to keep the body full for a long period of time. 
3. Get those healthy proteins. Like soy and chicken, protein-rich food have a high thermic effect, which helps the body to burn more calories. 
4. Exercise regularly. Dance, play a sport, or hit the gym regularly. 
 5. Chew food more. Chewing food 20 to 30 times before swallowing is a way to control the amount of food and aid digestion. 
6. Avoid eating boxed and canned goods. They contain either lots of sugar or salt, which are both fattening. 

Learn more healthy lifestyle tips by following Ingrid Callot on Facebook.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ingrid Callot on housewarming gifts to newlyweds

Ingrid Callot, we’d like to invite you to our housewarming party this Sunday.” My friend Demi, who just got back from her honeymoon, called me up two weeks ago with this invite. And because I love housewarming parties – among all other parties – I agreed right away and began thinking of what to give to the newlyweds.

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Housewarming parties are defined as “an auspicious event celebrated on the occasion of someone's entry into his new residence.” For newlyweds, it is something to look forward to because transferring to a new home is one of the first few ‘conjugal’ memories that they have as a wedded couple.

Initially, I, Ingrid Callot, thought of giving Demi a houseplant that I’ve grown myself. However, I still have reservations about this because my friend doesn’t exactly have the green thumb. So, I browsed online and came across a few articles that share some good ideas on what to give newlyweds for their housewarming party:

1) Painted portrait. A painted portrait is a wise alternative to the usual picture frames that couples receive as gifts.

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 2) Cozy blankets. Something that the couple can use outside when it’s scorching hot during summer and inside when they snuggle next to the fireplace is a pretty cool idea.

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3) A stash of self-help or DIY books. For me, nothing beats getting pieces of advice on different how-tos—examples are guide books on how to build a garden, how to repair the sink, and how to decorate the house.

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4) Personalized welcome mats. I am leaning toward this because of my love for anything DIY. What I have in mind is to buy a plain woven mat and paint it with a special message for the couple.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tips for new moms: Ingrid Callot on why life doesn’t end when lullabies begin

I, Ingrid Callot, know how hard it is for new moms to adjust to a lifestyle that is completely different from before. Although it happened to me a decade ago, the bittersweet feeling of the first few months of motherhood remains fresh, and quite true, up to this day.  

Pretty scared, pretty excited.  

Last week, when I attended an arts and crafts convention, I met a few soon-to-be moms. During the small talk, one of them blurted out that she’s afraid she won’t be able to survive the stress that having a kid entails. That particular statement inspired me to do this entry.

The mixed feelings that women have at the thought of giving birth and raising a child is completely normal. I, Ingrid Callot, felt the same way, and I bet millions of mothers did, too.

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Moreover, that phase, too, shall pass. To help soon-to-be moms, here are some things that they should expect to survive what is considered the hardest phase of motherhood:  

Lack of sleep.   Perhaps the most challenging of all, mothers lose the luxury of time to sleep and rest. This is solely because during the first few months—and in some cases, years—after they are born, babies do not have regular sleeping patterns.

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Less time to prepare food.  Cooking time may be hard to come by for new moms. With this, mothers are advised to stock up on healthy snacks and food that are easy to prepare because being healthy and having the energy is very important during this phase.

Ingrid Callot has a 10-year-old son, Jacob, who she educates about the matters of environmentalism, among others, early on in life.

Post-partum depression.  With the stress that this phase brings, new moms should know that they are vulnerable to what is called post-partum depression. To beat this, they should find ways to let their emotions out by having open communication with their partner or by asking friends to drop by for some small talk.  

Asking for help.  Mothers should know when to ask for help. Understandably, they want to be with their babies all the time, but everyone needs to rest. So having a nanny or someone who can cover for them just to catch up on some sleep can help big time.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Animals on the move: Ingrid Callot and the benefits of organic farm party for kids

Hi, Ingrid Callot here. My good friend Ashya recently got into birthday party organizing. Here’s what I like about her new venture: she looks for eco-friendly ideas to incorporate in parties, just like hosting birthday parties on the organic farm that she owns. Given that my son Jacob loves being around free-moving animals, the greenery, and whatnot, it seems like an awesome idea to have his 11th birthday party next year on a farm. That would be a delight for me as someone who advocates clean and green living.

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The following are some of the reasons why I, the Eco-goddess and Domestic Queen Ingrid Callot, believe that an organic farm is a unique and perfect venue to celebrate life and Mother Earth at the same time:

• I love the idea of outsourcing my son’s birthday celebration without compromising my ideals in matters of food, play, and waste.

• Kids will learn about seasonal plants and can even bring home some, to plant and care for at home.

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• Aside from pony rides, other thrills kids may enjoy are geese and bird feeding, egg collecting, tractor rides, and other farm activities that they don’t see every day in the city.

• Talking with real-life cowboys and farmers will be a plus factor since the kids will learn a whole lot from them about plant and animal growing.

• It’s simple yet waste-free, natural, and preservative-free.

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Me, myself, and I: Ingrid Callot talks about the importance of ‘me time’

“With all the chores that I have to do, I can’t even find time to clean my nails, Ingrid Callot! I can’t even go out of the house!” one of my friends exclaimed when I asked her the other day if we can go out for dinner. Although inviting her to go out always freaks out this friend of mine, I still asked her anyway, in the hopes that she finally knew how to set aside time for herself.

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As a mother and wife who does various things on the side, I know how overwhelming it can get to wear different hats sometimes – no, wait -- all the same time. While some married women, particularly those with kids, never fail to blame settling down as the cause of longer having time for themselves, I, Ingrid Callot, just cannot make sense out of this ‘reason.’

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First off, ‘me time’ is important because everyone needs to stop and break their routines once in a while. According to this CNN article, breaking a routine is beneficial for a person’s overall well-being. It reduces stress, gives people time to think, and recharges them. With these benefits, women can do all their responsibilities better without feeling shortchanged.

Moreover, ‘me time’ doesn’t require doing it alone. It may refer to time spent with friends, and joining activities and pursuing hobbies for joy and fulfillment.

It also doesn’t have to be done for a whole day or for a long period. So I advise women to simply have at least two hours to themselves before starting their daily routine. Reading a book, gardening, exercising, or just walking around the community can make moms and wives feel better and more energized.

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