Thursday, September 11, 2014

In need of a good laugh?

Hi everyone. I've been at a business conference this week; missing my family but enjoying being able to take leisurely evening baths. I get home late tonight, work tomorrow, and then leave for a 10-day vacation. I'm really hoping this will be a trip where I can disconnect and really relax. But it's a busy time at work so we'll see.

I won't be posting while I am gone so I want to leave you all with my recommendation for when you need a good laugh: Eddie Izzard! I love this guy. He's smart and funny and his HBO show "Dressed to Kill" from years ago can be streamed on Netflix (or on Vimeo) along with all his other one-man shows. "Dressed to Kill" is heavily quoted when I'm around my family and watching it never gets old. It's always a perfect pick-me-up. And along with being a great comedian Eddie a fabulous actor who I really enjoyed in the underrated The Riches.

If I could I'd totally vote for him for mayor of London.

Image via.

Friday, September 5, 2014

What's your vice?

So it's Friday and the end of my work week is getting closer and I am feeling excited about picking up the Pepper from daycare, coming home, hanging out, and then once D is done with his work sharing our Friday tradition: tequila shots! Ok, I know that sounds really immature but there is something about a tequila shot that really relaxes me. It's like a little hammer to anxiety. And sometimes I need a little help unwinding and easing into the slower pace of the weekend.

I can admit that of all the vices alcohol is probably mine. I've never been interested in smoking, I eat pretty healthily, I stick to an exercise routine. But everyone gets to have one vice right? And I am a lady who enjoys a glass of wine. Or a little sipping tequila (and of course I'm talking about in moderation). I like the social aspect of drinking and love getting together with friends over some wine. I also enjoy the times D and I have to ourselves and we pour some drinks and sit on the porch and talk. It's probably a cultural thing. The family I grew up in often included alcohol in meals or get-to-gethers. My mom is from a former British colony and she herself grew up with a 5pm daily cocktail hour so that spilled over into my home life. But it always made things feel social as people would come over to have a cocktail and everyone would sit around the table and talk while they enjoyed their drink. Even kids too young to drink knew it was a time designated to sitting back and relaxing and being together.

Now that we are so close to wine country I'm hoping to take more trips up to the beautiful Santa Ynez. Also, loved this validating article on the benefits of combining wine and fitness :)

Cheers to Friday! I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Image via.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Finally I've bought new sunglasses

 
I've been in need of new sunglasses. My current two pairs of sunglasses have been great but I bought them off of Etsy years ago and they weren't the highest quality and they are falling apart. One actually has duct tape holding it together and the other has stuff flaking off of it. I live in a very hot and sunny place and sunglasses are something I have to wear everyday. But I also have a hard time spending a lot of money on accessories. As much as I admire those that can pile on the accessories and make it look amazing, I just don't like using them myself. So for me, the accessories I have are practical.

Thank goodness for Moorea Seal. I just discovered them and they have great but affordable accessories! I just bought myself two pairs of sunglasses and I can't wait for them to arrive. I was tempted to get something really fun like these extreme cateyes but held back at the last minute. Luckily I can always go back for more :) I do already have my eye on some earrings.

Image of the Tessa.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Favorites from around the web...

1) Wow. This is an impactful perspective on a horrible disease.

2) I love the idea behind this but also as a fan of mythology I enjoyed reading all the stories around these interesting women.

3) I'm sure the effort needed would not be worth it but I do one day want to make these cookies.

4) These are good reminders, especially the last one.

5) This made me laugh, especially how it concludes. Having worked in an office I can also totally imagine the disruption his caused.

6) I think everyone should read what this man has to say about his experience being a hermit. What stuck me those most was "with no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant." I've been ruminating on it all week.

7) Inspired by these. You go girl!

8) I think this is very true. We are not all so different! We all work hard and are all doing our best.

9) This show looks amazing.

10) These days I'm not good about staying up-to-date on world events and news. So I appreciate when Jon Stewart breaks it down for me and brings the element of reason sometimes lacking form other media outlets.

Image via.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Unusually excited about growing my own herbs

The above picture isn't the prettiest but I wanted to share it because I am unexpectedly excited about my tiny growing basil plants! I've been wanting to grow my own herbs for a long time but in our loft in LA there just wasn't the right place to do it. We didn't have a sunny window sill for pots and I wasn't prepared to get crafty and build some amazing at-home herb tower like some of my friends did. But, now that we are in a new home I have the perfect kitchen window sill. I bought these pots, this soil, and these seeds. I started off slow: I planted some basil and parley seeds and anxiously waited to see if anything woudl happen. Within days I had adorable little basil shoots! The parsely took longer but yesterday I saw my first little parsley plant poke up from the soil. I'm thrilled.

So now I've also planted some mint and some cilantro and I'm obsessively watching to see how tings develop. I've always hated purchasing herbs because I feel I can never buy the portion I actually want or need. Growing my own feels economical, and it was surprisingly easy. If all goes well with these first four I'm going to want to expand my little garden (though I know D will have a problem if pots start taking over his kitchen).

Anyone have any tips for indoor herb growing?

Picture of my little basil plants

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Pepper's current obsession: anything with wheels

Thankfully my little girl is still obsessed with her books but a new obsession recently emerged and I'm excited about it: cars! Actually, all things with wheels. This includes cars, trucks, bikes, and particularity motorcycles. She loves watching cars drive down the rode, she points out trucks or buses, and motorcycles are just fascinating to her. There is a restaurant here in Ojai called the Deer Lodge and it is a popular spot for motorcyclists because it's on a windy lovely road. It's become one of our favorite restaurants because it brings the Pepper so much entertainment. We walk outside and look at all the motorcycles and talk about the different colors and ornamentation. But the real fun is when the motorcyclists come out to leave. We watch them get their gear on and then wave to them as they vroom away. Exciting stuff! And the best part is that the motorcyclists get such a kick out of the Pepper's interest that they are so sweet and friendly and chatty and they play it up for her.

I'm happy about this new interest because I like that it's gender neutral. I guess you could even say it's considered more of a boy thing. But since I don't like to think to much in gender I like that this came into our lives. I've been thinking of gender and toys since we visited some new friends with a 2 year old boy the other week. He had a lot of cool things I wouldn't have thought to get for the Pepper, including some large plastic dinosaurs. And my little girl loved it all. It will help me think a little more "outside the box" when it's time to next upgrade her toys.

