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December 31, 2014

Wellness Wednesday: My Health Squad

I've made a lot of changes in the health realm in the past year. This time last year, I was in the midst of the Repairvite Diet and hadn't even begun the quest to remove chemicals from my life. Now, I'm in the midst of cutting chemicals and adding all kinds of practices to my life that I didn't even know existed a year ago.

So here's a convenient overview of the things I've changed/added to my life to benefit my health (or lack thereof) up until now:

Diet |
No gluten, dairy, corn, soy, refined sugar, yeast, nightshades, or nuts (besides cashews). I may start trying a couple of nightshades and nuts over time to see how I handle them now, but besides that, these restrictions work best for me and my autoimmune needs. And while I definitely still have plenty of issues, my stomach feels so much better not eating these foods.

Some of my favorite meals lately:
Lemon Garlic Chicken Salad
Allergy-Friendly Pepperoni Pizza
Bacon and Egg McGriddle
Crockpot Balsamic Chicken

Brands I can't get enough of:
Larabars, particularly Blueberry Muffin
So Delicious Coconut Milk Ice Cream
Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Bars and Mini Chocolate Chips

And invaluable resources:
Empowered Sustenance
Brittany Angell-- get her book here, and read my take on it here

Products |
Makeup, lip gloss, and lotion: 100% Pure (see full review here)
Shampoo: Morrocco Method (see my full review here)
Hand soap: Common Good (see my full review here)
Body soap: Kirk's Original Coco Castile Bar Soap
Coconut oil for shaving (see full review here)
Toothpaste: Redmond Earthpaste (though I also made my own out of baking soda and coconut oil for a while)
Hand Sanitizer: Cleanwell All-Natural Hand Sanitizer
The Squatty Potty: for real. You need this.
Himalayan Salt Lamp for air purification and more (explained here)
Beeswax candles for air purification (explained here)
F.lux free computer screen software (explained here)
Grounding/Earthing mats for home and the car (learn more here)
Shower filter
BPA-free water bottles 

Routine |
You already know I hate routine and schedules. But there are a few things I do my best to keep in there:
Oil pulling first thing daily (full explanation here)
Apply magnesium oil twice daily (explained here)
Drink warm lemon water with a little pink Himalayan salt before breakfast (explained here)
Vitamin D-3 daily
Rebounding twice daily (explained here) and deep breathing for lymphatic system health (explained here)
T-Tapp twice weekly (more here)

And believe it or not, there are still all kinds of things I want and need to add to my routine (including this and these) and of course all kinds of new recipes I want to try, particularly from Brittany Angell's book. I'm not really much better than I was this time a year ago, but I just added several of the above items to my routine and so haven't had time to gauge their effectiveness for me yet. But I already feel rather relieved knowing I'm doing them. Plus I'll be seeing a new doctor in February. So hopefully this year goes much much better in the health department than last year ... and the past three years.

All these things are by no means only for people who are sick. Those who are healthy have no less reason to take care of their bodies than those who are sick, so I highly recommend everything on this list for even those without health issues! :)

Have you tried/are you trying any of the above things?
Are there any chemical-free products you love?

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December 30, 2014

Music Love Tuesday XII: Something Different

For this Music Love Tuesday, I'm doing something a bit different.

You may know that I got my degree in Creative Writing back in 2010, just a few months before my health went south. While most people choose that major because they want to be an author, I chose it because I wanted to be a songwriter. I've gone through my phases of poetry writing, novel writing, etc., but the one outlet that always resurfaced with me was songwriting. It began when I was an early teen with some awful, though promising, songs, hibernated for a while, then came back out in full force in college.

I especially got back into songwriting by my junior year and was in it, as best I could tell, for good. Any other job I held or would hold would just be out of necessity, with the goal always being songwriting. One of the happiest times of my life so far was the summer of 2009 when I spent six weeks with family in Memphis, where I first got some direction in the songwriting world, recorded my first demos, and found out about GMA's IMMERSE conference, which I attended later that summer. It was a magical time.

Then, as I mentioned, my health disappeared. And it took a lot of me with it, including my songwriting and my lung capacity to sing.

The other day, I stumbled on this page that I was certain didn't exist anymore, as my subscription ran out long ago. But here, in all their glory, are five of the many demos I recorded over those few years. So I thought I would share them here.

The music and lyrics are by me, and yes that is me singing, but the accompaniment is by my friend Alandra on 1, 2, and 4 and by my cousin Olivia on 3 and 5. They're just demos--you'll hear a chair squeak now and then--and my voice never quite does the bigger songs justice, but collaborating to see a song come alive with accompaniment is magical, and so is recording. That first summer recording in Memphis will always be so very special to me, as will these songs, some recorded there and some later in West Virginia.

