7 things I’m really into for Summer

It’s June! And surprisingly enough, warm weather has hit Oregon the last couple of weeks, meaning the garden is thriving, spirits are high, and we are all walking around with a premature inkling that summer has arrived (or is at least right around the corner) Evenings are spent wandering around the strawberry patch, sipping beverages on the patio, kicking my shoes off and basking in the lingering light. Yes and please.

Apparently Mercury is heading into retrograde in the next few days and that means chaos is supposed to ensue in the following weeks, interpersonal communication will crumble, technology will fail, (wait all of my work technology already failed this week, please don’t let it get worse!) transportation will be horrid, and overall I will feel misinterpreted… should I just take the month off from blogging? Ha, I’m not that into astrology and only find it mildly curious, but here are a few things that I am REALLY into for the summer.

1) Sassy haircuts: I will immediately start off with a tangent about how when I was in high school my brother told me that boys didn’t like girls with short hair, and I would never find a boyfriend if I cut all my hair off… obviously I cut all my hair off to prove a point, and also I wanted short sassy hair! Ok, at the age of 17 I might not have been “cool” enough to pull off the short look, and sure enough my shaggy bob was less Mandy Moore, and more Oprah in nature, BUT, I’ve always had a tendency to be a little more adventurous when it comes to getting my hair cut. I mean, it’s only hair, it will grow back… or so I tell myself. Because every now and again I see the girls with the beautiful flowing locks, and I start to think about fishtail braids and sock buns and all the amazingly cool things I’m missing out on by having shorter hair, so I start to go through the painfully awkward grow out period, (and somewhere in the back of my head I still hear my brother’s voice telling me I’m never going to find a guy if have short hair… isn’t that terrible?) and a year later I’m just feeling frumpy and not like myself, and still somewhat wistfully dreaming of sock buns, but mostly just feeling so blasé…. The girls with the beautifully long hair don’t tell you about the awful grow out, because lets be honest, they’ve had long beautiful hair their entire lives… and I tend to think of myself as a “keep your eyes on the prize” kind of gal,   But I also know when to cut my loses… and quite frankly, a summer of short and sassy hair is EXACTLY what I need. Goodbye frumpy grow out, goodbye dreams of braids, Hello sass factor 2000. (side note. I’ve been looking at pinterest this week trying to find some hair cut inspiration… apparently pinterest and I have quite different definitions of “sassy hair cuts” But I guess whatever floats your boat…  Also I was supposed to get a haircut today, but it got canceled… SO no sassy haircut yet, but I’m sure pictures will follow eventually)

2) Country Music: Growing up in rural Montana, we didn’t have MTV… we did however get CMT… It didn’t matter, I still hated country music for the most part. Ok, Ok, the first concert I ever went to was Lonestar, and I went to a Toby Keith concert once (and no, my bulldog is not named after Toby Keith. For the record) … but for the most part, I rebelled against the country. I was too busy listening to movie soundtracks and 98 degrees… (Um yeah, nerd alert. But the One Fine Day soundtrack is damn good! In retrospect this probably had a lot more to do with my single status than my Oprah hair…) But Thankfully, I grew up, pop culture no longer intimidates me (well ok, it does a little) and I don’t know if its me going back to my country roots, or just the nostalgia of opening up Red Hills Market on Saturday mornings with country music blasting, but there is something undeniable about the summertime and country music. They go together like tomatoes and basil. If I still had my Toyota I would be cruising around with the sunroof open blasting Keith Urban all the live long day… and you should be do. Because summer is country music time. It’s just so happy, and all about drinking beer, and going to the fishing hole, and getting tan, and having manly men say things like how their eyes are the only thing they don’t want to take off of you and how you make them feel like they want to roll the windows down and cruise, and there is something about listening to it in the summer time that just feels right. (disclaimer… I actually don’t like country music by ladies very much… that might be a little sexist… but its just not as good….)

3) When it comes to makeup, less is more: Don’t you hate it when at the end of a hot summer day you look in the mirror and all of your makeup has melted off your face? And it seems totally unfair, because when I come home at the end of the day and wash my face, I always think about how bright and vibrant I look… why is it that no makeup sometimes looks so much better than makeup at the end of the day? Really the only solution for the summer is to take it down to the basics and go for a more natural look.   This time of year I make my own tinted moisturizer with coconut oil and powder foundation. It is like a magic serum. Trust me. Touch up as needed with concealer, sweep on a little bronzer, nude eyeliner (it is the best thing of all time) , and brown mascara and you are pretty much done. Maybe add a little neutral shimmery eye shadow here and there, and of course leave your options open for lip color.   Let me just say a few things about nude eyeliner. It is a game changer. Unlike darker eye liner you don’t have to spend a lot of time applying it trying to make sure the line is going where it is supposed to, and that you haven’t missed any spots. Sweep it on, no touching up, no fussing and it gives your eyes some definition without being over done. I’m obsessed.

4) A red lip:I know I know, I just got done preaching that less is more… but when your face is a natural looking summer glow, it opens up the opportunity for wearing bold color on the lips without looking like you are on your way to the Red Carpet. I think every woman can rock a red lip and summer is the perfect time. The only essentials are lip liner and confidence. (also the jury is still out, but apparently Men also don’t really like lipstick that much? In other words, I’m setting myself up for romantic success by cutting off my hair and rocking a red lip this season. )

Red Lip

Red Lip

5) Summer scarves: So you know when you have an adorable summer dress, and then you totally destroy the look by putting a weird cardigan over it that doesn’t really go with anything, but you do it anyway because you don’t want to get cold, and then you just look like you don’t quite know how to dress yourself? I do, because I’m guilty of this constantly… Because my fear of being cold far outweighs my fear of being fashionable… Mostly… Only this summer I actually am working in fashion, so I’m kind of on the search for suitable alternatives. Insert, the summer scarf, preferably a blend of cashmere and silk in a solid or ombre color. This week one of my bosses said it perfectly with “a scarf does all the things but you still look cute!” (we had just been having the cardigan conversation) I’m sure I have cardigans that will still make cameos this season, but I’m declaring the summer scarf as my go to for 2014.  ‘

silk and cashmere scarf from Mes Amies

silk and cashmere scarf from Mes Amies

6) Water:As a yoga teacher, I preach the importance of drinking water. And every single day I get up and think “today is the day that I will be a rockstar at drinking water!” and then most days go by, and at about 4:30 I realize I’ve only had 3 sips out of my water bottle. Ugh. But the good news is that yesterday is in the past, and tomorrow is a new day, and there is always the potential for making a change. And I can tell such a difference in my body when I’m well hydrated vs. not. Especially in the summer months. So it’s a constant work in progress, but for now, I’m hopping on my drink water soap box, and preaching the importance of staying hydrated. Throw some mint or berries in your water bottle, freeze some edible flowers in your ice, jazz up your water (or just drink it plain).

Borage blossoms in ice cubes

Borage blossoms in ice cubes

water

water

borage and mint water

borage and mint water

 

7) One Piece Swimming Suits: Is anyone else as ecstatic as I am that one piece bathing suits have made a come back? Ok, I know this kind of happened last summer, but I was still in denial about needing a new bathing suit back then. Now I am fully embracing the trend.

J. Crew Grid Dot Swimsuit

J. Crew Grid Dot Swimsuit

 

Anthropologie Basta Surf Swimsuit

Anthropologie Basta Surf Swimsuit

 

Anthropologie Seafolly Swinsuit

Anthropologie Seafolly Swinsuit

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Jumping on the Coconut Oil Bandwagon:

About a week ago I jumped on the coconut oil bandwagon. My roommate used to have coconut oil in the house all the time for cooking purposes, but for the past several years I have been all about the EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and I use it in pretty much everything so I never gave much thought to other vegetable and nut oils. It was olive oil, or nothing. But it seems like everyone I know is posting things on pinterest about the benefits of coconut oil, or 101 uses for the stuff, and some of it actually sounds pretty interesting.

One of the great things about having more free time, is being able to follow up on whims and projects… I hopped in my car and headed to Trader Joes for a few random groceries, and of course some in-expensive coconut oil.

And here I am, a week later, kind of obsessed with the stuff… I’m using it in cooking, on my face, even for the dog. Here are a few of my top uses for coconut oil.

First and foremost, I purchased coconut oil so I could begin oil pulling. It is rooted in Ayurvedic tradition (something that fascinates me) and I had been wanting to try it for a long time. Essentially you swish vegetable oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes, and it starts to stimulate the mucus membranes, and is a great way to detoxify the body.  I suffer from chronic tonsillitis, and every time I get sick, it manifests in my tonsils, so really anything that would help pull toxins from the body and give my tonsils a break sounded like something worth a try. Even if detoxification wasn’t in the mix, pulling is thought to help whiten teeth, improve gum health and help with bad breath. (who doesn’t want all of those things?) I’m an avid coffee drinker, and lately I’ve also been drinking a lot of green tea (supposedly as staining to your teeth as coffee) so whitening seems like an added bonus.  Supposedly, pulling also helps with migraines, skin ailments, joint pain, fatigue, and so and so forth.  The thing that makes the most sense to me, is that our mouths are filled with bacteria, and the mouth is the gateway to a lot of other systems in the body (plaque in the mouth is the same plaque that causes heart issues etc.) Starting to detoxify the body, even if it is just the mouth seems like it would naturally have a lot of health benefits… right? So I decided to try it, and I’m kind of obsessed.    You can use any type of vegetable oil, but when I tried using olive oil, I found it was too spicy, and was hard to keep the oil in my mouth for an extended period of time. ( I think sesame oil is also recommended, but also kind of gross). I like using coconut oil because the flavor is really mild. At first 15-20 minutes seemed like a REALLY long time, but being an infamous multi-tasker, I just decided to “pull” while I was in the shower and getting ready for the day, and the 15-20 minutes go by a lot faster than you think.  You don’t need very much oil (a very small spoonful, the coconut oil will melt in your mouth) and you do not want to swallow the oil as it will be loaded with bacteria.  After the time is up, spit the oil in the toilet or, as I do, into a  plastic cup.  (I suppose you could spit in the sink, but I used to work at an olive oil tasting room, and I’ve seen what excess olive oil can do a septic system… I’m inclined to think that coconut oil wouldn’t be that different… I plan on pouring my cup of coconut oil  out in some back corner of the yard…)   I’ve been pulling  for a week, and I’m still going strong. My mouth feels healthier, and I’ve noticed my tongue looks a lot cleaner… my skin is also looking great, but that could be the fact that I’m also putting coconut oil on my face.  Really, I want someone else that I know to try this, and then we can compare notes…

As a moisturizer:  I will admit, I was skeptical to start putting oil on my face. My entire life I’ve had combination skin, so I’ve been walking that fine line between excessively oily, excessively dry, or that weird shiny but flaky look that plagues us combination skin types.  Haven’t people been telling us our whole lives that its all the excess oil that is trapping the skin cells on our face and causing clogged pores? Well, after doing a little research, it made a lot of sense to me that trying to remove excess oil from your face with cleansers actually makes your body produce more oil, since your skin is trying to compensate. This leaves skin not only parched, but then saturated with extra oil… great… good to know I’ve just been exacerbating the problem for years.  I’m not a science minded lady, but it does makes sense to me that like dissolves like, so why we expect that washing our face with water would help get rid of oil is a mystery. But perhaps adding oil to oil… now we are getting somewhere… Putting “clean” oil on your face helps dissolve the “bad” oil and can help remove any build up in your pores… So not only have I started using coconut oil as a moisturizer, but I’ve also adopted the OCM (Oil Cleaning Method) and have started using oil to wash my face.

At first I was a little terrified… but when I saw how great my skin looked after the first “wash” I was sold… granted it has only been a week, and I reserve the right to change my mind at any time during this experiment, but for the time being, I’m sold. My skin has a healthy glow (and not the oily kind), and my pores appear way smaller… all I have to say to that is Halleluiah! I’ve always been a little self-conscious about my pores… ask me one thing I could change about my body, and I don’t even think about the cellulite or the shape of my thighs…(I mean I do a little, but when it comes to my body, I always figure if I REALLY wanted to make a change, I would work a little harder, exercise a little more… overall I’m happy with my shape…)  if I could change one thing about my body I would have smaller less visible pores… who knew that all it would take would be adding some oil to my skin? Currently I’m actually using a blend of caster oil and olive oil to “wash” my face, and am then finishing up by putting coconut oil around my eyes and on any dry areas. This post is getting a little long, so I won’t go into full detail, but I found the instructions on the Full Moxie, and she has some great explanations, and links to other blogs to get you started.  My only suggestion would be that, you should in fact use a hot wash-cloth over your face afterward to help open up the pores and remove the excess oil, otherwise it can be a little challenging/ a little messy to try and wash off in the sink. The only downside of this whole method is that I’m having to wash my hand towels more frequently (so maybe it’s actually a good thing).

     In food/cooking: I’ve only tried using coconut oil in a few culinary endeavors, but after reading about the health benefits, I’m excited to start using it more. Its supposed to be great for the Thyroid, good for boosting the metabolism, good for the immune system, good for your skin, good for reducing stress, good for your bones, etc. etc.  I’ve been adding a spoonful to my green smoothies in the morning, and it definitely enhances the flavor. Don’t get me wrong, I actually don’t mind the taste of green smoothies… but every now and then, they are just a little too green (I blame the raw kale) but the coconut oil adds a subtle flavor boost.  I also added a bit of coconut oil to my quinoa the other day (I usually make a large batch of quinoa at the beginning of the week, and then re-heat and enhance as necessary for a quick meal.) I usually re-heat the quinoa in a pan on the stove, so I tossed a little coconut oil in, and it was delicious.  I’ve also been using coconut oil to make popcorn… (its especially good if you are wanting a little bit of sweetness).

     For the Dog: Toby, like me, has rather sensitive skin… I used to put olive oil in his food to help with his skin and fur…  But, being a bit of an olive oil snob, it was getting a little pricey to be adding good olive oil to his food (he’s like my kid… but I don’t think he really appreciates the nuances of the flavor of the koroneki olive oil… and I’m on a tight budget) but over the past few days I have been mixing a little coconut oil in with his meals.   I’ve also been using coconut oil to soothe this dry nose, and have been putting a small amount into his nose rope. Those of you with bulldogs know that they are prone to yeast infections in their face rolls, and cleaning out his wrinkles is a daily grooming ritual. Coconut oil is supposed to have antimicrobial properties, and said to be good for treating yeast infections… (though I might just let the dog try that one out)  The coconut oil hasn’t completely alleviated his yeast problems, but it has definitely slowed down the growth rate, and over all his snout seems healthier and happier.

     On my hair: I’ve been growing out my hair for what seems like forever, and I’ve been doing occasional hot oil treatments to help stimulate my scalp and hair growth.  Yesterday I used coconut oil on my scalp and hair as a moisturizing treatment. Today my hair feels great, but I will say it looked a little greasy yesterday even after I washed it.  As a disclaimer, I have never been the kind of girl who can pull off shampooing every other day. I know it is supposed to be better for your hair, and I’m sure that if I actually toughed it out and got through the initial week of greasiness, I would really love the results… but I’m just not that girl. Its fine when I’m camping… but back here in the real world, I like to wash my hair…  I remember being a little girl sitting at the dinner table and my mom looking at me and suggesting that maybe I should wash my hair twice the next time I showered… she wasn’t trying to be mean, I know it was coming from a place of “I don’t want my kid to be the greasy un-bathed child on the playground” but I think it has lead to a life-long insecurity about having greasy hair.  (sorry mom, I don’t hold it against you) Not to mention the fact that pretty much every morning when I wake up, I look like the cross between Tarzan and a rat terrier. I shower every day… and I wash my hair everyday… call it my fatal flaw.  I’ve always been jealous of the women who could go for days without washing their hair (I have always had these types of women for roommates… and I’m full of envy). I’m getting a little off-topic I know… but what I’m getting at, is that the coconut oil left my hair looking a little greasier than I would have liked… but, I still think using it as a hair treatment is a great idea, but maybe I’ll just do it on the weekends.

Ok, this post is getting long, and I don’t want to bore you with my new found love of coconut oil. Just a quick list of a few of the other things I’ve been using it for

-to protect and moisturize my tattoo

-as a lip balm

-on my eczema patches (with mixed results)

-on my cuticles

What I like most about running, and a tangent about make-up

One of the things I love most about running is the healthy afterglow that takes over your face. Sure I love the exercise part, and the whole mental clarity thing is an added bonus for me right now, but I really really enjoy that perfect post run flush of color.  Especially this time of year when us Oregonian women need as much color as we can get. (this past week aside, since we are in the midst of that perfect week in February where there is actually a promise of spring and blue sky. It’s the savior week that gives us a glimpse of the hopeful season ahead, and makes the gloomy days of January, and the looming rainy days of March & April totally worth it). You’d think makeup companies would capitalize on this, I mean Nars has their best-selling shade “Orgasm” why not create a blush called “Runners High”?  I get the whole sex appeal thing, I’m guilty of it too, I have more makeup with somewhat scandalous names than practical ones (because who doesn’t need an eye shadow in the shade of Sex Kitten?) but somewhere out there are the women who would totally grab a compact full of that perfect color, and I am one of them.

Photo  from Sephora.com

Nars Blush in Orgasm Photo courtesy of Sephora.com

I love wearing lipstick, and have more makeup floating around in my bathroom than a sorority house, but I think there is a time and a place for every look, and as of late, my life isn’t exactly conducive to copious amounts of makeup. We’ve all seen those women, the kind that put on mascara before heading to the gym at 7AM… and to each her own. Who am I to judge? If you need mascara before leaving the house, then by all means, but that is SO not me. I’m hard pressed to even slap on under eye concealer before heading out to a 10AM yoga class, let alone a full blown lashes affront before coffee. It’s just not my style… (though maybe I should make more of an effort to not look like a dead yoga teacher, even when I’m just heading off to take a class, and not actually teach. It’s a fine line, dressing for success and all, but also there is a huge authenticity issue. If I went to a 5:30 AM class and the teacher was wearing makeup, I would probably have to fight the urge to punch her in the face… and yes, that might just be the early morning, pre-coffee me talking… and no I don’t teach 5:30 AM classes, so I’m hopeful that if I show up to my morning class my students are not in fact judging me if I have managed to get my life together and actually throw on some foundation and blush) I think it is really freeing to not feel tied down by makeup… and I know so many beautiful women who make a point of not wearing makeup at all.  I was actually shocked the other day when I friend of mine showed some hesitation about leaving her makeup at the place we were getting ready before going out dancing. She didn’t want to come back and get it in the morning, because she didn’t want to brave public transportation without makeup. It was such a good reminder about how big of a crutch it can sometimes be… Who knows, maybe I should be more like this friend… I cannot tell you how many times I have run out for a quick errand looking a little disheveled (it doesn’t help that these no-makeup circumstances are usually accompanied by frumpy work-out clothes, and somewhat questionable hair situations) and run into several people that I know… Which is my own high risk behavior… it’s a small community, of course I’m going to run into someone I know! Do I care? Not usually… but again, maybe I should start caring, as networking needs to be a higher priority on my life list.

And then there is the a makeup conundrum I’ve been having lately. I am by no means a high maintenance kind of girl, I fully believe in the practicality of a five-minute face, and typically when it comes to the everyday I’m into less is more. Again, I think there is a time and a place for heavy makeup, and I also believe that some women can pull it off flawlessly and not look ridiculous. Most days I try for a more subtle look. And in theory this is great, I’ve got my routine down, and I leave the house looking fresh faced, bright eyed, and am not feeling weighed down by too much makeup. But lately I have been hitting that 3 hour wall, where I look into the mirror, and it is like all the makeup has evaporated from my face. How/ why does this happen? I could understand if I was out working up a sweat, but most days I’ll be at a desk or working retail for a few hours, and then I look in the mirror and my face it completely void of color. Suddenly I start to resemble Leo McGarry post heart attack on The West Wing… And it’s not like I’m wearing cheap makeup… this is the whole reason one invests in the mineral foundations, and the blush with sexy names… when I put on my make-up I expect it to stay on, and I don’t think this is that unrealistic.

Of course it doesn’t help matters that when I actually spackle on make-up for a night out it will stay flawlessly until the next morning. How is it that I can have the perfect amount of makeup on my face, and it won’t stay for 3 hours, but when I am arguably wearing too much makeup, it can survive dancing, sweating, drinking, and 8 hours of sleeping, and still be perfectly in place? Someone explain that to me.  And why can’t I have it both ways? Why can’t I have my cake and eat it too… (maybe I can… when it comes to me and make up, there is a very good chance that I’m just doing it wrong… but I like to pretend that I know what I’m doing…)

In the end I’m sure it doesn’t matter…I’m still not going to put on my full face before running out the door to a yoga class, and I’m still going to somewhat awed when I wake up after a night out and my lipstick is still perfectly pouty. I will probably still shake my fist at the mirror later today when my blush/bronzer has magically evaporated, and I will still think fondly back to this morning when I came bursting in the front door after my run, and my cheeks were perfectly flushed. Seriously, will someone please create this blush color?