5 Random Things That I’m Loving Lately…And Some Epiphanies

Happy Friday, y’all! TGIF! Friday, Friday, everybody’s glad it’s Friday! (Am I the only person who gets Rebecca Black stuck in her head every single week?)

As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to get really excited about random little things. New shampoo? Excited. New songs on my workout playlist? Excited. New coffee mug? Practically crawling out of my skin with excitement.

I’ve occasionally been told that I’m too easily amused, but I see it a bit differently. As far as I’m concerned, my low threshold for happy dancing makes it easy to do what so many happiness and self-help gurus keep talking about: appreciating and being grateful for the little things in life.

So, with that in mind, here are 5 random things that have induced more than a few happy dances around here.

1) On a whim earlier this week, I picked up some Goody Spin Pins from CVS. I’d run out of hair ties, and I was re-stocking when the Spin Pins caught my eye.

Image source: makeupandbeautyblog.com

 

Considering that I spend all summer abandoning all hope of doing my hair — heat and humidity turn my tresses into a hot mess, and I don’t like spending four months looking like my head was mauled by a misshapen shrubberyI rely on loose chignons and buns to get me through those oppressively hot months.

And, wouldn’t you know, that’s exactly what the Spin Pins were made for.

After using them, I can say this much: my gawd, these things are awesome. They worked like a dream, which is really saying something considering that virtually nothing works like it’s supposed to on my hair. I twisted them into the loose bun I’d pulled up, et voila:

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I must say, I’m seriously excited about these bad boys. Summer hairstyling is going to be a breeze with these things in my arsenal!

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2) Wearing my favorite pink jacket to work, DC fashion rules be damned.

Five years ago, I was shopping with my mom when a fabulous pink jacket from the Gap made me gasp audibly in delight. (I know that as an ardent feminist I’m not supposed to love pink, girly things and blah blah blah, but the fact is –as you may have discerned from the color schemes on this blog — I love pink.)

I bought the jacket as a graduation present for myself, only to never wear it upon arriving in DC. I was worried that no one would take me seriously if I rolled up in such a bright, feminine statement piece. Black pant suits are ubiquitous here, and there seems to be an unspoken rule that if you want to be respected and taken seriously, you can’t wear bright or overtly feminine clothes. And, y’know, this jacket is both bright and feminine. Trepidation ensued.

Recently, though, I’ve reached the point where I’ve just plain had it with all the unspoken rules about how to look and behave in DC. I am, by nature, goofy, funny, creative, innovative, expressive, and girly — all of which are big no-nos here.

Judy Garland I don't care

However, last few weeks I’ve found myself repeatedly thinking “F**k it. I can’t keep pretending to be someone I’m not in order to conform to cultural norms here. I can’t keep suppressing all these key elements of my personality. If I’m never taken seriously, then ok — but I’m tired of not being myself.”

When I opened up our coat closet this week, I saw my beloved pink jacket, and I knew: it’s time. Loud and proud, baby.

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3) The spate of gorgeous, spring-like weather we’ve had — and are supposed to continue having through the weekend — and the fact that the trees are now fully leaved.

Last night I was finally able to talk to my best friend (it’s tough to make our schedules work, since she’s in Seattle and thus three hours behind DC), and I decided to walk home from work in order to spend time outside while talking to her. It’s a four-mile walk along a gorgeous path, and I loved every second of it.

Some scenes from my walk:

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4) I luuuurve the new ring tone  on my phone. I was less than thrilled by the factory-setting ring tones on my iPhone, and I decided this week to see what other options are out there. I was sampling the most popular ones on iTunes when I thought “Waaaaaaaait a second. I wonder if they have Monty Python ring tones. Let’s check that out.”

A moment of context here: I love Monty Python. I come from a family of Monty Python (and British humor) devotees, and it’s to the point where we’ll all spontaneously re-enact scenes from our favorite movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Lo and behold, there’s a Monty Python and the Holy Grail ringtone! You’d best believe I downloaded it immediately, and now I do this whenever my phone rings:

 

5) Using egg white protein powder and almond milk in my morning smoothies, which gives me a luxuriously thick and creamy breakfast treat each morning.

