20150527

I LOVE BROOKLYN, LET ME COUNT THE WAYS


Oh hells bells and cheeseballs brace yourself for this, this one is a gusher. 

I love our life here in Brooklyn. Caps style. I LOVE OUR LIFE HERE IN BROOKLYN. 

Okay. This is what I love about our life here in Brooklyn:

This morning I woke up and the birds were chirping out our window. Just out this window lives this beautiful, leafy tree, I have no idea what species of tree, but it has bright green leaves, spring green, and they dance in the breeze right at our window-level like a twinkling green cloud, bouncing sunlight off their surfaces. And then I have this gorgeous brick wall staring me in the face first thing in the morning when I open my eyes. And my plants, which are STILL ALIVE. And the ceiling, soaring thirteen feet above me with the exposed pipes and wiring and the vintage light fixtures that only most of the times work.

Just this morning I ordered my coffee from the corner bagel shop--from my phone, mind you!--because I was too lazy to go across the street to get it myself and anyway my kid was asleep, and then they brought it to me! To my door! And the delivery guy was all, Hey what's up? Because he knows me! And he knows what a "splash" of half and half means! When else will I have this again??

I love our apartment. I like calling it "the loft" because it is pretentious and obnoxious and makes me sound all hideously amazing, like Gwyneth Paltrow. 

I love aaaaaaall the hipsters. I doooo! I love the boys in suspenders + three-piece suits in the middle of a Wednesday. I love the girls covered in tattoos and American Apparel sleeveless denim shirts. I love the facial hair. I love the cash only coffee shops that put stupid spindly flowers in mason jars and hang boob paintings on the walls and think they're sooooo cool. They are cool! If you ask me! I love artisanal tacos, mother effers! Put some kimchi on that shit, I am so THERE right now!

I love Gowanus. I love how disgusting it smells. I love 4th Avenue. I love riding my bike down 4th Avenue and thinking I might die. I love our neighbors. I love the dudes next door who hang out on the stoop and the piano teacher three doors up, and I love the teenagers who are SO OBNOXIOUS after school every day, like, GO HOME, KIDS, and I love that couple that routinely fights in front of our building at 2AM. I love it when one of them says "I don't want to talk to you anymore!" and makes like the argument is over and then thirty seconds later starts up with a, "It's just that I . . . "  I so do that! I know that one! And the one too where you go to apologize and make peace but then something in your apology hits another point of contention, and then off you go again? That one is a classic! I love that!

I love bagels. 

God I love bagels. 

I love telling Huck not to run in the house so our downstairs neighbor won't be bothered by banging footsteps above his head. I love it when Brandon says, "walk SOFTLY, Natalie!" because I have the graceful gait of a rhinoceros. I love it when Huck accidentally drops something heavy on the floor and shouts down through the floorboards, "Sorry, Michael!"

I love that our mattress is just on the floor. Just sitting there randomly on the floor behind the sofa. Like we're a bunch of dirty hippie college kids or something, I love that. I feel like I should move the rug underneath it so it feels more purposeful or something but you know what? I also love that this place looks accidental no matter where you put anything. I love that little corner of the kitchen by the cupboards where I can sit on the floor with a jar of pickles and call my mother. I love how you cannot hang a damn thing on these walls because they are all made of brick, brick brick brick!, and I love how we've been using the drill holes put in by the previous tenants because we're too nervous to put in our own, which is how Barry ended up where Barry is living, and I love how collaborative our place feels because of it. The ghosts of tenants past. I like wondering with Brandon what the previous tenants had hung above the dining area that was special enough to have gotten them to install track lighting to highlight it. WHAT WAS IT!? 

I love the subway. I love the damn R train. Damn stupid slow R train. I love that I'm back on the R  train after a 10-year hiatus and a brief affair with the 1 / 2 / 3. I love the mirroring nature of our two lives in Brooklyn. I love wandering down Montague Street, holding Huck's hand, picturing myself at 22 walking Peter Pan and thinking I knew everything. 

I love bumping into Huck's teacher at the farmer's market and discussing kombucha with him in depth. 

I love that I was at the Union Square Greenmarket the other day and it was an effort to find a bakery stand that wasn't gluten free! (Union Square isn't in Brooklyn. Bygones.)

I LOVE MY BATH TUB.

I just love our life here in Brooklyn.

