Monday, December 31, 2012



May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

-Neil Gaiman 

Happy New Year, friends-- I hope you send 2012 out with gratefulness & cheer, and welcome 2013 with a whole heart :)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

daily outfit (+ video!): red dress

A few weeks ago, it was crazy warm for winter in WI (read: 40 degrees. WHAT!) so Sara &  I ventured out for a little outfit of the day video goodness. If it's not abundantly clear by the ridiculous vlogs we make together, Sara is a youtuber and crazy talented at making videos... so of course, as her friend, I have to take advantage of her skills as often as possible :) We had a great time romping around the wilderness and getting crazy looks from fellow park-goers... never a dull moment when we are together, clearly. Thanks to Sara for filming + editing-- click on her name above to see the video I shot for her! 

Yet again, my hair doesn't look like this anymore because it grows like a weed... 
perhaps someday I'll post things in a timely fashion so you actually know what I currently look like? 

outfit details: jacket: consigned; dress: fred mke; leggings: kohls; boots: target

Friday, December 21, 2012

review: I might be a hipster (and free glasses for all of you!)

Last year, my eye doctor told me I had to go from being a contacts-everyday-no-matter-what wearer to glasses everyday, indefinitely. Suddenly, my cute & quirky glasses went from being a fun accessory to an absolutely necessity, and I realized how important it was to really feel comfortable & like me in whatever I was wearing on mah face. My glasses, like my curly hair and affinity for stupid puns, had suddenly become something I identified with, not only in my appearance but my personality as well. Since then, I've been searching for inexpensive ways to add to my arsenal of eyewear as an accessory. When contacted me to try a pair of glasses for free, I jumped at the chance-- and I love them! Read on for my experience (and how you-- ahem, all of you-- can get a pair for free for yourself!) 

Firmoo had tons of options, which I loved. All of their glasses are inexpensive to begin with, they have tons of styles, a virtual try-on program (so that you can see how you'd look in your glasses), & great selection of prescription & non-prescription glasses & sunglasses. By far, my favorite part of picking these glasses was that because they were inexpensively priced to begin with, I could go out a bit on a limb style-wise (hello, I now am walking a fine line between here & hipster-land) and not feel like I'd made a huge commitment to fancy glasses that I had to wear forever & ever. I chose these, and within a week they were delivered to my apartment, with all of the lovely goodies you see above! The good news? I adore them. 

They're super cute, excellent quality, a great way to change things up on the daily, and I get loads of compliments every time I wear them, which, hello, is always nice. I've always been the type of girl to have one go-to accessory (one purse, one great pair of boots, one stellar pair of glasses) and wear it til it's worn out, but I've quickly learned that having a few pairs of glasses in your arsenal makes accessorizing so much more fun. I will absolutely be spending some of my own money on a few more pairs of glasses from firmoo just to have around for when I feel like changing things up! 

The best part, though, is that firmoo offers a first-pair-free promotion to all new customers-- all you pay are shipping costs. Check it out here-- and promise me you'll report back with your cutie patootie pictures when you get your new glasses! 

(Per usual: I was given these glasses at no cost to me in return for my honest opinion & review, which this is!)

Friday, December 14, 2012

zero to crunchy: lavender oil is good for everything, literally.


Alright, friends, let's talk essential oils. Now, I'm certainly no expert, but I've done a little research and know a bit or two about a thing or two. I've been using peppermint oil for headaches for about two years now (AMAZING, by the way), and tea tree oil is always, always, always included in my homemade deodorant recipe. But lavender oil? Is new to me. I've always been drawn to lavender, first because it smells like little drops of heaven and second because purple is my favorite color, but that's neither here nor there. I recently picked up a bottle just to have on hand to add to deodorant and other natural beauty recipes, but I've been astounded and so excited to discover its many, many uses that I just had to share them with you!

the best best best acne spot treatment in the universe
I've mentioned before that apple cider vinegar had previously been my favorite spot-treatment cure for my occasional hormonal acne, but thus, no longer-- lavender oil has knocked it clear out of first place. All it takes is a drop or two of lavender oil, neat on your toughest spots and they'll dry up in a day or two like nobody's business. Lavender oil is much gentler than other essential oils (which should never be applied directly to the skin without researching first if they'll react with your skin! PSA over.), so it can be applied to your face and skin without irritation. Test on a small patch first just to make sure that you're not sensitive, but generally a few drops will take care of redness and acne bumps. If you'd like to use it on a regular basis, try adding a few drops to your oil cleansing oil of choice (or to your clean/natural moisturizer) and watch things clear up practically overnight!

