11 June 2018

Sun Care Tips for Very Fair Skin

As I've mentioned in past makeup and beauty posts, I have very fair skin--always burns, never tans, Type I on the Fitzpatrick scale fair. This means that I have to be careful about sun exposure, since more than a few minutes in bright summer sun will leave me with a pink or red burn instead of a bronze summer glow. Since I don't like to spend all of my summer days slathered in sunscreen, I've found a few alternative sun protection options to add into my defense arsenal. Here are my favorite finds and tips for enjoying the sun and staying sunburn-free without resorting to a vampiric lifestyle:

For Any Time: Wide-Brimmed Hats

Hats can add a jaunty touch to your ensemble, but they're also a valuable accessory for avoiding sunburn. They protect the part of your hair without having to add greasy sunscreen to your scalp, and if the brim is wide enough they can also shade the face, neck, and upper chest. I wear a hat in sunny but not-overly-hot weather when my shoulders and arms are protected with sleeves, or in conjunction with sunscreen to keep my part covered and gain a little extra coolness from the shade.

(Here's a bonus tip for if, like me, you find most hats too big: try a children's size large! Mine is from Crewcuts--here's a similar one.)

For Backyard Parties: Parasols
Image by Totes (because umbrellas are hard to photograph)
Once a staple accessory in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, parasols have fallen out of fashion in recent decades. But with rising skin cancer concerns they're starting to come back onto the market, and I'm hoping to be part of the vanguard bringing them back into style, too. Look for umbrellas with UPF ratings like this sun umbrella I got from Totes, which does double-duty rain or shine and comes in an array of cute prints. While parasols can be a little awkward to maneuver in crowded spaces, they work great for events like garden parties and barbecues where you're standing still or sitting in one place, and if angled correctly can shade your entire body from the sun.

For Active Days: Mineral Sunscreen

While I'm not fond of the feeling of sunscreen on my skin, in some cases it's the only option for sun protection, like at the beach or on hot days with lots of activity. When I do need to use sunscreen, I use an SPF-50 mineral formula with both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which I find works better than chemical sunscreens or formulas with just one kind of mineral. This summer I'm using this Goddess Garden sport formulation with a base of natural and organic ingredients--I got mine at Whole Foods, but my local CVS carries the brand as well, and it's also available online.

For After Sun: Aloe-Based Witch Hazel

Sometimes sunburns still happen, even if you're normally careful. When I spend a bit too long in the sun unprotected and get a slight burn, I soothe it with witch hazel. Witch hazel helps to reduce redness, inflammation, and irritation from sunburn, and the the aloe vera base of Thayer's alcohol-free formula is soothing and moisturizing. (Avoid the more common alcohol-based witch hazel astringents, which can dry the skin out and further irritate a burn.) As a bonus, witch hazel is also handy to have on hand in the summer as it can relieve redness, swelling, and itchiness from insect bites!

27 May 2018

Teddy Bears of Social Media

Have you ever seen people get overly excited when they see a dog or a cat out and about, or when a picture of one pops up in their social media feed? Well, I'm like that about teddy bears. I always notice when there's a bear on screen in movies and television, and I'll never pass one by in a shop without giving them a closer look. In the same way that other people find that cute pets brighten their day, a teddy bear will never fail to make me smile and lift my mood.

So, of course I've found teddy bears to follow online, for whenever I need a little cheering up. Here are those I follow through their blogs, Twitter, and YouTube, which I'm sharing for those fellow teddy bear enthusiasts looking to add a dash of adorableness to their internet wanderings:

Horace the Alresford Bear

Photo by Karen Borek from Cotehele Daffodil Day

Horace is a teddy bear made in Alresford, England who was rescued from a charity shop in 2011 and now blogs about his adventures in Bristol and around the United Kingdom. Many of Horace's posts detail his trips to National Trust properties, so you can take in the gorgeous historic houses and gardens while getting a dose of teddy bear cuteness. Horace also posts photos on Instagram and Twitter, including some with his many siblings such as Nye, Theo, and Wilfred.

Jama's Alphabet Soup

Photo by Jama Rattigan from
Friday Feast: The Bear in the Window and Paddington's Bread and Butter Pudding with Marmalade

Jama Rattigan's blog is technically about culinary and literary matters, but her Teddy Bear Picnic category of posts is chock-full of adorable teddies, including the numerous Paddington Bears in her collection. Other literary teddies including Pooh, Corduroy, and Rupert also put in appearances, often with accompanying recipes.

Jane Hissey's Old Bear

Illustration by Jane Hissey via Twitter

Jane Hissey is the author and illustrator of the beautiful Old Bear series of books, and she frequently shares her exquisitely detailed and incredibly realistic drawings of Old Bear and his friends on her Twitter account, alongside occasional snapshots of the real toys that inspired the books. Hissey also recently launched a YouTube channel where you can watch the television series based on the show, completely for free. Each episode is ten minutes long and features stop motion animation and gentle narration--here's the first one:

Tatty Teddy

These short and sweet YouTube videos from British greeting card company Carte Blanche feature stop-motion scenes of their character Tatty Teddy, and are designed to be sent as e-cards. They seem to have stopped posting new ones years ago, which is a shame, but the collection they have features videos that can be sent for a variety of occasions. Here's a little montage from several of their Tatty Teddy videos:

19 May 2018

New Products in My Etsy Shop: Colorful Vintage Postcard Templates

It's been a while since I updated this blog, and even longer since I've updated my Etsy shop. Partly this is because I've been working on reorganizing my craft supplies, which necessitated a lot of shopping, furniture building, and attempts at DIY shelf hanging. I live in a small space without a dedicated craft room or studio, and even though most of my materials and tools are flat and small, it has still been a struggle to find a way to store them while still allowing me easy access. I hope that my new arrangements will make things easier, so I can finally get back to work at restocking the shop.

In the meantime, I've actually added a small range of downloadable postcard templates to the shop--no physical storage or restocking required! This product line was inspired by the colorized vintage postcards I make and print at home as birthday party favors/thank-you gifts for my family. I experimented a little with several real vintage postcards, put together elements I liked from different ones, and created three colorways: rainbow, bright, and pastel.

Each downloadable PDF template contains postcard backs in six different colors, plus a sheet of instructions and tips. They print out as a standard A6 card, which is 4.25" by 5.5", or one quarter of a standard 8.5" by 11" piece of cardstock--I used a paper trimmer to cut my own cards as seen in these photos.

I like embellishing my own cards with stickers and drawings, which I think adds a nice personal element to any correspondence, but you could also print the template on the reverse of a photo or digital design to make custom stationery. I think the vintage postcard design adds a fun touch to invitations, thank-you notes, and greeting cards!

If you're interested in downloading and printing these vintage postcards, each template colorway is available in my Etsy shop for $6.50.

29 April 2018

Recipe: Low-Fat Egg-Free Banana Muffins

Note: Please keep in mind that my recipes reflect only my own experience, and that if you choose to follow them you do so at your own risk!

Fruit-based quick breads like these banana muffins are super easy to make low-fat, since the fruit adds so much moisture to the recipe. You'd never guess from their soft, moist texture that these banana muffins have just two grams of fat each! They're also egg-free, which makes them suitable for those with allergies and easy to adapt for vegan bakers--just substitute your favorite baking oil and plant milk for the melted butter and dairy milk.


- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons dark amber maple syrup
- 1 cup pureed or mashed banana (2-3 ripe bananas)
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin pan with 12 muffin wrappers and set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, mix the sugar, maple syrup, pureed or mashed banana, and melted butter.

3. Add 1/2 cup of the flour, the baking powder, the baking soda, the cinnamon, and the salt to the wet mixture and combine. Add the vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of the milk and combine again. Keep alternating 1/2 cup flour and 2 tablespoons of milk, blending well after each addition.

4. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin pan, dividing evenly among 12 muffins.

5. Bake the muffins until they've puffed at the top and are golden brown, around 20 minutes.

6. Carefully pop the muffins out of the pan and let cool on wire racks to prevent sogginess.

Makes 12 muffins

19 April 2018

Muppet Show Songs About Being True to and Believing in Yourself

"Wishing Song" from Season 2, Episode 3: Madeline Kahn

Now, I don't have a coat of silk,
But still I have the sky.
Now, I don't have a lady,
But there goes a butterfly.
Now, I don't have a house of stone,
But I can see the sea.
Now, most of all I know that I
Am happy to be me--
I'm happy to be me.

"Bein' Green" from Season 1, Episode 12: Peter Ustinov

It's not easy bein' green--
Seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things.
And people tend to pass you over
'Cause you're not standing out like flashy sparkles on the water,
Or stars in the sky.

But green's the color of spring.
And green can be cool, and friendly-like.
And green can be big, like a mountain,
Or important, like a river,
Or tall like a tree.

When green is all there is to be,
It could make you wonder why--
But why wonder,
Why wonder?
I'm green,
And it'll do fine.
It's beautiful,
And I think it's what I wanna be.

"Just One Person" from Season 2, Episode 12: Bernadette Peters

If just one person believes in you,
Deep enough, and strong enough, believes in you,
Hard enough, and long enough, before you knew it
Someone else would think, "If he can do it, I can do it."

Making it two whole people who believe in you,
Deep enough, and strong enough, believe in you,
Hard enough, and long enough, there's bound to be some
Other person who believes in making it a threesome--making it three
People you can say believe in me.

And if three whole people, why not four?
And if four whole people, why not more,
And more, and more?

And when all those people believe in you,
Deep enough, and strong enough, believe in you,
Hard enough, and long enough, it stands to reason
You yourself will start to see what everybody sees in you--
And maybe even you
(Maybe even you)
Can believe in you, too.