I also want to note hat motorcycles scare me. A lot. So while I support the Pepper's interest in them there is something about it that also worries me. My parents gave us a lot of freedom but there was one big thing on the "don't to it" list and that was ride motorcycles (we'd known too many tragedies). Flash forward and I ended up marrying a guy who used to work as a motorcycle courier. D grew up riding motorcycles with his dad so for him it was a normal part of life. This was a hidden side of him until a few years into our relationship. When I met D he didn't have a motorcycle but when he started his PhD he bought one to reduce his commute time and I almost had a heart attack. It seemed like death on wheels. But I had to get used to the idea and while his riding always worried me I got used to it and mostly just decided that I had to trust him to be as safe a driver as possible.

Hopefully the Pepper will grow up just appreciating the more dangerous hobbies from afar. Fingers crossed...

Image of the Pepper from this weekend. She loves this hand-me-down little car.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Do you take vacations?

Did you see this article about how bad American's are at taking vacations? It's kind of upsetting, and in my opinion true. Recently I've realized how burnt out I am. I haven't taken a real vacation in almost a year, and the last time I took time off was Christmas. So that's over 9 months without time off from work. And I can feel the toll it's taking on me. I hate to admit it but I'm not being as productive or efficient at work these days because my mind is a little overloaded. It needs time to decompress, reset, and process all the information it's been taking in. And I haven't taken the time. This is partly because we like to take vacations after the summer rush as it does make things more affordable. But there are other cultural factors that create this situation.

My company works with resources all over the world. I have hired people in Switzerland, Canada, and Ukraine. The biggest difference I see when working with people from other countries is their relationship to and their expectations around time off of work. First off, they expect more of it. When hiring a resource in Switzerland I knew I had to give them the 20 paid days off of work a year required by Swiss law. But, this person actually expected 25 days off a year as this is what most Swiss companies provide. I felt bad giving him "only" 20 days off but I explained that this was already twice as much as his US colleagues received. I'm so jealous that many other countries provide more paid time off. Part of the reason we can only take one vacation a year is that if you only have 10 days off a year you can't plan a lot of trips. That's one week-long vacation and then some days off in case you get sick, need a personal day, or to celebrate the holidays. But a year is a long time to wait to get way a from work and really have a break.

The other thing I've noticed is that when my international resources do take time off they really take time off. In my experience here in the US we're always working. For example, one of my US employees emailed something over Thanksgiving, and I responded! We both told each other to go back to enjoying our holiday but there we were emailing on our work accounts. As a comparison, if one of our Ukrainian employees gets sick, they are out of  contact for a week. It gets challenging at times when someone disappears but if they are sick shouldn't they be resting and focusing on getting better? Aren't they entitled to that? And we are always able to make it work without them somehow and continue (though we are thrilled when they return). We always survive. And they take the time they need to be healthy and return to work at their best.

What I appreciate about my international team is that they don't feel guilty for expecting time off or taking time off. They see it as a necessary part of life. If they are happy and healthy in their life they will be better workers and they will produce better results. They will have energy to be creative. They can respond quicker to needs. They can be focused and efficient.

I hope this country can move towards a company culture that is more accepting of time off. I think we do worry what others will think; that we will be deemed "less" for not working. But it's important to take the time and to feel ok about it. I know that when my vacation comes up in a few weeks I'm really going to try to enjoy it and disconnect because I know it will allow me to come back to work refreshed and better than ever.

Do you feel you take enough time off of work?

Image from our vacation last September. The Pepper was a chubby 6 months old!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

To "French" or not to "French"

I'm not referring to kissing but to parenting. One of the books recommended to me the most when I was pregnant was "Bringing up Bebe": an American mom's account of what she learned from raising her kids in France. The book focuses mostly on what the author feels American parents can learn from the French: how to have a well behaved child. This involves things like getting them on a schedule young so they sleep well, not snacking in between meals, teaching them independence, and teaching them manners. I decided not to read a lot of parenting books knowing that too much information would actually overwhelm me. But based on the recommendations and some research I decided that the books I wanted to read were "Bringing Up Bebe" and a great companion book called "French Kids Eat Everything".  And now they are the books I recommend too! They really aligned with what D and I had wanted to place value on when we discussed parenting and they helped us formulate our approach. And 17 months later I think we've had great results. The Pepper is a pretty good sleeper, a very good eater, and a fairly well-behaved toddler (so far anyway!) Partly I think we just got lucky, but I also have to credit some of our parenting choices that were helped along with the info we learned in these French parenting books.

So I was surprised when I read this article discrediting a lot of what the book purported. To be fair, the article I think is more about what the author expected to happen vs the reality of moving to a new city with small children. But it reminded me of a conversation I had at a BBQ when the Pepper was about 4 months old. An expecting couple asked me and another mom what books we recommended and I of course mentioned the above. But immediately the other mother chimed in saying that the French don't really raise their kids that was and the book was a lie. And that's a fair topic for discussion but it was said in a way that was meant to dismiss my recommendation. It was something I didn't appreciate. And it missed the point.

The point was that these books were helpful to us. Whether they are accurate or not to how the majority of French parents run their families doesn't really mater to me. The ideas and suggestions within helped D and I be what we considered to be better parents. I didn't think the books would solve all our problems. I didn't think they would create a perfect kid. And I knew that they couldn't make parenting easy. But they talked about parenting in a way that made a lot of sense to D and I and therefore the books allowed us to have conversations (and continue to have conversations) about how we want to handle various aspects of parenting. And in this way they did make parenting easier for us: by providing us a "parenting philosophy" we could get behind and use as a guide.

An example of something we took from the books: getting our baby on an eating schedule. The book claims that French kids eat at regular times  (8am, 12pm, 4pm, 8pm). And this applies to babies. The idea being that they learn to go longer without food and this helps them sleep. Once they get older the lack of snacking means that they eat well during meals (which tend to have a more robust nutritional options) and can participate in mealtime as a member of the family. This worked great for us. By about 4 or 5 months old the Pepper was eating 4 times a day and she still does to this day. This means that she was also pretty much sleeping through the night by that time as well. Had D and I not read "Bebe" we wouldn't have thought of this on our own but it really brought sanity to our household during that chaotic first year as parents. And if you want additional info on how to get your kid on a schedule I can also recommend "Twelve Hours' Sleep By Twelve Weeks Old". I know some people thought we were nuts to be so "rigid" with our kid but it meant we were all happier (and more well rested!).

