Black Lives Matter: Resources To Become A Better Ally

Racism is a problem in America all the time—just not when it’s a trending hashtag. Below you’ll find a compilation of organizations you can donate to, petitions you can sign, resources you can learn from & ways you can be a better ally.

ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR IMPLICIT BIASES

This is a widely-used tool developed by researchers to measure thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control.

RESOURCES YOU CAN DONATE TO

TO THE VICTIMS

George Floyd Memorial Fund

Ahmaud Arbery

TO THE PROTESTORS

Minnesota Freedom Fund

Louisville Community Bail Fund

Atlanta Solidarity Fund

TO END POLICE BRUTALITY

National Police Accountability Project

Communities United Against Police Brutality

OTHER WORTHY CAUSES/ORGS

Black Lives Matter

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Reclaim the Block

The Bail Project

Black Visions Minnesota

North Star Health Collective

Loveland Foundation Therapy Fund

Campaign Zero

ACLU

PETITIONS YOU CAN SIGN

Justice for George Floyd

Justice for Breonna Taylor

Justice for Ahmaud Arbery

Arrest All Four

Raise the Degree

LEARNING RESOURCES

PODCASTS

Radio Replay: Mind of the Village

Seeing White

#TellBlackStories 

Code Switch

About Race

Still Processing

BOOKS

How to Be an AntiRacist by Ibram X. Kendi

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

Beyond the Pale: White Women, Racism & History by Mikki Kendall

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson

Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice by Paul Kivel

The Emporer Has No Clothes: Teaching About Race and Racism to People Who Don’t Want to Know by Tema Okun

MOVIES

13th 

When They See Us

TL;DR

White people, we have to hold each other accountable. When we encounter racism, we have to speak up and confront it. Educate yourself, do research, ask questions, influence the people in your own life—but don’t be silent.

*I will continue to update this post on a rolling basis

 

 

Amazon Finds to Help You Stay Clean & Organized

I really detest clutter. Now that I’m both living and working in the same space 24/7, it’s imperative to me that I take care of it. I’ve really been trying to cleaner, more organized and less wasteful recently. Here are some Amazon purchases that have helped me!

Drillbrush Bathroom Surfaces Power Scrubber Cleaning Kit

This one might seem kind of weird but, honestly, it’s some of the best money I’ve ever spent. I have an older bathtub that perpetually looks kind of grungy (I’m pretty sure it needs to be reglazed) no matter how hard I scrub (I’m not very strong, so I’m not scrubbing that hard, let’s be real LOL). This takes literally zero elbow grease to use and makes my shower look cleaner than it ever has. I can’t wait to try the other attachments to clean my floors.

Takeya Patented Deluxe Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker

I purchased an expensive Nespresso coffee maker this past winter and while I do enjoy a nice homemade latte, I just prefer iced coffee. Since coffee shops are operating on limited hours and I’m trying to limit the amount of unnecessary trips, I found myself buying between 2-4 bottles of iced coffee every time I placed a grocery order, which a) is expensive and b) takes up a ton of space in my fridge. I ended up buying this at home cold brew maker to save money and fridge space. This ended up paying for itself in about a week. Highly recommend!

2 Pack 24 Cell Drawer Organizer

If there was one drawer in my entire house that needed to be organized and decluttered, it was my underwear drawer. Let’s be honest—there is no good way to fold underwear. That means that I just throw my underwear in the drawer all willy nilly and then I can never find what I’m looking for. It doesn’t help that I have apparently held on to every single bra and/or pair of underwear I’ve ever owned,  as well as storing random pieces of mail (why??) and random spare buttons that come with shirts in there. I took everything out and decluttered. Now everything is wonderfully organized and I feel much better about my underwear drawer (and my life).

12 Pack Silicone Stretch Lids for Cans/Bottles/Bowls

Full disclosure, I bought these because I saw another blogger (hey, Erins Inside Job!) share them. I hate tin foil. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. And for that reason, whenever I open a can, I typically end up throwing away whatever I don’t use. I know that is really shitty and awful of me and 

4 in One Drawer Organizer Stackable Jewelry Accessory

Like I said, I’m trying to be more organized. I own/wear a ton of jewelry and I have no organization system whatsoever, which results in me panicking and thinking I’ve lost something at least once a week. In a recent YouTube video, Allana Davison (allanarama) 

Shared her jewelry collection which was organized in the most beautiful, chic way in a drawer, safe and out of sight. This forced me to clean yet another drawer, so it was a win/win really. Now all my jewelry is safe and sound and in (mostly) one spot.

Shark Genius Hard Floor Cleaning System

If I had to choose a favorite recent purchase from this list, it would be this. I am obsessed with this and I wish I had known about it and bought it sooner. I used to use a regular ol’ Swiffer and when I was feeling really saucy a la Monica Gellar, I would get on my hands and knees and scrub my floor with a Scotch Brite scouring sponge. I really never felt that the Swiffer did much, plus the disposable pads are not environmentally friendly. This is so much easier and faster and makes your floors so wonderfully clean—and it comes with reusable, washable pads! Honestly, I can’t recommend this enough.

How do you stay organized and on top of household chores? Let me know!

How to Save Money When Shopping Online

There was a time when I didn’t want to shop online because I was wary about using my credit card on the internet for ~security~ reasons. Fast forward about 10 years and I basically place Amazon orders in my sleep and have all my credit card information saved in my browser.

If you, like me, have been doing a little too much online shopping during the quarantine, you might as well be earning cashback on it. I know that earning discounts by shopping online might sound too good to be true, but trust me. I spend money like I’m in an entirely different tax bracket, so I have to at least be smart about my shopping habits in some aspects, LOL.

HONEY

Honey is a free browser extension that scours the web to find every working promo code on the internet for you to use upon checkout. If you’ve ever paused checking out to Google “X promo code,” you need this. It works at over 28,000 different online retailers, including Target, Amazon, Sephora and more—including restaurants. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been checking out and saved a couple bucks because Honey found a coupon code I didn’t know existed. The other day, Honey found me a magical code that saved me TWENTY DOLLARS on a necklace at BaubleBar. That is impressive.

