Brown Sugar Scrub

I’ve never tried any homemade face products before–mostly because I was afraid it would irritate my skin. Tonight I tried making a brown sugar scrub, and I must say I was impressed! My skin is at it’s peak winter dryness right now, and the scrub was the perfect amount of exfoliation and moisture. I have a nice exfoliating scrub that I got from a facialist when I got a facial before my wedding, but I feel like this easy brown sugar scrub was way better. The brown sugar is very concentrated and feels like it’s really exfoliating your skin without having to scrub hard and irritating your face. With my old scrub and most store bought ones, it feels like there aren’t enough of those tiny little beads to get the job done.

It might not look pretty, but it makes your skin super soft!

Here’s the recipe (from http://www.laurenconrad.com)

1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup honey

~1 tbsp milk

If it feels too stiff while mixing, add a little more milk to thin it out. It’s pretty easy to eyeball it to get the thickness you want. If your skin is really sensitive, you can try heating it up in the microwave to melt some of the sugar so it’s a creamier mix. Leave on for 15-20 minutes or however much time you have. Just as a warning though, this can result in a fairly messy situation so I would recommend wearing a shirt you don’t care about and putting a towel around your neck for any drips because the mask doesn’t dry. It’s easiest to just take a bit and apply it with your fingers so it goes on evenly and then you can scrub it on gently. Say hello to soft skin!

Here’s to St. Valentine

First off, I saw this Dr. Seuss quote today and it pretty much sums up my entire relationship with Drew.

Our first married Valentine's Day! (but 6th total) ❤

We are all a little weird, and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love. –Dr. Seuss

Now, on to something else I’d like to discuss.

There are three kinds of people who always post on Valentine’s Day.

1. The whiny single person who complains about “yet another Valentine-less year.” “Going to drown my sorrows with a bottle of wine and The Notebook. Happy Valentine’s Day. #foreveralone”

–Here’s some tough love for those #1’s out there, maybe you would find a “Valentine” if you spent a little less time complaining and a little more time being confident and enjoying life, cause a man that’s attracted to that is probably the kind of man you want in your life.

2. The cynical “anti-capitalism” person who protests celebrating any holiday believed to be contrived by candy companies.

–Firstly, there’s these places called local companies that have still managed to survive (Euphoria Chocolate, Sweet Life Patisserie) and would be perfect for any Valentine’s treats. Instead of being all political about it online, just go support them. Secondly, companies take advantage of pretty much every holiday we have, and you happen to be using several major companies’ products just to be able to post that status, so if the entire basis of our economic system bothers you, maybe you should try and find a deserted island somewhere.

3. The show-off. This person feels the need to go on at length about how great (and apparently unoriginal) their boyfriend is. “I have THE BEST boyfriend in the world. Oh my god I can’t believe he surprised me with flowers, candy, AND he’s taking me to see The Vow tonight!!!” (Except she probably dropped not-so-subtle hints for the past month).

–Nothing wrong with recognizing your boyfriend or significant other, but maybe it’s time to tone it down a little. There’s no need to take it to a bragging level. If Valentine’s is the only day you talk about them or feel loved, then something isn’t right. You’re just making #1 even more depressed!

Lastly, thank you to the people who simply post about recognizing all the loved ones in your life!

Even though today is a day full of cliches and cheesy gifts, it’s ultimately about love. The issue for most of us lies in what our definition of “love” really is. Modern culture seems to put so much emphasis on finding someone who loves you for who you are, someone who is caring, sensitive, fun, adventurous, successful–you fill in the blank. While those things are important, it’s only half of the story. Shouldn’t the focus also be on trying to become a person who cares for another and always loves them for who they are? It should be about finding someone you can be there for and support without the purpose of needing something in return, just because you love them and make a conscious choice to do so every day.

Here are a few quotes from a super cheesy/still really good devotional we got as a wedding present. They are all in relation to marriage, but as the following quote says, marriage teaches us the basic nature of love in general, which I think can be applied to any of our relationships in life.

Marriage is one of our main instructors on how love is supposed to be given and received. It teaches us how to defer to another, giving ourselves completely without reservation. It teaches us how to love someone without basing our affections on how hard they’re working for us.

Love is fundamental to the success of your marriage. Not your current feelings of romance. Not a stronger financial standing, or even your spouse’s behavior. All of these things can circumstantially change, and they will…When marriages crumble, couples often claim that it was due to their irreconcilable differences. But genuine love is a master at reconciliation. When love takes over, it compels us to humbly apologize and take full responsibility for our failures, then to fully forgive where our spouse has failed us. Over and over again.