So, I still recommend these books to people who want to read out parenting. Even if you don't want to get your kid on a schedule maybe you'll like their approach to saying "no", or manners, or meal planning. I can't speak to it's ability to turn your kids into perfect French children, but it has some good tips for people who want to take a balanced approach to parenting.

Did you guys read the books? Anything you took from them?

Image via.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Recipes: current favorites

I realized that I haven't written about any favorite recipes recently and then I realized why: when we moved we had to give up our wonderful CSA. Without the deliveries of new and surprising fruits and veggies I haven't had to seek out and try new recipes. But the flip-side is that our produce deliveries have been replaced by trips to the local Farmer's Market. Ojai is an agricultural valley so you can imagine that the farmer's market here is pretty excellent. We love our new Sunday morning tradition of going to the farmer's market as a family. The Pepper is the sample queen and I even had her wear a bib around this last Sunday to sop up the berry juice she always has running down her chin as we walk around the stalls. And once we get the fruit home we seem to be enjoying it in it's pure form. I've been eating a lot more fruit just as is, and chopping up my veggies for a simple quick salad. This has meant I've been cooking fewer "recipes".

But, we did recently have some friends come visit us for the weekend and I wanted to cook everyone a nice dinner. There were two new things I did that were a huge hit:

Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas with Mustard and Parsley: This was all gone by the end of the meal. It's a great vegetarian side dish and my friend left with the recipe so she could make it at home.

Roasted Artichokes with Lemon & Garlic: This was the best artichoke I've ever made. I've boiled them before but never found them to be special or worth remaking. But the artichokes at the farmer's market looked so good I had to buy one. Turns out the secret is actually roasting them! I served it with some metled butter for dipping and even the 6 year old liked it.

Once we've settled in to our new routine more I want to get a bit more organized with my weekly meal planning and not rely so much on the usual quick throw-together dinners. But for now I'm just happy we have access to great produce and we're all enjoying the bounty that this valley has to offer.

Image of the Roasted Artichoke via.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Favorites from around the web...

1) This is great perspective on something most people dread. I look forward to my own eventual unstructured life.

2) This confirmed something I have long suspected. Nothing wrong with some good campy entertainment as long as people know that's what they are watching.

3) I like that the media paying more attention these days to the range of sexuality out there. This was an enlightening article on a type of sexuality I think is easy to dismiss if you aren't informed.

4) I feel fairly apathetic about Kim Kardashian, but I know that her celebrity is a statement about our current pop culture. And this article gives good insight into why.

5) Oh how I wish I lived in New York so I could see this!

6) My goodness this is complicated. So many questions are raised by international surrogacy.

7) This is adorable.

8) Wow, mind blown. How did I not know this!

9) The way this article starts is horrifying. But it's another example of insight into a small portion of the population that struggle because they are different. And I appreciate those that try to manage their dark sides in an honest way.

10) And I definitely will be trying this.

Image via.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

RIP Robin Williams

The news of Robin Williams death yesterday has really hit me. Most celebrity deaths are shocking, especially when suicide is confirmed. And there is sadness at the loss of the talent. But this celebrity passing really hurts. I'm grieving.

The reasons for my emotional reaction to this I'm not entirely clear on, but I have some ideas. For one, I think he really was a genius. He didn't always pick the best roles, but he committed to every one he did and always made them something enjoyable to watch. And he tried new things. He was a campy villain, a serial killer, a side kick, a leading man, a supporting actor, a dad, a family mane, a loner, etc. And in all these roles he always moved me. He always made me feel something. And he also usually always found a way in each role he did to break my heart a little. And I think that was because underneath his manic comedy routine or his excellent acting was a man that was truly sensitive and in a way innocent. It's fitting he played a grown-up Peter Pan in "Hook" because that's what I think he was. He was someone who emotionally and physiologically had a nativity and wonder to him that when you saw him disappointed or hurt your heart broke. Or when he showed love and warmth your heart melted.

Another reason for my response that I can't ignore is that Robin Williams always reminded me of my dad. They were similar in look and stature and that makes the comparison obvious. But it's their emotional nature that always felt similar to me. Emotionally aware and deep men who used comedy and wit to protect themselves and shield themselves from the harshness of the world. My dad is a strong man and someone I am so proud of. But I know he has that inner world that he has to I guess protect in a way.

I think Robin Williams was someone who was so sensitive he had a hard time navigating this world. I'm so sad that it became too much for him. It breaks my heart.

And who can forget this. Sigh. So good.

Image via.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Are you watching "Outlander"?

D and I recently caught up on Season 2 of "Orange is the New Black" which was amazing and I completely recommend. But in one scene two of the ladies discuss the book "Outlander", which was the first time I'd heard of it. But I took a mental note they way it was being discussed made it sounds like something I had somehow missed out on. Well, Outlander must be having a moment because within two weeks suddenly I'm hearing all about the new Starz TV series based on the book that just aired. And it sounds pretty good!

The story at the center of Outlander is that of a nurse at the end of World War II. She just reunites with her husband after the war to suddenly time travel back to 18th century Scotland where she deals with the cultural differences, tries to figure out what this means for her life, and of course develops romantic feeling for a handsome Scotsman. So there is the time travel aspects that are always interesting, and then the love-triangle nature of the main character being pulled between the commitment to her husband and the reality of the man she's physically in contact with. And apparently, things get steamy. The good has racy sex scenes, and the tv-series maintains that tradition. That would usually not interest me much (I couldn't get into "50 Shades of Grey") but this show seems to be offering more. It's been getting credit for having a femist edge in the way the show centers on the main character's experience which is that of a strong independent woman navigating a challenging situation but not by giving over to a man. And the fact that the show is written by Ronald D. Moore of Battlestar Galactica fame is a huge draw. I thought Battlestar was a wonderful show that used the sci-fi elements to tell great stories with complex characters and rich themes.

So, anyone watching it? Do you recommend it? I going to try to convince D to give it a try with me one night soon.

Image via.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The scary transition to daycare

One of the big changes we've been dealing with because of our move has been the transition to daycare for the Pepper. We had planned to get her into daycare in Los Angeles ages ago, but we were at the mercy of a long wait list. This ended up being wonderful in a lot of ways because it meant she had more time with our wonderful nanny. And I'm grateful we found a way to make that happen for as long as we did. But it also meant the Drew had to do more childcare during the day than was ideal and we consequently didn't have as much time as a family together. Plus, especially over the last few months we've all felt that the little one could use a little more stimulation. So we were excited to have her start daycare once we made the move. We did research and selected a great daycare with farm animals and a garden and wonderful outdoor space. It seemed to be a nurturing and exciting place and we felt good about it. Until we actually had to send our daughter there.

