Minimalism: Should You Jump On the Bandwagon?

I tend to have a hard time relaxing in my home because I know that there is always something that has to be done (laundry, dishes, tidying up, trying to decorate, re-organizing a closet that's exploded) never ends. And I know I'm not the only woman who's felt that way.

How has this happened to us? We were not meant to be slaves to our stuff or stressed out by our homes. Womanhood should not be defined by the messes we've cleaned up or the chores we've completed.

Most moms and women I know fall into two categories: One, women who stress about keeping their homes neat and tidy, staying on top of laundry and dishes, and can't stand a mess anywhere - but are always cleaning. Two, women who have decided that other things are more important than cleaning/tidying, and their homes are complete wrecks in favor of having fun and making memories.

Me? I'm determined not to fall into either category. I want to have a comfortably spacious home that is generally clean and takes minimal maintenance, without me being an obsessive organizer. (Isn't that the dream?)

So how do we escape the rat-race that is our homes? Is minimalism the cure-all to this stress-clean-tidy cycle? Or is minimalism just a fancy name for a decorating trend? 
I personally have always loved the idea of being a minimalist. I covet those open, clutter-free spaces that seem to bring such a relief to the mind. Those neat and tidy areas that leave you free to focus on one thing at a time, instead of being bombarded with details.

But getting to that point in life has always eluded me. No matter how much stuff I give to goodwill or throw away, no matter how much I try to organize my things neatly, there is always more. Always too much stuff and never enough time to take care of it.

I've decided I don't have time for any of that anymore. I'm turning minimalistic - in a way. There is no special secret. No intense organizational skills or superwoman-sized willpower required. All that is needed for you to decide that you want your life to change...and then you have to be willing to go for it.

You can relax and be freed from housework. You can have time to have a hobby or a goal or a dream again. You can be a woman - instead of "just" a mom who wipes dirty faces and a wife who washes dirty dishes and a friend who is never available.

Here's a little taste of the why.
  • TIME. Most women I know have a laundry day. A to-do list - scribbled on a pad of paper or just lodged in the back of their heads. A spring cleaning week (that usually turns into a month...or gets pushed back till autumn). Maintaining all of our items seems to sap away our time and energy faster than anything else in life. I want to fight to get my time back. I'm a stay-at-home mom; if I don't have time for things, then who does? I can literally create my own schedule.
"You buy everything twice - once with your dollars, then again with your minutes." >Allie Casazza
  • STRESS. This is obviously very closely linked with time. But it holds another layer that we don't always think about. Why do we feel trapped in our homes, or unable to fully relax? We've let it become our job. Homemaking can be anything we want it to be, but instead it has turned into an ugly cleaning beast. There is no point in allowing stress into our lives. We need to cut out anything that is adding to that burden.
  • DEBT. This one is sneakier still. Everyone has a little bit (or a lot) of debt. It just sort of...happens. It can only end if we change our spending habits. And when you own less things and find the joy that comes with that freedom, you realize you'll do a lot to keep from messing that up. You don't impulse-buy. You can see all of the food in your pantry, so you don't waste money buying duplicates or replacing things that have gone bad before you could use them. Little things add up; a decluttered home can trickle right into getting a handle on your budget and maybe even your diet!
  • FREEDOM. If it has a grip on your time, your thoughts, and your emotions, then you are it's slave. I have become a slave to my stuff. I've let it become the master instead of me mastering it. I don't want to be overrun with have-tos and to-do lists. I want to look at my home and know that I am the one who decides how it looks, how much time I spend on it, and where it falls on my priority list. Freedom means letting go of the things that I don't want to spend time on. 

So what does this too-good-to-be-true Time Genie look like in real life? How does this actually play out in a normal day?

When your kids are having a rough day and they need you every second, you don't feel guilty about spending time with them being "unproductive." You don't feel as though your days are pointless and clogged with drudgery. You have dreams and hobbies again...that you're spending time on.  When you relax with your husband or friends, your mind is at ease - not stressing about the things you still have to do.

The great thing is, YOU get to decide what minimalism looks like in your life. This minimalist bandwagon I'm jumping on can involve as little or as much effort as I want it to. It's not about a list of rules or a checklist that gets you the perfect home. It's about where your priorities are - and where you want them to be.
Start by making a simple list in answer to these questions. This will help you create your own why:
  • What part of your home frustrates you the most?
  • When you envision your perfect home, what stands out to you?
  • Aside from things you can't get out of doing (working, peeing, eating...), what are a few things that seem to zap up all your time?
  • What is one thing you wish you had more time for?
Take a few minutes to journal about it. Breathe.

