To be honest, I don’t always know what to write about. I pride myself on being a creative thinker, someone who can “think outside the box,” but sometimes, no matter how hard I try, nothing comes out of the noggin.
Boo boo beee booo.
^my brain trying to think of something creative to say.
For a lot of Americans, this week has been a strange nightmare. While I write this right now, thousands are protesting Trump’s executive order issuing a “muslim ban,” and last night many gathered at area airports protesting the ban as well, before a federal judge granted an emergency stay for those who were already being held at airports, or currently in transit. This is on top of other orders that came out this week ranging from re-opening discussions on dangerous pipelines, to telling the EPA to stop all grants and contracts. National organizations like the National Parks Department and NASA have even taken to creating rogue Twitter accounts after gag orders were put in place to limit their messages(though who runs the accounts is a mystery, and not necessarily by someone from the organization). Lady Liberty is letting out a heavy sigh right now.
I think a lot of us are feeling heavy. Feeling like we don’t know what’s going to happen next, and focusing on passing one obstacle at a time. Our brains so focused on dealing with the absurd (because that’s what it is) that we can’t explore the ideas we have in the creative realm.
I was at a Leonard Cohen tribute concert earlier this week, which was a welcome mental break. Throughout the concert, they’d play excerpts of interviews with L. Cohen, and the selections used were particularly relevant to what we are facing today. Cohen once said “We're always experiencing joy or sadness. But there are lots of people who've closed down. And there are times in one's life when one has to close down just to regroup.” Right now, many are experiencing a lot of sadness, and a lot of uncertainty of what’s next. If you’re feeling this way, I encourage you to follow Cohen’s words–take a moment to regroup. Do not view that quiet moment as weakness, but instead as a brief chance to focus your mind and body, so you can be as strong as you can possibly be. There are many among you who will help you get back up.
Yesterday, me and my closest 400,000 friends* took to the streets of New York City to join the millions of others in towns and cities around the United States and around the world to peacefully protest the new White House administration, and promote that women’s rights are human rights. Folks from all walks of life, not just women, took to the streets to make our voices heard, and the images taken from above the march sites are powerful. There’s an image going around the internet right now of an older woman holding a sign that says “I can’t believe I still have to protest this fucking shit.” I’m not sure if it was taken yesterday, or at one of the many other rallies where women still have to demand rights over their own bodies, but that message will not get out of my mind. We are still demanding, still fighting, for rights that shouldn’t have to be won.
I don’t want the government to tell me what I can do with my female reproductive organs, and I especially don’t want them to control decisions that are really just between me and my healthcare provider. That’s why I marched. I saw a sign that said “Planned Parenthood saved me from cervical cancer.” I saw other signs with smart saying, creative drawings of uteruses, and even vagina costumes (oh, and Chuck Schumer made an appearance!) The point is, people were there for a variety of reasons, their own reasons, whether they had female reproductive organs or not. But women’s rights are just the start.
In many ways, the real march, the march towards equality, towards freedom, to equal access to all that America has to offer, has just begun. The millions of marchers who came out on Saturday across the country–across the world–were just the start. Equal rights for women, gay, trans, hispanic, muslim, blacks...the list goes on of the fundamental equality issues that this administration is going to challenge. Not to mention access to health care, immigration, jobs–topics that are going to be deeply challenged as well. We need to keep our voices loud, our opinions heard, and keep pushing towards the freedoms that we so rightfully deserve. I urge you to call your local representatives, volunteer at your local shelter, show your support with organizations that are likely taking some of the harshest tolls, and most of all, remind yourself that change starts with YOU. You are not alone in this, we are not alone in this, and our voices will be heard.
““There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” Jane Austen
*Ok, fine, I’m not popular enough to have 400,000 friends, but we did all get along real nice.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you're aware of the doomsday inauguration happening this Friday of the 45th president, Donald Trump. You are (hopefully) also aware that the Women's March on Washington is happening the next day. In case you aren't familiar with the March, the mission is to “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women's rights are human rights.” Thousands and thousands are expected in Washington D.C. for the March, and the interest spawned other cities to create their own. Since I'm based in (currently unseasonably warm) NYC I'll be joining our local March here.
