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Spring and Summer To Do List

April 19, 2013

Summer List

Every year, as soon as the weather shows promise of getting remotely warm and sunny, I make a to-do list. When I was in elementary school, I made the list on the first day of summer vacation. This year, I started getting excited about all my warm-weather plans in about mid-February, so I made my list early.

-Rachel

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Color Study: Mint

February 15, 2013

This week, I looked in the mirror as I was putting on my mint-flavored lip balm with my eggshell blue fingernails, backdropped by my light green bathroom tiles. I realized that I have subconsciously been collecting every minty-colored item I can get my hands on lately.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been looking forward to springtime. Mint is a color for the changing of the seasons. It can be cold as ice one minute and sunny as a blue sky the next.

Mint Nails Stairs
IMAG0885 Mushrooms
IMAG0896 IMAG0883

-Rachel

How to Work 60+ Hours in 4.5 Days

January 29, 2013

On Friday I’ll be voyaging to Burlington, Vermont to spend a wonderful weekend with many friends who would make it onto my “top 25 favorite people” list, if I happened to have such a list. BUT, before I can kick back for the weekend, I must complete a very ambitious To Do list. It won’t be easy–there are going to be late nights and early mornings–but my reward will be a stress-free weekend in one of my favorite places on earth.

WorkThings I need to do between Monday morning and 3:30 on Friday afternoon:

  1. Work 40 hour week 
  2. Go to internship (7 hours plus travel time)
  3. Complete freelance assignments (between 8 and 16 hours)
  4. Finish blog post (1 hour)
  5. Go on two runs (1+ hour each)
  6. Job search and applications (1-5 hours)

Luckily (or–I guess–unluckily), this is not my first time pulling a red-eye work week in order to live large for a few days. It’s pretty standard fare for the breaking-into-publishing life here in Brooklyn, and at this point, I’m not intimidated by a few 15-hour days in order to do what I love. I know, it’s not necessarily healthy–I definitely don’t recommend doing this every week–but sometimes you just have to grab life by the collar and give it a good shake in order to remember you are alive and capable of incredible things. SO, here are my tips for completing the impossible in less than enough time.

  • Before the time comes for you to actually sit down and get to work, make sure you have prepared. Bake a lasagna, water your plants, download some podcasts (read our listening recommendations here), chop carrot sticks, and make sure you have enough pairs of clean underwear, because once you get going, there’s no time for pit stops. Also, make sure you have ice cream on hand; I’ll explain why later.
  • The next–and I believe most important–step is to get yourself into the proper mindset to complete the task at hand. Think of this project as a mission, not a chore. Envision yourself as a warrior, or space commander, or evil warlord, or whatever important-seeming persion you admire, and now pretend that this is the most important mission of your life. This is the week that people will make movies about. This is what your great-great grandchildren will remember you by. This is the project that will make history.
  • Now, make a very detailed plan. Don’t forget eating time, showering time, calling your mom time, and getting a bit of fresh air time. These are all important, and when you forget to plan for them, they can eat into your scheduled work time very quickly. Then–this is also very important–set your alarm clock according to your plan.
  • Okay, so now it’s day one of your work-a-thon and you’re starting out strong. How do you keep that momentum going? First, keep a glass of water next to you at all times. It’s amazing how much water you can drink absent-mindedly if it’s placed conveniently close by. Being hydrated will keep you feeling fresh longer.
  • Second, make sure to take stretch breaks every 1-2 hours. If you’re at a computer like me, that means stretching your eyes (use your farsighted vision for a minute by looking out the window or across the room) and your body (shoulder rolls and toe-touching are my two faves).
  • IMAG0848Third, practice cautious caffeine consumption. Especially if you’re a caffeine wimp like me, the last thing you want is to be lying wide-eyed in bed at midnight cursing that half a cup of English breakfast tea you had at seven (and dreading the long day of work ahead of you,) instead of resting up from the long day of work behind you. Even if you can handle your caffeine better than me, lay off the 5 Hour Energies (presumably five hours before you want to go to bed…)
  • Now let’s pretend you’re deep into the project. It’s day three, you’re exhausted, and the finish line is nowhere in sight. This is where we pull out all the stops. First, if your mind wants to work, but your eyes want to sleep, I have a useful, albeit strange-looking trick that has helped me push through my darkest hours. Soak a washcloth with water, ring it out, fold it lengthwise, and lay it over your eyes for 1-2 minutes. It’ll refresh your eyes and keep you from falling asleep on your keyboard.
  • If you’re still sleepy, up the stretch breaks to every 45 minutes.
  • Finally, when you hit your lowest of low points, it’s time to rummage around in the freezer and dig out that ice cream I mentioned in the first bullet point. Drizzle that baby with syrup, throw on nuts and frozen blueberries, and top it off with whipped cream. This is the dessert that is going to take you in sight of the finish line, so calories are not an issue right now. Enjoy that ice cream like you have never enjoyed ice cream before and then dive headfirst back into your work and push it to the end. Also, crank the epic music at this point. 