We knew we wanted to make it as smooth of a transition for her as possible. She's such an open and trusting little girl we didn't want to scare her to the point where she would loose any of that. Luckily our nanny came up with us for a few days and actually went to the daycare with her for the first day and then slowly spent less and less time there. I think this really helped the Pepper get comfortable with the environment and the new schedule. By the end of the week were were so happy because it had gone better than expected! The nanny didn't have to spend any time there at all the last day and there was no crying or anything. It felt like a huge success. And a lot of it I credit to the primary daycare worker Ms. Barbara. The Pepper connected with her instantly and was even talking about her in the evenings. She seemed excited to see her new friends in the morning. We were feeling relieved.

One thing that surprised me was how I emotionally felt about the change. I wasn't expecting to feel so sensitive about it. But the first day that my husband went to drop her off she grabbed her lunchbox and her sunglasses, blew me a kiss, and confidently walked out the front door. Oh my goodness. My baby was gone. She didn't need us anymore. She was a big girl now. Such a milestone. So proud of her but man I feel the loss of the end of the baby era. And I miss having her around during the day. But, the only constant as a parent is change and I'm starting to get used to the new routine.

We felt so good after the first week but the second week was a bit harder. They warned us that kids have a honeymoon period where the newness is enough to keep them engaged and excited. But the second or third week they realize that this is the new routine and they may have some feelings about that. I think that definitely happened last week. She was feeling more clingy and sensitive than usual. She would cry when her dad dropped her off at daycare in the morning. He was attentive to it and often stayed with her for a bit to help her make the transition, and he always hid and watched from afar for a a bit after he "left" to make sure she was ok after he left. She apparently always stopped crying after a couple minutes which tells me she was just trying to tell us she didn't want daddy to go and that she was actually ok and wasn't really scared or anything. And when I picked her up in the afternoons she seemed happy to see me but not upset and it seemed like she'd had a great day. Even though we know things were ok and that she was doing well, it was hard to see her upset last week and struggling with the transition. Not the easiest week. We definitely had moments of doubt.

We are now on the third week and it's night and day to last week. Yesterday was her first day back after the weekend and she was ready to go in the morning. She was talking about Ms. Barbara after breakfast. She was pointing at the door. She was ready. And my husband dropped her off with no tears or whining. Today was much the same. So I'm hoping we're over the hump. Daycare is a good thing for her I think. She is very social, she likes stimulation, she enjoys engagement, and she gets all that at her daycare. And thank goodness for Ms. Barbara. Thank goodness.

Image via.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Life hack: adult bean bags

Moving into a house from a loft meant we had rooms for the first time, which meant we needed to get some new furniture. We have a family challenge though: D is allergic to dust (well technically dust mites) which means we need to avoid having items in our home that would collect dusk. So we don't have rugs for example and our couch is in leather. And it works out ok but having some softer items around would be nice. We were at a friend's house awhile ago and the Pepper was having such a good time rolling aorund on their dog beds. I realized it was because she didn't have a lot of soft squishy things to play on at home! Poor girl.

This got me thinking: at our new place we need bean bags! And they would be better for Drew's allergies than items filled with cotton or down! Brilliant! D then found this great company that makes nice looking bean bag couches and huge pillows. Feeling excited we bought three items for our new place: the love seat (pictured above) to put in the Pepper's room for reading books at night before bed, and two pillows for the new den area for lounging around. They arrived yesterday and we already love them so much. My younger brother was visiting for the evening and I was worried he was going to steal the love seat in the middle of the night. D is even talking about wanting to get the 7-foot couch so he can really spread out.

These were such a great purchase for us and totally worth the money. If you want some nice looking lounge-y furniture I highly recommend them!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

It hurts to laugh today: a workout recommendation



I mentioned this video in a favorites round up several months ago but was finally able to try it out yesterday. Result: my shoulders and abs are soooooo sore today. Which I take as a good thing :) Means I worked some muscles!

In LA I tried to workout 3 times a week: 1 evening yoga class and 2 quick trips to the gym located in our building complex for 25 minutes of cardio and a little stretching. It was working out pretty well. But now that we've moved I no longer have a great yoga studio in walking distance and a gym in my courtyard. So I'm been trying to figure out how to get in my exercise. There are great trails right out our front door but I don't often have the time for a long hike (and it's also hard in this summer heat!). My plan has been to find ways to do my workout at home. My home office is large so I have the space for it. The question then becomes what to do. I'm not very good at taking myself through fitness routines: I get lazy and take short cuts! Thank goodness for the internet and online videos.

Yesterday I tried out this 30-minute dance workout and I started off skeptical but this thing ended up kicking my butt. I consider myself in good shape and by the end I was having to sit some poses out. So for those of you needing a effective at home routine this is a great one. I'll definitely be doing it again (and might even run through it once a week). But I do recommend doing a little stretching afterward as they don't incorporate that into this video.

And yes, that's the choreographer from Sia's amazing "Chandelier" video.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Favorites from around the web...

1) This gives you an indication of the kind of environment I grew up in (Topanga is my home town!)

2) For awhile now I've been uncomfortable with the pressure to get kids into academics younger and younger. So I appreciated this article.

3) I love the idea of this as a wedding dress.

4) Ouch! #16 makes me laugh though.

5) This is a great tip! I've always wanted to know how to manage riding a bike in a skirt.

6) This is something I never thought about before but now I am astutely aware of.

7) I've never been a big Kristen Stewart fan but this made me love her.

8) Memories...

9) Wow, this is kind of amazing but not surprising really. Something to think about next time you are out to dinner.

10) This made me laugh. I definitely didn't see it coming.

Image via.

