planning a baby shower

Finding out you’re going to be an aunt is wonderful enough. But when you’re also asked to be the little guy’s godmother, you immediately freak out.
“Can you imagine meeting a new person? A new, NEW person?”, said my usual excited self. “And being able to mold and teach them? It’s a fresh start. It’s one of the most amazing opportunities in the world. To get to know someone from the beginning and be able to watch them grow and hopefully become a better individual than you are.”
Well, it is pretty awesome! And soon after I found out I would have this new experience I promised I would plan the Baby Shower. I went on Pinterest and looked for inspiration, searched the web for designs and ideas.
I made the invitations, sent them and buried myself in plans to make sure it was perfect. Or at least the best I could make it.
Of course I didn’t do it alone. I had the best help I could ask for. 
Here is a sneaky first look at the decor and DIY’s.
Cake and Cupcakes from Sweet and Easy
Some decor elements from Docinho de Açúcar
Let me know what you think about my party planning skills and tell me if you’d like to see the invitations, how I made these candles and more!

I want to be a hero

Since I was a kid I’ve been interested in differences. I knew every person was special. I understood that the singularity about you was that you were brought up differently than me. That your experiences and your relationships and your beliefs were one of a kind and that your life couldn’t be the exact copy of mine.
That doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a problem realizing how differences worked. And how much effort you actually needed to invest in order to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

from Tumblr
I began to rely on stories to understand the world and the human interactions.
My favorite Disney movie has always been Mulan, this ordinary girl who decides to step forward and risk her own life to save her father’s by taking his place in the army. This happens after she tried to make her family proud and ended up feeling like a failure. The beauty of all of it is that despite being terrified, she did what she thought was necessary and even after a long path of hardship she found herself. Not only did she save China, she made her family proud and most of all, she discovered she was worth much more than she ever could have dreamed.
When I was in college I finally recognized what I’ve been obsessed about my whole life. It was “The Hero’s Journey”.
Because Joseph Campbell studied mythology and psychology he came across some parallels in our history and our stories. Later he made this fundamental structure in which all fantasy is created. It’s this list of steps that take a normal person through an unexpected life changing journey to become better. That ultimately results in he or she becoming a hero.
This short video illustrates how this theory was implemented in a lot of motion pictures that we know and love:
Of course this can ruin some surprises or make movies less special because you start to understand the mechanic of storytelling but for me it was something different. It helped me grow.
I’ve learnt that courage and bravery are not born with us. They’re the result of being scared to death and still doing it anyway. They’re the result of resiliency and a lot of fighting against our own natural instincts to run and hide.
Heroes and villains are not born. They’re made. And they’re both trying to do the right thing. Is just that villains are only thinking about what’s best for themselves or what they think is right without thinking about other people’s feelings or situations. Without giving everyone the liberty to make their own choices. Without putting themselves in the other one’s shoes.
A hero doesn’t need to be the strongest person alive or the bravest. But he or she has to have incredible empathetic abilities and compassion skills.
But if you look at the real world this just means that anybody can be a hero if they have what it takes to face the journey. To be strong and bold and able to find their own path while never forgetting about everyone around them. To display their noble character.
I wish I could just say ‘My journey to be a hero starts today!’ but it doesn’t work like that. In fact, it takes a lot more than that. Maybe we all just need to follow our bliss.

“The adventure is its own reward — but it’s necessarily dangerous, having both negative and positive possibilities, all of them beyond control. We are following our own way, not our daddy’s or our mother’s way… Life can dry up because you’re not off on your own adventure.

There’s something inside you that knows when you’re in the center, that knows when you’re on the beam or off the beam. And if you get off the beam to earn money, you’ve lost your life. And if you stay in the center and don’t get any money, you still have your bliss.” 

Joseph Campbell
What do you think about looking at life from this perspective? How do you feel about heroes?

6 steps to build your personal brand

Yes! There is something different here!

Look up!
I’m sorry for the extra excitement but I feel like this is huge!
I’ve been thinking about launching myself as a freelancer for months and everything is starting to come together!
This is my step by step for launching your personal brand!
#1: Think of a brand name.