These songs are so old now but are still very much me. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be "Let the Sky Weep," though "When We Dance" will always be connected to that summer mentioned above and the amazing thrills that came with it. I hope there's one or two you like.  :)

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December 29, 2014

Look Back at a Year of Blogging + Grateful for You

Well, Life, KV Style has officially been around for about a year now. Like I've mentioned before, even though I started this blog back in mid 2013, I didn't really jump in until the beginning of 2014. And what else do you do at the end of the year but share your top 10 most popular posts? So here's the highlights of what you may have missed at Life, KV Style:




















And some others that didn't make the top ten but that you should totally check out if you missed them:



The Best Day Ever! {photo tour of my favorite town}



Unfiltered Summertime



So this Grateful Heart Monday, I am grateful for you--everyone reading this blog, everyone who has read this blog over its year of existence, everyone who has taken the time to comment and share my posts. Thank you for making Wellness Wednesday posts the most popular by far (even though Music Love Tuesday posts are always my favorite, Wellness Wednesday posts are a whole lot more urgent and important for me to yell from the rooftops.) Thank you to those who have taken genuine interest in me, my life, my health problems, and my jewelry, and especially thank you to the friends I have gained through blogging, people like (yes, I'm gonna name names ;) Elizabeth, Emily, Mary, Sarah, and more. :) I am especially grateful for the people I have met, the friends I have made, and what I have learned about myself through blogging.

This week will be full of wrap-ups, summaries, and looks back. :)

Grateful Heart Monday

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December 27, 2014

Sweet Deal Saturday: Gift Card Perk

It's time for the last Sweet Deal Saturday! I know some of you are probably now armed with Etsy gift cards (lucky!), so this special is for you!

If you use a gift card at Katya Valera--no minimum purchase requirement--you'll get a pair of earrings for free! The earrings will be a surprise and won't be ones currently in my shop, and they may even be a pair I make just for you! But the sale is only good until Sunday night at midnight (EST), so don't miss out!

Have a lovely weekend, and happy shopping!

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December 24, 2014

Wellness Wednesday: More Chemical-Free Success

I've mentioned before that I am on a journey to remove chemicals from my life. And part of that includes finding new makeup and new shampoo. So I wanted to share these new-to-me companies that I've added to my life lately. (And nope, wasn't asked to do this review--this is all me.)

Turns out, the makeup I've been using for years (largely Maybelline) is not good for you. As is the case with most widely used makeup brands. (Here's one of many resources to give you an idea of how "good" your makeup is.)

So I heard about 100% Pure from Lauren at Empowered Sustenance and really wanted to try it for a while. They have everything from lip balm to nail polish, and their products are made from fruits and vegetables. (You can read more about them here.) So a couple of months ago, I got to finally try them out. Here's what I got (makeup and more) and my opinion of each:

100% Pure Review

Jasmine Green Tea Moisturizer || Thrilled to death to find a moisturizer that is chemical-free and doesn't have shea butter in it. So many of the chemical-free options for anything, from any company, have shea butter in them, which I'm allergic to. My face thanks you, 100% Pure. I don't care for the smell, but I will take what I can get--and hopefully I can try a different scent next time. Also, a little goes a long way, which is great.

Vanilla Bean Body Cream || I went without lotion for a couple of months while waiting to try something like this. (Shaving with coconut oil removed the real need for it on my legs.) As with the moisturizer, I don't care a lot for this smell (I would definitely not describe it as vanilla. It smells kind of like the cheap lotion you're given as a free sample, but again, I will gladly take what I can get). And a very little amount goes a long way, which means this big of a bottle should last forever.

Organic Mint Lip Balm || LOVE this stuff. Love it. And hoping I get some more for Christmas. ;) I've been using Mint Chap Stick (you know, the real brand) my whole life. And I could not live without it. So this lip balm had a lot to live up to. My first impressions were that it does not smell like the same mint as Mint Chap Stick (maybe Wintergreen instead?), which, as with the lotions, I'm willing to sacrifice for quality. But the flavor has since grown on me just fine. My other first impression was that it feels amazing and seems to last a lot longer than Chap Stick. Why was I surprised?? I will gladly pay $6 for "chap stick" that works this well and is chemical free.