You should see a pattern of what you really want out of life and the things that are stopping you from getting it. These questions will probably lead you to other queries about the clutter that exists in your home and your mind and your heart.

I have a couple of places you can go from here. There's so much out there that can help you simplify your life and take charge of your time.

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Next week, I'll be doing a full post on this exciting little wardrobe challenge and how it's simplifying my daily routine to the max. I'd love for you to join me! This project is all about putting your clothing into proper focus - aka not prioritizing your outfit over, say, a good breakfast or some giggles with your baby. The goal is less laundry, less stress over looks, and less dependence on what you own. I'm really excited to spend a month (and hopefully the rest of my life!) wearing less. Shoot me an email or find me on instagram if you're interested in taking part.

Allie Casazza.
Ohmyword this woman. I don't even remember how I discovered her, but I am so happy I did! She is a fantastic individual who has connected the depression in the mundane that we feel with the fact that we own too many things. I love all of her tips for letting go of things I don't need. She continually reminds me that the minimalist life I dream of is something I can actually accomplish, not just another dream I have to let go of. Definitely check out her blog and sign up for her emails, you won't be disappointed!

KonMari Method.
I read (and thoroughly enjoyed) Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Her struggles resonated with me deeply. I used to be that girl who, when told to "clean her room," spent hours and hours going through boxes of my stuff. (I never realized that all my mother meant was that I needed to pick up my laundry and dust the shelves.) I appreciate that Marie had similar past experiences. I don't agree with everything she says; for one thing, she talks about inanimate objects as though they have souls, but she does have some great tips to offer you if you want complete decluttering method.

The Daniel Plan. 
I actually never finished this book. I borrowed it from the library and then suddenly we were moving to Texas and I had to give it back. However, the portion I did read made a lot of sense. This book goes beyond a "minimalism diet" and helps you put your priorities in place, set aside all the junk you don't need, and create a balanced, healthy lifestyle. It takes the focus off of self and puts everything in perspective. It also points out how much we need solid fellowship in our lives in order to free ourselves from dependence on stuff and/or food.

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I'm not quite there yet. I haven't arrived at the spacious, airy home I want. But I'm making my way there. My closet is fresher and so much easier to navigate. My kitchen has been pared down to only a few dishes that we need and love. My living room is free of useless knicknacks.

I'm finding time and space for myself again. A little yoga. Workouts. Time to write. The creativity is seeping back into my brain, allowing me to paint and sew and create. (By the way, this is in no way because my baby has become any easier to handle. She's threatening to crawl, wanting me to hold her every five minutes, and teething like it's the Olympics. We're all over the place these days!)

If you're interested in joining me in this thrilling journey of freedom, let me know! Find me on instagram, email me, comment below! I so want to find encouragement in other women through this. I want to see this idea of freedom and carefree motherhood spread like wildfire. We don't need to be trapped in our own lives. There is a better way. Jump on this bandwagon now!

Baby-Led Weaning

My baby girl recently turned six months, and this is the stage where babies start diving into everything. This is when rolling, crawling, teething, and interest in food all sort of collide. There's so much learning going on you can practically see their brains getting bigger.

And they want to do everything that you do. Especially when it comes to food.

I'm a researcher at heart, so it didn't take me long to put together a mental roadmap on how I wanted to follow baby-led weaning. I am so excited to share why this approach seemed best for me and my little family unit. However, I am not an expert. These are my tips; take them with a grain of salt. And as always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

The basic concept of Baby-Led Weaning (or BLW) is to allow your baby to figure out food on their own, at their own pace, with minimal involvement on your part. Skip the purees and/or baby food altogether, and go straight for "real" food.