make a pillow spray
Lavender oil is known for its calming effect, and seriously-- I can attest to it. I have this lovely little habit of letting my mind race before bed and keeping myself awake for hours at a time, unintentionally. Even on a normal night, it takes me a while longer than I'd like to fall asleep, so I've been putting a few drops of lavender oil in a spray bottle along with some witch hazel or distilled water to spritz on my pillow. I would never lie to you-- it is amazing, and the last few weeks I've been making that my nightly ritual have been some of my quickest-to-sleep ever! I'm sold. 

use to calm burns or cool off
Take that same bottle of lavender/water (or witch hazel) by your bedspread and spray it on burns to help soothe them or just to cool yourself off in the summer heat. 

clear up that cold
When I got sick living abroad & didn't want to take conventional cold medicines, the pharmacist recommended rubbing some vapor rub on the inside of the bowl, filling it with hot water and inhaling the steam to clear up my sinuses. I still use that remedy to this day, but now I switch it up from time to time and just drop a few drops into the hot water and let the steam do its thing. Also great for headaches & sinus issues: soak a washcloth with hot water, put a few drops of lavender oil & use as a warm compress for your head. 

as a perfume
Did we not already establish how deliciously yummy lavender oil smells? Yes? Great. When I was younger & baking with my grandmother, I got some vanilla on my fingers & she taught me to always dab that leftover vanilla on your neck as a perfume. (FYI: it makes you smell like cookies, and similar to your milkshake, will probably bring all the boys/etc to the yard. I promise.) The same goes for lavender-- because it's such a mild oil with an incredible scent, dab a dot or two on your neck behind your ears and just watch & smile as everyone goes nuts over how incredible you smell. 

There are countless more, I know I've barely scratched the surface! What do you use lavender oil for? If you give any of these a try, I'd love to hear about it!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

daily outfit: ramblings of a finals week.

So much to say! So little time! Let's start at the very beginning, shall we? 

tunic: F21, consigned; belt: jcp; leggings: kohls (get 10% off until 12/23 with code tenblog); boots: DSW

My very favorite roommate in the entire world moved out to pursue her fancy career goals in other states, and my other very favorite roommate in the entire world has moved in. (Small backstory: she was my first roommate ever ever, freshman year of college. Our room was covered in twinkle lights 24/7 and once we hung a piƱata from our ceiling with dental floss... which should give you a good idea of how well matched we were.) Our apartment a) looks nothing like it does in these photos anymore b) is currently so christmas-ed out you'd think we were straight up living in the north pole and c) has no less than seven hundred and thirty two candles burning at any given time. Truth. (mostly.) 

My hair is no longer this long. I uploaded these pictures, took a second to mourn the loss of my cute braid crown, then remembered it only takes ten minutes to blow dry my hair now, and got over it. 

In case you're like me and were the last human on the planet to hear this song, listen to it. Sing it every single time you're thrifting. Annoy the beejeebus out of your fellow shoppers. You're welcome. (Also, NSFW. Just a warning :)) Also obsessed with this song. Just listen. Repeat. Amen. 

Lastly, it's finals week. Scratch that, the next two weeks are finals weeks. I am not pleased. My brain is broken. Hopefully once that has passed, I'll be back with more coherent ramblings :) 

In the meantime: fill me in! What have you been up to lately?

Monday, October 15, 2012

daily outfit: on owning it all

I've been a little silent on the blog lately. Besides the fact that my beautiful and wonderful sister just married the love of her life this past weekend and I've been consumed with maid-of-honoring (fun! exhausting!) for the last however long, every time I start to write a post, it feels inauthentic. I look back at some of my favorite old posts: all silly, random, perfectly-tied-together musings, and I'm just not there right now, so I felt like I shouldn't say anything at all. But thanks to a good friend (hi, Gina :)), I was reminded why, yes indeed, I do still like taking pictures of my clothes and writing about things. You know, to be specific. 

top: f21; jeggings: kohl's (get the look!); boots: aldo

I've been thinking a lot lately about authenticity, particularly in the last few weeks. Owning every part of who I am is something I am always striving for, but it's not always easy. It's easy to pretend that you're always fun and and happy and silly, but it's not easy to see where you fall short and expose it to the world. It's easy to put on a cute face and say oh, sometimes, that you make mistakes, but it's much more difficult to stare your mistakes in the face and own them. 

