BLOG ENVY

A bit of reflection in this post. This is Brady and me checking out Lone Peak in Big Sky.

I have only been blogging for a few months at this point. But, so far, I really love it. In college I had heard a lot of different people talk about the need for a creative outlet. And honestly, I totally blew the idea off. I just chalked it up to having an English major (which I have not mentioned yet, because that makes me extra nervous about any typos or grammatical errors that may be in my posts) and being in classes with people who were generally a lot more ‘in-tune with themselves’ and creative than myself. Basically, I felt my life was pretty balanced already. I worked at a job I loved that gave me a lot of social interaction, I went to classes and kept organized to get my assignments done, I made time to exercise each day, and I played with adorably-terrible dog. My days were pretty packed, so I considered watching Friends re-runs each night to be my “creative outlet.”

It wasn’t until I got into my career after college, that I realized exactly how much I do need some sort of reading or writing for enjoyment in my life. I think it took me that long to realize, because in college I was constantly bogged down with forced reading and writing assignments. While I managed to keep my love for all things involving the English language (I mean enough to make a career out of it), it did pretty much drain me of all my reading and writing for pleasure time.

Until, now. This year has been much more stressful, made me completely overwhelmed (at times), and given me lots more responsibility than college ever did. But, my schedule is consistent. And I LOVE that. I love schedules and routines. No matter how hard I tried, during college my schedule always felt disjointed, because I would fit in work, homework, and exercise around the class times that were offered. There was never any real flow. But, now I am on a normal work schedule, so I have easily been able to fall into a routine (and I love routines so much, I want to list out my entire weekly routine right here!—but I won’t. First, to spare you from reading that and second because this post is already going to be a longer one).

Before I started mountaingirlygirl, I used reading different blogs as my creative outlet. Hours on end were spent going over various lifestyle, beauty, and outdoor blogs. And as I started to contemplate and plan my own site, I developed a more critical eye concerning what constitutes a “good” blog. Of course, I knew that with all of that knowledge, I would be able to make an absolutely perfect blog.

But, it’s a whole lot harder than it looks.

So, I wanted to share with you a few of the things I want to work on as I grow my blog. I appreciate all of the support and positive feedback that I have received so far. And I want to let you know that I understand I have some definite short-comings, but I am working on them, and trying to make the best blog I can for you!

Pictures:

I get to go to so many beautiful places right near where I live.  I'm working on capturing them.  Photo Cred: Stetson
I get to go to so many beautiful places right near where I live. I’m working on capturing them. Photo Cred: Stetson

Ah!! My pictures have been one of my biggest struggles with this blog. One of the most entertaining parts about outdoors blogs are the outstanding pictures of a brook trout being released back into the river as the sunsets behind the immense mountains– or something equally cool and beautiful. I absolutely love those pictures! But, then I look at mine, and they are never quite as I envision them in my head. I think that I have always been under the assumption, that if I am outdoors those pictures will just naturally fall into place. I mean I live in a beautiful area! But, in reality, I am learning that those pictures take some serious forethought and work. Over the next few weeks, I am going to really focus on improving the picture quality on here.

Travel:

Visiting Haystack Rock on the Oregon Coast.

This is completely based off of my jealously. Some of my favorite blogs to read are about traveling all over the world. Alaska, French Polynesia, Finland, Hawaii… you get the picture. And I so, so, so badly wish I could write about all of my travels. Except… I haven’t had that many travels. Which makes sense. I’m 23 years old and just in my first year out of college, for goodness sake! At this point, I’m just happy to no longer be living on potatoes and pasta (super healthy). So, of course I would love to be traveling to all corners of the globe; it seems like the 20s is where wanderlust really kicks in. But, that just isn’t feasible, and that’s alright. I need to be thankful for the trips I will take with Brady and with my brother during the summer (posts will be up as those trips happen), and not throw myself a pity-party for not being able to afford to spend the entire summer jet-setting.

Adventures:

I may not sleep in hammocks suspended in the sky, but this isn’t too bad either.

As I look at other blogger’s and photographer’s accounts of outdoor exploring that they do, I begin to second-guess my “adventures” heading, here on mountaingirlygirl. They will have pictures of hang-gliding over insane canyons, dropping out of helicopters to ski, or biking across—what seems to be—the entire Moab Desert. Even the relaxing pictures I see have someone sleeping in a hammock hung high above the Redwood Forest. And I’m over here pulling a 4 inch brook trout out of the local stream calling it an “adventure.” But, it sure beats spending all day on the couch, and it fits into my life right now. Luckily, I will have a lot more free time in the next few months, so I am planning on amping up my adventure game. Meaning, maybe climb a fourteener, or attempt a mini backpacking trip, or POSSIBLY help Brady with the fire when we go camping (no promises there though, fire terrifies me and gets me out of lots of camping chores). But, I’m not quite to the hop-out-of-a-helicopter-and-ski-to-beat-an-avalanche level yet.

My Space:

I love this picture of the watch-dogs.  Just not the peeling paint or trailer parked across the street.
I love this picture of the watch-dogs. Just not the peeling paint or trailer parked across the street.