You get to watch your child explore food and get messy without the frustration of trying to shove it down their throats. Does this appeal to anyone else? I love that I can just plunk Roxy down in her high chair and offer her a few items from my own plate. She grimaces every time food touches her mouth, but within seconds she's going at it for more, so I think it's safe to say she's a fan of this method.
1. Get a Little Info. 
Do a bit of your own research. Make sure you're starting with foods in the right forms; for example, steamed veggies that are soft and big enough to fit in their fist. There are a few foods, such as honey, that you need to stay away from until baby is one year old. Also, watch out for anything with preservatives, sugar, etc.  Introduce new foods one at a time, generally at least three days in between each one (so you can pick out a food allergy immediately). Be prepared for your baby to make some coughing/gagging sounds - this is normal. They are figuring out where their gag reflex is and how much food they can fit into their mouths. But it wouldn't be a horrible idea to brush up on your infant CPR, just in case.
Here are a few resources for you: Overview and Food Ideas.

2. Transition.
BLW is not meant to be a fast-track method to weaning baby from milk. It still involves a transitory period during which the baby is getting all of their nutrients from breastmilk or formula. In the beginning, do not try to cut out any of their normal feedings and replace them with solid food! Solids should be added slowly - on top of their normal milk intake. Think of mealtimes as an added bonus. Most of the time, baby is only licking, sucking on, and spitting out the food you give them anyway. It takes awhile before they realize that they can eat it.
3. Monitor.
The BLW method is incredibly easy to put into practice. However, always make sure you're paying attention. Give your baby food when they are sitting upright, and ideally when they're in an environment you can easily clean. (In other words, not the living room couch, which of course I say from experience.) Observe them. Encourage them. Make sure they're not choking. Keep an eye out for allergic reactions. The more you are involved, the more they will enjoy the experience. The easiest way to do this is to feed them at mealtimes when you're already eating. It's a win-win for the whole family.

4. Messiness. 
I must warn you that BLW is going to be full of silly faces and messy fun. Because baby is given the chance to explore food in his/her own way, he/she is going to be unpredictable. Dropping food on the floor, rubbing it in the hair, squishing it in the high's going to end up a lot of places. To avoid the biggest messes, give them only one or two pieces of food at a time, and take it away when you notice them becoming bored and throwing things. And be prepared by making sure you have...
5. The Right Tools. 
Please, please, please pick a high chair with a simple design. Any chair with a lot of removable parts and/or padding is going to be a pain to clean. No one wants rotting food hiding in crevices. The high chair brands I heard people raving about were Bloom and Stokke - both of which go for about $500 on Amazon! The only other one that was as highly praised was IKEA's $20 Antilop chair. That's what I opted for and I'm already in love. It's the easiest thing to clean, it's light, and doesn't draw too much attention to itself. Plus the tray goes all the way around to baby's elbows.

I also heard some people suggesting getting large bibs with sleeves, so I purchased this one. I will say that it does work well and cleans easy. Baby Roxy's on the small side, though, and the crinkling of the waterproof material distracts her, so I use regular bibs more often than not. When in doubt, don't fork over the cash till you've seen a need.

6. Relax and Have Fun. 
Every parent's approach to this is going to be different, and the great thing is, it doesn't have to be all-or-nothing. You can do a little purees and a little food in chunks. It's your job to discover what is working and what isn't. Let baby go as his/her own pace (thus the term "baby-led") and choose the way that causes the least amount of stress to you. You're the parent! Make decisions that you can live with.

Have fun with this, too! Baby's food can be just as exciting as yours. You can use a variety of seasonings if you wish - just try to stay away from a lot of salt. The goal is for this to be easier on you and to interest the baby in mealtimes with the rest of the family.
We love everything about it so far, besides the random bits of banana I keep finding in baby girl's hair - and mine. Dinnertime is the best. AdventureDad likes sharing everything with her, which obviously I have to monitor closely, because he'd give her jalapenos, cake, soda, and cow's milk if I let him (our lives are interesting).

It's also helped me to eat healthier. I put a little less salt on everything, and I try to fill my meals with the fruits and veggies that I want her to try. She's always teaching me how to be a better mum.

So far we have tried chicken breast, lean turkey breast lunchmeat, steamed veggies (broccoli, carrots, green beans, cauliflower), fresh fruits (apples, pears, bananas, strawberries), homemade teething biscuits (more for teething than for food), yogurt, and applesauce. From what I've heard it's okay to give them small portions of high allergenic foods, such as eggs and peanut butter, but I haven't tried that yet.

Have you tried baby-led weaning? Do you do purees? What foods has your baby been most interested in so far?

