Monday, August 21, 2017

Drybar comes to Pittsburgh

Dress: here (floor length version: here)

A few years ago on a trip to New York City, I discovered Drybar. I know that blowout places like Drybar have been around for a while, but they hadn't really made their way to Pittsburgh. But after visiting Drybar once, I was hooked.

My hair is thick, but gets oily pretty quickly - I usually have to wash my hair daily. And since I can't really style my own hair easily, I have to stick with blow drying it and leaving it straight. So learning that there was somewhere I could go where they'd wash and style my hair - and the style would still look good with day 2, unwashed hair - was amazing! I'm always impressed by how easy it is to get and make an appointment; you can do it all online or in the app, and you can cancel up to two hours before your scheduled appointment time with no penalty.

Until recently, Drybar was a vacation treat for me, because there was no Drybar here in Pittsburgh. Happily, though, a location opened over the summer, and it turned out to be only 15 minutes from my house. I had another wedding to go to this weekend, so I was excited to have and excuse to get a blowout. I love that Drybar is so standardized - the store looked just as cute as the other locations that I've been to, and I knew what to ask for so that my hair turned out the way I like it.

I'm used to having to get lifted out of my wheelchair when I'm getting my hair washed, because the sinks are too low or they're permanently attached to the chair you sit in. When I went over the weekend, though, they found a way to move the chair out of the way so that I could pull my wheelchair in front of the sink and have my hair washed without having to get out of my chair - and they offered all of this without me having to ask them. This made it so much easier for me, and just added to the rest of the amazing experience! 

If you get a chance to check out a Drybar, I highly recommend it! It's always a fun time and my hair  turns out looking great.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Currently Reading, 8/18/2017

Last summer, I (like the rest of the world!) read and loved The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I'm all for books that are psychological thrillers - they're suspenseful and dramatic, and they make you think and try to figure out what is really going on. I thought The Girl on the Train did this perfectly - I was on the edge of my seat near the end of the book, turning the page as quickly as I could so that I could find out who the killer was.

This summer, Hawkins came out with a new thriller, Into the Water. I still really enjoyed it,  but not as much as The Girl on the Train. Both books largely follow the same format - there is a lot of jumping back and forth between characters, which worked for The Girl on the Train because there were fewer characters, but was more difficult to follow in Into the Water. I also thought the twist ending was much more satisfying in The Girl on the Train. But both are really fun, quick reads - perfect for the end of summer.

And if you love The Girl on the Train as much as I do, you can also watch the movie made based on it, starring Emily Blunt. I don't think it quite lives up to the book, but I've never seen a movie adaptation of a book that did!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Why I Love My Nespresso

In addition to being SMA Awareness Month (you can read my posts here, here, and here), August is also apparently National Coffee Month. I am a huge coffee fan/addict, which you'll quickly notice if you take a look at my Instagram! And while I love going to Starbucks (and believe me, I do love it - the baristas at "my" Starbucks know me by name), it gets expensive so quickly. So in an effort to cut back on the amount I spend on coffee, I got a Nespresso a few years ago.

I LOVE my Nespresso. I use it almost every morning before work, so that I can take my double-shot cappuccino with me to go. It's so quick and convenient - it takes less than five minutes to make my coffee in the morning. The pods only cost $0.60 - $0.70 each, so it's definitely cheaper than buying my morning drink at Starbucks. I get to try out different "flavors" of pods, to check out different flavors of coffee, and figure out what I like and don't like.

The milk container that attaches to the machine is washable, and can be stored in the fridge between uses. And it's just so much easier and more automated than a traditional espresso machine. When I'm running out the door to work in the morning, there's no way I have time to tamp espresso grounds and steam milk by hand. Plus, I don't have to strength to do any of that on my own, so I'd be relying on someone else to do it for me. The more automated the machine is, the easier it is for me to explain to whoever is helping me.

Best of all, it tastes great! I used a Keurig a lot during college, which was convenient, but just never tasted as good, or as strong, as a regular cup of coffee. I actually really like the way my Nespresso cappuccino tastes. It's the perfect start to my work day or my weekend.

