A New Way to Use Soap: a reflection and guide to peaceful, reflective thought

Let’s Catch Up

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Every once in a while I like to take a mindful pause, contemplate the joys and difficulties of our current season of life, and write a more reflective piece for the AVNS blog. Why? It’s my way of connecting with all you wonderful people as a fellow human being. It’s also a chance to remind myself and the AVNS community that behind every beautiful bar of soap is a fantastic team of people who all have stories to share and lives to live. With this being said, I’m excited to share that over time and starting within the coming months we’re hoping to craft feature blogs for all of the amazing people behind AVNS…but for now I’ll have to do. 

The Importance of Easter

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I sincerely hope the contents of today’s blog are useful to you, wherever you may be on your life-journey and regardless of religious affiliation, however I do want to take a moment to share what stirred me to write this blog in the first place. Today’s blog was inspired by the recent Easter holiday, an important holiday for many AVNS team members, including myself. For Christians, Holy Week is a time of respectful reflection, gratefulness and celebration. Holy Week and Easter are commemorations of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a purposeful and powerful sacrifice resulting in eternal life in Heaven for all who acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God and their Savior. 

What Does Soap Have To Do With It?

Now you may be wondering, what does Easter, or even Christianity…or even religion in general…or EVEN just the acts of contemplation and reflection…have to do with soap? To be honest, I had the same question…which is why I turned to my Bible. I figured the Bible is just as much a historical account as a religious text, maybe I’d find some ancient soap recipe (probably involving saltor clay) to write about, but a quick internet search brought me to an even cooler connection…How To Soap.

Our popular Honey Carrot and Tangerine Soap!

The S.O.A.P Method

Well, that’s obvious…right? Just lather, rinse, and repeat with your favorite bar of AVNS soap and you’re good to go. I was surprised to learn that soap or S.O.A.P is actually an acronym for a method to read and reflect on scripture. How cool is that?! I found this method on Love God Greatly, a website for women’s ministry. I share the original method below, but I’ve also adapted each step so that everyone is able to utilize this method.

S.O.A.P

S – stands for scripture, or sentence-by-sentence.

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You’ll start by taking your verse or line and actually taking the time to write it out. It’s amazing how just the act of intentionally slowing down will allow you to really focus on what you are reading. If you aren’t so sure about religious texts you could always start with a piece of poetry you love or even song lyrics. If you’re curious or interested in what the Bible has to offer, here are a few verses that I find calming and encouraging.

Encouraging Bible Verses

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Proverbs 24:14 Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

O – stands for observation.

Ask yourself. What stands out to you as you read your text? Which words are repeated? Does it sound different if you read it out loud? Who is the speaker addressing? What is the tone? You’d be surprised how a deeper understanding of a text can teach you so much about life and yourself.

A – stands for application.

When in a religious context, you can ask yourself “How is God speaking to me today?” Also ask yourself in what ways you can apply what you’ve read to your personal life. Are there habits you need to change? Actions to take towards a goal you’ve set for yourself? A comfort you can fall back on in times of stress?

P – stands for prayer, or personal-dialogue.

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Talk to God. Tell Him about what you learned, ask Him about any questions that came up during your reading. If you aren’t familiar with prayer, think of the p as personal dialogue. Take a walk out in nature where you have some privacy and speak out loud to yourself, it may seem strange at first…but try it. Did you know that the act of talking out loud to yourself, or self-talk can actually improve concentration and self-esteem? If self-talk isn’t your cup of tea, try journaling. Write a letter to yourself, or a friend…even if you don’t plan on ever sharing what you write with them. If you’d like to try praying but aren’t sure how, try talking to God like He’s just another one of your friends or family members who cares about you. God is never judging you, he loves you and wants to know you.

Thank You For Your Time Today

I hope this blog served as a fun and interesting change of pace. If you’re interested in checking out our more typical posts (natural ingredients we use, benefits of the products we offer, etc.) click here!

Much Love,

Nora


3 Amazing DIY Face Masks

3 Do-it-yourself face mask ideas for glowing, hydrated, smooth skin

We’ve all been working so hard to mask-up everywhere we go that I thought we’d take a week to celebrate the coming of spring and give our skin a break with a different kind of face mask. Finding face masks that actually work can be difficult, but these face mask ideas use natural ingredients that will be gentle and non-irritating on skin. These masks are meant to hydrate tired skin, clear your complexion, and may even help with acne! They are easy to make with simple ingredients! It’s a spa in your own house!

Avocado Honey Face Mask

Avocados are a superfood for your skin and body. They have beneficial fats, protein, and vitamins that will help restore your skin’s suppleness by strengthening, protecting, and rejuvenating the tissue. Honey is an added hydrating bonus!

Ingredients:

1 ride avocado

2 tablespoons raw honey

1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

Directions

  1. Peel and mash the avocado
  2. Mix avocado, honey, and lemon juice in a bowl
  3. Apply to face and let sit for 30 minutes
  4. Rinse off gently with warm water

For a bonus, you can always halve this recipe when all three ingredients have been combined and use half on your face and half as a hair mask!

Banana and Yogurt Face Mask

Is this a face mask or a breakfast parfait?! I’d totally recommend this face mask for breakfast if there wasn’t one key additional ingredient involved…apple cider vinegar! Banana is a hydrating agent for your skin, while the lactic acid in greek yogurt will brighten and smooth skin by way of exfoliation. The apple cider vinegar is a natural cleanser and additional toner that may even help fight acne!

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Ingredients

1 unripe banana

6 tablespoons of plain greek yogurt

2 tablespoons raw, organic apple cider vinegar

Directions

  1. Peels and mash the banana
  2. Mix banana, yogurt, and apple cider vinegar
  3. Apply to face and let sit for 10 minutes
  4. Rinse off gently with warm water

Again, I made this recipe large enough for you to halve it and use half on your hair and half on your face. These ingredients make for a great clarifying and hydrating hair mask!

Charcoal and Aloe Face Mask

This last mask might require some ingredients that aren’t typically  already in your cupboard, but once you own these ingredients you can do so much with them! I’m including this mask because the ingredients it uses make up a powerhouse to help combat acne!  This mask came from Hello Glow, which says, “Charcoal absorbs excess oil, while aloe is soothing and anti-inflammatory, making it an ideal ingredient to add to any acne mask.” Tea tree essential oil is known for its antimicrobial and anti inflammatory properties.

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Ingredients

1 tablespoon activated charcoal

1 tablespoon aloe vera gel

1 drop of tea tree essential oil

Directions

  1. Mix ingredients together in a small bowl and use your finger to mix together before applying to the skin. 
  2. Apply the charcoal mask in circular motions around your face for 1 minute.
  3. Let the mask sit for 10–15 minutes. 
  4. Rinse thoroughly and gently with warm water.

Do You Have Face Masks That Work For You?

What I love most about face masks is that there are endless combinations you can make to tailor to what it is your skin needs, for a great glycolic peel recipe click here, for more DIYs click here! ! It is very likely that you have a face mask recipe that you can’t live without. If so, we’d really love to hear about it…we may even add it to this blog!

Much Love,

Nora


Beer Rinse For Your Hair: Does it Work???

Beer = Perfect Hair?

I wish my hair was this long!

Is rinsing your hair with beer the long awaited miracle secret to long, shiny hair? Or just a hoax-y trend with no real results? I guess we’ll find out because I tried rinsing my hair with beer to see if it would truly improve my naturally textured hair (before and after pictures included). 

I’m pretty fearless when it comes to hair-related DIYs. I’ve cut my hair, I’ve highlighted my hair, I’ve even rubbed all kinds of mashed up fruits and veggies into my hair (DIY banana avocado hair mask…anyone?) but when I came across a DIY recipe for a beer rinse my first thought was, “um, ew.”

What Are The Benefits of Rinsing Your Hair With Beer?

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I have never understood the appeal of beer and the thought of saturating my curly hair with it seemed even less appealing. However, I couldn’t help my curiosity…if people are willing to risk having hair that smells like beer, the benefits of a beer soak must be pretty amazing and totally worth-while. So what are the supposed benefits of rinsing your hair with beer?

From what I’ve found, beer is the secret hair tonic we’ve all been searching for. Apparently, rinsing your hair with beer will make it: thicker, stronger, healthier, shinier, curlier (if you have curly hair), and can promote hair growth…phew…that is a lonnnng list. But what’s the science backing all of these amazing benefits?

Malts and Hops for Hair

Most of the sites promoting beer rinses credit the malt and hops in beer as an intense source of protein. While it’s definitely true that properly protein balanced hair is just as important as properly moisturized hair, if you’re like me you’re probably wondering what ice cream drinks and a bunny’s preferred method of movement have to do with beer or great hair.

Malt and hops are actually two important components of a beer’s structure. Many of the sites with DIY beer rinse recipes are a bit lacking in detail, when it comes to why a beer rinse is effective, but thankfully artisan beer brewers passionate about the craft are abundant online. 

What is Malt?

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I’d like to start by thanking The Brew Enthusiast for this detailed definition of Malt

“Malt is essentially the toasted version of any cereal grain. This includes barley, wheat, oat, rye, etc. The full name would be “Malted Barley” or “Malted Wheat”, if we chose to say it that way. We don’t choose to say it that way, so in beer vernacular we just say “Malt”. In most beer styles, the “malt” is barley, because it’s relatively high enzyme content makes it conducive for brewing. Pretty easy so far.

 We toast the cereal grain because we need to access the lovely sugars and enzymes within the grain. These sugars and enzymes form the sugary, substantive backbone of all beer. In their raw version (picked straight from the field), the starches in these cereal grains are not very accessible. Brewers sometimes use unmalted grain in their beer, but it’s a small percentage of the total grain used. We won’t get too far into the specific enzymes and chemicals we’re trying to create in this process, but suffice it to say that it’s important.”

– The Brew Enthusiast

If you’re still curious about malt I would highly recommend reading the rest of the article.

Why is Malt Good For Hair?

Even after knowing what malt was, I still didn’t understand how malt’s protein contribution worked so I had to spend some time on Brew Chatter to figure it out. To the best of my understanding, protein in grain aids the enzyme process during malting. As proteins break down during this process they become part of the malt base solution (the malt factor in beer). When protein interacts with hair it bonds to the hair shaft and fills in gaps, leaving hair strong and able to maintain its shape.

Did you know that some of our natural shampoo bars have natural sources of protein from grain? It’s true! Our Wheat and Honey Almond Shampoo Bar contains wheat germ (this bar also smells absolutely heavenly)

What are Hops?

“Hops are the flowers (also called seed cones or strobiles) of the hop plant Humulus lupulus,[1] a member of the Cannabaceae family of flowering plants.[2] They are used primarily as a bittering, flavouring, and stability agent in beer, to which, in addition to bitterness, they impart floral, fruity, or citrus flavours and aromas.[3] Hops are also used for various purposes in other beverages and herbal medicine.”

Wikipedia

Hops have an astringent property that acts similarly to how apple cider vinegar or a citric acid hair rinse works and supposedly produces the same benefits of fighting dandruff and promoting shine. Hops do have a protein content, which means they could potentially strengthen the hair shaft while also smoothing it down (what makes hair shiny). 

Putting The Beer Rinse To The Test

I knew a beer rinse was too crazy not to write about, but it was so outlandish that I decided I wouldn’t write about it without giving it a go first. A couple of recipes called for non-alcoholic beer, claiming any alcohol content would simply overpower any results by drying the hair out. I decided not to follow this instruction, why? I honestly feel like most DIY adventures happen on a whim, so unless you already have non-alcoholic beer on hand, you’re not going to drive all the way to the store when you’ve got alcoholic beer in the fridge (C’mon people, we want results and we want them now!)

Letting my beer get flat.

I happened to have a bottle of Leinenkiugel’s Toasted Bock (a name I would never remember or be able to spell if I wasn’t holding the bottle in front of my face) left over from when I made Corned Beef. I did pour the beer into a container and let it sit for a couple of hours to flatten in. Apparently when the carbon dioxide in beer mixes with water it makes it hard…and as we all know…hard water makes hair washing…hard. 

There are many different methods for beer rinses online. Some say the rinse should be after shampoo, some call for leaving the beer in the hair, I found another experiment in which beer was the shampoo! With so many methods, I decided that coming up with my own wouldn’t mess too much with any results. I wet my hair with water, soaked my hair (scalp to ends) in beer, waited a couple minutes, rinsed with water, and then shampooed and conditioned as usual. Just as I did with my Winter Skin Saver Bar experiment, I did not use additional product in my hair because I wanted few variables for a clear outcome.

Results of my Beer Hair Rinse

My second day hair before the beer rinse (natural lighting)

I was disappointed. As my hair dried not only was it frizzy, but my curls were limp. Limp, frizzy curls were far from the bouncy, shiny ones I’d been hoping for. On the plus side, there was no lingering smell because I rinsed before I shampooed.

The first photo is my hair before the rinse. My curls don’t hold up past wash day even with a sleep with my hair in a loose bun my curls still get pulled out which is what you can see from this photo.

My hair after the beer rinse (artificial lighting)

As you can see, the results of the beer rinse look dramatic compared to my second day hair. It makes it seem as though the beer rinse made my hair go from wavy to curly when in reality this happens every time I wash my hair. What I was really focusing on was the quality of my curls.

If you look at the second picture, you can see how the curls start as waves, you can also see how loose the ends of my hair are. In order to call it a good wash day, I’m looking for more curl at the top and bottom and less “floofy” curls. To see what my hair looks like on a good wash day you can check out my blog on how I discovered my naturally curly hair, or my popular blog on the benefits of natural oils for your hair.

My hair after the beer rinse (used camera flash)

I took one last picture with flash because sometimes indoor lighting makes for grainier photos. Yes, my hair looks shinier, but that is simply because of the lighting. You can still see how loose the curls are.

Would the results have been different if I had used non-alcoholic beer, followed a recipe more closely, or used a styling product? Maybe. One thing’s for sure, a beer rinse will not be replacing my weekly Herbal Hair Rinse.

Much Love,

Nora


Wary Welcoming: A Reflection on The Past Year

I’ve been thinking long and hard about how to properly reflect on the past year, and how to prepare myself for the year to come. Every once in a while I like to write about life’s journey because it gives me a chance to slow down and connect with everyone who reads the AVNS blog.

I am thankful for beautiful sunsets.

I think the entire world must have let out a sigh of relief on New Year’s Eve as it felt the immense tension accumulated over the course of this infamous year finally giving way to the anticipation of a new start, but did anyone else have doubts that 2021 is truly the cure we’ve been waiting for?

I’ve seen the New Year’s Eve Instagram posts of my friends, their captions roughly shove 2020 out the door, personifying it as though it was an unpleasant houseguest who overstayed its welcome. While I admire and envy this bold and enthusiastic display of spirit, I’m a bit ashamed to admit I’m far too weary to join in and even more than that…I’m wary.

Wasn’t it just a year ago that we believed that 2020 would be our banner year? If 2020 let us down, who is to say 2021 will be any better?

Yikes, what a debbie downer, right? I’m kind of bumming myself out with all the cynicism, but bear with me and I think we can reach a brighter outlook.

I value storytelling because it allows people from all different backgrounds to find common ground amongst many differences. The experience I’d like to share with you is a Christian experience, and before you stop reading because you feel you may not be able to relate, I’d also like to emphasize that this experience is also wholly human and worth reading if you relate to attempting to navigate a world that contains both unbearable loss and overwhelming joy. 

During a New Year’s Eve church service I attended (virtually) the speaker had asked the congregation to consider a perfect gift God had given them over the course of the 2020 year. As I thought about all the beautiful things I was grateful for (including my boyfriend of five years who was sitting next to me at the time) I realized I could not think of all the perfect things God had given me without also thinking about all the perfect things God had taken away. 

This thought unsettled me, not just because of its bitter nature, but because of how inaccurate my understanding of God was in this moment. I gently reminded myself that God does not purposefully take things away from us and that loss and chaos are side effects of living in a broken world, but the entire incident had shaken me and I spent a great deal of time in thoughtful contemplation trying to reconcile my strange anger with my love for God. 

I am thankful for snuggly puppies.

As I write this blog, I reflect on 2020. I celebrate the fact that this blog marks a full year of writing weekly blogs for this beautiful company under the undeniably kind, creative, and giving guidance of Marianne. I mourn the fact that there are people who read this blog or love AVNS products who have lost loved ones this year due to COVID-19 and other causes. I think about all my friends who got engaged, planned their weddings, and started their lives while I moved back home with my parents. I think about how so many of those weddings were postponed or felt incomplete because of COVID while I rejoiced over reconnecting with my family after four years of being away at college. 

What I understood from that moment during the service and what I understand now as I write is this: humankind relies too often on rhyme and reason. If there is anything we can agree on after this year it is how little the world actually adheres to a model of rhyme and reason.

As I said to my boyfriend after the service, “I think my greatest struggle as a human being is forgetting that there is a bigger picture and also my inability to fully reconcile myself with the idea that there is no way for me to know or understand exactly how that bigger picture works.” I continue to practice recognizing the gifts in live while simultaneously working through the difficulties.

That strange anger I felt, that instant need to blame God for the earthly occasions that caused me grief was my own humanity getting in the way of my love for God. My earthly compulsion to apply rhyme and reason to a world plan that defied earthly limitations set me up for heart ache and exhaustion. So what do I do to avoid feeling this way this year?

If you are weary.

If you are wary.

Consider this: 2021 is a new houseguest. Not an old friend, but a complete stranger. Instead of trying to control this year, let it pull up a chair and introduce itself. Don’t worry too much about how the house looks, or making some elaborate dinner. Simply focus on the basics. Be kind and be hospitable to others, and yourself. Welcome, 2021.

Much Love,

Nora


What is Hair porosity and why does it matter?

Hair Porosity

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Porosity refers to your hair’s ability to soak up and retain moisture (imagine trying to soak up a puddle of water with a sponge versus a sheet of plastic). Your hair’s porosity is determined by genetics, but can also be affected by external factors such as heat processing and chemical treatments. Knowing your hair’s porosity will help you choose the right products for your hair to keep it healthy, strong, and radiant. Today we’ll talk about the different types of hair porosity, how to determine your hair’s porosity, and what kind of ingredients and products work best for different hair porosities.

Why Porosity Matters

Each strand of hair on your head has an outer layer called a cuticle. Cuticles are made up of overlapping dead cells that form a protective barrier around the strand’s cortex (the inner core of your hair strand that determines your hair’s color). The cuticle’s composition is like the scales on a fish or the bark on a coniferous tree. Porosity refers to how flat and tight those scales are. 

Low Porosity Hair

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Low porosity hair is made up of strands on which the cuticles are composed of tightly bound, flat-laying scales. Low porosity hair is often shiny and repels the penetration of chemicals and moisture. 

Medium Porosity Hair

Medium porosity hair has a slightly looser cuticle than low porosity hair, allowing the perfect amount of moisture into the hair strand. Medium hair is easily manageable and holds up to heat and color manipulation. However, overuse of color, heat, and chemical treatments can disrupt and damage the cuticles, which ups the porosity.

High Porosity Hair

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High porosity hair has the loosest cuticle formation, leaving it vulnerable to too much moisture which can lead to breakage and frizz. I imagine the structure of porous strands of hair as fully matured pinecones. The scales of a baby pinecone are pressed flat but fan out as the pinecone matures. Once the scales are splayed, they are prone to catching and tearing. If it rains, the water collects inside of the pinecone instead of running off the outside and overtime the standing water will rot the pinecone’s core. Similarly, high porosity hair retains a higher water percentage than low porosity hair and too much water can cause weakening and elongation of your strands.

How to Test Your Hair’s Porosity

The most popular method of testing your hair’s porosity is by observing how a strand of hair interacts with water (often known as: the float test). To prep for this test, shampoo your hair and let it air-dry. Once your hair is clean and dry take a couple strands and drop them into a cup of water. Watch them for the next 15 minutes. If they float, your hair has a low porosity. If they quickly sink to the bottom your hair has high porosity. If they sink a bit and then hover in the middle your hair has medium porosity. You can always run this test with a few friends to have other hair to compare yours to. Depending on your determined porosity, you can adjust your hair routine to benefit your hair’s health. 

Both of these hairs are from my head! The curlier, coarser strand is from the back and the looser, thinner strand is from the front!

My Results From the Float Test

I was curious as the whether this test really works (you know I love DIYs), so of course I had to try it out. I selected two different strands of my hair from my head because as you’ll see from the photos I took: I have a diverse head of hair. I also used a strand of my mother’s hair because why not? According to the results, my hair is low to medium porosity and my mother’s hair is low porosity. If you’re going to run this test I suggest using a bowl with a wide opening because the hair strands kept clinging to the edge of the glasses with narrow openings.

If You Have Low Porosity Hair

Rhassoul and Avocado Shampoo Bar

Product will tend to sit on your hair instead of being absorbed. You’ll need to clarify frequently to control build up. Clay is a great way to do this. Our Rhassoul and Avocado Shampoo Bar and White China Silk Shampoo Bar are both made with clay: an excellent natural clarifier. Acidic hair rinses are also extremely helpful for getting rid of build up.

If You have Medium Porosity Hair

You’re really going to want to balance moisture and protein in your hair care routine. Hemp seed oil is perfect because it is an oil that will lock in moisture while also providing protein. I love the Hemp and Honey 2.0 Shampoo Bar for my curly hair.

If You Have High Porosity Hair

Organic Argan Oil

Trap in that moisture with oils. Coconut oil is great for locking in moisture and is a key ingredient in many of our shampoo bars. The Coconut Milk and Citrus Shampoo Bar and Key Lime Shampoo Bar are made with coconut milk, a natural beauty treatment used in many hair and skin products to hydrate and repair skin cells as well as to add shine, silkiness, and softness to hair and skin. Using oils when you style is also essential. Argan oil will lock in additional moisture and promote shine!

What’s you hair’s porosity?

Much Love,

Nora


Boost Your Confidence Naturally With Power Posing?

I Tried Power Posing for Five Minutes Daily to Increase Confidence

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Is confidence something you’re born with? Or something you can naturally obtain over time with experience? Are there things you can do to boost your confidence quickly? I decided to spend five minutes power posing every day and then keep a daily journal to record any signs of increased confidence. I can say with complete confidence that the results surprised me.

Boost Natural Confidence?

Outer Sources of Confidence 

Natural ways to improve confidence are easier to achieve than you might think. Evaluating the patterns in your life can help you determine ways to boost confidence with only a few mindful adjustments.

Surround Yourself With Supporters

Spending time with people who believe in you can help you to believe in yourself. Be mindful not to rely on others to feed your ego, but learn how to participate in a community focused on the goal of lifting up others.

Essential Oils to Boost Confidence

Essential oils are used as natural remedies to boost confidence. Our noses have a powerful influence on the rest of our bodily systems. Introducing your senses to certain smells in order to influence your body or mind is known as aromatherapy. Specific essential oils such as lavender, bergamot, and peppermint have been used to relieve tension, boost self-esteem, and even increase performance ability (have you ever received a peppermint before a big test? I know I have!). Many essential oils and plant products also have topical benefits as well, which is why they are the perfect natural solution for scenting our soaps and other products.

Inner Sources of Confidence

There are tons of natural ways to boost confidence, and most of them start with the way you treat yourself. 

Self-Talk

How you talk to yourself influences your self perception. When your inner monologue is positive and not self-deprecating, your self-esteem increases. For some examples of negative self-talk vs. positive self-talk, check out this educational example!

Body Language

What is Power Posing?

If you’ve ever prepared for a job interview, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the term “Power Posing” before. Power posing comes from the idea that our body language plays a big role in determining self-perception and if we look powerful, we’ll feel powerful. The initial Power Posing Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy became wildly popular after its debut in 2012, but after a replicated study in 2015 failed to produce similar findings power posing was called out as pseudoscience. Despite receiving fervent backlash, Cuddy must have been power posing 24/7 because she refused to give up and confidently continued her research into 2018 until she confirmed without a doubt that power posing is shown to make people feel more confident, even if it doesn’t actually produce a hormonal change. 

Five Days of Power Posing

I kept a little journal for each day that I spent standing like Wonder Woman to record any changes in confidence that might have occurred as well as some overall feelings and observations about the experiment.