Ok, ok done with the set-up, let's get back to the point–the Pussyhat Project. The Pussyhat Project “aims to provide the people of the Women's March on Washington D.C. a means to make a unique collective visual statement which will help activists be better heard” and as a way to let those who can't make it to D.C. represent themselves. The “Pussyhat” is a fairly simple pink knit (or crochet, or sewn) hat, that when pulled on, has two cat ears (picture below). My friend Kari, who is an avid and excellent knitter, created a subgroup in NYC of local knitters (novice and expert) that gathered together to knit hats to give to marchers. With her promise to teach me to knit (I've knitted two scarves prior-both were not quite great), I eagerly joined the other women (and men!) for a day of knitting.
As we sat around a coffee shop in midtown, sipping tea and knitting away, it was clear to see it wasn't just about the hat. We were a group of people coming together in a peaceful manner to have thoughtful discussions, laugh at our lack of expert knitting skills, and form new friendships. In what can only be described as a cloudy, unsure time, it was an almost zen experience, and I hope that feeling is felt at the marches this Saturday.
Tomorrow night I'll be passing my hat off to a friend who is headed to D.C. to march, and it's giving me the feeling that I'm part of something bigger. Maybe I only made one hat, maybe I can't go to D.C, but I'm sure as hell not just going to sit back and watch.
During my prep for my first Whole 30, one tip that kept coming across in my research was the importance of meal prep. Never let your next meal be a complete mystery; without something ready in your pantry or fridge, you’re more likely to reach for something non-compliant (compliant was a word I never used pre-W30, and now I can’t seem to get it out of my vocabulary). I already packed my lunch for work everyday, and cooked most dinners at home, but I still knew that Whole 30 prep was going to be a bit more intensive. For me, it’s easiest to plan out breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week, and always have fresh veggies, fruit, and compliant snacks on hand. Most days, I’ll eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch for 7 days straight (if it’s tasty the repetitiveness doesn’t bother me, but I know that isn’t the case for everyone), and I’ll plan something for 4-5 dinners, and then have a couple “filler” options for nights when I want to switch it up. I’ll then spend a Sunday morning or afternoon cooking everything up for the week, and packing it up so it’s easy to grab and go.
My current week looks like this:
Breakfast-A yummy spinach, egg, and salt pork frittata. It’s easy to make the weekend before, cut up into six slices, and grab one to eat when I get to work. There are so many great Whole 30 frittata recipes out there, so really explore!
Lunch-Pizza Spaghetti Pie This AMAZING recipe from Juli Bauer could not be any simpler to make, and tastes almost exactly a carb-loaded “classic” spaghetti pie. If you haven’t tried spaghetti squash, go try it now! And you probably have the rest of the ingredients in your pantry. Her buffalo chicken casserole is also super tasty.
Dinner-Chicken Tikka Masala
Every week, I have one wild card recipe; something I’ve never tried, and wasn’t recommended by a friend. This week it was Tikka Masala. While the flavor is good, if I made it again, I’d blend everything (minus the chicken) prior to cooking; even with a cup of coconut milk, mine is still runny, and I don’t find stewed tomatoes particularly appetizing. I serve it with a roast potato and brussel sprouts.
Dinner Alternate: As you can tell, I try to focus on inexpensive meats and readily accessible items (minus the Garam Masala that I literally walked a mile in the snow to get). But sometimes my body is just craving red meat! Instead of picking up an expensive steak, I’ll buy ground beef or burger patties to have a couple nights as a nice change from chicken. Serve with some ground mustard, sweet potatoes and a nice salad, and it’s a great alternative.
