Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Safe and Fun Products That Make Me Wish I Were Pregnant

Okay, I don't really want to be pregnant.  These days I get starry-eyed over puppies, not babies.  But if I were pregnant, it would be more of an excuse to throw out all my chemically-enhanced beauty products and buy these instead!

Storq is an independent pregnancy clothing+beauty line that started up this year. (Here's the story.)  The online shop offers clothes designed to be worn all through pregnancy, all natural cleansing and hair products, and all natural beauty products, too!

As you may know, I've been trying to cross over into the all natural arena, and this store looks like a great resource.  They have everything all in one place!  I like how Storq gives the option of buying everything in bundles, too.  It's like they know I need all of these things!

The lipstick and nail polish remover are very exciting.  I would like to have them NOW, and actually I'm in the market for a new mascara... but yeah, aren't these things nice and well presented and don't you just want to be pregnant so you can have an excuse to have them?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My First Try At DIY Dry Shampoo

DIY dry shampoo for brunettes

I learned of the wonders of dry shampoo in 2012 and found that the Batiste brunette variation was my favorite.  The dark color meant my hair didn't look like chalk, and the nice smell was fun.  It soaked up the oil in my hair and let me start washing my hair only every other day, which was a great time saver, too!  However, after finishing the first experimental can and loving the dry shampoo, I realized that it was mega expensive.  The brunette formula I used cost upwards of $8, and it only lasted me a couple months!  Plus, that pretty smell wasn't enjoyable anymore, because the propane and everything else in the formula started to aggravate my lungs each time I sprayed it.

Cue the Wellness Mama blog, my health nut kick, and this super easy recipe for homemade dry shampoo!  There's even an adaptation for dark hair, and it couldn't be simpler!

2 parts arrowroot powder (super cheap at our farmer's market)
2 parts cocoa powder (which we had already for obvious reasons)
a couple drops essential oil (optional - I don't have any, so I didn't use any.)

I use an old blush brush to apply the dry shampoo.  That white stuff in the bottom corner is the arrowroot powder.  It sells at the DeKalb Farmer's Market for $2.99/lb, so this small tub was just 91 cents!

Check out my pictures!

This is one-day-old hair.  You can see how oily it was in the first picture.  In the second picture, I had just dabbed on some of the dry shampoo with my brush.  It's pretty heavy at first, even though I tapped the brush a good bit before applying.  I brushed and blended the powder, which made my hair temporarily staticy, but as you can see in the after photo, it's all blended in pretty well!  (You can also see a white hair trying to stand out.)

I like to apply my dry shampoo before I go to sleep at night so my hair has time to get back to looking normal before the day.  If I need touch ups, I can apply some more in the morning, and I usually don't have a problem with blending it in, especially if I use my hairbrush to sweep the powder through my hair.  I will say, do this over a sink or a tub, because the powder doesn't always make it directly into your hair.

These pictures were from my first try, but I've been using this recipe for a month now, and I'm never going back!  I've used my dry shampoo for 3 days before feeling like I have to wash my hair again.  The only downside is when, on day #2 or so, if I scratch my scalp, I'll have cocoa powder under my nails.  When I have my nails painted, though, it's not as noticeable to others.  Also, if I'm caught in the rain, I start to smell like hot chocolate, but I don't know if I'd classify that as a con.
DIY dry shampoo: a finished project from my 101 challenge and a cheaper dry shampoo alternative that #1 doesn't upset my lungs and #2 looks prettier in the bathroom!

Monday, April 7, 2014

To Be Feminist or Not to Be?

"You don't have to be pretty. You don't owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don't owe it to your mother, you don't owe it to your children, you don't owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked 'female'."
               - via wardrobe oxygen via Dress a Day
 What a relieving and rebellious idea!

I'm talked about feminism a good bit on this blog, and I... guys, I'm not a feminist.  I know that a lot of feminists claim that Feminism is about bringing equality to the sexes, but in America, it's not.  It's about elevating females to the same place as males, which is done through female-focused programs and calling out all of the terrible injustices committed against females.  The problem I have with this is how it leaves males in the dust.

