Summer 2015 Favorites: People, Surgery, and Stuff

Although summer isn’t “officially” over, it is for us teachers, so I gotta get this in now! Another season, another set of things to appreciate…

First, let’s start with Tom and my in-laws for their love and support before, during, and after my surgeries this summer. Tom helped me get comfortable by gently arranging pillows to my liking, brought me food sometimes, hugged me when I was frustrated, and has literally been my crutch a lot since my foot surgery. My in-laws have been nothing but generous in letting me stay at their house to recover, letting me take over their couch, and making me feel welcome and comfortable throughout the whole summer. And, finally, Finster for his wonderful cuddles and endless entertainment…except when he’s napping, which is 75% of the time.

Cuddle time!!

Also, for all the people, friends and strangers alike, who have reached out and offered help and/or encouragement in any form since having my surgeries. I seriously appreciate you all.

Touching story time: on our way back to Stony Brook from Brooklyn about a week ago, Tom and I had to actually cross over the track at Huntington because our connecting train was on the other track. Usually the connection follows behind the current train, but whatever; usually, it’s not a problem. However, I was moving at a snail’s pace because I was only 2 weeks out of surgery.

We made it to the elevator to go up just as the doors were closing, so a man inside held them for us. We walked over the train via the platform and found the elevator to go down on the other side; by now, about 5 minutes have gone by, so the train is about ready to take off. When we finally got down to the ground, I was telling Tom to run to the train and hold the doors, but he refused to leave me.

Wouldn’t you know, as I’m walking up the flight of 5 steps to the platform, I saw the man from the elevator standing halfway out of the train, waving to the conductor to wait for us. I was so grateful and totally exhausted from that trek, so when Tom and I sat down, I bawled like a baby. Silently, so as not to draw attention, but nonetheless, tears were a-flowing.

I was frustrated with my lack of mobility and felt hopeless and scared about a potential future like this. Mainly, I was having flashbacks of my mom when she used a cane, and then a walker, and then a motorized scooter. I was always the one by her side and appreciated the people who helped her and me during those tough times.

And now, I was so thankful for this man that took the time to hold the train for me. He could have just gotten on, taken a seat, and not had a second thought about me. But he didn’t. I thanked him as we got on, but I wish I could thank him 100 times more. He doesn’t realize just how much that meant to me.

Gah, all the feels.

Which brings me to said surgeries. Although they’ve been burdensome, and as much as I may have cursed myself for doing them while in the recovery phase and feeling like my summer was nothing but recovery, I’m happy I went through with them and am glad I got them out of the way!

redressed feet

Now let’s go to some of my favorite products from this summer: First, my trusty Batiste dry shampoo. I’ve mentioned this in multiple blog posts and will continue to recommend it to anyone interested in minimizing the number of times they wash their hair in a week. It’s been great all summer as I let my hair go unwashed for 3-4 days while also sweating and/or being pretty much couch-ridden after surgery.

Similarly, I used Oribe dry texturizing spray while I stayed at my in-laws after my foot surgery. It smells delicious and doesn’t leave any trace of white film or powder in my darker hair. I received a sample size in my Birchbox subscription, so it’s handy for traveling. What’s not handy is the price; the teensy weensy 2.2 fl. oz. purse sized one retails for $22. Yeah, disgusting! A regular 8.5 fl. oz. costs $42.

Batiste Hint of Color Brown Dry Shampoo     VS.   Oribe dry texturizing spray

>>MATH TIME!!!! Batiste is usually around $6 or $7 for the 6.7 oz. can – at $7, that’s $1.04 per fluid ounce; Oribe costs $4.94 per fluid ounce for the full size can! You’re paying almost $4 more per fluid ounce with the full size of Oribe! But wait, it gets even grosser: the Batiste travel size is usually $3 for 1.6 oz, coming to about $1.90 per fluid ounce while the Oribe comes in at $10 per fluid ounce for the travel size! Horrendous. Awesome product, I just don’t see it being worth that much money.<<<

Speaking of, my next favorite is wearing my hair 95% au naturel during most of August. After washing my hair, I’ve been letting it air dry with just a couple spritzes of my It’s a 10 Leave In spray and it actually doesn’t look all that terrible. I love not having to use heat on it as it’s already 80° so I’m sweating a lot, I save time, and my hair feels sooooooooo much healthier! I think I’ve only used heat (in the form of a straightener to curl my hair for my birthday dinner with Tom) once in the past month. Woot! I totally recommend anyone who wants to try a no heat challenge to do it – embrace your natural hair and notice the difference that it makes when you let your hair be who it wants to be without heat. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

au naturel hair

I am loving the Lash Sensational mascara by Maybelline. I’m on my third tube and really enjoy how it makes my lashes look fluttery and separated while also lengthening and defining them. I have been using the Very Black non-waterproof one and I have had no fallout or flakes and it stays all day; it actually takes quite a bit of [gentle] elbow grease to remove it entirely at night!

Which brings me to Simple Micellar Water. I saw a couple YouTubers talk about this and I was suckered into trying it out. I think it’s great! It’s a facial “cleanser” (doesn’t foam up or anything…it’s, like, water) and makeup remover that is super gentle, doesn’t sting my eyes, and takes off makeup with a few swipes of a cotton pad! Plus, I don’t have to rinse it off like the oil-based makeup removers because it’s pretty much like using water already.

Going with the skin theme: sunscreen. I’m white. Like, ghostly white. I went to Virginia Beach in July with a group of my best girlfriends from high school and we spent a few hours lounging on the beach on our first full day there. I sprayed myself multiple times with SPF 50 as the sun was really intense, but between that and the fact that we were in and out of the water to keep cool, I got pretty darn burnt.

Which brings me to my next favorite: Aloe. Any aloe. I used an entire tube (with a little help from my friends, but mostly me) of Walgreens’ brand Aloe Vera because, well, it’s cheap. I got the one for sensitive skin so it doesn’t have any added scent or lotion or anything. Just aloe.

I’m glad I brought the tube because all of us benefitted from it at one point or another. I actually bought another tube after coming home because I ran out of the first tube. I got burned so bad, I ended up with some sun blisters…yeah, it wasn’t pretty. Even with the excessive aloe and lotion applications, peeling happened, but it wasn’t as gross or as extreme as I expected. It was bad, don’t get me wrong, but I think the aloe helped it a bit.

And even though I got sunburned, I still favorite time at beautiful beaches. Here we have Montauk at sunset – Tom and I stayed on the beach until all the stars were out because we don’t get to see them in Brooklyn.

Montauk beach

How about my smashbook? I’m happy with the progress I’ve made and hope to finish it by the end of this year! I got a lot of it done out in Montauk as we sat on the front porch of our bed and breakfast.smashbook collage

Side note: I got a different journal to house the smashbook – I went with this gorgeous one that has ring binding to allow more room for expansion as I fill it.

smashbook cover

I also loved celebrating my one year anniversary of marriage to the wonderfully handsome Thomas!!! And going to Montauk for a weekend away together!!!

At the beach

Last, but certainly not least, I’ll favorite that I’m a teacher and had the privilege to have a summer vacation. Cheesy, but whatever. I spent lots of time reading for school and spent some time prepping a bit for my classes, but I spent more time not doing work stuff. I hung out with coworkers [friends], and although work stuff always tended to creep its way into conversations, we always ended up talking about life outside of school, too. I’m excited to be going back, teaching all math, coaching volleyball, seeing old friends, and meeting new ones. And I can proudly say I love going to work every day even though it gets stressful and overwhelming a lot (second year teacher here, I’m sure all the veterans are rolling their eyes).

The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness. — Dalai Lama

Creating a Smashbook (a scrapbook for wimps with commitment issues!)

August 16 marks my paper anniversary with Tom, so I thought what better way to celebrate than to create a scrapbook? I mean, that’s, like, ALL paper!

Unlike a traditional scrapbook, however, I want to make something a little less perfect. I have a fear of commitment when it comes to such artistic feats, so I tend to get discouraged in the planning process and never follow through. Or even start it…

Which is why I have not actually attached anything to our wedding scrapbook.

Oh, I figured out what I wanted on each page.

I even gathered special details like an extra save-the-date, invitation, a balloon from one of my bridal showers, etc.

And believe me, I got pictures developed.

But I got spooked because I didn’t have any other decorative scrapbook doodads and didn’t want to screw it up forever. Pinterest sets the bar way high.

I have a fear of commitment to attach things to paper, but I vowed my life to another human being. Go figure.

I also don’t want to spend a fortune on this. Scrapbooking gets freaking expensive with all the excess crap you buy into. You want the extra pizzazz of colored paper. And, oh, won’t that lace detailed paper make the pictures pop and give the page texture? And you just need those gold letters in every font. But you might as well buy the silver ones too because what if you get sick of gold? And all the stickers!!!!!

The memories are priceless but putting them in a book is nightmarishly pricey.

Anyways, my first inspiration for this came from (surprise, surprise) a YouTube video. A couple that I watch (Colleen Ballinger AKA Miranda Sings and Joshua Evans) recently got married and, throughout their honeymoon, worked on a scrapbook. So instead of waiting until after they came home, they brought the journal, pens/markers, and a polaroid camera to fill the scrapbook as they went.

Here’s a video about it, if you’re interested to see little bits of their scrapbook. I’ve set the video to start from where she’s talking about the scrapbook. You’re welcome.

Brilliant and adorable!!! Except, we’re almost a year out from our honeymoon and documenting it as we go is out of the question.

But why not start now, catch up to the present, and then we can document as we go through the rest of our marriage?! In a perfect world, I will stick to this and fill up multiple journals/scrapbooks. I’m getting ahead of myself. I need to just focus on getting this one started!

Okay, so I bought a journal from Walgreens for about $10; nothing super fancy, but I like the gold accent. Unlike a full-size scrapbook, this journal causes me less anxiety when I think about filling it and possibly messing up. Cool!

Smashbook

While doing research on how to go about starting something like this, I found some Pinterest pins about smashbooks. According to The Realistic Mama, a smashbook is “a delightfully simplified way to chronicle life’s special moments without the time commitment usually required by scrapbooking.” Here’s her step-by-step guide on creating a smashbook. She made a travel smashbook in the post and I like how she used maps for backgrounds!

Perfect! I don’t like all the pressure that comes with planning out, arranging, rearranging, and finally settling on what could potentially be a horrible looking scrapbook spread. I’ll do all that for this journal-thing, but the pages are smaller and I just feel like it’s less of a commitment. There’s that word again.

This book is going to chronicle Tom’s and my relationship, from when we first met until more recent events. I have been journaling since middle school, so luckily I had the last 3 journals I’ve filled to help me map out important dates and events. Facebook was super helpful in keeping track of certain events too, giving me ideas on what pictures I could use if I wanted to include a certain day. So I started the process of mapping out the chronology of the smashbook in my current journal.

list 2

Some events don’t have pictures attached to them (the day we first met, our first kiss, first official “I Love You”, etc), but those will just be written out with blurbs about how, when, and where it happened. I hope Tom will also take part in filling in blurbs. I know he’s self-conscious about his handwriting, but he is just a much a part of this relationship as I am. Although his memory quite frankly sucks, so I’m not so sure how that will work out.

First date

Once I mapped out the timeline portion, I then went to Social Print Studio (formerly Prinstagram) to order mini prints. I have a bunch of full-size photos of special events, but I don’t want to fill up every single page with only one photo each. So I ordered 48 squares by selecting straight from my Instagram feed. Not all 48 are going into this book; some are for friends or just to remember other moments in time. Then I uploaded 116 from my computer to order mini-prints; this doesn’t limit you to stick with a certain set of dimensions, so it just takes your picture and shrinks it. Nothing is cut off haphazardly. Sounds great!

As of right now, that’s where I’m at. I just ordered the prints today, so they probably won’t arrive until next week. I also want to pop into Michaels while I’m in Long Island this coming week to check out stickers and maybe some pretty paper to give the pages some extra oomph. I don’t plan on going all out and spending a ton of money – that’s half of what I wanted to avoid in pursuing this less-fancy option!

Okay, so that’s it! Let me know if you’re a scrap/smashbooker and if you have any tips! And fingers crossed I get this project off the ground before I get cold feet!