In an effort to love every single part of myself + the incredibly fantastic people in my life, I've been practicing owning it all. Owning the fact that yes, I like to fancy myself a pretty happy, goofy, contented, polka-dot-wearing girl, but I also get easily frustrated, I am a chronic over-analyzer, and sometimes it's easier for me to put walls up than it is to take them down.

{lion photobomb!} 

But what I've learned, time and time again, is that just like you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, nobody's perfect, and admitting that to those closest to me always brings us closer together. I'm always happier when I admit my mistakes and my shortcomings, and it's the best way to grow. Shiny/happy/rainbow + sunshine-less though it may sometimes be. 

I wish I could wrap this up nicely with a neat little bow and call it a day, but I can't. I can, however, see the beauty in the fact that I'm a work in progress-- this, the act of being good with exactly you at exactly any given moment, is a process & a practice, not a destination to be reached. I was driving home from work today, mulling all of this over in typically congested rush hour traffic, and a car cut me off right as I was getting on the freeway. My initial instinct was to get a little road rage-y, but in that moment I realized it's not up to me to make any judgements on anyone else just based on one split-second occurrence. It's easier to blame somebody else, but it's better to remember that we're all human. When in doubt, be a little more compassionate and give a little love, and see what happens instead.

clearly, this is why my roommate is one of my favorite people in the universe. 

Also, if you see a lion statue, ride it. If you have the chance to wear polka-dots, do it. Don't take yourself too seriously, and whatever it is, don't be afraid to own it-- all of it. Be thankful. Cut yourself some slack. And when in doubt, just write about it :) 

What's your best advice? I want to hear it! Also: have you ridden a lion lately? It's pretty great.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Vlog: State Fair with Sara!

In August, my roommate Sara and I ventured to our favorite summery Wisconsin event: the state fair! We thought we'd bring you all along whilst eating chocolate covered bacon/freaking out about baby animals/watching the annual pig races & just generally having a grand old Sconnie time :)

Added bonus: check out Sara's super cute outfit of the day video! Plus, yours truly makes a little cameo at the end singing about a bridge :) We took some great other outfit shots that day, keep an eye out for those soon!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

24 Things: Paint (not walls, a picture!)

So, if I haven't mentioned it before, my sisters and I are like three crazy little peas in a pod. We have the same laugh. We have the same nose. We have the same uncanny knack for making the world's cheesiest jokes, ever. We also happen to have an innate ability to know what each other needs, at any given point, always, and usually delivered with chocolate. So I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise when my middle sister (I'm the youngest) just happened to give me a reiki session for my 22nd birthday, which was exactly one of the things I had put on my 23 things life list, before she ever even knew said list existed. So it also follows that I shouldn't have been surprised when the same sister bought vouchers for the two of us to take an intuitive painting class together for my 23rd birthday, also one of the things I put on my 24 things life list, again, long before she ever knew said list existed. 

Like I said, peas in a pod. 

Sisters. I'm in the laundry basket. We don't look like this anymore, in case you were wondering, though I do still have an affinity for hiding in laundry baskets, obviously. 

I was equal parts super-excited for this painting class and equal parts terrified out of my mind that I'd end up drawing stick people and having to excuse myself to go wash the fingerpaints off of my hands while pretending that I totally meant to do that all along, you guys. I fancy myself a creative type, good at crafts & art-y projects, but I've never been good at drawing. And so, I got the silly little notion in my head that just because I wasn't good at something meant that I couldn't do it anyways. Pssh. 

Painting. And laughing. Our new friends in the class brought wine and fudge, with had absolutely nothing to do with why we all got along so well, clearly. 

Here is what I learned about intuitive painting, and also life, because poignant things sneak up on you like that. First, you pick whichever colors speak the most to you, and you trust your gut, because your gut knows what's up. Also, purple makes everything better. Next, you splatter things everywhere and make a big mess and watch what happens. Following that, you paint. You do whatever feels right and you let that paintbrush go forward with abandon even if you have zero clue what you're doing. It's okay if you add some brown and decide you hate it-- because there's nothing you can do to change it now, baby. Add some purple (makes everything better) and white, and then sit back and marvel in your lovely creation. Even if it became something entirely different than what you set out to make, you should be pretty proud of yourself and pretty in awe of how cool it turned out in the end anyways.

My masterpiece. I love it. I also learned that if you flip it on its side, it looks like a kangaroo. 