I’m well into my work week right now and should be going strong for a few more days. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes and feel free to post any of your best power-working tips–I’ll need all the help I can get!

Best (and Worst) of 2012 Natural Beauty Products Resolution

January 8, 2013

beauty

Last January, I announced that my resolution for 2012 was to only buy organic or as-close-to-natural-as-possible beauty products. I had watched Annie Leonard’s “Story of Cosmetics” and gotten freaked out by the ingredients in my products. I also found EWG’s Skin Deep, which is a database that rates the safeness of beauty products. (Spoiler alert: even expensive, crunchy granola cosmetics can have bad ratings.) Throughout the year, I have been trying all sorts of new cosmetics with varying degrees of success. So this is it, my final report on the best and worst natural beauty products used by me in 2012.

Product EWG Skin Deep Hazard Rating Review
Burt’s Bees Replenishing Lip Balm Low This stuff works.
Covergirl NatureLux Mascara Moderate Best mascara I have every owned. Doesn’t smudge or give me raccoon eyes. Ever.
EOS lip balm Low Was suspicious of the egg shape, but it’s actually really fun to use. Love it.
Garnier Fructis Pure Clean Conditioner Moderate Good smell. Haven’t used it long enough to be sure how I feel about it yet.
Kiss My Face Ultra Moisterizer Moderate Nice texture. Doesn’t feel greasy.
Lush Karma Solid Perfume Moderate Like the solid perfume idea, but it smells too much like incense and general hippiness.
Nature’s Gate lotion Moderate Meh. Works fine but not my fave. I like a thicker lotion consistency.
Organix Cherry Blossom Ginseng Conditioner Moderate NO! Their brand name is misleading–it’s not an organic product. Plus, the conditioner made my hair feel heavy and a little greasy. Wouldn’t buy again.
Sparitual Nail Polish No Info Love this polish. Wish there was more color selection.
Tate’s Odorless Nail Polish Remover No Info This stuff is magical. None of the toxic waste smell of normal polish remover. Costs a small fortune though, so use sparingly.
Tresemme Naturals Shampoo Moderate Works fine, but the scent changed slightly with time. (See below.)
Yes to Carrots Shampoo Moderate Same smell problem as Tresemme, but worse. Scent reminded me of a flea collar and had to throw the rest of it away. I loved it until it started to stink.

.

I’ve definitely changed my routine in the beauty aisle this year. And although I’m not convinced that all of the products I have purchased are significantly safer than my old ones, I’m glad that as a consumer, the dollars in my beauty budget have “voted” for greener, cleaner products overall.

I hope this list helps if you chose to navigate the challenging and often deceiving terrain of natural beauty products. And if you have tried any other products that you LOVE, please tell me about them!

-Rachel

NYC New Year: A Weekend in Photos

January 4, 2013

IMG_1191

I’ve had my fair share of lame New Year’s Eves with mom, dad, and a tv movie, but this year was not one of them. I had the pleasure of hosting three friends–Sam, Harry, and Meg–at my Brooklyn apartment. To be honest, I was a little nervous before everyone came, mostly because I was afraid of spending the whole weekend getting lost in Manhattan and secondly because I was afraid I would fail at conveying how cool my new home city is.

Sam Root Beer Float

root beer float

We started off with dinner at Seraghina–my neighborhood hipster pizza place–on Saturday night. On Sunday, we began with a brisk (I’m using this word to mean cold) walk across Brooklyn Bridge, and a wander through SoHo, TriBeCa, and Greenwich Village with frequent pop-ins to shops (like Pearl River Mart) to warm up. We also scored our first free sample of the weekend–some super spicy hot cider outside Bubby’s–before ditching half hour wait for the warmth of the great indoors at Ivy Bistro a block away. That’s where we got our next free sample–christmas cookies made by “the host’s motha”.

On Monday morning, we headed straight to Tom’s Diner in Brooklyn, which had a line out the door and around the corner. Since we were in better spirits, we stuck it out and were rewarded with orange slices, french fries, and pancakes, handed out to us by Tom’s token friendly old man (named Gus) while we waited for a table. Sam got a gorgeous root beer float which came with extra root beer on the side.

bocce ball court

bocce ball court

The most disappointing part of our trip was that the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Brooklyn Museum were both closed on New Year’s Eve. Bummer. After strolling Brooklyn’s fifth ave and accepting our final free sample–champagne at Habit boutique–Harry suggested we enter the fray in Times Square, just to get a peek at the crazy. We took the train to Penn Station and walked 25 blocks through the midtown insanity to end at Central Park. It took quite a bit of effort to stick together, but it was fun. At the worst crowds, we had to link arms and shoulder through.

