Saturday, March 7, 2015

kick acne's booty!

Today let's talk about acne! Many people have asked me about my acne-busting remedies. If you've known me for at least four years, then you'll know that I struggled with acne for the majority of my college experience. Adult-onset acne is real and it's a huge bummer, but in my experience, there are certain steps you can take to care for your skin, and also heal your acne without harming the parts of your skin that are perfectly well and blemish-free! It seems as though the majority of acne products on the market are very harsh, astringent, stripping, and irritating. In my opinion, they should be just the opposite. In the midst of a breakout, I want to treat my skin gently and with care, so that it can heal and get back to its normal state as soon as possible!

Before we move on, it should be noted that while I have spent tons (tons!) of time researching natural skincare and kicking acne's booty(!), I am not a medical professional. If you want advice specifically tailored to your needs, I recommend visiting your dermatologist and beginning the appointment by telling him/her that natural skincare is an important part of the process to you.

RULE #1: Be committed to your skincare regimen. Please, please, if you take only one tidbit of information from this post, let it be this rule. Your skin loves consistency. It likes to be fed the same beautiful and loving routine day in and day out. If you truly want your acne gone, commit to the process. That said, if you aren't someone who's willing to devote tons of time to your skincare routine (fair enough!), then only introduce steps that you're truly willing to take on a daily (sometimes twice-daily) basis. Don't go to bed with your makeup on. Your skin will pay for that decision in the morning.

RULE #2: Say goodbye to dairy. I know it sounds painful, and it is. I'm a cheese and ice cream lover if there ever was one, but dairy is a nightmare for acne-prone skin. I went on a 30-day, dairy-free cleanse, and it revolutionized my skin. I slowly started adding dairy products back into my diet, but in much smaller amounts. I found that the cleanse reset my skin and introducing the products back in slowly didn't seem to offend it too much.

RULE #3: Find thoughtfully made products. You might be surprised to learn that regulations for beauty and skincare products are pretty shabby. What that means is that toxic ingredients might be are! more! than! likely! being pumped into your beloved products and you're none the wiser. As a matter of fact, the FDA only requires intended ingredients to be listed on a product's ingredient list! Unfortunately, that means it's our job to find and use brands that care about consumers and champion transparency and honesty as part of their platforms. These are the products I use and recommend (for acne-prone skin or otherwise):
  • Face wash (night time only): This one by Acure is gentle and non-irritating, an acne victim's dream.  A pea-sized amount of this product will do the trick, which means this cleanser is incredibly affordable. Apply the cleanser to dampened skin and rub into skin in a gentle, circular motion. It is important to cleanse your skin for at least 30 seconds before rinsing. Rinse with cool water seven times (or more!) before gently drying your face.
  • Toner (night time only): I promise that good old fashioned witch hazel is the harshest version of toner you want to use (read: it's incredibly gentle). A small amount on a cotton pad or in the palm of your hand spread across the face will remove any remaining traces of dirt and soothe your irritated skin.
  • Moisturizer (morning and night): This moisturizer from Enkido is extremely tailor-made for sensitive, troubled skin and soothing to boot! I like to apply a thin layer all over my skin directly after toning.
  • Facial oils (morning or night): Many people believe that it's counterproductive to apply facial oils to acne-prone skin, but that's simply not the case. Many facial oils provide tons of nutrients and help repair skin quickly. They are such a nourishing way to care for skin! In the winter months, I apply two pumps at night and during warmer months, I apply one pump at night. I'm not afraid to apply about a half-pump in the morning (under makeup) if my skin is particularly dry. Apply after cleansing and toning. This can be mixed in with moisturizer if desired. I like this one, this one, and this one. Facial oils can seem like an investment, but a very small amount is required and they are a sure-fire way to pack a punch when it comes to caring for skin.
  • Makeup remover: I like to cleanse twice more than I like using makeup remover, but if I've worn a particularly heavy eye look, I'll simply use coconut oil to remove it. Do this before cleansing.
  • Face mask: The magic of a face mask cannot be underestimated. I use one once a week depending on the time of year and my skin's particular needs at that time. I recommend really tailoring this to your special, specific needs. I love this one and this one. I've also heard good things about this one. Apply your mask after cleansing and exfoliating (see below), but before toning, moisturizing, and applying oils.
  • Exfoliant: Your skin needs to be exfoliated — not too often and not too abrasively! Help your skin by encouraging cell turnover. In my opinion, the BEST exfoliant is baking soda. DO NOT rub your skin too hard. That will only aggravate those spots. Exfoliation should be a slow and gentle process. Scrub your skin very gently (with a little vigor!) in a circular motion to get the most out of this step. If baking soda isn't your thing, try this product instead. Complete this step after cleansing, directly before applying a face mask. After rinsing the face mask, tone, moisturize, and oil up as usual. Exfoliate once a week and never more than that.
  • Specialty products: I think it's best to leave your zits alone (read: don't zap them with "miracle" products). If you must pop your whiteheads (confession: I do!), use this tool. If you want a spot treatment, put a little bit of this mask on your zits. If you are in desperate need of quick and easy zit disappearing, use this (but only if you must! It does not have the most stellar ingredient list, but I did use it in the weeks leading up to my wedding!). In a pinch, I like a blemish stick like this one.
RULE #4: Care, care, care. The jury's still out on this one, but it's completely obvious to me. Your skin reflects the state of your insides. Drink a bunch of water. Nourish your body with fruits and veggies. Stay away from things like cookies, white flour, sodas, sugary foods and drinks, and highly processed foods. Life is meant for living, so have these items every now and then if you want to, but get in the habit of limiting them.

If you can't already tell by the lengthy essay above, I am really passionate about natural skincare. If you have any questions, it would be my absolute pleasure to chat! Good luck! xo

Friday, February 6, 2015

big sur road trip.

bigsur9 bigsur10 bigsur8 bigsur7 bigsur6 bigsur5 bigsur4 bigsur3 bigsur2 bigsur1

These are some of the sweetest memories with the sweetest people, and I will keep them and pull them out when I need to remember the absolute beauty of my life.

Now I see the secret of making the best persons; it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth. - Walt Whitman 

P.S. Many of these photos were taken by my incredibly talented brother-in-law. Go check out his other work and let his talent blow you away.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

the (fabricated) story of my ring, part iv.

Quite some time ago, I posted a fictional series on my previous blog about the origin of my engagement ring. Truthfully, we found the set in an antique store in Micanopy, a small town outside of our college town. The woman who sold it to us knew very little about the set, other then when it was likely made. I have always been enamored with history, mostly because I love imagining people's lives and the goings-on during different time periods. The series is still one of my favorite things I've ever written, and for that reason I'd like to re-publish it here. It is entirely fictional and has no truth to it whatsoever, although it is fun to imagine otherwise. 

Part 1, here.
Part 2, here.
Part 3, here.

A few days had passed since Nadine had placed her small, handwritten letter on the lobby mailboxes. Her attempt to be mysterious had resulted in the purchase of a pair of bright yellow shoes and a hideous blue hat. She realized almost immediately that mystery could not be purchased. She thought of her dear mother who had never tried to be anything but herself. Nadine sighed.

George had spent minutes, hours deciding what to write back to the woman in the floral skirt. The letter sat on his empty dining room table, as if it needed all the space it was given. He sat down. He stood up. He felt a little ridiculous over the nervousness he felt. He sat back down.

Dear Woman In The Floral Skirt (Nadine),

It is you, right? Your letter was not intrusive. Quite the opposite, actually. I am sorry to report, however, that I have no experience in tools or handywork or anything else like it. I, myself, was trying to repair my typewriter, which now sits broken in the corner of my living room. A shame, really.

George (Apartment 2B)

He looked at the letter. It seemed cold, distant. But he didn't know how else to write it. And then he looked at the way he had signed it. He wondered about Yours. It seemed too intimate. Oh well, he thought. And with that, he walked down to the mailboxes and taped the letter to Apartment 3B's mailbox. Nadine, he thought, what a lovely name. Just then, he realized she was living right above him. He walked back into his apartment and shut the door. He stood in the center of his living room and looked up. Suddenly, he felt less alone as he imagined what Nadine was up to. It was a comfort he had not felt since the day before he had broken his typewriter.

Although Nadine was trying not to care, she had checked her mailbox incessantly over the last few days for any kind of sign that The Man With The Bright Red Socks had been there. On this particular trip to the mailbox, she realized he had been. She read the letter. A brilliant idea crossed her mind.

Monday, February 2, 2015

january favorites.


1. Vans Classic Slip-On Core Classics (in True White [Canvas]) || I have been wanting these shoes for ages, but have been dragging my feet (ha!) on purchasing them. Then I was happily gifted them for Christmas and I've been wearing them ever since. These are my dream shoes because they look so crisp with jeans, which is basically my only requirement when purchasing clothing of any kind.

2. 7-Day Pill Planner* || I am the worst at remembering to take my vitamins, but this pill planner takes all the guess work and brain power out of the equation. Since picking this nifty little gadget up, I haven't once forgotten to take my vitamins. (* This is not my exact version, but I bet you can find it during your weekly [you know it's true] Target run.)

3. Badger Sore Muscle Rub || This salve isn't Tiger Balm strong by any means, but it does the trick for the occasional stiff muscle and it has a pleasant scent.

4. California Baby Everyday Lotion (in Calendula) || I realize this is technically meant for babies, but baby products are often void of some of the harsher ingredients found in lotions geared toward adults. This will always be a bit of a mystery to me because no one needs the addition of harmful ingredients, but as long as they're being added anyway, I reach for this lotion instead of the others. This is my nightstand lotion and I adore it. It smells heavenly and it's super hydrating.

5. Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience compiled by Shaun Usher || My parents gave this book to me as a Christmas present, and if there was ever a book written for someone just like me, this is it. The only way I can think to describe this book is that it is so full of heart. It is full of wisdom, love, joy, hurt, encouragement, faith, loss, hope, and every other human emotion you can dream up. I cannot recommend this book more highly.

P.S. Other favorites here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

LA extras.

LAextras(4) LAextras(1) LAextras(5) LAextras(3) LAextras(2)

Our trip to LA was special for lots of reasons, many of which will stay nestled in our hearts for years to come. Some of the most special things happen when you least expect them, which is exactly what happened when we stopped in Los Alamos to do little more than use the restroom and stretch our legs. We were met with a small and lovely bakery, which had just been adorned with hand-painted signs by one of Jeffrey's favorite sign painters. We also spent a sun-soaked morning visiting two LA-area lighthouses, which was especially enjoyable for me because I have an odd and unexplained fascination with lighthouses of all kinds.

Small moments are often the best moments and these pictures were captured during what could be described as some of the smallest moments of our trip, which ended up being some of my very favorites. (As a note, that final picture is actually a lighthouse! It's located at the very top of that gable you can see up there!)

For the curious: the bakery we visited, the vine-covered hotel, the first lighthouse, the second lighthouse.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

what i'd really like to say to teachers.

At the age of eight, I decided to become an educator. There was the time when I wanted to be a librarian (still wouldn't mind it!), a veterinarian (until I realized I couldn't deal with the aftermath of my childhood dog's run-in with a car [he was fine, by the way]), and a personal trainer (that one still mostly baffles me), but in my heart, I always knew I would be a teacher. Many people think it's because my mom teaches (phenomenally, might I add), and I spent countless after-school hours in her classroom. I'll be the first to admit that those beautiful hours probably played a big part, but my mom never once steered me in any certain direction, and my desire to teach came from somewhere inside me. I think it was rooted in me from the start.

Teaching is a hard, hard job, and it's often thankless. It is my belief that educators put their entire hearts into everything involving their jobs. They are not separate from their careers — how could they be? And that boils down to feeling every ache and groan of the job way deep down in the gut.

In the past month, I have seen more negative media directed at teachers than I ever have before. Don't get me wrong, I've seen my fair share of hurtful, empty commentary in my time as a teacher, but in the past month it's been everywhere. I make a conscious choice everyday to ignore that noise. It's not helpful, it serves no purpose (keep in mind, I'm not referring to constructive criticism), it's misguided, and it's mostly wrong. But even those of us who choose to stay away from that which is not uplifting are occasionally blindsided by the snippet that unknowingly worms its way into our atmospheres.

And this is what I'd like to contribute to the overflowing noise that is modern-day education:

Teachers, in the midst of stormy skies, you are the sunshine. You give and give and expect nothing in return. Your well is bottomless. You work tirelessly to reinvent curriculum and interpret standards and when your efforts don't work, you never fear going back to the drawing board. You mend hearts. You give thousands of pep talks, daily. You hold hands and celebrate tiny triumphs that would simply go unnoticed by others. You teach what's not in textbooks. You buy supplies for those who are without.

You have an ocean of patience, an endless supply of compassion, and you know when all you can do to make it through is laugh. You ignite passion for reading and writing and mathematics and science and social studies. You make time for all the subjects, even when there isn't even a second left to spare. You pull time from thin air and then use it to teach invaluable lessons.

You find silver linings in mundane situations. You root for co-workers and students tirelessly and with vigor. You gather information about individual students and make a purposeful effort to learn more about Ninjago, insects, volcanoes, origami, hamsters, Doc McStuffins — just to forge a meaningful connection. You read books in theatrical, over-the-top voices just to watch eyes get wide and mouths drop open.

You search for the magic that you know is behind those twinkling eyes and you hold onto it and save it to remember that these are just kids standing in front of you with their big hearts and even bigger dreams — dreams that you can foster and share and lift up.

It is you who builds the raft and blows wind into the sails and keeps the ship floating. You are the glue and the glitter and the hope that is left when every tiny, tiny detail is boiled down to its barest bones. It is you.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

the (fabricated) story of my ring, part iii.

Quite some time ago, I posted a fictional series on my previous blog about the origin of my engagement ring. Truthfully, we found the set in an antique store in Micanopy, a small town outside of our college town. The woman who sold it to us knew very little about the set, other then when it was likely made. I have always been enamored with history, mostly because I love imagining people's lives and the goings-on during different time periods. The series is still one of my favorite things I've ever written, and for that reason I'd like to re-publish it here. It is entirely fictional and has no truth to it whatsoever, although it is fun to imagine otherwise. 

Part 1, here.
Part 2, here.
As George walked out of his apartment, he mourned for his typewriter. So much hard work had been tapped into those keys and it felt strange and a bit depressing to let it go. George wondered if other people had attachments to inanimate objects like the attachment he felt to his typewriter. Probably not, he thought to himself. He needed to make more friends.

Nadine stood perfectly still in her apartment. She walked to the kitchen and opened her refrigerator door to get some cool air. Although she almost instantly regretted her decision to write the Man With the Bright Red Socks a letter, she wasn't one for second guessing herself, so she decided to leave it be. Matilda was perched on Nadine's small, tan couch and Nadine joined her, waiting. She realized it could be hours before the man saw the letter, and even days before he decided to reply (if he decided to reply). Nadine opened a book, and read without understanding. Her thoughts were elsewhere.

George felt ridiculous. He felt completely and utterly alone without his typewriter and no human friends. I need a cat, he thought. He turned to open the apartment's lobby door and step outside when a piece of paper caught his eye. Certainly it's not for me, he thought, but it does look like it's attached to my mailbox. He stood still and considered reading the letter. But what if it wasn't for him? He decided to read it anyway. He blushed.

After reading a couple pages without really paying attention to them, Nadine decided it was high time she go and do something productive. She fed Matilda and gave her a small bowl of milk, something she liked to do on Saturdays. She thought of her friend Emma, who was probably doing something marvelous and exciting. She then thought about how boring her life was in this moment. As she sat in her living room with her cat, thinking of a man she did not know, writing a letter to that same man, and running back up to her apartment to think about how silly she felt for writing the letter to the man she did not know, opening her refrigerator door to get fresh air, reading a book without understanding — it all felt too predictable. With that, she grabbed her purse and headed outside.

Hearing rustling in the lobby, George ducked outside to catch his breath. His heart felt as though it had dropped into his hands and he felt silly for being so nervous about a letter from the woman in the hardware store. Surely it had to be the same woman with the floral skirt and hair just so. He memorized her handwriting, the curves of the letters, the way she addressed him as The Man With the Bright Red Socks. He relished the fact that she noticed small details and he felt himself melting into a puddle, a happy one no less.

Nadine walked outside and did not notice the missing letter, or the fact that George was standing just outside their apartment entrance. She was much too consumed by being someone who was unpredictable (something she was consumed by quite often). She thought about all the ways she could not be a bore. She thought of ways to be mysterious, unattainable. Someone who struck curiosity in others. These were all things she thought of quite often, almost as though she were rehearsing for a part in a play — herself, but different.

But what Nadine did not realize was that somewhere, The Man With the Bright Red Socks, who felt a connection to a (now broken) typewriter, was intrigued by her forwardness, her desire to be up front and transparent in any given situation. What she did not realize was that with just a few of her scribbled words on a piece of paper, The Man With the Bright Red Socks felt a lift in his spirits, the chance to make a friend other than a typewriter. How unexpected, he thought.
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