How To Preserve Good Memories

Easily organize your life in 3 simple steps! …well, as far as memorabilia is concerned. Here’s a quick, easy photo guided tutorial on How to Preserve Good Memories by keeping favorite photos, notes, tickets, cards, invitations, etc. memorabilia neatly organized and displayed in prelabeled pockets of  a memory book or scrapbook.

This Organization Obsession method  to the memorabilia madness makes storing and displaying momentos SUPER easy and eliminates the keepsake clutter!

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Materials:

Book, binder or scrapbook with removable, replaceable pages

Page Protectors sized to fit the book (letter, 12×12, etc.) and counted according to organization preference (annual, semi-annual, monthly, etc.)

Paper sized to fit the book (letter, 12×12, etc.)

Labeling Tool (pen, pencil, printer, labeler, etc.)

1.) Secure desired number of page protectors into the book. I organize our memorabilia by month and dedicate one book to each year.

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2.) Label page protectors as desired. I like to spice-up my niece and nephew’s books by using pretty papers pertaining to and labeled with each month of the year.

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FULL disclosure, I mostly use boring black and white labels on my own books. Whomp, whomp.

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3.) Store book in a convenient spot making it easily accessible for storing or sharing memorabilia on the spot!

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One of my most prized material possessions is our memory book collection, which (no joke) is prominently displayed front and center in the great room.

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With memory books dating back to high school, coupled with childhood albums from our parents, we have quite the collection. However, within the last few years I’ve been spending more time on making memories and less time on preserving them, thus leaving no time to organize my memorabilia.

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I’d been brainstorming ideas on organizing our steady influx of endorphin inducing notes, invitations, photos, cards and mementos but it wasn’t until a couple days ago while creating my nephew and niece’s annual memory books that this ingenious idea came along.

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Preserving good memories is a great idea for kids and adults alike. I find it fun to have a book (or encyclopedia) of fond memories, treasured mementoes and happy moments on hand at home and hope this tutorial inspires others to share the same enlightening experience,  including my niece and nephew who inspired this post. The first of my many autopilot memory books went to my niece on her third birthday!

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I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally neatly file away my massive amount of to-be-organized memorabilia!  As we begin to pack up and move out of our current residence, this idea of How To Preserve Good Memories literally has arrived just in the nick of time!

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30 Awesome Top Activities In Oahu Hawaii

Following is a fun photo story of some favorite memories on the most populated Hawaiian island, all organized into a handy dandy reference list of 30 Awesome Top Activities In Oahu Hawaii.

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We first visited gorgeous Oahu on our honeymoon (left below) and most recently (right below) this map dot literally happened to be a halfway meeting point for Christmas the year my parents taught in East Timor. (Indonesia’s another adventure!)

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There’s something for everyone to fall in love with on this fabulous 596.7 square mile gem in the Pacific Ocean.

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1.) Surfing 

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Hawaii is a mecca for surfing, especially when the big waves come out to play in the winter.260447732406

We took surf lessons on Waikiki Beach our first time in Oahu.

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It was an exhilarating, informative hour of full out fun.

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On the second go-round we attempted to teach my sister the skills learned from our lesson.

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Our best beginner surfing tips include: don’t forget a rash guard (the name speaks to the purpose) and paddle, paddle, PADDLE …unless you’d rather just lay and look cool on a surfboard like we mostly did on that day!

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2.) North Shore 

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The world famous North Shore is Hawaii’s top surf spot.

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The perfect waves host countless professional surfing competitions, which lure droves each year to the more rural side of the island.

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3.) Bonzai Pipeline 

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Located off of the North Shore’s Sunset Beach, the infamous wave is every surfer’s dream but the dangerous rip-tide and jagged reef below threatens the worst of nightmares.

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4.) Waimai Bay

Waimai is also a popular surf spot that has a high jump rock for the double dare devils!

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5.) Turtle Bay

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Located on Oahu’s northern-most point, Turtle Bay boasts scenic views, luscious landscaping, a golf course, spa, restaurant and a host of luxurious leisure activities like…

6.) Horseback riding

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The trail ride we took along Turtle Bay then back into the woods where television series Lost was filmed proved to be tons of fun, beyond beautiful and most definitely unforgettable.