Friday, July 25, 2014

We made it! (just barely)

We're in our new place in beautiful Ojai! And my assessment right now is that moving is stressful and we're exhausted. In retrospect I probably should have taken a day or two off of work. But wanting to maintain those precious vacation days we decided that D would handle the move while I worked and helped whenever I could. But this made the week completely non-stop. When I wasn't working or taking care of the Pepper I was unpacking or organizing or assembling. We unpacked the Pepper's things first which was the right call to make. But it meant that our things were in boxes for days which was a bit hard. I think there is an emotional toll taken to living out of boxes and feeling like things are chaotic and temporary. There is for me anyway. Plus there is just a lot of change happening and I think I haven't had time to process it. Moving out of downtown is a bug deal for our family, including all the repercussions like our little girl starting daycare. I find myself having emotions bubble up throughout the day but I don't have time to sit with them I have to move on to the next thing. I'm looking forward to having some time this weekend to reflecting on our life as it is now and processing all the feelings I have about it.

But there is a lot of good news too! We are so happy to be in such a beautiful place and in such a lovely home. We are lucky to be where we are. We're thrilled that the Pepper now has her own room which means we can finally talk in normal voices after she goes to bed. I'm so happy to have a dedicated office space where I can do my work. Our little girl seems very happy happy here too, and the transition into daycare is going better than we expected. And though this is a new town for us we already have great friends here who invite us to wonderful dinner parties and give us open invitations to use their pools.

We've definitely embarked on a new adventure, and like any adventure it is exciting and scary. Lots to take in. Lots to think about. But luckily, lots to enjoy.

Image from my Instagram. View from my new home office :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

It's happening faster than I thought

One of the things I was most intimidated by when I became a parent was the idea of potty training. I didn't understand how it could happen. I felt like it would take a lot of effort. I didn't know the best practices or the right way and it just seemed like it has to be very hard. Well, colored me surprised because it is happening faster than I could have imagined! So fast that we're not even ready for it.

Looking back we brought this on ourselves. I'm a big believer in naked baby time and we'd make sure the Pepper had time each day to run around in her birthday suit. Over time she started learning about how her body worked and would announce to us that she was going to the bathroom. Since we were starting to talk about it with her I decided to get the classic Once Upon a Potty book and it quickly became on of the most requested at story time. But my intention was to take things slow. She would start learning about the concepts and we could start talking about them and then when we're in the new house we could get her a little potty and leisurely make our way towards being diaper free.

What happened instead was that last week the Pepper decided she did not want to wear diapers anymore. We dealt with full-on tantrums every time we tried to get her changed. She demanded that she wear her pants without a diaper. She even asked to use the potty a couple times. And poor thing, we didn't have any of the needed tools. No potty. No underwear. No pull-ups. We were so not ready and with the move only days away we didn't want to get all set-up in a place we'd be leaving. So we struggled through it which meant a lot of clean-ups.

This last week was a challenging week with work and the move and the worse PMS of my life! Luckily we made it up to Ojai and into our new place (though there are still so many boxes to unpack). But the good news is we can finally unpack her potty. I have no idea what to expect. Maybe she'll just be curious about it, maybe she'll catch on quick and love it. But I have to say my little girl has impressed me. She was ready for this milestone much quicker than I was. Just a reminder that being a parent means constantly being adaptable.

Image of the Pepper from last week.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Craving some beautiful bras

One thing I always notice when I really go through my clothing is how I don't have pretty underthings. I've always gone for function when it comes to my undies and bras. In fact, my go to underwear right now are my Gap maternity thongs which are so comfortable! And I don't even have many bras. For a long time I didn't wear them because I actually didn't need them. When I entered the professional world I bought a few to wear under my business clothes, and I bought some simple cotton bras from American Apparel to accommodate the changes that come with pregnancy and postpartum. They all have served their purpose well but none are particularly attractive or notable.

But I just found this Etsy shop and now I think I'm going to have to treat myself to something pretty. Especially since in summer I like to wear loose fitting tank tops where my bra is seen a bit. How pretty would be to instead of the basic cotton to have a little lace showing instead! And they look very comfortable. I want to get this one to wear under my racer-back tanks, this one to wear under t-shirts, and this one to wear under button-up shirts and dresses.

Do you have a favorite? Any other brands you recommend?

Image of the triangle lace bralette. How pretty is the back!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

It's moving week!

It's moving week! You may remember from this post that we are going to do an experiment and move to the country. Things are a bit different than we had planned in terms of the logistics of renting our place and such, but we're moving forward with the relocation. We can only look ahead 6 months but that should be enough time for us to get our feet wet in a new town and see if it's something we can do long term. D has started bringing in boxes and today I'm going to start packing our things away and it's really exciting! I love the opportunity to go through our stuff and do a little purge. Moving is always a great opportunity to streamline :)

I'm feeling ready to have a break from downtown. Even though I've loved living here, lately I've been feeling much less comfortable. For example, over the last few weeks the number of sirens has at least doubled. This not only means a lot more disruptive noise but also just makes me wonder what all the emergencies are. It doesn't help there there was a scary incident just blocks form us recently. When the Pepper and I walked by a guy peeing on a tree in the middle of the afternoon the other day, I knew I was ready for a change.

But there are things I'm nervous about. Ojai is only a couple hours drive from LA and we are hoping our friends come to visit, but I'm nervous they won't. I'm anxious the commute will be hard on D. And I'm feeling worried about the transition to daycare for the Pepper. I know she will love the daycare. I think she's ready for it. And we feel really good about the place we've selected. But I just worry that the transition will be difficult for her. It will be very new. She's always had one of us around and has always been at home. She's such a happy and open little girl I don't want to change that. I don't want this transition to be scary for her or to make her distrust new things. D has agreed to spend some time next week with her at the daycare to help ease her in, and our wonderful friend and nanny will also visit during the week. So I'm hoping we have a good approach and we'll get over the hump successfully.

What has surprised me most about this move is the amount of new things we have to think about. We're moving from a loft to house and that means I need to get things like a baby monitor and child safety gates. And we need a lunch box for the Pepper to take to daycare and a chair or couch for the Pepper's room. We're trying to maintain our minimalist lifestyle but turns out living in a house requires a bit more stuff. I know there is more that I don't even realize I need so it will be a learning experience.

Onwards to new and exciting things!

Image via.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friendships after baby

Last night two of my good friends came over. I made pasta, they brought salad and dessert. Wine was had, catching up was done, we did some itsy-bitsy spider with the Pepper, and they finished off their visit by reading her a bedtime story. It's so nice when I get to have some girl-time with my friends and it got me to thinking about maintaining friendships once you have a baby.