Now, this is pretty vain, but I am super self-conscious any time I take pictures at my house. My house is tiny, and old, and a rental, and generally just a “for now” place. Complain, complain, complain… Don’t get me wrong: I really love having my own place and am pretty proud of myself for living on my own. But, my house just isn’t that dream home I have pictured. Because it’s a rental, my main focus is keeping Teton’s destruction to a minimum, and keeping the house clean/presentable. I’m not really doing a ton of home improvement. Which, doesn’t really bother me until I go to take a picture for a post and I have peeling paint or a vine sprouting up through the foundation in y bathroom (true story) in the picture. The pictures from blogs that I love always have a lovely bright background and lots of personal home-y touches. Mine is not like that, yet. Of course, that is another thing that will just come with time and effort.

Now, I could go on and on with this post. However, I won’t. There are lots of things I am shooting to improve upon, but I am not going to just sit here and dream/complain.

Ultimately, I just need to remind myself that I am sharing my life with you, not the version of my perfect life. As much as I would like to pretend my day-to-day routine contains brunch and lattes at the local coffee shop, then floating down the Madison catching monster trout every afternoon. That’s just not what’s going on. And that’s okay! I will focus on the things that I actually can change, and maybe if I keep working hard enough I will be able to have that ideal coffee date and fishing trip all day, every day. And I’ll have Blake Lively’s hair. But, those things will take patience.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

MAY BOXYCHARM

It is BoxyCharm time! More new products for me and mini-reviews for you. This month’s theme was Bold & Beautiful, so there were lots of bright colors and fun summer-y products.

And for just $21 I received $100 worth of make-up! I have absolutely no idea how they do it, but I am always so impressed. Also, I feel less pressure to LOVE every product, that way.  Yes, spending money each month on make-up you may not like at all is a bit risky, but even if I don’t really like 3 out of the 5 products I usually STILL came ahead money-wise.

MODELCO BRONZE SHIMMER

This is going to be a summer staple for me. It’s one of those bronzers that works well for adding a bit of warmth all over the face. It has sort of an orange-ish undertone, and some golden shimmer. So, this is NOT for contouring (admittedly, I am still learning a lot about make-up, but I have definitely learned that a warm undertone and shimmer makes the absolute worst contouring shade). But, on summer days, who has time to carve out Kim Kardashian cheekbones? There are fish to be caught and mountains to explore! On these days, I like to use a BB cream, then lightly dust a bronzer like this around the perimeter of my face, to avoid looking washed out. Then, add some (or tons if you’re like me) mascara and head out the door.

This bronzer is very pigmented, meaning you need very little product. And it is a pretty massive container. So, this will last you quite a long time. The full-size product, like we received in this box, retails for $24.

THE LIP BAR LIPSTICK in “kiss me”

Summer means it is time for bright lip colors! Really, I like to pop them out periodically during any season, but in the summer it is a bit more fitting. “Kiss me” is a bright, coral color. And I mean bright! I love it. Bright lips are a great addition to the minimal make-up look I described above, if you are going to be going out or just want to be a little more dolled up.

I will be very honest and say that I am a super sucker for packaging. I know, it’s what is on the inside that counts, but packaging (especially with make-up) can easily draw me in. And the packaging from The Lip Bar is beautiful. The lipstick came in a cute drawstring pouch, and the actual product has such a cool, black cut-out design.

This lipstick is $20, and I haven’t worn it enough to decide if I’ll spend that much on another The Lip Bar lipstick yet. But, the color I received (they sent out a few different shades) is absolutely beautiful, it has a really long wear time (in fact, my lips were a bit stained the next day, AFTER make-up removal and a full night’s sleep), and the formula feels incredibly hydrating on the lips. Just, be sure to use a lip liner. Bright colors tend to bleed a bit more on me, and that can immediately turn any look from “cute, girly girl” to “walk of shame make-up left-overs.”

*Side Note: This company was on Shark Tank! I have watched quite a few episodes with my grandparents, so I am sort of an expert, and if they survived Shark Tank they are legit!  Their big selling point is that they use natural ingredients, which with lip products is actually pretty important to me.  I mean, we end up “eating” a lot of the product we put on our lips.

BODYOGRAPHY ESSENTIAL BROW TRIO

This is a product that I don’t see myself using very often. Brows are really, really in right now. I mean, obviously people have had eyebrows for forever, but that bolder brow look is a lot more popular now. So, brow products are kind of taking over. This trio has 3 brow powder colors that can be mixed and matched to create your perfect shade. And the colors are incredibly pigmented, so they should last a very long time. I tried the powder and they were very natural looking (IF you use a light hand, as I said they are super pigmented), they don’t move throughout the day, and they don’t fade.

I will say, I am incredibly happy that bolder brows are popular now. I inherited some serious brows from my parents, and it is a lot easier to just embrace them rather than waxing and tweezing them to death. But, because of that I don’t need to use brow powder. Each day I just use a tinted brow gel (I like Anastasia of Beverly Hills Tinted Brow Gel in “Brunette”) to keep my brows from going haywire on me, and the tint is all I need to fill in any sparse areas.

This retails for $19 dollars, and if you need a brow powder in your life this is a good one. But, I am betting there are cheaper alternatives out there (I know a lot of people just use an eyeshadow that matches their brow color) that work as well.

BODYOGRAPHY BROW BRUSH

Told you brow products were taking over! Now, when I did use the brow powder I really liked this brush. It is dual sided, which I love for traveling. The spooly side helps brush out the brows and then the angled brow brush makes it really easy to apply the powder.