Truth Is, I'm Stuck

"You are the least effective when you feel the most qualified. You lose your strength in God when you feel able to handle what's at hand."
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A few day ago I accidentally deleted the post I had planned for today (I was kind of devastated). I've spent the past four days trying to replicate it, all to no avail. Then I discovered this old blog draft buried in the archives from three-ish years ago; it never got posted. Seemed like the perfect opportunity to dust this one off and send it out.

It turns out that a bunch of those truths I was learning then are doubly true now. Here goes some honesty from twenty-year-old, single me, revamped with a little of my married mom-self thoughts.

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"Truth is..." the people who use that phrase tend to be liars. And I've been lying, to myself and to some of you. Truth is, I don't want to be here. Truth is, I could easily buy a plane ticket and jet off somewhere, and I'd like that a lot. Truth is, I'm scared of staying stuck.

I'll get back to that in a minute.

The Colorado wilderness gave me new sights and sounds. Skies bluer than sapphire and closer to the touch. Breezes whispering through pines and aspens. Wind sucking words from my head as it caught me full-blast at the top of a mountain. The sound of a group of voices, young and old, excited and tired, thankful and confused, rising up in the middle of the forest, worshiping around a campfire as the stars up above told us a story that we could not read. 

That last one was my favorite sound, by the way.

During those crazy times I didn't write like I used to. I didn't have a lot to say. I was too busy being empty and exhausted and uncertain. All of my effort went into doing the next thing. I was a counselor all summer at Lutheran Valley Retreat in Colorado. I loved every minute. My intense love for that place also came with great fear. Every day was another trek into that vast darkness outside of my comfort zone.

That's where God led me. Scary, untracked wilderness. And you know what? I couldn't wait to go back.

All of that adventuring gave me a big head. Like I was incredibly superior to other people because I'd been living while they had simply been...commuting. And as soon as He threatened to take all of that away, I started revolting.

I had to face the fact that being dragged around by God's glorious coattails doesn't make me extra special. Though I badly wanted to assume that it did. It wasn't my hard work that got me any of those places. God plopped me in situations and told me to tread water. Somewhere along the way, I learned how to swim. Naturally, He immediately changed up the terrain and had me hiking mountains (literally and figuratively).

I'm as normal as they come, most days. I have to commute and eat leftovers and find creative methods to wake up in the morning. I get bored and selfish and there are days where I stop trying. I hate brushing my teeth and making my bed (even though I'm not seven years old anymore).

But what if. What if all that wandering and traveling had only been a season? What if I wasn't really an adventure girl, and now it was time to do the boring thing: being stuck as a "normal" person all day every day?

So let's go back to my "truth is" moment. Here's the truth.

I don't trust God.

I'm not rejecting church or burning my faith or throwing away my Bible. I'm just letting you know that sometimes, I have trouble believing what He says.

The kicker about all of this is that every single time God has asked me to go on an adventure, I have said, "No." The adventures He offered me were never the scenarios that I pictured, so each time He showed me something, I balked. "Really, God? There?"

Years and years ago, I begged Him to let me go places. I had a vision in my head of my life as a travel blogger or magazine writer, single and alone but always surrounded by fun people. But instead of jumping all over the earth in my little single rowboat, I've followed others. I've been a part of things. I've had to stick it out when it got tough, instead of disappearing every time I got the chance. I've turned into a housewife and a baby mama.

What He's been showing me, through all this change, is that every circumstance in life has the potential to be either an adventure or a catastrophe. And the deciding factor is me. My willingness to be involved changes everything.

As terrified as I am of being normal and lost and 100% confused, He planned that. He knows something that I don't.

This "mediocrity" that is day-to-day living? It's my next adventure.

He wants to use me in the fullest way possible, and that means giving me strength in the moments when I am weak. The moments where maybe I don't see a point to any of this. As a stay-at-home mom, there are tons of these lurking around. It's easy to feel stuck.

What will your day be? It's your choice, as much as mine. Will it be an adventure, or a catastrophe? Something to laugh about, or a reason to feel like a failure?
"And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly will I boast in my infirmities (weaknesses), that the power of Christ may rest upon me (and work in me). Therefore I take pleasure (and delight in) infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."  2 CORINTHIANS 12:9-10 (emphasis added)
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I'm not condoning being truly stuck, just so you know. All you people who have a chance to fly around with God? Don't complain that you can't carry your closet and your dog with you. For heaven's sake, just go! You'll figure out the rest along the way. Do what God has given you this very minute. Just...don't be afraid to do something stupid in order to get where He wants you to be.