I hear a lot of moms talk about how difficult it is to maintain friendships once they have their first child. And yes it's harder to get together with friends. But this isn't unique to motherhood. Any major life change usually has an impact to your social life. If you start a new job you may be working longer hours for example, or when you start a new relationship you'll have fewer evenings available. The biggest challenge with having a baby is the schedule. They need to eat and sleep and you try to get into a rhythm with this stuff because it's helpful to maintain a routine. But, I tried to keep our routine flexible enough that we could accommodate a lunch date or a dinner party. One thing that has helped is that our little one actually doesn't go to bed very early. She usually goes to bed between 9pm-9:30pm which means we can still get together in the evenings with friends. For example, last night the ladies arrived around 6:30 so we still have a few good hours to together before I had to get involved in bedtime.

The other challenge is that babies are babies. They need attention, they cry, they need to be changed, they can be gross. While some people don't like trying to deal with these distractions,  I've found most of my friends are very accommodating. They love my little girl! They like interacting with her and playing with her. And while it can take us longer to get through a conversation now that I often need to pause to help the Pepper with her toys, we still get there. And these friends end up developing a relationship with my child too which I think is great. I want the Pepper to have lots of wonderful "aunties" in her life. On that note, I want to give a special shout-out to my friends last night who were very gracious when the Pepper pooped on the floor in front of them.

As a mom I also found that I made new friends with parents who also have children of a similar age. And luckily those relationships can be easily kept-up through play-dates and such.  Those women are so important because we can talk about the particular challenges of motherhood and learn from each others experiences. But, I also value my friendships with the woman that I've known a long time and who are in a different phase of life than me. And with a little thought and effort (and understanding on their side) I have found it's not impossible to maintain those friendships. Which I am thankful for.

Image from a recent LA visit from my dear from New York (right). Other dear friend and her daughter also joined (left). We all became friends back high school!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Favorites from aroud the web...

1) Wow. This is something I never really think about. Even though it saddens me and angers me, I appreciate the reminder that this stuff still happens every day.

2) This is some insight into an already mysterious celebrities life, though I think it asks more questions than it answers.

3) I love hearing about stuff like this! I hope more companies follow their lead and bring parenthood more into the dialogue.

4) I hope to one day have an outdoor area large enough for one of these.

5) This is beautiful :)

6) I love this idea. I believe in manifesting.

7) This is a good look at how far women have come, and how far we still have to go.

8) I really want to see this. It's an interesting perspective on how Los Angeles is depicted in modern media and I want to know more

9) I want this for my kitchen. I'm always googling this stuff which can be hard to do if you have batter all over your fingers.

10) This is another example of something pervasive in our culture that I guess I had become so accustomed to I never even noticed it!

Image via.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Independence!

Our baby has become such a little girl recently! Things are certainly changing and fast. It's exciting but there are also things I'm going to miss. The baby phase felt like it went by so quickly. I used to get to spend all day snuggling my little bear. I used to get stuck holding her while she napped! Now it's a struggle to get a hug from her. She's just become so independent. It's like she finally realized that she is her own person and that she has the power to decide what happens to her. We say she is a "woman who knows her own mind". An example is today when her nanny came and after some playing she decided she wanted to go for a walk. So she grabbed Auntie Kathy's hand, walked her over to the stroller and pointed at it. Then once Kathy got the stroller set up she decided she wanted to walk on her own so she walked over to the door and directed Kathy to bring the stroller and follow her. She's been doing a lot of this stuff lately: insisting she walks someplace on her own, that she uses a glass or a spoon on her own, that she wants to read one book and not another. And she's been assertively directing others to execute what she wants. She was bossing around one of the dads on the playground the other day by instructing him to throw the ball for her over and over. He was sweet to accommodate her but it made me realize we're going to have to start teaching her about saying "please" as soon as possible.

That's the balance I'm trying to achieve, allowing her to explore the word and be an independent being while putting the needed boundaries in place so that she doesn't run amok. Because of course the flip side is that when she doesn't get what she wants she gets upset which means we're dealing with tantrums now on a regular basis (she had one last night when I wouldn't let her play in the fridge). They luckily don't last very long but I feel it signals a new phase of the push and pull of boundary negotiation that is expected with a toddler.

The biggest change to our routine has been the morning. I talked here about how much I loved our morning routine because it included some quality cuddle time. Well, it's a month later and that snuggle time is no more. Now, she likes to stay in her crib by herself. She sometimes plays with her stuffed animals, sometimes she just lies there (I assume solving the mysteries of the universe). But if I ask her if she wants to go see daddy in bed she says "no no". If I ask if she wants to come cuddle she says "no no". And if I don't believe her and try to bring her to bed anyway she makes it very clear she was serious about her "no"s. So we let her hang in her crib until she asks to be taken out to play, which she does by pointing frantically at her play-mat. I love that she enjoys time to herself and I think that is a good quality to foster. But I do miss my cuddles :(

Picture of the Pepper and me from the recent long weekend.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

How much sleep do you get?

How much sleep do you get? Most week nights I get about 6 hours which are occasionally interrupted by the little one having a bad dream or something. That's not a lot. I've been feeling a bit burnt out recently and by the end of my work day I'm mentally exhausted. I'm thinking it's at least partly the result of mild sleep deprivation. Of course this is expected since I am the parent of a small child. And I know I have it better than many parents (one poor mom I know has a 9-month-old and hasn't slept for more than 2 hours in a stretch since his birth). But I still worry that I'm not getting the sleep I need to perform at the level I want to be at both personally and professionally. But how do I change it??

My company is based in Cleveland so I actually work East Coast hours. This means I get up a bit  before 6am and get right to work. In the evenings, after we've but the Pepper to bed D and I tidy up, have some adult conversation, and then try to watch a little media (right now we're watching Orange is the New Black). This is of course important time to snuggle on the couch, connect, and decompress from the day. But once that is done and I've gotten ready for bed (washed my face, brushed my teeth) it's pretty late and I end up falling asleep between 11:30pm-midnight, though usually closer to the midnight side of things. I do "sleep-in" one day on the weekends, which of course means I wake up whenever the Pepper gets up. So that buys we an extra hour of sleep or so. And I also try to schedule in at least 1 weekend nap with my baby. These are helpful but I still think I'm working with a deficit.