(This post isn't sponsored, but does use affiliate links, and all opinions are my own.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

SMA Awareness Month, Volume 3 - Time and Effort

Dress: here

Social media in general, and blogs/bloggers especially, are supposed to look effortless. There's a real tendency to make each post seem like it came together easily. I think that I do this a lot with my life - not just on social media - in an effort to seem more like everyone else. My wheelchair already sets me apart enough; I don't necessarily need to highlight my differences any more.

But in reality, my life is anything but effortless. That's what I want to talk about this week for SMA Awareness Month - how much time and effort is involved in life with a chronic disease/disability.

I work full-time in research, so I have to get up and go to work every day like everyone else. But unlike everyone else, getting up and getting ready isn't a simple task. It takes me between two and a half to three hours to get ready in this morning. I'm not doing anything special or elaborate - getting up, having some coffee, taking a shower, drying my hair and doing my makeup. But when you need help getting in the shower, during the shower, getting dressed, brushing your teeth, everything takes longer, and those extra minutes add up over the course of the morning. I do like to look nice, I won't deny that - but that just means I like to wash my hair daily, put on makeup, and wear a nice outfit - nothing crazy.

I don't actually get up until 5:30, but this is when my weekday alarm goes off.

This basically means that when I start my day, I'm already tired! And this is before a full day of work, maybe graduate school class, and anything fun/social I might have planned. Some of this might be my "fault" - I like to do things, and am involved in a few different organizations that have weeknight meetings.

Other than meetings or classes, I try really hard to keep weeknights free, because I know having plans at night will make me more tired, and make things harder for me, the next day. Even on a night when I have nothing planned, by the time I do get home from work, have dinner, take a little bit of time to relax, maybe write a blog post, and get ready for bed (which again, takes longer!), 10 p.m. comes incredibly quickly. I then need help getting hooked up to the feeding tube that I use overnight, and putting on the breathing machine I also use overnight. Then I get a few hours of sleep, get up, and do it all over again. By Friday of every week, I'm pretty spent.

And with SMA, being spent manifests itself not just mentally, but also physically. When I'm exhausted, it's harder for me to do simple things like lift my arms, and hold my head up. And when I'm sleep-deprived, I'm more likely to get sick, and when I'm sick, it's more likely to turn into a serious respiratory problem.

I'm not sharing this peek into my life so that you feel bad for me, or pity me! But I do want to help people understand the extra effort involved in my life, and I also want to ask that you have patience. If I, or someone else that you know living with a chronic disease/disability, am a few minutes late to meet you - keep in mind what I had to do just to show up! Try to understand that there are factors involved in people's lives that you might not know about.

(This post uses affiliate links, but all opinions are my own.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

No-Foundation Foundation: First Aid Beauty, Cover FX, and NYX

I'm constantly searching for the perfect "no makeup" foundation for weekend days. Something to wear when I'm having a low-key day running errands, or going to see a movie, and want a little bit of coverage, but nothing heavy. My skin looks and feels better with a little bit of something on, because it helps keep the oil in check, so I try to find something with the lightest coverage that will still help keep my face from looking like an oil slick. I've tried the Glossier Skin Tint, the NYX Total Control drops, the Cover FX Custom Cover drops, and the First Aid Beauty (FAB) Triple Protection Skin Tint.

  • Glossier Skin Tint
    This is incredibly light coverage, by far the lightest of the batch. I liked how it felt on my skin; it was easy to rub it in with my fingers, and because it's so thin, you don't need for the color to be a perfect match for it to still look good. Unfortunately, though, it didn't agree with my skin at all, and I had a bad reaction to it and broke out. I tested it a few times to make sure it was the culprit, and I've convinced it was - it was the only new product I was trying. Glossier made it super easy to get a refund, and they didn't even ask me to send the product back, just to pass it along to someone else who might enjoy it, which I did.

  • Cover FX Custom Cover Drops
    The premise behind the Custom Cover drops is intriguing - you can mix in drops with your normal moisturizer, so you can customize the amount of coverage that you want. One drop is light coverage, two drops is medium, and three is closer to full coverage. I liked the look and feel of this foundation, but I found the logistics a bit tricky. It was messy to mix in on my hand, and I always ended up with extra product that I had to wipe off. It's sometimes hard to get the amount of drops right - one drop didn't seem like enough to mix in with my moisturizer evenly, but adding more gave me more coverage than I really wanted. But if you want a product that you can customize, this is the one for you.