So on Valentine’s Day, it’s not about what we need or want in someone else, or what we don’t have. Focus on how you can become someone who practices love, which means practicing honesty, respect, commitment, and forgiveness in every relationship.

For some more Valentine’s goodness, check out the Wikipedia page for some history if you’re into that sort of thing. 🙂

Quotes from “The Love Dare: Day by Day”

Running Update

It’s been about four months since I started running, and I figured it was time for another update, in case anyone was curious how it’s going. I still don’t go running as often as I wish I did, but there’s definitely been an improvement in my overall fitness. Now I can run at least a 1/2 mile without stopping or alternating with a fast walk, and overall I can keep running for a longer distance if I alternate running and walking. The key is to make sure I never completely stop, so I can learn to recover while still doing a fast walk.

There are two key things I’ve learned about running with asthma.

1. Using my albuterol inhaler (1-2 puffs, depending on how I already feel that day) about 10-15 minutes before exercising. This makes so much more sense because before I would use my inhaler in the middle of the run when I got really wheezy, and I felt like it didn’t help as much. Doing it before prevents a lot of the wheezing before it happens during the run.

2. Don’t run outside if it’s colder than 40 degrees. In Oregon this is most of the wintertime, which is why I’ve ended up going to random step classes and doing the elliptical at the gym (which I can do without stopping for like 15 minutes straight with no wheezing, nbd) during the periods when it’s really cold or super rainy outside. The cold air makes my lungs feel a lot more stiff and limited, so sometimes I’m forced to sacrifice the scenery of running outside for the sweaty machine-filled ambiance of the local gym.

Also I’ve heard about a Color Run that’s going on in different cities around the country this summer, and I think it would be a great run to start out with. It’s a 5k so not very long, and throughout the run you get sprayed with this colored powder stuff (it’s all natural and edible) and it looks super fun! Anyway that’s the update.

Fashion Plans for 2012

I’d like to consider myself a relatively fashion-conscious person, but the past few years I feel like I haven’t embraced the trends as much as I used to. I’ve gotten lazy. But I’m a firm believer in the idea that you can never be too dressed up. I don’t mean it in a over-the-top sense. A good outfit does wonders for self-confidence, no matter how trivial the day’s happenings will be. It’s easy for me to just assume some of the bold trends won’t look good on someone who’s 4 foot 11. But this year, I’m going to make an effort. And maybe if I get a real job I’ll be able to afford it! Here’s to dreaming.

Elle Fanning, stylebistro.com

1. High-waisted shorts. Not denim, though. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet. I personally like more loose, flowing fabrics that have cute details, like a belt at the waist. This is also the only time I would consider wearing heels with shorts. Because they are more loose, it’s almost like a skirt and doesn’t look as casual as regular shorts.

2. Maxi dresses. These have been around for a few years if you haven’t noticed, and I think they are here to stay a little longer. I used to think they would only work for tall people, but as long as the style and proportions of the maxi dress are right, it can work for any height in my opinion. I should have realized this sooner. Tons of celebrities under 5′ 2″ wear maxi dresses; Nicole Richie, the Olsen twins, Hilary Duff. My pet peeve about maxi dresses in most stores is the ruffle seam/hem thing a lot of them have about 6 inches from the bottom. I just want a plain hem!

unknown source, pinterest.com

3. Pointy toe flats and platform wedges. Both of these aren’t that crazy when it comes to shoes–I just really want some. I would say the lace-up cargo/mid-calf boot trend, but I’ve pretty much already embraced that. I was afraid it might not work with short legs but a good pair of skinny jeans to go with them did the trick. Pointy toe flats elongate the leg, and would look good with some fancy work trousers. Platform wedges or pumps could also look good with work pants, as well as many summer outfits.

Enzo Angiolini wedge, Halogen flat, nordstrom.com

Pinterest

4. V-neck & long sleeve dresses. The perfect answer for the never-ending spring season. Everyone knows summer doesn’t really arrive in Oregon until mid-July. Long sleeve dresses are perfect for the bipolar spring that lasts from March-end of June. I love a good v-neck.

5. Camel colored things. I also just really like to say the word camel. It reminds me of my mom because I’m pretty sure she hates this color. She’s obsessed with black. She used to hate grey, but she’s come around a little bit on that front. For a while I was unsure about wearing a lot of tan/camel colors because of my skin tone and that it might wash me out, but I’ve decided that my dark hair balances it out.