To could get more sleep if I went to bed earlier. But then I'd need to cut into our adult time at night and I don't want to because I enjoy that time and it's good for my mental health. So, I guess I'm just going to have to work with what I have. I know it won't be like this forever and one day I will be able to catch up on my sleep. I'm excited for that day :)

Image via.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Thinking about summer! And gelato

It's summer and there are two things that I closely associate with the season: rosé wine and gelato. And both of these have to do with previous summer adventures. As a teenager and into college I was lucky enough to be able to visit family friends for a few weeks over a couple summers. These friends lived a few hours outside of Geneva near a town called Bursinel. My time at their home was about walking through local vineyards, exploring sunflower fields, eating delicious food, and going out on leisurely boat rides. And it was also where I was introduced to rosé. For years it was the only place I would be offered this perfect summer wine and to this day I feel those memories whenever I drink it.

If rosé means summers in Switzerland, gelato to me means summers in Italy. Two years ago we took a trip to Italy so that D could participate in a music festival that took place in a town called Pavia. There is a lot I could write about that trip. Not only did we make wonderful friends while there, we also learned I was pregnant with the Pepper just a few days into the trip! But what I'm thinking about today is the amount of gelato we ate during our stay. Pavia has an amazing gelateria that we frequented on an almost daily basis. And we weren't the only ones. It was late afternoon on the first day of our trip and as we were exploring the city I started noticing how many people were eating gelato. All different sorts of people (families, girlfriends, men in business suits, teenagers, elderly couples) were enjoying an evening stroll accompanied by a cone of delicious gelato! I would often joke while on the trip that I wanted to do a photo series of men eating gelato and I so regret that I didn't follow through! Upon seeing this D and I decided we had to adopt this wonderful routine ourselves. And our regular gelato excursions became some of my most cherished memories from the trip.

It was not something we replicated when we got him but a new gelato place opened up just up the street from us and D was nice enough to bring home some pistachio and salted caramel for me the other day. As I sat at my work computer enjoying my treat I was taken right back to sitting next to the magnificent San Michele Maggiore and enjoying my day's selection of gelato in the soft evening Italian light.

Enjoy your long holiday weekend and your own summer traditions!

Image via.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What does your partnership look like?

A family is like a team and every family I know manages the roles and responsibilities of their team differently. These days anything goes, it's about what works. But of course our histories and family of origin have an impact on what we expect from our home life. I've been thinking about that since I read this article about how woman who grow up in households where the dad participates in the housework are more ambitious in their careers. I guess I'm one of those women. Both of my parents worked. My mom was lucky to be able to be with me for the full first year of my life, but after that she continued working as a psychologist and pursued her PhD in psychology. I had wonderful nannies, and then a great preschool I still have fond memories of. But I also saw my dad at home a lot. He worked as a camera-man and editor and he did his editing out of a home office. His schedule was therefore flexible. I remember him cooking dinner. He would sew up rips in my clothes. He helped me with my homework. And he also worked in this cool room with large screens and a computer and I would go in there and watch him cut and type. I guess I saw him do everything. And I saw my mom do everything too.

And without even consciously choosing to turns out that is the situation I have now with my husband. We both work, and we both take care of the household. We've fallen into certain habits that makes the system efficient. For example, I'll write up the grocery list and then D will get the groceries. He'll do the dishes in the morning and start the dishwasher and I'll unload the dishwasher in the afternoon. But we both cook (depending on who feels like they have the most time that day). We'll both do laundry. We'll both clean (or we sometimes treat ourselves to a cleaning service). It works for us. I know other families have other situations. Luckily I work from home so I can take a 10 minute break during the day to make the bed. And D works for himself so he has the ability go grocery shopping in the middle of the day. It's a constant dance but luckily we do have the ability to fit things in when we need them to get done. And I am constantly thankful that I have a partner in this and that we can work as a team.

How did the family you grew up in effect how you have structured your current family? What works for you and what doesn't?

And on a separate but related note, this is an interesting piece about the sometimes negative effects of societies preference for two-parent households. Worth a read.

Image via.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Healthy eating is hard

 
I think one reason we as a culture are fascinated by celebrities is we're a little jealous of the fabulous lives we imagine they lead. Gwyneth Paltrow seems to have become the ultimate embodiment of the privileged celebrity disconnected from us mere mortals. I don't find her as annoying as some, but I really loved this article by a woman who tried to live Gwyneth's life for a week, at least when it came to food as described in her cookbook. The big take away: it is great to eat healthy! It does make you feel better! And probably look better! But it's very expensive and labor intensive. Lindy West, who conducted the experiment, wrote "The workload is CONSTANT. This is a meal plan for people with a housekeeper and a chef." Yeah, not surprised to hear that. In my experience it takes commitment to eat yummy, healthy, made at home meals. I have a friend who adopted a raw food diet to battle her cancer naturally. It actually seemed to work wonders but it also meant she spent the entire day making and preparing food. And if you are a working parent without the ability to hire help it's hard to fit in time to prepare food. The vegetable chopping alone on some recipes can take over a half hour if you don't have fancy tools to help. I struggle with it and that's one reason I like to share recipes that I find work well for our family. But sometimes we run out of time and go the easy route. Last night we ordered pepperoni pizza for dinner because neither D or I had energy to prepare a meal. And I'm ok with that. I try not to be extreme about things and it's about balance. If I can make the Pepper a yummy kale and hemp smoothie for most of her weekday snacks, I know the occasional pizza won't kill us. But I do like preparing food and I feel triumphant when our family has a healthy home-cooked meal on the table, so I am jealous of those who find a way to make that happen more than I can.

Any tips or tricks for at-home healthy eating you want to share?

Image via.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Favorites from around the web...

1) I love this idea, and I bet it would be just as fun for adults as for kids :)

2) This is a topic that always makes me uncomfortable, probably because I have two opposing views on it (at the same time!). But I think it's an important debate to have.

3) This is an interesting parenting discussion and I don't know which side I fall on yet since I see benefits to both approaches.

4) I love hammocks, so this is appreciated since we all don't have the right natural setting available to us.

5) Oh my goodness these guys did it again. Well done guys.

6) If you watch Game of Thrones I think you'll enjoy this. Not only is it funny but it's impressive to see an actor get totally into character so quickly.

7) I have not read The Goldfinch but I've heard so much about it. Considering it's popularity right now this was an interesting read.

8) I like seeing this from our celebrities: using the ridiculous aspects of their lives for good.

9) These are very useful to know (I'm definitely going to use #7 and #20).

10) I adore The Little Prince. In fact, it was one of the firsts gifts I ever gave D. This nicely captures why I think it's a book everyone should read.

And on a side not, I recently purchased these for myself in brown as a treat, and I love them. Stylish but also very very comfortable. They will be great for summer!

Image via.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Finding mental space

This week has been a busy work week for me. There has been a lot of meetings and timelines and deadlines and items that we need to be moved forward. At this point in my career I'm good with organization and prioritization. I have my days organized with what I need to accomplish. I have the needed chucks of time set aside in my calendar. I know what needs to be done when and what can wait until next week. But I do struggle when I get to that point in a day when I feel fried; when my mind needs a rest and I'm having trouble putting thoughts together. And I don't have good solutions for how to take the needed break and reset. I like the idea of going someplace and sitting quietly without a screen in front of me. But living in a loft makes it hard to find space. Sometimes I like to cook but when it's a busy day I don't have time to take on a little kitchen project. Do I take a walk? Do I read a few pages in a book? Do I go to the couch and close my eyes for 5 minutes? When I'm burnt out it's hard to even know how to handle it. Normally I take a moment to stand up and put my head between my legs let the blood rush. It seems to help but it's not quite cutting it this week. I need a new approach.

I'm hoping that with our move to Ojai I'll be able to more easily step outside and look at a pretty view and recharge that way. But please send suggestions my way for how you take a moment to give your mind a break when it's reached a saturation point.

Image via.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

When a community disappoints

Do you follow Courtney Adamo's instagram account? It's one of my favorites. I don't personally know Courtney but she is a founder of Babyccino Kids and a mother of 4 living in London. She has a completely lovely life that she captures beautifully in photos. She is one of those people that makes everything look so easy and joyful which is inspiring for a working mom like myself.

Well, her and her husband have been dealing with something troubling over the last week or so and it's been on my mind a lot. Courtney has over 40k followers on instagram. She uses instagram a lot to share her life, make recommendations, and connect with the community of women and moms that she has formed there. But recently someone has started reporting her posts for inappropriate content. This continued until finally her account was deactivated with no warning. Her supporters contacted instagram and used #bringbackcourtneybabyccino to get the issue noticed. It seemed to work since yesterday her account was brought back and it looked like the drama was thankfully over. But then Courtney said today that she is still receiving complaints and now her husband is also having his images reported and removed.

I'm upset for Courtney and her family, but I think this brings up larger issues about being a parent in the modern parenting community. Parents are one group that has really embraced technology and social media. I think it is because it's so easy to be isolated as a parent. You're busy getting through your day and taking care of yourself and your kids and your house. It's harder to get together with friends or have a phone call with family. So social media lets us connect during nap time, or after the kid is asleep, or during those few minutes we're alone in the bathroom. It's certainly been useful for me. Through instagram and blogs I've had access to a lot of parenting recommendations and useful conversations that I benefit from almost every day. There are real communities out there via the current technology and I'm glad to be a part of it.

But, when we open ourselves up to everyone it means that we are also vulnerable. Even if the majority of people who "follow" us are positive and encouraging it only takes one negative person to bring things down. That is what is happening to Courtney. Courtney shares a lot of photos of her kids. Some of them are of adorable naked little butts. Most are not. But if a nude rear does show it is in celebration of freedom and childhood. Nothing inappropriate about that to me. And if it did bother me, I would just un-follow her. But, it seems someone wants to put their standards on Courtney. They want to report her images of her children which is putting their standards on a woman I assume they don't even personally know. While it sounds like there are a number of images reported the one that really sparked this debate is at the top of this post. A picture of a toddler excited to be wearing big-girl undies. To me, I see absolutely nothing wrong with this image. It shows a glorious baby belly. It captures a sweet moment. It represents a milestone. It's a lovely thing. That someone wants to turn this into something offensive or "harmful" feels mean and aggressive. It feels like someone's personal vendetta to impose their morals on a community they aren't fully a part of.

I know it's hard for a tool like instagram to find the balance between being an open tool that can survive on it's own energy, and putting guidelines in place. I'm sure it works 99% of the time. But this time instagram is failing. Instragram allowed a community to flourish but is now letting one person take down that community. I hope instagram will take a look at this incident and use it to help them make their processes better. Until then, I'm routing for Courtney and her family! Save the belly!

Image via (though it has since been taken down again).

Friday, June 20, 2014

Skin update: good news!!

I realized the last couple of posts were sort of a bummer, so I have something good to report today! I think I have finally figured out a skin routine that works for me! After what feels like years and years of trial and error here is what I have done to drastically improve the quality of my skin:
  • If it's a day I wore a fair amount of make-up I'll use a make-up remover wipe to get rid of that "outer layer". I've been using the Neutrogena wipes but am running out and have decided to try these ones by Bioderma.
  • I then use one of these Trader Joe's cleansing pads all over my face. I feel like it does that deeper clean and because the pad is a little rough also helps exfoliate.
  • I finish the cleaning portion of my routine with Bioderma's Crealine H2O Micelle Solution. I've gone the "no water" route! Instead of soap and water I just use the micelle solution and it seems to be working. I think water was drying out my skin. It still feels weird to not rinse my face but I can't argue with the results.
  • Now I start the nurturing part of the routine. For my eyes I use Neutrogena's eye cream and for the rest of my face I use this great Peter Thomas Roth "Oilless" Oil. The oil is so light it feels like I'm not over-saturating my skin but giving it just what it needs.
  • If I do have zits or pimples I finish by using the Burt's Bees blemish stick. I used to apply straight tea tree oil but the blemish stick isn't as harsh and gets the same results. It dries up the area pretty quickly and it works especially well if I can get to the problem area early.
I do this routine morning and night. Time permitting in the evenings I also try to so use the Bioelements Kerofole mask twice a week. And with this new system I finally feel like I can leave the house comfortably without makeup :)

Everyone's skin is so different and therefore it's hard to find the right combo. I have a friend with beautiful skin that is much oilier than mine. She was raving about using coconut oil as a moisturizer which I had always wanted to try. Thinking that it would work great for me since I have dry skin I started using it but within 2 days my skin broke out horribly! Something else I invested in based on how much people rave about it was a Clarisonic. I thought it would make everything better but I don't think it changed much for me at all. Even though the trail and error over the last couple years was tedious and meant many bad skin days it's nice to know that if I work my new routine my skin can get closer to what I want.

Now I just need to stop touching my face all the time! It's such a bad habit...

Image via.