I still use the spooly side to help tame my brows before applying my normal tinted brow gel. But, I like the angled brush for applying eyeshadow to my lower lashline. Not exactly what it is intended for, but it gives me a lot of control and is easy to use. This retails for $19 dollars, and is another product that I enjoy, but don’t think it is essential to go out and buy.

LAUREN B. BEAUTY NAIL POLISH in “#ImJuicing”

I love that this box gave me another high-end nail polish to try. Painting my nails is probably my favorite girly activity (actually I love having painted nails– the painting process I do not like), so that every time I catch a fish my nails are on point if I take a picture. But, I am very hard on my nails, so they chip ridiculously easily and that drives me absolutely nuts! Honestly, as soon as I get a chip I have to take off all of my polish and repaint. I am very high maintenance about my nails. However, I still find it really hard to justify spending lots of money on a polish for my nails.

Lauren B. Beauty is eco and vegan-friendly. Which, unfortunately, I have found usually means not-long-wearing when it comes to nail polish. But, this one wears really well. I went a full week (always my goal) without any chips! And it smells less terrible than other nail polishes, which was a nice bonus. These polishes retail for $18 dollars. Again, not totally sure I would purchase on my own, but I do like having it in my collection. The ONLY bummer I had with this polish was the color I received (this was another product where they sent out different shades). #ImJuicing is a very fitting name, because the green color looks exactly like all of those variations of the kale-spinach-avocado-and-any-other-trendy-green-food juicing recipes that are all over Pinterest. Not a color I am drawn to for my nails.

As you are reading this it may seem like there weren’t many products I loved in here. And, I guess, that is true. But, I am still happy I got the box! I tend to stick with the same brands and products that I know. BoxyCharm introduces me to new brands and forces me to try new things. And for $21 a month I love getting a surprise in the mail each month; it’s like a little gift to myself.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

SEA SALT HAIR SPRAY

1
Battle of the beach hair sprays!

Summer is almost here! Which means it will finally get above 60 degrees in good ol’ Wyoming and I will immediately start to sweat profusely. Which really isn’t something you need to know, but it does explain why I love the product I am going to be talking about today so much. Herbivore Botanicals Sea Mist Hair Spray is an absolute lifesaver in the summer (or lazy mornings during any season). Rather than staying in my humid bathroom, suffering through the heat from the blow dryer, and then running heated metal through my hair (straightener or curling iron), I just spritz this all over my hair and head out the door.

This spray plays up the natural texture of my hair. Without this product, if I let my hair dry naturally, it just looks like a lazy, lifeless mess. But, this allows me to embrace my inner laziness and messiness, without looking like a total slob. It gives that “beachy hair” look that is so popular this time of year. Personally, I love the lavender scent, but they have a coconut or vanilla as well, which also sound amazing.

How I Use It:

This is Day 1 hair
This is Day 1 hair

If I have wet hair, straight out of the shower (which only happens about once a week, but that’s alright), I like to first remove the excess water. Recently I have been using an old t-shirt for this rather than a towel and it really seems to help with frizz. Then, I just spray the sea salt hair spray all over, give my hair a few scrunches (you know like you used to in Junior High, when you would just dowse your hair in gel and then scrunch until it was a crunchy mess?), shake it out, and I am good to go. That’s right: no brushing and no drying!

On day 2 (or 3 or 4 or possibly 5) hair I do basically the same thing. I like to really coat my hair with the spray to help revitalize it. On these days, I am a bit gentler with the scrunching to help with any frizz action, because I have enough frizz without adding to the issue.

You know how some food dishes are better the next day, after all of the flavors have a chance to mix together– like chili or Cowboy Caviar? I feel like my hair is that way with this spray; the first day is good, but the next day is even better.

One of my favorite parts about this spray is that it is made using natural products. The inner-almost-hippie in me always gets sucked in to the natural ingredients hype. But, there is always that nagging feeling that I could easily make the product and save myself a lot of money. So, I decided to try it out!

DIY Recipe:

ToolsI tried a few different recipes for this… and I had a few real failures (including the one from my Coconut Oil post). But, I finally nailed it with this one!

Ingredients:

8 oz hot water

2 Tablespoons sea salt (or Kosher salt—just not table salt)

1 Tablespoon renewing argan oil (or any leave-in nourishing hair product—this helps with the drying nature of the sea salt)

3 drops lavender essential oil (or any scent you prefer)

Directions:

Mix all of the ingredients together (I just put them into a Mason jar that I had and shook for about a minute). Transfer mixture to spray bottle. Enjoy ridiculously easy summer hair!

Comparison:

Here are both sprays.  The one on the left is the Original and the one on the right is the DIY.  Yes, I used an old Herbivore bottle, so it looks even more official.
Here are both sprays. The one on the left is the Original and the one on the right is the DIY. Yes, I used an old Herbivore bottle, so it looks even more official.

Honestly, both the Herbivore Botanicals and the DIY spray work wonderfully! They each have a nice refreshing scent. They each give my hair body and texture, without weighing it down. Now, the oil in the DIY version does separate from the mixture, so you need to shake it before use. But, that doesn’t bother me.

