Make a Difference Monday: History of Her-story

Women In History Cards

 

We all remember sitting in history class, reading our textbooks filled with important dates, battles and biographical info on historical figures. But I can say that as a girl, many times I noticed how we pretty much only learned about the roles of men in history. Sure, there was a brief mention of Rosa Parks once a year and maybe a quote from an Abigail adams letter, but not anything substantial. I can only remember a few instances where the class focused on a female historical figure for more than a minute. And ya know what, it’s a shame. Boy and girls need both male and female role models and most education curriculums don’t fulfill that need.

But ladies and gents, there is good news. A talented artist, published author, and mother, Ashmae has created these beautiful flash cards depicting female historical figures. Her KickStarter Brave Women Art describes how she came up with the idea and her hope that this project will inspire not only her daughter, but also her son as well as she communicates women’s important contributions because women and men should know about these female leaders. Her goal also includes rising money to provide these cards to under privileged kids learn about these awesome ladies, which couldn’t be more great.

Donations can be as little as $5 but just a $15 donation means you get your own set of cards sent to you in December, just in time for Christmas. I’ve got a few children on my list to buy for this year and it would be a perfect gift, although I have to admit that I want a set for myself. So head on over HERE and check out her awesome story and pick up a set!


7 Travel Tips: Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio Beach in Costa Rica

We just got back from our Costa Rica trip and it was amazing! The food was fresh and wonderful, people were fantastic, and the beaches were divine. I could write multiple posts about how much I loved certain things but I thought I’d simplify it and just give you seven tips on traveling there.

1. Rent a Car

Costa Rica Rental Car

It might be tempting to try and take public transit but if you’re going to leave the capital, rent a car. And don’t rent from a local company. Go with the standard American companies that you know and trust. Reviews for the local rental agencies are abhorrent. If you want to do any adventuring at all, spend the extra $5 a day and get a 4×4. It saved us more times than I can count because “national roads” can be nothing more than rocky dirt paths.

2. Get the WIFI Hotspot

Costa Rica WIFI

Everything we read online before going suggested that we get a GPS when we rented our car because the $15 a day was worth it. My suggestion is to pay the extra $2 a day for their WIFI hotspot. We took it everywhere with us and I’m sure we’d still be lost in the jungle right now if we hadn’t gotten it. We also completely lost our minds and put in an offer on a house while we were there so having access to email/text was invaluable. Plus, sometimes you just gotta Instagram those gorgeous beach pictures.

3. Order the Fresh- Squeezed Juice

Costa Rica Juice

It took us a few days to realize that we should order fresh squeezed juice every time we got a chance. The fruit they use to make the juice is usually picked that day and the resulting taste cannot even be described in words. Trust me, just order it.

4. Go See the Monkeys

Costa Rica Monkeys

Costa Rica has a fairly decent amount of protected national forest. We were staying in Manuel Antonio, one of their most renowned national lands. Wake up early and wear your tennis shoes.

5. Visit Pacific Side Beaches

IMG_1831

Thankfully we had already booked our hotel on the Pacific side when someone told us that the Atlantic side was pretty seedy and mostly drug running. If you’re looking for somewhere safer to lay out on the beach, stay out on the western side on the country. We left our beach bag unattended every day and we didn’t have any issues. We tipped the local “security guard” a couple bucks and he kept an eye on it which was totally worth it.

6. Go Into the Rain Forest

Costa Rica Forest

The beaches in Costa Rica are so nice that you might not want to venture out much while you’re there. Resist the urge and get into the rain forest for a least an afternoon. The smells, the animals and the scenery will blow you away.

7. Bring a Bunch of American Dollars

Costa Rica Banana Farm

This pictures has nothing to do with this tip but I didn’t exactly take pictures every time we were extorted for money. Many times when we parked our car, we paid a “parking guard” to watch our car so nothing happened to it. This type of thing happened frequently while we were there. American dollars are accepted everything (even national toll booths) so bring a couple hundred and be prepared to tip often. Having cash also allowed us to haggle a little bit more which made things a bit cheaper. Although Costa Rica is a Central American country, don’t expect cheap prices on almost anything since tourism and ex-pats relocating there have really driven up prices.