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7.) Wildlife

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Hawaii is home to a hugely diverse ecosystem that houses a wide variety of unique land and sea creatures like the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal we caught napping at the North Shore.

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8.) Giant Sea Turtles 

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Up close encounters with sea turtles easily rank among top favorite Hawaiian moments for many, so I’ve been told time after time and speaking from experience!

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Giant sea turtles can be seen sleeping on the beaches (we saw these at the North Shore) more so in the winter)and swimming all around the island.

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9.) Skydiving 

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…speaking of wild, if you’re looking for a sure thrill, skydiving in Hawaii is an experience like no other.

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After signing your life away in waiver forms, jumpers are taken up up and away in a tiny plane (that’s the scariest part by far), then dropped off over the great wide open. I was completely chill leading up until that OMG moment hit right as I looked out of the airplane door and stepped out over the ocean to free falllllllllllllllllllll!

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The fall is a blur of amazing mountain views and sea turtles swimming below in the beautiful blue Hawaiian water.

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Eventually the wind whisks the parachute inland, an airfield quickly approaches and the ride of a life time is over in what seems like a instant.

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10.) Go Topless or Just Go!

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A drive around the island of Oahu can easily be enhanced with a hair-whipping-in-the-wind jeep or convertible rental, but no matter what kind of vehicle takes the trip, even just one day of FULL island exploration is sure to be an amazing adventure.

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We went all out on our honeymoon with a fun yellow jeep, then shared an economy rental on the family vacation.

11.) Pearl Harbor

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The USS Arizona Memorial is a fabulous fortress that serves as a reminder of the Pearl Harbor attack, a dedication to fallen soldiers and a salute to America’s military forces.

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A personal highlight from this part of our trip was seeing the USS Maryland (below), which protected hubby’s grandfather on that dreadful December 7th in 1941.

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12.) Boating

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Where there is water, boats are sure to be.

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Oahu offers ALL kinds of boat rentals, charters, excursions, tours and more.

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13.) Snorkeling

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There are some amazing snorkel spots all over Oahu.

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The Hawaiian waters are teeming with colorful coral, fabulous fish and yes, even coveted sea turtles which I can personally voucher for seeing in Hanauma Bay!

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14.) Hanauma Bay 

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Hanauma Bay offers some of the best warm water snorkeling in the Pacific and quite possibly the world. (There’s a lot of world still to explore!)

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Though parking can be packed, an entrance fee applies and there’s a short informative, yet mandatory video, this amazing oasis is not to be missed!

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We’ve indulged in the Hanauma Bay on both our Oahu occasions and would most definitely go back in a heart beat! The calm protected bay makes it easy to spot tons of diverse sea life.

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15.) Hiking

748627732406The island has a ton of hiking trails through an amazing variety of terrains.

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Speaking of hiking, it must be said that Hawaii itself is a hike! A trip from the opposite side of the country (the United States East Coast)  is about one flight layover and over 12 hours of travel for one way alone.

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We have frazzled pictures to prove it upon arrival (above). Believe us though, the major jet lag just makes the amazing Hawaiian experience that much more surreal, for real!

16.) Diamond Head

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Diamond Head provides that iconic Hawaiian volcanic crater backdrop from Waikiki Beach and is also an awesome nearby hike.

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The moderate hike up to the top is rewarded with the most beautiful vistas.

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Although its’ the only hike we’ve conquered on Oahu, it’s so good we’ve done it twice!

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17.) Beaches

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The most beautiful beaches big and small, sandy and rocky, public and private, narrow and wide can be found all over Oahu.

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Exploring and experiencing Oahu’s amazing array of beaches can be done in a day or potentially over a lifetime!

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18.) Waikiki Beach 

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Hawaii’s most famous beach offers gentle rolling waves and wide sandy beaches right in the heart of the city.

