Got burnt? Try this:

20 Jun

This stuff has saved my skin before, and I imagine it’ll do it again.


Hairy hair hair

18 Jun

I’m growing my hair out. And because I have to justify my decision to myself almost daily, I figured I’d post a bit about it here.

I had a pixie. It was kind of always my ‘do. I first got it in 9th grade (not counting when I had one when I was a little kid), and have kept it pretty much ever since. Sure, I grew it out to chin length a few times and even made it to my shoulders on one attempt, but I always went back. Back to the pixie. The last time I went from bob to pixie (in 2010), I felt so much more like myself. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel like myself with a bob—it just felt like a comeback when the extra hair was gone.


I went from this asymmetrical cut (which I loved, by the way, but the long part got very unruly)…


to this bob, which got quite a bit longer before I cut it to…

Nina pic

this and kept it here for a few years.

But such a short cut takes a lot of work. Not day-to-day work, obviously, since there isn’t much to do each morning, but the hair appointments have to be pretty regular. In order to save money, I would wait until my hair got long enough to drive me crazy (and stop behaving), and then I’d schedule an appointment for the next week. It was a great strategy, especially for someone who loves the experience of getting her hair cut and would happily go back every four weeks (or sooner).

For my last handful of cuts, though, I really struggled to get into my (totally awesome) salon. My schedule was packed and unpredictable, making carving out time for an appointment really difficult. Plus, paying for them was never painless (even if I was waiting a few extra weeks in between). And finally, I was starting to get curious about what I might look like with a longer ‘do and was getting anxious to try out new styles involving bobby pins, braids, elastics, whatever.

So, I made my decision: the hair is growing out. In the summer (whoops!). But I’ve already made a ton of progress (I can put my hair up in a mess of swirls with bobby pins again!). I just have to keep returning to my Pinterest board for motivation.


Goddess In Progress

2 Jun

A friend of mine, Ms. Gingersnaps of Carolina Chow Chow, has recently enlisted me to be her personal stylist. She’s ready for a shift in her wardrobe–and I mean more than a shift dress! (Har, har, that was really bad. Forgive me?)

I’m delighted by the prospect of being someone’s personal stylist–especially someone as fun as Ms. Gingersnaps–but a whole wardrobe re-do? That’s pretty daunting. So we’re tackling the mission one event at a time.

The first event? A work dinner that recently took place.

She needed a chic dress, a cardigan, and shoes. She has a great jewelry collection, so even though that would have been fun, we didn’t need to get into accessories at all. Here’s what we found one day at TJ Maxx:


va va va voom!

She was incredibly happy, and made my day when she called on her way to the dinner to tell me how fabulous she felt!

…and what does a stylist do while their client is changing? Why, she takes selfies, of course!


jeans: Old Navy; shirt: thrifted (no tag); shoes: Minnetonka; scarf: thrifted (no tag); bag: consignment (no tag); bracelets: One World Market

Sunscreen Rules!

28 May

It’s unofficially summertime (in the US)!!! Speaking of…did you guys see this article in the New York Times today?

Clarity on how sunscreen works and what all those numbers mean is something I’ve been talking blogging about for a while.

Here are some of the take-aways from the article that I think are particularly helpful (content copied from the article, my notes are Italicized):

  • Look for products with an SPF of 15 to 50, and that are labeled “broad spectrum protection,” meaning they protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Avoid sunscreen sprays. The F.D.A. has banned sunscreen powders (though some products may still be available) and has asked for more data on sprays. The concern is twofold: that not enough sunscreen makes it onto the skin, and that the spray may be inhaled into the lungs. [Enough sunscreen = 1 fluid ounce (the size of a golf ball)]
  • Avoid products with vitamin A, retinol or its derivatives, such as retinyl palmitate and retinyl acetate. At the moment, the F.D.A. says there isn’t enough evidence to suggest these are harmful, but the Canadian health authorities appear to be concerned that the additives increase sun sensitivity. [A lot of “skin tightening” creams (especially for your under-eye area) have retinol in them, so beware!]
  • Look for fragrance-free products. Scents bring more unnecessary chemicals and potential allergens to the mix.
  • Take endorsements and seals of approval with a grain of salt. The Skin Cancer Foundation gives a “seal of recommendation” to sunscreens, but only if their manufacturer has donated $10,000 to become a member of the organization. [I blogged about this a few years ago! Take a look at #4!]

Click here for more of my musings on sun protection, and stay safe this summer!

A response to a response to Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” campaign

17 Apr

My brilliant sister in-law linked to this blog post today. It’s a response to Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches campaign (you know, the thing I posted about yesterday).

I think it’s great. I did notice that the video celebrated a conventional definition of beauty. I also noticed that most of the women in the video were white. I’m annoyed that when people think of beauty they think of looks. And I’m enraged that we’re taught that looks are so important–sometimes (oftentimes) more important that confidence, strength, intelligence, gusto, creativity. All of the points made in the blog post are great and INCREDIBLY important.