Unknown sources, pinterest.com, Kate Spade Westward satchel

6. The one shoulder look. When this started to surface again in the last couple years I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. It seemed a little too soon, and it brought me back to several of the brightly-colored, rhinestone-encrusted one-shoulder Limited Too tops I wore circa 1998. Don’t pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m not referring to more formal one shoulder dresses, I already love that look. Lately, there have been a lot more one shoulder casual tops and dresses that are very cute.

pinterest.com

That’s all for now I think. If you are wondering what fashion trends might be suitable for you, or if you’re unsure if you can pull something off, my best advice is to find a celebrity with a similar body type and see what they wear. My list of go-to petite celebs: Rachel Bilson (5′ 2″), Mary Kate & Ashley (5′ 1″), Hilary Duff (5′ 1″), Kourtney Kardashian (5′ 0″ even though she’s a lot curvier), and Nicole Richie (5′ 1″). Also fun fact, did you know Lady Gaga is only 5′ 1″? No wonder she always wears those shoes. Not sure I’ll be taking a page out of her book though.

P.S. I want to add a little something about jewel-tone skinny jeans, brought to my attention by my lovely friend Sarah. I feel like I literally just got rid of my old rust-colored skinny jeans last year. But I guess that is a little different that brightly colored jewel tones. This is one of those trends that is definitely time sensitive in my opinion. That doesn’t mean I won’t partake, it just means I won’t shell out the same amount of money I would on designer denim in a classic style.

Amanda Seyfried in red skinnies.

Also another side note, I’m pretty excited about the upcoming release of a TOM’s ballet flat. Normally I would be skeptical of a brand branching out when makes one specific style the best. But these flats look basic, cute and comfortable, just like toms.

My First New Year’s Resolution: Write A Book

I have never set a New Year’s resolution before. If the start of a new year is the only thing motivating you to change something in your life, then it’s probably not going to last very long. The best way to set yourself up to succeed with a resolution is to be as specific as possible. Don’t just plan to eat healthier, be happier, or lose a certain number of pounds. Focus on the positive side of what you are doing and make your resolution the exact activity that is going to help you achieve your goal. Make your resolution to go on a run three times a week or cut out soda from your diet to be healthier.

Like many people, my resolution is something that I’ve been meaning to start for a while now. But also like many writers, I need pressure. I won’t complete something unless there is a strict deadline, and I like to think that’s when I do my best work. So, here it is. My resolution is to write a book. Don’t worry, I have a plan. Normally I wouldn’t announce something like this, but I need the pressure of public knowledge to keep me going. The average novel is between 80,000 and 100,000 words. The lower end for a first book is usually better because it costs publishers less to print. That means I will have to write around 1,700 words per week to achieve that word count by the end of 2012. Who knows, it may not even take the whole year if I really get on a roll.

You’re probably wondering what my book idea is. I don’t want to give too much away because I can already tell I’m one of those weird protective/secretive writers. I will tell you I’ve always dreamed of writing historical fiction, and it will be set in Victorian Scotland around the 1850s. The story is based on historical events and real people, with a dash of mystery and a smidge of romance.

Broomielaw Bridge. Glasgow, Scotland.

That’s all for now 🙂 Happy New Year!

Fake Posts on Tumblr & Pinterest, and also a short rant.

Lately, one of my biggest pet peeves has been inaccurate posts on Pinterest and Tumblr. Lots of posts usually feature some sort of jpg image of text in front of a photo or design background. The text can be anything from an item to add to your bucket list on Pinterest to a shocking statistic about a universal issue. But occasionally, because the people who make these posts are your average blogger, fake photos and misquotes get passed on as fact without question. This is a problem. The copy editor in me means I usually make a point to fact check anything remotely controversial that I re-post, not just for my reputation as a journalist but to stop the never ending progression of bad information.

It occurred to me that this is a prime example of why we will always need journalists. Seriously I will freak out if one more old person tells me “oh no, all the newspapers are going out of business, what are you going to do!?” Maybe if you didn’t get all your “news” from Fox, CNN, and Dateline you would realize the constant flow of information that is the internet. There will always be a demand for fact-checked information and quality reporting. The difference is the platform, which has resulted in the transition period we are going through right now. Also, don’t even get me started about CNN’s “iReport.”

Stephen Colbert Mocks CNN iReporters

Anyway, what bothers me about these inaccurate posts I run across on the internet is the fact that everyone seems to take them at face value. People re-post random things that may not be true without even questioning where it came from or how accurate it is. Now, I’m not saying that sites like Tumblr & Pinterest are anything like news outlets or that they should always be taken seriously. But at the same time, all these facts and random ideas that we constantly re-post do have an effect on our thoughts and perception of facts and truth of information.

