Thursday, April 2, 2015

How We Realized Building A Tiny Home To Live Big In A Small Space Is In Our Future

For those who have been following Mr. ArtSea Chic and I on Instagram, you'll know that we recently began our adventure exploring the world of tiny home living and what that lifestyle actually means and gives to those willing to look outside the norm for freedom.

I was introduced to this style of living sustainably in less than 500 sqft by my father last year and was really intrigued by the creativity behind building a home for less than the average person's student loans these days. I myself had just over $18,000 in student loan debt after graduating from college four years ago, in addition to having a new car payment and monthly apartment rent/utilities. Saving money while living on a $35k salary was hard! With even harder work and forcing myself to live minimalisticly, I was able to pay off my student loans in one year and will soon be making the last payment on my car, removing two huge monetary burdens off the top of my head. My past experiences with debt combined with goals for my future have made me realize that if Mr. ArtSea Chic and I plan for our future as I did when I was trying to pay off my loans, even if we are both well off now, we could achieve so much more financial freedomclarity in what matters most in life, and the ability to travel to new places frequently faster than if we went down society's normal path to home ownership.

Being able to own a home, to really call it your own and not have to worry about: a mortgage, finding time to clean 2,000+ sqft of space, whether you're living in a home built with safe and natural materials, leaving your belongings behind when traveling, or being able to save more aggressively for future goals - these are just some of the benefits that living big in a small space can give us.

I love the idea of starting out home ownership with a structure built from scratch via a floor plan designed by us. Not only that, but picking the interior and exterior materials, flooring, appliances, power and energy sources ourselves (so fun!). We want a home that is sustainably built and a safe place to live inside of. When we started looking at rental homes a few months ago, a big concern was that the age of some homes being shown to us within our budget were falling into the late 60s and 70s. The homes needed lots of touch-ups and renovations to even make it worth paying $1,500/month. The ages also brought up the quality of materials used during the build. I never knew much about asbestos and the mesothelioma cancer that stems from the toxicity of the mineral set until recently, and now that we are considering a new place to live, making sure we are informed on how to protect our health and choosing a safe living environment is top priority. Both sides of our families have at least two or three family members that were exposed to asbestos. My grandfather and uncle were active in the Navy, which according to, Navy veterans are at a higher risk for mesothelioma cancer due to asbestos being used in naval shipyards and the ships themselves. The plant location where Mr. ArtSea Chic works also has asbestos on site in a contained area under restricted access. Start a conversation with your family/friends and see if you might know someone who has been exposed to asbestos. April 1-7 is Asbestos Awareness Week, and spreading the word to raise awareness that asbestos is still used in the United States today is so important to do so we all become more knowledgeable about health conditions associated with exposure; you might even help save a life because you spoke up.

Inspiration for the design of our future 24' tiny home on wheels will naturally come from life by the coast and our outdoor activities like fishing, hunting, hiking and traveling. Some important elements we want to keep in mind are below followed by key features we are sketching out on SketchUp 3D for our tiny home floor plan.
  • How color impacts perspective of space
  • What natural elements can we bring in to make our space feel like it has been created from the Earth instead of a factory
  • When can we take advantage of making certain spaces multi-purposeful
  • How can we reduce our waist by investing a little more in efficient appliances and energy sources 

From top down left to right: DIY dog bowl by Wouldn't It Be Lovely |  Blue exterior tiny home featured on | Compost toilet featured on DIY House Building | Kitchen appliance setup by Nick and Stephanie Lende | Corner reading nook by Almost Glamping | Hidden hamper drawer by Men & the Martin Men | Dark wood outlines against white wood by Tiny House Swoon | Lamp and nightstand | Pan/pot pull out cabinet featured on Woohome | Ventilated food drawer featured on MyHomeIdeas | Window dining space and booth storage by iHeart Organizing | Stainless steel appliances an smooth counter top by Tiny House Swoon | Private loft entrance with stairs by

Continue to follow our journey of ideas for our future tiny home on the ArtSea Chic Future Tiny Home Living Pinterest board!