Also, I just learned this right now while writing this blog—you accumulate Honey Points that you cash in for gift cards to your favorite retailers. I apparently have 1,100 Honey Points which means I can get a gift card to any of my favorite places which are, of course, Sephora, Target and Amazon.

honey gift cards

Honey works on Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera. To download, go to their website and follow the directions. According to Honey, the average user saves $126 dollars annually, while the average savings is 17.29%.

Screen Shot 2020-04-21 at 1.51.19 PM

One of my favorite things about Honey is the “Save to Droplist” feature. It allows you to keep track of the items that you’re shopping for and will alert you if that product goes on sale within the next 60 days.

RAKUTEN

There are numerous ways to use Rakuten, but I think it’s the easiest to use the browser extension so that you’re automatically notified if the store you’re shopping at is one of the site’s participating retailers. I’ve been a member of Rakuten (formally known as eBates) since 2017.

welcome

For instance, right now during Sephora’s Spring Sale, you can save anywhere from 10-20% (based on whether you’re a Rouge, VIB or Beauty Insider) AND get an additional 2% back from Rakuten. If you don’t use it, you’re literally throwing money away.

In addition to giving you cashback on the purchases you were going to make anyway, Rakuten compares prices and will tell you if the item that you’re looking at is available somewhere else for less money. For instance, I was looking at this cat groomer on Amazon and I got a little popup letting me know that I could save 10 cents if I purchased the same item from Petco. Obviously, in this case, 10 cents is a negligible difference. However, when making larger purchases, this comes in really useful.

cat groomer

MSUFCU PLATINUM PLUS CREDIT CARD

Another one of my favorite cashback hacks is using my MSUFCU Platinum Plus credit card. The first credit card that I ever got was from a credit union in Jackson and didn’t offer cashback, just rewards in the form of random items (it’s how I got my first vacuum, actually LOL) and gift cards—which, admittedly, is kind of fun doesn’t hold the same appeal as cash back.

I earn 3% cashback on all the purchases I make using my MSUFCU credit card and I love when I log in to my MSUFCU app every month and see the amount that I’m getting back. It’s like being rewarded for shopping (and paying bills, buying groceries, yadda, yadda, yadda).

I know there are likely other credit cards that offer more cashback/other perks but I have had such a wonderful experience with MSUFCU and, to be honest, I prefer to keep my money (the little bit I do have) in a local institution, especially one that gives back to the community the way that MSUFCU does.

ARRIVE

This doesn’t actually save you money but it helps you keep track of when all your online orders are arriving. It is amazing and I wish that I had known about this sooner. It’s a free app available on both iOS and Google Play that gives you accurate and timely updates on everything you order, across all online retailers. You literally get step-by-step notifications from checkout to delivery.

IMG_9762

 

TL;DR

If you’re just making online orders and not checking prices or getting cashback, what are you doing? Sign up for Honey and Rakuten and make your dollar go farther.

For example, if I’m shopping the Sephora sale right now, I’m getting 20% off at Sephora, 2% cashback with Rakuten, 3% back from MSUFCU and 1-4% with Honey, meaning I’m getting somewhere between 26 and 29% cash back. Insane!

This post is not sponsored (even though I wish it were), however, we both get something from both Honey & Rakuten if you use the links to sign up. Happy shopping 🙂

Not-Sexy Everyday Essentials

It’s no secret that I’m high-maintenance. From hair appointments, lash extensions, bi-weekly nail appointments and regular visits to my esthetician, there’s a lot of time and effort that goes into looking this mediocre.

Copy of Green and White Business Advisory Coronavirus Awareness Instagram Post

It’s also not a secret that I love the finer things in life and am not afraid to splurge on a luxe product in the name of treating myself. If that’s the list you’re looking for, this ain’t it. These are the basic products that I use that are not sexy or luxe, they just keep me functioning like a normal, hygienic human on a daily basis. Read on for more.

AmLactin Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion

My biggest pet peeve with lotion is when it doesn’t absorb quickly enough and you have to walk around pantless for an hour with sticky skin. There is nothing sexy about this lotion, but it absorbs really quickly and leaves your skin silky smooth. It contains AHA, so in addition to hydrating your skin, it also exfoliates. I got mine at Costco, but you can also buy at Target and on Amazon.

Diamond White Replacement Toothbrush Heads

My electric toothbrush remains one of my top five gifts that I was ever given. My teeth feel so much cleaner when I use an electric toothbrush versus a traditional, manual toothbrush, but the only caveat is the cost of replacement heads. I found these on Amazon that fit on my Sonicare toothbrush but cost a fraction of the price of normal name brand replacements. I’ve been using these for years now and love them. I can’t say enough good things.

Meijer Men’s Precision Fit 5 Razors

This is the best razor that I have ever used. Forget all the aesthetically pleasing razors that have unlimited budgets for Instagram ads—they aren’t worth your money. As one of the hairiest humans to ever walk the planet, I have tried every razor known to man. This is the only one that I will buy. It’s the smoothest shave I’ve ever gotten and contours to every curve on your body.  I’m fairly certain that I could shave Kramer with this razor if I really wanted to. I’ve had the same handle for over 2 years and just buy the replacement blades, which is much better for the environment than the disposable razors I was using before.

Wet Brush Epic Professional Deluxe Detangler

I have really long, fine hair—and I have a ton of it. That’s basically a recipe for disaster because my hair gets so tangly, so fast. I have started sleeping with my hair in either a bun or a braid every night to help mitigate some of the snarls, but even so, I need a good brush to help brush it out in the morning. This is the best hairbrush that I’ve ever used. I have two of them, one that I keep in my office or backpack and one that I keep at home. It’s no Mason Pearson brush, but it gets the job done.

Megababe Bust Dust

The weather is warming up and, assuming that we’re ever able to leave our houses again, we’ll be dealing with boob sweat before you know it. Is there anything less sexy than boob sweat? Probably not. But if ya have tiddies, you probably deal with it.

While this is marketed specifically for women & boobs, you could really use it anywhere that you want to keep dry. If you’ve ever found yourself putting baby or talcum powder on any skin that might rub together, please stop because some studies indicate it may make you at greater risk for cancer. If you want to stay dry and prevent chafing, this is a good investment to make—for men and women alike.

Tounge Scraper

I don’t know that this is medically necessary, but I like having a clean mouth and I also love a good gadget, so I bought this from Amazon on a whim. I feel like it does a good job of scraping your tongue and at the very least, it has the placebo effect of me believing that I’m doing something good for my oral hygiene.

Just for Men Mustache & Beard Dye

If you think I’m joking about this, I’m not. I use this to tint my eyebrows at home and have been doing so for at least 3-4 years now. I have my eyebrows microbladed now, so I don’t do this as often as I used to, but I have definitely done it since being quarantined simply because I have nothing better to do. I have used demi-permanent color from Sally’s and a level 10 developer before, but this is much easier. It comes with the color, the developer. You mix the two together, and apply with a slanted eyebrow brush. Leave on for 15-20 minutes, wipe off with warm soapy water and voila! Perfect, tinted at home eyebrows.

*This is an off label use. Tint your eyebrows at your own risk, knowing that if you get this in your eye you can cause permanent damage to your vision. Please don’t sue me.

At-Home Waxing Kit

I’m very open about the fact that I’m extremely hairy. Not like, in a medical way, just thanks to my Hispanic heritage. I’ve had this waxing kit for probably 8+ years? But you don’t need the entire kit, because it comes with a lot of stuff that isn’t necessary. If you’re interested in waxing yourself at home, you’ll need a warmer and some wax, as well as the applicators.

I’ve been doing my eyebrows at home for a long, long time. I have used this to wax my legs and other things, but I prefer to primarily use this for my eyebrows. I use these wax beads, which harden and don’t require any fabric to pull off. This wax is also great for sensitive skin, so if you’re someone that tends to break out after being waxed this is a great option. I also use these petite wax applicators for precise application to the eyebrow area.

TL;DR

Boob sweat, body hair, mustache dye, tongue scraping—I told you there was nothing sexy about this list, but these are products that I use on a regular basis and always repurchase. What are some of the non-sexy products that you use on a regular basis?

My Favorite Places to Shop Small in #LoveLansing

It’s Small Business Saturday! Did you know that small businesses drive more than 40% of America’s economy? In fact, for every dollar spent at a small business in the U.S., approximately 67 cents stays in the local community. Here are my favorite places to shop small in #LoveLansing.

Aesthetics Med Spa 

If I were to compile a list of the best decisions I ever made, setting up an appointment with Jennifer Edwards at Aesthetics Med Spa is definitely at the top of that list. I’ve written multiple blogs about it, but Jennifer has changed my skin and, as a result, my life. I have had microneedling, Secret RF, TruSculpt iD, chemical peels, the Forever Young BBL with Skintyte, Botox lip flips, and more.

In addition to the in-office treatments I’ve had done at Aesthetics, I’ve also started using medical grade skincare that Aesthetics sells. I love skinbetter science, and Revision Skincare, both of which are only available under the supervision of a doctor—which Aesthetics is.

For Black Friday/ Small Business Saturday/ Cyber Monday, Aesthetics Med Spa is having a bunch of special promos, including 20% TruSculpt iD + an additional $200 off, $25 off any BBL service of $300 or more, 20% of all skincare products (this literally NEVER happens!) and 30% off all Jane Iredale products.

East Lansing Threads

I don’t venture to downtown East Lansing very often but when I do, it’s to pop into East Lansing Threads (or Foster Coffee, but more on that later). East Lansing Threads was voted the best clothing store in East Lansing and carries a number of brands like Kendra Scott, Vineyard Vines and Free People. If you’re shopping for a young person (or are a young person), you’ll definitely want to pay them a visit. 

EL Threads is also having some awesome sales this weekend, including 70% off mens clothing, 50% off ALL handbags, 50% off ALL accessories, 50% off ALL denim and 25% off ALL jackets. 

Retail Therapy

I love Retail Therapy, and I love what they stand for. All of the clothing available at Retail Therapy is responsibly sourced, with the vast majority of clothing being cut to order and fair trade. Celeste, the owner, is not just focused on curating timeless, unique, artisan-made clothing and accessories—she does so in a way a very intentional and conscious way. .If you’re in the market for timeless and chic clothing, or specifically looking to shop Magnolia Pearl, Lack of Color, or Quay Australia, Retail Therapy is your destination

Arched by Allie

Arched by Allie is located in Owosso, so slightly outside of #LoveLansing proper, but I had to include her. If you’re interested in getting your eyebrows microbladed, I can’t recommend her enough. I recently had my eyebrows microbladed by Allie and I can’t say enough good things about the process, the results, or Allie herself. 

Foster Coffee Company

Ah, I love Foster Coffee Company. My friend Andrea introduced me to the OG Foster in Owosso a few years ago and I was instantly in love. I was thrilled when I found out that Foster was coming to EL and their new space is absolutely to die for. Not only is the East Lansing location so cozy, so inviting and so conveniently located—the owners are wonderful people and their mission & vision makes my heart sing. Fosters mission is simple but poignant: to “foster communities through coffee.” They do this by partnering with other local businesses, non-profit organizations, and civic entities in order to create overlapping networks that serve people and build stronger relationships within the community.  In short, they’re great people doing wonderful things to bring others together in a meaningful way. 

If you have a coffee lover in your life, I highly suggest picking up a Foster Coffee Company gift card as a quick Christmas gift—and maybe grab one for yourself while you’re at it. Plus, if you’re stopping at Foster, you might as well walk over to Threads and peek around!

Katie Dean Jewelry

Here’s the deal: Katie Dean Jewelry might not be made in Lansing (it’s handmade in California) but Katie was born and raised in mid-Michigan and still comes back to visit. In fact, she’ll be here next month at a pop-up with East Lansing Threads! She makes the most gorgeous dainty, feminine jewels that you’ve ever seen and she is also the sweetest, most genuine person I’ve ever met. I truly can’t say enough good things about her or her business.

Katie is running an insane sale this weekend, where everything on her site is 30% off (no code needed). On top of that awesome deal, you can also get a super cute blush pink jewelry case for FREE on orders of $75 or more. All you need to do is enter the code GIFT at checkout. 

Megan Emmons Lashes

If you’re interested in lash extensions, Megan Emmons is a lash queen. She’s been doing my lashes for a few months now, and I can’t say enough good things about her. I’m constantly complimented on my lashes and how good they look. I’ve recently had two friends go visit Megan based on how much they love my lashes, and they have raved to me about how much they love them. Getting lash extensions is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. They make my life so much quicker and easier and it’s so nice to wake up looking at least somewhat put together. If you’re interested in booking an appointment with her, you can DM her on Instagram

Old Town General Store

I’m such a sucker for anything made in Michigan or related to Michigan. Every time I need to grab a gift for someone, I head over to the Old Town General Store and grab something Michigan-themed, whether it’s a pint glass, a t-shirt, a card, a candle, or a  Michigan-made snack or bottle of wine. I even bought a Petoskey stone there once! If you’re looking for unique holiday gifts, the Old Town General Store should be your first stop.

Curvaceous Lingerie

As someone with boobs, finding a bra that fits is a necessity. For the longest time, I squeezed myself into bras that didn’t fit because I a) wanted to shop with my friends at Victoria’s Secret and b) wanted to buy & wear cute bras. The first time I went to Curvaceous I got fitted for a bra and was amazed to find out that the bra I was about a million sizes too small, in both the cups and the band. Having a bra that fits right has made all the difference in how I feel throughout the day (i.e., no more tiddies spilling out in every direction) and also, in how my clothes fit! I love, love, love, that Curvaceous is size-inclusive so whether you’re looking for small sizes or plus sizes (in bras AND lingerie) they have you covered.

Van Atta’s Greenhouse & Flowershop

If you know me, you’ll know that I LOVE plants. Recently, someone asked me how many plants I had and I guessed 25. I went home and counted and realized I have 62. SIXTY TWO! If you’re in the market for some plants, I highly suggest stopping at Van Atta’s. They have a ton of plants, including tropicals and cacti, and a very knowledgeable and friendly staff. 

Dear Ollie

I’ve never personally met Sara from Dear Ollie, but I absolutely love her work. I LOVE sending/giving people cards and handwritten notes but I prefer for them to be funny/witty/have some kind of random pop culture reference and she just kills it with every single illustration. She is an incredibly talented illustrator and if you share my love of cards and gifts, I’d suggest checking her out. 

Strange Matter Coffee

You might be thinking, “wasn’t there already a coffee shop on this list?” Yes! But that’s okay because there’s room for everyone. I LOVE Strange Matter. I have had countless coffee meetings at Strange Matter, both professional and personal. They have bomb ass donuts, amazing lattes, and great Instagram photo ops, if you’re into that sort of thing. I love that they carry Lansing Facts merch, because I’m a big #LoveLansing nerd and I wear that label proudly. I also love that they support local artists and creatives, including hosting an annual Super Best Holiday Extravaganza Eleganza to kick off the holiday season and support small, independent and local on Small Business Saturday. 

TL;DR

When we shop small and invest our money back into our local communities, everyone wins. Where are you shopping small today? Let me know in the comments!

Five Ways to Practice Self-Care That Cost Zero Dollars

Self-care is supposed to be anything that we deliberately do to care of ourselves—whether physically, emotionally or mentally. At its core, self-care is a pretty basic idea, but for some reason, it’s become an indulgent, over-the-top practice that’s only associated with fancy (read: expensive) things. As a beauty blogger, I obviously love a good face mask or mani-pedi and admit that, because I enjoy those things, they do make me feel better. But I’ll also admit that I’ve never applied a face mask only to wash all my problems away with it thirty minutes later.

Associating self-care with luxury makes it feel out of reach for a lot of people. If your idea of self-care is a face mask and a CBD bubble bath, there’s no judgment here. But taking care of yourself and prioritizing your mental health doesn’t have to come with a steep price tag. As the holidays approach, I wanted to put together a list of ways to practice self-care that are entirely free of charge.

Clean your house

Whenever I’m in a funk, the first thing I do is stop cleaning my apartment. And then I’m in a funk and I’m living in squalor, which just makes the funk worse. One way that I’ve learned to deal with this is dedicating 10 minutes to cleaning by setting an alarm and just starting. You’d be surprised by how much you can get done in 10 minutes. Sometimes, I’ve had enough after 10 minutes but typically, I’ll see what a difference a few minutes has made and I’m motivated to do even more. Having a clean living space does wonders for your mental health.

Phone a friend

I know that for anyone under the age of 30 making an actual call seems like an unorthodox way to use your phone, but it helps (for me, at least). If talking on the phone isn’t your cup of tea, reach out to a friend or family member in any way that you prefer—but I always find that I feel better after talking to someone I’m close with. You don’t necessarily have to talk about your problems or what (if anything) is bothering you—sometimes just catching up and shooting the shit is enough to lift your spirits.

Limit time spent on social media

As someone who works in social and digital media by day and also moonlights as a blogger, it might surprise you that I would suggest staying off social media. Here’s the deal: social media is not always good for our collective mental health—especially around the holidays. I can’t be the only person who feels like the Grinch as I scroll through Facebook (hate, hate, double hate). If you’re not feeling very merry this Christmas, the last thing you want to be bombarded with is millions of posts from people who are. Sometimes taking a break from social media—or blocking/muting/unfollowing accounts/people who you can’t deal with right now or make you feel bad about yourself is just what you need.  

Set healthy boundaries

This is something that I’m actually working really hard on because I really struggle with it. As a habitual people pleaser, I have the hardest time telling people no, so for me, boundaries feel really scary—and they make me feel really guilty. This holiday season I’m working on saying no without apologizing (i.e., “Now isn’t a good time;” “I really appreciate the invite, but I won’t be able to make it;” “That sounds like a lot of fun, but I’m taking some time for myself this weekend”) and setting boundaries (“let’s not discuss this topic at dinner;” “I’m heading to my room to get some quiet time.”) In really simple terms, setting boundaries means knowing and understanding what your limits are—and they’re key to healthy relationships.  

Write something

I (obviously) like writing. Of all the writing that I do, I think that journaling is my favorite. I’ve had countless “diaries” over the years, but in the last few months, I made a concerted effort to start journaling because it helps me feel better. The writing doesn’t have to be polished, it doesn’t have to be grammatically correct or flow properly—you just have to get your thoughts out of your brain and onto some paper (or a Google Doc, or whatever you feel like). There are a ton of proven benefits to journaling, mentally, physically and emotionally. You don’t have to be Shakespeare, just grab a 50 cent notebook from Target and get started. 

What ways do you practice self-care? 

I’ll Be There for You: 25 Years of Friends

Could 1993 BE any better? The answer is no, because it produced two of the greatest things to ever grace this planet: Friends and me.

giphy-5

OH.MY.GOD.

In all seriousness, Friends is my favorite TV show. The first time I ever watched it was with my best friend Jenna in the 5th grade. Her family had the complete box set and we would watch it all the time, including in the car on the way to Kalahari because they had a DVD player in their backseat (!). Jenna and her family introduced me to a lot of things (grilled ring bologna, 50 Cent, my first college football game), but I’m mostly thankful that her older siblings loved that classic 90’s sitcom as much as I eventually would.

21866_104136369610077_6477379_n

My friend Jenna and I. This was taken circa 2010 when we were in high school, definitely not fifth grade. I was also definitely tanning too much. Yikes.

UNAGI

I immediately became obsessed with Friends, which likely had to do with the fact that it a) took place in NYC (I was obsessed with big cities and getting out of the small town I lived in) b) focused on cool young adults making it on their own and c) covered a variety of topics I knew full and well I had no business knowing about as a 12-year-old.

 

Fun Friends Fact (FFF) 1: Friends was actually one of my first introductions to sex-ed because it taught me that condoms are “only like 97 percent effective.” So, thank you.

giphy-6

MY LOBSTER

My love for Friends didn’t end after middle school (clearly). When I was in college,  I would come back from class or work and watch reruns of friends on TBS (and sometimes on Nick at Nite). Then, the syndicated show came to Netflix and I could watch it whenever and wherever my internet connection would allow. Above anything else, Friends is my go-to, show. It’s really hard for me to be in a bad mood when Friends comes on. How can you resist clapping along during the intro? And, of course, it’s even better when you have someone to clap along with.

giphy-3

I’ve seen a lot of freezing-cold takes about Friends recently, about how the show is offensive, or Ross is problematic, but to me the show is just a feel-good comedy about six friends who are there for each other regardless of whatever happens. At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want?

giphy-7.gif

Fun Friends Fact (FFF) 2: In my middle school diary, I wrote, in painstaking detail, about how one of my so-called friends hit on my “boyfriend.” I referred to it as “kick-you-in-the-neck, spit-on-your-crotch fantastic.” It’s honestly a shame that Twitter didn’t exist back then. 

HOW YOU DOIN’?

In case you love Friends as much as I do and are wanting to celebrate the shows 25th anniversary by buying a bunch of Friends themed stuff you probably don’t need, look no further!

THE COMPLETE BOX SERIES

81eXkOix4tL._SX522_.jpg

The show is leaving Netflix at the end of the year, so if you’re anything like me and wondering how you’re going to occupy your time/fall asleep at night when it’s no longer there for you, then look no further. OR, if you’re not into DVDs or Blu-Rays (which I mean, it’s 2019, who wants to mess with discs) you can purchase each season digitally on Amazon for 9.99 each.

THE YELLOW PEEPHOLE PICTURE FRAME

EF1qqUOXUAAiEVA

I just purchased this for my apartment because I have wanted one forever and I decided that I deserve nice things and wanted to treat myself. Classic.

HOW YOU’ DOIN’?

91qX3HCOHnL._SL1500_.jpg

Joey’s iconic catchphrase has been immortalized on a mug—and you need it! I actually really want this, so if any of my friends and family read this and want to buy me an early Christmas/birthday gift, look no further.

CENTRAL PERK COFFEE

81yGnqxKAuL._SL1500_.jpg

No, really. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the show, you can buy a bag of ground medium roast ‘Central Perk’ coffee. I mean, need.

THE WHERE IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY

il_1588xN.1824004372_flms.jpg

My 26th birthday is coming up on December 9, if anyone wants to send me this card. Just saying.

COULD I BE WEARIN’ ANY MORE CLOTHES?

52603370_001_b.jpeg

If your lobster is a man (or any person who enojys a good pair of branded boxer briefs) look no further. If I had seen these like 4 months ago, I would have gotten them for someone. I digress.

A SWEATER THAT’S BETTER THAN LEATHER PANTS

45375037_004_e.jpeg

They’re no leather pants, but this Friends crew neck is super cute. It’s on back order at Urban Outfitters because, apparently, it’s what all the cool kids are wearing. BRB, gonna go order it right now.

I’LL BE THERE FOR YOU

61rW4Mm5odL._SX416_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

If you’re a sucker for coffee table books (and clearly, Friends) like I am, you’re going to want this. This book is full of quotes from the gang. The version from Urban Outfitters is slightly more expensive but comes with stickers. If you’re in the Grand Rapids area, Rebel Reclaimed has this in-store (and you should also shop local!).

APOTHECARY TABLE FROM THE DAYS OF YORE

friends-apothecary-coffee-table-1-o

If you’re a Friends fan with some available living room real estate and a large disposable income, this is the Friends-themed product for you. It’s the Pottery Barn apothecary table that Rachel (and Ross) both have in season six. It’s going to cost you more than one and fifty dollars, though.

HE’S HER LOBSTER

Another gem from the PB collection. If you’re a Friends fan and also a hopeless romantic (like myself), you’ll probably enjoy this mug. If you’re those things and also all alone in this world (like myself) you should probably just get it for yourself as a gift because you deserve it!

FRIENDS LEGOS

friends.png

Lego sets are all fun and games until they’re put together and you have nowhere to display them—however, I think I could make an exception for this Central Perk set. Unfortunately, it’s all sold out.

THE CHICK AND THE DUCK

412rFGseFpL._SL1075_

Forget Lassie—the chick and the duck are two of the most popular pets to ever grace the silver screen. While I’m not entirely sure why one would need cups specifically designed to hold eggs, if you found yourself in need of one of those, I would choose this pair.

CRAP BAG

61EJULJHwhL._SY500_.jpg

Ahh, Phoebe. As much as I love Crap Bag Mike (Paul Rudd), I’ve always felt that Phoebe should’ve ended up with David the scientist. Even if you don’t like Friends or get the joke, I think most people who carry purses can relate to having a crap bag so win/win.

JOEY DOESN’T SHARE FOOD

41MjzErTJvL.jpg

The sky is blue, grass is green and Joey doesn’t share food—it’s just a fact of life. BRB, ordering this spoon ASAP.

CENTRAL PERK ORNAMENT

719UpBAdapL._SX679_

My mom got me this for Christmas last year and it’s one of my favorite ornaments ever. If you have a friend/family member/coworker who loves the show as much as I do, you really can’t go wrong with this gift.

THANKSGIVING CARD

il_1588xN.1700244527_4e82.jpg

FFF 3: Season three is the only season that doesn’t have a Thanksgiving episode! This is one of my favorite Thanksgiving episodes, followed closely by “The one with all the Thanksgivings” because I love flashbacks and “The One Where Ross Gets High,” because Rachel messing up the trifle is just classic.

THE POSTER FROM MONICA’S APARTMENT

716F7rbYCLL._SL1024_.jpg

I honestly always thought that this poster was kind of ugly, but I didn’t realize that you could buy it on Amazon! If you’re trying to recreate that classic purple living room look, you’re in luck! Also, it says “buttes” so LOL.

TL;DR

Friends is the best show to ever air and we should celebrate it all the time.

Happy Adoption Day: Celebrating Two Years with Kramer

Somehow, Kramer and I just celebrated our second anniversary together. In the two years we’ve been together, we’ve had some really good times and some pretty bad ones. We’ve lived in two different apartments (he also lived with my parents while I moved!), gone through countless bags of treats and seen lots of plants come and go (RIP).

IMG_3447

He has made me incredibly angry by eating my plants, knocking things off any surface he can find and keeping me up at night—and he has also kept me company, entertained me with his adorable antics and acted as my emotional support animal when things have fallen apart.

STARTING THE SEARCH

Pretty much as soon as I got my first apartment alone, sans roommates, I knew I wanted to get a pet. At first, I really had my heart set on getting a dog, but after some serious thought and consideration, I realized that I wasn’t ready for that level of commitment.

When I decided that I wanted to adopt a cat, the Capital Area Humane Society was the first place I looked. I knew that I wanted to adopt a cat, instead of getting one from a breeder (or from somewhere like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.)

One thing that I was really looking for was a cat without claws. I’ve paid a lot to furnish my apartment, and I didn’t want my new pet ruining it. I also think that declawing cats is kind of cruel, so I didn’t want to I would routinely look for pets online using the sea

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

I continued to stalk the CAHS website and Facebook each day, waiting for the right fit. One day as I was perusing the website, I found a cat names Lunar (who was front declawed!). He was black with a white patch on his chest and he looked both adorable and naughty. I fell in love with him.

IMG_1135

Kramer (née Lunar) was living in a cage at Soldan’s in West Lansing. I convinced my friend Jodi to go with me to look at him during our lunch break at work, and when I saw him in his cage, my heart melted. He looked scared and kind of pathetic and small in his big cage, but he was still in good enough spirits to swat at my fingers through the bars.

I talked with one of the employees about what the adoption process entailed and, as usual, was too indecisive to make a final decision during my short hour-long lunch break.

WHAT’S THE CATCH

I went back to work and spent the entire day trying to decide whether or not I was ready to adopt a cat. I decided that figuring out why Kramer was surrendered was important, so I called CAHS to find out. They told me that Kramer’s family brought him to the humane society because he was a) not using his litter box b) chewing on drywall and being generally destructive c) meowing incessantly at all hours of the day/night.

IMG_3945

WHY NOT?

Armed with the knowledge that Kramer was an absolute terror, I sought the advice of a few friends and coworkers who collectively told me I should definitely find another feline friend, I did what any rational person would do and went back to Soldan’s to see him again. An employee told me if I wanted to adopt Kramer, I was going to have to call CAHS to get approved, and do so within the hour because adoptions were ending for the day. I have never been an impulsive person, but I decided to go for it. In less than an hour, I was approved to become a cat mom.

IMG_1115

HERE WE GO

As I was waiting for my approval to go through, I went through the store and picked up all the things that I would need for my new cat. That included a litter box, litter, a scooper, wet food, dry food (grain-free because only the best for my cat son), treats and, of course, toys. One of the toys I got him was a taco stuffed with catnip, which remains one of his favorites to this day. Like mother like son, what can I say?

IMG_1118

I also had to get something to take him home in. Rather than spring for the expensive plastic carrier, I opted for the cheap cardboard one. Joke was on me though, because Kramer is so freakishly strong that once the Soldan employee and I collectively stuffed him inside the box, he broke the cardboard and escaped.

Once Kramer was inside his sturdy plastic carrier, it was smooth sailing. He didn’t make a peep the entire way home. I was a different story entirely. I called my mom on the verge of the tears because I was worried that I was biting off more than I could chew, you know, caring for another living thing and all. She told me I would be fine, and reminded me of the fact that I had been kind of lonely and had been wanting a cat for years. Pretty much from that point forward, it’s been me and Kramer against the world.

HOME SWEET HOME

Kramer was really scared when we first got home. He camped out between the wall and refrigerator for the first few hours and didn’t want to come out. I lured him with many different types of food and treats, but he wasn’t budging. I finally admitted defeat and decided to sit on the kitchen floor and talk to him.

IMG_3944

THE FIRST NIGHT

Once Kramer came out from behind the fridge he quickly asserted his dominance. Everything in my apartment became a toy, including my plants.

IMG_1497

I tried to keep Kramer out of my room at first but quickly realized that wasn’t going to fly. Kramer is king of the castle and he likes to sleep in my bed. Another thing to adjust to was the fact that my body became a jungle gym, especially when it was time to sleep.

IMG_2939

. It took some time to adjust to being woken up to loud sounds and seeing something looming over my head.

IMG_1719

It also took some time adjusting to seeing Kramer sitting on top of my kitchen cabinets. I don’t want to jinx it, but he doesn’t climb on the cabinets at this apartment.

IMG_6190

CRAZY CAT LADY

I got Kramer when I was single and I was kind of afraid of becoming a weird, crazy cat lady spinster. At this point, I’ve just accepted it. Plus, you can’t die alone if you’re surrounded by cats and plants!

IMG_3922

Kramer and I have been through a lot together in two years. We’ve spent hours (more like days) curled up on the couch watching Friends. We’ve gone through countless cans of cat food, bags of treats, and cans of catnip spray. Sure, I have to keep my plants up high (especially the ones that are dangerous for pets) and I’m constantly covered in hair, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

TL;DR

Having a cat is the best. 10/10 definitely recommend.

Making the case for medical-grade skincare

I’ve written blog post after blog post about my skincare, ranging from products I recommend to in-office procedures that I’ve had done. I’ve learned a thing or two on the journey to skin free of acne and acne scars. After years of trial and error, and after spending thousands of dollars, I’m no longer purchasing luxury skincare. 

SKINCARE 101

There are different levels of skincare: drugstore, luxury and medical-grade (also referred to as pharmaceutical grade or “cosmeceuticals”). As someone who has had bad skin for the better part of their life, I’ve purchased my fair share of the first two. I pick up random masks, scrubs and treatments on almost every single Target run, and I strategically stock up on luxury skincare during Ulta sales, Sephora sales, and Nordstrom’s semi-annual sale.

I always assumed that luxury skincare was better than drugstore. For one, luxury skincare costs more (like, a lot more). Between the price tag and the packaging (I hate myself for how easily influenced I am by sleek, chic packaging), it seemed like a no brainer to me that it was better in quality. It turns out that probably isn’t the case.

WHY AM I LIKE THIS

Despite the fact that I have poured thousands of dollars into drugstore and luxury skincare, I have consistently still had issues with skin. For a long time, I struggled with cystic acne. Even after that cleared up, I still found myself struggling with regular, run-of-the-mill acne, severe redness, and lots and lots of scarring. I was religiously using a concoction of drugstore and luxury products last November when I finally bit the bullet and scheduled a microneedling appointment with Jennifer Edwards at Aesthetic Med Spa to help get my scarring under control.

CHAMPAGNE TASTE, BEER BUDGET

I was amazed by the results of the microneedling, but was still pretty stuck in my ways when it comes to skincare. I didn’t really matter to me, because my skin was looking amazing thanks to the microneedling. Then, a few months ago, I randomly started breaking out really badly (probably due to the stress of my life falling apart, but that’s really a story for a different day). I went in and saw Jennifer and she asked about the products that I was using. Let’s see: Dove bar soap, Meijer 10% benzoyl peroxide lotion and Cetaphil moisturizer. I also used a Tula toner (which is actually good), and had a whole rotation of masks in my line-up.

IMG_3709.jpg

I thought that poor Jennifer was going to have a heart attack. Here’s someone (me) willing to spend money on in-office procedures, but not willing to spend a little extra money on products to sustain and enhance those results.

Here’s the thing: medical-grade skincare is an investment. It might cost more upfront (depending on what products you currently use, it might not cost much more than luxury skincare), but it’s going to a) last longer b) be more effective and c) produce actual results.

acs_0046.jpg

LUXURY SKINCARE VS MEDICAL-GRADE

So what’s the difference? Here are a few important ones.

  1. Medical grade products have a higher concentration of active ingredients.

    All active ingredients in medical grade skincare must be 99.9% pure. A higher concentration of ingredients means products penetrate deeper into the skin. Drugstore and luxury products are full of fillers and preservatives, (non-active ingredients) that sit on top of the skin and don’t produce any kind of real results.

  2. Medical grade skincare is subject to FDA-regulation and is backed by clinical trials.

    Luxury skincare—and even drugstore skincare—feel nice on your skin, and often smells really good. That’s because it’s designed to—it’s designed to be a sensory experience and not offer much more than that. Medical-grade skincare is backed by clinical research to guarantee that products effective.

  3. Each product is developed for a certain skin type or skin issue and is made to give visible results.

    Because medical-grade products have a higher concentration of active ingredients, you need less product—and the product is able to penetrate deeper into your skin, giving you more effective results.

  4. Medical grade skincare must be sold under a doctor and prescribed by a trained medical professional/licensed skincare nurse or aesthetician.

    Because of their potent formulas, medical-grade products can only be sold under the supervision of professionals. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not knocking the employees at Ulta/Sephora/high-end beauty counters, but they certainly don’t have the same expertise and training as a doctor, nurse or aesthetician. Your skincare professional will be able to give you advice on the products that will work best for your skin.

WHAT I’M USING

After my come-to-Jesus  intervention, Jennifer got me started on a really good regimen that is working wonders on my skin. I use the skinbetter science Oxygen Infusion Wash both morning and night.  In the morning, I follow with the skinbetter science Alto Defense Serum, and at night I follow with skinbetter AlphaRet Overnight Cream. At least once a week, I’ll use the AlphaRet Exfoliating Peel Pads, which are arguably my favorite skincare product of all time.

TL;DR

Medical-grade skincare is expensive—and it can produce some serious sticker shock when you first start testing the waters. Like pretty much anything in like, you get what you pay for. Yes, drugstore and even luxury skincare products are less expensive, but medical-grade skincare is worth every penny when you break down what you get for the price.

 

 

Plant Parenthood: Easy to Care for Houseplants

It’s National Indoor Plant Week! If you know me at all, you’ll know that I love plants. I couldn’t pass up an excuse opportunity to make a trip to one of my favorite local greenhouses and celebrate by buying plants.

IMG_3444

There’s a theory that millennials love houseplants because we’re not having children and need something to nurture (LOL). While I’d love to talk about my deep-seated and unmet needs on the internet, I’m not sure that it’s that serious. I primarily like houseplants because they’re pretty and fun to grow and take care of. 

IMG_3445

I started collecting (?) plants during my senior year of college. My aunt gave me something she called “hens and chicks” which I later learned were succulents. From there, I started accumulating plants at an alarming rate, which was only accelerated when I learned about the Michigan Cactus and Succulent Society and attended their annual show at the University of Michigan. Basically, the rest is history. 

For a while, I primarily just loved the way that plants looked but did a terrible job of taking care of them. Then I met Wajid, an actual plant scientist (!) and he taught me how to properly care for my plants and showed me how therapeutic and enjoyable it can be. Since then, taking care of my plants has become a point of pride and my plants are nearly as spoiled as my cat.

If you’re considering dipping your toes into the plant parenthood, and in honor of this special week, I decided to put together a list of my favorite easy-to-care-for houseplants.

Monstera

My monstera plant was the first plant that I got that wasn’t a succulent or cactus. I saw one on Instagram (lol) and started calling around to local greenhouses to see if they had any in stock. Luckily for me, Van Atta’s did, and I made my first trip there to pick it up. It was much, much larger than I was anticipating. 

IMG_3451

How to care: From what I can tell, Monstera plants are happy pretty anywhere with indirect sunlight, but will do best if they have If they don’t get enough light, they’ll start reaching toward the sun. 

Snake plant

If you have a black thumb, a snake plant is your best friend. I think I have three or four different snake plants (aka sansevieria) scattered around my apartment because they add a touch of greenery to any room and are almost impossible to kill. We also have snake plants at the office that get literally no natural light and have maybe been watered a handful of times in the year and a half since we bought them and they’re still alive and kicking. Bonus: NASA research has shown that these bad boys purify and clean indoor areas.

IMG_3447

How to care:  Snake plants will survive almost anything and are known for their adaptability. They can withstand full sun and handle low light—though they do best in indirect sunlight. When it comes to watering them, easy does it. They really don’t require much water, and prefer to completely dry out before watering again. Depending on the amount of light they’re getting and the humidity in your house, they really only need to be watered every 2-6 weeks. 

Toxic to pets? Yes.

Pothos

To me, there’s nothing as aesthetically pleasing as a trailing plant. I have three different pothos plants: two marble queens and a golden pothos. Like the two earlier plants that I mentioned, pothos are pretty easy to care for. In fact, they’re often referred to as “the devil’s ivy” because they can survive without light and are nearly impossible to kill (not to be confused with the devil’s lettuce. I have no experience in growing that). 

IMG_3453.jpg

Photo courtesy of @crazyplantguy

How to care: It’s true that pothos can survive in low light, but they grow faster in medium to bright indirect light. They don’t do well in direct sunlight because the sun burns the foliage and results in brown burnt spots (I learned this the hard way, RIP plant friend). They like their soil to be kept on the drier side, so water enough to keep the soil slightly damp, but let the top 50% of the soil dry out before watering again.

Toxic to pets? Yes.

Succulents

Ahh, succulents. My gateway drug. In the time since I became a hobby horticulturist (lol, I’m joking) succulents have become as popular among millennials as avocado toast or craft beer. A lot of people purport that succulents are super easy to care for, but I don’t like to make generalizations like that. A lot of it is going to depend on a) what kind of succulent you have b) the state the plant was in when you got it and c) the environment that you keep it in. 

IMG_3448

How to care: Succulents need to drain well. If you purchase one from a greenhouse, they’re going to be potted properly and in the right soil. If you get one from Meijer, probably not so much. Whatever pot you keep them in, it absolutely needs a drainage hole. If you overwater them, they will rot and die. With that said, they liked to be soaked and then completely dry out before being watered again. They also need A LOT of sunlight. If your succulents start to look weird and “leggy” it’s because they’re not getting enough sun. They do best in bright, indirect sunlight. I tend to keep mine on my windowsills, but they also do well on my bookshelf (with grow lights).

IMG_3449

Toxic to pets? Depends on the kind. 

Cacti

There are thousands of different varieties of cacti—and they’re all beautiful. I have a number of different cacti in my home (and my office!) and just bought one more yesterday because why not? While I love all plants, I will always have a special place in my heart for cacti and succulents. My personal favorite cactus is my euphorbia (which is actually technically a succulent, but looks like a cactus) for sentimental reasons.

How to care: When it comes to how to care for cacti (and succulents), there are three main factors that affect their rate of survival: light, water and temperature. Too dim or too bright light, too little or too much water, or too cool or too hot temperatures (and often a combination of all three) will make your succulents and cacti unhappy and start behaving strangely. Depending on the type of succulent or cactus, symptoms of mistreatment vary dramatically.

Much like its cousin, the succulent, cacti need soil that is well aerated and fast draining. For me, what that translates to is only watering once in a while, so they end up being pretty low maintenance. (Which is a huge bonus if you’re forgetful or lazy like me). They also like a lot of sunlight (I mean, duh, they come from the desert). Pro tip: don’t mist! Cacti like to be soaked, just like succulents.

TL;DR

It’s National Indoor Plant Week! Go buy some plants and circle back here if you need tips on how to care for them.