Long story short: painting is great, and fun, and relaxing, and it doesn't matter that you haven't put brush to paper since elementary school, it doesn't matter that you can't draw a still life worth a sideways kangaroo, because you may end up being a quite talented if-you-do-say-so-yourself swirly-thing painter. Thanks, sister, for always knowing what I need before I need it, and helping me jump outside my comfort zone. I like it better here. There's more purple. And chocolate.  

I think she's probably the one who put me in that laundry basket in the first place. 

Psssst! Milwaukeeans! If you're looking for an awesome new experience in the arty world with super-great people, I highly recommend you check out Studio 915. They have nothing to do with me writing this post, I just had such a great time that I had to share with all of you. Go support your awesome, arty local businesses! 

Monday, August 27, 2012

daily outfit: polka dots, pt. deux

Dearest polka dots, I love you. 

shirt: thrifted; tank: kohls; crops: kohls; wedges: aldo

I picked this shirt up while thrifting with my roomie a few months ago, plopped it in my closet, and then never wore it. Until a few days ago, and now I literally would wear it everyday if I could. 

I'm not one of those super-lucky thrifters who finds gorgeous handmade, vintage, one-of-a-kind things every time she shops. But I have been lucking out a little lately (mostly because we spend literal hours meticulously perusing through endless rack after rack of abandoned Hollister t-shirts for the occasional gem), and I was over the moon when I found this 80s cropped polka-dot top. 

 Unfortunately the fit is a little wonky, which has prevented me from wearing it til now, but to that I say pish tosh. I'll alter it eventually, but until then, I'll just tuck a little here and there and enjoy my new polka-dotty love. Every single day. Forever and ever amen. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

daily outfit: fancy pants

Whatever you are,
be a good one.
--Abraham Lincoln

cardigan: ny&co; tank: kohls; trouser jeans: gap; bracelet: gift

Have I mentioned lately how few occasions in my life necessitate fancy wear? Enough that I count things like wrinkly trouser jeans and medium height heels 'fancy wear', if that tells you anything. For reals, though: being a nanny and a graduate student is about as un-fancy as you'd imagine. And also a little messy. And require equal amount of constantly running around & playing with little ones and sitting my tush in the library for hours on end, both of which necessitate cute, functional comfort, and that's about it. Can you tell I miss dressing up even a liiiittle bit? Because I do. 

So when I had the opportunity to attend an event that, while still casual-ish, didn't require my clothes to be stretchy or spill-proof, I gleefully danced around in my mid-height heels for a solid ten minutes.

Also, yes, wrinkly pants. I have the patience of a baby squirrel and thus, if I have to 1) take out my iron 2) fill it with water 3) fashion an ironing board out of my coffee table 4) ACTUALLY IRON THINGS it's probably not going to happen. I'm just going to pretend nobody noticed and instead you were distracted by how cute baby squirrels are. Yes? Good. 

I'm curious: how often do you mix/play with different 'themes' in your wardrobe? Do you wear fancy dresses to coffee shops? Help me shake things up a bit!  

Monday, August 20, 2012

daily outfit: being fun again.

So, here's the thing. I've been in a bit of a rut with my wardrobe, and I've been fine with it. I wear the same variations of the same things, basically, day in & day out. I had resigned myself to the fact that maybe my creativity with what I wear was done with, and I would just be a 'normal' person wearing normal clothes from here on out, likely over and over again. Sometimes, I'd wear something cute, and then have my photographer roommate take a picture of it, and my style would seemingly exist solely in the world of wearing fancy dresses and sky-high shoes. I was fine with it! I had no desire to change my new wardrobe perspective!

But then, something happened. I got majorly sick of owning tons of clothes that are a) super old and I never wear anymore of b) now a few sizes too big, and useless to me anyways. So I went on a ruthless wardrobe cleaning spree, and suddenly I have outfit inspiration up the wazoo. Who knew.

tee: thrifted; skirt: gap, a few years old; heels: macy's 

Sometimes I think I have to actively remember why I started taking pictures of my clothes in the first place. And I know this is something that a thousand bloggers before me have said (and I'm fairly certain I've even said it a thousand times here myself), but it's true. It's not because I cared about how many readers I had or if people would pin my pictures or if I was standing in a field of flowers with the perfect lighting, whatever. It was about doing something outside of myself that was fun, and learning how to make the best of my closet full of seven-year-old sweaters and no means to change that any time soon.  

I'm certainly not saying anything bad about fields of flowers and pinterest and readers, because I still value all of those things (especially readers! Have I told you lately you're the But sometimes it's just about having fun in your closet and taking a picture in your dining room that has nothing even close to perfect lighting, with those two boxes in the corner that you still haven't unpacked since you moved in. 

