Friday, January 30, 2015

Beat the Winter Hair Blues



My thin, baby fine hair is hard enough to manage on a good day, but in the winter?  Nearly impossible.  It's dry, brittle, and charged with enough static electricity to hurt someone.  I'm no expert, but I think I've learned a trick or two over the years when it comes to battling a sad winter hair situation.

1. Turn on the humidifier
My first method of defense is always to run the humidifier during the night when I'm sleeping.  The added moisture in the air will keep that annoying hair static at bay, and the added benefits for your throat and sinuses are a major plus.

2. Replace your regular conditioner with a moisturizing hair mask
My regular hair washing routine is to shampoo every two to three days with daily conditioning, but I find that even that isn't enough during a dry, Indiana winter.  Replacing my regular conditioner with a deep moisturizing hair mask - I use the Macadamia Oil Deep Repair - two to three times a week really helps keep my hair looking shiny and healthy all winter long.

3. Use a hard plastic detangling brush or comb
This trick is a new development, but I could not speak more highly about my detangler.  Normally I would use a wide-tooth comb on wet hair and switch to my beloved Sonia Kashuk paddle brush once dry, but it just wasn't working anymore.  Every swipe of the brush left my hair standing on end and the paddle crackling with the sound of static.  So when I decided to make the switch and try a plastic detangler (mine is the Michael Mercier brand), and it flowed through my hair without a snag or spark...well, I assumed wizards were behind it.  Magic is the only reasonable explanation here.

4. Apply a light weight healing oil or serum
Because I have very fine hair, I don't like to use a lot of product and weigh it down.  A quick spritz of heat protectant usually does the trick, but I find that the dry winter months call for a little something extra.  I like to apply a small amount of Macadamia Healing Oil on the days that things are feeling particularly frizzy and unmanageable.

5. Invest in an ionic hair dryer
Ionic dryers help water evaporate faster, which leads to a quicker dry time and less damage.  I don't love blow drying my hair everyday, but the winter is not the time to go walking around with wet hair. I've already had pneumonia three times.  Testing the hands of fate is not on my to-do list.

And that's it!  If you try any of these tips and they work for you, please let know in a comment below. Also, be sure to tell me what your favorite products for battling dry, static hair days are...I always love to try something new!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Piña Kale-ada Smoothie



I once boldly stated, "Everyone needs to stop lying to themselves.  Kale is gross.  It will never not be gross."  And then just recently, I posted a broccoli-based guacamole recipe because "a dish is instantly ruined for me if there is even a hint of avocado."  Well, I want to retract those statements and apologize to my green friends.  I can admit when I am wrong, and this was one of those cases.

The piña kale-ada smoothie is so much more than a fun name, and it's all due to its ingredients. Pineapple is a great source of manganese and vitamin C, which is excellent for blood sugar control as well as your bone and skin health.  The avocado adds a creaminess factor, but it is also jam packed with healthy fats you simply can't get anywhere else.  Next we have kale, which is a bonafide superfood that speaks for itself.  And finally, with the addition of the protein powder of your choice - I use an organic plant-based protein called Perfect Fit - your smoothie will be ready to build, repair, and maintain muscle after any workout.  All you have to do is blend, drink, and enjoy!

Ingredients

1 cup almond milk
2 handfuls of kale
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1 frozen banana
1/2 of a ripe avocado
1 scoop of vanilla protein powder (I use Perfect Fit)

This recipe was adapted from the Anytime Fitness blog.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Folded Light Art



Even after nearly four years of design education, one of my favorite projects is still the folded light art piece I made during my first semester.  The design process was rough - it was the first project to make me cry - but I also gained a strong appreciation for trial and error.  I learned to not be afraid to try ideas (no matter how crappy they are), and that the solution might be hidden in places you didn't even think to look.

The end product, which I call Kaleidoscope, is constructed from recycled, cotton paper and uses modified folding techniques from the six-piece lotus origami.  The twenty-four resulting modular units come together to create a captivating silhouette that exhibits the interplay of light and shadow. Since its creation, the Kaleidoscope has been featured in the IUCA+D gallery and was invited to exhibit at the 2013 International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City.  Given the opportunity to have those amazing experiences and finally have the mindset that I just may be a competent designer after all, is it any wonder that this project is still so near and dear to my heart?

The New Trend in Water


In case you haven't heard, there is a new trend rising in the health community...and that trend is blackwater.  I discovered blackwater during my last shopping trip, when I spotted its sleek black bottle design standing out in a crowd of colorful juices.  Naturally, like a moth to flame, I had to check it out.  According to the label, "Trace Blackwater is an oxygen-rich, multi-mineral water that tastes just like pure water, despite the fact that it's jet black." Wait, what?  Sure enough, the bottle was not black like I had initially assumed...it was the water.  Slightly off-putting (seriously, it's black water), but I decided to purchase it anyway.  I'll try anything once.

Blackwater's dark color comes from the addition of fulvic acid, produced by the biodegradation of organic matter.  Sounds delicious, right?  One would think that our soils - and consequently our vegetables - would be rich with such a mineral, but poor agricultural practices have led to its depletion over the years.  That's the claim anyway.

As for its health benefits, the TRACE company has this to offer:

  • Fulvic minerals are super-carriers of various critical minerals, which can move up to 60 times their weight's worth of minerals into the body's cells
  • Fulvic minerals consist of over 65% oxygen, which fuels muscle activity, reduces muscle fatigue and lactic acid build up, and improves recovery rate
  • Fulvic minerals are the best electrolytes known to man, regulating hydration and micro-electrical cell activity
  • Fulvic acid dissolves silica and carries it to our joints and tendons, which means there's more collagen available for building stronger joints
  • Fulvic acid is a highly effective antioxidant as it is uniquely capable of neutralizing both negative and positive charged free radicals

Oh, and it also cures hangovers.  What doesn't it do?