Make it easy to pronounce but meaningful and something you love.
This may be your name or an expression you come up with. For me it was a composition of my three word birth name. Da+Lei+An.
(The description of what you’ll do as a freelancer is a plus. Mine is a combination of one of my personality traits, my hobbies and what I’ve majored in. I smile a lot, I love to read and write and I take pictures.)

#2: Own your domain and email.

(This one is optional but in time you’ll see its importance.)
When I began blogging a few years ago I created “The Magnolia” on Blogger. Then I changed it to “(not) The Sweetest Girl” and I loved that name. But this was my blog, not my brand. I could have kept it and it would have been fine but I wanted to make this website something I called my own. Something I was proud of and could show to potential clients.
So I went to Go Daddy and created my website: which is still hosted by Blogger because I find it easier to manipulate.
After that I looked for ways to have my email and since I had been using Gmail forever and knew almost everything about it, I found it to be the perfect match.
If you can and are willing to invest in your brand, spending a small amount a year to have your own domain and email is doing yourself a favor.

#3: Get your name out there.

This means getting on social media and being present. Understand how each one of them functions and make sure you establish your brand as something that future clients will love to follow. If you think Pinterest or Instagram are not for you, jump on Facebook and Twitter, or vice versa. You could even just use newsletters and emails but first you need clients to find you!
This also goes for one-on-one communication. Talk to people! Learn to present your name and your brand. Some say you should be able to pitch what you do on a small elevator ride. Practice!
#4: Have a logo.

It’s really important for people to recognize your brand. It’s great when people recognize your business just by a symbol or a color. On a large scale, think of Starbucks or Apple.
In a smaller scale, this is extremely useful to have as a watermark on your photos if you’re a photographer and obviously as a profile picture on your Facebook Page. On the blogosphere we use it as a button on other peoples blogs or business cards.
A few days ago this was just my blog title in a JPEG format and it worked for what I needed at the time! But now, it’s a professionally designed image.
The good news is that you can go on Fiverr and find amazing artists and illustrators ready to make wonderful art for you for a really cheap price!
I told my designer what I liked and what I wanted, showed my Instagram and spoke a little about my likes and dislikes. So I got this delicate work of art filled with what makes me Daleian!
Flash is there, of course, as a cute little puppy; then I have my pen and my camera as well as my favorite color!
#5: Be consistent.

Set goals, short or long term ones, plan your life and write down everything you need to do (emails, networking, business proposals) and practice your communication skills. Stick to the plan and don’t give up.
I have to say this is probably the hardest one for me. I can guarantee you that the initial excitement will wear off and you’ll have to push through the hard mornings when you just want to sleep and the dreadful white page! But if you keep working it will pay off!

You don’t have to create new content all the time but make sure you are making it perfect! It’s better to post fewer times a week than to post bad content every day. Just as people have the power to click that button and follow you if they love what you post, they’ll do the same and unfollow you if they don’t.
#6: Be yourself.

The most important thing to remember is that people such as clients or readers or fans will only connect with you if they like who you are or what you’re selling. But this doesn’t mean you have to change yourself to be more successful!
The secret is in doing what you love and being who you are because only then will you work towards something that makes you happy and will make other people happy.
In the end, your personal brand should be about you!

effortless Halloween pumpkin – DIY

This one is for all of you carving your first Halloween Pumpkin.
A confession first: I was never a huge fan of Halloween.
I’m more a Christmas and Easter kind of girl… But I do love diy’s and decor so, naturally, I was always curious about the process of carving a pumpkin and making those silly faces and cute designs.
2 years ago I think I even bought one but ended up never making anything with it.
So this is the year! My mom and I bought a cute medium sized orange friend and got together to make something out of it. It was a first for both of us.
You’ll need:

a pumpkin
knives and spoons
(we started of with just one of each and ended up having a bunch of them gathered on the table)
2 bowls
a pen
a small candle
Start by picking your sharpest and strongest knife and be careful while you cut the top of the pumpkin. The seeds are just below that so, once you separate the little hat with the knife, you can pull it.

