Meanwhile I’m on the knee shaving struggle bus

You guys… It’s mid August, here we are in late Summer and I find myself wondering how is it that I’m thirty-four-year-old woman and cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to successfully shave my knees? Does anyone else struggle with this? Honestly, it feels like I missed some sort of middle-school seminar on best knee shaving techniques, and I’m constantly wondering how every other leg shaving woman out there manages to accomplish a clean knee shave. Meanwhile I am here on the shaving struggle bus. Let me just clarify, that I’m not exactly self-concious about it… I mean in spite of my VERY BEST efforts I can’t seem to figure out how to successfully shave my knees, and life goes on. But what I AM self-concious/ embarassed about is the fact that I have been shaving my legs multiple times a week for over twenty years, and apparently practice does not make perfect.

I’m sure there are a myriad of contributing factors such as bathroom lighting, shower configuration, the dullness of a razor blade on any given day, I cannot seem to figure out how to successfully shave my knees, and I’m kind of baffled why not.

Every time I shave my legs I approach the knees from every imaginable angle. Bottom to top, top to bottom, in from the sides, bent knee, straight knee, and after going over each knee at least seventy-five times I typically end my leg shaving session feeling confident that this time, I’ve done it. Knee hair be gone, you are no match for my attention to detail and keen shaving skills. I go on with my day, falling into my getting ready routine, and most times don’t even think of double checking my work as I’m putting on my lotion. Most days I’m running late (well exactly on time with no room for error) and like clockwork, I get halfway down my driveway, coffee in hand, mere moments to get to the office or a meeting, and the morning sun catches my left knee and the inevitable patch of knee hair, and no time to run back to my razor.

Though I like to think I am not the only adult female with this particular shaving handicap, I feel as though I might be, because I’m the weirdo who ocasionally gets into a meeting and quickly scans the room looking at all the exposed kneecaps praying that I’ll discover that I’m not the only woman who cannot figure this out.  Please Please Please let someone else have a wisp of detectable hair.  Don’t let me be alone in this…  Don’t worry, I feel super weird about it/ I’m aware that most normal people are not scanning for detectable knee hair, but if I’m walking around  most days with visible tufts of knee fuzz I really hope I’m not alone.

The good news is that living in Oregon, there are plenty of un-shaven legs around, and I’m quite confident that the general public gives zero f*@#s about my shaving inaptitude, but then again, maybe there are other weirdos out there like me looking for confirmation… If so, I’m hoping my fuzzy knee caps bring them some sort of solace. If you are out there, we’re in this together.

For a while I kept a spare razor stashed in my car for those driveway emergencies. What’s a little razor burn amongst friends? But when I got my current vehicle, a razor never made its way over from the old one, and though I lament this at least once a week, still haven’t re-supplied. Something about it seems perhaps a little vain, and definitely high maintenance (though at this point, I’m blogging about shaving my legs, being perceived as high maintenance is the least of my worries) Mostly I’ve just resisgned myself that “this is just the way it is” and I keep on driving.

In preparation for an extended trip to California this Spring, I decided to wax my legs. No muss, no fuss, no sitting on shuttle bus and wishing I had a disposible razor in my handbag.  Overall I approach waxing the same way I do finding a doctor. Out of town is best. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about supporting local, in fact my job is basically promoting and supporting local businesses. That being said, I’m not interested in running into my doctors or my waxing specialists while teaching a yoga class, waiting in line for coffee or at the grocery store. Will I get an emergency eyebrow wax locally? Sure. But if I’m waxing any other part of my body, I leave the zip code. Obviously as I sit here blogging about body waxing, I’m not self-conscious about it, and it’s not a secret, but I’m already an awkward human, and there are just some interactions I don’t have the energy to engage in. Running into the person who does my bikini/facial hair/ leg wax out in the real world is at the top of that list.

As an introvert I don’t particularly enjoy engaging in small talk in most instances, but lets face it, you cannot make it through life without engaging in at least some small talk, (particularly in a public job, networking, and standing in line at brunch…) And you  simpy cannot avoid small talk with your hair stylist, dentist or waxer (though sometimes I think it would be preferable)  which is how I discovered during my very first bikini wax that my Esthetician was sorted into the Slytherin House. Let me just stop you right there, because I know you are probably wondering how in the hell the topic of Howgwarts Houses came up at a bikini wax in the first place. (but really why wouldn’t it?)  A) because I excel at nerdy conversations, B) this is just how my life tends to go and C) I was getting ready for a vacation to California that mostly consisted of laying poolside in Palm Springs, but also included one glorious day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Of course this revelation came as no surprise, the person pouring hot wax and ripping out all my body hair identified as a Slytherin…. Go figure. (If you don’t know about the Harry Potter Houses by now, I can’t really help you) and now every time I find myself in the waiting room at the waxing salon I start muttering under my breath “Not Slytherin. Not Slytherin” (She is a perfectly nice person, and actually an excellent waxer, and I have seen her several times since.)

And actually, I went to her this spring when I opted to get my legs waxed. Under normal circumstances, I am fine with my inadequate knee shaving ability, but when attending a Social Media Conference and being surrounded by a thousand women with camera phones who were live-tweeting and instagraming every second of every day, I decided that a full leg wax was in order. And though it actually hurt more than I was expecting it to, I still think it was the best investment I made in prepping for that trip. Peace of mind, Slytherin Style. But a leg wax is an investment (time, money, and the grow out in-between is not for the faint of heart) so for 50 weeks out of the year I am left to my own devices of attempted knee hair removal.

As we are heading quickly towards Autumn and all the joys that come with it, crisp mornings, light sweaters and of course long pants, I’m looking forward to putting my knee shaving neurosis on the back burner. In the meantime, if you catch me staring intently at your knees in a meeting or at book club, or wherever please know that I’m not intenttionally being the weirdest person in the room, and also please tell me what the secret to shaving your knees is. Because some of us would really like to know, and apparently can’t figure it out.

Words for 2019

 

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My 2019 Vision Board

Happy 2019! Since we are still lingering in January for a few more days I’ve decided that this still counts as a “New Years” post, especially since I have yet to publish anything on the blog this year. Though I’ve had my 2019 intentions solidified since January 1st, in my typical introvert fashion, I’ve been letting them marinate for a while before getting them on the page.

First off, let me just say that I don’t buy into the whole “New Year, New Me!” hype. I’ve spent the last 33 years becoming the person that I am, and for better or worse cultivating my current habits. I’m all about growth and change and working towards goals, but I’m not so much a fan of putting all this pressure on yourself that suddenly on January 1st you give yourself these ultimatums of change. I understand if NY Resolutions ARE your thing, but they aren’t mine. I spent a good part of 2018 delving into some self study, and I certainly learned a lot about myself, the most useful piece of information I gleaned from this was that I am an Obliger ( Gretchen Ruben, the Four Tendencies… I highly recommend) There is certainly no point in denying it, the entire chapter I was like “Hi, it’s me. Thanks for describing each and every thing that goes on in my brain” I don’t think anyone really loves being put into a box, and there are certainly aspects of this tendency that don’t seem very flattering, but rather than focusing on what some would consider negative traits, I’m choosing to act on things that will help me manage them (IE I need accountability if I want to accomplish my personal goals, and needing to be more firm in my boundaries to avoid burn-out.) I bring all this up, because it has made me realize that as a human with this tendency, I’m probably not going to be super successful at keeping any concrete resolutions… But I am heading into 2019 with a handful of words/ themes and areas of my life that I’m wanting to give a bit more attention to… and hey if some new habits happen to appear in the mix, I’m certainly not going to chase them away.

Words/ Themes for 2019: Why pick one when you could pick three? Maybe this is my indecisiveness, or fear of committing to only one idea (I’m a complex creature) but the words that I’m embracing for 2019 are Connection, Boundaries, and Ambiance.

  • Connection: Though I am a full-fledged introvert, I do understand that some of the most meaningful moments in life are shared through connection. I love being a part of a “small town” community, interacting with my yoga students and customers at the shop, volunteering, and exploring new ideas with book clubs etc. and I want more of this is 2019. More personal stories, meaningful conversations, handwritten notes, thoughtful smiles, coffee dates, accountability groups etc. . I’m especially excited to embrace this idea of connection in March as I head to Alt Summit and get to meet and interact with hundreds of creative, entrepreneurs, artists and kindred spirits.
  • Boundaries: This might seem awkwardly juxtaposed next to “Connections” but one thing I’m really learning about myself is that I need to set clear boundaries in order to be successful creatively. I tend to be the person who over-commits to things, volunteers to help out, and generally say yes when asked to help with projects, to sub a class, or work on something… and that is good a lot of the time. I like when people ask me for help, I like to feel needed, I like to give my time, and so a lot of times I just give an enthusiastic “YES!” and am then often putting my own personal projects, ideas, creative pursuits on the backburner. I know there is a lot of ebb and flow, but what I’m realizing is that I’m tired of saying yes to projects I’m not 100% passionate about just because I feel obligated to. And the bummer thing is that sometimes this means saying NO to things you want to do. It means passing on happy hour when you are trying to get your budget in order, or missing a gathering because you need an introvert recharge, or passing on an opportunity so you have time to focus your creative energy on something else that fills you with more fire. And you know what? It’s hard. People don’t like hearing no (and some of us don’t like saying it) and I’m finding that there are actually a fair amount of people out there who don’t want to respect your boundaries, or pushback against them, or can’t understand why you have them / make snarky comments about them! BUT I’m practicing anyway. So as much as I’m saying yes to connection, to getting out of my comfort zone and to building relationships, I’m also saying no. I’m planting my feet and respecting myself and my creativity and my needs. (and guess what, it feels awesome.)
  • Ambiance: Hygge seemed too specific for a year round feeling, and I’m still trying to vocalize exactly what I mean when I say I’m spending 2019 focusing on ambiance, but I’m trying to be more intentional about creating ambiance at home and around me. Thus far this has looked like turning up the heat and lighting candles when I come home. I’ve started to work on some clutter issues, I’ve completely organized all my jewelry, and added some new art to my gallery walls. I don’t know exactly how this is going to look and evolve, but I know that I’m bringing more attention to my patio space, the garden, and I’m paying more attention to where I’m spending my time and what feelings these places evoke.

Areas of Focus: Mid November I attended a workshop that encompassed yoga creating healthy habits, and organizing your life and finances (UM yeah, talk about all the things I need all the time). My biggest take-away from said workshop was that we (the proverbial we) can only have three priorities at a time. If we add more than that, our plates become too full, and we can’t actually achieve the things we were hoping to. BUT the cool thing is that if we make something a priority, and carve out time for it, we begin to go through the process of making that priority a habit, so over time we can shift our priorities because those things we were making time for and striving towards have either a) become ingrained into our daily habits or b) are no longer a priority. This makes sense (at least to me.) I’ve noticed this with meditation and my morning routine. I gave it focus, I made it a priority, and now without thinking, I have this set routine that involves getting up, making coffee and crawling back into bed for 20 minutes of mediation, intention setting and spending a few moments drawing a Crystal, Spirit Animal and Inner Compass cards.   Sometimes is feels silly, other times is feels luxurious, but it has become my standard routine , so I no longer need to focus on making meditation a priority. It is already incorporated into the day to day.

My three priorities for 2019 are Creativity, Health and Home.

  •  Creativity: Though with priorities I think specifics are good, I wasn’t willing to say “writing is going to be my priority for 2019” Writing is definitely a huge part of being creative for me, in fact it is my favorite medium, and part of making creativity a priority does involve carving out designated time for writing each week. But creativity also takes the form of cooking and trying new recipes, planting new things in the garden, making a collage, color coding my planner, writing letters, planning yoga classes. And each of these things feeds the same part of my brain as writing, and I’m allowing some space for that. ( but naturally, by making creativity a priority in my life, I do expect more writing will be a result.)
  • Home: I know this seems big and general, but it sort of goes hand in hand with Ambiance. I love my home, I love being at home, I love entertaining at home, I love working in the garden… and all that being said, I LIVE in my home. I’m a person with a dog, and clutter, and an extensive closet, and more greeting cards and stationary than one would think necessary, and tons of yard work that needs to be done, and I’m also just one human. One human with a full time job, and a side gig, and responsibilities outside the home and of course some excuses. And you know what? I spend a lot of time at my home, and I put a large chunk of my take home pay towards rent, and I’m ready to make my home and its tidiness a priority. I know this is definitely going to take a shift in thinking, and a shift in my actions… I am mostly ready for that.
  • Health: This probably needs less defining than the other priorities, but I’m taking Health to be the overarching umbrella for Emotional, Physical and Financial practices. It encompasses a lot of things like getting more sleep, moving my person, drinking more water, cutting back on coffee? (maybe next month…) being intentional with my budget, reading more books, having deep conversations, evaluating relationships, making more time for stretching and yoga, drinking less alcohol, and surrounding myself with people and projects and things that bring me joy and cutting out the things that don’t.

One last observation before signing off. I’m trying to get better at is the idea of having grace with myself and others. Do I want to cultivate healthy habits? Absolutely… (I’m on day 23 of oil pulling! ) but I’ve come to accept that I’m living day to day, and if I fail miserably today at drinking enough water, or moving my person, or loading the dishwasher that is OKAY, because tomorrow is a clean slate. I understand it is a fine line between just letting yourself completely off the hook, and grace, but I think the important thing to remember is setting realistic expectations for yourself, and then striving to meet them. Some days you will, and it will feel awesome, and you will think “I’m going to keep doing this!” and you keep doing it until life kicks in and you oversleep, or you stay up too late working on a project, or you make a conscious choice to eat take-out and glass of rosé rather than drinking the last 20 oz of water you were wanting to, because LIFE. Don’t be too hard on yourself, but also don’t give up!

Anyway… I’d love to hear what sort of words/ themes/ ideas are resonating with you for 2019 and if you are a resolution keeper or attempter I’d love to hear about that too! Leave your themes/ resolutions/ new years practices in the comments below.

Engagement Chicken Incarnate

You all know about Ina Garten’s engagement chicken right? There was a story recently on the Today Show speculating that it might have actually been a factor in the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (I mean, they were are home cooking, right?) I love the Barefoot Contessa, though I must confess I’ve never made her engagement chicken. Which obviously explains why I am still single. ( If you didn’t read that with a sarcastic flair, you are reading it wrong. Though, note to self: start using this anecdote whenever you get the “why are you still single?” question “Oh I’ve never made engagement chicken for anyone” …) though in my defense most of the people I have over for dinner are my friends and their husbands, so making Engagement Chicken for them feels a little weird and potentially home-wreckery… Also I already have a go-to fool-proof chicken recipe…I digress…

I’ve mentioned before that Palm Springs is my happy place. I don’t take many vacations, but for the past several years my college roommates and I have a made a point of taking a long weekend in the desert, full of shopping, sunshine, cocktails and fashion. I’m not using hyperbole when I say that this long weekend is the thing that keeps me going through the entire year. Of course we tend to take this girls getaway in the dead of winter when our PNW skin is almost translucent and our vitamin D is waning… it also happens to fall in the middle of “winter sickness season” and so the weeks leading up to this trip are spent disinfecting all the surfaces at work and pumping myself full of vitamins. It’s around this time I also start incorporating “the elixir” into my daily regimen. For those of you who know me, you know that I swear by the elixir when it comes to cold and flu season. Anytime there is any hint of an ailment, I go straight to the elixir and don’t stop until I’m feeling back to normal. What I love most about it is that it works with your body to boost immunity, you probably already have all the ingredients sitting around, and also the fact that it is MAGIC.

Elixir:

  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • juice from ½- 1 whole lemon or lime
  • honey
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • pinch of cayenne
  • hot water

Okay, I know it sounds a little gross. Hot garlic water? Yes, I know, but believe me when I tell you that it doesn’t taste as bad as you would imagine, and actually I find the drink to be rather soothing. It’s not like I crave it, but it’s also not one of those things that I have to plug my nose and chug just to get it over with. It tastes better than most health drinks, and is so much more palatable than anything with Spirulina. Obviously I’m not a doctor or healthcare professional so I’m not going to go into the details of what makes the elixir magic work… but as we are heading into the winter months I’d suggest keeping this recipe in the back of your mind.

The other thing I do while prepping for vacation is try to get my eczema under control. ( I know, this is a super glamorous post about immunity boosting garlic tea and weird skin stuff… sexy, am I right?) I’ve had some form of eczema most of my life, and it gets triggered by a change of climate and stress. –This made trips to Montana over holiday break (IE After Finals + family dynamics) SUPER fun- I have distinct memories of dermatologist pulling out a ruler and measuring my neck rash… I’m sharing all of this because after dealing with this skin condition for most of my life, trying out various over the counter creams, and expensive treatments I’ve actually found something that works: Essential Oils. Yes, I use essential oils, but good news for you, I have no desire to sell them to you, or even really discuss them at all other than the fact that I’ve discovered that thyme essential oil is super effective at keeping my eczema flair ups under control. The only down-side is that thyme essential oil has an incredibly pungent scent. I’m an avid gardener and I cook with fresh herbs all the time, so the scent of thyme doesn’t really bother me, but after spending years in the wine industry and as a yoga teacher I’m very sensitive to how scents impact people. I don’t really wear perfume, I don’t use scented body products because the last thing I want is for a customer or a client to be put off or have an allergic reaction or a negative experience due to my personal fragrance choices. Most of the time I remedy this by applying the thyme oil at night as part of my bedtime routine.

That being said, the weeks leading up to vacation, the kid gloves come off. I am in full blown immune boosting, eczema controlling, nothing is going to interfere with even 5 seconds of full blown joy I plan on having on this vacation mode. And thus, last year, two days before our trip, I had the epiphany (while I was in the middle of teaching a yoga class) that in that very moment my personal essence was that of a roasting chicken.

As soon as class wrapped up I sent a text to my friends about how they better look forward to being on vacation with me because my new personal fragrance was that of freshly roasted poultry. Without missing a beat one of my friends replied back that the men would probably love it, and that’s when I realized “Oh my god, I’m engagement chicken incarnate!”

I know, it’s really surprising that here we are almost ten months after this revelation and not one person has proposed to me. (You mean to tell me that hot garlic water isn’t an aphrodisiac?) I guess being the embodiment of this famous dish is not enough.

Saucy Lady: a social media inspired look into my meal prep

I’m not sure how to start this post. I was going to try and make this connection about being more un-plugged, and then loop it back to the merits of social media, and I’m not entirely sure how it is all going to work. One thing I can say for certain is that, even though I am trying to cut back on my screen time (she says while writing a blog she hopes you will read adding to more screen time for everyone involved), I have found a real value in social media. I’ve met people through instagram that I am now friends with in real life. I use it as a tool to connect with friends all over the country and the world. Not only do I use social media to find inspiration for yoga sequencing, barre moves, recipes and craft projects,  but it is a greay way stay connected with events happening in my own communty and to get a glimpse into the every day lives of people.

I want to give a shout-out to an instagram friend and real life acquaintance Hannah. Though I admittedly don’t know her well, a few weeks ago she posted a photo on social media about a sauce she had made and was eating on toast, and it was a sauce I was totally unfamiliar with. Zhoug. Have you ever heard of this? Maybe I’m late to the party… I am as a self- proclaimed saucy lady. (I mean this in every sense of the word, but anecdotally speaking I do make a lot of sauces.) My meal prep every week typically involves a large batch of hummus for snacking and lunches and at least one jar of sauce that I can use in a myriad of ways throughout the week. Some weeks it’s peanut sauce to be paired with salad rolls, or used to dress a Thai inspired slaw or a quinoa bowl with broccoli and cabbage. Lately I’ve been in a chimichuri phase, and the past several weeks I’ve been whipping up a large batch of the herby, tangy condiment and I put it on everything. It’s a great alternative to a salad dressing, is amazing on scrambled eggs, stirred into hummus, goes great with meat or roasted vegetables, and overall it is kind of the wonder sauce. I’m always curious as to what other people are cooking and eating so when Hannah posted a photo of this vibrant green sauce and a link to the recipe at Cookie + Kate I was really intrigued. Cilantro, cardamom and jalapenos? How do these things even work together? I decided to set aside my chimichuri for the week and give this Zhoug a try.

And it did not disappoint. First of all, its fun to say. Go ahead, let it roll off the tongue a bit. It almost has a “I am Groot” feel. Zhoug. Secondly, I found this to be just as versatile as the chimichuri, and have enjoyed the zhoug as a dressing alternative, smeared on some pita bread, with eggs, and thus far my favorite combo has been with cauliflower rice and lamb meatballs. Yum-o.

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Cauliflower rice, lamb meatballs, Zhoug, a smattering of pomegranate seeds

I’m not a super spicy fan (I like spicy, just not super spicy) so I only used two jalapenos instead of four, and I did not include the vein or the seeds. I did add in the red chili flakes though. The sauce was a tad bitter right out of the food processor, but after an hour all the flavors melded together in a really great harmony. (Even better the next day) I’m really excited to add this to my sauce repertoire, and glad to have a new food-blog to explore.

Do you have any go-to sauces or weekly meal prep staples? I’d love to hear what they are.

Becoming Iris

I know I know, we are well into November, moving full steam a head towards the wintery holidays and here I am posting about Halloween? Yes. A) because it is almost sixty degrees and crisp and sunny on this November morning and it feels like late September, and B) October 31st is just a date on the calendar and also my Halloween costume filled me with so much joy and empowerment that I really don’t care if I’m posting about it mid November. Lets just call it fashionably late.

I’ve always preferred the slightly obscure, cerebral and off beat Halloween costumes. This sometimes results in people having no idea who or what my costume is, but such is life. About nine years ago I was Eloise, and a few years later, in what I still maintain was my most creative costume idea, I went to a party as the Cake song Short Skirt/ Long Jacket. Literally no one at the party could even muster a guess as to what I was supposed to be. In hindsight I wish I had a shorter skirt and a longer jacket, but I spent hours making a fake machete with red tape on it, I painted my fingernails to say “justice” I was wearing a name tag with “Kitty” crossed out and “Karen” written underneath, I made buttons with the Comfort Eagle album cover, and I had pins that said “night owl” and “early bird” and not a single person got it.   I still think back to that costume and analyze what I could have done differently (and then I start to think about how productive and successful I would be if the part of my brain that is obsessing over the costume from seven years ago were put towards literally anything else.)

I’ve known since mid February of this year what my costume was going to be. This makes it sound like I’m one of those people who is super into Halloween… I’m not. I was on vacation in Palm Spring (my happy place) and was sitting poolside wearing the most ridiculous pair of sparkly pineapple shaped sun-glasses and I just knew “For Halloween I’m going as Iris”

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Flash forward to July and I was browsing one of my favorite independent bookstores in Ashland Oregon. I saw “Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon” on the shelf and was reminded “oh yeah! I’m still doing that.”

For those of you who might not know who Iris Apfel is, I highly recommend you stop reading this post immediately (ok, maybe after you finish reading) and go stream Iris . She is the most incredible 97-year-old woman, with the most over the top fashion you can even imagine. The love story she had with her husband Carl is everything I could ever want in a relationship. This article in Town & Country outlines their lives together traveling, starting a textile company, decorating, and dressing.   She is everything I want to be when I grow up and more. (Ok… she might be a Trump supporter but everyone is entitled to his or her own political opinions and views) Her overall message has always been to dress in a way that makes you feel your best, and also feels interesting and unique to you. What’s the fun in dressing like everybody else?

Well, for Halloween I DID have a lot of fun making my transformation into Iris. I’ve always embraced bright colors and bold jewelry, (remember Palm Springs is my happy place) so it was easy to put together her signature layered and over the top look with jewelry from my own collection. I did thrift a few pieces of costume jewelry to accent my overall look, and a yard of fuzzy red fabric turned into a makeshift shawl, her signature round glasses and a grey wig completed the look.

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I’ve never had more fun getting dressed in my entire life. And that is what I loved so much about this costume. All the rules of what matches, what “should” go together, and how people were going to perceive me went out the window. It wasn’t about how the pieces looked together, it was about how much joy each layer added to the outfit. It wasn’t about what was in fashion, or what was chic or name brand, it was about curating individual pieces into an ensemble in a way that was totally unique me. (imitating her)

And the sheer joy I had putting this look together has impacted the way I get dressed every day. I don’t think you’ll be seeing me in giant glasses an 7 necklaces around McMinnville again anytime soon, but you won’t see me shying away from color, patterns, bold lips, statement pieces, and outrageous leggings either. I’ve always had the courage to dress a little differently and embrace my own fashion aesthetic, but I feel like my transformation into Iris helped to strengthen my charisma. Getting dressed in the morning has shifted from “how does this look” to “how does this make me feel?”

In the words of Iris “When the fun goes out of dressing, you might as well be dead. You need to pursue your own fancy.”

Dead on the inside?

I have to get something off my chest. I’ve been feeling the tiniest bit like a hypocrite since my last post where I confessed to the fact that I don’t actually like to carve pumpkins. Mostly because for the past ten-ish years I’ve been giving my brother a hard time about this very thing. I often refer to my brother as “dead on the inside” (in the most loving way possible, I assure you. ) because he doesn’t like to decorate for the holidays, he hates to dye Easter Eggs, he doesn’t enjoy carving pumpkins, and then you add on things like he has never watched Dirty Dancing, and has somehow established himself as the Harry Potter expert in our family EVEN THOUGH HE HAS NOT READ ALL THE BOOKS!!! (ok this last one is maybe just a personal pet peeve of mine) All of these things contribute to the running joke of me telling him he is all dead on the inside.

Full disclosure, my brother is a wonderful human, AND an amazing public educator. I don’t think you can actually be successful or even drawn to public education and interacting with the youth of America if you are actually “dead on the inside” but I still like to give him a bad time, as is my right and my role as the pesky younger sister.

Of course, in my adulthood I have come to realize that maybe his adverseness to singing all the verses of the 12 days of Christmas while sitting in the hot tub, getting the perfect shade of neon pink onto hard-boiled egg shells, and reading scratch-n-sniff holiday books might have less to do with him being “dead on he inside” and more to do with the fact that the person initiating all of these projects was me, the pesky little sister… Le sigh. Perspective and all that jazz.

And here I am, 33 years young, realizing that I also don’t really enjoy carving pumpkins. Maybe I need to cool it on the “dead on the inside” comments, or at least acknowledge that there might be the tiniest part of my glittery, crafty, stylish and creative self that is also a little bit dead on the inside. At least I know I am in good company.

For your enjoyment: Here is a link to my brother’s podcast, in which he interviews Educators from McMinnville High School and offers insights into personalities, projects and methods of teachers in the public school system.   They are really worth a listen.

There’s only one October

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
― L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Don’t mind me over here basking in the last few days of what has been a truly spectacular October in the PNW. (I’m also basking in the Red Sox World Series victory glow… which lets be honest, post-season baseball is part of what gives this plucky little month its charm.) It’s not lost on me that decorative gourds, pumpkin spice everything, plaid button downs and oversized scarves and all the other signifiers of Fall are these days labeled “basic” But that isn’t going to stop me from doing a round-up of few of my absolute favorite things associated with October.

You’ve Got Mail on repeat: This requires no real explanation. Autumn rolls around, the movie gets turned on, and you spend the rest of the season swooning over bouquets of newly sharpened pencils.

Leaves

I grew up in a part of the world where our two seasons were Summer and Snow. There were some pretty glorious things about both of those times of year, but collecting leaves and heading to the pumpkin patch were not some of them. I still have a habit of collecting leaves when I’m out walking and pressing them between magazine pages and dropping them into hand written letters.   My mom and I still gather leaves and fashion art projects out of them… We’ve been known to make dinosaur and people shapes out of the leaves and glue them to craft paper its kind of dorky, but there is something so nostalgic about it.

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Dinosaur Leaf Art

I often do make-shift art installations by fastening pressed leaves to the living room wall with washi tape. Need some serious leaf inspiration? Check out the work of Hilary Waters

-I already alluded to Post-Season Baseball, which is particularly exciting when its your team, but even if its not, I find something about watching Major League Baseball in the month of October especially engaging.

-Pumpkin patch Adventures:

I’ve missed one or two over the years, but one of my favorite traditions with my group of college friends is to make an annual trek to the pumpkin patch. Its kind of incredible that we can get our co-ed group of thirty-something’s together for this yearly tradition.

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My Pumpkin Crew 2018

This year my pumpkin patch adventure turned to tragedy when, after finding the perfect 35 lb pumpkin, I had a small accident involving my shopping cart full of pumpkins getting stuck in a rut, dumping the pumpkins everywhere as the cart fell on top of them and me on top of the cart. It was epic in its awkwardness. Thankfully some strangers came to my aid, and It appeared as though my 35 lb pumpkin child was unscathed! Appearances can be deceiving though… a week later as I was getting ready to carve said pumpkin, I discovered two giant bruises towards the bottom. I decided I could live with them though, and it wouldn’t hinder the design I was going to carve so I decided to press on… then a giant black and red spider came crawling out from somewhere (and then I started thinking “this is a 35 lb pumpkin, I had to hug this thing to my body like a small child to even get it inside… how close was that spider to crawling on me? Did it crawl on me? Does it have friends? Should I burn the house down?”) Never-the-less, I persisted, I disposed of the spider and kept sawing away at the top…. I should have known all of this was foreshadowing what came next… as I wiggled loose the lid of the pumpkin and lifted it away from its seams there was an outpouring of fruit flies. Hundreds and hundreds of fruit flies.   I dropped the lid on he proverbial Pandora’s Box, scooped up the entire thing and vehemently threw it in the compost bin.   If at first you don’t success, try try again? which, side note. I discovered this year, (perhaps the accident/spider/Fruit fly scenarios has something to do with this) I don’t actually like carving pumpkins. I like to eat the pumpkin seeds and I like the idea of carving pumpkins, but my knife skills are always lacking, and after trying to carve some intricate letters, many failed attempts, two broken pumpkin saws, I began to have that feeling of a failed craft project. I wasn’t having fun, and my self-esteem was getting lower by the second. I DID manage to salvage my pumpkin, and the seeds were really delicious, so there IS that, but I’ve already put a sticky note in my planner for next year reminding me that carving pumpkins doesn’t bring me joy, and I should just not even go there. But you cannot keep this girl away from a good pumpkin patch adventure!

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All the pumpkin recipes. I actually think pumpkin spice is kind of gross, so you won’t find me signing the praises of the PSL. But you will find me whipping up weekly batches of pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin hummus, and this ridiculously scrummy pumpkin mac & cheese. (also add some crispy sage… you’ll thank me.)

What are some of your favorite things about October?