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19.) Swimming

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The Pacific Ocean surrounding Hawaii is bathwater warm year round so dont hesitate, jump right in!

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20.) Sunbathing 

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The Hawaiian sun is both beautiful and brutal. Make sure to pack extra strength sun block, shades, sarong, hat, etc. uv protection.

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21.) Boogie boarding

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Next to surfing, boogie boarding also takes advantage of Oahu’s gnarly waves.

655175732406Boogie boarding is probably hubby’s most favorite pastime. That’s him with the yellow board!

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22.) Kuhio Beach and Park

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Conveniently located just south of Waikiki Beach near many eateries, shops and accommodations, the slightly less crowded Kuhio Beach and Park is probably our favorite hang out on the Honolulu side of the Oahu.

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It’s also Hubby’s favorite with-in walking distance boogie boarding spot (just south of the pier).

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Park benches, grassy knolls, palm trees and paved pathways along the beautiful beach are just some of the highlights here.

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23.) Banyon Trees

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These exciting trees with completely unique above ground aerial root systems are found alongside Wiakiki Beach and throughout the entire island. I enjoyed spotting these beauties.

24.) Honolulu

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Five million (mostly from US and Japan) flock to this fabulous destination each year. As culture shock may have it on my first hop to Honolulu, I was really surprised it was just another BIG city with lots of traffic.

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In fact Honolulu has ranked among the worst traffic in America BUT, just is a very large understatement of course with the natural appeal of the semi-metropolitan tropical paradise.

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25.) Shopping

Honolulu houses one huge mall, department discount stores, souvenir shops and tons of ABC convenient stores that sell everything from scuba gear and sunscreen to eggs, milk and cereal.

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If someone gets bit by the shopping bug, Honolulu has a remedy nearby to cure it!

26.) International Market

Expect a unique open air market of street vendors selling Hawaiian goods, souvenirs and such. If you’re in search for a treasure unique to the area, there’s a good change it can be found at the International Market.

27.)  Dole Plantation

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Dole is family friendly destination offering plantation tours, the world’s largest garden maze and even a quaint cafe complete with pineapple ice cream!

28.) Pineapple

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There’s no doubt, the pineapples are guaranteed to be sun ripened and freshly harvested here in Hawaii thanks to Dole. Pineapple is definitely a Hawaiian classic!

29.) Fresh Catch

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Surrounded by sea, Oahu is a primo place to find a delectable array of  fresh catch! Hawaii is huge on sustainable fishing practices too, so don’t hesitate to dive right in!

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30.) Sunsets

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Amazing sunsets can be seen from Wiakiki Beach almost every night.

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Hawaii has some of the most amazing sunsets we’ve experienced yet!

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These are just 30 Awesome Top Activities in Oahu Hawaii. There are so many more wonderful things about this one of a kind destination. Please share your favorites in the comment section!

How To Grow Pineapple

Bring the warmth of the tropics to any home with a welcoming pineapple plant! This is an incredibly easy three step tutorial on how to grow pineapple.

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Step 1: Hack off the top of a pineapple, bam!

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Step 2: Plant the pineapple top in a pot filled with soil.

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Step 3: Water the pineapple plant about once or twice a week as long as you both shall live.

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Pineapples take about five years to start reproducing at which point both fruit and plants will start multiplying.

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Since the first fruit appeared in our pineapple garden last fall, two baby plants have also popped up and are getting so big they’ll soon need their own containers.

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[Check out this scrumptious Mind Full Food recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cookies!]

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Historically pineapples have been a symbol of welcome and ‪‎hospitality which makes our pineapple ‪‎garden started by my mom MUCH more significant.

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Opening our ‪‎home to others is a practice picked up from my parents that has truly enhanced and enriched my life. Thus, in additional to focusing on travel inspiration, we also love to share stories involving home gatherings here.

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The first and only time I’ve ever seen a pineapple growing on a plant (other than ours) is at Dole Plantation in Oahu, Hawaii with my parents, sister and hubby on a Christmas holiday in 2008.

