Friday, July 31, 2020

Friday Favorites

This week has felt long, and yet I can't believe that it's already the end of July. It was a big week for me - I presented during Pitt's Diversity Forum about disability inclusion in academia (I'll share a video when it's ready). It was really exciting to be part of such a big event, but I'm also looking forward to a little relaxation this weekend now that it's over.
On to the favorites...

Today is the last day that you can endorse me for my WEGO Health Award for my Instagram! Just click the link here, click the "thumbs up" that says "Endorse this patient leader," and enter your information. Thank you to everyone who has endorsed me so far!

I have been listening to Taylor Swift's new album on repeat since it came out last week. I love listening to the stories that she tells with her lyrics, and that storytelling really shines through on this album.

I haven't had much use for Google Maps recently, but I was still excited to see that they've added a feature to make it more easy to find information about accessibility for places on their map. Looking forward to the day when I can try it out!

For the first time in the magazine's history (and in what is typically considered the most important month for magazines), Oprah put someone other than herself on the cover of her magazine. It's a touching tribute and a reminder to keep fighting for justice.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

30 Years of the ADA

I mentioned in this post that July is Disability Pride Month - it's a fitting month to celebrate, because it's the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA was signed into law 30 years ago this month, making it just slightly younger than me.
Image via Alyssa Silva
I think that a lot of people know about the ADA in a really vague, general way. They think that because the ADA exists, accessibility problems are now solved. But in reality, that's far from the case. There's still a stigma surrounding accessibility and accommodations; there's still a belief that we should be grateful for the times that things are accessible, as if people are doing it out of the goodness of their hearts and not because they're required by law.

When I think about inaccessibility, it falls into a few general categories for me. The first is when things are just flat-out inaccessible. These might be older structures, like a restaurant with steps, or newer things like Uber and Lyft. It might not be legal, but since the onus is on me (or other people with disabilities) to report inaccessibility, they persist. It's endlessly frustrating, and I basically operate on the assumption that things are inaccessible until proven otherwise. I would have hoped, 30 years post-ADA, that there wouldn't be as many of these cases as there are.

Then there's the things that are technically accessible, but require jumping through some extra hoops. A few years ago, I went with a good friend to a fancy event in DC, held in the US Chamber of Commerce. Everyone else went through the big stone front steps, but we had to get in around the back, down a darkly-lit alley, and then be escorted throughout the building. Is it cool to see the parts that no one else got to? Sure! But going in through a dark alley lacks a bit of the wow factor, and doesn't make you feel valued. And so many buildings have entrances like this - where you have to go in a separate entrance that you may or may not be able to find by yourself.

For me to get into Federal Galley, a restaurant in Pittsburgh's North Side, an employee has to come out, take me into a parking garage, through a keycard-protected door, past the restaurant's kitchen, and then onto an elevator. If I were going alone, without an able-bodied friend to go into the restaurant and let them know we needed help, how would I ever get in?

I could (and have) write a whole post about flying while disabled - not all planes are accessible, and I have to board very early and get off very last... spending a long time on a plane without an accessible bathroom! Can I fly? Yes. Is it a smooth, easy process? Definitely not.

And finally - there's the structural things. Policies that incentivize me to remain under-employed, policies that stop disabled people from getting married because their joint income would force them to lose their extremely-necessary benefits. Even small things like the sidewalk policies here in Pittsburgh, which require homeowners to maintain their own sidewalks. Generally, they don't, so they're cracked and difficult for me to drive over, or covered in un-shoveled snow in the winter.

Clearly - we haven't solved accessibility. Of course, I'm incredibly grateful for the ADA, and for the advocates that fought for it. I don't even want to imagine what my life would have been without it. But I don't want us to be complacent about accessibility, either. There is still work to be done. I look forward to when accessibility is the default and not the outlier.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Recent Reads

I got in some great reading time this past month. I've loved spending time outside reading in the summer heat - it's just so relaxing to me. I will say, though, that I miss the post-work reading with a Starbucks at Schenley Plaza that I'd typically be doing this time of year. I've been doing my best to replicate it with my Nespresso cappuccino here at home!

Here's what I've been reading.

I was so excited for this book, and it did not disappoint! Zoje is the author of Baby Teeth, which I also loved, so I was really looking forward to reading what she wrote next. (I also met her briefly at an event here in Pittsburgh!) Once I started reading, I legitimately couldn't put it down until I finished. She writes so descriptively and captivatingly. This is a psychological thriller like Baby Teeth, but also a bit more straight-up horror. It follows a family who moves out to a house in the middle of nowhere, where some strange things start happening.