Unless otherwise stated, all content and photographs are ©ArtSea Chic. Please do not copy or distribute photographs without first asking for permission. Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of compensation for my endorsement, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this blog, which are mentioned in the ArtSea Chic Media Kit. Please know that I only recommend and endorse products and services that I personally approve, appreciate, and feel would be helpful for readers. All ideas and opinions expressed are completely my own. Thank you for supporting ArtSea Chic!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

What to Expect When Starting the No-poo Method

My 3 month no-poo anniversary is coming up soon! Some of you may have been following my journey on Instagram, but for those of you who are like, what in the world are you talking about are you not going to the bathroom?!... well I'm happy to let you know that the no-poo method in no way refers to going to the bathroom. The no-poo method means not using store-bought shampoo or conditioner, and instead using natural ingredients to wash/nourish your hair and scalp. 11 weeks after I started the no-poo method cold turkey, I am positive this has been one of the best choices I've made for my hygiene routine and will never go back to buying from the store. This decision ultimately aligned with my mindset on what living a coastal lifestyle can really mean and evolve into over time for a person that can act on ocean-approved choices.

So what made me want to make this huge switch and go totally against what modern day society says is normal? During the winter last year I experienced for the first time scalp irritation to the point where it was itching just about every ten minutes and started to flake way too much. I thought I'd had an allergic reaction to something I ate, or maybe the air was too dry and my scalp hit a tipping point. It was that bad! I even thought that I'd need to see a dermatologist or a doctor to help me figure out why just within one day my scalp went from feeling fine - to it feeling like there was a pile of ants on my head.

I knew my scalp was extremely sensitive at this point and couldn't tolerate becoming any dryer than it already seemed. So I decided to head to HEB and buy a bar of River Soap Company sea kelp vegetable oil based soap with essential oils to use minimally while washing my hair with warm water only. When it came to drying my hair, I just brushed it out and let it air dry. I did this routine every other day for a week while I spent my nights researching what I could do myself before having to get a doctor involved. That research lead to what I like to call the underground hygiene movement of no-poo because it hardly receives any attention about how it's so beneficial for your scalp and hair. I decided no-poo was the solution I was going to take on myself before consulting a doctor so I wouldn't have to pay them a pretty penny to tell me to stop using shampoos/conditioners to see what would happen :)

LEFT, you see my hair on Day 1. RIGHT, you see my hair on Day 2.

99% of store-bought shampoos and conditioners are toxic. They can irritate and dry out your scalp, release chemicals hazardous to your health, and remove natural oils produced by your body. All of these side effects together disrupt your natural pH level and cause your body to think it needs to over-produce oil to be healthy, when really things are out of line already. Start saying goodbye to Head and Shoulders that you thought would help your flakes... the good smelling Herbal Essence bottles you thought would make your hair beautiful... and even the Dove hair products that your family has used for years. O, and all those expensive L'Oreal hair products you thought would give your hair more volume. These store-bought hair products and hundreds more, have been researched by the Environmental Working Group who found links to cancer, allergies, immune system damage, high levels of hazardous chemical compositions, and more. Tell me what you really think now about putting store-bought hair products on your head every time you shower! Yup, that's what I thought too. Sure your hair might look great now with store-bought hair products, but what's really happening deep within will catch up to you.

After I decided to go no-poo, I continued washing my hair with my bar of River Soap Company sea kelp vegetable oil based soap and water only every other three days for about two more weeks. In fact the longest I went without washing my hair one time was 5 days! When I had to dry my hair I would use cold air only. I made a personal decision not to use the most popular no-poo method ingredients of baking soda and ACV as a wash because I read multiple articles mentioning that the pH level combinations of these ingredients would be counteractive to what I was trying to achieve for my personal unique pH level, skin and hair type.
I went to HEB and bought a new double sided boar bristle hair brush to help comb down the natural oils from my scalp to my hair, instead of continuing to use only a plastic brush that didn't distribute the oils and caused buildup on my scalp. For YEARS I had never replaced my plastic hair brush, and I look back now and just wonder what I was thinking all that time. You need to absolutely wash your hair brush every 2-3 months, and buy a boar bristle brush if at all possible. Some added benefits of using a boar bristle brush are: avoiding creating more static in your hair, naturally brushing in more hair volume, removing any sebum buildup on your scalp, and reducing the stress on your scalp when brushing. I seriously love my boar bristle brush and would highly recommend you buy yourself one the next time you're at the store.