As with most of my thoughts on this topic, I'm still learning and trying to figure out, not exactly where I stand, but how to articulate and even label where it is that I stand.  Also, new information and ideas come in all the time.  This recent set of new ideas are courtesy of my male husband.

I came to him one day telling him about the Ban Bossy campaign.  "Calling girls bossy when they're standing up for themselves and exercising leadership shuts them down and communicates that standing up for themselves is wrong."  Caleb replied, "Shutting down any child like that is wrong."

Slap in face!

Caleb's tried explaining this to me before, but it wasn't until this talk about Ban Bossy that it began to sink in.  Emphasizing the hardships of one sex only implies that only that one sex has hardships.  Elevating one sex only implies that only one sex deserves to be elevated.

The truth is, women aren't the only victims of sexism, and Feminism in general doesn't necessarily benefit society as a whole, when you consider that men are a part of society.

I will say: I hate the discrimination shown against women, especially violent discrimination, especially-especially honor violence.  It is one of the more abhorrent things on this earth, and it makes me sick.  The idea that anyone has a right to anyone in any way is disgusting and, in my opinion, punishable by something excruciatingly terrible.  I admit that this sin mainly victimizes women, but it does not only victimize women.

Another evil I hate is when people judge others based on their sex, race, speech, association, etc.  Women in the workplace being told "Is there a man I could speak to?" or an elitist white person saying, "I can't believe Spanish is even an option on this credit card machine!" (true story) or men being told, "I don't want my children to be in your class anymore."  It's all wrong.  No one group of people is immune to hatred, and I think that's what I'm getting at.  To champion for one group alone and in the way Feminism does, is not the best way.

A few reasons why general Feminism's way is not the best way:
  • It often endorses (or at least laughs at) the view that all men are pigs and should have rocks thrown at them.
  • It intentionally bolsters one half of society while leaving the other without.
  • Hypocrisy:  Despite touting equality, Feminism seems to have no problem with women claiming more social security checks than men, more alimony, and more healthcare benefits.
  • More hypocrisy: Women hold all reproductive rights in the West, and men have no reproductive rights at all.  (Can you believe that in Britain, it is illegal for a father to get a paternity test to find out if a child is really his without the mother's consent?)  If a woman falsely claims to be on birth control and gets pregnant, in America, the father is on the hook for child support and has no legal say in abortion.  So, men are completely out of control of the situation yet have to live with the consequences.
When I look at the holes in Feminism, I realize I can't support the whole of the movement.  Just as we are teaching girls that they don't owe it to anyone to look a certain way (like in the very good quote above), we should be teaching all people that who they are has intrinsic value.  "Girls are smarter than boys" is no nicer than "Boys are more athletic than girls."  To lump a entire sex into such rigid confinements is unfair and untrue.  A lot of the things Men's Rights Activists and Feminists complain about aren't right, but I knowing the strong biases these movements hold, I can't associate myself with either of them.

Again, I am all about fighting injustice, fighting lies we've been told, and fighting ignorance, but if I were to continue to call myself a feminist, I think I wouldn't be giving an accurate description of what I stand for.  I want equality and justice for all, not just for women.  I do happen to be a girl, and a lot of the things I need to fight in my personal life happen to deal with women specifically, but that's not my sole cause.


Is there a name for something like this?  Putting "fem" in the word Feminism automatically excludes men, so... Equalism?  Am I an equalist?  Am I just a normal person who wants everyone to be free from harm?  Am I a Christian focused on social issues?  What do you think?  Am I just a good person?

Do you disagree with me?  Are there things you think I should know?  Where do you stand?  As always, feel free to email me or comment below, because I really do with this blog to be a platform for conversations, not just my own monologues.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tips for Choosing a Rewarding Credit Card

This January, Caleb and I decided to look into getting a credit card.  They're important to have while traveling abroad, and if you get a rewards credit card, you can rack up points and miles and credit!  As long as you pay of the monthly bill on time, you can't really go wrong.  In fact, because you spend money anyway, it seemed like Caleb and I were wasting opportunities without a rewards credit card.

I did lots of research prior to our decision.  Nerd Wallet was by far my greatest resource, but Credit Card Forum and the blog Million Mile Secrets were great, too.  This is the comparison sheet I made to help me keep track of some of the more popular options.  (Research is my jam!)