So, if both sprays give the same results, why not make the cheaper version at home? Then you can do what I do, and spend the money saved on more natural Herbivore Botanical products (like the Brighten Facial Mask and Coco Rose Body Polish) before I get fed up and try to make my own version of those items. It’s a vicious cycle.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

FISH-OLOGY

Just showing off my new Rep Your Water hat (of course, I have one for MT, too) and Patagonia pack... With matching blue detailing!

Waders back
Just showing off my new Rep Your Water hat (of course, I have one for MT, too) and Patagonia pack… With matching blue detailing!

Lately, my life has been a really weird mix of being super busy and getting ready for things to slow way down. It’s an extremely odd combination, and especially annoying for me.  I love being able to make a list, get everything on that list done (and done well!), THEN be able to go enjoy myself without any distractions. But, right now I have a full list, I just have to wait on things outside of my control before I can check everything off.  And I hate it.

So, as I am stressing/waiting around it’s good for me to have a productive-ish way to spend my time. Now, I have been really itching to fish and hike and just generally be outside more. I’ve got Spring Fever—hardcore. Except, Laramie hasn’t really been cooperating. It’s been snowy/rainy/cold/windy with little glimmers of sun for pretty much the entire month of May. And unfortunately, adventuring is taking a back seat.

Still not ideal weather, but it worked.
Still not ideal weather, but it worked.

But, this weekend, for just a little bit, I finally got to get out again! Sunday evening Brady and I were both caught up on our work and chores, so we decided to head out for a quick fishing trip. We headed to a spot just about 20 minutes outside of town, near the Little Laramie River. It wasn’t the best weather. In fact, Meteorologist-Brady thought we may get rained out before we even got there, but it was nice enough to get in about an hour and a half of fishing.

RYW selfieAgain, Brady being the world’s most patient teacher helped get me all set up. If I am being completely honest, the set up and tear down is my least favorite part of fishing.  So much so, it may have been a factor in my original retirement from fishing at age 12. Recently, though, I’ve gotten sort of decent at actually setting up my rod, but I am slow and need help picking out which flies have at least a slight chance of being successful.  So for the sake of time, with the approaching rain clouds, Brady did it for me. Then, he showed me a nice spot to try my luck. And about 5 minutes later I had a fish! As poor Brady was trying to finish setting up his rig, listen to my yelling, get his GoPro out to get a picture of me, and assure me that “no, I was not going to kill the fish.”

DCIM100GOPRO
See the little guy in there?

It was a real monster of a Brown trout. Well, it may grow in to being a monster. But, to me a fish is a fish and I was thrilled with any catch at all. There was absolutely nothing on the surface, and he hit on a Prince Nymph Brady had tied on.  That was all the action we got for our little outing, but it still was a great way to wrap up the weekend. Bonus: we found a nice, secluded spot that we want to revisit when the water goes down a bit too.

Honestly, what I was most excited about was catching my first fish with Brady. He wasn’t able to come up to Big Sky with me when I landed my first fish on a fly and I loved getting to show him all of his time put in with me on the rivers so far wasn’t wasted.

Now, this is a little philosophical for my posts, but it seems like whenever you are talking about fishing, philosophy comes up eventually. Here’s why I fish: Connections. I feel like fishing brings me closer to my mom and her new husband because they have a cabin right on a river that I can’t wait to go visit and try my luck on. It brings me closer to my dad and step-mom because fishing is such a part of their daily lives in Big Sky. I feel like it brings me closer to my brother because he loves exploring Wyoming and has always been the one to encourage me when I try something new. And I love what it adds to my relationship with Brady.

Brady and I are complete opposites. Not exaggerating. We even took the Myers-Briggs personality test and had it proven, again. We are totally opposite. And that works great for us. In fact, I think that is one of the reasons why we work so well. I am super emotional; he’s very rational. I love schedules; he’s super go-with-the-flow. I listen to country; he likes rap (despite being from small town, Wyoming)… Yes, we have similar things that we both enjoy: watching hours on end of The Office and Parks and Recreation, going to baseball games, going out for delicious (and massive) meals on the weekend, that kind of stuff. But, it’s so nice to have something that we can do together now, rather than just me tagging along.

Of course, there are tons of different reasons why people fish. Some love the silence. Others love the challenge. Some love the solitude. Others love just being outdoors. But, I am in it for the connections.

And rippin’ lip whenever possible, of course.

WalkingThanks for reading,

Sydney

ANOTHER INTERNET POST ABOUT COCONUT OIL

COThere seem to be about a million blog posts, magazine articles, and Pinterest “pins” boasting the many uses of coconut oil. And being the Pinterest-aholic that I am, I have tried many of them. So, here I can actually tell you what works and is worth your time (in my expert opinion), and what is just internet hype that you DO NOT need to try.

What Works For Me:

Cooking Oil

First and foremost, this is a cooking oil. So, use it for cooking! The first time I used this was with my Thai Chicken recipe, and I loved it. No, it does not make your food taste like coconut and it’s healthier for you than a lot of other oils.

*For some reason, I do not like using coconut oil when cooking eggs. That is the only time I notice a difference; it gives them a different (horrible) texture.