So during the first 1-4 weeks of no-poo it definitely became apparent that my scalp was in a major detox mode. I wasn't using any store bought products, just minimal soap and water, and therefore my body was still under the impression it had to overproduce oil to compensate for the stripping of natural oils it had been used to for 25 years. This caused my hair to feel and look very oily and at times waxy. There was also a lot of buildup on my scalp (what has been blocked must come out), which made it important to brush my hair at least twice a day. One thing you will want to own is a good collection of hats during this detox period, just take my word for it and go shopping.ha This detox phase is the most important time during the no-poo transition. You MUST NOT GIVE IN to washing your hair with store-bought shampoo/conditioner!! I kept telling myself I've come this far in the process and couldn't give up now. However, if you have no other choice (say you have a job interview like I did) and need to wash your hair with something, use a low-poo product, which means a product that has a lower amount of harsh chemicals like shampoos or conditioners by Nature's Gate, to get you through the day and then go back to your normal routine.

LEFT, what my hair looked like for 1 month. RIGHT, what my hair began to look like during the beginning of my 2 month stretch.

If you're like me, I absolutely needed a group of like minded people to help me through this new journey. I wanted to talk with others about what I was experiencing, discover new techniques, and see what worked best for others who had the same hair type as me. I was referred to a Facebook group called the No Poo & Low Poo Hair Care Group, and they've been a fantastic resource for me. If you are thinking about starting the no-poo method, I highly recommend you join this group first and become familiar with what is normal to experience, the recipes involved for natural hair care, and voice any questions you might have.

This group helped me discover the ACV rinse that has forever changed my outlook on ACV. This rinse done twice a week has transformed my dull hair into shiny softer strands and has even stimulated new hair growth; now all I need is more strength per strand. I have been SO EXCITED about this!! Using natural ingredients and oils, this rinse works to help calm down irritation, moisturize, and stimulate the hair roots.

Here's the treasured recipe with a little tweak I did specifically for my hair by adding essential oils which help to combat any bacteria on the scalp. Store the rinse in a condiment bottle so it's easier to put on your hair, and use it in the shower after washing your hair as the conditioning portion of your routine.
  • Steep 2/3 cup of hot water with freshly cut thyme, rosemary, and mint leaves for at least 15 minutes
  • Remove the leaves and mix in with 2/3 cup ACV with mother ("mother" means parts of the apple)
  • Add 2 TBSP aloe vera juice
  • Add 5 drops of lavender and tea tree essential oils
  • Mix and let it sit for about 5 minutes to cool down.
Mid-way into the second month, my brush started to accumulate lots of build up (dead skin cells, sebum, and dust) as part of the continuing detox process. So I took a plastic bin halfway full with water and mixed in 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar, a few drops of tea tree essential oil, and a drop of castile soap to sit for 30 minutes, then dried if off clean!

Three weeks ago with the help from a former co-worker, I discovered an easier and more nourishing way to wash my hair and potentially increase the strength per hair strand by using homemade hair care products from Melaine, the owner of Shamarwyn on Etsy. She uses natural and organic plant-based ingredients in all her products and bottles each one herself out of Austin, Texas. I love that!

I started out using her sulfate-free Rosemary Mint shampoo and conditioner every other two days and instantly noticed more volume, softer, and now stronger hair with more new growth. I also noticed that the amount of flaking I had in prior months decreased, however I still have somewhat of an issue with a flaking scalp. To see what else I can do to combat the flaking, Melanie is going to make me a scalp treatment to see if that will help. Hopefully now that spring is almost here and the Houston area will become more humid, that will help my scalp too.