I also always have apples and whatever fruit is in season/on sale on hand, as well as some dried mango (not regularly), cashews, compliant fruit bars (I stash some at my desk for when I forget my breakfast), and last but certainly not least, prosciutto. Prosciutto is a perfect little snack for quick protein, and it’s fairly easy to find a compliant version (just make sure the ingredients are pork and salt). Beverages are important too! I find always having mint tea on hand as a lovely after-dinner alternative to dessert really helps. Flavored seltzer is also good, just make sure it is free of sweeteners.
Who out there is doing a January Whole 30? What are some of your favorite things to have on hand?
In my recent post reviewing Glossier’s Generation G, I quickly mentioned my allergy to Propylene Glycol. I imagine most of you (like me 5 years ago) went, ‘what the heck is she talking about?’ So I’m here to offer a bit of an explanation. But first, remember, I am not a doctor. Or even slightly qualified to be a doctor! So a friendly reminder that these words are simply my own, and not those of a medical (or science) professional.
Propylene Glycol, in the simplest term, is a chemical. It’s fairly harmless (though yes, it is used in antifreeze), and has many applications as an ingredient in things like whipped topping, soda, e-cigarettes, hygiene products, makeup, nail polish...you get the picture. PG is in a lot of things.
So where does my story with PG begin?
About 5 years ago, I started noticing my hands were really, really dry. I started buying all sorts of fancy hand creams, moisturizing gloves, trying those paraffin dips, and nothing worked! I then started developing little red bumps on my hands (I know, gross) and knew it was time to turn to the professionals. So I booked an appointment with my trusty allergist; a couple weeks and an itchy chemical patch test later, the doc determined I was allergic to Propylene Glycol. Now let me tell you folks, even trusty doc looked a little forlorn over my diagnosis. But why? She had figured out what the cause was! I can now just avoid it.
And then I went home and realized it was in EVERY SINGLE ONE OF MY HYGIENE PRODUCTS. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, the fancy body scrub I treated myself to. I was making my problem worse. I was causing this. I slowly started throwing out every single product, watching my hard-earned money go into the trash-but this is what I had to do to start healing. After a long trip to Target, reading every label of every product I purchased, I restocked my bathroom cabinet, and waited eagerly for my hands to be fixed.
But 5 years later, and my hands still aren’t “fixed.” They are leaps and bounds better than they were-I no longer look like my hands were attacked by a wild animal, and they don’t constantly itch. But I will always have a little red patch, maybe a little red bump. Why? I’m not actively using products that are bad for me. But remember, PG is prevalent in so many things, and even has multiple names! It may be in that hand soap in the public restroom! Or in the cleaner just used at a table you sat down at at a restaurant! Or in a product that didn’t use to have PG, but now does! And in a fun, shocking twist, PG is also in many steroid and antibiotic creams meant to treat chemical allergies!
So how do I deal with this? How do I deal with something that makes me so self conscious, but seems unavoidable? Well, I do what I can, and leave it at that. Most people don’t really recognize it (when I’m not having a major flare-up), and my friends who know what I’m going through don’t even really see it anymore. It’s called being “self” conscious for a reason-as in, I’m really the only one who sees the tiny little bumps or red spots (most days), and who can allow it to bother them, or not. I do my absolute best in trying to avoid it-I read the labels of everything I purchase, and won’t try a new product unless it clearly lists the ingredients. This has luckily cut down on my impulse purchases of unnecessary hair and makeup purchases. Though it may have upped my spending on higher-quality items. Let’s just call that a moot point.
If any of you out there are dealing with a Propylene Glycol allergy, please know that your struggle is not alone. It can be wildly frustrating, but I know I’m fairly lucky if this is my main ailment. If you’re managing this allergy, or have tips or product recommendations, I’d love to hear from you!
Here's a not-so-secret secret-I love a full face of makeup. Flawless foundation, well-rested (looking) eyes, long lashes, rosy cheeks-you get the picture. But I've always coveted the looks of women who appear to be wearing little to no makeup, yet somehow look perfect. Maybe their skin is a little dewy, their eyes are a little soft from the lack of black eyeliner rimming their peepers, but they look effortlessly cool.