My first example: the Martin Luther King Jr. misquote that went viral after Osama Bin Laden was killed. This one is a little different than usual just because it spread so widely about a controversial subject that it was covered by larger news outlets (ahem, once again the need for larger news outlets with trusted information). What made this misquote hard to detect at first was because the second half is correct, but the first sentence, of course the most relevant in light of Osama’s death, is not. It all started with one innocent Facebook status that was misinterpreted.

Jessica Dovey: I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” MLK Jr.

Next up, yet another Gandhi quote. “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” I will admit that I could not find any definitive answer as to whether or not this quote is accurate. It is listed on some quotes websites, but disputed on many blogs, Wikipedia, and news sources. Some critique the quote because it creates an “us” vs. “them” dichotomy with the phrase “your Christians,” which was supposedly very unlike Gandhi. So I say, if you can’t prove it correct, then it’s out. There is evidence that this quote was actually misappropriated out of the following quote: “Jesus is ideal and wonderful, but you Christians–you are not like him.” —Bara Dada. What bothers me about this quote is how it is often used as a way for people to support their disapproval of Christians. Christians are never going to be like Christ because they are human, not God. No matter how hard we try, we will never live up to Christ, which is why we need God’s salvation. This quote actually emphasizes how different Christ was from the average person, which in a way supports the idea that he is in fact the son of God. Another widely disputed Gandhi quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” The best way to figure out if a quote is suspect is to think about the time period that person lived in, and also the nature of the quote. If it sounds too concise, too bumper-sticker-y, then it’s probably been completely reworded to modern standards and possibly convoluted in the process.

Another thing that bothers me on Pinterest & Tumblr–blatant grammar and spelling errors. Maybe this is nit-picky and stuck up of me, but I can’t help it. No, it’s not the word “funnier” that’s wrong. Aloud, really, REALLY? At first I thought this was maybe on purpose, considering the subject matter, but I’m not so sure. If you didn’t get it by now, “aloud” should be “allowed.”

Here’s the next one that has been circling the Tumblr-verse. “At the age of 16, 80% of people have met the person they are going to marry.” First of all, the original source for this post on Tumblr is a sketchy “psychological facts” tumblr that really shouldn’t be calling what it posts “facts.” Second of all, the only other places I could find on the internet about a statistic relating to this always cited it back to a random tumblr site. And lastly, this stat may have been true a long time ago when people rarely traveled far away and got married at a younger age. Nowadays, people can move farther away from home and get married at a later age. If you ask anyone who has graduated high school in the past 20 years, it’s definitely the minority of people who end up marrying someone they knew in high school, and I think it’s safe to say high school peers make up the majority of people the average 16-year-old knows.

Okay last one, I promise. The other day I repinned a photo on Pinterest of this crazy castle on a rock, thinking it looked cool. I briefly glanced at the caption that said, “Dublin, Ireland.” Then my friend Allie, who recently studied abroad in Ireland, pointed out that this photo is definitely not in Ireland.

This made me think about the photo a little harder. Maybe I’m just not that observant and most people initially assumed that this is a fictitious structure, but the caption on Pinterest seemed to indicate that it was a real place. I’m not a Photoshop expert, but the likelihood of something like this existing within the rules of physics seems pretty slim. I couldn’t find the source of the photo, but I did find what I think is the source of the “Ireland” confusion that probably started the notion that this place exists in real life. A tumblr user posted the photo, and her small bio includes where she is from, Dublin, Ireland.

We are all guilty of this, including me. But maybe we should be more careful about the information we are passing on, or the inaccuracies we inadvertently spread, on social media sites. While you may take the harmless photos and facts you see with a grain of salt, as you should, not every person you pass it on to will.

Twelve Days of Christmas Movies

It’s time for a post about Christmas movies. Scrooges out there, I am fully aware that it’s not December yet. But I waited until Thanksgiving is officially over, and I think

I’ve been patient enough. Bring on the Bing Crosby, gingerbread cookies, and pretending the heater vent is a crackling fire.

Here’s my list of the top twelve Christmas movies, not necessarily in order or ranked, that are the most festive without being annoying or overdone. (Cue “every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.”)