She Is Beautiful

Those of you who follow me on instagram might have noticed me using the new hashtag #sheisbeautiful and I wanted to let you know that I am not simply referring to me or my baby girl (though I'm pretty enamored by her cuteness). I'm talking about all of us - women all over the world. Women with short hair and long, fair skin and dark, women who sketch or run marathons or work at law firms. We women? We're freakin' gorgeous.

Maybe you've misplaced this knowledge somewhere, or perhaps someone made you feel that it wasn't true. Whatever the case, I'm here to let you know that YOU are beautiful. And that's not me talking - I tend to think the people I love are more beautiful than the ones I've never met. But God? He's a master craftsman, and He put you together in just the right way.

The problem is, if you can't see, it tends to make it really hard for others to see it as well. And that's not only a shame, but a waste. We have many roles to play in life, but one of the most important ones is bringing beauty to the world. (If you want to know more about this incredible purpose, check out the book Captivating.)

Let me ask you a question:
We are constantly asking the question, "Am I beautiful?" But we're not always certain, so we try on a different dress, play with our hair a little longer, go on another diet just to be sure.

Instead of reveling in the fact that God made us very specifically, we tend to downplay our looks, focus on our imperfections, and compare ourselves. Or we go the other way, and act like our looks don't matter at all, going all day with unkempt hair, wearing baggy clothing, hiding our faces from cameras.

Then we try to pin our struggle with our appearance on the men. "I wouldn't have to spend so much time getting ready if it wasn't for him," we tell ourselves. But how would you feel if you didn't wear makeup or do your hair for a month? Or if you didn't shower for over a week?

Now, I've done those things, but it was because I was on backpacking trips and being a camp counselor with other rad people who didn't care about their appearance - went out of their way, in fact, to look ridiculous! It was freeing, to not look in a mirror. To forget what I looked like and define myself instead by what I was doing. Yet when I got the chance to shower and wear a frivolous outfit, I was positively giddy. Should I feel guilty about that?

I've forgotten that God made me - us - as women to be beautiful and it's okay if we notice! Especially as moms and wives, we tend to put schedules, cleaning, cooking, etc. far before the way we look when our man walks through the door.

I am speaking to two types of women today:

#1 Women who are on top of it. You are determined to have your makeup, hair, and possibly even your outfit all settled just so before you can handle your day - and certainly before anyone can see you. Here is my word to you:
You are beautiful; make sure your "beauty regimen" isn't covering up the beauty that's already there. Let your hair do it's own thing once in a while. Be willing for someone to drop by your house, even if you look less than put together. Your makeup does not define nor create your beauty.

#2 Women who are "low-maintenance." You are not too concerned with looks or fashion. You like looking nice, but you have more important things to worry about in the morning. You don't plan on seeing anyone today anyway, so why try hard? Here is my word to you:
You are beautiful; it's okay to revel in it a little. How much better would you feel if you took a minute to highlight your beauty, to feel pretty? Maybe in the morning so you feel more confident in facing the day, or in the evening right before your man comes home. It isn't vain to acknowledge that God made you to be beautiful!
I want you to be able to step into each day already knowing your worth in Christ. Knowing that He says you're beautiful, and letting that be enough. I don't want to push anyone into vanity. But I'm a little sick of seeing women let their own opinions of themselves make them miserable.

You know what? The women and men around you aren't busy judging you for your looks. They're often too busy criticizing themselves to notice that you forgot a belt today, or that your hair isn't as perfect as yesterday.

So who's fault is it if you're feeling gross and ugly and out of sorts? Yours.

I'll leave you with a verse that puts inward and outward beauty in their places.

"Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror." 1 Peter 3:3-6 (emphasis added)

Did you hear that? You have the capability to have an incorruptible, eternal beauty. The crazy thing is, if you believe that and live in it, you will be beautiful on the outside, too. This is a call to be bold and unafraid. Let nothing stop us beautiful women who live in the power of God!

Month of Braids Challenge

In my previous post, I promised to only do one blog post per week so that I could give you the most high quality work. I will keep this short and sweet and leave you with photos and tutorials to play with.