I never really used to be a memoir reader, but I've been reading a lot more of them recently -  maybe since I'm having less human connection in person, I want more glimpses of other people's lives through books. I have seen Elaine on Project Runway, but didn't know much else about her. I loved following her trajectory both professionally and personally, and her drive and ambition made me want to do more, ha!

There's a movie starring Glenn Close based on this book, but I haven't seen it. I have, however, read other books by Meg Wolitzer and I always love them. This book was also about ambition and success - and about sacrifices you have to make to get where you think you want to go. It wasn't a long read, but I really enjoyed it.

Another memoir! Part of me always wanted to work for a magazine, so I love reading about the behind-the-scenes from people who did. Andrè Leon Talley is iconic now, but it was fascinating to read about how he got to where he is, and about being Black while ascending the ranks. Plus there's good fashion-insider gossip sprinkled throughout!

This is set in the 1920s, but the themes about feeling split between two worlds and trying to figure out where you fit in are really timeless. I always love reading about the 20s, and imagining the excess and glitz and glamour (while wearing pajamas, ha!).

Jasmine Guillory writes really great rom-com books that aren't too cheesy for me. This was so fun to read, but it had depth to it, too - it explored dating as a Black woman in the public eye. It's a great summer read.

I've been looking forward to this for a year or so - it's the sequel to The Royal We. I wish I had re-read The Royal We before I started this one, to help me remember more, because it picks up right where the last one lets off. It's a fun, fictional look at what it's like to marry into the British Royal Family (the first book was written well before Meghan Markle married Prince Harry), and how it's probably more difficult than it might seem at first glance.

I loved how this book tackled balancing so many aspects of life - motherhood and career, friends and relationships, career and romance. The characters really drew me in, and I cringed and celebrated along with them.

This book was excellent. It follows two Black sisters, both light-skinned, and how their lives diverge when one of them starts to live as a White woman. It delves into race, and relationships, and family, and belonging, and it's beautifully written. Highly recommend.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Being An Advocate

Being a disability advocate is something that I'm so proud of now, but it wasn't necessarily a label that I would have claimed for all of my life. I've mentioned before that I've always been a self-advocate out of pure necessity - my parents were always strong advocates for my needs, but as someone with a disability, you learn quickly how important it is to stick up for your needs if you want them to be met. But beyond advocating for myself, I wasn't always super active as an advocate for the larger disability community.

Part of this, I think, was that I wanted people to see me beyond just my wheelchair. I was afraid that if I focused too much on disability issues, I'd be pigeonholed and stereotyped. But as I learned, and grew, and became more comfortable with myself, I realized that I didn't need people to see beyond my wheelchair. What I actually needed was for them to see and accept my wheelchair, and understand that my disability was a part of me, but that there was more to me, too.

And this blog - and my Instagram - were my first steps (if you will) towards doing this. I figured what better way for people to understand how my disability fit into my life than to write about it, and to share snapshots about it? It seemed like the perfect way to share my life with my disability, but also my life with my dog, and cute dresses, and anything and everything else.
So that's why I'm so excited to have been nominated for a WEGO Health Award for Best in Show: Instagram - because it feels like people understand what I'm trying to do! It's a reminder that there are many ways to be an advocate, and one of those ways is sharing my life on my blog and Instagram. I feel really honored that other people are seeing that, too.

I'd really appreciate if you'd be willing to endorse me - just a short note about what you follow me and why you think I deserve to win! The endorsements will be read by the judges, to help them decide who should be finalists, and are open through Friday. As a bonus, if I get enough endorsements, I automatically move ahead to the next round. You can click here and then click the thumbs up icon that says "Endorse this Patient Leader" to leave me an endorsement - your support in this (and everything else) means the world to me.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Friday Favorites

I don't really have much to share this week. I can't believe we're almost at the end of July - sometimes it feels like things are as normal as they can be, and sometimes it seems so surreal that I haven't gone anywhere since March! I stopped counting days a long time ago, but I know I'm into triple digits now.

We did celebrate my dad's birthday this week! Just a low key celebration at home, of course, but fun nonetheless.
On to the favorites.

