Thursday, January 19, 2017

make it green: concealer.


Concealer is an underrated product, in my opinion. When a good one comes around, it has the power to brighten the face, curb redness, and conceal blemishes (and all this is possible with just one product!). I found my holy grail concealer about three years ago, and have gone through multiple pots since then. I'm convinced that I'll never need to search for another concealer again.

RMS Beauty has the loveliest, most minimal packaging, and one pot of concealer lasts me an incredibly long time. In addition, it conceals my undereye area and also my blemishes. It's a workhorse of a product that is long wearing, covers evenly, and doesn't cake.

Below I've listed a few different options, but I don't have plans to stray from my "Un" Cover-Up anytime soon. This is the product I would most heartily recommend to anyone without any reservations at all!

CONCEALER || What I'm looking for: covers both undereye area and blemishes; long wearing; non-cakey formulation; easy to apply; evens out the skin tone.

1 || RMS Beauty "Un" Cover-Up - $36: As I mentioned above, this is my holy grail concealer. This is most definitely my favorite makeup item of all time (bold! statement!). I opt not to wear foundation, so I need this product to work overtime and it does just that. It matches my skin tone perfectly (which is difficult to do — I have lots of redness to conceal!), applies like a dream, and works well in brightening the under eyes and camouflaging blemishes. Two things: (1) During the winter months, this product performs better if it's warmed up, so I just swirl my finger in the pot for a minute to bring it back to its creamy consistency; (2) I do wish there was a wider range of shades available. The price of this product seems a bit high, but one pot lasts a very long time! RMS Beauty is a cruelty-free company. (For reference, I wear the shade 00.)

2 || W3LL PEOPLE Bio Correct Multi-Action Concealer - $22.99: In the world of green beauty, W3LL PEOPLE consistently impresses me with their prices. I would consider them to be one of the most affordable brands that offer a beautiful and truly natural range. I have never personally tried this concealer, but it receives fantastic reviews. I will mention that I am pretty disappointed with the shade range offered here. W3LL PEOPLE is a cruelty-free company.

3 || Hynt Beauty DUET Perfecting Concealer - $24: I have never purchased any products from Hynt Beauty, but this concealer is a cult favorite and also comes with a recommendation from one of my favorite bloggers, Sarah (you can find her at Whoorl). In my experience, the products that Sarah recommends are always top notch and worth a try! Hynt Beauty is a cruelty-free company.

Make It Green is a series dedicated to replacing commonly-used skincare and makeup products with a green alternative. To see more of my recommendations, click here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

the sou'wester.

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Last weekend, Jeffrey and I spent a night at the Sou'wester, which is a mix of private cabins, vintage travel trailers, suites, and campsites. For Christmas, I told Jeffrey that I just wanted to be surprised, and this is what he found! Because it was so cold, the entire tiny town was really quiet and peaceful. We stayed in the big red lodge, and our room was absolutely perfect. There was a kitchen and a bedroom and a porch, which we didn't get to take much advantage of due to the weather. We're already planning a trip back when it's a little warmer.

Walking through the surrounding neighborhood bundled up and driving through the deserted tourist town (probably crawling with people come summer!) and picking out a VHS to watch and making spaghetti in our little kitchen and watching the sunset on the beach and eating It's It ice cream sandwiches that had been smushed due to travel and reading for hours on end; this is how I will remember our beautifully fleeting trip.

Some places just feel like magic in every corner, and this was one of them.

(I frustratingly forgot my camera, so these were taken on my iPhone!)

Friday, January 13, 2017

ditched, 001.

001: black maxi dress

*ditched is a series that documents my commitment to myself to get rid of one possession each week that I no longer need, want, or use.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

the post I never wanted to write: or, why i left my teaching job.

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Deep breath. Lean in. Spread your message (it could help someone else). Here goes.

I never planned to write this post. In fact, my plan was to not write this post because writing it down in words made it really real and that was scary. But, here it is anyway, because, as with most things, it's best to face them head on. So: at the end of last school year, I made the incredibly difficult decision to leave my teaching job.

The truth is that it hadn't been right since the beginning, but I was committed to making it work because teaching has been my dream for a very long time and I devoted a significant portion of my life to making it happen. The first year was a lot of tears and late nights and a giant caseload that felt way beyond my capacity. The second year was better and the third year was a big class size and a new district and more stress than I ever could've imagined.

And my gut was telling me over and over and over to walk away, but my brain was telling me something different, and it all comes from this: in our society, it is a common practice to tie our worth to a career. And teaching was worthy. It's the kind of job that takes every little thing out of you, but you allow it to happen because you're making a difference and doing real good in the world. And that was enough to sustain me, until it wasn't. Because in the process of helping others, I had forgotten to help myself. And I had become a shell of a person, and when I really sat down and forced myself to think about that, it was terrifying.

I'm sure many people can relate to this, but I am ridiculously hard on myself. I hold myself to an impossible standard; the kind of standard that I would never expect or want a loved one to meet. And while I was throwing myself at my job, I had forgotten that in order to be an effective human being, you absolutely must take care of yourself. And you can live within the cycle of putting yourself on the back burner and putting all of your energy into only taking care of others, but that will eventually come back to bite you in an ugly way. For me, it was crippling anxiety. Living inside my head was so incredibly exhausting. It was draining and it was dark.

And when I admitted to myself that it wasn't working, even after years of trying, it was the most freeing moment. And it wasn’t freeing in the sense that I immediately felt one hundred times lighter (that came later, and still only in waves), but freeing in the sense that I found the courage to listen to my gut and that’s a good and strong feeling.

Teaching has been an incredibly important part of my life. I miss it often and feel an ache when I think about former students whose lives I had the privilege of knowing for a year or so. I think that any time you let go of something that holds meaning for you, it’ll be a battle, and while it might get easier, that battle might not ever fully disappear from your life. And that’s okay. Teaching is a thread that will likely weave its way in and out of my every day for years to come. While I am no longer a teacher as a job, I still consider a piece of my identity to be that of an educator. I studied the subject with great love and devotion throughout college. Over the course of my three years as a classroom teacher, I worked to improve my craft and hone my skills and be the best I could possibly be. While I was in it, there was never a single piece of me that gave up. And I’m really proud of that and that’s what I choose to hang onto.

As a side note, this is probably the scariest and most personal thing I’ve ever published on this blog. In writing in this space, I only have two goals: (1) to reflect on my own life, and (2) to potentially help someone else by sharing my personal experiences. Maybe there will be a message here that helps and resonates with you.

For whatever reason, this favorite and beautiful quote from You've Got Mail popped into my head while I wrote this essay. At best, it's only loosely related to anything here, but I'm sharing it anyway to remember that, for whatever reason, I found connection:

"Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void." -Kathleen Kelly, You've Got Mail

Monday, January 9, 2017


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This weekend Jeffrey and I stayed a night at the Sou'wester. It was so much fun and even the drive was pleasant. It felt really nice just to know we were heading somewhere to relax. Jeffrey brought all the supplies we needed to make our favorite spaghetti for dinner. We walked around the neighborhood in the freezing cold. We drove(!) down onto the beach to watch the sunset. We read books for hours. We watched Amélie. We talked about lots of different things, serious and lighthearted and everything in between. It was the most restorative, lovely, relaxing little trip.

We had to cut our trip a little short due to a snowstorm that was heading toward Portland, so we packed up a little early and drove back to the city. At home, we lit candles and made curry and watched Superstore and today we made pancakes and cookies and spent the entire day in our pajamas. It was the perfect weekend and I'm so glad for that.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

make it green: mascara.

DSC00194 Over the past several years, I have worked diligently to clean out my makeup collection, skincare items, shampoos, conditioners, soaps, and lotions and traded them for products that are safe for the body. The result is a small, but dearly loved arsenal of items that work well and also meet a strict green beauty standard. Many products marketed and sold today are packed with unsafe, unnatural ingredients. Our skin is the body's largest organ. It absorbs a shocking amount of what we might believe we are harmlessly applying to it when, in fact, we are doing irreversible damage. I have become a lot stricter with the companies I choose to support, and am introducing this new series to my blog to help you weed your products out and replace them with thoughtfully made alternatives.

Because this can be an overwhelming task, I will be posting one product to replace every couple weeks. I'll share two or three replacement products that I've either used personally, or would love to try out. There is a common misconception that the green alternative isn't as good as its drugstore counterpart, and I have found that statement to be completely untrue. In my search, I have found plenty of products that I much prefer over the original item it has replaced.

However, I will say straight away that these products are almost always more expensive than drugstore products and that's because the companies that make these safer alternatives are using better ingredients and they are often smaller establishments, which means you pay a higher price. I'm absolutely happy to support these companies, even if that means spending a bit more. In my opinion, they're doing important work by being transparent about ingredients and giving their customers truly beautiful products.

MASCARA || What I'm looking for: black; volumizing, non-clumping formula; no transference to browbone or undereyes; long-wearing; does not dry out after 1 to 2 months of purchasing.

1 || ILIA Beauty Mascara (in Nightfall) - $26: This is my very favorite mascara. It makes my lashes look thick and volumized and is super long-wearing. I don't experience any transference, which is my biggest gripe with any and all mascaras across the board. The only downside of this mascara is that the product in the tube tends to dry up a little more quickly than I would prefer. ILIA is a cruelty-free company.

2 || W3LL PEOPLE Expressionist Mascara (in Pro Black) - $21: This mascara reminds me the most of a classic drugstore mascara. The brush is fantastic and you get a lot of product. The formula is not as volumizing as the ILIA mascara, but it does coat the lashes beautifully and most certainly gets the job done! I do experience some transference throughout the day. This is the mascara I am currently using. W3LL PEOPLE is a cruelty-free company.

3 || Lily Lolo Black Vegan Mascara - $19.50: I have never been able to try this mascara because it's almost always sold out on The Detox Market (I purchase most of my products from here because they have a great loyalty program)! It has fantastic reviews. This will most definitely be my next purchase when I run out of my current mascara. Lily Lolo is a cruelty-free company.

I would love to know if you have any mascaras that have really impressed you! Mascara is probably my favorite makeup item, so I love trying new ones to see if they could potentially be added into my rotation. xo

Tuesday, January 3, 2017



It's a cold day here in Portland. That's what I'm told; I haven't actually gone outside yet. The bed has been made, a fresh cup of tea is steaming on the coffee table, and my favorite candle is lit. Our tree is still up and we are very seriously contemplating the idea of leaving our Christmas lights up year round. Elliott Smith is coming through the speakers and the heater just clicked on.

In 2016, I got more comfortable with change. I learned to make decisions with my well being at the forefront of my mind. I started complimenting strangers. I made a real effort to cook more. I took my vitamins. I made a small difference in the lives of 24 students. I decided to leave my teaching career (after finishing out the school year). I read about pinning down my desires. I tried growing out my hair (still working on this one). I cared a little bit less about adult acne. I spent time watching my nieces grow and flourish. I took my dog for walks around our new neighborhood. I got more involved in politics. I tuned into the news more. I decided to be vocal about the things that matter to me. I went to the chiropractor and got acupuncture, and said goodbye to my chronic neck pain (which I never thought would disappear). I went to physical therapy. I spoke to my doctor about my anxiety. I took mental health seriously and made it a priority in my own life. I ate a lot of pie. I bought more goods from companies who make and produce in the USA. I donated to lots of causes (more than I ever have in the past). I went to Point Reyes, San Francisco, the Redwoods, Cave Springs, Florida, Mt. Hood, and the Oregon coast.

In 2017, I have a few small resolutions that I hope to carry through the year. For the most part, they're rooted in seeking joy and empowerment by lifting up others and staying engaged in our nation's politics.

It was incredibly helpful and uplifting for me to write down a big list of what I did and learned in 2016. It's so easy to be hard on oneself and feel like not enough was accomplished or crossed off the bucket list, but I'm proud of the work I did to better myself and help others in some small way.

Here's to a 2017 that's filled with love and light! Thank you, as always, for continuing to read and engage in this space. I am grateful to you. xo

Monday, January 2, 2017

the post about tea.

DSC00175As a child, I was an avid collector of glass animal figurines. I searched for them everywhere. And I found them often. I grew up in a family that went to plenty of antique shows, and my mission was always to find a new cutie to add to my collection.  If it was a dog, even better.

Red Rose Tea was also a staple in our home. This is likely where my glass animal obsession began. Each tea box came with a glass animal figurine. It was my absolute joy to open a new box and find the glass animal, covered in tea dust. Sometimes I'd get a repeat of one I already had. If I was lucky, it would be a new one to add to the collection. Occasionally, I'd find a truly unique one and parade it around my home with a fierce amount of pride.

Tea drinking has been in my bones since the beginning. The smell of a new box of Red Rose is one that I can't explain. To me, it is my Grammy. These days, I buy PG Tips, but I still open the box and take a big whiff. It's a visit from her every single time and I relish it with the greatest and most profound love.

Today, I'd like to share with you my favorite teas. And if you, like me, enjoy drinking tea and remembering someone special, maybe you'll find a new one to add to your collection.

1 || Steven Smith (Brahmin): This is my favorite, higher end black tea. I drink a black tea every morning and in cold weather, it's not uncommon for me to have a second cup when I get home from work. This is what's typically described as a breakfast tea. It has a distinctive black tea flavor with a very floral undertone. It is incredibly delicious.

2 || PG Tips: This is classic, quintessential black tea. Entirely unfussy. Smooth and rich. Delectable. I usually have Steven Smith for my morning cup of tea and PG Tips in the afternoon.

3 || Red Rose Tea: I'll admit that I no longer buy this tea, but I think it's is an excellent place to start if you're new to tea drinking!

4 || Steven Smith (Masala Chai): I've actually been writing this post over the span of a few weeks and when I sat down initially, I didn't have a Chai pick. I recently found one on a random trip to the grocery store, and I am so, so pleased to share it with you. This particular strain is incredibly delicious; sweet, flavorful, and beautifully mellow.

(As a note, I drink all black teas with half and half and sugar. I also enjoy a strong black tea, so I always steep for 10 minutes, regardless of package instructions.)

5 || Steven Smith (White Petal): In November, Jeffrey and I did a three-week cleanse that meant we needed to stop consuming daily coffee and black tea. However, green and white teas were totally fine. That cleanse led me to this tea, which I absolutely love. If you're more of an herbal tea drinker, I think you'll love this one! I enjoy this with a little bit of honey.

6 || Traditional Medicinals (Seasonal Sampler): I drink A LOT of tea when I get a cold or flu. This sampler pack is so delightful. There's a tea for a sore throat. One for congestion. One for immune support — to drink before you get sick. And there's one that just makes you feel cozy in the midst of your cold. I enjoy all of these with a little bit of honey.

7 || Yogi (Kava Stress Relief): I LIVED on this tea my first year teaching. I don't even know how many boxes I went through. I do really think this tea has a lovely calming ability, not necessarily because this is specifically for stress relief, but because I think all herbal teas can be quite calming. I enjoy this with a little bit of honey.

8 || Yogi (Honey Lavender Stress Relief): I switched to this version after discovering its Non-GMO certification. If you dislike lavender, this tea isn't for you. I wouldn't say it's strong, but it's certainly detectable. I enjoy this with a little bit of honey.

9 || Yogi (Comforting Chamomile): Chamomile is just honestly incredible. It's great for relaxation and bringing on sleepiness, it calms and eases stomach pain, and it's also really great for anxiety! I like to keep this in the pantry at all times. I enjoy this with a little bit of honey.

Note: The glass animal figurines are mostly gone now. But I still look for the perfect one every time I enter an antique shop. While I typically don't purchase them anymore, I still hope that an excited little kid will come around and add my find to his or her own collection. And every once in awhile, if I find one that really speaks to me, I'll still pick it up and feel the same rush of joy I felt when I was a little kid.
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