Tuesday, July 3, 2018

How to Celebrate the Fourth When You're Not Exactly 'Proud to Be an American'

Typically, the Fourth of July signifies a day off of work and a fireworks show. But when the classic lyrics to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” don’t come out quite as easily as they would have a handful of years ago, how should we celebrate the Fourth of July? “I’m proud to be an American / where at least I know I’m free” may ring true for me personally, but this year especially, it calls to mind the privileges I’ve had that some others haven’t been awarded.

While immigrants are being taken from their families at the border, I begin to question why our American policy would oppress others’ human rights. Looking inward to how America treats its own can be painful, too, when we recognize the unfair treatment of minorities by police, the education system and other institutions. I want to celebrate our country and its progress, and at the same time, we need a reckoning, calling to light the progress that still needs to happen. But the Fourth of July is going to arrive with a flurry of red, white and blue whether or not we’re looking forward to the occasion. Here are a few ideas for celebrating your Fourth of July when you don’t necessarily feel 100% proud to be an American.

Start Small
We live in a climate where political opinions are like a line in the sand — it feels heavy to walk to the other side and have a conversation with a friend or even an acquaintance who may think differently than we do. Start small, by sharing your voice with these individuals. Sure, it’s more comfortable to avoid certain conversations, but it is so necessary to call out intolerant ideas when we see them in people we know. Make the conversation about values, not political parties, and speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.

Call or Write a Representative
You can text Resistbot to write a letter to your representatives in two minutes or less. If you have more time, consider calling and leaving a message with the representative’s office. When there are city or state elections, vote to make your voice heard. Throughout the year, keep up with local and national news, and contact your elected officials when you see something you disagree with.

Thank Government Workers
When the news feels heavy, look to the things that are going correctly. For example, USPS employees are federal workers who do necessary, often overlooked, work to help our world keep turning. A simple “thank you” goes a long way, or you can leave your mail person a cold bottle of water during these hot summer months. Think outside the box to find a government worker who improves your daily life, and show them your appreciation.

Spend Time with Your People
Lots of Americans do have the Fourth of July off as a national holiday. If you’re one of these people, soak it up and spend time with your community. Hang out, talk about how we can improve America, or talk about the latest wellness craze. Integrating our opinions into conversation is a must to engage in real relationships with the people we call friends and family. This rings true no matter the day.

Fireworks! 💥
On the Fourth of July, fireworks have been set off since 1777. It’s an Independence Day tradition, symbolizing “the rocket’s red glare” that indicated our separation from Great Britain in 1776. While we still have a way to go, choose to do your part to ignite change, and then focus on the positive. If you have the opportunity, buy fireworks from a local stand to support small business, have a popsicle, and consider the progress we’ve made. As Americans, we have the privilege to take actionable steps to make a difference, and that is something to take advantage of — and celebrate.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Meet the Products That Changed My 15-Year Skincare Routine

Ok, ok.. So it may not look like it from the photo, but I consider my skincare routine to be pretty basic. Especially when I see some bloggers posting about $80+ oils where the bottle is .02 ounces... There's nothing wrong with that, but I don't have a line-item budget just for skincare, so until I do, I'll be sticking with these products that keep my face clean & blemish-free and keep my wallet (relatively) happy. 😉

Part of my skincare story incorporates habit, which is a necessity to ensure you're treating your skin the same day-in and day-out, but as we all know, habits are hard to break! Back in my teens, my mom took me to a Bloomingdale's when we were in New York visiting my grandma and bought me my first set of Clinique products. It felt like a rite of passage into having a special set of facial products, and I've used various cleansers, toners and moisturizers from the Clinique line ever since. In fact, the habit has been so hard to break (and I'm not really trying to "break" it), that when my friend Courtney at Good Skin Day introduced me to (spoiler alert!) Indie Lee, I kept my Clinique, too.

Part of the reason I've used Clinique for so long is I consider their line to be very versatile, and it's allergy tested and fragrance free. Back in the day when I had, ahem, teenager skin, I used their Acne Solutions liquid makeup, and while it's not technically skincare, I would consider it a product that nicely blends the line between skincare and makeup. All that to say, it was a good fit for me!

AND, I can't talk about Clinique without the three magic words: gift with purchase. If you time out when you buy Clinique correctly, you can spend a certain amount and receive a makeup bag with tiny samples of product they sell. Typically, you fall in love with those products and it's a trick of marketing genius that I'm not even mad about. So, it worked on me, and now I've come to crave the three-step process they recommend. Here's my skincare routine broken up by morning and evening.


So, as we've covered, old habits die hard. I start each morning with liquid facial soap from Clinique, wet a cotton ball with the number 2 Clarifying Lotion, which acts like a toner, so the name can be a little misleading. In their clarifying lotion, Clinique has numbers 1-4 depending on your skin type, and 2 is for dry combination. They also have options for very dry, oily combination, very oil and dry, sensitive skin. Then I use about 2 pumps of the Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel all over my face and neck area. It's such a light moisturizer that this is my favorite part. Also, before BB cream existed (typing that makes me feel old..), I would sometimes mix a little of this with my foundation to give a lighter look.

Then if I'm still feeling a little dry, I'll use the Mario Badescu facial spray with aloe, herbs and rosewater. Sometimes I use this product mid-day, too, for a little pick-me-up. My sister-in-law introduced me to this product as a Christmas gift, and I've been loving it ever since!

Here's where I just did the same routine with my Clinique products forever until (drumroll please) I found out about Indie Lee. Courtney Dunlop, who I mentioned earlier, owns a boutique skincare company in my hometown of Springfield, MO, and she let me try a little sample of Indie Lee. I tried it like a good sample-receiver, and I kid you not, after the first use my skin was glowing. I figured maybe it was just in my head or the sweet smell of the rosehip cleaner, but then I got compliments on my skin, so I knew it was a thing. My dad even noticed the glow!

So, I bought it and I've been using it in the evenings since. I'll be honest and say sometimes I'm lazy and just use a Neutrogena makeup wipe and forget the rest, but any skincare expert would tell you (and me) that's bad, so... oops! Usually though, when I go to bed at a reasonable hour, I'll go through with the full routine. Indie Lee is an affordable, high-quality, all-natural skincare line, and for that reason, it has a lot of fangirls. Consider me one.

I start off with a makeup wipe, or if I'm not wearing much makeup, sometimes I'll take mascara off using Clinique's Take the Day Off (which I think is an adorable name). Then I use Indie Lee's Rosehip Cleanser, which is so gentle and smells good! I follow this with the CoQ-10 Toner, which doesn't come in a spray bottle, but I like to put it in one because I think it makes it disperse more evenly. Then, I finish with the Squalane Facial Oil. I'll put 2-3 drops on my face and massage, focusing most on my cheeks because that's where I tend to be the most dry. If I'm feeling more dry, similar to my morning "bonus step", I'll use Mario Badescu's facial spray with aloe, chamomile and lavender. I looooove the way this one smells.

If you're in Springfield, go to Good Skin Day for a local way to snag Indie Lee! I've been looking for a good eye cream because I'm closer to 30 than 20... but that's a different post for a different day. Ha! Any recommendations for a budget-friendly eye cream I should know about?

Friday, June 22, 2018

Queen City Gems, Vol. 8: Your Weekend 'Foodie' Guide

The weather has cooled for now, and it's a good time to be in Springfield, Missouri. Here are a few things happening in my hometown that I'm digging right now.

1. Foodie Weekend Starts Tomorrow in the 417
If you're at all into food or drinks (I assume that's everyone), there's an event for you this weekend in Springfield. I'm most excited about Taste of SoMo, happening downtown on the square. Admission to this event is free, plus food sampling tickets are only $10 for 10! If you attend, make sure to stop by the local chef's panel at 2 p.m. inside the Queen City Wine Dive. I'll be moderating it, and I'm so excited to hear from some top chefs in our area! Taste of SoMo runs from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., and there's more information about it here.

2. The Coffee Ethic's 'Cold Brew 101', and More
Here are the events for beverage enthusiasts, and a fun fact about this very blog you're reading. Home-brewed iced coffee was one of my very first blog posts waaaay back in October of 2013. Awww! That being said, I am a big fan of cold brew, and a big advocate for not putting ice in hot coffee and calling it "iced coffee". I'm sorry if that makes me coffee snobby! Anyway, if you've never tried making home-brewed iced coffee, or if you want to bump up your cold brew skills a notch, The Coffee Ethic is hosting a 'Cold Brew 101' class tomorrow from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. It's a come and go event, so swing by, learn something, and then go forth and make better coffee. For the beer people, White River Brewing Co. is hosting Summer Fest 2018 tomorrow evening on C-Street, complete with chalk muralists, an appearance by 5 Pound Apparel, and more. Finally, if you're into Mexican food and rosé, Cherry Picker is hosting its 2nd annual Rosé Day on Sunday, with tacos and tamales from Tortilleria Perches, over 20 rosés from all over the world and two live bands. 

I'd typically include something else from another category at this point, but what can I say? It's a good weekend to eat in the Ozarks.

Know of something I should include in a Queen City Gems post? Email me, or message me on Instagram!