I loved everything about this article written by a disabled actor about disability inclusion in theater. It needs to be inclusive in every respect - for the audience, yes, but also in the actors and the playwrights and the venues. And the point to go beyond the bare minimum is so key! I just kept nodding my head the whole time I read this!

I bought this on a whim, but it seriously works! I put my hair up with it after the shower, and it really helped my hair to air dry faster. It definitely gets heavy, though, as it draws in more water.

I love Dan Levy and Schitt's Creek. I've posted Hot Ones interviews before, and this one was great! It's also fun to hear some of the behind-the-scenes of Schitt's Creek.

One of my friends makes these wire creations, which are so cool! I had her make one for my dad's birthday that says "Alexa water the garden," because he's very into his backyard garden. I'm so excited to put it in the yard this weekend!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Perfect T-Shirt Dress

I'm constantly in search of the "perfect" version of my favorite items of clothing. Perfect t-shirt, perfect cashmere sweater, perfect sweaterdress. And since I'm working from home for the foreseeable future, my clothes have gotten a bit more relaxed - I've been living in different versions of comfy, easy summer dresses of all kinds. In my attempts to find things that fit the bill, I recently found what I think is the perfect t-shirt dress.
It's gotten much hotter here now, but there were a few days earlier this month where it was in the 70s when I went outside to work in the mornings. Not cool by any means, but not hot, either - perfect t-shirt dress weather, and I didn't really have one that I loved. After seeing about a hundred ads for Summersalt across all forms of social media, I decided that I was going to give them a shot. Technically, they are a swimsuit company, but they also make loungewear, pajamas, and dresses/cover-ups. I was sold when I read about their clothes having "moisture-wicking, sun protecting" properties. And I figured that any dress that doubled as a cover-up had to be comfortable.
I was right! This t-shirt dress is so incredibly comfy and yet still cute - which is basically the highest praise I give things these days. It doesn't feel thin or flimsy like I would imagine a cover-up might - it's even thicker than some of my Amazon dresses! But it also doesn't feel heavy or hot when I'm wearing it. And it's the perfect material - soft, and a bit stretchy. Because they (can) double as cover-ups, the dresses are not form-fitting at all. I ordered a tank top dress, too, but even the XS was just too wide/shapeless on me - I think their sizing runs a bit big. 

It's been in the upper 80s or even 90s here recently, but I know that when it cools down just a bit I'll be wearing this dress all the time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Marking the Occasion

I have a bit of a tradition where I buy myself a piece of jewelry after major life events. Sometimes, I do it to cheer myself up, and sometimes it's more of a commemorative keepsake. Regardless of the motivation behind it, though, every time I wear the jewelry I think about what I've gone through or accomplished, and what it's done for my life.
The first time I did this, I had just graduated college. I wasn't really a class ring kind of person, but I wanted something to remember my experience by. Since my birthstone is a sapphire, and I've always loved them, I chose a really simple sapphire pendant (that I have since replaced the chain of, but still wear all the time). I love having that memory and thinking of it every time I wear the necklace.

The next big life moment for me was my feeding tube surgery - and this is why I say sometimes it's to cheer myself up. I've shared about getting a feeding tube here before, but to make a long story short, it was an incredibly stressful and fraught decision for me, and one that I resisted for a while. So after I went through with it (and felt much better!), I bought myself a sapphire ring as a reminder of... all of it. Of going through the stressful time, of making a really tough decision, and of coming out stronger because of it.

Which brings me to my grad school graduation! This was a huge moment for me - after being a part-time student for over five years, sometimes it felt like I was never actually going to graduate. (In fact, when people asked me, early on, when I was going to graduate, I often answered with "never.") It was just a very long time to be in school for a masters, especially because I kept getting older while the incoming students did not! So finishing the program felt like a really big deal, and something I wanted to acknowledge.
I think I originally heard of Edge of Ember because it's a brand that Meghan Markle has worn before - but as soon as I started browsing their website, I knew right away what I wanted to get. It's called the "Journey Charm," which I just thought was so fitting, because my time in graduate school did feel like a journey. It has a compass design on it, and to me, it was really emblematic of my life over the last few years. It's felt like things have started to come together, and I've been following my gut (a compass of sorts, if you will) to figure out how to take everything I've learned over the past few years and move forward to the next step on my journey.