So when I saw the Glossier ads all over the subway one morning, where all of the women are barefaced with just a hint of brow, concealer, and lip makeup, I was intrigued. If you're not familiar with Glossier, let me give you the briefest of overviews. Launched by beauty blog “Into the Gloss,” they emphasize that "Skincare is essential Makeup is a choice (make good choices)," emphasizing that a good skin care regimen is the foundation of a great looking face. Last spring, they launched Phase II, a small makeup line of brow gel, concealer, and a lip tint. They later launched a couple other products, including an oh-so-dewy highlighter.
Unfortunately (for me), many of their Phase I skin products contain a version of Propylene Glycol*, which I am very allergic to, so I stuck with trying their makeup, specifically Generation G (and also their highlighter, but we’ll focus on that another day).
Glossier describes Generation G as "a new kind of lip color that gives the look and finish of a stain, but that glides on and wears like a tinted balm." They sell 6 different colors-three that are close to "natural" lip shades, and three that offer a bit more of a color pop. After much debate, and telling myself to not just order all six, I decided to start with Cake, a brownish nude that looked flattering on the girl with a similar skin tone to mine on the Glossier website. A few months later, I also picked up Jam and Zip, purply and poppy colors, respectively.
I can honestly say it's different than any other lip product I've ever tried. Imagine lipstick, then take away about half of the moisture, and half of the color. The effect? Buildable, lightweight, sheer-matte coverage. You can see the effects of one swipe and a few more in the photos at the bottom, plus my full lineup of colors.
Generation G isn't really drying, but it isn’t really moisturizing. I tried adding a little lip balm under my first swipe, but I lost the matte finish. It has a pretty good lasting-power, and since it's sheer anyways, a bit of fading isn't that noticeable (specifically with Cake, though the others tend to evenly fade, rather than just on the inner lip ring).
Overall, I'd recommend this if you're looking for an easy way to get a little color on your lips, with very minimal effort. The price tag is a little steep at $18 for a small tube, but I was able to find a 20% off and free shipping code via a quick Google search. Has anyone else tried Generation G or the other products from Glossier? What do you think?
*I'll revisit my allergy to Propylene Glycol in a soon-coming post. If you happen to suffer from this frustrating allergy as well, I'd love to hear from you!
I don’t always (read: almost never) find yoga relaxing. There, I said it. I know it’s about breathing, connecting to your inner self, finding your chakras, blah blah blah, but for me, it’s often more about trying to balance not falling on my face with overworking my mind to find “calm.” When a yoga instructor says to clear your mind, let all those thoughts drift away, are there people out there that can actually do that? If anything that suggestion refocuses me on my stressors of the day. And for all the marbles in the world, can someone tell me how you actually balance on your head? And then please tell me you find that relaxing.
Ok, so why am I talking about yoga? Because I signed up for a 31 day “REVOLUTION” of yoga, of course! Bet you didn’t see that coming (well, unless you read my post from the other day)! Adrienne is a highly-followed online yoga instructor based out of Austin, Texas, and offers FREE yoga class videos on YouTube. Say the word “free” and I’m already practically there. Adrienne’s YouTube page is filled with a variety of different yoga classes, from short videos for when you’re on the road, to a small series focused on weight loss. But a friend of mine mentioned the 31 day “Revolution” that was starting January 1st, and knowing that I could successfully commit to doing something for 30 days (and would align with my Whole 30), a 31 day “challenge” seemed doable. Even if I was still dubious of yoga.
So why’d I pick yoga if I keep complaining about it? The last round of Whole 30 I paired aggressively with the gym. I’d hit the treadmill and weights regularly each week, but found the repetition to be getting old. It’s also getting a bit chilly here in NYC, and the thought of not having to leave my house to get some exercise in really appealed to me. I’ve done various workout tapes in the past, and still go to those when I’m looking for something higher energy (this and this are my favs, while this one makes me strongly dislike all “dance” type workout videos, and really question Tracey Anderson). But I was craving something a little calmer, something that would make me feel really connected to my body, to the calmness I was bringing by cutting out processed foods from diet. I wanted...YOGA.