Fruit Pigmented Cream Foundation: Alpine Rose || Okay, this one is going to be the longest commentary... I first ordered the shade "White Peach" thinking that it was the lightest shade, according to the pictures. But once I got it and used it, it was way too dark for me. Turns out I completely overlooked the "Alpine Rose" shade (my reason is that it was on a separate row from the others, so I totally missed it), and then the photos for "Creme" and "White Peach" were switched, which I emailed them to ask about and found out was the case. My attempt to exchange "White Peach" for the lightest shade was more difficult than it should have been, as I wanted to make sure which was the lightest shade. They were quick to respond to my emailed inquiries but not so quick when I had further questions. Also, one respondent told me "Creme" was the lightest shade, then another told me that "Alpine Rose" was, and the second wouldn't reply when I tried to confirm which was the lightest because of the mixed answers I was getting. So, obviously, I went with Alpine Rose, which is indeed the lightest. They also emailed me this picture guide (which really needs to be completed to include Alpine Rose and then really needs to be on their website ... guess I'm even more pale than the girl on the left?):

Now, as far as the product itself, it initially seemed like it was very hard, but I'm thinking now that's just because it's the winter. Once I really rubbed it with my finger (which I'm guessing warmed it up and got it going), it's much better. It's not as spreadable as the cream foundation I'm used to, but still much better than it was initially, and so far I like it.

Fruit Pigmented Brightening Concealer: Creme || This was the lightest shade offered for the concealer, and it works. It also is very smooth, more so than the brand I was using.

Fruit Pigmented Pretty Naked Palette || This is the biggest "steal" of all. Buying four eyeshadows and a blush would cost three or four times the cost of this palette, so when I found it, I was thrilled. And it's obviously pretty popular, as it was sold out when I found it. I emailed them to ask when it would be back, and they said it was excpected by the coming weekend and that they would email me when it was in. And they did! (What company ever does what they say they'll do right when they say they'll do it??) So, mixed experiences communicating with this company.

As far as the palette itself, I do like it and highly recommend getting it first if you're thinking about ordering blush and separate eyeshadows from them. Plus, having it all in one magnetic container is so convenient.

One note when browsing 100% Pure: make sure to click on all the categories under "Featured" before making your decisions, as for some reason that area contains some items, like the palette above, that should be under other places, like Makeup, but are not.

Overall: Love or at least like what I have, am thrilled that these chemical free versions are as nice as they are, and hope to try out more products from them soon. Next on my list is eyeliner--the one makeup item I haven't yet found a chemical-free, shea butter-free replacement for. I have no plans to ever go back to my old makeup.

Morrocco Method Review

Shampoo || I also found out about Morrocco Method from Lauren at Empowered Sustenance and finally tried their shampoo a couple of months ago. While it is expensive, I do think it's worth it. My favorite flavors are the ones above (you don't have to use all 5 like they claim on the website), and they do smell rather earthy. The feel is very different from the shampoo you're used to, and it does not get sudsy, so you do have to work harder to spread it through your hair and rinse it. It will feel odd at first, but I promise you get used to it. They recommend you wash twice, so I wet my hair first, put a little on the top of my head, back of my head, and closer to the ends to get a head start on spreading it and then wash, focusing on my hair. I rinse well, gently lifting my hair off my scalp with my fingers (kinda like a massage--it feels good). Then I put some shampoo on the top and the back again and wash, focusing on my scalp, like a massage, and rinse well again. It takes longer, but it feels good and cleans so well. My hair even feels a little thicker as I wash it.

Since this shampoo is chemical free, your hair will go through a detox process from the chemicals it's been exposed to for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, so mine is still detoxing. Which for me means it feels oily to the touch even when it's not and tends to have an almost wet look to it. I've read that you can make the process go faster by brushing a couple times a day with their Boar Bristle Brushes.

Even though my hair is still detoxing, I've already had some immediate perks: I used to have to wash my hair every other day, and by the time I went that long, my hair was nasty. Now, my hair looks that way a day later than it used to. Win for me! ;) Also, within just a couple of uses, my hair color looked redder--not in a "wow, did you dye it?" way, but almost like the color had gotten duller and darker and dusty over the years (I've never dyed it), and now it's been polished. Which is awesome. (And would make sense, because my hair's natural, un-chemical-ruined color and texture can be released.)

It seems thicker, not that I have more hair growing but that what I do have left from sickness-induced hair loss is thicker. And it is also curlier, which I am not sure (but am hoping) is permanent but may just be part of the detox process.

Overall: While I don't have the final, all-done-detoxing review for you, I love this shampoo so far and plan to keep using it. I have no plans to ever go back to my old shampoo.

I will probably keep trying more chemical-free brands as time goes on, but for now, between 100% pure, Morrocco Method, and the mascara I've shared before, I am so happy to know I've stopped using chemicals on my hair and skin!

I won't be here on Friday for My Friday Five,
but I'll be back on Saturday for the last Sweet Deal Saturday,
so don't miss that two-day deal!
Have a wonderful Christmas, you guys! :)

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December 23, 2014

MLT XI: New and Noteworthy

Even though it's Christmas and, yes, I have been listening to lots of Christmas music lately, I've still been adding new "regular" songs here and there to my rotation and thought I'd share those today. :)

Unfortunately I missed this broadcast but found the video on good old Youtube. How amazing is this?? (So help me, those two belong together. At least in the dream world of Nashville.)

And of course this awesome song from The Voice runner-up, which I tore apart for you on Friday.

I loved this when Jena performed it months ago on AI, and now she's finally released the single. So of course, I bought it.

And I went back through all the Emily West that iTunes could offer and added this one to my collection. Just can't get enough of her...

Plus, she recently released "Chandelier," as I believe I've mentioned before, and even more recently released her music video for it!

One other artist I've recently discovered but that is not on Youtube is Megan James. I was looking at Emily West options on iTunes, as I mentioned, and decided to click on a couple of the suggestions at the bottom, which I don't often do. And as soon as Megan James's clip started playing, she sounded soo much like Emily West. Now, she's not Emily West (no one could be), just has hints of her, but she is really good! I love her song "She Doesn't Know It Yet" from her EP Love Outside the Lines and can only send you to iTunes to preview it, as I can't find it anywhere else.

This girl is so good that I thought surely she had more music out or was about to by now, since the EP was released summer 2013. But in all my internet digging, her Facebook page has been silent since the release of the album, and I can find very little else. Evidently the purpose of the EP was to raise money to bring her adopted children here from another country, and that's all she's released. I can't believe it! It doesn't even look like she's working on any music at all and hasn't mentioned it forever, and that is so sad because, let me tell you, there are hints of brilliance in her EP, and her voice is amazing. I'm as perplexed by her whole situation as I am sad it looks like that's it from her as I am glad I found what I did.

Meanwhile in other music news, looks like 2015's gonna be a big year from the start: Javier Colon, Sylvia Yacoub, Clare Bowen, Sam Palladio, and of course Emily West (and I'm sure more I'm forgetting right now) will all be releasing albums in the next few months, and I am sooo excited. Bet you can't guess which one I'm most excited about! ;)

Are you listening to anything besides Christmas music lately?
Do you have any new favorites?
And have you ever heard of Megan James?

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December 22, 2014

One Lovely Day

Today, you're getting a double-header post! First, a happy thing: I've been nominated by dear Sarah (thanks, honey! :) for One Lovely Blog Award :D so I wanted to cover that before I forget.

The rules:
~ Display the award logo at the top of your post [Close enough, right? I used my own first. ;)]
~ Thank the person who nominated you and leave a link to their blog in your post
~ Add these set of rules to your post so that your nominees will know what to do
~ Add 7 facts about yourself into the post
~ Nominate 7 other blogs and leave links to each of them in your post
~ Let the people you have nominated know that they have been nominated
~ Follow the person back who nominated you on Bloglovin’ and GFC (if you have one)

Since I've already shared facts about myself here, here, and here, this is going to be a bit harder.

1 || I am not a huge fan of the holidays. You can find out why here. And I've tried to remedy that a bit by rounding up all the Christmas music I do like and playing it all over and over, which music I shared here.

2 || I've discovered I tend to use two phrases a lot: "as big as Texas" and "in the history of the world." All about hyperbole evidently.

3 || I personally think rhyming dictionaries are a joke. You really need a book to tell you that "follow" rhymes with "hollow" and "swallow"? You can't think that up yourself? I met a songwriter once who always traveled with a massive rhyming dictionary and regular dictionary. Really? I'm sorry, if you really need all that...

4 || While I am considered a grammar freak (only "real" jobs I've ever had were proofreading and editing), I have absolutely no problem with splitting infinitives and ending sentences with prepositions. I also find placing a comma before the word "too" very annoying and unnecessary, regardless of what Chicago might say. (Does anyone even know what I'm talking about?)

5 || You will pretty much never see me wear a graphic tee. I can't stand them--they're so not nice looking, no matter what they're paired with. Even if there's one whose subject matter I love, I'll still never wear it. They're in the same ball park as tennis shoes. Nothing about them is my style. A good rule to go by: Would they sell something like it in Cato? If not, then Kacie probably wouldn't wear it.

6 || Nashville is like my favorite show ever. It ties only with Friends. And a runner up would be The Lawrence Welk Show. :)

7 || I am (at least currently) all about gold and clear. Yep. And I made myself my dream necklace the other day:


Don't worry, I made one for my shop too--you can get it here!

Now I nominate:
~ Elizabeth at Elizabeth Loves
~ Emily at Ember Grey
~ Mary at Eat, Drink, and Be Mary
~ Joey at Hodges Podges
~ Katie at Life Is...
~Claire at Refining Bliss
~ Abigail at Rites of Asylum

Second: another happy thing! ;) Keeping with my Grateful Heart tradition, I just had to share about yesterday evening, when Daniel and I had our Christmas. :) (Yes, and he gave me a couple of the gifts earlier too. ;) So this is partly brag-on-Daniel time (though I may have had a hand in the choices...) and also the overwhelming need to share all this gold-ness going on:

A white and gold really warm and soft blanket, lots of gold jewelry, yellow-gold wallet, wristlet from Thimble and Tag...

Love & Misadventure by Lang Leav (a poetry book I'd seen amazing snippets of on Tumblr and really wanted), a water resistant speaker to listen to music from my iPhone in the shower :D, and more jewelry. (Yes, I buy/receive big earrings that I would totally love to wear if I could and make them into necklaces instead. :)

And behold: the most beautiful necklace in the history of the world (yes, surpassing even the gold and clear one above):

Want to see Kacie summed up in a necklace? Here it is. Plus it's vintage!! And here I have all this new jewelry, including pieces I'm making for myself, and this may be the only necklace I wear all through Christmas...

Oh and then we had cake. :D Our little tradition used to be to have ham and egg cups and gluten-free cinnamon cake with cream cheese icing for Christmas breakfast. That didn't happen last year as I was in the middle of my Repairvite Diet, and I wasn't sure I'd get to make it again. But on Saturday (you know, the day before our Christmas ;) even though I still can't eat 8 things (gluten, dairy, soy, corn, refined sugar, nuts [except cashews], nightshades, and yeast) I decided to try it with some substitutions. And while it turned out looking completely different and more like a lava cake, it was still really good. And armed with Brittany Angell's new book, which I raved about here, I was able to try making her version of "cream cheese" icing. Well now...

So I'm grateful for a lovely "Christmas" Day with Daniel in which I was able to be up and do things with him allll day. The little things are huge. :)

Ember Grey: Grateful Heart

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December 20, 2014

Learning with Craftsy ~ Review

Back forever ago, I was offered a free Craftsy course in exchange for an honest review, and now I'm finally getting around to sharing this company with you!

This post contains affiliate links.

I had only heard of Craftsy just before being offered a class and had no idea how it worked. Turns out, there are all kinds of hands-on classes, taught in several lessons on video. A few of the classes that stood out to me were:

Drab to Fab Furniture Upcycling
Beading with Wire, Chain, and Leather
Cooking Essentials: All About Chicken
Make Your Own Wirework Findings

However, I decided to go with what seemed like the most immediately useful option and chose "Shoot It!" to learn more about product photography.

A few of the perks of classes at Craftsy:

Pace: Once you choose a class, you can watch the videos and learn at your own pace. And once you buy a course, you have access to it forever.

Customization: Since the classes are videos, of course, you can pause and go back as much as you need to, and there is an area at the bottom of your screen for notes. And when you go to type a note, the video automatically pauses.

Resources: The classes are made as easy to follow as possible, as are what you learn in each lesson, as course materials and bonus resources (like checklist for photo sessions) are included. They really can't make things much easier for you--you bring the money and your brain, and they do everything else.

Interaction/Realness: The class begins with the teacher introducing herself  and telling her background just like a "real" class. And there is homework (which, no, I did not do. Because life.) And students are free--and encouraged--to leave comments, post messages, and share their photo homework for critique and advice. While I never took part in that aspect of it, that is a very helpful feature to have and solidifies the confidence that you're learning from real-life, involved teachers.

As far as "Shoot It!" specifically, while a few things talked about felt like no-brainers, I did learn a few things. And the lessons covered all the way from understanding color choice in photography to basic shooting rules to planning a shoot. It included a very wide range of the aspects of product photography and never went too deep.

So overall, I do recommend this site if there is a topic you really want to learn more about and also have a little bit of extra money lying around. Definitely jump on a class when they're having a sale (as they do often), like right now! Today through Christmas Day is Crafty's Best of 2014 Course Sale where classes are $19.99 or less! (Classes are usually more than twice that.) I say go for it--take advantage of the sale and then get started on the class of your choice in the new year!

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