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Looking back through the photos has inspired me to to start sharing travel style Throwback Thursday photo stories as a tribute to the 30 years of adventuring that took place prior to the start of Good Morning Merry Sunshine. Look for more Hawaii photos coming later this week!

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How ’bout them pineapples?!

Skinny Banana Bread Muffins

Although I’m open to trying just about anything once, bashfully I can be pretty picky when it comes to banana flavored anything. Honestly I’ve never been a big fan of banana bread, but that all changed when I met these Skinny Banana Bread Muffins!

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Skinny Banana Bread Muffins
(12 muffins or 1 loaf)

1/2 cup pitted dates
2 bananas, peeled and mashed
1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
1/2 cup fat free or low fat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or nibs(optional)
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1.) Cover pitted dates in grade A maple syrup or honey, microwave about 2 minutes, allow dates to plump 5 – 10 minutes, then puree with a blender or chopper.
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2.) Whisk all ingredients together until smooth and creamy.
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3.) Fill prepared loaf pan(s) or 12 muffin cups with a half cup of batter each.
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4.) Bake muffins about 25 minutes and loaves about 55 minutes or until golden brown.
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5.) Cool bread for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack or enjoy immediately.
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A sprinkle of walnuts before baking or a pinch of mini chocolate chips or nibs after baking make gorgeous garnishes up on top Skinny Banana Bread Muffins.
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Muffins can be kept at room temperature or refrigerated for up to a week. They can also be frozen immediately for great warm-over grab and go breakfasts, quick snacks or ready-made dinner appetizers. Skinny Banana Bread Muffins or baked goods in general also make great gifts.
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A couple of old bananas and the birthday of beautiful (youthful!!) Aunt Ellen inspired the creation of this cozy comfort food recipe. The muffins that wouldn’t fit in the gift tin disappeared immediately and left us with a hankering for more.
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Cheers to aging as gracefully as Aunt Ellen and to delicious, nutritious Skinny Banana Bread Muffins!

How To Donate Hair To Locks Of Love {My Hair History}

I aim to create awareness by sharing how to donate hair to Locks of Love, what inspired me to get involved and the history on growing out my hair.

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Donating is as simple as dropping a ponytail filled envelope into the mail.

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The hardest part is gathering the courage to chop off your locks.

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Having been told the falsification that dyed hair can’t be donated, I grew out my mane extra long. Three years long. Belly button long. Out of control long.

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As the inevitable bad hair day is to be expected, there have been highlights and low lights throughout my hair history.

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I’ve mixed it up, that’s for sure.

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From bangs and braids to bobs and blowouts, my hair has seen a lot of different looks.

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After a childhood friend and college roommate laced my locks with blond highlights our Junior year at Virginia Tech, I continued to color my hair for about a decade.

IMG_4217The DIY color kits would often turn my strands orange-ish instead of coveted blond, so shortly after graduating and getting on my feet I switched strictly to salon color.

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As life got busier I began to loath the long salon visits required to maintain the look and decided to spend my time and money on better things (like travel!). Besides, abstaining from dousing my brain in chemicals every couple of months must be a bit a healthier, right?

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 About that same time I saw some girlfriends posting about their hair donations and was simply inspired to follow suit. In July 2011 (above) while hubby was at the poker tables in Vegas, Globe Salon did one last fabulous dye job that very closely resembled my natural color (right below).

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[Check out our Vegas and San Francisco combo adventure video!]

From that point forward I got a trim about once a year despite popular advice to get cuts more frequently.

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 As luck had it ombre hair was in trend so my half and half color was actually something people were paying big bucks for at the time (according to my stylist, Hero). How amazing was that?!

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In late December 2014, with much persistence from my sister (who pointed out how much shampoo and hair dryer energy I’d be saving the planet), I finally scheduled the cut and a twelve inch donation!

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A minimum of 10 inches of clean hair must be gathered in a ponytail, secured in a sealed bag and mailed in a padded envelope. A sweet little certificate is sent after the donation is accepted if the donor’s name and email or mailing address are also included inside the package.

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Visit Locks of Love for the most current donation information and please be inspired to give!