  • NYX Total Control Drops
    I'm not sure if you're supposed to also mix these drops in with your moisturizer, but I put it directly on my face and found that it wore and blended well. It's definitely still liquid-y and runny; a few times I ended up with foundation on my clothes instead of on my face. I actually started just putting the excess product from the outside of the dropper onto my face, rather than trying to squeeze the contents onto my face, and found it a lot less messy. Make sure you shake well before using this, because it tends to separate, but I liked how it looked and wore on my face.

  • First Aid Beauty Triple Protection Skin Tint
    This is the newest offering; I think it came out sometime last month. Unlike the Cover FX and the NYX, it isn't a dropper, but just a little squeeze bottle. The liquid is also much thicker than the other three, but it still blends out really nicely. This one came the closest to what I was looking for - it covers my skin but doesn't feel like heavy makeup, and wears well throughout the day. I also like that it has SPF, but I wouldn't use this as my only source of SPF - you'd have to use too much product to get the needed amount of SPF, and you'd end up with super full coverage makeup!

Have any of you ever tried any of these, or any other no-makeup foundations? Let me know if the comments!

(This post uses affiliate links, but does not change my opinions in any way.)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Weekend Dining and Culture

This weekend, a friend's gallery opening took me out to Coraopolis, a neighborhood outside of Pittsburgh that I don't get to often. It was her first solo show at a gallery, and I am so proud of her! She does hyper-realistic art - her paintings basically look like photographs, which is incredible. You can check out her Etsy site here to see more of her amazing work!

Since we were in the area - and because it was my parent's anniversary! - my family went out to dinner at the Hyeholde. The Hyeholde is an institution - it's been around since 1938. It's owned by the daughter of the original owner, and the building is beautiful - it really has so much old-world charm. The dining room is small but exquisite, and the food was all beyond amazing. The Hyeholde has a no cell phone policy in the dining room, which was actually really refreshing, but it means I don't have any pictures to share! I did snap this picture quickly outside, though.

I picked up this red dress from ASOS earlier this summer, but had to find the right occasion to wear it. I love the lace, and the peplum detailing - it works well for me because it gives me a little extra room around my feeding tube, which I appreciate. The color is nice and bright and perfect for the end of summer. You can find some other similar bright lacy dresses below!

I also went to Eighth & Hays for dinner to celebrate a friend's birthday. Eighth & Hays is a new pizza kitchen/wine bar opened in Homestead, really near to the Waterfront, a big shopping center. It's a 21+ restaurant, with a small but frequently-changing menu.

They have some unique appetizers and pizza choices - I was especially excited for the lobster pizza!

The interior is small, but cozy, and I can't wait to go back in the winter when the fireplaces will be roaring.

(This post uses affiliate links, but does not change my opinions in any way.)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Currently Watching, 8/11/2017

Happy Friday! This was my first full week with no summer class, so I'm trying to enjoy my extra time for the next few weeks until my fall classes start as much as I can. I've been reading more, but I've also been watching TV (as usual), and I want to highlight the show Difficult People this week - Season 3 just premiered earlier this week.

Difficult People is a comedy on Hulu that focuses on the lives of two New Yorkers. I think the show is hilarious - it's definitely a darker kind of humor, though - and I really think they've done an amazing job putting together a diverse cast. They have gender diversity, sexuality diversity, racial diversity, and even disabled diversity!

Shannon DeVido plays a character who is in a wheelchair, because the actress is in a wheelchair in real life. The fact that she is in a wheelchair isn't ignored, but it's also not the central to her character's role in the show. DeVido's character is also not the stereotypical nice, sweet girl in a wheelchair, which I think is so refreshing and honest. It's really exciting to see a character in a wheelchair who is treated as more than their wheelchair. I've read articles talking about the first time people "see" themselves on TV - meaning the first time they see a character who looks like them - and DeVido's character in Difficult People was the first time I "saw myself."

All in all, the show is amazing, and I'm really looking forward to the rest of Season 3!