Also, I learned about another way to earn points on the money you spend, at least the money you spend online.  MyPoints lets you earn points for your online purchases and rewards you with gift cards!  If you're interested in signing up, would you mind sending me your email so I can give you my affiliate link?  It would earn both of us extra points if you sign up through that link.

Caleb and I chose the BarclayCard Arrival World MasterCard.  (We call it our BarclayCard for short.)  We love traveling and we want to do more of it, so earning flight miles seemed like a great way to go about getting points.  Unfortunately, our biggest bills like rent and student loans have to be paid through a bank account, but our phone bills and grocery bills and anything else we can buy with a credit card will be bought with this credit card.

Some thing to consider when deciding on a reward credit card:
  • How would you like to redeem your rewards? (Miles/credit/gift cards?)
  • How much are you willing to spend on an annual fee?
  • How much will you be using your card?
  • Are there customer service perks you want with your card? (Roadside assistance/travel guarantees/free membership to X?)
  • How much will you spend in the first few months with your card?  Some cards give extra bonuses if you spend a certain amount in the first few months.
  • How much are you willing to pay in fees if you don't pay your bills on time?

 Do you have a credit card?  Do you have tips or tricks to share?  Wanna join MyPoints and email me?

Friday, March 28, 2014

One Way to Make Your Rainy Day Better

I've got another off the cuff, written in real time post for you.  I wanted to share this right away because it's relevant now.

Last week, Pandora suggested I take a listen to their Brazilian radio station.  I didn't know what I was expecting, but I know I was surprised by what I heard!

The relaxed, sexy, breezy sounds of this music makes me feel like I'm in a French movie.  I've played it while cooking dinner, and I feel more put together and more chic.  I'm playing it right now as I go through some very mundane tasks at work on this dreary day, and I feel a calm motion carrying me forward.

How I feel about Rainy Days:
Just no.
I know they're often seen in a romantic light along with books and hot tea and cozy love seats by the window, but as much as I want to like rainy days, I don't.  I don't ever.  To me, they are gloomy.  I much prefer the sun.  Sun showers are fun, and I like listening to rain at night and watching storms come in, but when it's just a solid sheet of rain coming down all day, I'm inclined to be less happy than usual.  That's where Brazilian music comes in lift the mood!

By the way, one trick I've been able to use to get me engaged in these mundane work tasks it to switch back and forth between short bursts of the tasks.  Print 2 pages of receipt information, then upload a page's worth of resumes to our files.  Repeat until complete.


How do you feel about rainy days?  Any tips for brightening things through the gloom?  Any favorite Pandora stations to recommend?  What are your tricks for getting things done?

 (My other go to station is the tropical station.  It reminds me of Vieques, and I like to play it in the mornings on the way to work.)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Brief Update

Most of my posts from the last few weeks have been pre-written and scheduled so I could take a break from blogging during Lent, but I wanted to check in to add some real-life human interaction to the scene.

  • I volunteered as a leader for D-Now again last weekend and had another amazing time, this time with a small group of high school girls.  (Here's the story from when I led in 2011.)
  • I fell sick with a nasty cold last weekend, too, and I should have stayed home on Monday and Tuesday last week (but didn't).  Thankfully, my co-workers were all very understanding and helped me in the office by answering the phones so I could rest my throat.
  • Tonight, Caleb and I are going on a date!  He's been spending most of his evenings working on an extra project that will help him at work, so we're taking this evening to spend time together over Japanese food at Miso Izakaya, and then we're going to see The Grand Budapest Hotel!  Besides Fantastic Mr. Fox, this will be my first Wes Anderson movie, and I'm very excited.
  • While sick, I was able to enjoy black Tetley tea for the first time since 2010.  I bought a box for myself on Wednesday, and now I'm itching to buy some half & half to pair with it.  (I take my black tea with cream and sugar.)  I've been leaving my herbal teas in their boxes these days, I'm so in love with Tetley!
  • It's spring!  I was able to take a walk down to the Centennial Olympic Park on Saturday.  It's just a mile from my place, so it's an easy walk.  I took my new book The Book Thief (soon to be a movie!) and read for a few pages before I got drowsy.  I wished I didn't have to walk all the way back, but obviously I survived.
  • When I was at the park, I noticed a family calling for a missing child.  One of the little sisters was crying terribly.  I felt horrible, but the family was telling security personnel and yelling for the boy, and I felt like there wasn't anything I could do.
  • Since Thursday, work has been very busy.  I didn't eat my lunch until 2 today, and things finally calmed down between 3 and 4.  I can't believe it's already 5 o' clock!  I guess time flies when you're insanely busy in a good way.
I hope you've had a great start to what will surely be a wonderful week.  I'm going to make a dentist appointment soon, and I hope I'll be able to bring some more warm weather appropriate clothing into my wardrobe before long.