The company's website makes many more claims about "fueling and healing," stating the consumption of blackwater replenishes depleted muscles and reduces post-performance pain. It all sounds well and good, and one might even be convinced to start drinking this stuff by the bucketful...but is it really all it's cracked up to be?  Health experts and dietitians don't think so.  

Fulvic acid is not required in humans, and there is no scientific evidence that fulvic acid additives enhance the nutritional benefits of water in any way, shape, or form.  Drinking it won't hurt you and it looks pretty cool, but it's really more of a fancy gimmick than the "miracle" it claims to be.  I give the TRACE company kudos for their design and marketing strategies, but I think I'll stick with my clear (and free) tap water for now on.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Matter of Time



Watches.  No one really needs them, they tend to be seriously expensive, and it's impossible to find the perfect fit...and yet, watches remain my favorite accessory.  In my opinion, wristwatches are so much more than just a functional and fashionable piece of jewelry.  They make a statement about who we are, and a bold, elegant watch can instantly transform a casual college student into a lady that means business.  Watches are the ultimate power accessory.

My appreciation for watches began with my step-dad.  Being the type of guy that rarely dresses in something fancier than a t-shirt, carpenter jeans, and a trucker hat, I think people would be surprised to know that he owns a fairly large collection of beautiful timepieces.  He is a man with great taste and an attention for detail.  His watches reflect that.  Also, he always knows what time it is.

Joking aside, I think I will always associate a classic wristwatch with my step-dad.  In a way, it is almost symbolic.  Time is just as reliable and dependable as he has always been since entering my life, and maybe that is why I developed a stronger interest in watch collecting after leaving home. Could it be that I wanted to carry a reminder of him wherever I go and always feel that sense of security I've come to know with him?  Possibly.  I'm not completely certain.  But one thing I can say without a shadow of a doubt is that having survived centuries of fashion trends, the traditional wristwatch is the definition of timeless...and timelessness never goes out of style.

Shown left to right: Michael Kors Chain Bracelet Chronograph, Fossil Riley Multifunction in White, Michael Kors Show Stopper Chocolate Tortoise Chronograph

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Glamorously Unglamorous Life

"When I was 22, I hopped on a plane to New York City, off to pursue my destiny and sure that I'd never look back.  This is my story of looking back.  Of a journey that took a whole new meaning and purpose.  A year in New York City.  A year of discovering the best and worst parts of myself.  A year of learning the lessons that you can only learn the hard way."



If I had to pick one book to recommend to Millennials preparing to graduate college, relocate to a new city, or standing on the precipice of making a major life change, it would be A Glamorously Unglamorous Life by Julia Albain.  The book's format of combining personal journal entries with written reflection flows seamlessly, creating a story that is both inspirational and entertaining. The first time I read this book, I was struggling with the decision to change my major at college and whether or not I was prepared to start all over from the beginning.  Julia's story played a large part in convincing me to go with my gut, and her positive spin on challenging situations is something that I'm always working to apply in my own life.  Now that I'm in my final semester and graduation is quickly approaching, I thought it would be interesting to return to the book that played such a big role in fixing my mental headspace when I needed it most.  And while so many of its words have stuck with me over the years, I found another line in the book that really stood out this go-around:

"What does this moment have potential for?  We may not be exactly where we want to be in terms of career, relationships, financial assets, etc; but the moment we are in most certainly may be the launching point for something greater."

This is so relevant to where I am in life right now.  Being 24 years old and a 6th year college senior, I often compare myself to those who are younger and far more successful than I might ever become. It's just one perk of my wonderful, hypercompetitive personality.  So when I read Julia's discussion of not obsessing over the here and now, but looking outward to see where the here and now can take us, it resonated.

The book isn't perfect.  This was her first work, and as an independently-published book, it has some grammatical errors that could be bothersome to those who aren't willing to look beyond the imperfections and enjoy a good story.  However, if you are willing to look beyond its flaws, you may find that this short and easy read is as imperfectly perfect as life is glamorously unglamorous.

You can buy A Glamorously Unglamorous Life here and here.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Creamy Broccoli Guacamole



No matter how delicious a dish looks, it is instantly ruined for me if there is even a hint of avocado present.  I don't know why.  I've tried time and time again to enjoy avocado, but my taste buds aren't having it.  This is a real #firstworldproblem if I've ever heard one, so when I found a recipe for broccoli-based guacamole on Pinterest a couple years back, it was the perfect solution to my avocado conundrum.  Not only did it turn out delicious, but the recipe was so idiot-proof even I couldn't mess it up.  In fact, it's simplicity has made it a go-to favorite when I'm craving a crunchy, salty snack that won't leave me feeling bloated and self-loathing afterward, and that's a win in my book any day.

Ingredients

3 cups chopped broccoli
1 jalapeno, chopped with seeds removed
2 tbsp green onion
1 tsp olive oil
2 oz. fat free cream cheese
¼ tsp chili powder
1 tbsp cilantro
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder

Directions

To begin, cook the chopped broccoli in lightly salted water until soft.  The recipe suggests overcooking the broccoli in comparison to the al dente cooking most recipes recommend.  In the meantime, chop the jalapeno pepper and green onion.  Once the broccoli is cooked, drain it well and transfer to a food processor or blender with the remaining ingredients.  Process until smooth and chill to desired temperature. Suggestion: serve with pita chips.