Make-Up Remover

This is probably my favorite use for coconut oil. I know I can’t be the only one that uses a make-up remover, washes my face, and moisturizes, then STILL wakes up with raccoon eyes from leftover mascara the next day! So, I assumed this was just something I needed to accept and deal with. But, one day when I was trying another (failed) use for coconut oil, I realized that it does a great job breaking down old mascara, so it was super easy to wipe off. This also cuts down the amount of rubbing on the skin around your eyes, which is supposed to help prevent wrinkles—and as I already have crow’s feet when I smile my super-excited-squinty-smile (at just 23!) this is pretty important to me.

It looks a bit scary, but it works.
It looks a bit scary, but it works.

Moisturizer

I have dry/sensitive skin, especially during the 10 month-long Wyoming winters. So, I need a serious moisturizer. There are tons of expensive beauty oils out on the market that I considered, but I had a friend mention trying coconut oil first. And it works wonders. You need just a tiny bit (I melt mine in the microwave first then just barely dip my fingers in), and you will need to wait just a few minutes for it to sink in while you look like a grease ball.

Now, I know rubbing oil all over face sounds like you are headed for breakout city. But that isn’t the case, even for people with oily skin. A lot of face washes and acne treatments really dry out your skin, which makes your skin feel the need to produce more oil, then you strip it all, and it produces even more, and the vicious cycle repeats. But, by adding oil into your skin care routine you trick your skin into thinking it has already produced enough oil. There are much more scientific articles to explain this (my old roommate who graduated with a degree in chemical engineering explained it all to me), but that is the general, very simple gist.

*If you absolutely despise having that much oil on your face you can also soak a washcloth in hot water, ring it out, and then place it over your entire face for about a minute. It will open your pores so the oil absorbs faster, and soak up a bit of excess. Added bonus: it’s super relaxing.

Hair Mask

I feel like a broken record: “my hair has lots of texture and is very frizzy.”  I think I have mentioned that in about 6 other posts… So, I like a hair mask to help calm all of that without weighing it down or making it look greasy. Coconut oil does that! I just melt some oil in a bowl and work it all the way through my hair (this does get a little messy, so do it over a sink or with a towel under you). Then, I tie it up into a ridiculously unflattering, high and tight bun. I will leave it in there anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight, depending on my schedule for that night. Then I wash my hair normally (sometimes, if it seems like there is some extra residue I shampoo twice) in the shower and am good to go!

*If you leave it in overnight, I suggest using an old pillow case or draping a towel over your pillows.

This is what I star with-- it definitely needs some taming.
This is what I start with– it definitely needs some taming.
And this is what it looks like after the oil is in.
And this is what it looks like after the oil is in.

Sore Throat Soother

Now, this is very new to me, as in I just started this yesterday (because my voice is practically gone, and it’s almost summer so I want to be able to belt out some tunes in my car!), but swallowing a spoonful of coconut oil does ease sore throat pain. I suggest melting it down and mixing in some honey, because the honey also helps sooth pain and helps with the taste. If that is still too much to stomach, mix it in with your tea.

*I do not recommend eating spoonfuls of coconut oil on the regular. There are some articles that discuss the benefits, such as joint pain relief and energy boost, but it will cause your cholesterol to sky rocket!

What Did Not Work For Me:

Oil Pulling

This is where you take a spoonful of coconut oil, swish it around for about 15 minutes, and then spit it out. It is supposed to remove toxins, help whiten your teeth, and a bunch of other business. I did try it for a solid 3 weeks, even though I never really got over the disgustingness of having a mouth full of oil. I noticed that lots of little food bits (again gross) came out when I spit—even after brushing! So, I guess it did kind of work… but the gross level outweighed the benefits, in my eyes.

“Beach Hair” Spray

I love, love, love Herbivore Botanicals Sea Mist Hair Spray in Lavender, especially during the summer. But, it does get a bit pricey, and I am working on a DIY Sea Salt Hair Spray post to put up soon (because it makes your hair look fabulous and will save you money). I have tried a few different recipes so far, and quite a few call for a bit of coconut oil in them. Which I thought would be awesome, because I already use coconut oil in my hair AND I always have it on hand. However… oil and water do not mix. So there is always separation with the mixture. Which wouldn’t really bug me—I mean I can shake the bottle before I use it– but, the problem is that coconut oil is a solid at any temperature below 76 degrees, and my house is very rarely, if ever, that warm, so the oil would solidify and then sit on top of the mixture. Not good.

Not the spray I had in mind.
Not the spray I had in mind.

Baking Cookies

Some recipes claim that you can replace butter with coconut oil. Yes, it is healthier… but don’t do it. The taste and texture is always different (especially with cookies) and it is not different in a good way.

Eyelash Enhancer

So, this is how I found out coconut oil makes a great make-up remover. I read an article saying that coconut oil would help eyelashes grow in thicker and longer. I was very interested, because I feel like I have very short eyelashes, and I went through a traumatic cheerleading/eyelash glue incident one time that pulled out quite a few of those little lashes.  I tried it for about three months, but didn’t notice any real changes—except for all of my built up mascara disappearing.

Of course, there are lots of other uses for coconut oil out there. Some hits and some misses, I’m sure. But, I will say it has become a staple in my household, even if I do use it more in my beauty routine than in my cooking one.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

FAVORITE MLB PLAYERS

In this post I have decided to share with you my highly technical and rigorous criteria that I use when choosing my favorite baseball players.  For those of you that may be unfamiliar with baseball terms, I will do my best to help you follow along.

