Death Valley National Park boasts the highest air temperature ever recorded (134°) and routinely hits 120° in summer in the shade. Why would anyone go here? Well, it’s your closest chance of experiencing Mars on Earth. Cracked salt flats flanked by colorful striped hills and badlands. A valley that you both want to walk farther into and also run far away from. In December we thought the park would be empty. It was packed, parking lots teeming. But on our way out, we pulled off the perfectly paved road and watched dusk descend on the valley without another soul in sight.
I used to be solidly in the I-don’t-get-it skincare camp.
Although I didn’t have the delusion that people being interested in skincare was a novel thing (cough…the outline…cough).
I took awful care of my skin. In fact, I barely took care of my skin.
After a conversation with my dermatologist I started washing and moisturizing my face twice a day with Cetaphil and Cerave AM and PM. That was more than a year ago and my skin has never been happier (or smoother, or brighter, or cleaner, or more moisturized).
I recently stumbled upon a breakthrough of sorts when it comes to skincare that I wanted to share with all of you. It’s simple.
If you make any skincare routine a habit you will see improvement. No matter how much (or how little!) you spend on the product.
Here’s what happened:
I have always had dry, chapped lips. Just always. Like so chapped that I can’t wear lipstick or gloss because it gets all cracked and ugly.
Intrigued that there might actually be a solution to my chapped lips, I put the mask in my online shopping cart.
But I just couldn’t convince myself to spend $20 on something that was not even an ounce.
Wait, I thought. I have never, ever tried anything habitually to get rid of my chapped lips. Sure, I use chapstick but that was basically it.
I did some searching and found a similar product (Rosebud Salve) that cost only $6. I told myself – buy this. Try it every night until it runs out. If it doesn’t work, buy the lip mask.
Just the simple act of moisturizing my lips every night has made a tremendous difference on my lips during the day. I didn’t need to spend $20. I just needed to make it a routine.
So whether you’re trying to rein in your skincare spending or you aren’t convinced that skincare “works,” I recommend that you try this out on just one thing: buy a less-expensive, affordable product and make using it a daily habit. Give it time and see if it makes a difference.
I bet that it will.
A year ago today we drove three hours through the mountains of Maryland and West Virginia. It was a drab December morning, but we were filled with anticipation.
Santa was riding on a fire truck near your home, so our first shared moment consisted of listening to you whine at the sound of sirens while you had a dingleberry removed.
We didn’t even know what a dingleberry was back then.
Now we do.
And we also now know that whine of yours can range from frustration to discomfort to just looking for some attention.
Back on the ground and out the door you took off, running on impossibly short legs through the grass, jumping, weaving around our feet, latching on to loose pant legs. Within 20 minutes you were passed out in the car and basically slept through the 3-hour ride to your new home.
A year with Balthasar. It has consisted of taking you to 12 states (plus D.C.), to four national parks, and you’ve already dipped your paws in both the Atlantic and Pacific.
Your living quite the charmed puppy life.
Some things haven’t changed much over the past 12 months – you still have puppy dreams and make adorable noises before falling asleep. You hate closed doors (especially to the bathroom when one of us is in it) and you don’t want us to be in separate rooms. You love running on grass and cleaning out peanut butter jars. You have been tearing up cardboard boxes with zeal since day one with us.
Other things have changed – you now love cuddling and getting “scritches.” You’ve developed quite the obsession for tennis balls and got rid of your habit of stealing other people’s newspapers. You love the water now and can’t imagine not at least testing the temperature by getting your tummy wet (it’s never too cold).
This past year you’ve wowed us with your intelligence and the speed that you pick up new commands. As you’ve grown into an adolescent we have found ourselves questioning our positive-only, force-free training.
But then you’re so polite, ask permission for everything, and are kind with every human you meet. It’s been a challenge, but the training is working.
We hope to have many many more years with you and celebrate many many more “gotcha days.”
But today we’re thinking back about the 365 days with a bouvier named Balthasar. We’ve gone through thousands of poo bags, had hundreds of ear licks (your “kisses”), taught you dozens of commands, and you’ve taught us to be more forgiving, curious, loving, responsible, and to cherish the moments when the herd is all together.
Our puppy Balthasar turned 7 months this week. In honor of that I’m sharing 7 things that I didn’t anticipate about raising a puppy.
1) Your Heart Will Feel Ripped Out Every Time You Leave
We are lucky that both of our jobs allow us to work from home a lot. We’ve been able to sync up our schedules mostly so that at least one of us is home during the workweek. Of course, we do have to leave the pup alone from time to time (in fact, we even have to make up reasons to leave so that he can get used to being home alone). But it hurts our hearts every time we have to be away.