I'm not necessarily here to make some sweeping declaration about the state of this here blog and these here clothes I'm wearin', but today was fun. It was a lot of fun to play around in my closet and not worry too much about perfect pictures or the fact that I desperately need a haircut, or whatever. Instead, I think it's been a good way to remind myself that no matter the state of my closet, there's always something to wear, and it most certainly doesn't have to be the same thing everyday. And that I'll probably never classify myself as a 'normal' person when it comes to my clothes. Buuut we already knew that, didn't we?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Vlog: Flamingo Hunt!

So, here's the thing. My roommate, Sara, and I are kind of a match made in heaven. Besides the fact that we make up the perfect roommate balance in that I cook the dinners and she kills all the bugs, we both are super social-media-y, and can understand each other's obsessions with blogs (me) and youtube (her). 

Sara has a great youtube beauty channel that I kind of totally love, and recently we've toyed around with the idea that we should vlog together from time to time. This mostly came about because since the second we moved in together, I've been saying we should have a sitcom (because I think we're hilarious, obviously)-- so this is as close as we're ever going to get :) We've been filming some of the roommate adventures we've been having together, and I wanted to share them with you all! 

First up: our inflatable flamingo hunt. I'm serious. We spent an entire day in pursuit of the elusive inflatable flamingo (because it meant free beer. Confusing, I know. Just watch, we explain :) --and let me know if you'd like to see more of these!).

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Where I'm From

I am from hand-me-down books, from jiffy cake mix and peanut butter toast every morning before school.

I am from that old cabin in the woods, the one with moth-eaten curtains and a washtub for a bathtub and the tire swing that twirled and thumped the ground instead of taking flight.

I am from the treehouse in the willow in the field, the pansies growing in pots on the pathway to the door.

I am from hiding the pickle ornament in the Christmas tree and smooshed freckled noses, from Gertrude and Andrew and Johanna and Terese.

I am from the last-to-hear-its and the terrible-joke-makers.

From 'eat your bread crusts-- they'll make your cheeks rosy' and 'your face will freeze that way'.

From twilight bike rides and caught fireflies and pinky promises in forts under the pine trees. 

I am from Saturday evening Catholicism and Sunday morning chocolate chip pancakes and finding God in the forest as much as you find him in church. 

I'm from the dairy state, from hearty stock that populated it, from spaetzle and spritz cookies.

From shared smuggled popcorn under the covers after bedtime, from a Grandfather I've never met but whose nose and tenacity I share, they tell me; from the whispers between sisters on a trampoline under the stars.

I am from the boxes of photos on the top closet shelf, from the case of dusty VHS tapes that bears my name, from roots and from wings. There is where I am from. 

Where I'm From is a poetry project inspired by George Ella Lyon. If you'd like to write you own, this template is a great starting point. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

In the kitchen: summery grain-free 'pasta' salad!

A few years ago, I dated a guy who made the world's most delicious pasta salad. I know, I know-- you're wondering if I have perhaps recently lost my mind, because let's be real: pasta salad, while decent, has never been one of those holy-buckets-I-shall-eat-this-on-the-daily kind of foods. But for whatever reason, this guy made a mean pasta salad, and that year, we ate it pretty much weekly and I deemed it the perfect hot-weather food. (I also may have been trying to bolster the ego of a cute boy who was trying to impress me with his cooking skills, but I promise it was delicious nonetheless.) That relationship is now over, but most importantly: I left it with the recipe for the world's tastiest pasta salad, and today, I'm going to share it with you.

Um, except, minus the pasta. 

What the what, Mary? is what you're saying right now, I can only imagine. Except remember how I don't eat grains anymore? So pasta is out. But it's still a balmy 100+ degrees outside, and the last thing I want to do every night is cook something hot in my already sweltering kitchen, and thus I had to take my beloved recipe, remove the pasta, and make it even tastier. Lucky for me (and you!) I figured it out, and can safely say I'll be nom'ing on this long after shorts weather is over. 

Not-your-ex-boyfriend's pasta-less salad! 
(wordy name, delicious dish.) 