How I pick my favorite players:

Do they have a good smile? Are they nice people? Do they generally seem to be enjoying themselves playing the game? If they are married, does their spouse seem personable? Do they own any cute dogs? What kind of involvement do they have with the community? Would they be a nice guy to go and casually grab a beer with?

Highly technical stuff.

I completely cannot stand bandwagon fans. I just hate when people are fans of a team without reason. In fact, I get a tad snooty about it. I’ll admit, it is a pretty petty thing to get worked up about. But, if caring about people being loyal when it comes to sports is my biggest flaw (which it clearly is), that’s fine by me. So, here is your chance to judge whether I am a worthy fan or not.

In a few of my posts I have briefly mentioned that I am a Colorado Rockies and Baltimore Orioles fan. As there are absolutely no Major League Baseball teams in Montana or Wyoming, the Rockies have always been the team closest to home. As a kid, we would visit Denver and hit the zoo and a Rockies game– usually Stetson and I were more interested in Dinger, and eating all the ridiculously expensive ballpark food we could find. So, it just seems natural to support the Rockies, even in their recent rougher years.

Here we are sporting our Rockies early on.  This is probably very close to the first year that the Rockies were in the MLB.
Here we are sporting our Rockies early on. This is probably very close to the first year that the Rockies were in the MLB.

However, being an O’s fan way out here in Wyoming is a little bit different. But, the Orioles do have a few ties to Billings, Montana which is my hometown. Dave McNally, who is one of Baltimore’s most successful pitchers, (only pitcher to hit a grand slam in a World Series game, and won more than 20 games in 4 consecutive years) was from Billings. And another pitcher, Jeff Ballard, was voted one of the “50 most loved Orioles” in 2004. He was from Billings as well, and moved back after his pitching career ended. He would always speak at my elementary school and was friends with our mom, so Stetson and I got sucked in to being O’s fans very early on.

O's BradyDexter Fowler- Center Fielder, Chicago Cubs

Stetson and I lucked into some seats right behind home plate (thanks to our awesome uncle).
Stetson and I lucked into some seats right behind home plate (thanks to our awesome uncle).

Once I started really paying attention to baseball, Dexter was my original favorite. He has the world’s best smile! And I could usually see it from where I was sitting way up in the RockPile. All around he just seems to love playing baseball! He talks with the first baseman whenever he gets on base—which I find absolutely critical when picking my favorite players. He and his wife, Aliya, are both incredibly involved with their community. I know they participated in quite a few Denver programs when they were with the Rockies and now that they are in Chicago they are continuing to do the same.

Dexter loves his wife, supports the town he plays for, and rocks killer tennis shoes. AND he and Aliya have an unbelievably adorable little daughter!

One of my biggest baseball regrets is that I didn’t stock up on all of the Rockies Fowler merchandise when he was traded in 2013.

Nick Markakis- Right Fielder, Atlanta Braves

Even though Nick isn’t an Oriole anymore, I still love to see him having success with the Braves. I highly value loyalty within a player. I love to see the players that really buy into an organization and make that home. Of course, I realize that it is not always up to the player whether they stay or go. But, as a general rule, players can earn real points with me by sticking with one franchise. However, Nick playing with the Braves actually makes me really happy. He grew up in Georgia and has lots of family still there, so it makes me feel good knowing he is closer to home.

Nick has a beautiful wife, Christina, and they have 3 boys… under the age of 6. As if that isn’t enough to keep them busy, they also started a foundation, The Right Side Foundation, which is designed to aid distressed children in the Maryland area.

All around, he just is a solid, good person. When I went to Baltimore, with Stetson and later with Brady, our favorite place to watch the game was on the deck behind right field. I liked it because I got to make all of my cheesy jokes about Nick wanting me there because we are best friends, and when there was a lull in the game I could watch the circle of sunflower seeds grow around Nick.

JJ Hardy- Shortstop, Baltimore Orioles

JJ is my most recent favorite. He’s been with the O’s since 2010 and has proven to be such an asset to the team. He had a lot of success last year, but still chose to stay with the O’s! I love that. His brother served in Afghanistan, which I tremendously respect. His wife was a softball player at the University of Arizona, so I am definitely looking forward to some ridiculously talented baseball kiddos they may have. And he takes being pie’d by Adam Jones like a champ!

But, to top it all off JJ’s favorite place (according to a recent internet article that I read, so it is of course a set-in-stone fact) to vacation is Montana! Could it get any better?

 Honorable Mentions

This post is already getting long, and I feel like I could just keep going and going. I love talking about all of my baseball buddies.  But, I will wrap it up quickly and just mention a few of my other favorites.

Chris Davis– has adorable bulldogs and his wife seems like the kind of person you would want to go grab a coffee with.

Charlie Blackmon– always smiling, has a killer beard, and a pretty goofy all around persona, but still reigns it in during games to compete.

Buck Showalter– a real down-to-earth manager that isn’t all about the razzle dazzle (yes this baseball post includes the words “razzle dazzle”); he strikes me as the Ron Swanson of Major League Baseball.

Adam Jones– loves to eat almost as much, or more, than I do and puts so much of his time, money, and energy into helping the kids of Baltimore.