This is a big deal for me for two reasons: first, I’ve been on a search for good protein powder that has, at times, felt like a scene from The Odyssey. My Greek epic novel-length quest has been frustrating, either in dealing with protein powders that taste awful or leave my stomach in a state of open rebellion — so I was profoundly happy when I found Jay Robb’s Egg White Protein Powder. This stuff is delicious, not chalky, and it hasn’t provoked any backtalk from el estomago.

Then we have the almond milk: I freaking love that stuff, but I haven’t been using it in my smoothies because, y’know, it has calories. I’d been using water instead, which — shockingly — lead to watery and decidedly meh smoothies. Just like my realization that I’m tired of conforming to DC cultural norms, I realized that I’m also tired of looking for every possible way to cut calories.

I love my almond milk, it’s good for you (all that calcium!), and I’m just plain tired of cutting myself off from foods I love — foods that are nutrient dense and actually really good for you — simply because they might be calorically dense as well. I want my granola, I want my pistachios, I want my GF bread with flax seeds, and dang it, I want  almond milk in my smoothies.

So, for the second time in recent weeks, I said “F**k it! I’m doing what I want in spite of all the nutritional advice to just use water and save calories. Almond milk it is!” Not surprisingly, using almond milk has turned my daily green smoothie into a thing of delicious glory. It’s thick, smooth, creamy, and generally mouthwatering.

All in all, I’m amazed by how good I feel after both the pink jacket and almond milk epiphanies. Deciding to dispose of generally ridiculous DC fashion rules and less-than-helpful nutritional advice made me feel like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. After trying so hard to be the round peg who contorts herself in an effort to fit into the square hole, calling it like it is made me feel really effing awesome.

So, with that in mind, I hope everyone has an awesome Friday! Here’s to the weekend being within reach, y’all. 🙂 Some questions for you:

What do you like to use in your smoothies?

Do you have favorite movies that you quote, like, all the effing time?

Have you ever tried to ignore or suppress parts of your personality in order to fit in?

Grown Up Saturday Morning Cartoons: This Week’s Article Round-Up

Good morning, y’all!

My morning coffee and reading session got off to an uber-early start today, thanks to my allergies. It was just after 5 a.m. when the congestion and sinus headache became so monstrous that I could no longer ignore/sleep through them, so I decided to resign myself to the fact that when it comes to my springtime allergies, resistance is futile.

(Side note: I often wonder what life is like for people who don’t have severe allergies. I basically need a PICC line of Claritin every spring and fall — pollen, dust, and ragweed are the bane of my existence — and I get insanely jealous of people who can go running outside in the gorgeous weather without losing their ability to breathe.)

Anyways, thanks to the aforementioned allergy haze, the coffee was a-brewin’ by 5:15 — and I’ve been digging up links for the Saturday morning article round-up since shortly thereafter. Enjoy!

Health & Fitness:

Huffington Post: Environmental Factors and Breast Cancer

NYT: Reasons Not To Stretch

NYT: Yes, Healthful Fast Food is Possible, But Edible?

NYT: Ask Well: More Repetitions vs. More Weight

 

Stress Relief & Life Management:

Blissful Healing Arts: Decluttering Boxes of Guilt and Shame

Huffington Post: 5 Ways Walking Helps To Relieve Stress

Greatist: Restorative Yoga Poses

NYT: How Meditation Might Boost Your Test Scores

Greatist: Bill Cosby: You Can Survive Anything If You’re Laughing

 

Gender Issues:

Huffington Post: What’s Worse Than Attacking Other Women?

Jezebel: Don’t Call People Fat In Front Of Your Kids Unless You Really Want to Screw Them Up

NYMag: It’s Lonely At The Top: Lady Bosses With No Mentors

 

Humor & Warm Fuzzies:

TresSugar: Funny Videos For The Week of April 1 (Side note: the 32 video is the bomb diggity.)

BuzzFeed: The Internet Really Is Not Afraid of Kim Jong Un

Upworthy: If You Think Older People Aren’t Nearly As Cool As Younger People, Then You Haven’t Seen This

BuzzFeed: Roger and Chaz Eberts’ Beautiful Marriage, In His Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.
-Maya Angelou

Product Review: Birchbox Numero Uno

I have a weird relationship with new beauty products: I’m always intrigued by them, but I’m totally unwilling to invest in a full-size bottle of any new product unless I know it’s going to work well. If I’ve tried it out before, I feel safe buying it — but if it’s not a known entity, I stand there in the CVS/Nordstrom beauty section giving products the “I don’t trust you” look.

Image Source: Memegenerator.net

After all, who wants to throw down some of her hard-earned moolah in order to wind up with a product that could leave her riddled with zits or breaking out in allergic reaction-induced hives?

Yes, my dear readers, zits and hives are the things I worry about when buying skincare products.

I once bought a new bottle of moisturizer that I hadn’t tested out before, and I put it on before going to sleep. I then proceeded to have vivid nightmares about my face being covered in walnut-size, reddish-purple, relentlessly itchy hives, which was the very motif I sported when I discovered that I have a severe penicillin allergy.

I woke myself up because I was thrashing around and yelling something to the effect of “OMIGOD, I NEED BENADRYL RIGHT NOW.” Not surprisingly, there were no hives in this case — but that didn’t stop me from checking my face at least five more times before my alarm went off the next morning.

I also have spectacularly sensitive skin. Things like witch hazel and tea tree oil — which, for normal people, are supposed to clear up breakouts — make my skin look like I’m trying to re-live my teenage years. There are some good reasons why no amount of money could ever, ever convince me to re-live my adolescence, and my skin circa 1994 is one of them.

Enter Birchbox: for $10/month, you get a carefully selected handful of sample sizes of various beauty products. Now, $10 is a price I’m comfortable with, especially since it involves samples. Wee little bits that I can try out to make sure I don’t break out like a mofo or get hives! Hooray!

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My first Birchbox installment made me positively giddy. Among the loot were samples of tinted moisturizer, a facial exfoliant, and a hair smoothing spray. My reviews of all three are below (I also highly recommend checking out Must Have Boxes for some fantastic reviews of sample boxes and their loot of products):

Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint: I absolutely love this stuff. I love the way I look with bronzer (I look great with a light tan, but I’m photosensitive as all get-out — so this cowgirl only ventures into the sun with copious amounts of sunblock) but I can never apply it right when using the powder variety.

This bronze-tinted moisturizer, though, is fantastic. I mix a small amount with some of my normal moisturizer to help it blend in, and I love it. It blends in perfectly, and it hasn’t provoked any hostilities from my uber-sensitive skin. Assuming our budget permits, I’ll definitely want to invest in a full-size bottle of this in the future.

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Image source: Birchbox.com

Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator: This is another fantastic product that works well with my unremittingly finicky skin. I usually react really poorly to exfoliant scrubs — much like the witch hazel and tea tree oil, exfoliants tend to make me break out like woah — but this has no such side effects. My skin looks visibly brighter and healthier after using it, and I love how soft my skin feels after a brief scrub with this stuff. It’s another product that, assuming the budget allows, I’d definitely like to purchase.

Image source: Birchbox.com

Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle Spray: I have a ton of hair. Adding to which, my hair is a) naturally wavy, and b) really thick (I once donated a foot of it to Locks for Love, and there was enough to make wigs for three people) — which means that it’s also really prone to getting tangled. I rely on spray conditioners to help detangle and condition my tresses; I’ve used Pantene for years and it works beautifully, so I was curious to see if this stuff is even better than my Old Faithful.

While it works well, I’d say that it doesn’t do the job as fabulously as Pantene. I still get some tangles after using it, and it doesn’t leave my hair as soft as the Pantene does. I also have to admit that I don’t love the smell — I’ve never liked the smell of cocoa butter (I’m weird like that), and I love the fresh, clean scent of Pantene. Pantene is also a lot cheaper: the Beauty Protector spray is $22, whereas Pantene sells for somewhere between $5-$6. That said, though, the Beauty Protector got fantastic reviews on the Birchbox site, and it might just be that it works fabulously on hair less recalcitrant than mine.

Image source: Birchbox.com

Anyways, that’s the skinny on my first installment of Birchbox loot — I’ll do product reviews for each one, and I’ll hopefully remain free of all allergy hives. 🙂

Have you tried Birchbox? What have you thought of the samples you’ve gotten?

Post-Oscar Redux

Ok, so: can we please talk about the Oscars?!

I couldn’t stay up to watch the last half of the ceremony — my body enters shut-down mode around 10 p.m. — but when I looked at the news this morning, I was thrilled to see who the big winners are. There have been some years when the winners leave me scratching my head and saying “Bwwweeeeeh?”, but this isn’t one of them.

Anne Hathaway? Awesome. Daniel Day-Lewis? Amazing. Jennifer Lawrence? Incredible. Argo? Best movie I’ve seen in a long time.

To that end, if you haven’t seen Argo, I highly recommend it. When I was in grad school, the story Argo is based on was assigned reading for one of my favorite classes — and it had me riveted. It was rare for grad school reading to have me totally, completely engrossed like that, but I couldn’t put this one down. At more than one point, I found that I had a white-knuckle grip on my highlighter, and I found myself muttering “please let it work, please let it work” over and over. So, my dear readers, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Go see it! Go see it now! 🙂

And the fashion? Omigod, the dresses.

There are always a few hot messes during big awards ceremonies — I thank Joan Rivers and company at Fashion Police for pulling a few of these from the tons of photos and showing us that, sometimes, money doesn’t guarantee style — but overall, I thought a ton of people looked fantastic.

My best-dressed list goes a little sumthin’ like this: Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Octavia Spencer, Amanda Seyfried, and Jenna Dewan-Tatum.

Charlize Theron: She’s an incredible actress with impeccable fashion sense. I love everything about this two-piece dress: the cut, the color, and the way she makes glamor look totally effortless.

Image source: Glamour.com

Kerry Washington: Here’s another incredibly talented woman who also happens to look amazing. I feel like she’s so naturally gorgeous that she could wear a muumuu and still look fantastic, but she knocks it out of the ballpark with this dress. Everything about it is gorgeous: the red bodice with the intricately beaded top, the way it’s form-fitting without being totally ridiculous (Angelina Jolie and her “look at me!” right leg, I’m looking at y’all), the train…it all adds up to an incredible look.

Image Source: Elle.com

Octavia Spencer: I love, love, love how she dresses for her body type and refuses to be put into some horrid looking tent-dress. One of the major problems with Hollywood fashion is that anything larger than a size zero is considered a grounds for draping a woman in some unholy combination of a tarp, poncho, or circus tent. (Side note: I LMAO-ed for a solid 10 minutes when I read the portion of Mindy Kaling’s book where she makes them rip open the back of a size 2 dress that she wants to wear for a photoshoot. Atta girl, Mindy!) Octavia, though, has consistently shown that this doesn’t have to be the case. She looked fabulous last year, and she looks amazing again this year. I love the asymmetrical shoulder, the contrast between the bodice and the gown, the soft off-white color — everything about it flatters her, and she looks stunning.

Image Source: HuffingtonPost.com

Amanda Seyfried: The cut of this dress is spectacular. The halter neck, the keyhole  top, the fabric (granted, my first reaction with anything like this is something to the effect of “OOH, SPARKLES!”), and the way it’s form fitting without being over the top (cough cough — Angelina Jolie — cough cough) all join forces to create a fantastic look for her.

Image Source: Hollywire.com

Jenna Dewan-Tatum: Ok, so someday when I’m pregnant, I fully anticipate that I’ll continue wearing my usual get-up of yoga pants, a t-shirt, and flip-flops. Getting glammed up probably won’t even be on the radar for me, since it’s barely on the radar for me now. But holy heaven, Jenna Dewan-Tatum look amazing. The black lace dress is gorgeous in every way: the fabric, the cut, the fit, and the way she wears it are all fantastic.

Image Source: usmagazine.com

What were your thoughts on the Oscars? Did you like who won the big awards?