Day 1

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Today was my first day “Power Posing!” I decided to use the same pose every day, even though there are many poses to choose from. I chose the Wonder Woman-esque “hands on hips” pose because it seemed the most natural (just in case I ever had to do it in public) and it’s also the pose used on Grey’s Anatomy (Season 11, Episode 14) which is where I first got the inspiration for this blog. I posed in my bathroom so that I could look in the mirror to check that I was doing it right. Wow. Five minutes sure seems like a long time when you aren’t doing anything, I tried to think “powerful thoughts” but I kept getting distracted and I think I checked my timer like a million times. I’m so glad I decided to start this project today because I had an interview and I needed all the confidence I could get. The interview went very well and at one point my interviewer asked me if I was actually good at writing. Normally I’d come up with a tactful reply balancing between humility and positivity, but when he asked me my instant response was a big, confident, “Yes.” WHOA. WHERE DID THAT CONFIDENCE COME FROM?! Does power posing work that well? I guess I’ll have to see and find out!

Day 2

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Power posed in the shower today so that I could let my favorite deep condition do its trick at the same time. I felt pretty low today because my long term boyfriend and best friend leaves for college in three days and I’m going to miss him a ton. I went over to his house to help him pack for school and was just overwhelmed by sadness (and all the packing that needed to get done). I was sitting in his room feeling sorry for myself when this thought popped into my head, “You know, if you work at being productive you might not feel so sad.” Cleaning is never my favorite task and I’d have normally dismissed the thought, but for some reason I felt like I had the inner reserves to push through and get the job done. After five hours and a bunch of sorting and organizing we had gone through his entire room. It was extremely satisfying and I felt like maybe the power posing had helped me feel like I was capable of accomplishing tasks I would normally avoid.

Day 3

I was super busy and didn’t have time to power pose until late afternoon because I spent the morning driving to Wisconsin to get to work on time. I didn’t notice much of a difference throughout the day, although one interesting thing did happen at the end of the day. I was sitting behind the front desk and a couple came in looking for a recommendation for trips down the river. When I started talking to them, I found myself getting out of my chair and standing. Then my hands naturally went to my hips and before I knew it I was discreetly power posing (nervous sweat be gone!)! 

Day 4

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I forgot to power pose at home and had to do it at work today. The workplace can sometimes be stressful and I found I had difficulty holding my pose for the full five minutes. I kept resorting to more anxious body language. The rest of the day went relatively smoothly. I think my main takeaway from today is that maybe power posing offers more than just boosting confidence, maybe it also acts as a gauge to determine how confident you are at any given place or time. Perhaps, if you recognize a place where you don’t feel as confident, your awareness can help you push through the situation.

Day 5

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The last day of power posing started off with really great news! I was offered the position at the place I interviewed! For the rest of the day I felt extremely productive. Over the last five days I’ve found that I’ve been able to initiate action with more ease than I have in the past. I think I’m going to continue power posing every day for two minutes instead of five. Even if its effects are just placebo, power posing gives me a couple minutes to just breathe and be in my own body and I’ve come to appreciate and cherish that time.

I hoped you enjoyed following my five days of power posing. Feel free to replicate the project and reach out with your results! If you’re new to AVNS, welcome! You can join our community newsletter to stay up to date on sales and giveaways and get 10% off on your first purchase!

Much Love & Confidence,

Nora


Want to become a Brand Ambassador for Natural Soap? Here’s How.

What is a Brand Ambassador?

A Brand Ambassador represents a company and promotes the company’s products either in person or on-line.

Apple Valley Natural Soap Brand Ambassador/Affiliate Program

We want people to have natural, organic, vegan, cruelty-free, options when it comes to health and beauty products. As a smaller business we do our best to reach people with quality, hand-made natural products, but sometimes we need a little help. The Apple Valley Natural Soap Brand Ambassador/Affiliate program was created so that people who love our products can benefit from sharing them with others via social media (Facebook, Instagram, personal blogs…you get the idea).

Don’t Think You’re Tech Savvy enough to be a Brand Ambassador? Think Again!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Okay, let me start by saying: I have never been a tech savvy person. When I tell people this they think I’m being dramatic. Then I tell how I failed my computer skills class in eighth grade. The story goes like this:

We were supposed to program a short animation of a cat doing the following: walking across the room, picking up a can of tuna fish, eating the tuna fish, turning green, and barfing.

After five hours of sweating over my keyboard and mouse my cat did this:

Turned green, walked…upside down across the ceiling, barfed (while still upside down), completely ignored the can of tuna, and then disappeared.

People don’t question me after that. 

Steps to Becoming an AVNS Brand Ambassador

I decided that if I could figure out how to become an AVNS Brand Ambassador, you could too. I spent the entire week attempting to learn the ins and outs of being a Brand Ambassador and even if I’m never successful, hopefully I can give you the start you need to become the best AVNS Brand Ambassador EVER.

Step One: Create an Affiliate Account Through Apple Valley Natural Soap

If you’re on the mobile version of our site it will say “Pages”

Once you’re on the AVNS website, click on “More” and then scroll through the drop down menu until you find the “Ambassador/Affiliate Program” tab. 

The Ambassador/Affiliate Page will walk you through the process and benefits and at the bottom of the page you’ll see a button that says “Register.” Click on it.

Here are the basics of becoming a Brand Ambassador

Setting up your account is super easy, as is setting up a Paypal account if you don’t already have one.

Step Two: Set Up a PayPal Account

I’m pretty sure all I had to do was enter my email…

If you know you’re putting all your profits towards more AVNS soap, we have an option for your commission to be in the form of store credit as well!

The trickiest part for me was the actual Brand “Ambassad-ing”

Step Two: Create Promotional Posts

We’ve already supplied you with banners (photos of your fav products) that can be found on your affiliate account. Just download the photo you want to post and then upload it to social media. I love Instagram and Facebook, but I quickly learned that I wasn’t as good at navigating them as I thought. It took me a while to understand that I couldn’t share a click-able link on my Facebook and Instagram stories. The trick is to put your affiliate link (which you can find on your account page) in your bio. And then direct people to your bio.

Aww, look at my cute lil affiliate link!

Not sure what a bio is? That’s okay, you aren’t alone! A bio is a place for you to introduce yourself on social media platforms and is typically under where your name is displayed. A blog is also a great way to share products with others

My First Post

I chose the half-sized bar banner because one of my favorite things about AVNS is the huge selection of unique soaps. I put my affiliate link in my Instagram and Facebook bios so that I could redirect people through my story. My Instagram gives me the option to share the post on Facebook and to that I said YES!

When people purchase through your affiliate link you’ll earn commission starting at 6%!

Why Be a Brand Ambassador for Apple Valley Natural Soap?

Apple Valley Natural Soap is about more than keeping surface-level clean. We design our products to exist in harmony with the environment and with your body. What we put in our earth and on our bodies MATTERS. We strive for a deep clean of mind, body, soul, and earth because we believe it is a noble undertaking. If you believe this, and want to help others achieve a deep clean then you’re already on your way to becoming an AVNS Brand Ambassador (if only we can get this pesky post to upload, am I right?)

Much Love,

Nora


How to Achieve the Perfect DIY Spa Day

In my opinion, there is nothing better than the perfect spa session. 

Correction.

There is nothing better than the perfect DIY spa session. In fact, I’ve perfected the art of the DIY spa so, well, perfectly…that I’ve never felt the need to go to a professional spa.

I love a DIY spa day because you get to pick:

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com
Who’s Invited

You can make it a fun project for the kids, a surprise gift for a friend or family member, or a romantic occasion with your significant other. 

What’s on the Spa Menu

You get to pick your spa treatments (hot wax treatment…but skip the intense leg massage? You got it!) 

The Products

And you get to use products you already know and love. Annnnnnnnd when you love Apple Valley Natural Soap you also know every ingredient that goes into your favorite soaps, lotions and scrubs.

Okay. So now that I’ve convinced you that a DIY spa day is the way to go, I’m sure you’re wondering where to start.

Don’t worry, we might be about to go all-natural with our products, but I’ve got you covered.

The Importance of Self-Care

Before we get lost in the excitement of sugary body scrubs and scrumptious body butters I want to say this: behind every amazing spa day is a source of meaningful motivation. Planning a spa day is a fantastic way to be intentional about self-care.

What is self-care?

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

This quote on Active Minds, the nation’s top non-profit for support and education on mental health, beautifully sums up what self-care is and why it matters, “Self-care is important to maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself. It means doing things to take care of our minds, bodies, and souls by engaging in activities that promote well-being and reduce stress. Doing so enhances our ability to live fully, vibrantly, and effectively. The practice of self-care also reminds both you and others that your needs are valid and a priority.”

If this year has thrown some unexpected challenges your way, raise your hands (mine are already up).

If you raised your hand you are a top candidate for self-care, and if you didn’t raise your hand you are too.

Self-Care Spa Day

The number one reason why I love a DIY spa day is because it allows me to transform my daily maintenance tasks from obligations to occasions. If I’m going to clean my body I might as well do it in style and comfort.

Exfoliate with Salt Bars or Body Polish

I love the way my skin feels after I exfoliate. Both salt and sugar make great natural exfoliants and the essential oils added to our salt bars and sugar scrubs are known for their additional health and beauty benefits. 

Salt Bars

A salt bar is a fantastic way to exfoliate and clean at the same time, so it is a great option for DIY pedicures (just scrub, pat dry, and follow with a little argan oil). The Lavender Rosemary Salt Bar is on my top ten AVNS list because it smells amazing, feels amazing, and also works as an amazing shampoo.

Sugar Scrubs

A sugar scrub is my go to for a perfect pre-shave exfoliation because sugar is a natural, gentle exfoliant and the moisturizing oils add an extra layer of protection for my skin when I shave. Our Body Polish is so moisturizing that after using it you may find you don’t even need to apply lotion! It comes in four delicious scents: Citrus Sugar, Matcha Mint, Sweet Vanilla, and Sweet Rosehips (my personal recommendation).

Shave with Coconut Bars

Shaving gets tedious, but with a Virgin Pina Colada nearby it can be wayyyy more enjoyable!

After exfoliating you’ll need to lather up and I’m going to promise you something. Using one of our coconut soap bars as shaving soap will change your life. I had been using shaving cream since I first started shaving and I was super skeptical about using bar soap, but after that first lather…whoa. Coconut Bars lather up so luxuriously, you’ll feel like the King or Queen of shaving.

Massage

While I wish a massage was part of my daily routine, it’s definitely a great way to ease the pain of sore, stiff muscles after a long day of work or play. Our Organic Virgin Jojoba Oil is the perfect massage oil and you can get it CUSTOM MADE with any of our soap scents. If you’re curious about what jojoba oil is you can read more about it here.

DIY Self-Care Massage (feet)

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

As a dancer I spent a lot of my time walking around with sore feet. I wish I had this Youtube tutorial by PsycheTruth on how to give myself a foot-massage back then, but oh well.

DIY Couples Massage

It’s important to make sure you are in a good place before you start lifting those around you and a DIY couples massage may be the perfect way to lift as you rise! Check out Cleverly’s short, simple instructional video for an upper back massage!

Remember to Relax!

You’ve earned the right to relax this year, and we hope our products will help you achieve the pampering you deserve. For more DIYs, follow our blog. I’d love to know how you use our products to unwind after a busy day, so always feel free to comment below!

Much Love,

Nora


DIY Beautiful Summer Photo Shoot Ideas That Will Let Your Natural Beauty Shine

Does Your Instagram Need a Pick-Me-Up? Try These Easy Photo Shoot Tips and Tricks

Looking to achieve that flawless summer selfie, but not sure where to start? Trying to capture an intimate family moment without stepping out of it? I love a personal and atheistically pleasing Instagram, but maintaining one can be difficult. This blog is written from one amateur photographer to another. I’ll be walking you through some of my top tips (including the famed “hair water flip”) to get some naturally amazing photos with minimal effort (all photos were taken with a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge).

This is the blog I’ve been waiting to write, and I could not be more excited about the fact that it features two of my favorite things: my cousin Emme (although we’re basically sisters), and Apple Valley Natural Soap products!

Tip #1: Go For Floral

Girl flower photoshoot

Nothing says “summer’s starting!” like flowers. Not only will flowers fill in a natural pop of color, they’ll also provide effortless natural texture and depth to your photo. Em and I adore this photo and it only took seconds to take. Flowers are a fantastic photo opportunity because there are so many varieties. You can go for warmer shades with flowers that are yellow, orange and red (dandelions, hawkweed, roses). If you’re looking for a cooler photo try blues, purples, and whites (violets, blue lupine, morning glories). The flowers in this picture are lilacs…which smell as great as they look!

I love Em’s modest, but confident pose and the fact that the only make-up she’s wearing is a little bit of Natural Lip Balm for shine makes this photo all the more beautiful! Our lip balm comes in unscented, but I would strongly recommend Vanilla Latte because it is my FAVORITE.

Trick #1 Get Creative With Angles

Flower photoshoot

Spending our summers in rural Wisconsin means we aren’t afraid of a little dirt! Emme was more than willing to get adventurous when I suggested she lie down right in the middle of the flowers…and it definitely paid off! While a little adjusting may be necessary, let yourself be inspired by the natural process of your photoshoot. The way Em’s hair curls around on the left side was accidental, but it turned out to be our favorite part of this photo. While nature exists for our enjoyment, please be mindful of creation. As Em and I like to say, “No plants were harmed in the making of this film!”

Super Secret Extra Tip For Gorgeous Summer Hair!

Caught between brown and blonde, I like to consider my hair tone a natural bronze. That being said, the sun always leaves me a little lighter at the end of summer. Anyone else? Part of me looks forward to the free, natural highlights, but I also worry about sun damage. Moroccan Argan Oil is a great natural thermal heat protectant for hair. Blessed to be a natural blonde, Emme does a great job of maintaining her beautiful blonde hair, and we’ve even got some shampoos like the Restore Shampoo Bar to help!

Tip #2: Try a Silhouette

Sometimes I wake up and I’m just not feeling ready for my close-up. On days like this, a silhouetted photo reminds me that physical beauty does not define me. While we progress towards a more accepting definition of physical beauty, I’m always working to remember that what really makes me beautiful is not what others can see on my body. I love this photo for the romantic experience it encapsulates. The wind, the water, and the feeling.

Unique Silhouette Sunset Photoshoot

Trick #2 How to Take a Selfie That Doesn’t Look Like a Selfie

This water hair-flip is an insta-photo opportunity that’s super simple to accomplish and looks incredible. I love a great picture of myself, but I feel super self-conscious and annoying asking people to take photos of me. That won’t be a problem here! For this photo you’ll need water, a video-recording device with screenshot or video capture features, and yourself.

How Do You Flip Your Hair With Water?

Sunset Water Flip

A water flip is super easy to accomplish. I find a way to prop my phone up near the end of my dock. Then I hit record. Once I get out in front of my camera I submerge my head in water and then toss it backwards. Longer hair will create a more powerful water arc, and shorter hair will create a more even arc because it won’t take as much effort to toss your head back. Well-conditioned hair is recommended. If you have the coordination, throwing your arms back through the water will create additional texture and shape in your image. Try different things! Your camera will record it all! Afterwards I go through the video and pause it on frames I want to keep. You can either screenshot these or use a video capture feature. This is super fun to do with young kids and teens.

Tip #3 Play with Light and Shadow

I love a dramatic look, so it’s no wonder light and shadow come into play when I get an idea for an impromptu photoshoot. Where you are in relation to the sun will determine which features are highlighted. You already know I love a classic silhouette, and getting creative with the sun can add a fun, personal touch to a photo. The two photos below were taken only a minute apart and all I did was adjust my phone for two completely different looks!

Stark sunset photoshoot
Glow sunset photoshoot

Trick #3 The Ultimate Make-Up Hack

While an all-natural look is my go-to, I love experimenting with bright colors. Emme and I call this the “mermaid eye.”

Argan Oil

As you’re about to see, a little argan oil goes a long way. You can enhance any low quality eyeshadow by layering it on top of argan oil. A simple base of argan oil will allow any cheap eyeshadow to stick and it will moisturize the skin below at the same time. I used a little argan oil on Emme’s eyelids and lips and then dabbed the shadow on for intense pigmentation.

Argan Oil…Again!

Natural Argan Oil

Instant natural shine. Just apply a little argan oil wherever you want to catch the light and you’ll shine in all your photos. As you can see, Emme’s cheekbones are radiant.

I hope some of these ideas have inspired you in some way to document this beautiful season. I’d love to see any photos inspired by this blog so please please please use the #avns or tag us in your photos and let us know how our products inspire you!

First time visiting AVNS? Follow our blog to stay updated and sign-up for our newsletter to begin your journey to natural beauty!

Much Love,

Nora


Puppy Love for Natural Dog Shampoo Bar

WARNING: THIS BLOG INCLUDES ADORABLE PICTURES OF DOGS. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

When I was a little girl my biggest dream was to have a dog of my own.

I drew pictures of dogs, wrote stories about dogs, and owned two well-worn dog breed encyclopedias that I would spend hours paging through for fun. My obsession has since become a healthy passion, but I can still list off fifty dog breeds in under two minutes and thirty seconds.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in the company of some of the kindest, gentlest dogs I have ever known. My dad’s Vizsla Hank (looking shiny as a penny in the photo to the right) and I grew up together. Hank tolerated all of my toddler teasing and by the time I was twelve he had far outgrown me in dog years and was my faithful friend. He would follow me everywhere, limbs stiff with age. His velvety brow would wrinkle with concentration and he would cock his head when I spoke to him as if he were trying to understand me.

We also have several English Setters, who are basically giant drool babies with excellent noses and a penchant for snuggles (see the picture of my brother and his dog Lily on he left for proof).

With their stellar sniffers, English Setters are soft-mouthed dogs that are bred and trained to be fantastic hunting dogs. A soft mouthed dog is more inclined to retrieve without clamping down on prey and in order to keep this desired trait intact, I was not allowed to play fetch or tug-of-war with our Setters.

Having family dogs was not enough for me, I wanted a dog of my own. So in seventh grade I decided to take matters into my own hands and convinced my mom to take me to the Golden Valley Humane Society with the popular fate-sealer: “We’ll just pet them.”

Nico was about six months when we brought him home.

We did pet them…we also brought one home…

I quickly learned that Nico was not the noble, obedient dog I was accustomed to, but I actually love him more because of his deviant nature. Here are some of his most laudable qualities:

Nico has an adorable habit of scratching at my door when he wants to spend time with me, but the fact that he refuses to come when called is even more adorable. When I call Nico, he stands at a safe distance and just looks at me — not like he’s confused — like he’s still deciding whether or not he wants to come. I find it incredibly charming.

Nico is also a real crowd pleaser, a people-dog if you will. When Nico meets people for the first time, he puts them at ease by doing a stellar impression of a barking, growling land piranha (although he is all bark and no bite).

This is a candid of Nico making my favorite doggy-grin before he was able to go into “Alien Mode.” Nico has many nicknames including: Panini, Sneeps, Ni-ni, and Neepo. What silly nicknames do you call your dog?

Nico is remarkably adroit when it comes to non-verbal communication (although he is also an eloquent barker and can rhapsodize through high-pitched yips and grumbles about the neighbor dog’s presence in our yard for hours). Nico’s favorite pastime is trying to convince people that he is not a dog, but an uncomfortable alien who hates being touched.

My mom recently introduced Nico to her co-workers through a conference call. Recognizing that this was his time to shine, Nico held nothing back. His ears went flat against his head, his legs went taxidermy stiff, his lip stretched thin, and his eyes bulged like giant marbles. Alien dog achieved.

He makes me so proud…

Except for one thing…

I can’t stand the stink.

Nico loves stink. He loves stink so much that he wants to be stink. Nico rolls in the stinkiest things he can find and I often bury my face in his fur only to be unpleasantly surprised by a giant whiff of the dead fish bouquet radiating from his coat. Now that we’re dipping into spring, Nico finds many fragrant opportunities that are thawing and decomposing. When this happens, I pull out my secret weapon: a single word that sends Nico running for under the bed: BATHTIME!

I have to wash my hair every other day, but I have friends who only need to wash once a week. Dogs are the same way and so are other pets. According to AKC, your dog’s coat type typically determines how often they need to be bathed.

Huskies have insulated coats and over-washing will strip their fur of important natural oils. On the other hand–sorry–paw, Chinese Crested have very delicate skin and actually need to be bathed weekly.

As a rule of claw, most breeds need a bath once a month. Dogs get dirty, so dog shampoo can be packed with some pretty heavy duty ingredients and over washing your dog can lead to dry skin…which is the last thing you want for your pooch or any other pet.

Our dog Toby (Tri-color English Setter) when he was a puppy.

This poses a problem if your dog likes mud or stink. You shouldn’t keep your dog clean inside at the expense of them not getting proper exercise…so what do you do?

I used Lavender Silk. First on my own hair, and then on Nico’s. Let me tell you, we both smelled awesome.

Yes, some of our bars can be used for pets!

Because natural soap is more moisturizing, our soap can act as a monthly cleanse, but is also safe to use as a midweek emergency touch-up. While our Jojoba Silk Conditioning shampoo bar, Hemp & Honey bar, Lavender Silk bar, and Simply Shea bar can all be used on you and your pet, our Natural Pet Shampoo bar is designed specially for pets.

This bar is packed with pet-approved ingredients. When it comes to pets, lather is essential, you want physical proof that the soap is coating every inch of fur and lather helps a little go a long way. We used castor oil to achieve a fluffy lather that is effective in repelling dirt and fleas. We also added olive oil and coconut oil–oils that are known to moisturize, revitalize, and “antibacterial-ize.” The two components I’m most excited about are the essential oil blend and the colloidal oats.

Because my family has hunting dogs, they pick up a ton of ticks when they work in the fields and woods, additionally, the sheer number of dogs that we own makes flea infestations a huge potential problem. Essential Oils of Lemongrass, frankincense & cedarwood have been shown to repel fleas and ticks…and we put that blend right in the bar!

Burt working in the field.

Colloidal Oats are basically finely grounded oats. Oatmeal is a fantastic agent for soothing skin. When I was much younger my family had an English Setter who suffered from terrible dry patches and we could only bathe him with oatmeal shampoo. I also suffered from an extreme reaction to poison ivy as a child–it was miserable–and oatmeal baths were a huge factor in alleviating my symptoms.

This bar has everything you need to maintain your pet’s coat, but the best part is that it may help restore health to both skin and coat. As with our human shampoo bars, this bar needs soft water to work its magic.

During this time of physical distancing, our pets are there for us. This is the perfect time to reconnect with your adorable animal and get your kids involved! Here’s a few ideas to get you started.

Rodents: if you own a hamster ball, you can train your hamster or other speedy rodent to race. Find a hallway. Put your rodent at one end and yourself at the other. Then have a simple chant (I used to do this with my “prizewinning” hamster Scooby, and I’d say “Go Scooby, Go!”). When your rodent reaches you, reward them with a treat. Eventually they’ll be tearing down the racetrack (you can line up some stuffed animal spectators on the sides for support)!

Cats: cats are mysterious creatures with minds of their own, but they seem to like feathers…

Dogs: I love playing hide and seek with Nico. I get some really fantastic snacks (let the dog know that you have these snacks), then put him in a room with a door that — if left slightly ajar — he will be able to scratch open on his own (if there is more than one human player they can take turns hiding and staying with the pet).

Since Nico and I play one-on-one, I tell him to stay and then I hide somewhere super easy (behind a chair or corner) then I yell, “Nico! Come find me!” When he finds me I instantly reward him with a snack. As the dog gets more used to the game you can find more tricky hiding places (behind a curtain, under a blanket). I love hiding somewhere where I can watch Nico look for me. He will often check all the original hiding places and will jump up on couches to get a higher vantage point (which for some reason is hysterically cute).

Horses: While nothing beats a trail ride, you can always take some time to brush your fore-locked friend as well. There is nothing more satisfying than detangling a mane!

Last but not least, every pet deserves the spotlight! Get creative and give your pet a well-earned photo shoot. Let them show their playful side with their favorite toy, or…if they are very patient, you could even try a costume or two (just make sure there are a lot of treats involved and don’t make your dog do something they don’t want to). There are so many ways to get creative! You can involve your kids, make it a contest, explore your phone’s editing options…no matter what you do, have fun!

We’d love to see your pets, so feel free to use #avnspet if you post any photos on Instagram or Facebook! If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, check out some of the results from Nico’s photoshoot below!