The Emerald Girl

casual. classic. curious.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My secret to seasonal allergy relief

Holistic health makes the most sense to me but I've never been into essential oils. They sound too hokey-pokey and too good to be true. But I wouldn't be writing this blog post if I hadn't had a change of heart.

My older sister, also into holistic health but more so than I, began using essential oils for seasonal allergy relief a while back so when I texted her for natural remedies to sooth my itching head a month ago and her response was an essential oil concoction, I was hesitant but also desperate. After a series of quizzical texts, I relented and drove down to PCC to pick up the oils. I downed the drops of oil in some water and to my great surprise and delight, a couple minutes later, I felt immediate relief. Two days ago, my husband, who is much more skeptical than I, was about to get some clariton when I insisted that he try this essential oil blend. His quick relief from heavy allergy symptoms sealed the deal for me and is the reason why I decided to share. Summer is after all a season of allergies.

Essential oils can be pricey but they last a long time because you only use a drop or two at a time.

Here's the recipe for seasonal allergy relief:
1 drop Peppermint
1 drop Lavender
1 drop Lemon
Mix with a shot glass size of water and swallow.

I often take this first thing in the morning during heavy allergy time and if I'm feeling really bad I double the dose (2:2:2).

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This natural remedy has worked for me and my family. I don't give this to my kids.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Planning a successful summer

My job gives me the unique ability to take off large chunks of time from working without technically "losing" my job. Starting mid-July I'll be taking the rest of summer off - adult summer break! Wahoo! Of course, I'll still be pursuing my creative endeavors with photography and this blog but I'll have no other responsibility aside from my family. It's also unique to my job that I haven't been able to officially take any time off in the past 18+ months to vacation so words can truly not express how excited I am to take a break.

In general, stereotypical housewife activities make me a little stir-crazy (mostly just the kid wrangling part) so choosing not to work and to stay at home can seem a little daunting. Everyday will be practice in putting off my selfish desires (like say, to not get out of bed in the morning) to be there for Jack and Morgan, to show them love and to soak up their joy. In the ever complex life that we live in, I'm excited to reset and get on track in a few key areas.

Meal Plan
Being that I am not a person of the kitchen, meal planning and making meals does not come easily to me. I did not grow up cooking but I did marry a man who did and who does make 98% of all the meals we eat. However, since he will mostly not be home for dinner during the summer, I plan on taking on the bulk of the responsibility. Now I've tried this before and have yet to be successful. It usually ends with the kids and I eating sliced apples and popcorn for dinner. Summer is young and it's only June and already I've made dinner a couple of times a week for the last few weeks. It's little successes like this that add up over time and keep me motivated.

In order to be successful, Matt and I can meal plan together. For me, simple meals work best. We've committed to Taco Tuesday. As cliche as it is, it really is easy to do and adds some much needed structure to the dinner process. Another change, will be that I am doing the grocery shopping as well. Since I won't be working, this should be rather easy to do on a mid-Monday morning. The key to my success in preparing meals will be having everything I need on hand along with our meal plan.

Since I will be taking on more responsibility in the kitchen, this will allow Matt time to go to the gym right after work (instead of coming home to make dinner and then going). This is exciting to me because then we can all be together as a family for the evening instead of Matt leaving and the kids being in bed by the time he gets back.

As for me, I'll be exploring the great NW outdoors and taking many walks to soak up the sun and burn the fat from my thighs. 😛 So far, I'm off to a great start not eating sweets after I put the kids to bed and that counts as fitness too!

This category is tough but I'm feeling optimistic. It can be excruciatingly hard taking care of kids all day but I'm hopeful that removing the "work from home" priority will give me the ability to be present for my kids and not juggling competing priorities which always ends in people yelling (mainly me). I'm planning on arts and crafts, parks, play dates, summer time adventures around the Puget Sound and spending time with family.

When you're taking care of kids, it's important to have activities to break up the day and to pass the time. There is nothing more dreadful then bored kids. They whine and complain and inevitably start doing something to totally annoy you. Going into this summer break, I'm bringing a refreshed mind and a tiny bit more patience to just enjoy this time for what it is.

It's so easy to get behind on deep cleaning parts of the house in the daily grind of the work week and weekend but I know if I had more of a schedule the bathroom would never smell like someone peed all over it (perks of having a 5 year old boy). I am so mentally prepared to be the boss of this summer and make it the best yet. Yes, effective and timely house cleaning will make this one of the best summers yet 😬. It'll be important to have a weekly and monthly checklist for myself and checklist for the kids. Hopefully setting these good routines on summer break will set my family up for a successful fall when we transition back to school and work.

Here's to getting my ducks in a row and to being flexible when they don't line up perfectly!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer: The Idyllic Season

For me, summer is the quintessential season of parenthood. It's when all the magazines take the family outdoors and depict playful gatherings amidst backyard BBQs. The classic appeal of the good old American flag shining brightly in the warm sun provides patriotic charm on whatever it adorns.

Summer is the time to take a break for strawberry pickin', blueberry pickin' and flower pickin'. The days are long and the nights are warm (kind of). It's the season I always imagined when I thought of being a parent. The time when friends and family come over to dine al fresco, twinkling lights hang above the patio and the kids stay up late eating popsicles while running around the backyard. A time where everyone's worries and cares float away into the night sky. It's the best time of year.

The stores are stocked full of yard games, picnic accessories, red, white and blue and summertime favorite treats, like s'mores and firework oreos. Target and Pottery Barn surprise and delight my wild, backyard summer fantasies. I love walking through the seasonal aisles of target. And the summertime kids clothes are spot on. After all, the real fun in parenthood is often times getting them dressed in the morning.

This summer, the real challenge for me will be in accepting the fact that my life and my family are real. We are not the perfect pictures in magazines. While I daydream about taking summer off work and spending the time with my kids and how we'll bond and laugh, I know that every day will have struggles because life with 2 kids under six always does. My patience is thin but I'm aiming to be still just a little bit longer so that instead of reacting to my heightened level of annoyance, I can act out of love and perhaps yield a better outcome if not at least my peace of mind.

Cheers to a warm and welcome summer! May the season bring berries, Americana decor and friendship.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Tips for Organizing Your Phone Photos

Though I can shoot manually perfectly fine with my DSLR, my iPhone gets way more action. I always have it on me and it's easier to carry around with two little kids. But I do NOT like when my photo storage starts to take up more than 2GB. I'm the kind of person that likes to delete things almost immediately - I don't like having big action items that I need to take care of later so I practice some general iPhone photo maintenance to keep me organized. As a side, it is way faster to upload videos straight to your computer so don't include videos in my strategy below.

1) Flag your favorites and delete the rest, daily or weekly depending on how many photos you have been taking. Once the pictures have been favorited, on the iPhone, you can see the heart from the main screen so it's really easy to delete everything that doesn't have a heart.

2) Using the Dropbox app or other storage app, create monthly folders ie: February 2017 and upload all photos weekly or monthly

3) After your photos have uploaded to Dropbox, permanently delete them from your phone. This is key to opening up more space on your phone and clearing your mind.

4) Two to four times a year (or whenever your Dropbox fills up) download the monthly folders to your computer and save in a yearly folder (ie: 2017). I have my photos organized by year on my computer and I add these folders so that all of my photos from the year are together and organized by month.

4) Print! This is so important to remembering good times, good people and good places. I like to print yearly albums and favorite photos to hang.

If you haven't taken the time to organize your iPhone photos in a long time or ever at all this will be quite the undertaking (just ask my husband 😂). Take your time and start knocking 'em out one month at a time. What is the point in taking photos if you never take the time to enjoy them later?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Being Still in the Wait

I love the verse that's so artistically designed all over the Internet, Be Still.

(Side note, because I love side notes, I love that this is a perfect example of something that is based in Christianity but applies in a non-religious sense too).

I am reminded right now, in this moment, to be still in my mind. Being still doesn't have to mean physically. I don't have to stop what I'm doing. In fact, if I were to stop what I was physically doing, working, then that would be a real cause for freaking out. Right now, what I need is to be still mentally. To not let my mind race in anxiety and worry about the future. Be still, quiet that mind that will not stop. I don't want to let my doubts and fears control my actions and emotions.

Sometimes I crave clarity so bad, it hurts. My mind spins with anxiety as I worry about how everything is going to work out. Miraculously, I remind myself, be still. Let my mind be still. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Which doesn't mean that I am procrastinating things I need to do. I'm doing what I can and I'm not going to work myself into a tizzy about things that are completely out of my control. It's important to prepare, do your best and then trust, if it's meant to be, the rest will fall into place.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Pink Peonies for the Win + An Announcement

I'm so happy peonies are finally blooming!!! It was a long, cold spring as you know because I couldn't stop talking about it but finally, the sun has started to warm this city up. One fun thing to note is that I've lived in three different neighborhoods in Seattle and each one grows such different flowers. A lot of people in my new area grow peonies in the yard and tons of poppies which I can't wait to photograph as well.

One more exciting thing to announce, I've opened a Society 6 account to sell my floral photography prints! It feels good to start putting more of my photography out there and getting it seen. If you have a Society6 account, look me up, jenkessler, and favorite my shop! I'll be listing my top favorite images from each flower session but if there is one in particular that you ever want me to list shoot me an email.

Spread the word, tell your friends, family, neighbors, coworkers! You need to add some of my floral images to your gallery wall!

Are you familiar with Society6? Have you ever bought or sold any art?