So what does my hair look like right now? Take a look! Definitely feels and looks better; but still work in progress. I'm not losing as many strands of hair as I used to; I used to look down in the shower and gasp (was I going bald??). I'm glad my new growth will start to grow in a chemical-free hair routine and create the healthiest head of hair I've had in all my life! :)

Hope this helps you understand what to expect when starting the no-poo method, and what kinds of first steps, routines, and solutions are realistically possible! Remember though, your head of hair is original. There is no one else in the world with your pH level, skin or hair type. So when you begin to look at what you want your no-poo journey to be, it's ok to alter what the majority is using to do what works best for your routine.

Unless otherwise stated, all content and photographs are ©ArtSea Chic. Please do not copy or distribute photographs without first asking for permission. Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of compensation for my endorsement, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this blog, which are mentioned in the ArtSea Chic Media Kit. Please know that I only recommend and endorse products and services that I personally approve, appreciate, and feel would be helpful for readers. All ideas and opinions expressed are completely my own. Thank you for supporting ArtSea Chic!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Why An ORCA Cooler Is The Best Cooler For Your Outdoor Lifestyle

Spring is just around the corner, can you believe it? Hopefully we all start to see warmer weather soon! Until then, now is a great time to start thinking about how you can get outdoors more this year to exercise, enjoy nature, learn a new sport, or travel to a new destination. 

In many cases, you're going to want to have a go-to cooler to keep your drinks ice-cold, sandwiches fresh, and if you're way deep in the wilderness or by the ocean you need a reliable cooler to keep things cold till you get back home. Over 7 months, I tested a 26 quart ORCA Cooler provided by W4 Services, an equipment rental and oilfield supply company based in Canadian, Texas, to see if it could handle the multiple weather climates I'm constantly in, and prove that it was a much better investment compared to any other cooler. 

ORCA Coolers are 100% American made and use 100% USA sourced materials. I love this because not only does every purchase help secure jobs here in America, but the company is also standing behind the promise to invest in our economy and community. A portion of every purchase is donated to national conservation groups, breast cancer research, wounded warrior programs, and local community groups. You're not going to find another cooler company as dedicated as they are!

Each cooler has a lifetime warranty and is certified bear proof, which means nothing is going to stand in your way of a great experience with an ORCA cooler! An initial hesitation I had, given that I'm somewhat a petite woman, was if the cooler itself was going to be heavy without anything being in it. I needed to carry it by myself most of the time, and to my surprise the cooler was very light weighted and the perfect length for carrying.

Some other really ice features that beat out any other cooler:
  • Thickest walls to keep everything cold no matter if you use ice cubes, dry ice, block ice - or nothing! Yup, that's right even if you use no coolant at all (I'll share more on this test later). 
  • Secure lid gasket to let nothing out and nothing in
  • Extendable flex-grip handles that won't make your hands sore
  • Storage cargo net for added hauling of things like sunscreen, bug spray, etc.
  • Drainage spout that lets water flow out quickly
  • 4 non-slip grippers on the bottom of the cooler
  • Multiple cooler colors available 
Sounds like a pretty awesome cooler right? Let's get in to the good stuff now. 

W4 Services got a white ORCA cooler to me right before I left for Sanibel Island in Florida in July last year, which was perfect timing! If you're a beach-goer, having a cooler that will withstand salt corrosion, sun exposure, sand abrasion, and long periods of time in the heat is super important. 

We took the ORCA down to the beach with us multiple times, each time it getting the job done keeping everything cool when using a single bag of ice. But the ultimate test was when we filled the cooler with drinks from the fridge and freshly made sandwiches - and put no ice inside. I wanted to see how long everything would last sitting in 90 degrees and direct sunlight, then getting a salty soak for 2-3 hours before being opened.

Watch below how our ORCA takes on the tide on the shoreline of Sanibel Island!

2-3 hours later after shelling, swimming, and walking a few miles of the coastline we came back to have lunch. Opened the cooler and our drinks and sandwiches were still cold! The cooler had kept practically the exact temperatures of the drinks and sandwiches when we had put them in earlier during the day. That was pretty impressive; no other cooler would've been able to do that.

One of my other favorite things about the ORCA is that I have the storage cargo net area to hold suntan lotion and bags of shells without having to house them inside the cooler.