  • 1 c. black olives
  • 1 c. chopped mushrooms
  • 2-4 tomatoes
  • 1 ball fresh mozzarella
  • 1-2 green peppers
  • 1/2 c. marinated artichokes
  • 2 T. italian dressing base
Chop your veggies. Chop your mozzarella. (hide your kids, hide your wife) Toss all into a bowl, sprinkle with italian dressing base, pour a little of the olive oil from your marinated artichoke hearts into the bowl (you can always just use regular olive oil here instead!), stir. Stick that baby into the fridge to marinate for a few hours, as it only gets better when it gets colder + marinated. Enjoy! I like to share it with people I'm trying to impress, or just go to town eating it for every single meal every single day of this heat wave, forever and ever amen. 

(Note on the servings: feel free to adjust number of ingredients as necessary-- I like to make just enough for one Mary to enjoy as a few meals juuust before I get sick of eating leftovers... or enough for one Mary & one cute boy :))

Just in time for the 4th of July: what are your favorite easy summertime dishes?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Confessions of a style blogger, part V

Aaand it's time for another round of my very favorite game, Confessions of a Style Blogger!  If you're new around these here parts, I occasionally write a post full of random facts about moi and invite you to play along in the comments. Without further adieu: confessions, part V!

1. I cannot think of a single day in my entire life that I haven't made my bed, barring sick days where I simply hung out there from morning til night. When I was a freshman in college, my roommate used to laugh at me for probably being the only 18-year-old in the entire universe that took the time to try and figure out how to make a lofted bed. It involved lots of wiggling and praying to all that is holy that I didn't fall straight onto the futon six feet below me, if you are looking for tips.

dress: c/o eshakti; shoes: target

2. I have matching birth marks on the tops of both of my kneecaps. Up until the age of oh, six? I was certain that this was just a thing that everyone had.

3. I wore this outfit to my golden birthday party-- hence, the shoes. A few weeks ago, I saw these shoes at Target, promptly dismissed them as the world's most ridiculous things, and then walked away to forget about them forever. Actually, I forgot about them for ten minutes, left the store, and then could not stop thinking about how perfect they'd be for golden birthday shenanigans. A few weeks later I went back, found them for $8 on clearance and bought them without a second thought. Best glittery $8 I've ever spent. 

4. Once, when I was working at Starbucks, I was proposed to over the drive-thru.
Well, not exactly. But I'm going to tell this story anyway. 
It was oh, 5 AM, and I was the only one working up front. (Disclaimer: I am perpetually cheerful. Not even getting up before the sun would deter my cheerfulness. This is important for the story.) I took the order of someone over the drive-thru, in my happiest, friendliest morning voice. He drove up, I gave him his coffee, and he asked me something. I was still a little foggy (hello, morning), and thought he'd said "Are you Mary?" Me, of course, being Mary, cheerfully responded: "Yes, I am!" To which he responded: "Your husband is one lucky guy!" ...and drove off into the sunset rise. Five seconds later, I realized he'd asked if I was married... uh, let's remember I was 17. AWKWARD.

That's all for me (uh, for the time being). Let's hear it! What are your confessions? 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

24 things

Today, I'm twenty three! My favorite number, my lucky number, my golden birthday-- can you tell I'm a bit excited? Now, I'm a realistic girl-- I know that there's not a whole lot more special about this number than any other number in the grand scheme of things, but I belong to the school of thought that when you think good things and do good things, good shows up in other unexpected places. And thus, I'm thinking good things about twenty three. And whereas my life list for twenty two was about challenging myself, trying a little bit of everything-- this year, it's a little bit more about doing good things. Good things for others, good things for me, good things for the world (and of course, some silly ones that have nothing to do with anything at all, because what else is life for than being silly sometimes?). Like I said yesterday-- twenty two was good. But I predict twenty three will be spectacular. Thanks for following me along for the ride, friends :)