Next, take all of the seeds and gooey stuff to a separate bowl.
Now it’s time to do the the hard work. Prepare for some serious arm workout.
Take a spoon (ours is one of those little spoons to cut small balls out of fruit) and have fun scraping everything from the inside.
Here’s the fun part. Grab the pen and draw something to carve! Go online, find a cute or funny or scary pumpkin face to give you inspiration or just start drawing your own design.
I really like those cute silly smiles with just a few teeth, so mine ended up being friendly and not so original nor scary.
After you draw your lines, carve away! But be careful because of the thinness of the skin. Now your knife may cut easily and slip away from the lines with just a tiny push.

Light a small candle and carefully insert it. Cover the top hole with the hat you cut previously.
And there you have it! Your own Jack-O-Lantern!
Hope you have fun this Halloween!
(I kept the seeds and roasted them. Recipe coming out soon!)

4 steps to have glowing skin all year round

Fall hasn’t been the most consistent season lately here in Portugal. One day is hot and sunny and the other is windy and rainy. 
Don’t get me wrong, I love cozy days in! But the sudden changes of weather can cause severe damage to our skin. 
You spend all summer outside and that great ball of fire soaks you in happiness and transforms your outer layer in an awesome glowing tanned surface.
And then gloomy and grey days appear and your once pimple free and hydrated glow disappears and you’re left with a dry, matte and not so pimple free coat.
Does this sound familiar?
Even if I’m not that prone to breaking out, I did noticed that my skin starts to get really dry and dull once these kinds of days roll in.
So I’m here today to let you know what I’ve been doing this year to prevent this scenario from happening.
The skin is our biggest organ and it protects us against so many aggressive intruders every day.
After spending a long time without exfoliating and having a few experiences of not taking off my makeup before bed, I decided to stop being lazy and take care of what is so important to my body.
I started to exfoliate at least once a week with a simple DIY sugar scrub I found online.
You just take 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of oil (olive or coconut oil) and stir it all together. If you have essential oils available use them too (2-4 drops).
Exfoliating gets rid of dead cells, unclogs pores and it also contributes to a healthier looking skin by letting it absorb lotion more effectively.
Although I’m a huge believer in natural ingredients in everyday beauty, I can’t get enough of my Dove lotion. It is a cheap moisturizer but it’s also my favorite.
It has a light consistency and my skin feels super smooth after I apply it.
Plus! Make sure you drink up!
Since I’m not a huge water fan, I’ve been drinking a lot of tea!
Herbal tea not only calms your system and nourishes your mind but it also takes care of your body.
Hydration is definitely the key to have beautiful skin.
Some say there is nothing better to release toxins from your body and skin than to sweat!
After I started doing CrossFit consistently I’ve noticed an improvement in the way my body functioned. I’m sure it had a huge impact on my skin as well!
So go ahead and do something fun. Make sure you love it. And sweat away!
Lastly, you have to get the right foods in if you want a beautiful outside.
One of my favorite meals is breakfast. And I have to say I changed a lot from when I was a teenager and would often skip it before school.
It’s hard to innovate when you don’t have much time to prepare your food. You stick to the same things everyday.
When I found this breakfast recipe page from a company called ALOHA, I was so happy! Not only was it an awesome company (and I hope they start worldwide shipping soon!) but the food is healthy and looks amazing!
Inspired by this pancake recipe I tweaked my former oatmeal ones and now I give you my favorite protein packed breakfast:
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pancakes (serves 3 small or 2 medium).
180 ml egg whites
1 whole egg
1 “hand” of oatmeal flour
1/2 banana
dark chocolate chips to sprinkle
Get a food processor and pour the egg whites, the egg and the oatmeal flour in.
After everything is well mixed you’ll get a yellow liquid.
Cut 1/2 banana into thin slices and heat some olive oil in a pan of your choice.
A few seconds after you pour the liquid in the hot pan take a few banana slices and dark chocolate chips and sprinkle the semi pancake.
Once the bottom feels cooked turn it over.
Serve hot or cold and, personally, in this Fall weather I like to have everything with cinnamon!
I can’t say I maintain my summer tan but I keep it longer because of these tips.
And that’s how you get the ultimate glowing skin all year round. You keep it happy, healthy and youthful.
Let me know your tips for a better looking skin in this gloomy weather!

