Thursday, January 18, 2018

Tiny Luxuries

European rose tea and eucalyptus.

The older I get, the more I begin to appreciate the slower moments in life.  I've learned to embrace the little things, to enjoy tiny luxuries, and to live slowly in a fast-paced world filled with the rush of deadlines.  I have had a hectic past few months between interview prep, presentations, and work.  In that time, I especially appreciated the tiny luxuries that helped me slow down for a few moments in each day which can be self care, in my opinion.  Here are the small treats that have I've been enjoying, all of which impart a wondrous aromatic experience.  

A small luxury I've recently discovered is European Rose tea, from Bird Pick Tea & Herb.  My friend Roberta introduced me to them and after having this tea at her house, I picked up 2 oz. of it myself on a recent trip to Old Town Pasadena.  As you can see from the picture above, the loose tea is made up on dried rosebuds.  It's an aromatic, non-caffeinated tea that's perfect in the evenings.  I put the rose buds into a tea infuser, steep for about 4 minutes, and finish off the tea with a dash of honey.  I find that a tiny bit of sweetness can really bring out the flavors of an herbal tea such as this.  

Another store that recently opened up in Old Town Pasadena is SajeSaje is a natural wellness store that sells aromatherapy and essential oil based products.  Do I buy into homeopathic remedies?  Not really, but I appreciate beautiful scents and recently invested in two oil blends.  I've had a lot of allergies this season so I picked up their soothing oil blend in Inhale, which contains lavender, lemon, and peppermint as their main ingredients.  Though I'm not a mother, I did purchase their Mother's Wellness blend, which contains rosewood, grapefruit, and lavender, in a less concentrated formula.  

The proper way to use these oils is to apply some to your palm, rub your hands together, and then cup your hands around your nose and inhale.  I like to use these before bed or whenever I want a little pick-me-up in the middle of day.  Depending on your budget, these might be pricey, but a little goes a long way so I anticipate these lasting for quite a long time.  

Another two things I've been enjoying are the soaps and mists from Saje.  (I promise they're not sponsoring this!)  I've switched over to using bar soaps completely since discovering this brand.  My favorite bar soaps are Get Grounded (shown here) and Rain Forest.  The soaps are triple-milled, non drying, and scented enough to be soothing without overpowering the senses.  I find that they lather up really well, too!  I've repurchased these soap bars multiple times which is testament to how much I love them.  My last favorite has been the Jasmine mist.  It's a single note, floral scented mist that I like to use before bed.  I typically hold it above my head and spray it in a mist to perfume the air before I tuck in.

You'll find that all my luxuries have a central theme: slowing down, calming, and soothing.  I enjoy my work, but it's not a job without stress.  I've learned over the years that maintaining work-life balance when you're incredibly busy can include small moments of peace.  When I was making the final push to finish a manuscript, I did it with good tea on hand.  When I'm stressed before bed, I use aromatherapy to delight the senses.  For me, practicing self-care when you're busy to take a vacation means introducing tiny luxuries that I can enjoy while I'm working.  It doesn't always mean taking extra time out of your day, but instead, making what you need to do more enjoyable.  

Here's what I'd like to know from you: what scents do you find soothing?  What are the tiny luxuries you add to your everyday life?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sunday #62: Hello, January

Hello, January!  Now I know most people typically say this at the start of the new year, not midway through the first month, but it's been quite a month so far.  I've pretty much been working straight for nearly two months with nary a day off.  The last day I had off was the first of January when I was incredibly sick with a cold.  Pardon me for my absence -- I didn't think it would be very interesting for y'all to hear about me traipsing back and forth from house to lab.  


In the academic world, we spend a lot of time preparing and revising manuscripts.  I've had my nose to the grindstone the past two weeks, finishing up experiments for edits.  Barring any major pitfalls, I'll be resubmitting tomorrow.  Keep fingers crossed for me!  I'll be glad to have this project completed and off my plate.  I'm taking a little break after working this much, but I'm excited to jump back into lab to move new scientific ventures along.  I've had the chance to learn and acclimate to new techniques over the past few months.  In other graduate school news, I've scheduled my defense for March.  A defense is where a student gives a seminar on the work they've done and it's the last hurdle before getting the title of Ph.D.!  AH!


I've been neglecting my photography because I've been hyper focused on my science.  Whilst I won't be less focused, I am going to be making some more time for photography again.  I've reached out to some people to model for me this coming week.  In other news, I also photographed my first wedding (a small, intimate affair) for our administrator in lab recently.  I have to finish editing her photos as well as other backlogged work.  Happy to share as they get done.  The last set of photographs I did was when my partner defended his thesis and got his Ph.D.!  Here's two of my favorite pictures from the day.  I love capturing candid joy.  The only tricky thing about this was color correcting from the artificial light of indoor pictures. 


My labmate/friend and I went out to dinner tonight.  We were chatting (ok, I was venting a little) and it turned out he was parked right outside!  We went to French-Asian fusion restaurant followed by ice cream.  It was nice to socialize, to be in good company.  Can I mention how much I'm looking forward to having more of a social life again?  I'll have to start writing my thesis this week, but I've learned to channel work obligations into eustress.  Hopefully, this means being relaxed enough to also have a little down time.  My labmate and I have started a tradition of going to Philz on Friday for fancy coffee.  Here's the mint mojito, one of my favorite coffee drinks!

Happy Sunday!  What did you get up to?  

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas Blessings

A belated Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to those who celebrate differently.  Myself?  I wasn't raised with Christmas, but I've celebrated it the past few years with my boyfriend and his family.  Due to a pressing deadline and work load, I've remained in SoCal this Christmas without the opportunity to see either one of my families.  I've had an entire house (and almost all of the laboratories) to myself over the holidays.  Having all this space is exciting, but the emptiness gets to feel strange pretty quickly.  I play music and movies on high volume to fill the cavernous silence (A Christmas Prince and reputation have been guilty pleasures). 

Despite not having family closer than a phone call away to me this year, I don't feel lonely.  This year, I've had the privilege of seeing many friends over the holiday week, catching up with faces I haven't seen for quite awhile.  My days have been divided into solo time, friend time, and lab time.  It wasn't like this last year and I feel blessed, grateful, and lucky to have people in my life.  It's a different kind of wealth, to have beautiful friendships.  These are the gifts that money can't buy.  

On Christmas Day, my friend from Lithuania held a small gathering in her home.  I arrived early to help her prepare for dinner and we were treated to a beautiful night of home cooking and good company.  I am sharing the photos from that night.  I hope they convey the sense of warm, sated bellies, mirth, and fulfillment I felt that evening.  We were all people, some less acquainted than others, who spent Christmas Day together.  

If you're still around, thank you for reading.  I'm looking to get a few more posts in before the year is over.  Maybe squeeze them in between work!  Please do tell me about your holidays in the comments.  I would love to read about what you did, your favorite parts, and the people you got to see.