How are you today?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I Want to Be a Health Nut

Late last year, I discovered the Wellness Mama blog.  Reading up on how easy it can be to go natural with face wash and deoderant challenged me to make the jump to cutting out the harmful things I put on my skin every day.  I put a few projects like this on my 101 Challenge because I wanted to challenge myself to actually make these changes instead of just talking about them.  Well recently, I've found a couple more reasons to not just jump but leap from the products I've been using.

Check out this article from Food Babe about deodorant.  Yikes.  The aluminum zirconium used in deodorant blocks up the sweat ducts in your skin and prevents sweat from exiting your body.  This stuff is a potent neurotoxin, and the manufacturers use lots of it to make their product such great antiperspirants.  Not sweating is nice, but all of this is not good for your body.  Also, there are lymph nodes there in your arm pits, and having all of the toxins near them can affect the immune system.  I bought some coconut oil from the DeKalb Farmer's Market, and I will start making my own with this recipe soon.
(For the record, Caleb thinks the deodorant stuff is BS, and I know some chemicals have been engineered to help the human body, but natural sounds better, dang it!)

So that deodorant article was the last straw on the camel's back, so to speak.
I realized that this health stuff is important.  Really important.  Heck, considering all the cancer causing additives I could be excluding from my diet if only I would eat healthier things, this health stuff if vital!

But a girl can only afford so much change at one time, and I'm talking about the "afford" that involves money.  An organic lifestyle is an expensive one, and while I'd love to be able to know that what I'm putting into my body is pure goodness, I have to take little steps for now.

The good news is, not only are there gentle steps I can take toward better food, there are also other things I can do for my health.  I just bought the ingredients to make my own dry shampoo last month.  I read about the detriments of sitting a while back and found an app that I've programed to ding every half hour so I can be sure to stand up, even if it's just for a minute.  Caleb and I have made it a point to add Juice Plus into our budget, so we're getting all of our fruits and vegetable vitamins (the gummies are so yummy!).  I have fruit, coconut milk, and spinach smoothies a couple times a week.  I've also started having tea at least once a day to help me drink more water.

Creative Commons.  Photo from Hayes Valley Farms
The author of Food Babe did a short interview on her favorite beauty products, and getting one or a couple of these could help my body in small ways.  I'd love to use the dry brush, because I've heard in a few other articles that brushing the skin is really good for you.

What I'm really interested in is Food Babe's guide on eating organic on a budget.  The most important things to get organic are meat and dairy, and then the importance tiers down from there.  Also, some vegetables with thick rinds aren't necessary to get organic, and asparagus "naturally repels pests," so it uses fewer pesticides, which means you can get it non-organic in good conscience!  When starting on organic fruits and vegetables, here's a simple guide to the ones that are super important to get organice and the ones that aren't that big of a deal.  I'm really glad this information is out there, because I would have no idea!

It will take a while for me to stop depending on my microwave, and we just don't have the budget for shopping at Trader Joe's yet.  Gosh, there's so much information out there, anyway!  Just focusing on food is one thing, but when you get into the fabrics you put on your body, earthing, and detox baths, how are you supposed to keep up with it all?
So, baby steps.  And when I want to/can, big leaps.  In fact, I'm really excited to make my own deodorant.  Would you like to see the finished product when I've finished it?  In the meantime, I'm really glad I like researching, because I've got to find out if I have to stop drinking my Yogi tea.


What things do you do to stay healthy?  Any small, quick tricks?  Also, would you like to see any other information I find later on?  I won't be the one discovering any of these new things, but I can be a curator.