Now I’ve just completed Day 4, and minus a minor back injury (did I mention I’m clumsy?), I have to say, I don’t hate it. Adrienne minimizes the hippy-dippy language, and balances the breathing portions with moves that feel more pilates-ish than yoga. I’ve tried various yoga classes (in person-where I left after the instructor started balancing on her head, and online) before, but so far this seems to be the winner of them all. At least for now.
Has anyone out there recently picked up a new workout routine, or can suggest a new one for me to try? I want to hear from you!
To you, right now, I’m just some lady with a lot of videos of animals, writing into the void. I’d like to think I’m more than that. One of my favorite ways to get to know someone is by asking short, quick-fire questions. The questions are often random, sometimes not pertinent, but it’s an easy way to get to know someone a bit and break the ice (and also a quick way to tell if I’ll scare them off). Got more questions for me? Leave them in the comments!
What do you do for money?
Video production for a non profit.
What do you do for you?
Spend time with animals, craft, bake, drink whisky, and DIY things.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
You walk into Sephora-where do you go first?
Whichever stand is offering a new type of lipstick.
My last meal would be…
My nana's Mac and cheese, pulled pork sandwich, corn on the cob, and probably a piece of cornbread for good measure. And throw in some peanut butter pie for dessert.
Own any pets?
Two cats: Finn and Oscar.
Where do you live?
South Slope, Brooklyn
I'm afraid of…
Snakes and Sharks.
What's your number one, can't live without beauty product?
Carmex lip balm-there's always a tube or jar within reach of my hand.
Doughnuts or cupcakes?
What are five things you refuse to live without (and don't say your phone)?
Coffee, pets, hot showers, best friends, a way to listen to music
What's your dream vacation?
Somewhere quiet, local flair, full sky of stars at night, hot but not too humid, epic beauty. Where's that?
Who is your role model?
I don't have one. I believe we should aspire to be the best versions of ourselves, not someone else.
What's your favorite thing about yourself?
I consider myself a pretty self-sufficient, independent person. I'm ridiculously proud of myself for that fact.
What's your biggest insecurity?
The allergy on my hands.
What qualities do you value in your friends?
Honesty, deep love, hard-working. That last one sounds lame, but seriously, every one of my friends is working so damn hard, and it's inspiring and says great things about character.
Why New York?
I work in video production, so NYC felt like the natural place to do that. It's the city where things happen, right? Oh and driving gives me massive anxiety.
If not nyc where would you live?
Another city, but smaller. Somewhere that felt different, but home.
Favorite book of all time?
Let's go with Delicate Edible Birds or Where'd You Go, Bernadette?
If you were a cartoon what would your outfit be?
A black romper, boots, sunglasses.
I can't say that this is the absolute number one, but Fiona Apple's "The Idler Wheel..." is one of my favorites. And Ray Lamontagne's "Trouble." And I've lately been listening to a lot of Bluegrass and Jazz.
What makes you happy?
Friends, animals, music, a beautiful day at the beach.