For the month of February, I participated in a #30daysnewbraids challenge, which at the outset I envisioned being easy and fun. But it was actually kind of hard for me.

I've never out much stock in personal beauty habits. I'm a girl, I like to look pretty, but spending an hour doing makeup + hair each morning? Ew. Sleep is better. Breakfast is better. Even a thirty-minute sweaty workout makes me feel more prepped for the day than an hour primping in the bathroom.

So there were several days where I almost quit. Nights when I was ready to crawl into bed and I still hadn't braided my hair for the day. But in the end, I didn't skip a single day, and that's a lot more encouraging to me than how the braids actually turned out.

Here's what I learned from all of this (you can find all the photos from my challenge at the bottom of this post, including some links to tutorials on how to do them yourself.):

  1. Having a morning routine is invaluable. Getting in a rut is never a good thing, but a little consistency goes a long way. I loved the days when I would wake up and braid my hair before the baby was up. I felt so ready for the day ahead. Whatever happens after that initial morning routine, bring it. Morning devos, a workout, a healthy breakfast, putting on some mascara - whatever it is, wake up a few minutes early to accomplish this small task. You'll feel better for it.
  2. Beauty is something we choose to believe. I felt prettier each time I braided my hair. Even if the braid turned out badly or looked terrible with my face shape (that's a thing), I knew that I was worth taking a few minutes for my physical appearance. Crazy, right? Doing my hair doesn't technically make me any more beautiful than I was before. But putting in a teeny bit of effort does makes a difference in how you perceive yourself. Choose to believe you're beautiful, today and every day (say it out loud if that helps).
  3. Challenges work out my patience muscles. I usually can't be bothered to deal with something that doesn't show promise within ten minutes. I'm sort of distractable/impatient that way. But bring a little competition in (even if I'm playing against myself) and I'll stick it out. Between unmanageable hair and a crying baby, I had to have patience to get my hair to look anything like the photos I was looking at - and sometimes it took more than one try. Spot-on training right there.

>> #30DaysofBraids <<

#1 Mini Single Braid (first day of the challenge and I had only decided to do it that morning, so I started small and gave myself grace)
#2 Regular
#3 French Braided Pigtails
#4 Combo Side-Braid
#5 Dutch Wrap-Around
#6 Twisted Half-Crown
#7 Pull-Through Ponytail (note: this braid is not easier to do with wet hair!)
#8 French-Braided Fishtail - my first (failed) attempt
#9 French-Braided Dutch - Mohawk Style
#10 Braided Flower Crown (supposed to look like three roses, but it's a bit tough to accomplish when you're driving to church and can't see the back of your head)
#11 Half Up-Do - a tiny braid wrapped around a half-up ponytail
#12 4-Strand - Dutch Style ("dutch" meaning strands go under not over when braiding)
#13 Bohemian Side Braid - regular braid with a fishtail at the bottom
#14 French-Braided Fishtail - my second and far improved attempt! (My hair is very fine, so doing this style while it was wet made things massively better.)
#15 Underneath the Ponytail Braid (I have tried this braid a few times, and man, I cannot get it to look right at all. I braided my hair and pulled the ponytail up into a bun, only to discover that you could only barely see a braid in the back at all. Go figure.)
#16 Waterfall
#17 The Double-Dutch (or as I like to call it, hide the greasy mom-bangs)
#18 Lace Braided Headband
#19 3-D Pull-Through Braid - You're gonna want to try this one (trust me!), so here's the tutorial
#20 Mini Braids with Embroidery Floss + Beads
#21 5-Strand - another one that looks super tricky, but this EASY tutorial made all the difference.
#22 Regular French
#23 Side-Braids - no clue what this one is called, I attempted this but failed miserably without any sort of tutorial. Here's to trying some of these again!
#24 Mermaid
#25 Fishtail Pigtails
#26 Triple-Braided Mohawk - if you can do this one better, please give me your tips! It was supposed to look like this.
#27 Rose Pony
#28 Mini Fishtails - Gypsy Look
#29 Shoelace Crown - oh-so-fun, you must try it, literally you are tying your hair in knots and somehow it ends up elegant.
#30 I tried three different braids on my last day, and I didn't get any good photos. So much for going out with a bang...

Let me know how it goes if you try any of these braids! Are there any hairstyles you've been dying to try?