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Along Abbey Road | A Lifestyle And Family Blog : May 2014


6 Affordable Summer Date Ideas

1. Bike rides. We would be riding down Pacific Coast Highway on some beach cruisers during a sunset after grabbing dessert, but I think coasting down an old dirt road in the country would be equally as romantic. (image source)

2. Drive-in movies. We loooove movies, and I can't think of a more fun way to spend a warm summer night with Matt than cuddled up in the back of our car watching a film on the huge screen, surrounded with cozy blankets, and a chowing down on a big, fat pizza. (image source)

3. Strawberry picking. Few things are better than fresh fruit, and I like the idea of grabbing a squeaky wood crate and piling it high with strawberries with your significant other. (And sneaking in a few juicy ones while picking them — you know, the small joys in life.) Then you can whip up a fresh batch of this strawberry honey butter once you get home! (image source)

4. Hot air balloon ride. Okay, so I know these can be a little spendy, but I just had to include it on this list. Here in San Diego there are always hot air balloons dotting the sky, and I think it's incredibly dreamy. (And perhaps this would be a fantastic splurge date considering all of the money you save on the other dates!) I am even willing to overcome my fear of heights to go on one! (image source)

5. Picnic dinner. A simple and intimate date, which are always the best. Cook something together to take on the go, or pick up your favorite take out and find a cozy tree to hang out under and enjoy good conversation. (image source)

6. Stargazing. Matt and I used to do this all the time when we were dating. We'd print out a map of the constellations and head up to the mountains on a clear, bright night, looking up at the stars while lying on the hood of our car. It's pretty darn magical. (image source)

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Dealing With Depression As A Mom

Yesterday I sprawled out on the rug next to Luke to read him Oh, The Places You'll Go, by Dr. Seuss and unexpectedly found the rhymes puncturing small holes in my heart.

"And when you're in a Slump, you're not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done."

Oh, do I know that feeling all too well.

Depression has been a troubled companion of mine for over a decade. At times it has overstayed its welcome, turning everything into a numb, hopeless ball of nothingness for months on end. Other times it has gone on a lengthy sabbatical, only to randomly return for a quick chat.

My depression reared its ugly head when I was around 13 years old, after a terrible sports injury. I was in and out of the hospital for years dealing with the injury, and the trauma and emotion of it all (mixed with regular ole' hormones) threw me into a whirlwind of gloom. I pretty much spent my high school years sleeping hours upon hours to escape my depression, coupled with some other not-so-wise, self-medicating choices that further agitated my lapsed mental condition. The anti-depressants prescribed by the doctors made me feel like a generic version of myself, and in my opinion, didn't offer any relief to my mental state.

Five years later, I decided I needed to "unslump" myself. So, I literally packed up my entire life and shoved it into a beat up 94' Honda Civic the day after my high school graduation, and drove 1,500 miles to live with my sister and her family in Arizona. It was a new beginning, and I was determined to be mentally stronger. I wanted to be rid of the anti-depressants and to learn to be happy on my own; I wanted myself back. I figured living in the perpetual sunshine would have its advantages compared to living in a constant cloud of rain and gray — boy, oh boy did it ever! I tossed my Zoloft in the 110 degree trash and practically let all of my sorrows and melancholy melt out of my brain and body. And it worked! I felt as if my limbs were growing back, and it felt so, so good to be ME again!

Fast forward six years from my Arizona days of self rediscovery. I was now married and pregnant with our first baby. The newlywed bubble of living in Provo had popped, and we found our soapy remnants on the concrete of reality. We were living in Southern California with Matt landing his first real job, and all of a sudden we had this insane adult life. You know, grown up stuff, like rent that made us want to scratch our eyeballs out, car payments, and for goodness sake, a BABY! Through those six years of intense life change, I surprisingly didn't lose it and fall back into a funk. Sure, there were the days with the blues, but that was totally different from a full-blown bout of depression. But, now there was a baby on the way, and my biggest fear was postpartum depression, since women who suffer from clinical depression have a higher risk of experiencing it.

I grew rounder and rounder, and before I knew it, Luke had made his intense arrival and was stealing our hearts by the minute. Weeks passed and my anticipation of postpartum depression creeping in was all in vain. I could finally stop holding my breath and gulp in the air of reassurance that maybe, just maybe, depression was a thing of my past to be left in the dust for good.

Those hopes fell short within three months of Luke being born. Amidst the lack of sleep, roller coaster of hormones, and overall bewilderment as to how the crap to be a parent, I slumped hard. Bizarre feelings and thoughts overcame me. I cried an inordinate amount, and my social anxiety hit an all time high (that's another post for another day). The one good thing I had on my side was the ability to recognize the depression, and knowing that if I had kicked it in the pants before, I could do it again. And that's what I did. It took a lot of talking, positive thinking, meditation, prayer and willpower, but I was eventually back to my old self by a year once we had moved here to Encinitas and settled in.

It was interesting having Wes, because I fretted it would all play out the same with him. And you know what? It surely did. The first few months were a dream straight from a motherhood fairytale, but once I hit that three to four month mark, my mind went all sour. And having not one, but TWO babies to care for intensified my feelings of melancholy and anxiety. Pulling myself out of bed seemed like a full time job in and of itself, and forget about doing actual housework. The thing about depression for me is that it almost is an invisible prison. I want so desperately to pull the fog from my mind and push myself to do what seem like simple, daily tasks, but I can't. It feels like I have shackles on my arms and legs and I'm bound to lying around on the floor. I skimmed by with the bare minimum, which included feeding my boys and making sure they were clean and safe. We watched a lot of movies and television those couple of months. Other than that, it exhausted all of my energy and mental stamina to do anything else without having Matt around. If you've been reading this blog for awhile or know me personally, it may seem like I didn't skip a beat. (Or maybe it did, but I just think I am better at putting on a front than I actually am?) I forced myself to put on a happy face for the rest of the world while I shattered into little pieces within my broken self. I beat myself up, wondering why I was given children that I couldn't adequately care for since I could hardly keep it together myself. Nights were spent quietly crying into my pillow, dreading the next day to dawn as another miserable, failed moment as a parent.

Around Wesley's five month mark, I finally sat down with Matt and told him my depression was scratching at the surface, clawing to get out. I needed help and couldn't do it alone. That admission alone lifted a huge burden from my aching spirit. And just as time healed it with Luke, time healed my flirtation with depression I experienced with Wes. I am now beginning to feel back up to snuff once again. Just as the spring and summer have brought the sun out to shine, light and happiness are shining in my heart and soul as well.

This all leads me to a serious question. Has anyone else dealt with what seems like a delayed version of postpartum depression? Both of my experiences with my boys came around the three to four month marker. Perhaps it is exclusive to my brain and body, but I thought I'd share my story in the off chance any of you are dealing with this same struggle.

I feel like I am at a wonderful point with keeping my depression under grips at this point in my life now, which just so happens to feel like a fantastic time to write about it. Truth is, I've ached for years to write about it, yet I couldn't find the right time. Either I was in the eye of its storm and couldn't gather my thoughts coherently, or I was in denial about its existence and pretended it wasn't real. But, now I am here at this terrific phase in my life. Motherhood has forced some stark realities on my understanding of myself, and I am at the page in my life where I am locking eyes with my issues and staring them down until they no longer loom over me.

Depression is clearly a cross for me to bear in this life, but I don't need to let it control me. I have two fantastic little gentleman counting on me to give them a wonderful upbringing, and I cannot and will not let them down. With that, I've learned a few tricks to combat any dismal feelings that float my way, and these help those dim clouds to keep on rolling by:

  • Getting dressed and ready for the day. If I put on real clothes and do my hair and makeup, my day is tremendously more productive.
  • Making the bed. Sounds like a no-brainer for many, but for the messy ones like me, this really starts the day out on the right path. Which leads to me next tip . . .
  • Keeping things clean and uncluttered. I read somewhere that having piles of things on the floor is a sign of depression, and I TOTALLY believe it. Yes, keeping things tidy can be hard with kids and a busy schedule, but it is possible with some effective time management planning and dedication.
  • Exercise. This one is a "duh" for many also, but I suck at regularly exercising, and I know that when I am on my yoga/fitness kicks, I am one happy bird!
  • You know how they say the times you don't want to pray are the moments you need to pray most? This same principle applies to the idleness which is a byproduct of depression. Going outside and doing something out of the house on the days I least want to always makes me feel fresh and awakened, and then I ask myself, "why don't I do this more often?"
  • Engage in a hobby or worthwhile cause. Actively engaging talents and putting others needs ahead of my own has always proven to be a quick and effective remedy for the blues.
  • I would like to update this to say don't be afraid to take medication if it is necessary. I personally needed medication to jumpstart me in the right direction (and could possibly need it in the future). Everyone has a different set of issues and problems, and what matters is coming to a solution that works to become mentally healthy again.

"On and on you will hike. And I know you'll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are . . . And will you succed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.) KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS . . . Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So . . . get on your way!"

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Beach Day Treats

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Fruttare, but all my opinions are my own. http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

I love a long holiday weekend. Actually, I've been a long time proponent of four day work weeks. Really though, think about how much happier everyone is when they get three days just to hang out and relax! I know we were!

We hung out at the beach, and the weather was perfect. Not too hot, just the right amount of wind to keep you cool, and many yummy snacks, including these Fruttare fruit bars. Luke could hardly wait to get his little chompers into the coconut ones! If you are looking for a refreshing beach day snack to keep cool, these fruit bars are your guys! I picked mine up at Target (duh), but they are sold at various nationwide locations. (And be sure to check out their Facebook page for coupons and all that good stuff!)

The rest of our time was spent swimming at the pool (which Luke thought was fantastic for jumping into from the highest surfaces possible), visiting a national cemetery in honor of the holiday weekend, and enjoying doing nothing grand in particular. I love the feeling of simply lounging around with no agenda after a long week of working my butt off. If you ever need a couch potato buddy, count me in!

(Look at Wes eyeing my strawberry bar! He snuck a few licks. I mean, how could I resist that cute face?!)

I hope your long weekend was just as wonderful! And seriously, be sure to go grab yourself a couple of boxes of those fruit bars! I highly recommend the coconut ones — it's like summer decided to have a kick off party in your mouth, which is a fantastic thing. Wishing you all lots of sunshine filled days!

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Memorial Day

On Sunday we made a little trip out to Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma. There was a sacred reverence in the air for these veterans who pledged their lives for our freedom. I was truly humbled as I strolled by the marble headstones along the road that displayed the names of these brave people. Many of them were soldiers in WWII, born in the early 1900's. Even though that time seems like ages ago as I read in the pages of history books, every single one of these people had a mother, a sibling, a friend to whom they meant the world. I thought of my own boys and the heartache I would feel if they lived oceans away, not knowing if I would ever see them again in this life. It certainly threw the entirety of my small world into perspective seeing and feeling for these lives now buried. I am grateful for this wonderful country and my freedom, and I am proud to be an American.

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Taking Stock

Image from my Instagram (@alongabbeyroad)

I saw this list on Sydney's blog (who got it from Pip's blog) and I think it is such a simple and beautiful way to journal what is going on in my head and my life right now. So, I am jumping on the bandwagon because I think this is definitely something worth jumping for!

Making: plans for exciting changes just a few weeks ahead.
Cooking: oatmeal and breakfast foods.
Drinking: what seems like gallons of water because nursing makes me SO THIRSTY.
Reading: The Bear's Song by Benjamin Chaud. Over and over and over.
Wanting: a huge patio table so we can have cozy dinner parties with ones we love.
Looking: to the past and feeling grateful for my freedom.
Playing: catch with Luke.
Wasting: food every time we order a meal for Luke ;)
Sewing: rompers and shorts for the boys.
Wishing: there were more hours in the day.
Enjoying: the gray skies and cool weather
Waiting: for family to come in the coming month.
Liking: Buzzfeed articles on Facebook.
Wondering: what our future looks like, but trying to stay in the present.
Loving: this phase in my life. I have it good.
Hoping: to find more patience within myself.
Marveling: at our ability to create life and really hoping we are doing it right.
Needing: a date with my main squeeze.
Smelling: dirty diapers. Time to take the pail out!
Wearing: a pajama top and no pants — keeping it classy, San Diego!
Following: photography blogs and getting incredibly inspired.
Noticing: the little details and how they really matter.
Knowing: I am the luckiest gal in the world with this life I've been given.
Thinking: too much about everything.
Feeling: content.
Bookmarking: dinner recipes.
Opening: a new chapter in our lives.
Giggling: along with Luke and Wes as they throw each other into fits of laughter.
Feeling: blessed.


10 Fun And Healthy Snack Ideas For Kids

As much as I want Luke to eat like a little gourmet that is mentioned in the book, Bringing Up Bébé, we still have those days where he refuses to eat anything. I hummed and hawed for weeks on how I could make snacks and food more appealing, and then had a lightbulb moment. Why not turn food into something fun? I couldn't care less about the old "don't play with your food" adage when it comes to toddlers and little people. After all, it is something to be enjoyed, right?

I put together a fantastic list of 10 ideas for creative and healthy snacks over on Parenting.com. Be sure to come check out the whole kit and caboodle HERE! Happy eating and snacking with your finicky eaters!

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A Random Thing Or Two-sday

Handbag: Humble Hilo
Shirt: similar
Skirt: similar
Rings: Seamaid Market and Madewell
Necklace: similar
Sandals: Target
Lips: Revlon ColorBurst Matte Lip Balm, Showy

1. So, The Bachelorette. I'm a big fan of Andi. I like her spunk and frank honesty, but I was kind of left yawning over last night. Her selection of guys to choose from was meh, and it always turns into the same old game of, "She's mine! No, she's MINE!" between the dudes in the previews. However, I did really like the guy she gave the first rose to — I think his name is Nick? I bet you one million dollars he makes it to the final two! And I also think Chris, the hot farmer from Iowa, will make it far. I still don't get why she chose the meathead that is basically a cross breed of Macklemore, Sean Lowe and Juan Pablo. His name is Cody, but I will be calling him Macklemore Shuan Pablo (see what I did there?).

2. Fact: Sharks and rays are the only animals known to man that don't get cancer. Scientists believe this has something to do with the fact that they don't have bones, but cartilage (source).

3. Luke is an excellent photo bomber.

4. I often think about of how I would escape from wildly outlandish situations where there is only a 0.0001% chance I would ever be caught in that dilemma. The one I've been thinking about recently is if I could survive crossing a vast desert with Luke and Wes. This all started after I watched the movie, The Way Back, where a group of men escape the Gulag in Siberia and have to cross the Gobi Desert as part of their trek to freedom. I would have nothing other than the clothes on our backs and a baby wrap. Here is what I would do: I would carry Wes in the baby wrap (obviously) on the front, which would protect him from the sun as much as possible. I would attempt to sling Luke onto my back and wrap my shirt around his head so he wouldn't get burnt, as well as my head. The kicker is how we would survive with no food and water, which leads me to this next question. Is it possible for a woman to sustain herself with her own breast milk? To keep a full milk supply you need food and fluids, so I wonder if it would work to drink my own milk for a source of nutrients, so my milk would continue to produce as a source of nourishment and hydration for the boys, and how long it would last. Basically, I think way too much about things that are ridiculous. (But apparently I am not the only one!)

5. Would you rather have a honey dispensing belly button or pencil sharpener nostrils?

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My Mummy Loves Shoes

Once upon a time, a wonderfully talented mother with a love for fashion decided to combine her talents to illustrate and write a children's book series about fashion. That lovely mama is Clare Grove. She is a mum of three and currently lives in New Zealand with her darling brood. I was over the moon thrilled when she contacted me about her current book, My Mummy Loves Shoes. The illustrations are whimsical and bright, and bring back that childhood joy as we moms read it to the little ladies in our lives. (Or by ourselves, because it's about shoes!) Really though, what gal doesn't love shoes? 

Clare also has a line of beautifully illustrated stationary and cards. Aren't they splendid? I would be delighted if I received one of these in the mail or as a little note. I've started framing cards that I think are cute, and these are definitely in the frame-worthy category. These purses and hats give a little sneak peek of future books to come, too! 

Be sure to go check out the My Mummy Loves site to read more about this fabulous book and the author herself. (You must see the pictures of her insane shoe collection!) Clare is also generously offering a promotion for 15% off her book. Just enter the code 'promo15' in the coupon code bar when you purchase My Mummy Loves Shoes here. This would make a fun addition to a baby shower gift or a just because gift to yourself. Trust me when I say you will want to add this to your library for you and your little fashionistas! 



7 Beautiful Places To Travel

I've caught a serious case of wanderlust this year, and aim to fill my passport with stamps in the coming years. After much thought and curation (thanks Pinterest!), I have narrowed it down to my top seven places I want to travel. These are in no particular order, but take highest priority. Basically, if I only get to travel to these places in my lifetime and no more than that, I will be happy. Pssh, I will even be happy if I get to go to one, let alone seven! 

After putting this list together, I realized they all have a common theme of being beautifully colored and mostly near the water. Guess I just can't pull myself away from the coast — it's in my blood

1. Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. The bright colors of this city instantly draw me in, and the beaches in Puerto Rico look magnificent. There are great historic sites and museums to check out, and I think the best time to go would be in January to take part in the San Sebastian festival.  (image source)

2. Paris, France. Because, hello, it's Paris. In my eyes, the French are practically perfect and I just want to bask in it all. The chocolate, the bread, the cheese, the butter . . . I guess what I am saying is I want to go so I can just eat the entire time. I am currently reading the book, The Road from the Past, by Ina Caro, which maps out your entire trip in chronological order based on the history of France. The ending destination is Paris, but I plan on doing the whole thing. (image source)

3. Chefchaouen, Morocco. Matt served a church mission in Malaga, Spain, so when we went back to visit back in 2010, we almost took the boat over to Morocco, but just didn't have the time. It is an easy day trip by boat and bus, and we plan on making this a must-see destination next time we go back! (And if you haven't been to Southern Spain, you MUST put it on your travel list!) The blue buildings and rich history of this area look like they are quite literally painted from a dream. (image source)

4. The Amalfi Coast, Italy. Whenever I see photos of the Amalfi Coast in books and elsewhere on the internet, I immediately hear an airy ballad on the classical guitar playing through my mind, and I see white curtains blowing in the wind gusts from the open doors on the balcony. And all that Italian food! And art! And architecture! Yes, please. (image source)

5. Santorini, Greece. Like I said, this list is in no particular order, but if I were putting it in order of places I want to travel by priority, Santorini would be number one. I think there is a good chance this island is my spirit place. (You know, like a spirit animal, but a city instead . . . is there a word for what I'm trying to get at here?) I have always had good feelings toward anything Mediterranean I've ever had the joy of crossing paths with, and I simply feel this would be the perfect place to travel and relax. My sights are set on staying in this house . . . and never leaving. (image source)

6. Istanbul, Turkey. This photo is of Balat, which is known for being a beautifully colored neighborhood in Istanbul. For almost a decade I've wanted to go to Istanbul, after reading a bizarre historical fiction book about Vlad the Impaler who was actually a vampire (I know). The book takes place mostly in Istanbul, and the descriptions of it are phenomenal (and seemed accurate after a bit of research). The churches and architecture of the city look mind-blowing, and there is something mystic to me about its history. There are protests happening currently about the Turkish mine disaster, so it is one of those places I would want to stay up on with the current affairs before booking tickets. (image source)

7. Bali, Indonesia. Let me just hole up in this beach house, find a medicine man to cure me of my neuroses (à la Eat, Pray, Love) and drink in the tropical surroundings of this paradise on earth. (image source)

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Chocolate And Banana Smoothie

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Nestle, but all opinions are my own. #pmedia #BreakfastEssentials http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

The other day, Luke scooted a chair over to the counter and began gathering items for a "shmoothee." He even proceeded to grab the milk from the fridge and plunk it down on the ground in front of him even though its weight is half of his. That child has the willpower of a bull, especially when it comes to his favorite foods and treats. Lucky for me, I was introduced to Carnation Breakfast Essentials recently and it has made our breakfast smoothie making more simple (Luke can practically mix it on his own) and varied. And when I say varied, I mean chocolatey, and that is always a good thing.

I picked up a box of the Rich Milk Chocolate flavor at the neighboring Walmart, along with some coconut milk and a couple of bananas. I decided that a chocolate banana smoothie is just what the weatherman ordered to cool down in this scorching heat, and it's a bonus that it's packed with vitamins and protein. With just four simple ingredients, this will absolutely be one of our main go-to, nutritional smoothies for the summer! (And it's gluten-free!)

Chocolate And Banana Smoothie
(Makes 2 servings)


3/4 cup Carnation Breakfast Essentials Powder in Rich Milk Chocolate
2 cups coconut milk
2 ripe bananas, sliced and frozen
A small handful of ice


1. Pour the coconut milk, chocolate powder, and ice in a blender. Blend well until the ice chunks are gone.
2. Add in the sliced bananas, and blend until thoroughly mixed.
3. Pour into two cups, throw in a cute straw, and slurp up!

This recipe is simple, it tastes clean and light, and it is a hit with the little ones, too! I've been drinking the combo of chocolate and banana in some form or another for a long time, and I can honestly say I really like the nutrients and flavor this powder adds.

Be sure to grab this coupon for $1 off when you purchase your own box of Carnation Breakfast Essentials Powder at Walmart. There are five different flavors to pick from and a whole lot of other smoothie recipes as well, should you want to change up your breakfast smoothie routine. Oh, and be sure to check out the Carnations Breakfast Essentials Facebook page to find more promotions and discounts! Enjoy!



Going From Blonde To Ombre

Hair color: Ion Medium Copper Blonde and Ion Dark Blonde with Ion 10 Volume Creme Developer
Lip color: Revlon ColorBurst Matte Lip Balm, Unapologetic
Rings: Seamaid Market
(And isn't Luke just the cutest? Gah, I love him!)

We enjoyed a quick vacation to Arizona over the weekend to see my sister, brother and their families. I unplugged a little bit and simply enjoyed good conversation and the bliss of doing nothing. I even saw a movie for the first time in, oh, I'd say two years? Guess what we saw? The Other Woman. It was HILARIOUS. (Show by a raise of hands if you've seen it and feel the same way.) I suppose all of the great hair and cute clothes nagged at my obnoxious need to change my hair color every six months, coupled with hanging out with my sister and sis-in-law and talking about beauty products.

After staring at countless photos of Jared Leto's hair (no, seriously), watching multiple YouTube videos on going ombré from platinum blonde, and a trip to Sally Beauty, I found myself sitting in a chair with red goo all over my head at midnight on Monday. Somehow I convinced my sister, Ginger, to do it for me (she's a perfectionist, so I figured it would turn out well) and here we are. The platinum was fantastic while it lasted, but I was sick of having consistent grow out, and it also doesn't help that I am hopelessly cheap when it comes to shelling out the cash for my hair. You'd think that I'd take more heed with such a major focal point point on my head, but I am that person who risks weirdly colored hair in trade for saving a few bones. Luckily for me, I really like how this ombré look turned out and the low maintenance of it is exactly what I need for now.

Here are a few tips in the off chance you feel an impulsive, hair-dying whim coming on and want to create your own ombré your hair look from home:

1. If you are going from platinum blonde like me and are adding color to the top, make sure you color it with a red shade first. If you just slap on brown, it will turn a funky khaki greenish color and the red acts as a filler. Yeah, you have to apply color and wash your hair twice, but it's worth it. This leads me to the second item of business...

2. Purchase your hair color from a beauty supply store versus a box color from your local grocery store. I almost bought a box of light brown from the local Walgreen's, and the clueless cashier girl told me that it would look exactly like the color on the box. Being a victim of brassy, splotchy DIY hair one too many times, I knew that probably wasn't the best advice. (Bless her dear heart, though!) Thanks to my tried and true friend, Google, I quickly learned that the red is essential.

3. Watch this video for a feel on how to do it. It also helps if you have someone do it for you. We also figured out that after applying the color with a brush, it is necessary to go back and rub and blend it with your fingers to give it a natural gradient look. Mine doesn't look perfect, but that's what I love about this hair style.

4. Remember that freshly colored hair is always much brighter and darker, and it needs a few solid days to settle and tone down. Since it can dry out your hair, I also really like this deep conditioning hair mask — it smells like Hawaii in a bottle! Good luck with your hair coloring adventures!

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