Welcome back! Yesterday I mentioned that I was about to embark on my second round of Whole 30®, but you may be thinking, what is she talking about? If you want to read all the nuts and bolts about it, I’d suggest starting here, but in short, it’s a 30-day approach to changing the way you look at food. The program cuts out carbs, legumes, dairy and alcohol completely, and focuses on proteins, veggies, fruits, and lots of eggs. As someone who’s tried many diets in the past, Whole 30® appealed to me because it promised to cut out the measuring and calorie counting, and focused more on listening to what your body wanted. I can get on board with that! A good friend of mine has done a few Whole 30s before, and when she told me she was doing another this past September, I was eager to join her. I subscribed to the Whole 30 Instagram feeds, added recipes to Pinterest boards, prepped meals, and was ready to go. And let me tell you, the experience was not quite what I was expecting…
The mantra of Whole 30 founder Melissa Hartwig is “It is not hard. Don't you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.” And you know what? It’s true! I was expecting meal prep to be daunting, for socializing with friends to be impossible, going to bars on first dates to be cringe-worthy, but you know what? It wasn’t. I’d spend my Sunday afternoons meal prepping for the week (always making sure breakfast and lunches and snacks were ready), and instead of getting dinner and drinks with friends, we’d go to concerts or shows or bookstores. I found ways to eat out (though I tried to cook 98% of my meals), and honestly, not drinking at bars felt totally ok (and can you say MONEY SAVING?!) Many Whole 30ers report feeling more energized and less stressed–personally, I wasn’t in that camp, but I did feel a sense of calm and empowerment, probably because I felt very in control of everything I was putting into my body. Super focused on one aspect of my life=less focus/less stress on the other aspects. Oh, and after 30 days of eating nourishing foods but also never feeling hungry, I lost weight.
So everything is sunshine and daisies then and I’m still eating Whole 30? Well not exactly…
The 30 days was over. And the holidays started. And all the wine. And the cookies! I managed to stick paleo-ish at home, but decided I wanted to start my 2017 off with another Whole 30. I’ve prepped my breakfast and lunch for the week, and just ordered some Thai as a “last meal” of sorts. But despite the extra work, I’m really looking forward to starting 2017 out strong, and focusing on myself. I’ll share my tips that worked best for me the first round, and recipes I’m excited to try in this round. Curious in learning more for yourself? The original Whole 30 book is a great place to start, and looks super purdy on the kitchen counter, but there’s also a whole host of resources online, too. Have any of you out there tried Whole 30? What were some of your toughest challenges?
And don’t worry, this blog will not just be about Whole 30, or other maybe-crazy sounding food plans. Next up this week: why I may not be patient enough for yoga, and a review of the amazing lip tints I picked up recently.
At a New Year’s Eve party last night, the question of resolutions came up. What was my resolution for 2017? What was I going to do differently this year? Get a new job? A new home? Exercise more, eat healthier? Finally try to go blonde? To be honest, I can’t remember if I’ve ever made a resolution on New Year’s, but over dinner with a friend this past week, he brought up the idea of “intentions” for the year instead. His therapist wanted him to create an intention for himself for the year, think about it, and then put it off to the side and not share what it was. This “intention” focused less on a particular change, or resolving to fix something, but instead concentrated on an action or goal that you want to partake in, not just something you need to find a solution for. After a bit of discussion with him and talking about what I wanted for 2017, I came up with my intention (which I of course will not share with you now), but just the act of writing it down, and being conscious of what I wanted, was indeed empowering.
Ok, so I don’t like resolutions, but I do like goals, and a New Year is certainly a fine time to re-focus on some lingering goals. In yoga, there is a term called “Sukha,” which is often associated with “the path of more happiness.” If you know me, you know I’m not exactly into the hippy-dippyness of that phrase, but it is a goal of mine to generally feel better both physically and mentally. With that in mind, on January 3rd I’m starting my SECOND Whole 30 (more posts to come on that), and have also started a 31 Day Yoga Challenge. For me, committing to only a month of something at a time tends to work better than trying to over-committ, and I’m hoping the yoga will balance my mind, and whole 30 will balance my body.
And then of course there’s the goal that has birthed this blog: WRITE MORE. In college, an English professor made us write in a journal every day for an entire semester. The topic could be whatever we wanted, but we had to write something. That process of writing opened my mind creatively, and also helped me focus on ideas that I had whirling around in the ole’ noggin. I can’t promise that my entries here will always be perfect (ok, they will never be perfect), or that anyone besides me will even find them interesting–but hell, it’s my goal, so I’m sticking with it. I look forward to sharing more of me with you, and hopefully hearing from you as well. Here’s to 2017!