2) Walks Aren’t About You
When you take your dog for a walk, it’s not a time for you to relax or decompress. It’s a constant training opportunity and you have to be on alert—rewarding good behavior and modifying when he’s being impolite. If you want to take a stroll and be lost in your thoughts, you should leave the pup at home (but, also, see lesson 1).
3) You Will Always Wear Crappy Clothes
The first several months (year?) of your life with the puppy you’ll want to always be in clothes you don’t mind getting ripped or dirtied. Just keep the nice outfits in your closet. The pup will ruin you clothes. So don’t set yourself up for disappointment.
4) Your First Routine Will Become THE Routine
Dogs thrive on routines. So that routine that you start up when you first get the pup will most likely become the routine. Make sure you can stick with it! Can’t do mid-morning walks usually? Then don’t do those when you first get your pup and you’ve taken time off from work. Jump right into the routine you want to have and try to stick with it as often as possible (even on weekends).
5) You Will Spend Inordinate Amounts of Time Talking About Poo
My friend Molly warned me of this, but I didn’t quite realize how much poop talk there could possibly be. Has he pooed yet? Was the poo soft? When was the last time he pooed? Did you see x in his poo? (x being that thing he shouldn’t have eaten / isn’t edible).
6) You Will Think You’ve Broken Your Dog
Put your vet’s number on speed dial. You’ll be calling them a lot. (And paying them a lot). (Hello, stool samples!). (See? Poo again). Your puppy’s behavior will be completely new the first couple of weeks and just when you get used to it all of a sudden he’ll start doing something super odd—like walking around in the evening with his mouth open. When Balthasar did this we thought we had broken the dog. We hadn’t. We called the vet, he said don’t worry. Just know that sometimes there are reasons to worry. So pay attention and note those behavior changes. And don’t be afraid to call the vet.
7) You Will Feel Amazing When the Puppy Falls Asleep
Our puppy, since day one with him, has made this cute little licking noise right before he falls asleep. We call it the “nap noise.” Whenever we hear him make that noise it’s such a good feeling. Finally! You’ll think. He’s going to sleep! Yes, puppies sleep a lot, but when they are awake it’s a lot of work and you have to pay close attention so you will look forward to those long sweet naps. Good night, sweetheart!
Want to follow more of Balthasar’s adventures? He’s on instagram: @BouvierBalth
If you find yourself with a garden space that is horizontally challenged, take a tip from the Spaniards and go vertical. In countless courtyards throughout Cordoba, gardeners are not deterred by limited space. Instead they put plants in containers that climb up the walls toward the sunlight. No need to get fancy with the pots, simple terra cotta will do. Add in some blossoming flowers in coordinating colors, mix up the textures of the foliage, and just keep rising higher and higher. One more thing: consider drought-resistant plants because watering all of these regularly would be bothersome.
Trees growing in a straight line? This is not coincidental. This is what happens when trees grow out and on top of dead, fallen trees. A concept called the nurse log. As you hike through the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park everything feels very alive – the greenery all around is teeming with life that supports more life. And if that weren’t enough to inspire, the local library placed signs with poetry along the trail (including the poem below).
Nature is what we know –
Yet have no art to say –
So impotent our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.
I’ve been running for 10+ years, and over the years I’ve gone through lots of active gear and clothing and shoes. When I think about my favorites, there are two pieces of gear that have been with me for years and two new ones that I am really loving. Check them out.
Two Things That Changed My (Running) Life
How did I ever run without my spibelt? I’ve had this thing for years and it’s probably the single best piece of active gear I’ve ever bought. Basically it’s a svelte fanny pack that is just big enough for your smart phone and a key and maybe a few other things. I don’t even notice that I’m wearing it, and I always have my essentials on hand.
Oh, body glide, how I love thee. Running would be much more uncomfortable without this little stick of happiness. Swipe it on anywhere you’re prone to get chafing and be amazed.
Two New Pieces of Active Gear I’m Loving
I am not a fan of running in super hot heat (who is?) and in past summers I would use the treadmill at the gym. I’m no longer a gym member (plus I never really loved the treadmill) so I’ve been running outside in the heat this summer. I tried carrying my water bottle with me and it was awkward holding on to it the whole run. I checked out some options and happily came across the Bottle Band. For just a few bucks, the band will latch on to any sized water bottle and provides you with an insta-handle. I love running with it now. It’s comfortable and I can change the way I grip it throughout the run.
I always liked the idea of the Fitbit, in terms of the data I could get from it, but was never crazy about the idea of the plastic band. Enter Bellbeat’s Leaf. It’s made for women and made to look beautiful and can be worn four different ways (as a necklace, bracelet, clipped on your shirt, or on your pants). I got the Leaf earlier this summer and enjoy trying to get to 10,000 steps a day (harder than I imagined!). The app that goes with it is easy to use and it’s been fun keeping track of my health data. I wear it when I run and with all my outfits every day. So far so good!
What are your favorite new and old pieces of gear that you recommend? Tell me in the comments.
If you haven’t heard, it’s going to be hot the next few days and into next week. H-O-T hot. Like 99 degrees hot here in Frederick. But it’s not just Maryland, a heat wave is in the forecast for much of central and eastern U.S.
I grew up in Louisiana, so I’m no stranger to heat (and humidity!). But how do others handle the heat? Here are a few clever ways I’ve come across.
We were in Dubai in January and it was hot. It was about 30 degrees away from summer weather, but it was 85 and I was wearing lots of modest clothes. So how do you escape the heat in Dubai? You go to the mall.
The wonderfully air-conditioned mall.
We joked that Dubai was one huge mall because there were so many of them, but it makes sense. Isn’t there nothing better when it’s ridiculously hot out than stepping into a 65 degree climate-controlled space?
The other week we were complaining about the heat in Maryland. We were dealing with low 90s here and I decided to check the weather in Southern Spain. It was 110 degrees. Spain was one place where we were fascinated by how they’ve handled hot weather.
You have table misters that keep you cool while dining alfresco or just walking by.
Sun shades that stretch across streets do you don’t have to walk in the sun.
And kissing lanes that are designed to be so narrow for more shade.
This is also the culture that has perfected the art of the siesta – a midday nap that coincides with the hottest part of the day.
I was thinking of all of the places we’ve traveled when it was hot, and the only thing that I could think that Greece really got right about the heat was having the sea RIGHT there. You just jump in and immediately cool off. Genius. 😉
When we were in Phoenix this past January it was warm (for January!) and sunny. At one street corner I happened to look up as we waited to use the cross walk and saw the ingenious shade structures on all four corners of the street. It was this convenient little tree-shaped plastic fan that spread out over us and provided shade from the relentless Arizona sun.
I don’t know if it necessarily makes me feel better to know others are dealing with hight temperatures, but I do hope that some of these heat-beating solutions will be implemented more widely here in the U.S.
What other smart ways have you found to beat the heat?
Netflix is raising prices on its loyal customers. If you’re trying to decide (like us!) if it’s worth the extra couple of bucks, here are a few shows you can binge watch right now to get your money’s worth.
You’ll Want to Travel & Eat
Chef’s Table – This Netflix-produced show is much more than just fancy food. It’s a love affair with the stories behind some of the world’s greatest chefs and their restaurants. You will want to travel all around the world to dine with these talented and passionate people.
An Idiot Abroad – If you enjoy British humor you’ll love this show where an “idiot” literally travels abroad. Hilarity ensues. Very straight forward title.
Long Way Round (and Long Way Down) – Ewan McGregor gets on a motorcycle and drives it around the world. And in season 2 drives it down the world.
History Lessons You’ll Enjoy
Narcos – This Netflix show is a crash course in the drug wars of the 80s in Colombia. A little gruesome and edgy, but it’s a fun watch.
The Paradise – I’ve written about this show before, and it’s definitely worth a watch if you’re at all interested in how much the world changed at the cusp of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Maybe You’ve Never Heard Of…
Lie to Me – This was a solid show about a man who knows human behavior so well he can always spot liars. After a while the show format feels a bit repetitive, but it’s fun, interesting and unique.
If You Liked…
If you like any of these below, chances are you’ll like the others.
Gilmore Girls: Of course this is on my list (hello. and hello.), but it’s even more important to watch now (either again or for the first time) because the revival episodes will be on Netflix before we know it.
Friday Night Lights – The one thing these next three shows have in common is Jason Katims. Whether directing, writing, developing or producing, Jason’s hands were in all of these. If you’re at all into football, high school, drama, or Texas you may find yourself getting sucked in to this show.
Parenthood – If you loved the family drama and teenage tales in FNL, you’ll most likely enjoy Parenthood too. If you LOVE Lauren Graham you simply cannot miss this show.
About a Boy – Again, Jason Katims. But in this case it’s a much different show than the previous two as it’s a comedy. Starring Minnie Driver who plays the single (hippie) mother of a cute as-a-button boy who befriends his adult male neighbor. It’s sappy and fun.
Netflix-Produced Shows Worth Watching
House of Cards – Obviously.
Master of None – This show is good on so many levels. Funny, dorky, smart. If you’re an immigrant (or are close to any), you’ll appreciate the immigrants’ children episode. Major kudos goes to the diversity of the cast here. So refreshing.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – here’s the thing. Kimmy Schmidt is so. over. the. top. that I don’t know why I keep watching it. But I do. And I laugh out loud so much. This show is definitely not for everyone.
What shows did I miss? Tell me in the comments! Always looking for new shows.