Cleaning the ORCA was such a breeze, every grain of sand just fell off after two rinses, and the 4 non-slip grippers on the bottom of the cooler held it well when Mr. ArtSea Chic was quickly turning it on each side. It also dried really quick, making it manageable for carrying back up the stairs to our condo.

After such a fabulous experience with the ORCA in coastal temperatures hitting water, sand, salt, and heat, my next adventure when returning to Texas a few weeks later would be a roadtrip to the wilderness of the Frio River in Concan, Texas for the 4th of July weekend.

Every Texan knows the importance of the essentials during 4th of July celebrations. Good BBQ, salsa and chips, ice cold drinks, and time with family and friends down by the river. For being a 26 quart cooler, you can sure fit a lot in it!

We were going to be outside for most of the day while floating the Frio River and sitting outside watching fireworks, so we needed the ORCA cooler to withstand getting thrown around on rocks, water, and keep everything cold when being opened many many times throughout the day.

Our ORCA cooler was put to the test when we decided it was time for it to come with us on the river! It fit PERFECTLY inside a blow-up inner tube we had brought, o we were so excited :) haha. Not only did it fit perfectly, but we knew since it didn't weigh too much when empty, that it was going to hold just fine in the tube when filled with water bottles, beer cans, and a layer of cubed ice.

While on the river for at least 6 hours each time we floated, our ORCA kept the drinks cool and everyone happy! Success.

Mr. ArtSea Chic has had his own personal adventures with the ORCA while at work, hunting, and fishing. He even used the ORCA for keeping a deer head cold and fresh, came in handy!

We've had multiple really great experiences using the ORCA in different environments and temperatures, that Mr. ArtSea Chic and I highly recommend any sized ORCA cooler from W4 Services. It's worth the investment, don't go cheap on your coolers. Save yourself the worry of having to buy ice all the time, of damaging the cooler, and not knowing whether your money is going towards supporting the values you stand by and the workforce on U.S. soil.

W4 Services offers the 26, 40, 58, 75 quart coolers in multiple colors such as pink, white, green, and tan. Make sure to grab a cooler before spring starts so that you're ready for any outdoor adventure you, family, or friends decide to take! Be sure to follow W4 Services on Facebook for great deals and insight into other equipment that will help you get the job done right.

Have any questions or comments about how we've used our ORCA cooler? Leave a comment below!

Unless otherwise stated, all content and photographs are ©ArtSea Chic. Please do not copy or distribute photographs without first asking for permission. Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of compensation for my endorsement, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this blog, which are mentioned in the ArtSea Chic Media Kit. Please know that I only recommend and endorse products and services that I personally approve, appreciate, and feel would be helpful for readers. All ideas and opinions expressed are completely my own. Thank you for supporting ArtSea Chic!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

21 Ways to Have a Coastal State of Mind & Improve Your Life (even if you're not near the coast)

With a new year among us, I can't help but feel inspired more than ever to set goals for myself and encourage you to take on more of a coastal lifestyle. "I don't live by the coast so I can't really have a coastal lifestyle" you might say. Well, I'm here to tell you that if you desire a lifestyle that will make you happy every day, fulfills your purpose, and helps others be the best they can be - make it happen.

This is a no-excuses year ladies and gents! Get ready to immerse yourself into total coastal living even if you don't live near the coast by committing yourself to at least 5 or more of these ways to have a coastal state of mind.

Make sunshine your favorite accessory and get outside more. Plant a garden, explore a state park or wild life preserve on a hike, swim at the pool, join an outdoor yoga class, roller blade in a local park, fish local bodies of water... you choose.

Read more on why Mr. ArtSea Chic and I love to fish here.

Create a meal plan inspired by fruits, juices, non-processed meats, wild-caught fish, earthy green veggies, and glasses of water (ehm, no sodas allowed). Throw in a pina colada or bloody mary every now and then, maybe some white wine too.

Feast your eyes further on this dish cooked up on Captiva Island here.

Update your flip flop collection from flat to supportive soles to keep your feet in good health.

Buy a pair of stylish arch supporting sandals from Juli here.