24 Things Before I Turn 24

1. Pick up a few second-hand copies of my favorite books, leave them with little notes in random places around the city.
2. Grow my own SCOBY, brew my own kombucha. (6/12)
3. Give my number to a cute waiter on the bill, giggle about it with my girlfriends like 13-year-olds as we skidaddle right outta there. 
4. Go morel hunting (with someone who knows how to do it so that I don't, you know, end up accidentally poisoning myself). 
5. Get/bottle a bunch of spring water from a natural tap.
6. Buy a bikini. WEAR IT. In public. I mean it, self. (6/1/13)
7. Post 23 operation beautiful notes in one day.
8. Make my own hula hoop AND take a hula hooping class (fellow MKE'ans: hoopvive looks GREAT! who's coming with me? :))
9. Begin to write my big-dreams bucket list-- the things that will take more than just a year to do!
10. Cook for an entire week with just farmer's market goodies.
11. Go a week without ANY makeup  (not even mascara, self. I mean it.) 
12. Paint. (not walls. a picture!) (9/2/12)
13. Make homemade jerky (slash use the ever-loving crap out of my new dehydrator :)) 
14. Go to pub trivia night with friends!
15. Send a message in a bottle (perhaps in a fancy, romantic, literary way!) 
16. Try five crazy new fruits. 
17. See a movie at a drive-in. I think I'll have to drive out to the country for this one-- I just found out that the drive-in I used to go to when I was a bebe is closed now :(
18. Take an in-a-day road trip adventure-- maybe rent a scooter and drive up the lakefront as far as I can go :)
19. See a movie by myself-- popcorn, the whole shebang! 
20. Take a dabble class (or another class I wouldn't normally have tried)
21. Paleo-ize a recipe. (1/10/13)
22. Roast a whole chicken. Get over the squeamy factor. Try not to die of salmonella poisoning.
23. Stargaze at the North Point Lighthouse.
24. Smile at everyone. Never go to sleep angry. Be thankful & joyful at least once per day. Do random acts of kindness always. Find love in everyone & everything. Leave a trail of happiness in my path. Do good things for others, and be grateful realizing that we are all in this together. 

Here's to twenty three! 

Friday, June 22, 2012

23 Things: in review

Tonight, I will write a letter to myself on the evening of my birthday, like I've done every single June 22nd since I was ten years old. Tomorrow morning, I will turn 23. I will set my alarm to wake me at exactly 6:14 like I always do, the minute I was born. I'll watch the sun settle in over the lake from my cozy little spot in my living room. I'll drink tea and make chocolate chip pancakes for myself while I wait for the rest of the world to wake up. I'll reflect, the place where my contemplative brain likes most to be. This year wasn't always easy, but it was remarkable in the best kind of way-- the kind of joy that sneaks up on you when you're least expecting it. 

22 was a great year. I predict 23 will be spectacular. 

Now, to close the chapter on my 23 Things-- and onto the next :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

zero to crunchy: the best (ahem) homemade deodorant!

First things first: welcome, new readers! I'm so happy you're here :) Let me apologize in advance for all the terrible puns I'm bound to make over the course of your readership... aaand now let's hop to it! 

Friends, things are about to get realll TMI up in here. Well, I mean... not uncomfortably so. But a little bit. Because let's talk about deodorant!

(told ya.) 

There are few simple pleasures in this world that I love more than smelling good. I've been wearing the same perfume since I was in high school, and have more smelly lotions and body sprays and scented candles than you could shake a stick at. When I went crunchy granola with most of my beauty products, deodorant was the first thing I switched. Why? Among other things, there has been anecdotal evidence supporting a link between the aluminum found in conventional deodorant with things like breast cancer and alzheimer's disease, although the jury is still out officially. Regardless, repeated exposure of all of the chemicals found in conventional deodorant made me feel a little squeamy, and thus, I decided to pursue more natural alternatives. 

Oh! Right. Also, left unattended, my body becomes a bit of a stinkface and I found myself re-applying deodorant at least twice a day in the summer months just to ensure that I smelled like nothing less than a basket of rose petals. It was annoying. Also, an exhausting facade to maintain (because who naturally smells like a basket of rose petals?) Exactly. 

After a little internet-perusing, I pieced together a recipe for all-natural, homemade, easy-peasy deodorant that I am claiming as the best thing ever. It lasts all day, my skin is nice and smooth, any underarm pigmentation I had before is fading, and the most important part: it WORKS. The first few weeks, I was so enthralled with my find that I made everyone smell me. I would call my mom out of the blue and proclaim to her that my underarm skin just smelled like SKIN-- nothing else. Miracle of all miracles! You can bet I was everyone's favorite person during this phase, clearly. Seriously, though. Zero smell, no need to reapply, and it works better than every. single. conventional. deodorant. that I have ever tried. Sold yet? Thought so. 

Best of all, most of the ingredients (if not all) are likely sitting in your cupboard. It will take you less than five minutes, and then we can all become best friends who make their own deodorant and chat with each other about how OMGawesome it is. Ready?

You'll need:
1/3 c. baking soda
1/3 c. cornstarch 
6 tbsp. coconut oil
Essential oil (I love sweet orange oil + tea tree oil, for their awesome smell + natural antifungal/antibacterial properties-- important in deodorant making. Lavender, rosemary & eucalyptus work well also, but there are plenty of other options!)

