This is the third installment of a periodical series in which I’m discussing the abbreviated goings-on in my world as of late. The verbs may change slightly from post to post depending on what I’ve been up to, but each one focuses on what I’ve been thinking about, doing, listening to, reading, eating, buying, etc. in hopes of spreading the word about new products or services or just corralling current thoughts or feels. So, here’s where I’m at in the world:
To my current favorite podcast, How I Built This from NPR. In the show's own words, it's "a podcast about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built. Each episode is a narrative journey marked by triumphs, failures, serendipity and insight." You'd recognize the brands as some of the most famous in the world, and it's impossible not to find each story fascinating and humbling. They're very story-like in nature (the host, Guy Raz, only interjects occasionally to ask a narrative-directing question) so you almost forget you're listening to an interview and get a great picture of how an idea came to be what it is today (and all the great fears, failures, and laughs along the way). A few recent favorites were about Tom's, Crate & Barrel, Airbnb, Kate Spade, and Warby Parker. If you're looking for something new to spark your inspiration or challenge your complacency, How I Built This is 100% your answer.
With The Ordinary skincare products. Up until last year, I had always struggled with acne. But a little over a year ago, my skin actually went ballistic for a few months without much explanation. I decided to try a pretty serious medicine for it, and it truly did take my acne away within about 5-6 months. So it’s only been since then that I’ve felt like I could concentrate on any facet of my skin besides acne prevention/treatment. I’m sure some of you can relate - I was so sick of reading about treatments to stave off wrinkles when the only thing I was concerned about was treating a horrendous breakout. Well anyway, for the past month or so I’ve been using this retinol in hopes of improving the condition of my skin and the scarring that is leftover from harsh blemishes. After initially adopting a “go big or go home” attitude (and investing in a $100 retinoid), my friend Michelle introduced me to this brand. I have to say, I love it. I wish I had taken pictures throughout to be able to better judge my improvement, if substantive, but the way it makes my skin look and feel after using it at night is worth it to me, regardless. My skin looks and feels noticeably brighter and smoother the days after I do my regimen (for the first time ever, I’ve been truly committed to doing the routine every single night), so much so that it’s even made me feel confident going to work without foundation on a few times (something I honestly haven’t done in six years). While I don’t believe there are any true miracle products for skin (all take time, none are perfect), I’ve really been enjoying my new skincare routine and am looking forward to trying several other products from the brand.
Teeth whitening. I recently googled teeth whitening kits and looked for ones with solidly positive reviews. I was surprised (and delighted) to see a highly rated one at an astoundingly low price point on Amazon. It took me .2 seconds to order it and I’ve been using it (very inconsistently) for the last couple of months. Although it’s not the most user-friendly -- I had to buy mouth guards to apply the whitener, and even so, I never have any clue how much I’m whitening which teeth, or how much is on my gums -- I just sorta go with it and hope for the best. (Is that bad?) Also, the whitener only sits on for five minutes or so, making it an extremely un-daunting task while washing my face or getting ready for bed.
Diffusing essential oils, which for the record is pretty out of character for me (holistic or natural is not exactly how I would describe myself or my habits). Anyway, this past winter, I came down with something that left me sicker than I’ve been in years. I completely lost my voice, had a swollen and uncomfortable throat alongside a sinus infection, and then coughed my head off for days, even after feeling better otherwise. Jon’s sister, Ashley, told me I should try diffusing eucalyptus and peppermint oil, and before I knew it, his mom brought me over the oils along with a diffuser. On top of it being the sweetest gesture, it has been such a relaxing and delightful ritual ever since, especially in our bedroom at night. I’ve always loved scented candles, but the cool, moist air that fills the room from a diffuser feels more therapeutic and pure, and I'm a total convert.
Art prints for our walls. My friend Mackenzie told me about the site Society6 after she ordered a few prints for her new gallery wall. I immediately fell in love with the site for its slightly edgier/kookier selection than my other go-to site, Minted. I tend to get a little paralyzed making wall art decisions, especially in our new house where we’ve basically hung nothing yet, but lately Jon has been like: let’s just HANG things! If we like something, let’s find a spot for it, and hang it, instead of planning ahead and agonizing over the big picture (no pun intended :). And it’s been really resonating with me. I love the idea of having a huge range of art in our house, regardless of whether it all fits a cohesive theme or an era or a color scheme. It feels cohesive enough that it’s all under our roof and all images we love for different reasons. It feels more authentic and more interesting to just say, I love this piece, so up it goes. I’m looking forward to all the different stories our walls will tell as more and more things are purchased and hung.
Doing five-minutes-or-less tasks right away, without thinking (i.e. making the bed, loading/unloading the dishwasher, wiping down the countertop, hanging my coat, laying out my work clothes the night before, folding the laundry). If a task will take me five minutes or less, I need to do it right away, without talking myself out of it. It is so satisfying to take care of little things as they happen instead of letting things pile up to become wayyy bigger than five minute tasks. It feels a bit nutty to type this out--the fact that it takes effort for me to do such tiny things in the course of a day is minorly staggering. But we all know the struggle is real. This way of looking at a small task makes it seem much more manageable and reasonable. One huge bonus is that we’ve realized our house is so much quicker to tidy up for last minute guests coming over, as opposed to our usual routine of cleaning for two-plus hours before entertaining.
Kombucha everything: on its own, as well as in “spritzer” form as a top-off to a glass of dry white wine. I have honestly kicked my unrelenting Diet Coke habit, thanks in no small part to kombucha. For those of you who don’t know, kombucha is fermented tea that contains live cultures of bacteria and yeast. It’s slightly effervescent, flavorful, and just sweet enough. It tastes a bit like sparkling juice, but with an added bitterness that I love. I’m obsessed. Although the drink has a pretty committed cult following that I now may or may not be a part of, and there are many alleged health benefits from consuming kombucha, there is also rhetoric that says there isn’t much evidential proof of such benefits in humans. Regardless, I’m going to keep enjoying it and hope that the anecdotal evidence will eventually reign supreme. My favorite two kinds are Gingerberry and Trilogy from GT’s Synergy brand.
Or, attempting to learn: literally anything/everything about yard work, gardening, and landscaping. We're building a patio in our backyard, and after that gets done, we'll have to commit to some serious landscaping, so I've been reading everything I can to try and gain some sort of understanding of the mysterious world of green things. For the first time in my life, I am not only a homeowner but also a yard owner, and to say I know nothing about grass/plants/green things is an understatement. It's an understatement because I'm also wildly intimidated, have no trust or faith in myself, and feel paralysis at the thought of where to begin. I just walk outside, look around, wonder why our yard looks terrible and has "cabbage" instead of grass as my friend Michelle put it, and then shrug my shoulders like it's one of the great wonders of the world. So, I'm trying to learn. PS: I just re-read this and sort of have self hatred, but I'm just being honest. Updates (hopefully) to come.
Looking forward to
A friend's idea of a summer dinner series. We want to have dinner together every week, but at a new place that we've all been wanting to try. It's easy to get in a restaurant rut, and this will ensure that we try new-to-us Rochester haunts on the reg. We're also still toying with the cookbook rendition of this club (where we try preparing different recipes from a new cookbook), or a new idea to assign a certain ethnicity or flavor profile each week and each contribute a dish to a potluck at someone's place. How fun does any or all of these ideas sound?! Also just this, always and forever. We're going to make some iteration of this happen in summer '17, and I can't wait.