Matt Wieters– is tall and goofy as a catcher- which I find super endearing, but always seems to stay calm and collected for his pitchers (can’t wait until he’s off the DL).

Grown Rockies

Even if baseball isn’t really your thing, watching these guys play will just put a smile on your face. Also, I highly encourage everyone to look at their favorite players, musicians, actors, and whatever else and put them to the “would I be friends with them? test.” It really makes watching games more enjoyable.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

THROWBACK PROM HAIR

First Prom with good ol’ Andy!

Prom season is officially in full swing!  Which means it is probably a perfect time to share some of my Prom makeup and hair tips.

Except, there are already a ton of those types of posts and articles and videos out there, made by people a lot more beauty-knowledgeable than myself.  So, intead I am going to share my Prom hair horror story with you.

It was my sophomore year of high school and I had been invited to Junior/Senior Prom.  Now, this may sound like the start of a pre-teen fairytale, but really I was going with one of my brother’s best friends.  Despite, having tons of girls crushing on him and being a star athlete and just all-around wonderful guy… Andy did not talk to girls.  Except for myself because I was the friend’s annoying younger sister—very low pressure.

Over the last few years, I would say Andy and I have become a lot closer as friends (he was even on the Steamboat trip with us), rather than just him being one of my older brother’s buddies.  But, definitely at the time this took place I was still in little sister territory. No matter how cool I thought I was at the time.

Of course, at that point in my high school career I had already been to other formal dances.  I had done the whole dress, hair, and make-up thing.  But, this was Prom.  I really wanted to go all out.  So, I booked a hair appointment (the appointment was at 3 and pictures started at 5—so I was going to be cutting it close).  Of course, I didn’t schedule it until a few days before, so they told me they would just fit me in with whoever wasn’t all booked yet; always a good sign. For all of the other dances, I just had a friend curl my hair and called it good.  Hair has never really been one of my strong suits.  I believe I have already confessed that I rarely even brushed it in high school and college…

It should be mentioned that my dad was my strength and conditioning teacher in high school.  You may be wondering why that is pertinent information… But before every dance he would make an announcement to the entire class (directed mostly at the girls), NOT to try something new or crazy with our look for the dance.  As he put it: “There is nothing worse, than thinking you are going to pick up your’ cute, little date and daannngg she has all of her hair piled right up on top of her head.”  Of course, that is paraphrased, but the general point was: do your’ hair as you normally would.  He loved to deliver this line and get some chuckles from the class right before the weekend.

Regardless of all these warnings, I showed up that afternoon ready to get my hair all fixed up.  I was going with an elegant bun.  Really, Cinderella is what I had envisioned.  I am sure there are others of you out there who have gone into a hair salon with a crystal clear idea of how you want your hair to look.  Only to have that vision completely shattered!

Keep in mind: I was only 15.  I was not very assertive.  And I had never had my hair done for a dance before.  So, I went in and told the stylist working with me that I just wanted, “all the hair curled and put into a high, loose bun.”  Shoot, I was even timid enough I could have added “or whatever you want to do.” She assured me she knew what I meant and got to work.  We chatted about the dance, and how busy it was at the salon today, and yada yada.  She was incredibly sweet and I was incredibly awkward (again, I was 15). Slowly, I watched as my hair grew more and more beehive-ish and my small talk got even more forced and awkward.  She finished, asked if I liked it, and I fought off tears as I answered “Yes, it looks great!”

I bolted out of the salon as quickly as I could and called for my ride to pick me up. Now, on the phone I did not say one word about my hair, but apparently my step-mom could hear something in my voice and was coaching my dad about “not saying one word,” the entire ride to get me. So, he did just that.  They picked me up (I was standing in the vacant lot next to the salon—as far away as I could get from that place), and my step-mom immediately began talking about how we still had time to fix it and it wasn’t really that bad.  I had finally given up on fighting off tears, and was basically bawling.

To his credit, my dad didn’t say a word.  Mostly, he was laughing too hard.  His entire body was shaking as he was trying to drive home and keep his laughter silent.  Literally, I could see him shaking! Full body shakes, the entire drive home as he tried to keep his grip on the wheel.

Right away after getting home, Stacey and I went to the bathroom, and my dad practically sprinted downstairs to where my brother was watching golf.  Stacey had me wash my face, and began pulling the 7 million bobby pins out of my hair.  My face gets ridiculously red and splotchy when I cry, and my eyes also swell to about 3 times their size (not exaggerating! I had a friend who wanted to see this for real, so I have picture proof– but I will spare you).  So, needless to say I was looking sharp for Prom pictures, which were in…oh, about 45 minutes.  (Thank goodness Andy was almost always running late.)

So, Stacey and I were working in the bathroom and my dad and Stetson were both downstairs.  Essentially, I was with Stacey who was being super calm and comforting, while Dad was free to get out all of his giggles.  Really, it should have been a win/win.

Except, the vent from my brother’s room downstairs, went straight up to the bathroom.