We went back to my apartment in Brooklyn to thaw out for a while before heading to Union Hall (bocce ball bar with fun music and a healthy hipsters:prepster ratio) and The Gate (standard neighborhood dive). The night ended with fireworks in Prospect Park.

I was happy that I was able to show my friends some true New York moments. I gained some confidence about my own ability to navigate New York and feel more prepared to entertain the rest of the visitors that will be arriving on my doorstep later this month!

-Rachel

(Photos, as usual, by Sam. Except the photo of Sam, which is by me, of course.)

Brooklyn Bridge

Meg being cold on the Brooklyn Bridge

panarama from brooklyn bridge

cops, crowds, and crazy light-up glasses

Guest Post: Winter Workout Motivation

January 1, 2013

This guest post is written by my longtime friend, Brianne, who is a blogger and a fitness guru. She received her B.S. in Exercise Science and has experience in personal training and group fitness instructing. She recently started writing for Feather Magazine as a Health Writer.

Photo by timtak on Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by timtak on Flickr Creative Commons

Sometimes, even being the fitness guru I am, I get discouraged from working out because of the cold. To motivate myself, I usually crank my workout playlist, remember how I will feel afterwards, and know that if I don’t go workout, I will feel guilty. My favorite winter activity is alpine skiing. I may not be the best at it, but it is an excellent leg workout. Sometimes though, it’s hard to get to the mountains for an afternoon in the snow.

If you are one of those people who tend to gain weight during the winter due to lack of activity because of the cold weather, have no fear. Here are three reasons to get you going on your workout:

More Energy
Working out allows you to have more energy because you are putting stress on your body–a good type of stress. It tires you out which allows you to get the full night of sleep you need to recover, allowing you to be better rested in the ­morning. Also, the added stress means your body needs to adapt, giving you more energy.

Feeling Good
Working out releases endorphins which make you happier. It also makes you feel accomplished knowing you just did a workout that you didn’t know you could do before you started (or you didn’t really want to do.)

Accomplished
Lastly, you see gradual improvement in your time, effort needed, or weight lifted over days, weeks, or months You can be proud of your hard work and dedication! These all lead to a positive outlook on yourself. You don’t want to give up all this just because it’s colder!

-Brianne
Happy New Year all! Love, Sam & Rachel

Sam: Post Grad Life

November 20, 2012

Since graduation this May, I have since moved back home to Syracuse and am enjoying life with my family. While it wasn’t my original plan, it has proved to be beneficial. For one, I get to save a lot of money, which is handy since I am still trying to figure out what I want to do with life and just found a job this week! I am now a Human Resources Assistnat at Le Moyne College here in syracuse. I’ve made it through my first week and am still feeling great!  I couldn’t have asked for a better place to start my career path to top notch head hunter preferably in the gaming industry. ( I just cant imagine life not surrounded by gamers anymore thanks to Champlain.)

When I wasn’t scavenger hunting for jobs on the interwebs these past few months, I was crafting and refinishing furniture. Its been nice to have the free time to do some of the bigger crafts I’ve been dreaming of for a while and take advantage of the tools and space my parents have. It has been a little tough giving up all my own space  but have worked hard to make my room and basement (/party room) my own. (I will miss it when I am gone mom and dad!) Keeping photos of my friends and Harry around help a lot with the distance because I still get to see them everyday 🙂

My projects have given me something to do and kept me focused on big picture goals.  Some of my favorite projects I’ve done since being home are my potting bench and jewelry organizer. Normally my plants are outside enjoying the fresh air and sunshine but as per usual Syracuse weather gets too nasty for plants so I had to find a place for them inside where they could get some sun. I took some wood from some pallets we had laying around and drew up a plan and got to work with some help from my dad. I think it turned out great, definitely serves its purpose. I might add some hooks in the front to hang things like gloves, shovels, that sort of thing.

As for the jewelry organizer, it is made out of a type tray I found at the Syracuse Antique Exchange (there are four floors of amazing things in there!)  It was gross when I got to it and was suffering from smoke damage so I took it home, cleaned it really well, which proved to be more time consuming then I originally thought, put a fresh coat of stain on it, and added some cork to a few squares to hang earrings on.  They sell similar products on Etsy, but they were a little too expensive for my tiny budget so if you have access to an old type tray it is definitely worth the time to make it yourself.
List of projects shown below :

Top Row- Jewelry Organizer , Stack of wood I’m saving for future crafts, Plant stand

Bottom Row – Party room which includes- beer cap table, nifty light, refinished dresser.  In process- reupholstering the orange love seat.

I have this stack of wood I’ve been saving for a craft project, but I have no idea what to do with it. (pictured above center)  Any ideas?

Also if there is ever anything on here that you would like to make yourself and need more info from us on how to do so please ask we would love to help you out.

-Sam