But here’s the thing. This is a 6:36 Dove video we’re talking about. This is not a women’s studies course. It’s not a book. Broadening the scope of their experiment would be chaos. The explicit message is good (great, even). It’s the meta-messages that are upsetting.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a firm believer in making conscious, inclusive decisions across the board to invite change into societal standards–to change norms. That means videos like this certainly should include a more diverse group of women (and men!). The video also could have been edited with less of an emphasis (or no emphasis at all) on words like “skinny” and “thin” as (in jazzylittledrops‘ words) “implied positive” descriptors and crows feet, moles, scars, and fat as implied negative descriptors. Because who says that certain things are positive/beautiful and certain things are negative/ugly? (Society, that’s who! But anyway…)

So, what I’m saying (in circles) boils down to this: jazzylittledrops, YOU’RE RIGHT. But this Dove project can only do so much. And from what I can tell on my Facebook wall, it’s been very moving to a lot of women. I just hope they take it at face-value (ha!) like I did.

UPDATE: In my (beautiful, intelligent, creative) mom’s words, “If it makes us aware that we aren’t fair to ourselves, more power to it.” Well said.

You are more beautiful than you think.

16 Apr

This video is currently making the rounds on Facebook, but I had to share it here, too.

Dove does it again with their “Real Beauty” campaign, this time taking a fabulously artistic approach: a forensic artist sketches women based on how they describe themselves. Then, he sketches them again based on how a stranger describes them. How do you think the two sketches turned out and differed? See for yourself.

I teared up.

Whole30: FAQs

5 Apr

Arranged Vegetables Creating a Face

A few friends reached out to me during the process to express their interest in giving the Whole30 a try. But, since it’s rather intimidating, they had lots of questions. Here are some good/common ones:

Q: Is it hard?
A: Yes. But not that hard, and it got easier. During the first week or so, I would finish a meal and then panic, thinking, “Oh no! Was that compliant?” Of course it was. I planned and prepared all of my meals in advance (which is very hard for some). I was just terrified I’d forget that I was even doing a Whole30. For example, I made pico de gallo. I needed to taste it, and Richie had a bag of pita chips out, so I almost reached for a pita chip without even thinking! (Don’t worry–I used a spoon instead.)

And in the evenings, the dessert cravings were a little intense–especially during a particularly rough week (see my post on treats)–and lasted until around day 20. But, I got over it.

Q: What have you been craving?
A: Pizza (I had at least two pizza dreams), wine (I had one wine dream), peanut butter, cheese (of course), and crunchy things!!! Not that fresh bell peppers or sugar snap peas aren’t crunchy, but on one grocery run, I wanted every crunchy thing in the store, including every bag of chips. So I bought roasted hazelnuts; they’re amazing.

Q: Is Richie joining you for support?
A: No. It’s not that he’s not supportive (though eating all that peanut butter in front me wasn’t very nice), but Whole30 is vegetarian-unfriendly. It’s not impossible, but it’s very difficult. We mostly made separate meals, but for some meals, we made separate proteins.

Q: Have you been surprised about ingredients in anything?
A: Yes! Why does chicken need sugar? It doesn’t, but you’d be amazed how much has it added. Luckily, the Whole9 forum was incredibly helpful when it came to ordering lunch at chain restaurants (which I did at work a couple times). Did you know Panera has a secret menu? (It’s more Paleo, but you can make Whole30 adjustments.)

Q. What can you eat?
A: Lots of stuff! When out, I had a few bun-less burgers and lots of salads with grilled chicken. One of my favorite at-home meals was spaghetti (squash) and meatballs with homemade marinara and wilted spinach. I also rocked a few delicious curries (coconut milk SAVED me).

Q: No alcohol? Really?
A: Really. During the month, I went to a brewery’s birthday party, a concert, and a couple bars, and we even hosted a barleywine tasting at our place. I drank seltzer with lime and sometimes added a splash of berry juice. It was delicious! (Now I’m considering getting a SodaStream).

Q: Did you cheat?
A: No. Not on purpose, at least. At home, not at all. When out, there’s only so much you can do. I’m sure not all of the cooking oil was Whole30-compliant, and I wasn’t about to raid any kitchens. And I realized–a couple weeks in–that the tea I keep at work has soy lecithin in it, so I didn’t have it for the remainder of the challenge. You have to draw the line somewhere.

Q: What results have you seen?
A: Check out my results post here!

Q: Will you keep it up?
A: No! Well, not really. First, I need to reintroduce grains, dairy, beans, sugar, and alcohol one by one to see how they each affect me. But I already know I’m going to make it a point to consume very little sugar and alcohol. And maybe even dairy. Because as much as I love cheese, the truth is that I love good cheese, and I had lost sight of that, eating just any old cheese that came my way. That’s right: I was a cheese hussy.

Any other questions? Stay tuned for reintroduction posts (maybe) and recipe posts (definitely)!