Extra Tips:

Costa Rica Flip Flops

  • Bring a nice pair of flip flops (like these) to wear going out to dinner. They’re about as dressy as you’ll need
  • There is a $29 fee to leave the country- give yourself an extra hour at the airport to stand in that line.
  • If there’s not a price written on a tag, haggle hard.
  • Exchange is about 500 colones to 1 American dollar. Don’t bother with getting colones, just use dollars.
  • Go see the UNESCO World Heritage Stone Spheres in Palmar Sur. They’re amazing, mysterious and pre-columbian.
  • Go in turtle season to see the turtles hatching- we’re sad we missed it!

Any other tips you recommend for Costa Rica travel? Anything you loved or didn’t love?

-Katy

 


Think Free Thursday: Summer Skincare

My Skincare Favorites

Just popping in today to talk about a few of my favorite skincare products for the summer. During the summer when it’s blazing hot outside and your make up is melting off your face, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re skin is in good shape.

Thayers Unscented Witchhazel Toner has become one of my favorite skincare products ever. I use it to take off my make up at night and it leaves my skin feeling cleansed, yet hydrated and soothed. It’s really helped my overall tone and oiliness and it’s usually around $10 and lasts FOREVER. I’ve been telling all my friends about it for so long that I figure I should probably let all of you guys in on the secret. It’s magic.

Kate Somerville Exfolikate is my go to product when I think that my skin is looking a little dull. A friend in the skincare biz recommended this to me a couple years ago and now I always have it with me. I love buying it in the smaller tube so that I can easily take it with me when I travel since traveling tends to wreaks havoc on my skin. Please someone tell me that I’m not the only one.

Clarisonic Mia 2 is one of the best investments I’ve ever made for my skin. It’s essentially a toothbrush for your face (not as weird as its sounds, I promise) that utilizes the same patented sonic technology as those amazing Sonicare toothbrushes.This little guy gets all the surface grime off your face in just a minute. It’s definitely a little pricier but I’ve had mine for over 2 years now and I still use it every day in the shower.

Marc Jacobs Daisy Dream Roller is not technically a skincare product, but I just had to share it since I love it so much. I keep this in my purse pretty much at all times and it’s perfect for when you’re feeling kinda gross and need a quick something to freshen up. The scent is soft and clean and the size is perfect for travel or just your normal, on-the-go life.

Laura Mercier Oil Free Tinted Moisturizer is probably my most recent find. I’ve used Aveda tinted moisturizer for probably the last 5 years but was wanting to switch things up a bit. An awesome friend who knows and loves all-things Sephora convinced me to try it out and I have loved it since day one. LM has a regular tinted moisturizer that contains oil but my combination skin felt too oily with that one. If you’re not sure which one you’d like, get a sample of both and test each one out for a couple of days.

Benefit Erase Paste has saved me since I have extremely dark circles under my eyes- thanks mom! This paste is a bit thicker than most concealers and it perfect for under eyes, sun spots, and blemishes. I bought my first little tub over a year and a half ago and just now needed to replace it so it lasts for a super long time!

Burt’s Bees Lip Balm is an old standard. I’ll admit that I’ve occasionally wandered off and tried a different lip balm only to quickly return to Burts.

Do you have any skincare products you swear by? Have you tried any of these products and if so, what did you think?


To Paint Or Not To Paint?

A couple of weeks ago I scored this great antique marble topped table for $30 off of Craigslist. It’s a perfect little side table and I love the lines. But…

Antique Marble Side TableMy big problem is the wood. To be honest, the finish on the wood is actually not that bad, especially considering its age. I really do believe that antique wooden pieces are being haphazardly painted all the time and that future generations will look back on us (and our painting ways) and shake their heads. BUT, this little guy needs to fit in better in his home- our guest room- which means something needs to change. Here’s what’s currently going on style-wise in that room:

Guest Room Style

We’ve got a lot of black and white on the walls, silver/gray bedding, and gold and goldish accent pieces. See that kneeling guy in the top right corner? He’s an original art deco piece from my grandma and the inspiration for getting a table with more deco-y lines. I really love the marble with everything but the wood stands out like a 45 year old at frat party. It’s just bad.

I’m thinking about painting the base black to help it fit in more and feel more cohesive. This inspiration below is a different type of table but it highlights the contrast that I think I want for this little guy.

White marble table inspiration

 

Don’t you just love that shiny black against the white and gray marble? What’s your vote? I’d love to hear what you think- paint or no paint??

 


Talk About It Tuesday: Have You Hung Up Your Diploma?

University of Texas Diploma

This is the corner of my office. That gray box is filled with art ready to be framed and heaven knows what’s in those manilla folders. Receipts? Insurance info? Your guess is as good as mine. But behind my semi-organized stuff is one of my greatest accomplishments, my college diploma.

I realize that people graduate from college every day of the week- well, mostly in May, but my point is that tons of people finish college. For some people it’s easy, and in four years they’re dunzo. But for me, it wasn’t that way. I had a lot of starts and stops, a lot of people doubting my abilities, and even a university change thrown in there. It’s not that I couldn’t do the coursework, or even that I didn’t want to but it seemed like life kept getting in my way. But I did it. I finally finished (with honors :).

I finished at 26, quite a few years after most people. In fact, the University of Texas (hook’em!) even categorized me as “non-traditional” because I was so old when I transferred in. Believe me, its *awesome* to be considered old in your mid twenties (I forgive you, UT). But despite feeling a little bit old, walking across that stage was truly one of the highlights of my life. So it totally makes sense how I was waiting with bated breath for my official diploma to arrive. I think I had it framed almost immediately. And then it sat on the floor. And it still sits on the floor in that same spot. Shameful, I know.

So my question today is, have you hung your diploma? When you think about it, it’s probably one of the most expensive pieces of paper you own and might ever own. If you’re like me and never have, what’s holding you back? For me, I’m not really sure why. So this week I’m going to locate my hammer and a nail and get my fancy piece of paper up on the wall where it deserves to be.

-Katy


Make a Difference Monday: Saving Puppies

Puppy Rescue

 

Today we’re going to talk about everyone’s favorite topic: puppies. Well, young puppies and older puppies (commonly known as dogs). I love dogs. I am solidly a dog person and most of my friends and loved ones are as well because dogs are pretty much the best. You know who else is the best? People who rescue dogs. You guys, the stats out there on homeless pets are terrifyingly awful. I’ll spare you from most of the details except this one: Over 2.7 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year. EACH YEAR. Guys, that is a crazy number of furry souls dying before their time. But back to rescues- these people are saints.

One saint that I know and love is Allison Allred who started This One Starfish, a non-profit that rescues dogs from death and helps them find their forever home. She is just one of many who devotes insane amounts of time, money, gas, and love to dogs who have been abandoned and forgotten. They spend so much of their personal resources helping dogs they know they won’t keep, which to me feels incredibly selfless and amazing. When they say that all dogs go to heaven, they forgot to include the people who rescue dogs, because those people certainly do as well.

So by this point I’m sure you’re thinking how you want to help or get involved. Natch. I asked This One Starfish what they would recommend to someone wanting to help and this is what they said:

Dog rescue is kind of like holding a bucket under a running sink to catch the water. It’s a good temporary solution but the only permanent fix is to get the water turned off. We can keep pulling dogs out of shelters and busting puppy mills, but the shelters will keep filling up. One way that we can start to turn the sink off is educating the public about the reality of dog shelters. Most dog shelters are not shelters at all. After a few days or sometimes only a few hours the dogs are euthanized. In the best case an adopter shows up to pull the dog before they reach the top of the kill list, but usually the dogs die. People need to educate themselves on these realities and learn the alternatives to dropping dogs in shelters. There are so so many people willing to foster so if you find a dog contact a local rescue first and consider fostering until an adopter surfaces. Even if you can only foster for one night, keeping these dogs out of shelters will save their lives. Another way people can help is by sharing our Facebook posts am following/ retweeting out Twitter page. These shares help us spread the word about our mission and make it possible for us to quickly get dogs out of shelters and find forever families.

Buying shirts is a great way to show support: http://booster.com/helpingpeoplehelpdogs
Also consider donating! We have a gofundme for donations: http://gofund.me/starfishvetfund?pc=tw_cr_n

So all you dog people, let’s make a difference and find a way to support dog rescues and fosters. Already helping save puppy lives? I’d love to hear how you’re making a difference!

 

-Katy

 


Happy Fourth of July with Neil Diamond

I’ll be taking the rest of the and weekend off to enjoy my favorite holiday, the Fourth of July. I’ll be watching parades, seeing fireworks, hanging out with friends and family and listening to Neil Diamond on repeat! Have fun and stay safe! Happy Fourth of July from me and Neil Diamond!


Talk About It Tuesday: Will You Read Harper Lee’s New Novel?

Go Set a Watchman

Go Set a Watchman, the first book Harper Lee wrote, is being released July 14th. She submitted it to her editor over 55 years ago only to be asked to re-write it. The rewrite is known today as “To Kill a Mockingbird,” one of America’s greatest novels and arguably, one of the best books on racism and southern life. I fell in love with it when I had to read it for a middle school class and I’ve reread it many times since.

But I have some mixed feelings on “Go Set a Watchman” being published. Ms Lee has only ever published her one famous work and throughout the decades has insisted that she would probably never publish again and would like to be left alone. Now that she’s 89 years old, with her faculties failing her, her novel is going to be published. There are some reports that state that she is actually quite happy about it while other news outlets feel that her publisher and publicist might be pushing for this against her wishes.

So my question today is: Will you read it? The CEO of News Corp has read it and says it’s wonderful but they own the publisher, Harper Collins, and are counting on profits to help boast quarterly revenue. While I’m pretty sure it’s extremely well written and profound, is it the right thing to do considering some people feel like its publication is elder abuse? For me, I’m not sure which side to believe but if I’m being honest with myself, I’ll probably preorder it sometime this week as I can’t imagine not reading something Harper Lee wrote. My hope is that she did want it published and that the proceeds will help to take care of her in her twilight years.

If you’re looking for more information about Harper Lee’s life, I recently watched this documentary on Netflix and fell in love with her even more.

 

 


Make a Difference Monday: Combining a Nursing Home and a Preschool

What do you think would happen if we put some of societies youngest and oldest together? A Seattle nursing home has done just that by putting a preschool inside of a nursing home and the results are magical. The elderly patients, all of whom need assistance themselves, have the opportunity to help the children which has helped them create more social bonds. These relationships are extremely beneficial as many seniors report struggling with loneliness and lack of purpose. The children also gain life skills through this endeavor and learn more patience, and tolerance of differences. Watch the video below and contribute to the kickstarter documentary as the director explores this unconventional and happy arrangement.


Heading to Costa Rica This Week

Manuel Antonio

Surprise! I’ll actually be in Costa Rica this week. You guys, I am so excited. We’re staying in the costal area of Manuel Antonio which is known for it’s protected rain forest, beaches and incredible amounts of wildlife, including guys like these:

Costa Rica Monkeys

 

I guess the area has so many monkeys that one of the house rules (we’re staying in an AirBNB condo) is that we aren’t allowed to feed the monkeys that regularly come onto our balcony. Crazy, right?

I know that quite a few of you have been down to Costa Rica so I’d love to hear about any awesome places we have to go! Neither of us speak very much Spanish so wish us luck! I’ll be off my computer for most of the week but stay in touch by following me on Instagram @katy_daydreaming!