I love our life here in Brooklyn, and I know that nothing is forever. That's what this is. Nothing lasts forever, which is both good news and bad, and that makes this time all the more precious to me. The hard times pass and the good times pass, all just the same; it doesn't slow down and it doesn't speed up, it's just there, ticking cruelly, and all we can do is keep up our optimism for whatever comes next. 

I am so glad it's not last year anymore. I am so glad it's not two years ago anymore. I'd be fine going back to three years ago, those were good times, but, wow where am I going with this. 

I am glad that I'm still blogging. Sigh. Even though I very nearly shut it down, like, four times this year, finger on the button, heart pounding "I'll turn this car around!" style, with Brandon going, "Do it!!! I dare you!!!" But I'm glad that I didn't. Because hell, Natalie. Having this record of our lives is such an incredible thing. And even if I didn't blog, I'd still blog. Whatever that means. I guess that is my grand takeaway from this year, is that this blessed stupidity will go on and on, and isn't that comforting? On it goes, on, and on, no matter who is watching, no matter who is caring. 

Blog like no one is reading! Can we put that on a T shirt?

This summer marks five years that we've lived in New York City this second time around. That is the longest I have lived in any one place in my entire life. Oh geez. I remember looking at apartments at this time five years ago, enormously pregnant and uncomfortable, in the height of the city summer humidity, trekking up and down flight after flight of stairs, looking at places no bigger than a thimble, one of which that had an actual shower in the kitchen--and seriously considering it!--and it's just crazy to think about. Can you believe what a different time that was? Everything felt different and new and strange. But New York is, by now, really and truly and certifiably home. I live here. Natalie Belongs Here. Maybe. Stamp it on your forehead. I'll put the formal request in the mail, on official stationery, signed by a notary: I'd like to live here forever!! Or until a cute country home opens up somewhere with room for chickens out back. Oooh! And goats! 

I was standing in my kitchen this morning thinking about the smell of the subway and our five year anniversary here and looking at the Brooklyn rooftops and feeling so grounded and good. And I thought to myself, "this is one for the blog!" That happens sometimes, what can I say. But this, this is good. This is a good place to call home. I'll take it.

I mean, unless we live somewhere else someday for six years straight. Whatever.  :)

20150526

SENSITIVE SKIN CURES AND KERATOSIS PILARIS


During a particularly stressful week last month, I woke in the middle of the night one night frantically scratching at my legs. My skin had been drier than usual, my diet had been erring on the side of baguettes more than usual (hah), and while I've always had pretty ornery legs--we've never been too friendly with each other--this was the worst fight we'd ever had.

Anytime I get to play Dr. Google and WebMD myself it's a real good time, I got pretty excited about this. There really should be such a special doctor's license for people who are good at Google. I'd be eligible for sure. I'm, like, super good at diagnosing stuff. (The trick is to blast through the part where you think it's cancer. My general practitioner loves it when I do this. :)

So, Keratosis Pilaris. Have you heard of this? It's a common skin condition that I don't think I've properly pronounced once. You probably have it too, or know someone who does. It happens when the skin creates an excess of keratin, which then plugs up your hair follicle, which then causes ingrown hairs, which then forms a series of bumps on your skin, usually along the legs or back of the arms. Sometimes it comes and goes with diet or stress. When it's really bad, you looks like you have goosebumps all the time. "No, I'm not cold, I'm just diseased." That type of deal. (Don't worry--it's not catching! lol) It's rather harmless, except for sometimes when it can take you dowwwwwn. I've had bumps go all infection confection on me, it's painful + unpleasant + once it finally heals it leaves a pretty purple mark behind as a token of affection, so thoughtful.

With nothing but my fierce determination and an Internet connection, I decided to search for the cure! Pass me the Nobel Peace Prize!

There is no "cure." We're stuck with this forever giuys (it supposedly clears up with age), but it is manageable and preventable, if you know what to do. Over the last month I've been trying out some of the information I amassed from the Internet, to varying degrees of success. Maybe they'll help another chicken skinned sister in her time of need. Are you ready?

Here it is: Tips & Tricks For Treating KP (and other sensitive skin issues).

No. 1 /  SOFTEN THE SKIN
Dry skin is the common denominator of most skin conditions. Add to it the excess of keratin your body is creating to make your skin the opposite of soft, and you can see pretty quickly your primary target is to properly moisturize. And of course, there is nothing coconut oil cannot cure, geez. Let's try it on shortness next. I found a lot of evidence suggest that coconut oil especially is helpful in keeping KP at bay, something something emulsifying chemistry, and also it smells really good and is suuuuper trendy right now, win-win-win :) but I've also read that grapeseed oil, avocado oil, and even olive oil can be effective alternatives. The trick is to apply the oil to your skin liberally + immediately just after bathing or showering, before the skin has had a chance to dry. Some even suggest covering yourself in oil before bathing, as well as after. Like a coconut oil sandwich! You might also try sea buckthorn oil, which contains a lot of wonderful fatty acids, and I also really love Papaw ointment. It saved me one night from an expired night serum that legitimately tried to burn my face off. Vitamin A and E oil can be used as a concentrated treatment (also good for wrinkles!).

No. 2 / MILD EXFOLIATION
Proper, mild exfoliation is helpful in keeping your skin clear and healthy always, but the key word here is mild. Don't go at it with a loofah or pumice stone, picking at it won't do any good, you need a very gentle hand with this. A dermatologist might recommend a cream containing glycolic or lactic acid to aid in breaking through those skin plugs. (DIY lactic acid? Yogurt.) I landed on dry brushing and I think it is hands down the best. I love it on a night when the house is quiet and I have time on my hands before bed. It's especially great for sensitive skin too, because it is very gentle, with no harsh chemicals or jagged hunks of apricot shell or whatever to tear at your skin. Dry brushing is also good for the lymphatic system, it stimulates circulation, and I've heard it can even reduce cellulite! (I don't believe this for a second.) I love how my skin feels afterwards. It's somehow simultaneously relaxing and stimulating. Here's how to do it.

STEP ONE: Using a dry brush, beginning at the sole of your foot and continuing up your leg and thigh, brush upward towards your heart in long, smooth strokes, completely covering your skin until you reach your torso. Repeat on the other leg.

STEP TWO: In a similar fashion, begin at the palm of your hand and brush upward along your arm toward your heart to your shoulders.

STEP THREE: Continue to brush along your abdomen, shoulders, chest, back, and buttocks, always in the direction of the heart.

STEP FOUR: Finish by (gently!) brushing down your face and neck. (You may want a brush with softer bristles for this bit.)

You can buy a dry brush at just about any old drug store. This one is beautiful. A few times a week'll do ya.

No. 3 / GET SOME SUN
Like a lot of dry skin conditions, KP tends to get worse in winter and sometimes magically clear up in the summer. There are a lot of reasons for this--winter tends to bring on the drier skin, indoor heating strips your skin of everything good, and restrictive clothing may keep you warm but has always made my skin angry--but a lot of this just has to do with good old-fashioned sunshine. A few minutes of exposed skin in the sun makes a huge difference, fast, but keep it to just a few minutes, and then slather on the SPF. (This trick is also a great bad mood buster.)

No. 4 / IDENTIFY THE CULPRIT
Be it stress, poor diet, dehydration, a compromised immune system or lack of sleep, something is causing your KP to flare up, and figuring out what it is is probably the smartest and obviously most difficult way to boost your prevention efforts. It's best to treat the body from the inside out, right? So drink your water and get your rest, do your yoga. If issues persist, you might try removing wheat and dairy from your diet. So says the Internet, anyway. Now I am NOT a doctor, and professional opinion seems to vary on whether or not diet has any effect on KP at all (and I've been gluten-free for a month and have only seen super iffy results), so do check with your practitioner first, but you never know, might be worth a shot. Wheat and dairy are the source of all evil, apparently. Which must be why bagels + cream cheese taste so damn good. Because they're BAD FOR YOU.

No. 5 / REMOVE IRRITANTS
An irritant-free home is not an impossible task. Take a look at the lotions you use, the soaps, bath gels, fragrances, household cleansers and laundry detergent you stock, and chuck out anything that looks suspiciously chemical-y or extra man-made. It's amazing the damage something as tiny as a drop of brightener or fragrance in your laundry detergent can do to a set of skin cells. Run an air purifier. Send the bed sheets through the wash. Be as consistent as possible with your dusting. Shut your windows if you're allergic to pollen; open them if you're not. Try to keep your super hot hot showers to a minimum, since hot water strips ya dry. Huck's pediatrician advised us not to use soap on his sensitive skin . . . ever, and since then we've made it an effort at our house to keep soap use in the bath to a minimum for all of us, and save the soapy bubbles for washing our hands.

No. 6 / BE VIGILANT
Like most things in life, the best weapon is consistency. Preventing a sensitive skin flare up seems way less obnoxious than treating one, and anyway, keeping your skin healthy is probably a worthwhile habit to take up. ;) Good luck and God speed!

And thank you to all #freetobe for sponsoring this post!

20150522

HAPPY LONG WEEKEND!


It's a holiday weekend! B's finishing up a work call this morning and then the three of us are going to go off and party like goats all around the city. Hope you have fun things planned, too! 

Here's a whole bunch of stuff. Let's roll in it.


FIRST: My amazingly inspiring friend Julie, owner of fitBallet and best writing partner a girl could ask for, recently wrote a fitness + training ebook so you can follow her fitBallet course on your own at home (and feel seriously inspired about, like, everything while you're at it), and it releases today! You can get it here. It's only $9.99, but HNJ readers get a fat 10% off with the code HEYNATALIEJEAN. Check out her in-person training, online training, or class class schedule in TriBeCa for locals as well. Woman knows what she's doing. I recommend her five million percent. 

Income inequality as seen from space (found after falling down a Twitter rabbit hole)

Did you know your glossy social media accounts can be used against you in a court of law if you're trying to argue for emotional distress?


And speaking of books, this looks really wonderful (Recommended to me by a reader--thank you!)

Get the old school You've Got Mail announcement on your Google Chrome, hollaaaaa

What kids want on vacation, for summer planning inspiration

Playground Purgatory. Too amazing for words. This many exclamation points !!!!!!!!!!

Two exhibits you have to hit this weekend: Bjork and Yoko, both at the MoMA.

And lastly, my homegirls at Local-Creative are hosting a co-working space in Gowanus for the month of June. $25 a day with adorable amenities in a really beautiful, bright loft space. DO IT. Find out more here and email hello@local-creative.com to reserve a space. I can't wait to check it out!

Keep it real + stay cool!

20150521

GET ME DRESSED / 013


What do you get when you combine one very boring outfit that you've already worn five million times with a new pair of nerd shoes? 

You get the same thing you got the last time, only nerdier! 


Taduh!

I've been looking for THE pair of nerdy saddle shoes for just about forever. It's not like they're that hard to find? But every pair I'd tried seemed to be missing something crucial. For one thing, I have a specific black-to-white ratio. TrĂ©s important. Second only to the black/white ratio are the dimensions of the toe box. Proper width is tricky, and I like mine to have some clomp. Like a throw-back third grader going to prep school. Ooh, like Rory Gilmore! Not like the delicate wing-tip of a mob boss in the twenties. Pass me a gun with that weird wheel-y thingie! Eh-eh-eh-eh-ehhhh! (That's my 1920s villain with a cigar dangling out his mouth evil laughing sound effect. Spot on, right?) 


I finally found these puppies by searching "cheer shoes" on Amazon at two in the morning last week, because I'd remembered randomly that my mom wore a pair in an old photo of her with her high school cheer squad. Perfection achieved! I totally got that rush of buy buy buy! now now now! energy that shopping junkies sometimes get? Not that I would know? 

"SIX AND A HALF! DEBIT CARD! GO!"

I should really have my Amazon app removed from my phone because I get into more trouble with it than a high schooler behind the bleachers.

It turns out you can get this same brand at Zappos, too. Why don't I ever think to check Zappos? Geez. Lots of saddles there: these, these, and these, and these, too! If you need some for your kid. (You totally do.)


At first I felt like Ronald McDonald in them, until I googled it and it turns out his shoes are red. (Same with the Hamburglar's.)


I get questions about this jacket all the time, and sadly, it's an eBay score from a few years ago of a brand I haven't seen since. It's cropped at the sleeves and the fit is suuuper snug, and if you're in the market for something similar, this Madewell version is almost a dead ringer. (Are they out of the black right now?) I've tried it on and by snug I mean SNUG, so size up. (At least two sizes if you want something boyfriend-y.) 

My favorite gold chain bracelets come from Littionary. I get asked that one a lot too. :)


Well so anyway, that's that. Photos lovingly taken by this guy ☟


You can tell he's thrilled about it.