I love it so much - I've barely taken it off since it's arrived! And I know that it's something that will always remind me of my time as a graduate student, and what I've accomplished.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Outdoor Movie Night

I have been eyeing a projector for a while, as I've been spending more and more time outside and in my yard. I decided that this was the ideal time to just go for it - not only can I watch TV/movies myself, but it's the perfect way to have a socially distanced, outdoor movie night with one or two friends.

I've hit the point in quarantine where any slight deviation from my normal routine seems new and exciting. So the thought of watching a movie, outside, with people who don't live with me... basically mind-blowing! I guess one of the upsides of this pandemic is that I am really, really appreciative of the small things. I still have not gone anywhere, and really have only seen one or two people who aren't part of my immediate family, so basically any type of social interaction is a big deal. I appreciate it so much!

I also just think there's something so fun about watching a movie outdooors - it's like my own personal drive-in, which is so nostalgic for me. I did lots and lots of research on projectors, and ended up with this one. I had read lots of cautionary tales about Disney+, Netflix, etc. not letting you stream from your phone to the projector, so I wanted one that I could easily plug a Roku or Firestick into. Battery life was also a concern for me - we had picked Hamilton as our movie of choice (of course), and I wanted to make sure we'd be able to watch all three hours of it without the battery dying. I couldn't believe how clear the picture was - I was so impressed! I also got this screen - you can totally use a white sheet, too, but this screen was super easy to hang on the hooks that it came with me, and it didn't wrinkle at all.
And it's not a movie night without snacks! To make sure there would be no shared food, everyone had their own little individual popcorn bucket, and their own super cute ice cream bowl (my sister specifically requested these particular bowls, ha!). I wanted to make sure everyone could fully enjoy the movie night experience without breaking any social distancing rules.

Honestly, this felt like the perfect way to spend a summer night right now. I'm so thankful to have the backyard to be able to do this, and to have friends who understand the need for extra precautions. Even if you're not as high-risk as I am, this is a great summer pandemic activity!

Friday, July 17, 2020

Friday Favorites

This week has managed to somehow feel both short and long at the same time. I think sometimes it just hits me that I actually haven't left my house since mid-March, and it doesn't seem like that could possibly be real. But then I also see the numbers of cases around me going up, and staying up, and I know that the end is still a while away. It's been frustrating, to say the least. I'm going to do my best this weekend to just enjoy, and not dwell.

On to this week's favorites.

ONE - Disney+
I have really been leaning into the comfort/nostalgia watches on Disney+ this week. I've watched both Princess Diaries movies, Freaky Friday, and The Parent Trap. (Obviously, I've also re-watched Hamilton a few times.) Highly recommend as comfort TV!

Was anyone else as obsessed with Cher's closet and software from Clueless as I was?! I was so jealous of it! I loved this deep dive into the behind-the-scenes of it.

Aisha Dee, one of the actresses of The Bold Type (a show that I love!) is speaking out about her experiences on the show, and the need for more diversity. I love that she talks about telling authentic stories, and not just by authentic casting, but also by making sure the writes room is diverse and representative of the stories you want to tell.

I think I may have shared these in my small business jewelers post, but I'm seriously obsessed. I love how dainty they are, but how different, too!

FIVE - Babysitters Club
I loved the reboot of the Babysitters Club on Netflix! I love the originals (books and movie), and thought they did a really impressive job updating it while staying true to the characters. Plus, the storyline of how Dawn accepts her diabetes was so empowering to watch during Disability Pride Month!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Disability Pride

Did you know that July is Disability Pride Month? Unless you're disabled yourself, you probably don't - it's only something that I learned about it within the last year or two. July is a special month for people with disabilities because it coincides with the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (which happened 30 years ago!). So it seems like a very fitting time to celebrate disability pride.
Disability pride, as a concept, is a complicated one for me. Disability and my identity are so tightly intertwined, and it's always been a fraught journey for me of finding the line between disability being a huge part of my identity, and disability being the ONLY part of my identity.... or at least the the only part of my identity that people remember. It's more of an external struggle than an internal one, really. I've lived with my disability my whole life; I'm very comfortable with my disability. But society is less comfortable with it, and the reactions tend to take one of two extremes - either an extreme discomfort with my disability, and a desire to ignore it, to pretend like it isn't there, or to say something like "Oh, I don't even think of you as disabled!" or "Oh, I forget you have a disability!"

And both of those reactions make it crystal clear to me why Disability Pride Month is so important. I don't want you to forget I have a disability - I certainly never forget. If you forget, you might also forget to notice the prevalent inaccessibility that continues to exists (even though, you remember, it has been 30 years since the ADA was passed). If anything, as my friend, I want you to be extra aware of accessibility issues, both so that you can advocate for changes, and so that you can tell me if there's a new coffee shop or restaurant that I won't be able to get in to. And I do want you to feel comfortable acknowledging my disability, rather than trying to pretend like it isn't there. Ask me questions.... politely, and in the course of a conversation, not as if I'm being interviewed. If you're not sure if I'm able to do something/go somewhere, just ask rather than assuming. You're never going to get more comfortable with disability until you understand it better, and you can't do that without talking and asking.

So I know why there's a Disability Pride Month. But if you were to ask me, individually, if my disability is something that I'm proud of, I wouldn't be able to give a straight answer. It's certainly not something that I'm ashamed of! But I'm not sure that I'm proud of it, either, much like I'm not proud of my hair, or my eyes. It's just another part of me that makes me.... me. I do think that I wouldn't be who I am today were I not disabled - it has shaped my life, and my experiences, in every possible way. And I do want disability to be celebrated and acknowledged. I want people to be comfortable with disability, with all of its nuances, and I want that awareness to result in actual change. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Long Lashes

Mascara has always been the makeup item I've been most obsessed with - finding just the perfect one to make my eyelashes look extra long and thick. When eyelash extensions started getting big, I really considered doing it, but after I saw the upkeep involved, and how they start to fall out if you're not careful and don't keep up with them, I decided it wasn't for me. But I really loved the long lashes look that they gave.
A few months ago, one of my sister's friends was visiting from out of town, and when we were catching up, I noticed that her eyelashes looked extra long (weird thing to notice, I know!) and asked her if she had gotten extensions. She hadn't, but told me that she had been using the Grande Lash MD eyelash serum for a few months leading up to her wedding. Clearly, it was working, and I was intrigued.

Because I tend to be somewhat cautious about things like this, I did some research - looking into the different options, possible side effects, pricing, etc. Grande Lash was the most reasonably priced while still seeming to be actually effective, and the only real side effects I could find were a slight stinging and burning, so I decided to go for it. I bought the smaller trial size from Sephora to start, because I didn't want to waste more money if I ended up not liking it. Happily, that was not the case, and I'm going to be buying the full size soon!
I've been using mine for about a month now, and my eyelashes are definitely noticeably longer. It's hard to get a good picture, but you can tell how long they are still! When I open my eyes all the way, my lashes hit the skin right below my eyebrows.

It's super easy to apply - you just put it on like an eyeliner (right on the skin by your lash line) once a night before bed. Then, once your lashes get to the length you want (it probably will take about 4 - 6 weeks), you can start using it less, just 2 or 3 times a week. Super simple, and definitely worth it.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Surviving Summer Allergies

This year more than ever, it seems like my allergies will not quit! It's probably because working from home lets me spend more time outside than ever, and I'm definitely taking advantage. And while I definitely am enjoying that perk, I am less enjoying what allergies are doing to me. My friends and I were actually texting about this a few weeks ago, and trading tips and tricks of what has worked best for us to alleviate the symptoms. So I thought I'd share mine, and I'd love to hear any you have for me too!
Ditch the contacts
Dry, itchy eyes are one of the worst parts about allergies for me. They just feel like they're scratchy all the time, and it's so annoying. This summer, I've been wearing glasses instead of contacts almost every day, and I think it's helped a bit in relieving some of that dryness. It's not a perfect fix, but it's a start, and a break for my eyes.

Use eye drops
Sometimes, just swapping out contacts for glasses still isn't enough for me. So when my eyes are still super dry, I add in some eye drops. I don't go for any of the brightening/whitening ones, just the basic ones like this. It's basically instantaneous relief (but of course... be careful if you're wearing mascara!).

Picking the right treatment
Over the years, I have made my way through all of the different over-the-counter treatments - Allegra, Claritin, Zyrtec, Xyzal. For me, Xyzal seems to work best at dealing with all over allergy symptoms, but sometimes you have to try a few different ones to find the right one for you! Keep in mind what you're looking to help, too - if a runny nose is your biggest concern, a nasal spray like Flonase will probably be better than a pill.

Close the windows
This is a sad one, I think, because a cool breeze through the windows on a hot evening can feel so nice. But I've noticed that I wake up with such a stuffy nose if I sleep with the windows open! So if you're noticing your allergies are especially bad one day, make sure you're not bringing them inside, too.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Friday Favorites

Time always feels confusing to me after a holiday weekend - I spent a lot of time this week not really being sure what day it was! It has been super hot here this week - overwhelmingly sticky and humid - and I'm hoping that it's a little more bearable this weekend so I can enjoy my outside time a little bit more. But of course... I have no other big weekend plans, as usual.
Last weekend my "big plans" involved watching Hamilton! I went all out - Hamilton shirt, tumbler, and Playbill from one of my in-person views. It was fun to make it into an "event," since there isn't that much to look forward to right now.

On to the favorites!

I can't believe that I forgot to share this last week! I wrote a guest blog for Visit Pittsburgh about the things I'm most looking forward to doing when I can be out and about again. Not surprisingly, coffee features heavily.

Obviously, I've watched Hamilton on Disney+ multiple times now. This is a fun Q&A with the original cast (obviously, via Zoom). I am here for all the Hamilton content!

I've been using this moisturizer for a few months now, and I really like it. I was afraid it would be too heavy, but it's almost a gel consistency. The best part is the container - usually, I stay away from jars because of germs and contamination, but this one has a push-down to dispense mechanism that's genius.

I think a lot of people are struggling with their mental health right now. This is a great article of how to help when you're not sure what to do or say.

You know how sometimes you feel like things are created specifically for you? This is one of those times for me. Two Pittsburgh Pirates players joined forces with the cast of Hadestown to do a cover of Wait For Me. It's SO good!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

My Experience as an NLC Fellow

At the end of the summer last year, I got an e-mail letting me know that I had been nominated to apply to be an NLC Fellow. I was intrigued, but largely, I was confused - I had never heard of the NLC before, and I didn't (and still don't, actually) have any idea who nominated me.

Some of my best experiences in life have come when I wasn't sure about something but decided to just go for it - participating in Ms. Wheelchair USA, starting Accessible YOUniverse. So, after some Googling to figure out what exactly NLC was (more on that in a minute), I decided this was another opportunity that I needed to just go for - and I'm so glad that I did.
For those of you who are like me and aren't sure what NLC is - it stands for New Leaders Council, and their fellowship is a months-long training program for emerging progressive leaders. Typically, you meet one weekend a month (both days, mostly all day long) for about six months. Now, obviously, my program started out that way, and then had to pivot and figure out how to make the program work completely virtually. While the format changed, the content didn't. We heard from people involved in progressive work across a wide variety of fields - business, non-profit, elected officials - about their work, and how they came to be involved. We also had sessions focused on ourselves, as leaders - where we learned to tell our stories, and where we dug deep to really think about our values and our goals.

It will sound incredibly cliche, but truly, the best part of the program was meeting all of the other fellows. I think the most disappointing part of having to go virtual was not getting to spend more face-to-face time together, as a group. It was just such an empowering experience to be surrounded by such a passionate group of people. While we each may have had different areas of interest, the desire to do something, to be involved and make some sort of impact really brought us together quickly. And there was really an atmosphere of lifting each other up. I think it could have quickly become competitive, but instead, everyone wanted to see the others' ideas succeed, and wanted to help in whatever way they could.

If you want to find out more about the NLC, you can check out their website here. And if this sounds like something you'd be interested in, please e-mail me at - I'd be happy to talk more!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Beachwaver Braid Balm Review

It has been so hot lately, and since I haven't gotten my hair cut since pre-pandemic times (January? February? I can't actually remember...), my hair is long, heavy, and hot. To get it out of my face, I've been pulling it back in a French braid a few times a week while it's still wet - it keeps it off my shoulders, and I don't have to worry about blow drying it.
The other plus is that if I leave it in the braid for a full day, when I take it out I have perfectly wavy hair with very little effort involved at all. I always laugh when people compliment me on it, because I think of it as my lazy hairstyle!
I've learned that using some product in my hair while it's wet, before I braid it, helps the braid to stay in place and helps the waves to hold better after I take the braid out. This Beachwaver "braid balm" came up as an ad while I was scrolling through Facebook, so I decided to give it a try.

First of all - it smells so good, and reminds me of the beach! I figure this is as close to a body of water as I'm going to get for a while, so I'll take what I can get. It's basically a mousse, so I spread it all over my hair and then comb it through. It says you can use it from the roots to the ends, but I found that if I put too much at the roots it's a little crunchy, so I apply lightly at the top.

It did a great job keeping my waves looking smooth and frizz-free once the braid was out. I thought they looked, and felt, really nice. I still add a little hairspray afterwards because my hair falls super easily, but if your hair holds a curl/wave better, the braid balm might be enough for you. All in all, I'm really happy with the braid balm, and it makes my work-from-home hairstyles much simpler.

Monday, July 6, 2020

My Favorite Sunscreens

I have been spending more time than ever outside this summer, and so I've had to be extra careful about making sure I'm wearing sunscreen. I burn super easily, so I take it seriously - nothing below SPF 30.

Also - let this post serve as your reminder that if you're still using sunscreen from last summer, it's time to throw it out and open a new one! They lose their efficacy and while using a year-old one won't harm you, it won't protect you from the sun.

Here are my go-to sunscreen choices, for my face and my body.

Face Sunscreen

I have worn this for years, regardless of season, under my makeup. It's very, very thin, and really just feels like a lightweight moisturizer. It doesn't break me out at all or feel heavy on my skin. If you're looking for something simple, this is a great choice.

This is a recent addition that I've been loving - I've actually been wearing it every day in place of makeup because it's slightly tinted. It's very glowy, though, like the name implies, so I mix it with the Paula's Choice so that I don't look like a disco ball after a few hours. It also doesn't make me break out, and it doesn't feel like I'm wearing makeup, either.

Body Sunscreen

I prefer spray-on sunscreens to lotions because it's easier for other people to apply it on me that way - but I'm also super picky in that I don't want it to have alcohol in it, and a lot of the ones from major brands do. I love this one because it's alcohol free, and sprays on fairly easily. However, it definitely needs to be rubbed in a little bit after it's sprayed on.

Someone shared this on an Instagram story (sadly, I can't remember who!) and I bought it almost instantly. It's also alchol-free, and it sprays in more of a mist than the La Roche-Posay one does. Just make sure to give it a few minutes to dry down, because it's pretty "wet" straight out of the can.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Friday Favorites

It has been a WEEK. Lily had to go to the emergency vet on Wednesday night after hours because she somehow hurt her leg - we're still not really sure what happened, but fingers crossed, it seems to just be a sprain. It made for a long night, though, and I was very happy that I had already decided to take Thursday off to extend my holiday weekend. What a start to July!

On to this week's favorites...
I'm so excited to announce that I've been nominated for a WEGO Health award for my Instagram! They're an organization that really supports patient leaders and advocates, and I'm so honored to be nominated. I'd really appreciate if you'd endorse me to help me make it to the next round! Just click the link above and click the thumbs up icon that says "Endorse."

The Hamilton movie comes out today!! To say I'm excited would be an understatement. This video of the original cast singing Helpless on Jimmy Fallon was the perfect little teaser.

Cloth masks are only useful if you clean them every time you wear them! If you were wondering about the best way to make sure they're actually clean, this is a great explainer.

If you haven't watched the Eurovision movie on Netflix yet, with Will Ferrell, Rachel McAdams, and Dan Stevens, you have to! Even if you're not familiar with what Eurovision is, it's still such a great, funny movie. And then read this article about how they wrote the songs for the movie!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

My Favorite Small Business Jewelers

Because I've been really leaning into comfort in my fashion choices lately (and, in turn, lots of re-wearing), I've felt the need to step up my jewelry game. I figure that if I'm going to wear the same dress again, I can at least change it up with a different necklace or pair of earrings. And it's also been a way for me to feel like I'm able to support some small businesses, who are likely struggling right now, while also getting some fun new jewelry pieces that I love.
I'm sharing a few of my favorite small business jewelers below - let me know of your favorites so I know where to shop next!

I found out about Blakbird through a Pittsburgh Instagram account highlighting Black-owned businesses, and immediately knew I had to buy a pair of her earrings. I love that they're statement earrings but still have a simple, chic design. I'm wearing them in the picture above - I got the Maryen hoops!

I found this company on Madewell's website, but wanted to support them directly and check out all of their offerings. I love how dainty their designs are! I picked up a pair of earrings for myself, and got my friend who is a breast cancer survivor the pair that looks like boobs. So perfect.

Not the first time that I'm sharing Old Soul, but I have since purchased a few more pairs of earrings and the Etsy shop has really expanded. So many options to choose from, and all sustainable and shipped in sustainable packaging, too!