As I was attempting to calm my redness and put on some makeup in an effort to help my overall look (or lack thereof), I could hear giggles coming up through the vent.  In fact, I could distinctly hear my dad tell Stetson—through gasping for breath—that he had to go see it, “it looked like a (insert expletive here) spaceship landed on her head.”  Right on cue, we heard Stetson sprinting up the stairs.  He walked by the bathroom in an effort to look casual and as if he was making a good-natured check on me, while trying to cover his laughter about as well as Dad had.  Stacey promptly escorted him right back downstairs and then through the vent I could hear her ripping into both of the boys: “be supportive….not one more word… no one in the bathroom…” and possibly a few expletives of her own thrown in for good measure.  That was much more satisfying to hear.

Eventually, we managed to maneuver my bun into a much, much more presentable hairstyle.  In an effort to keep things positive Stacey kept raving about how wonderfully the stylist had curled my hair.  As if these were the world’s highest quality, tear-soaked, curls ever.  It was a pretty weak argument, but it did make me feel a tiny bit better about paying for that horrific up-do.  In fact, by the time I was about to get picked up for pictures, I was feeling pretty darn good.  And clearly, I had sworn Stetson to not say one single word about the whole thing the entire night.  He had promised, with a little encouragement from Stacey I’m sure.

Of course, when we got to a lull in the conversation at dinner Stetson decided to fill everyone in on this little episode.  Got to love older brothers.

I had forgiven Stetson enough to take a picture together before the dance.

Now, this is one of my family’s favorite stories of all time.  Dad still gets the giggles whenever we talk about it.

There should be some wonderful, world changing moral here.  But, really there’s not.  Clearly, I recommend doing your own hair and makeup (or at least going in with a clear description of what you want) for any major events.  But, if you like to live life on the edge and risk it, usually it makes for a pretty good story.  And it does seem that almost every girl has some sort of story similar to this.  Really, it’s like a rite of passage.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

THAI CHICKEN

Thai ChickenToday’s post will be pretty short and sweet. I have been pretty busy the last few weeks, you know watching a killer concert in Vail, catching my first fish on a fly, and attempting to stay on top of work can really take it out of you! Still, I love to have a homemade meal.  And I prefer one that is easy and will yield lots of leftovers.

This recipe reminds me a lot of my mom. It’s basically what we used to call a “concoction” which was the go-to meal for my mom and myself while I was in high school. All you have to do is chop up a bunch of stuff, cook a bit of chicken, and throw it all together. Super easy. And my favorite kind of cooking; fewer pots and pans to wash and fewer dishes to keep from burning (Brady does love the more traditional meat dish with lots of sides, so I am trying to improve in that area, but still find my self falling back into “concoctions”). Granted, I did enjoy it more in high school when I just sat at the counter and talked to Mom while she did the chopping, but this still isn’t bad. And in honors of Mother’s Day coming up you could even call your mother while you chop.

I also like that I really get to put one of my favorite tools, my Montana cutting board, to use in this recipe.
I also like that I really get to put one of my favorite tools, my Montana cutting board, to use in this recipe.

I found this recipe on Pinterest—yes, I do occasionally, actually make some of the stuff I pin. Here is the original. Now, I have adapted it just a bit, for ease and my preferences. It is one of those super versatile recipes that you can change to fit your needs.

Here's my little chopping station. With emphasis on the little.  Yes, my chicken really does have just that much counter space.
Here’s my little chopping station. With emphasis on the little. Yes, my chicken really does have just that much counter space.

Fair warning: this recipe requires very little skill in actual cooking, just lots of time cutting up veggies. So, I suggest getting your little chopping station set up, popping The Office on Netflix, and getting to work!

Ingredients:

Ingredients

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast

10 oz cashews (I just use that amount because that is how much comes in the container I get from the store)

1 Tbsp coconut oil

5 cloves minced garlic (I use a garlic press to keep my hands from smelling too garlicky)

1 small head of red cabbage

1 bunch cilantro

1/2 cup green onions

2 jalapeño peppers (seeded)

3 bell peppers (any color)

4 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce (divided)

2 limes

Salt

Pepper

Red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Roughly chop the cashews. Place them in a skillet on medium heat.       Toast them for 5 minutes (or until you can smell them). Remove cashews into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add coconut oil to the skillet.       Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and begin cooking them in the skillet. Allow to cook for 10 minutes, mixing occasionally.       Then, add 2 Tbsp of soy sauce and garlic. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add chicken to the mixing bowl with cashews.
  3. Chop cabbage, cilantro, green onions, jalapeno peppers, and bell peppers. Add to mixing bowl.
  4. Add 2 Tbsp soy sauce, juice of 2 limes, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to mixing bowl. Stir everything together until well combined.

*The original recipe recommends serving this on top of spaghetti squash, and that is my favorite way to eat this. But, I have also had it served on top of quinoa, rice, or just on it’s own.

And that’s it! I’m telling you, the chopping can be time consuming, but Netflix and a glass (or two, if you are a slow chopper like me) of wine definitely helps.

Both dogs thought it looked pretty good, too.
Both dogs thought it looked pretty good, too.

This is a really simple and healthy recipe. My brother has been really focusing on eating healthy lately, which means he has not been eating the southwestern burritos I make—even though they used to be a favorite. But, he absolutely loves this! I just packed some up to take over to his house tomorrow (in exchange for cookies that my grandma gave him—I love this recipe, but seriously that’s a terrible trade).

Please, try it out and mix it up to suit your own taste. Send me pictures and suggestions if you do! I love trying new versions of this stand-by.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney