4 Practical Ways of Repurposing Used Gift Cards


There is no debating the fact that Americans love to use gift cards. In fact, it’s estimated that gift cards sales in the United States will reach $160 billion in 2018. That’s a lot of plastic cards. Now, the environmental concern is genuine as most people discard their cards after redeeming them online or at stores. If the sales estimates are to be believed, plastic cards worth $160 billion can potentially end up in our landfills.

One of the primary reasons why most gift cards end up in the dumpster is because most people don’t have a clue on how they can reuse or repurpose them. Expired or used gift cards demand valuable real estate in wallets and purses, which leads them to be discarded indiscriminately. To help you do your part, here’re 4 practical ways you can repurpose or recycle used gift cards.

Reload and Re-Gift: One of the best ways to repurpose gift cards is to reload more money and gift it to someone else. Be open about what you did and ask the gift recipients to do the same once they redeem their cards. However, keep in mind that there are a lot of use-and-throw gift cards available that are not rechargeable. Ensure you ask the retailer or read the terms when buying gift cards online to know if they can be refilled later.

Use It to Make Art: They can be painted over or can be glued together to form complex and sturdy structures. Plastic gift cards can also be cut using craft scissors to form different shapes. Most art and craft veterans use plastic gift cards to glorious effects. Colorful gift cards are often used to create mosaic designs and embellishments.

Here’s a fun yet straightforward application. Cut a plastic gift card to make numerous heart-shaped pieces. Now, apply glue on one side and stick them to a sheet of velvet paper. Once the glue is dry, cut out the plastic hearts. Walla, your heart-shaped velvet embellishments are ready. Use them to make greeting cards or to adorn a DIY picture frame.

Mail Them to Recycling Companies: Stores often order large quantities of custom gift cards for business purposes, and if they are unsold they usually send them to plastic cards recycling firms. While most of these recycling companies have a B2B operation, they sometimes accept plastic cards mailed to them by individuals. However, instead of sending a few cards at a time, collect a bunch of gift cards before sending the mail.

Add It to Your Tool Box: You can use gift cards to scrape, smear, and spread. Gift cards can also be cut into different shapes to form unique tools. It can go underneath furniture legs to stabilize a particular unit, or it can be used to remove air bubbles from wallpaper. Hard plastic gift cards can also be used as makeshift rulers to draw straight lines. Application of a simple plastic gift card is truly endless. If you are a fix-it genius, you would have no trouble finding multiple other uses of these plastic cards. Gather used gift cards from friends and family members and add them to your toolkit. You would be surprised how many times you would end up using them.

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April 19, 2018 – 1:50 AM - | Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Playing Games with Your Children


Kids learn so much from play, and it’s an essential part of their development. When you’re an adult with all the responsibilities and time pressures that entails, it can be hard to join in with the fantasies your kids create and let out your own inner child. Many parents find it difficult to engage with the games their kids play and want them to join in with, and will breathe a sigh of relief if there are friends or siblings who can relieve them of the burden of pretending to be a space pirate or a wicked queen!

Rethinking playtime

You might think that there’s nothing you can do to change the way you feel about play, but there are some very good reasons for making the effort:

  • Spending time with your children is a precious gift that will disappear all too quickly. Kids grow up so fast, and opportunities to share their childhood come and go in the blink of an eye. Taking every chance you can to just be with them is something you’ll be glad of in the future.
  • Kids love to be with you and want to involve you with their play, and by giving yourself up to your designated role in their game, you are demonstrating to them how important and loved they are. This is essential for their emotional wellbeing, so rather than seeing yourself as wasting time by playing with your kids, appreciate what an important job you are doing for them.
  • If you get involved with the game, it can be more fun than you might imagine, and you can find you end up enjoying yourself. Don’t be half-hearted with your roles; over-act your socks off and be as silly as possible, and your kids will love it.
  • See just how far you can go with your character, forget you’re a grown-up and let your inner child out to play. Letting yourself go will do you good, releasing stress and diverting your mind from everyday worries.

What to play

Whatever their imagination comes up with! Go with the flow, let them create their worlds and scenarios, and don’t try and take over with your logic and what you may think of as better ideas. You can go off script as it were, and go your own way now again with the story and characters, and see how your child adapts and copes with you not doing what they expected. Older kids may not be into playing dinosaurs or princesses anymore, but you can still share some more mature forms of play with them such as paintballing, or an Escape Room STL adventure game experience. Kids love making up fantasy worlds where they can pretend to be characters from books or TV shows fighting battles, having adventures, overcoming difficulties to achieve a goal or win a prize. This is all part of their education and development, and joining in will be good for them could be a lot of fun for you, too, if you let down your adult reserve and embrace the joy of pretending you’re a child again.

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April 15, 2018 – 6:48 PM - | Posted in Parenting | No Comments »

Not Your Momma’s Hair Mousse


20-Year Stylist and Natural Curl Guru with Tips on Mastering Mousse

Styling mousse first came on the scene back in the 80’s when big hair was the thing. Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston were the ladies who set the hair trends back then. I’m sure if you see pictures of your mom from the 80’s, you will see the waterfall bangs and curls that were teased, fried and crunchy. It was a cool look then. It’s not cool now. Hair styles and the products we use have changed over the decades.

Maya Smith, International Master of Natural Curls and founder of The Doux®, a haircare line she created specifically for naturally curly hair, has seen the evolution of mousse from the very beginning to now. We caught up with Maya and scored some amazing tips and insights to help you know which ingredients to look for and how to best use mousse to maximize your modern style.

Q: First to get things clear, what is the purpose of mousse? How has it changed from when you first saw it back in the day? What is the main difference from the mousse we see today and those from the 80’s and 90’s? Were they intended for different kinds of styles, textures?

A: When I started in the industry, the 90’s hair was in full effect. Naturally curly girls used mousse to create the Hillary Banks (Fresh Prince of Bel Air) “wet” look. For volume a diffuser was used to get hair to stand up at the roots. The visual results were awesome, but if you tried to re-style your hair once it dried, you were in big trouble! While it was used on curly weaves, extensions, and wigs, mousse wasn’t even an option for girls with super-tight curls or kinky textures. These days, mousse is still used to achieve great definition and shine, but less emphasis is placed on how high your hair stands up, or how stiff the overall look is. It’s much more about softness and movement.

Q: What are some ingredients to look for? What’s good and what should be avoided?

A: Always be sure to look at the ingredients when shopping for products because this can make a big difference. Ingredients such as sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), Isopropyl, and Prolyene have been found to cause breakage and dry out your hair. The best way to achieve healthy hair is to have that balance between protein and moisture.

Q: What causes that crunch and what were some of the problems with the mousse options available that inspired you to create your own? Can mousse be combined with other products? What are the benefits of combining products and steps?

A: It’s common for mousse to be combined with gel or cream because most mousses on the market contain alcohol to make the hair dry faster. They are also polymer rich, which creates a sticky coating on the hair, much like a hairspray. This can leave hair feeling dry and stiff. We formulated our Mousse Def as an all-in-one solution for this problem. It creates the shine and definition of a mousse, yet leaves hair soft and touchable with no flaking.

Q: How does mousse compare to gels and balms? Are gels a thing of the past? Can a balm be used in place of a mousse?

A: Mousse and gels are water-based products that contain polymers and holding agents that “stiffen” on the hair shaft in order to hold the hair in place. On the other hand, balms, pomades, and control pastes are what we call emulsions, are a mix of oils and water. The Doux’s Bonita Afro Balm is an emulsion developed for moisture and softness that also contains a small amount of polymer for a softer, more flexible hold.

Q: Finally, are Salon or Professional brands worth the money? Do they contain better ingredients?

A: Yes. Products that were formulated for salon use typically contain a higher quality of ingredients. They also contain less water and fillers, so you’re getting a more concentrated product with longer-standing results.

Q: What other advice can you offer to girls with natural curls who want to mix up their hair styles?

A: Try something new. Gone are the days when heavy pomades and gels were your only styling options. Girls who have natural curls deserve to enjoy lighter products that are easy to apply, and create bounce and movement. Maximizing your natural God given hair is what’s popular now.

About Maya Smith:
Maya Smith is an International Master Stylist and Founder of The Doux Salon and haircare line now available in Target. With over two decades of styling experience Maya dedicated two decades to cracking the code on curl care, maintenance and expert styling. When it comes to caring for one’s natural hair and styling it, according to NaturallyCurly, Maya is among the best there is.

While still in high school, Maya got her hair cutting license and graduated from beauty school. Soon after graduating high school, Maya began following her passion and worked as an assistant for celebrity stylist Tracy Johnson. She learned from Johnson and progressed as a hair stylist for celebrities and entertainers. Years later the military wife would relocate to Germany, where Maya opened up her first salon The HoneyComb, a mecca for textured hair care for women from all over Europe, The UK, and as far as Africa. Maya’s unique system of textured hair styling sparked the development of The DOUX® haircare products, first launched overseas, and distributed throughout Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands.

Currently, Maya leads a carefully selected team of stylists at The DOUX® Salon in Macon, Georgia and celebrated the arrival of The DOUX® in select Target stores nationwide. Maya Smith, wife, mom of 5 and savvy business woman is an example not just for women of color but for all women who believe their gifts can impact the world, striving for entrepreneurial endeavors with grace, ease and hustle.

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March 26, 2018 – 10:07 PM - | Posted in beauty | No Comments »

Do More with Your Captured Memories: How to Showcase Them


As parents, we likely have thousands upon thousands of photos of our family on our phones. It’s hard not to, and honestly, you shouldn’t stop! It’s true, kids really do grow up so fast, and having those precious memories will be invaluable to you. The only problem with taking so many photos, however, is that it turns your memories into a blur. There are too many to comfortably go through, especially if you are showing photos and videos to family members at a reunion or get together.

That’s why you need to do more with your captured memories. You need to organize them, and you need to showcase them in the best way that allows your loved ones to see what is going on with ease. It is also how you can go through their entire lives later on. This doesn’t mean that you should delete your photographs, however. It simply means selecting the best. It means choosing the ones that tell a story and storing the rest. Follow this guide, and you’ll have your memories showcased in no time:

1. Print the Best Photos Out
Though you no longer need to take our film in to get it developed, you shouldn’t underestimate the power and the value of having photographs printed. Choose the best to go into an album that you can give to your parents, or find a way to display them. For instance, you can print your photographs out in the style of old, square Polaroids. Instead of keeping them locked away you can put them up so that your memories create a statement wall.

2. Photobooks
If you want your memories in a neater, more concise format, photobooks are another print-out option. You can create albums of your trips, your year, and so on, and have duplicate ready to go to give away as gifts. Set aside a shelf in your living room and you’ll be able to revisit your memories at any time.

Tip: Have your family members write in little notes for a truly sentimental piece!

3. Video Presentations
Books can be great, but if you want your family members to catch up on what you and your family have been up to, video presentations are the way to go. You could make a professional series as life goes on using this free intro maker to unify each video. The best part is that the presentation isn’t put to waste either – you can keep it on hand as a way to reminisce at any time.

4. Facebook Albums
Of course, if you want a quick solution then you can always use Facebook. Their albums have come a long way, and you can now create a complete picture of a portion of your life with ease. Just remember to keep these albums private. Though it can be nice to enjoy your memories, your children have a right to privacy, and for their safety, you should limit the audience to only those you know and trust.

We take so many photos that it can be a challenging to decide what to do with them. That is why you should use one, or all, of these suggestions so that you can properly enjoy your memories again and again.

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January 11, 2018 – 9:38 AM - | Posted in daily life | No Comments »

BEST HAIR TIPS FOR GIRLS WITH NATURAL CURLS


BEST HAIR TIPS FOR GIRLS WITH NATURAL CURLS
International Stylist and Curl Master Creator of The Doux Gets Real About Real Hair

People with wavy or curly hair are always looking for new products, tips and tricks to lock in their desired look. Whether they want to blow it straight, create looser curls or maximize their tighter coils, Maya Smith, Celebrity Hair Stylist, salon owner and creator of The Doux, the “Indie” haircare line with cult following now available at Target, is truly the master. Here she shares her best tips for girls with curls who want to revel in their natural hair and create a style they love.

Understand the battle between oil and moisture.

The first thing people must understand is that there are opposite things going on at the same time. “Due to the shape of curly haired strands, the hair tends to be under moisturized. On the other hand, the curly haired scalp can get very oily. Managing these opposite demands is the struggle of girls who wish to keep their curls. The key here is knowing how best to address both,” explains Maya who led the movement for women to transition from relaxers to natural curls.

Be gentle when washing curly hair.

According to Maya, kinky, thick, coiled textures tend to appear “tough” and strong enough to withstand heavy manipulation. “In my experience, these hair types are actually the most delicate, and should be handled with care, she recommends.”

Step One: Pick your products wisely.

Maya applied over 2 decades of research and development based on working knowledge of hair texture and listening to what people wanted. “I created The Doux™ SUCKA FREE Moisturizing Shampoo and FRESH RINSE Moisturizing Conditioner as the one-two step that delivers both deep cleaning plus exceptional nourishment necessary for styling.” It’s now available in Target stores and the full product line is available online at www.thedoux.com.

Step Two: Prep for shampoo.

Maya’s professional instructions for curl mastery begins with rinsing hair thoroughly with water for a minimum of 30 seconds. “This helps to eliminate any water-soluble product buildup, such as hair gel or heat protectant. It also helps you save shampoo! Assuming you’re shampooing in the shower, letting the water run over the hair in a downward motion helps prevent further tangling, and allows the hair shaft to swell and the curl pattern to fully rebound.” For those with extremely thick hair, Maya suggests separating hair into 4 sections prior to wetting the hair for increased manageability.

Once the shampoo is applied, Maya recommends light manipulation at the scalp, going from the crown of the head to the nape of the neck. “Squishing” the hair up toward the scalp is a no-no. “Shampooing this way can cause unforgivable tangling and matting. I recommend repeating the shampooing process at least once.”

Step Three: Condition and comb through like a pro.

If your scalp was properly shampooed, conditioning is easy. “This time, you’re focusing on your thirsty ends first, working upward toward the scalp. Gently detangle with a wide-toothed comb or detangling brush (our favorite is Felicia Leatherwood’s “Brush with the Best” detangling brush) before rinsing, starting at the ends, working up toward to the roots. Remember to rinse with cool water which snaps cuticles shut, locks in moisture, makes your hair shinier and reduces frizz.”

When it comes to “co-washing” or “conditioner washing” Maya equates the popular trend to washing your clothes with fabric softener. “In my experience, co-washing causes build-up on the hair, coating the cuticle and impairing the hair’s natural ability to absorb water. Oils, waxes, and product residue harden on the hair shaft, making it more brittle and less porous over time. When the hair can no longer effectively absorb water, the elasticity of the hair is compromised, leaving the hair “crunchy” and stiff, where it is more likely to break. The result is hair that feels dry and brittle, no matter what product you use to moisturize it,” explains Maya.

One of the things Maya Smith and her team of stylists are known for is their ability to restore hundreds of their clients’ curls, simply by getting them to trade in the co-wash for a gentle, pH-balanced moisturizing shampoo, like The Doux’s SUCKA FREE which properly cleanses hair of product residue. “Once you have the hair thoroughly clean it “drinks” up the necessary amount of moisture, and returns to its natural softness,” Maya clarifies.

Avoid alcohol and kick the crunch to the curb.

Styling products high in alcohol give curls a crunchy feel. They suck up every last bit of moisture. Hair spray tends to contain the most alcohol, while gels, mousses and anything that provides hold or lift come in second. “I recommend water-soluble gels that don’t feel sticky on your skin, and aerated mousses or foams that resemble beaten egg whites, to give hair fullness, control, and non-brittle curls,” Maya says.

She adds that she created The Doux so it can be used on hair that is worn curly or straight. “Our clients purchase one set of products, and apply them differently to achieve the style they want. If you’re rocking curly hair today, you’re using The Doux’s Mousse Def and Bonita Afro Balm for softness and definition, and The Light for shine. If you’re wearing a blowout, you’re still using the same products, but applying them less liberally, and using the shine mist as a heat protectant. It’s super simple and easy to follow once you’ve seen the results each of them deliver,” Maya explains.

Blow-Dry with a diffuser or hooded dryer.

Maya’s first choice for curly styles is to air dry. “If you don’t have the time to air dry then dry with a diffuser or hooded dryer on a low heat setting. A regular blow dryer nozzle disrupts the curl pattern and focuses hot air on one small section at a time while a diffuser, dries curls evenly for a full, uniform look,” she explains.

Maya recommends always applying a heat-protecting product, then flipping your head upside down using a diffuser at the roots and mid-length making sure to dry the area completely to lock in volume. “It’s important to leave the ends for last, and leave them only semi-dry. Air drying the ends is your best option.”

Care for the curls you were born with!

About Maya Smith:

Maya Smith is an International Master Stylist and Founder of The Doux Salon and haircare line now available in Target. With over two decades of styling experience Maya dedicated two decades to cracking the code on curl care, maintenance and expert styling. When it comes to caring for one’s natural hair and styling it, Maya is the best there is.

While still in high school, Maya got her hair cutting license and graduated from beauty school. Soon after graduating high school, Maya began following her passion and worked as an assistant for celebrity stylist Tracy Johnson. She learned from Johnson and progressed as a hair stylist for celebrities and entertainers. Years later the military wife would relocate to Germany, where Maya opened up her first salon The HoneyComb, a mecca for textured hair care for women from all over Europe, The UK, and as far as Africa. Maya’s unique system of textured hair styling sparked the development of The DOUX® haircare products, first launched overseas, and distributed throughout Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands.

Currently, Maya leads a carefully selected team of stylists at The DOUX® Salon in Macon, Georgia and on Christmas Eve 2017, celebrated the arrival of The DOUX® in Target stores nationwide. Maya Smith, wife, mom of 5 and savvy business woman is an example not just for women of color but for all women who believe their gifts can impact the world, striving for entrepreneurial endeavors with grace, ease and hustle.

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January 2, 2018 – 10:09 PM - | Posted in beauty, daily life | No Comments »
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