make an effort – positive monday

How many times have you felt misunderstood? Or neglected by the people that were supposed to know you better? Have you ever tried to understand someone who is completely different or relates to different things than you do?
I feel like nowadays we’re not making an effort. We’re not making an effort to connect with other people or to understand them.
The only time the majority of us really cares about the quality of our commitment is when it’s about fulfilling our independent goals and dreams.
But aren’t we supposed to be there for each other?
I mean, when you have a friend you need to be there during the time you put aside for them. You need to understand their likes and dislikes and most importantly you need to listen to what they have to say.
Same for family members and everyone that allows you to be part of their lives.
Time is our most precious possession and we’ve been giving it away for free without truly appreciating it. We should be investing in relationships and experiences that can transform us.
Most of the time I see people somewhere between listening and finding a hole to speak. A lot of people just forget the first one. Most of us never truly get the meaning of sharing. Sharing time, sharing places and experiences. Usually if there’s something to be enjoyed there’s always one person who’ll suck the joy out of everything because they learned they had priority over everyone else.

In reality we’re all trying to find our place and when someone steps on what we’ve been trying to safely keep as ours, it’s like they’ve breached through an invisible bubble. And we stop respecting their bubble too. So we start to build bigger walls to keep them away and somehow we think it’s normal to look at everyone as intruders. We stop seeing humans and we start to see aliens or something so different that there is no way they’ll understand our space and there is no option other than to focus on our little world inside these walls.
This is what happens with strangers in our lives. If we don’t know them, why do we think it’s fair to talk about them or to criticize? Why do we think we have the right to look at them in a certain way? Why do we feel like our thoughts and beliefs are better or stronger than theirs?
“You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you.
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger

You’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.”

Let’s promise to make an effort with others. A real one. To create or to take time to understand what they’re made of and why they are the way they are. And not to judge or try to change them. Just to listen. Then maybe we’ll feel part of their world too.


why am I not resting at night?

There should be one of those activity monitors for our brains. Like a Fit Bit in our heads. 
I know scientists can “read dreams” but I’m talking more of an app to show you exactly what you dreamed about last night just as those bracelets show you how many times you moved.
You would plug it into your computer or smartphone and it would open a video file. You would be a filmmaker everyday.
Obviously you could be admitted into a facility for crazy filmmakers because the government would immediately find a way to arrest people for having minds that were too weird.
If I could sell my nightmares as movie scripts I would be rich. If someone would record my dreams I would probably be admitted too.

not my bed and I should be the one holding the camera: Movie set – May 2015

Recently I’ve been having more nightmares than usual. And the usual is probably already too much.

My problem is that I have too many of those lucid dreams (the ones when you know you’re dreaming but you keep going anyway) and it’s becoming so intense that I don’t think my brain is resting as much as it should.
I know this isn’t connected to too much stress or unsolved problems as much as it is to not paying attention to my body.
I was never one to go to bed early or to stick to a nighttime routine like every health magazine and interviewed doctor on TV says. I’m sure if Doctor Oz asked me to describe my nights I wouldn’t have just one answer.
So let’s brainstorm on some causes for this:
#1: I’m not being as active as I should so my brain (and body) is not getting the appropriate stimulation while awake.
I’ts true that I’ve not been keeping my exercise schedule as regular as it should mostly because I still have tendon and joint pains from the walk I did a few weeks ago. (also because I keep making up excuses)
#2: My brain never shuts down because I never shut down and take my phone to bed with me.
This is probably the biggest issue because I seem to never be able to disconnect completely. I keep checking social media and my friends texts. (so they’re partially guilty for my lack of good sleep too)
#3: My bed is too cold or too hot.
TMI but actually I’ve been waking up completely drenched in sweat. Maybe that’s why my brain keeps thinking it’s the underworld or the devil’s layer in there.
#4: I haven’t been eating proper foods or keeping my body hydrated.
I was never a big water person mostly because I would never remember to drink. And I often don’t feel thirsty but only hungry which happens when my body confuses both.
So now that I can identify some major agents in this situation I can begin to correct them… probably.

I’ll let you know how this goes in the next few weeks.

If you have any suggestions please leave them in the comment section below. I would love to know your thoughts on the subject.