Combine your cornstarch and baking soda in a bowl, mix well. Melt coconut oil until just soft enough to mix, combine with dry ingredients, and then add about 10-20 drops total of essential oils. Mix, place into small glass jar to store. Remember with your essential oils that the scent will lessen a bit when your mixture comes to room temperature, so don't be afraid if it smells a little strong at first.

And now, the customizations:
  • Add more coconut oil (or a bit of shea butter, or the insides of a vitamin e capsule) if you need extra moisture/smoothing from your deo
  • Decrease the ratio of baking soda/tea tree oil if you have very sensitive skin
  • Once you've applied your deodorant, pat a little cornstarch on top of your underarm to 'set' things-- this also helps with long-term lessening of underarm pigmentation!
A few things to note:
  • Tea tree oil (or too much baking soda) can be harsh if you have super-sensitive skin. I did notice a little redness on my first use of my homemade deo after shaving, but within two days my skin had acclimated and I was fine. If you know you're sensitive, try lavender or rosemary oil instead!
  • Coconut oil has a low melting point of 76 degrees, so if you're like me and live in a furnace old building with one window air conditioner nowhere near your bedroom, your deodorant will likely melt and separate. This is fine! Mix with your finger, apply, and know that as soon as the leaves start to change, you'll have a lovely, creamy jar of homemade deodorant again soon.
  • That being said, if you'd like to stick it in the fridge, that's fine! Every time you want to use it, scrape a little off the top with a spoon, and it will soften again upon touching your skin. Voila! 
And that's all, folks! Seriously, my life has been changed-- I would say that this has been, by far, my most successful crunchy switch-over thus far. I would love to hear if you give it a try, and as always, I'll do my best to answer any questions & comments below! 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday Morning Poetry

Yes, But
Even if it were true
Even if I were dead and buried in Verona
I believe I would come out and wash my face
In the chill spring.
I believe I would appear
Between noon and four, when nearly
Everybody else is asleep or making love,
And all the Germans turned down, the motorcycles
Muffled, chained, still.

Then the plump lizards along the Adige by San Giorgio
Come out and gaze,
Unpestered by temptation, across the water.
I would sit among them and join them in leaving
The golden mosquitos alone.
Why should we sit by the Adige and destroy
Anything, even our enemies, even the prey
God caused to glitter for us
Defenseless in the sun?
We are not exhausted. We are not angry, or lonely,
Or sick at heart.
We are in love lightly, lightly. We know we are shining,
Though we cannot see one another.
The wind doesn’t scatter us,
Because our very lungs have fallen and drifted
Away like leaves down the Adige,
Long ago.

We breathe light.

--James Wright

Saturday, June 16, 2012

23 things: say yes more

With a few days left to go until my birthday, I've been thinking about my 23 things list. I'm happy-- a little surprised, even-- with the number of things I've accomplished this year, both listed and unlisted. There's still a little room left to do a few more things, but there are a few that I know will remain unchecked.  I may not go camping, I will likely not sleep under the stars or take a road trip in the seven days left until my 23rd birthday. Those things, they are all adventures that are to remain on the horizon for now. What I will remember of this year is how often I've said yes-- certainly more than most years thus far. Yes to new friends, yes to dates, yes to midnight taco runs where I meticulously pick the avocado off so that I can inhale it all together in one big, delicious bite. Yes to staying out far too late on a school night (uh, something that it's taken my inner goody-goody until GRADUATE SCHOOL to finally accept as perfectly fine), yes to abandoning the rules and leading with my heart a little more.

But no to the things that are important, too-- no to the apartment that was too tiny, too icky, cheap but unsafe; no to the relationships that just did not fit quite right-- all things that maybe, before now, would have slipped through, silently piling up until I realized I wasn't as happy as I should have been. I am grateful that is not the road I've taken this time.

That is what this year has been-- a yes year. I'd written life lists before, but this one was different-- it was my promise to myself that rather than let my first year out of college just happen to me, I would actively jump in and do as much as I could. And thus, I'm giving this particular thing a permanent place on all future life lists. Not as an unchecked goal, but more as a reminder to the remarkable beauty that lies within those three little letters. I never want to be afraid of what happens when I just go & do instead of over-think. I am far prouder of the lessons I've learned in this year than I am in the responsible GPA I maintained during college, the sensible bedtime I kept for some 20-odd years of my life. And so, because of this, I look to 23 with ridiculous excitement-- because though I have some vague plans, in reality I have zip, zero clues as to what is coming this year, and I couldn't be more excited to find out.