1. Christmas Vacation (1989)

A Christmas classic. The season wouldn’t be the same without Audrey’s frozen eyes, Clark’s lights fiasco, and of course cousin Eddie. Not to mention the fact that Elaine from Seinfeld even makes a debut as a stuck up neighbor.

p.s. it’s crazy how old Chevy Chase looks now. Anyone else watch Community?

2. Love Actually (2003)

Nothing says Christmas like British accents and a movie where the quiet boy gets the girl. The wanna-be American versions that keep coming out, like Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, will never have the same charm.

3. Elf (2003)

A classic comedy from Will Ferrell’s good days. “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!” And who doesn’t love Zooey Deschanel.

4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (original)

The original cartoon version of course. No offense to Jim Carrey, but he’s just not scary enough. Also, Cindy Lou Who, aka Taylor Momsen, not the best role model anymore with those raccoon eyes! Maybe the kids of the 2000s will think otherwise, but the kids of the 90s won’t turn our backs on the original 1966 Dr. Seuss Grinch.

5. The Holiday (2006)

I know there’s a lot of Cameron Diaz haters out there, but this is one of those movies where her unchanging pretty-successful-flustered character no matter what movie is perfect. Also, who can turn down Kate Winslet, Jack Black, and Jude Law? I watch this movie and dream of a cozy cottage in England while Drew dreams of the nice house in LA. It’s only been 5 years since this came out and already this rental store scene dates it:

6. Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

This is one of those movies that can still be watched year round (and should be) but still has enough Christmas to make it festive. It revolves around her progress each year after her resolutions and of course her parent’s Christmas party. Bridget’s sad existence is hilarious, and her self-pitying activities are pretty relatable. And, two words: Colin Firth.

7. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

Pretty much any Harry Potter movie will do, but I chose this one because of the Yule Ball and of course the Weird Sisters rock out scene. This time, it’s three unforgettable words: “Happy Christmas, Harry.” I would upload a clip but all of them have been deleted for copyright infringement, and all that’s left are super cheesy/hilarious fan vids.

8. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

A classic Leo movie, especially if you are craving some Leo after watching Kate in The Holiday, and are holding out from watching the Titanic until it comes out in theaters again in April like me. This one makes the Christmas list because of the annual phone call Frank makes to Carl. I also love this movie because of how lonely you feel just like Frank and Carl who spend their lives at work or running away, which emphasizes the importance of family and friends during Christmastime.

9. The Muppet Christmas Carol (original)

Although I wouldn’t mind watching the new one in theaters this year, nothing beats the Muppet Christmas Carol from 1992. Maybe this is just another 90s kid thing, but the Christmas spirit brings me back to my childhood. And it should bring you back to yours too, even if it wasn’t the best childhood. Who doesn’t want to feel the mysticism, wonder, and unquestioning joy that revolved around Santa and the Christmas spirit like you did when you were a kid?

Side note: The Muppet Christmas Carol isn’t on Netflix, even though if you google it, it shows up under the Netflix link, but it’s nowhere to be found when you actually go to the website. Yet another Netflix letdown.

10. Lady and the Tramp (1955)

I’m sure many of you have a different favorite Disney movie for the holidays. But for some reason, one of my favorites growing up was the Lady and the Tramp. Nothing says Christmas like a puppy in a box with ribbon! Those Siamese cats are pretty scary, but I will always love Lady and the Tramp.

11. Die Hard (1988)

This one’s for Brian Jarchow. I watched this for the first time a couple weeks ago. Granted, it’s not the most Christmasy movie around. Apparently he watches it before bed EVERY Christmas Eve. This one is for the guys out there who need an action movie that just happens to revolve around Christmastime to break up the succession of romcom, cartoon, and comedy Christmas movies.

12. Seinfeld “Festivus for the Rest of Us” episode

I decided to include an iconic Christmas TV episode on here. Nothing else on TV comes close to the hilarity of Seinfeld’s Festivus episode. Time to air your grievances and make this a holiday season to remember.

I do not own the rights to any of these video clips. This blog is for creative purposes only and not for monetary gain, and I do not condone the illegal download of movies or videos. Help save the internet & fight against the Protect IP/SOPA Act recently introduced in the Senate. If this bill, or the new House bill that was just introduced, is passed, it would mean my blog and many others would be censored by the government for copyright infringement just for one post like this. If anything, posts like this provide free advertisement for the films. The companies behind Protect IP or SOPA are using the context that it will protect jobs, but if passed it threatens websites we love like YouTube, Tumblr, and Facebook, and leaves the average person even more susceptible to crippling lawsuits just for uploading something online that has a song in the background. To learn more, go to www.americancensorship.org.