That Lush Life

Anyone who really knows me knows that I’m not really a big spender. There are only a few things I will willingly spend money on for myself, and I very rarely splurge on “luxury” items. So, for me to regularly drop some serious cash at Lush, you know it has to be good stuff.

I was first introduced to Lush in college by my friend Sarah who lived in Portland, Oregon during the summers. By that time, Lush was already all the rage in Portland and was steadily growing in popularity across the country. Once I finally got to try it for myself, I could see why. I was immediately hooked.

If you are unfamiliar with Lush, allow this to serve as your formal introduction. Made famous on Tumblr because of their colorful bath bombs, Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics is a Canadian company specializing in handmade, organic, self-preserving, and vegan bath and beauty products. I love Lush because it is all-natural, concerned with human and animal welfare, and environmentally conscious. Oh, and they make kick-ass products that smell great and really, really work. Here are some of my Lush must-haves:

5. “Honey Trap” lip balm – this ain’t your little sister’s lip balm. I have never used a lip balm as nourishing and glossy as this one. While Lush has a variety of different lip balms, this particular one is my favorite because of its honey scent and the fact that it is less grainy than other ones I’ve tried.

4.  “It’s Raining Men” shower gel – Lush’s shower gel is amazing. It lathers really well, so a little dab goes a long way. This means that a large bottle lasts, like, forever. As I’ve mentioned previously, I love Lush’s honey-based products, so “It’s Raining Men” is my favorite, but there are several other scents to choose from.

3. “Tree Tea Water” toner – the tea tree toner water is a fantastic product to invest in for these hot, humid Ohio summer days. This toner balances skin tone, combats excess oils, and prevents breakouts without drying out your skin. You can even keep it in the fridge for an extra-cool spritz throughout the day.

2. “Buffy” body butter bar – the “Buffy” bar is a block of pure magic. This bar exfoliates and moisturizes at the same time, making it the perfect product to have on hand after a shower. It is particularly useful on legs after shaving because it helps to soothe the skin and prevent irritation.

1. Shampoo bar (various) – this is the product that first got me started on Lush and my number one must-have. The shampoo bar is literally a solid round of shampoo that you slide over your hair like a bar of soap. It lathers right up, lasts much longer than a standard bottle of shampoo, and leaves your hair feeling and smelling fantastic. There are a ton of different bars to choose from, ranging from ones that help with specific concerns (dandruff, oily scalp, hair loss, etc.) to ones that are purely meant to clean well and smell great.

So, there you have it! While these are my biggest must-haves, Lush has a huge selection of products for men and women alike. If you are interested in learning more about Lush, check out lushusa.com or visit your nearest Lush store. If you’re a Daytonian like me, the closest Lush location is at the new Liberty Center near West Chester, with other locations at Kenwood Mall in Cincinnati and Easton Town Center in Columbus. Regardless of which location you choose, I can guarantee you will encounter friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful employees, as well as plenty of in-store demonstrations and free samples! So check out Lush today!

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“It’s just a bunch of hocus pocus”

As I am sure you can tell from my last post, I really love autumn. Like, really, really, really love autumn. And one of my favorite things about autumn, of course, is Halloween.

I can’t really explain why I feel so drawn to Halloween. It is not really because of the candy, or the costumes, or the spooky decorations. It is something deeper. Something more primal. It is the sound of leaves crunching underfoot, the crisp wind blowing, the rustling leaves make as they dance across the pavement. It is the moonlight cutting through the clouds as the sun sets. The world just feels different on Halloween night. As spring melts into summer and summer fades into fall, I find myself craving that feeling more and more. Maybe it’s just the culmination of all my favorite things about my favorite season wrapped into one day. Maybe it has more to do with the Halloween memories I have made over the years.

I remember a Halloween night in college where my friends and I were passing out candy for Trick-or-Treat at my house. Back in those days, before new neighbors moved in at the end of the street who could outdo me, I used to pride myself on having the scariest house in the neighborhood. We’d put up tombstones in the yard, have strobes flashing, blare scary music, and light the most menacing of jack-o-lanterns. Every year, at least one innocent trick-or-treater would end up crying, and several more would refuse to come up to the house to get their candy without a parent or older sibling clutching their hand. I should also probably mention that we were in costume for this. Well, on this particular year, my friend Aaron was short on time for assembling his costume, so he splashed some red paint on a white t-shirt and called it a day. I distinctly recall him lying down in the grass between the tombstones to be funny, but neither of us anticipated the result. Kids, especially older kids, were petrified of him lying still in the grass with his faux-bloodied shirt. Some of them simply could not tell whether he was real or fake, while others knew he was real and anticipated the jump-scare to come at any moment. We ended up starting a system where I would judge the age of the trick-or-treaters coming up the driveway and give him a nonverbal signal as to whether or not it was appropriate to jump out at them or not. It was an epic Halloween.

I remember countless trips over the years to Springboro Haunted Hayride on crisp, cool October nights. Boots and scarves and nervous laughter. Aaron and I squabbling over who was going to venture down the dark path of the haunted trail first. The poke-and-scratch of the hay on the wagon for the hayride. The headless horseman on his dark steed chasing after us, the grating sound of chainsaws, screams floating into the air. Warming up by the bonfire afterwards, hot cocoa in hand. I distinctly recall the goddamn bunny room, the last obstacle to pass through on the trail before safety, where the walls were lined with dilapidated stuffed bunnies. Last year, a man in a bunny head a la Donnie Darko was standing directly in front me. I saw him, but did not process what I saw, and I screamed bloody murder when he jumped out at me. My friend still makes fun of me for it. But I don’t care. I love a good scare. I’m the kind of girl who lets out a bloodcurdling scream then laughs immediately after. Sadly, though, the Springboro Haunted Hayride shut down after last season. This year we’re off to new haunts.

I remember Halloween two years ago, the first Halloween I spent with my now-boyfriend. We had decided to venture to the Oregon District with my friend, Emylee, and one of our mutual friends from grad school, Breann, with intentions to meet up with a couple more of our grad school friends later in the night. In reality, though, we never found our other friends, and Breann ended up disappearing to hang out with some of her coworkers from her second job, leaving just Emylee, Will, and I to fend for ourselves in cold, constant rain. While Will and I had never really expressed interest in each other before like that, something changed that night. From that night on, we both had a better idea of how we really felt about each other. Even though we wouldn’t officially start dating for a few more months, we fondly look at that time as “Pre-Halloween” and “Post-Halloween.”

There’s something liberating about Halloween. You can pretend to be someone or something entirely different, at least for a night. I love the candy and the lights and the costumes and the decorations. I love the bonfires, the hot cocoa, the rustling corn stalks, the crunching leaves, and the windy nights. But, most of all, I love the memories this time of year. After all, “it’s just a bunch of hocus pocus.”

Fallaholics Anonymous

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Fall is without a doubt my favorite season. I love everything about fall…the weather, the clothing, the drinks, the activities. All of it. In fact, if I had it my way, fall would be the only season, except for permissible snowy winter weather on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Okay, even I have to admit that my obsession with fall is somewhat ridiculous. I spend way too much money on fall-scented candles, shower gels, and perfume sprays weeks before the season formally rolls around. I take putting up Halloween decorations, picking out a costume, making Halloween plans, and passing out candy for Trick or Treat as serious events. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve nearly roasted to death in a sweatshirt, scarf, jeans, and boots in 80 degree weather because it was technically fall. What can I say? Autumn is an amazing time of the year, and I just want to be sure that I make the most of it.

So what are my favorite things about fall? Here’s just a short list:

  • sweater weather and the sweaters that go along with it
  • hayrides and pumpkin patches and corn mazes
  • getting the shit scared out of me at haunted houses with my friends
  • Halloween (duh)
  • scary movie marathons with my love
  • bonfires, s’mores, and that sweet, smoky scent that lingers in your hair and clothes for days afterward
  • hot cocoa, mulled cider, and chai tea
  • did I mention Halloween? Yeah, Halloween
  • fall-scented candles and the cozy atmosphere of candlelight
  • scarves and boots and scarves and boots and scarves and boots
  • curling up on a chilly day with a blanket and a good book
  • literally everything right and perfect in this world

Like I said, I really, really, really love fall, and I am so happy that my favorite season is nearly here. Can’t wait to make the most of it!

PNWonderland

There are few things I love more in this world than the Pacific Northwest, affectionately known as PNWonderland. I first traveled to the PNW in the summer of 2015 in order to visit my friend Sarah who had settled in Vancouver, Washington after we graduated from college. Vancouver, WA (not to be confused with Vancouver, BC, which is several hours up the road) is situated right across the river from Portland, OR,  about an hour and a half away from the coast, and about 3 hours south from Seattle, WA, making it the perfect location for an extensive look at all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

During my 11 day stay in the PNW, I walked through lush gardens and breathtaking parks, hiked up to the bridge at Multnomah Falls, gazed up at Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach, visited Astoria (the town of The Goonies fame), explored Pike Place Market in Seattle, drank more delicious coffee and cocktails than I knew what to do with, and constantly got swept away by the awe-inspiring views of mountains, pines, and rivers everywhere I turned. It was absolutely impossible not to fall in love with such a place.

In particular, I really love Portland. I love how small it feels for a large city, and how many areas of downtown feel like quiet, quaint neighborhoods. I love the Rose Test Garden, and the Japanese Garden, and Powell’s City of Books. I love the “biker” bars, brunch spots, coffee shops, and the aesthetics of the city. I love McMenamin’s, a series of unusual pubs and bars often housed in converted buildings, like an elementary school (McMenamin’s Kennedy School) and a farm (McMenamin’s Edgefield). I love McMenamin’s delicious food, odd decor, delightful atmosphere, and how it never fails to feel like home.

I have never experienced any other place like the Pacific Northwest. I have never seen anywhere so uniquely beautiful, nor have I ever felt such a strong sense of belonging in a place that was entirely new to me. I have been back to the Pacific Northwest once since my initial trip, but it was only for a few days and situated entirely in Seattle, so it did not entirely satisfy the yearnings of my heart to be back in PNWonderland. So, whenever I encounter a quiet moment, I find my mind drifting to a place of crisp mountain air, dark pines, glistening rivers, and the best damn coffee I’ve ever had.

That Lush Life

Anyone who really knows me knows that I’m not really a big spender. There are only a few things I will willingly spend money on for myself, and I very rarely splurge on “luxury” items. So, for me to regularly drop some serious cash at Lush, you know it has to be good stuff.

I was first introduced to Lush in college by my friend Sarah who lived in Portland, Oregon during the summers. By that time, Lush was already all the rage in Portland and was steadily growing in popularity across the country. Once I finally got to try it for myself, I could see why. I was immediately hooked.

If you are unfamiliar with Lush, allow this to serve as your formal introduction. Made famous on Tumblr because of their colorful bath bombs, Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics is a Canadian company specializing in handmade, organic, self-preserving, and vegan bath and beauty products. I love Lush because it is all-natural, concerned with human and animal welfare, and environmentally conscious. Oh, and they make kick-ass products that smell great and really, really work. Here are some of my Lush must-haves:

5. “Honey Trap” lip balm – this ain’t your little sister’s lip balm. I have never used a lip balm as nourishing and glossy as this one. While Lush has a variety of different lip balms, this particular one is my favorite because of its honey scent and the fact that it is less grainy than other ones I’ve tried.

4.  “It’s Raining Men” shower gel – Lush’s shower gel is amazing. It lathers really well, so a little dab goes a long way. This means that a large bottle lasts, like, forever. As I’ve mentioned previously, I love Lush’s honey-based products, so “It’s Raining Men” is my favorite, but there are several other scents to choose from.

3. “Tree Tea Water” toner – the tea tree toner water is a fantastic product to invest in for these hot, humid Ohio summer days. This toner balances skin tone, combats excess oils, and prevents breakouts without drying out your skin. You can even keep it in the fridge for an extra-cool spritz throughout the day.

2. “Buffy” body butter bar – the “Buffy” bar is a block of pure magic. This bar exfoliates and moisturizes at the same time, making it the perfect product to have on hand after a shower. It is particularly useful on legs after shaving because it helps to soothe the skin and prevent irritation.

1. Shampoo bar (various) – this is the product that first got me started on Lush and my number one must-have. The shampoo bar is literally a solid round of shampoo that you slide over your hair like a bar of soap. It lathers right up, lasts much longer than a standard bottle of shampoo, and leaves your hair feeling and smelling fantastic. There are a ton of different bars to choose from, ranging from ones that help with specific concerns (dandruff, oily scalp, hair loss, etc.) to ones that are purely meant to clean well and smell great.

So, there you have it! While these are my biggest must-haves, Lush has a huge selection of products for men and women alike. If you are interested in learning more about Lush, check out lushusa.com or visit your nearest Lush store. If you’re a Daytonian like me, the closest Lush location is at the new Liberty Center near West Chester, with other locations at Kenwood Mall in Cincinnati and Easton Town Center in Columbus. Regardless of which location you choose, I can guarantee you will encounter friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful employees, as well as plenty of in-store demonstrations and free samples! So check out Lush today!

 

Ode to Odious Summer

Ode to Odious Summer

I hate summer. Really, truly hate it.

For most people, this public announcement of hatred probably seems blasphemous. I feel like most people would easily claim summer as their favorite season. Warm weather, bright sunshine, long days, warm nights, pools and beaches and outdoor festivities galore. Who on earth could possibly hate summer?

This girl, that’s who.

I could honestly do without the hot weather, the bright sunshine, and all of that other summer silliness. I’m the queen of sweaters and sweatshirts, so anything above sixty-five degrees is less than ideal. When these lazy summer days creep up into the eighties and nineties with that fabulous Ohio humidity, there’s nothing I want to do less than, like, go outside. I’d take a chilly November day over glorious summertime anytime.

It would probably be unfair of me not to mention that I am completely biased in this discussion because I am head-over-heels in love with autumn. What’s not to love about autumn? Colorful leaves, cute sweaters, chilly bonfire nights, cozy candle scents, pumpkin spice lattes, hayrides, Halloween…the list could go on and on. Fall is so invigorating; I always feel like my power is at its peak then.

Does that make me sound like an autumnal witch? Maybe. Do I care? No.

So, while normal people are soaking up the sunshine, relishing the warm weather, and enjoying every possible moment of the summer season, I’m left daydreaming about my favorite sweatshirt, McCall’s S’mores country candles, and the misty, chilly nights of October.

How many days until Halloween?

 

Humble Beginnings

As the semester begins to wind down to a close, I find myself reflecting on how I’ve gotten to where I am today.

As lame as it sounds, I honestly wouldn’t be an adjunct today if it wasn’t for Harry Potter. Without Harry Potter, I probably wouldn’t have fallen in love with teaching. I might not have majored in English. Heck, my entire life might have looked quite different if HP had never existed.

Allow me to explain.

I was first introduced to Harry Potter at the age on nine, when my third grade teacher began reading the first book to us. As we moved through Sorcerer’s Stone, I quickly became enamored with the magical world-building, the lovable characters, and the suspenseful storyline. Once we finished Sorcerer’s Stone, Ms. Masten moved onto Chamber of Secrets, and I was completely in love by the end of the year.

From that point, I started to read more and more. I read the third and fourth books, then I began looking for something else that could excite and inspire me as much as HP. While I found other books I loved over time, nothing could quite fill the Harry Potter-shaped space in my heart. Determined, I became an insatiable reader.

Around the same period of time, I began writing my first short stories. I figured that if I couldn’t find the books that were as good as HP, then I would write them. I quickly discovered that I loved writing just as much, if not more, than I loved reading. Every time a subsequent Harry Potter book would come out or I would encounter another excellent series, I just felt more and more motivated to write. By seventh grade, I was working on an elaborate book series and a handful of other written projects.

Needless to say, I have not become a best-selling author or anything like that (yet…), but my interest in writing fiction prompted me to major in English in my undergraduate studies. In college, Harry Potter became the quickest and easiest way to make new friends, especially with other English majors. We geeked out over our favorite moments, bonded at midnight movie releases, and took our Hogwarts houses very seriously. My friends’ house was even deemed the Hufflepuff Common Room, and they had a giant Hufflepuff crest fixated above their faux fireplace in their campus house.

By the end of college, I was still determined that writing fiction was what I wanted to do with my life. I applied to both MFA (fine arts programs in creative writing) and MA (regular English) graduate programs, and got accepted into one of each. After a lot of deliberation, I ended up deciding to stay at my undergrad institution and earn my MA so that I could apply to higher-caliber MFA programs later on. I was offered a teaching assistantship to fund my graduate studies, which meant that I would be teaching sophomore-level composition my second year in the program.

Sophomore-level composition at my university is theme-based, meaning that each individual instructor’s class is a different theme. I had a whole semester to design a course around whatever theme I liked, and I, of course, picked Harry Potter. The course was titled “From Hogwarts to the Humanities” and had units on identity, gender studies, religious studies, and philosophy, all connected to HP. When I finally got to teach the class in my second year, it was even more amazing than I had expected. I loved going to class every single day and reading all the great insights my students were bringing to the HP series in their writing and research. On the last day of the semester, one of the students asked if we could take a “family” photo. It was in that final class period, as we shed tears over a nostalgic HP tribute video and the end of our time together, that I knew I wanted to teach composition for the rest of my life. It probably goes without saying that, when I finished my Master’s degree, my graduation party was also HP themed!

So, while the concept may sound strange, Harry Potter truly changed my life. It impacted my hobbies, my friendships, and my career path. Without The Boy Who Lived, my life would look very, very different. Thank you, J.K. Rowling!