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.

Monday, June 11, 2012

five quick ways to make waking up suck less

Here's a thing about me: I love mornings. Like, loooove them. In college, I used to purposely sign up for 8 AM classes because there is nothing I love more than being up & out and around before everyone else. And if you're up at 8 AM on a college campus, I can guarantee you're up before everyone else.

But while I love being up early, there is nothing I loathe more than the actual act of getting up early. Those ten seconds between when my alarm goes off and actually getting out of bed are quite possibly the most annoying seconds of my day. And because I like to be obnoxiously cheerful in most aspects of my life, I decided this slightly bummer part of my morning needed fixing. And thus! My five surefire ways to Make Mornings Suck Less :)

1. Get up the first time you wake up. By this I mean if you naturally wake up at 5:30 AM, get up. Don't try to fall back asleep until 6 AM only to be blasted awake by your alarm clock, subsequently hitting the snooze button seven times until you must run out of your bed in order to have enough time to get ready. I've learned time and time again that even though the extra minutes of snooze might seem tempting-- they're not worth it & they rarely help. There's a reason your body wants you to get up when it wakes up the first time-- because it's ready!

2. Spend three minutes hangin' out in bed before you actually get up. Yup, this one is one of my faves. Rather than jolt right out of bed, I allow for at least a few minutes of book reading/blog perusing/kitty snuggling before I actually get up. It makes the actual act of getting out of bed seem SO. MUCH. LESS. ICKY. if I have a minute or two to adjust myself to the fact that sleeps are over and I must start my day like a real person. 

3. Dry brush. My sweet sister bought me a dry brush mitt a few weeks ago and ever since, I've been LOVING the addition of it to my morning routine. It warms me up, makes my skin feel smooooth, and helps your body along in its natural lymph detoxification everyday. Watch this video for more info! (ps. I got my mitt from Whole Foods-- but any hippie dippie store will have a brush or mitt :))

4. Drink some tea, fer cryin' out loud (or whatever floats your boat). When I was living abroad, this was a non-negotiable. I had tea everyday, at least three times a day, but lost the habit when I moved back home. I've never been a regular coffee drinker, but I do enjoy a good cup of English Breakfast to start my day. Because this is a habit that I usually only have time for on a leisurely morning, leaving a little time for it on a regular old work morning feels like such a treat. When I'm feeling extra-healthy, I have hot water with lemon. When I'm feeling extra-zombie-face, I'll bring out the big guns (ie. coffee :))

5. Jam out to your favorite tunes. I'm a music person. When I get sputtery-mad or uber-emotional and have trouble using my words, there is usually a song that can say it better than I ever could. The same goes for the good times-- starting my day with some happy music starts me off on the best foot possible, and bonus! Rather than whatever junk I heard on the radio that morning, I actually have a say in what music I'll have stuck in my head all day :) Might I suggest something cheery, like Feist or Michael Franti

How do you ensure your waking-up-on-the-right-side-of-the-bed? Anything to add to my list of tips?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

23 things: an (all-inclusive) update

With oh, I don't know, two weeks (!!) left to go until I turn 23 on June 23rd, I realized I haven't done an update on my life list lately. 23 is going to be a great big year for me-- uh, not only is it my golden birthday (yes, I have been waiting for this day to come since I was, oh, 8 years old), but I just feel so stinkin' grateful for the place I am in my life right now, and the growth year I had to get through to get here-- and want to truly celebrate it! (Plus if you want to get all woo-woo about it, 23 is a pretty important universe-y number). Needless to say: this birthday is special & I'm pumped. 

But anyways! In the space since my last 23 things post, I've checked a glorious SIX things off of my list, and want to tell you allll about them. How to do so without writing a miniature novel for you? Why, haiku, of course! 

Try acupuncture/acupressure (4/16/12)
bought a cheap groupon;
it was surprisingly cool
also quite prickly.

Make Indian food from scratch (me = intimidated) (5/8/12)
not quite so scary
who knew so many spices?
chicken tikka yum.

Pay anonymously for the stranger's drink behind me in the Starbucks drive-thru (people used to do this when I worked at Starbucks, and it melted my heart. I love people.) (6/3/12)
bought myself a tea,
left a gift card for the next,
warmed my heart right up.

Greet the sunrise outside at the lakefront with 23 sun salutations (kudos to my best friend for getting up at the crack of dawn and coming with me :)) (5/15/12)
morning reflection;
my yoga mat got grassy
but it was gorgeous.

Build a little nest-egg in my savings account (6/8/12)
shockingly grown-up
not nearly as fun as shoes
but better than broke. 

Read Anne of Green Gables (4/28/12)
pure red-headed sass
unafraid of anything
could I please be anne?

And one that I did not accomplish, because of the way that I've changed how I eat:

Eat nothing but fruit for three days.
fruit fasting, no thanks;
however I'll eat many
grapes on my own time.

Only a few things left! And I'm dreaming up my 24 things as we speak :) Have you given any of these a try? Are you as terrible as writing haiku as I am? Any suggestions for my 24 before 24 list? I'd love to hear 'em! 

Monday, June 4, 2012

good things come to those who thrift: a tunic story.

 I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking, 'CERTAINLY this girl simply must not be wearing clothes anymore, for if she were, surely she would have posted about it at least a little bit in the last two months.'


I know. I KNOW. Contrary to popular belief, I have been wearing clothes. They were likely repeats of all of the outfits I've worn & documented on this here blog over the last three years, and thus-- nothing special. Which is how I've been feeling about my wardrobe lately: meh. Nothing special.

tunic: thrifted; leggings: kohls; sandals: target

Until. UNTIL! I remembered that being a broke graduate student is not the same as actually having no money, and that with a little careful thrifting, I could stop my whining and get a few new things for less than the price of a cd's worth of awful radio pop (ask me about my latest terrible impulse purchases). 

ps. who else is a fan of that gorgeous papasan chair in the background? that we found. behind our apartment building. for FREEE. i'll live in it, i tell ya. 

And so, my friend and I headed off to a massive Goodwill out in the 'burbs where I not only scored the world's cutest vintage polka-dot shirt as well as a slew of other goodies, but ALSO this brand-new Lilly Pullitzer tunic for a mere $4. I may or may not have done a happy dance right there in the fitting room.

Moral of the story: good things come to those who wait, like $4 tunics to moi from fancy ladies who donate them to their local goodwill. However, good things good clothes do not just randomly appear to those who wait & whine about the state of their closet without actually purchasing anything (ahem, future Mary who will inevitably have this same epiphany when she gets sick of her closet again in six months.) 

Let's hear it: had any fantastic thrift-y finds lately? You know I love a good bargain-hunt story! :)