Sew your own beach towel bag with pillow insert to fit your unique coastal style and comfort needs. Bold print towel with a plush pillow? Polka dot pillow case with a protective storage pocket? Solid color handles with a beach scene towel? Possibilities are endless.

Follow the beach towel bag tutorial here.

Daydream with every piece of tech you put your hands on. Set your computer, phone, and tablet backgrounds and screen savers to a picture of your favorite coastal destination.

Download some seriously beachy device backgrounds from Salty Pineapple for FREE.

Declutter spaces and create an airy flow throughout your home. No one likes to feel trapped in a place with mounds of things scattered across on every counter top or belongings that won't be used again piled in a closet.

Read more on how I started my room makeover here.

Decorate your bathroom to become your in-home spa retreat.

Loving the simplicity of decor in these bathrooms shared by Studio M.

Now actually relax in your bathroom for once.

Invest in non-toxic cleaning and hygiene products to have a safer, more natural, and ocean-approved living environment.

Read more about the ingredients used in my homemade DIY cleaner and beauty products

Make sure you have a sea of fashionable coastal apparel and accessories to wear no matter what the temperature is outside. A woven palm leaf tote is essential.

Read more on what my essentials are here.

These style must-haves also need to be on-call for getaway vacations to the nearest body of water.

Volunteer in a local trash clean-up with your community. Every waterway leads to our ocean. Help keep it clean!

Read more about my experience with the Adopt-A-Beach program's trash cleanups here.

Do you have kids, grand-kids, young nieces or nephews? Do ocean-inspired crafts with them, watch Disney classics with coastal scenes, read books together that talk about marine animals, dress them up in the cutest nautical outfits, and most importantly - take them to the beach before they turn 10 years old.

Browse my favorite coastal ideas for kids and pin your favorites!

Invest in a couple staple pieces of coastal art and hang them proudly on the wall. Better yet, try painting your own if you're feeling artsea!

This is my all-time favorite painting that I found on sale for $50 at Garden Ridge (now called At Home).

Set a goal to fly or road trip to a coastal destination this year. Pick a destination, time to travel, select activities, then create a budget that will get you there. Turn in your PTO at work and tell others about your exciting goal to hold you accountable all the way through.

I did all of the above for my trip to St. Thomas USVI, see the attractions I went to here.

Host a party with your closest coastal-minded friends and family. Tropical drinks, pineapple pinata, ocean water slushies, fruit palm trees ....I mean, who wouldn't want to be at your luau?

Check out OH Lovely Place's DIY pineapple pinata tutorial.

Give your bed a pop of resort styled bedding and comfort with a new mattress or foam topper. You'll have the best sleep and dreams of the beach to date.

An ideal cottage by the sea bedding set and DIY headboard shared by The Lily Pad Cottage.

Immerse yourself in a little wildlife from around the globe and visit your local aquarium and zoo.

Don't have a zoo or an aquarium near you? Find an Aquarium Restaurant instead, read more here.

Own dishware, glassware, utensils etc that make you feel like you're going to be prepping a table inside a coastal cottage by the sea.

See how I styled a coastal inspired Easter table with wine glass coasters from Mystic Knotwork here.

If you don't wear contact lenses, next time you see the eye doctor ask if your insurance will cover a pair of non-prescription UV blocking sunglasses in place of the coverage for contacts. You'd be surprised how less expensive it is to get big name sunglasses plus a protective case from your eye doctor than at a shop in a mall!

Read about how we protected our eyes with COSTA Sunglasses fishing with SoulMate Charters here.

Discover at least 3 new blogs, websites, or influencers that will help you stay inspired to live in a coastal state of mind. Thanks for reading mine! :)

Unless otherwise stated, all content and photographs are ©ArtSea Chic. Please do not copy or distribute photographs without first asking for permission. Paid endorsement disclosure: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of compensation for my endorsement, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this blog, which are mentioned in the ArtSea Chic Media Kit. Please know that I only recommend and endorse products and services that I personally approve, appreciate, and feel would be helpful for readers. All ideas and opinions expressed are completely my own. Thank you for supporting ArtSea Chic!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover