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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Green smoothies, Healthy choices, and some personal anecdotes about my addiction to gluten.

So I’m back on the green smoothie band wagon. Not that I every really got off of the bandwagon… But when I’m working 11+ hour days, I’m realizing that I need a boost of something healthy, raw, and green to keep me going. I’m on my feet pretty much all day, and though I do get fed while at work, one cannot sustain on breakfast sandwiches, woodfire pizzas, and cookies alone.  (though one might often try…) At the end of the day my energy is so low I sometimes contemplate trying to go gluten free, and seeing if that makes a different… I contemplate this for literally like a tenth of a second before snapping back to reality. Hi my name is Tayler and I’m pretty much a gluten addict… I know that gluten free is kinda trendy right now…(my dog is even gluten free for crying out loud) but I’ve never been much for trends…  This morning I made a salad to go with my croutons… that is right. I didn’t make a great salad and then later think “you know what this needs? some croutons!” no, in fact I did the opposite. I made croutons, and then decided that I couldn’t just eat croutons for breakfast (though I don’t know why not, I’m an adult, I can eat what I want!) so I made a salad to go underneath…
And now for a slight tangent about gluten, but we will get back to the smoothies I promise. Back when I was a kid, long before there was all the hype about gluten intolerance, gluten free etc, I had a bread route. And when I say I had a bread route, I mean my brother and I baked bread every Friday morning, and then went around to our regular customers, most of whom were co-workers of my parents at the local hospital, or people like our piano teacher, and we sold small loaves of whole wheat bread. We actually had a stone flour mill, and we ground the wheat ourselves… mostly on Thursday nights, my parents would be watching ER, and I would run upstairs to the kitchen to grind the wheat during commercial breaks…. (yes, our kitchen was upstairs, and yes, I’m not making this up… Its amazing this didn’t make it onto a college submission essay somewhere…I should probably blog about this in further detail…) Anyway, back when I was eight years old, and baking bread every week, it didn’t seem strange to me that we actually had a little pouch full of gluten in our freezer that we would add to each batch of bread… We were following the recipe, and it sold damn well, and as far as I knew, everyone had pouches of gluten sitting in their freezer for baking purposes.  Needless to say, back then we never had any requests for gluten free bread, and we had probably never even heard of gluten free bread… and laugh all you want at this weird little story, but I was able to buy myself three American Girl Dolls with my bread earnings, and a whole lot of accessories for them… and I can promise you this… freshly baked bread sells better than lemonade any day of the week.
I really have no desire to give up gluten at all… (though I no longer keep pouches of it in my freezer) I know all these gluten free people who tell me how much more energy they have, how much better they feel etc. and I’ve even had people suggest that my eczema might be gluten related… but here is the thing… I don’t feel bad, and I’m terrified that if I give up gluten, or dairy, or any of my other comfort foods I will feel great. (stay with me through this train of thought)  I know that sounds dumb, I’m terrified of feeling great? Not really, but mostly I’m terrified of how bad I would feel if I ever stopped eating these things, and then slipped and went back on them…. I don’t feel bad now when I eat cheese, or gluten, and wouldn’t it just suck, to suddenly feel terrible after eating these things? I think it would… anyway, I try to stick with “everything in moderation” and overall I think its working for me… am I still talking about gluten? ok back to my original topic.

I’ve been taking my smoothies to work to sip on during breaks, or while I’m in the office, and naturally I get a little bit of flack from just about everyone. I get all the usual comments “what are you drinking?” “What is in there?” or “why don’t you just eat a salad?” The answer is, because who has time to eat salads these days? I mean I do, but not at 5:30 in the morning when I’m running out the door to get to work by 6AM for an 11 hour shift. I do, however, have time to drink things from a straw while doing my hair, driving, or any of the other countless* things I have to do to get ready in the morning.

(*A list of things I can do while drinking a smoothie that I cannot do while eating a salad: water the garden, chase the dog around the yard, curl my hair, put on makeup, make my bed, put on shoes, empty the dishwasher, drive a car, empty the trash, put on clothes, do calf presses/ wall squats, vacuum, paint my finger nails, dance around.)
Green Smoothie, ready for the morning time

Green Smoothie, ready for the morning time

Everyone is taken aback by the color, but I think it is mostly awesome… and its not like anything gross is going into the smoothies themselves, it is just often an interesting combination of things… (though if some of you green smoothie drinkers out there could call my parents and tell them that I’m not actually a weird-o/ lots of “normal” people drink these, and this is not just one of my yogi/mountain-muffin/ health kick phases.) My ex used to be totally grossed out by the idea of green smoothies, and some of my co-workers still are… but mostly I think people are used to me showing up to work with jar full of green-ness. I’ve gotta stay healthy somehow! I’m working, I’m running, and I need to fuel my body… and this body needs an obscene amount of kale.  Sure, a salad might seem a little more delicious to some folks, but right now, with my schedule, veggies through a straw makes the most sense. (and its actually pretty delicious) Its especially great on the days that I have to work really early, because I can make a smoothie the night before, pop it in the fridge, and its ready for me first thing, its a grab and go meal that is 100% healthy, and easy.

My recipe varies a little bit, just depending on what ingredients I have on hand, but my smoothies usually consist of spinach, kale, celery, half a granny-smith apple, half a cucumber, a banana (or a pear) coconut oil, chia seed, ground flax seed, mint leaves, and water.  Its super basic, but the banana pretty much masks all of the overly green flavors from the kale, and the coconut oil and mint make everything really palatable. Sometimes I add coconut milk for a little extra creaminess, and I’m sure this summer I will be adding various berries as they begin to come in from the garden.

Look at all of that goodness

Look at all of that goodness

This last round of groceries, I got a huge bag of spinach, and actually pureed it and froze it in ice cube trays, which has worked magically and has saved a lot of time and money. I can almost never use the whole thing of spinach before it goes bad, and this way the smoothies are extra cold. I’m contemplating trying this with kale as well, though I did just plant kale in my garden, so hopefully I will not have to buy as much.

I’ve been pretty consistent in my smoothie consumption (I’d say at least 4 per week) but this week I’m going to try for 7 days of smoothies for breakfast…. the busier I get, the poorer I tend to eat/ the more I tend to over-eat, and I think I owe it to myself to start my day off with an über- nutritious breakfast. Anyone else want to join me? 7 days of green goodness starts now! (or tomorrow, since I did eat that bowl of croutons for breakfast… there really was lettuce and kale underneath it though!)

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