Posts in Nature

Big Sur And Big Seals

Friends,

how are you doing today? I’m coming to you with a roadtrip report today, this time covering beautiful Big Sur. It’s really a special scenery that I enjoyed very much.

What I found even more amazing were the wild seals just lying in the sand. There were SO SO MANY of them. Loved them! Don’t they look like they’re having the time of their lives? Just chilling on the beach. All day. Every day. 

My Current Skincare Staples

Hello friends,

how are you doing today, how is your skin doing?

I’d like to share my current skincare favorites today with you as I’ve been getting so much more into all skincare related things lately and I think you might like some of it, too. Or if you’re looking for some inspiration and information, here you go.

The Ordinary

Yes. I knoooow. I am veeeeeeeeeeery late to jump on the whole The Ordinary bandwagon. The brand has launched end of last year and has been a huge success all over the world ever since.

Overall I think it’s a really exciting brand (cruelty-free, fragrance-free) and a great way for people to embrace a proper skincare routine without spending hundreds of dollars as it is really affordable.

The idea of the brand is to strip things back to basic. The formulations are pure and the packaging says it as it is without any fluffy marketing blabla. The descriptions of the products are very sciency and ingredients based so you sort of need to know quite a bit about skincare. You can do it. I’d encourage you to check their site out and see what could be interesting for your skin and its needs. My favorite picks so far are Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 (for lots of hydration), the Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, The Salicylic Acid 2% Solution (for or should I say against blemishes), The Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% has really helped clearing up my skin in such a short amount of time, pretty amazing. Lastly, I’ve been also loving The Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%. Let me know what The Ordinary products you’ve liked the most yourself?

Natural Beauty Faves

Is it weird to love The Ordinary stuff but also be equally obsessed with organic and natural beauty? No, I don’t think so. As long as both use high quality ingredients, sourced in a sustainable way I am all for it. I love browsing through Whole Foods Beauty sections as I know how thoroughly every product gets screened before it ends up in the store. A brand that I’ve always been loving for a long time because they use great ingredients and don’t add any questionable or nasty things has been Weleda. My current day and night cream are theirs and they are just great (check them out here). I’ve also been enjoying their Sea Buckthorn shower gel as it really has a vitalizing effect on you and sets you up for the day.

A brand that I’ve gotten to know and LOVE thanks to Whole Foods Beauty was Evanhealy. It’s a Californian brand founded by a super interesting woman called Evan Healy. In 1999 she co-founded the evanhealy brand of skin and body care products featuring simple plant-based, certified organic ingredients. She sources plant material directly from small, regional or family-owned farms in various parts of the world.

I love their Wild Carrot Nourishing Eye Balm and use it religiously everyday. It’s really a game changer, leaves the area under your eyes refreshed and nourished but not in a heavy way.

Much love,

Sandra

A Bike Ride To A Not So Normal Pond

Hi people,

yesterday summer temperatures hit Boston and Cambridge so I thought it’d be the perfect opportunity to bring my bike out for a ride. I chose Waldon Pond (Concord, Massachusetts) as my destination. 29,2 miles (aka 46,9 km).

In short: I sweat a lot.

But it was definitely worth it. It’s so nice to know that within a few minutes I get to see so many nice little towns and nature. So, a few words about Waldon Pond. As it is not your regular pond. Why you ask?

Let’s start with a few points on Transcendentalism (as Wikipedia tells us)

What it is: It’s a philosophical movement that developed in the late 1820s in the eastern part of the United States. It arose as a reaction against the general state of intellectualism and spirituality. A core belief of transcendentalism is in the inherent goodness of people and nature. Adherents believe that society and its institutions have corrupted the purity of the individual, and they have faith that people are at their best when truly “self-reliant” and independent.

An experiment on self-reliance

Hentry David Thoreau, a transcendentalist of the time, published a book named Walden where he reflects on simple living in natural surroundings. In order to fully live a simple life, be independent and self-reliant, he built a cabin near Waldon Pond and lived in it for a bit over two years on his own. The work is part personal declaration of independence, social experiment, voyage of spiritual discovery, satire, and (to some degree) manual for self-reliance. Interesting, isn’t it? Could you picture yourself living in a cabin all alone for two years?

The paranormal pond if you will

 The Bike Ride (and mostly pretty houses)

That Spring Feeling

Hi everybody!

I hope you’ve had a fabulous weekend. As I am currently writing this the sun is shining and temperatures have risen to 22 degrees celsius. It’s been feeling a lot like spring here in Boston. They even reported in the news that the warmest day ever measured in February was recorded on Thursday (#climatechangeisreal).

People were out and about in their summer clothes (flip flops, shorts, you name it) and enjoying the weather strolling the streets, jogging in the sunshine or relaxing in the parks.

I think it’s fair to say that I like the springlike Boston A LOT LOT LOT more than its winter edition.

Everyone just instantly seems happier and spends more time outside. I thought I’d take you along and share a few of the photos I’ve been taking the last couple of sunny days to hold on to that spring feeling a little longer as it will cool down considerably next week. Hopefully you’ll get it right away (because we all need it, right?).

Have a fantastic start to the new week! Byeee!!

A walk around Castle Island

Visiting the Winter Farmer’s Market in Somerville (aka our Saturday ritual) and getting the BEST apples from Apex Orchards

Sneaking in a tasty chocolate milkshake in the park while enjoying the sun

Boston Downtown being cool, sunny and beautiful

Being adventurous and trying a matcha latte for the first time (not bad actually!)

Spring is here

Little cute things discovered in Somerville

Let’s look at trees together. You in?

I am not even going to try and sell this post to you. It’s the worst some will say. Might be true actually. Best case scenario: It might have a relaxing effect on you. Let’s see.

I was feeling adventurous and went to the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University a few weeks ago (before the big snow) to explore and…well…ended up looking at trees. A lot of them. In winter. I realize now that it might not have been the best idea I’ve ever had, I’ll admit that. But aren’t trees just fascinating? They’re old and big and majestic, each of them is different. Their little and big branches like art installations. They haven’t moved in years. Interesting, isn’t it?

Hope you’ll enjoy this virtual winter walk around the place! Maybe this post inspires you to go out and take a walk, also fine with me. 

The Conifer Path (aka the only trees that look good in wintertime) 

The occasional pop of color 

The sad tree photo collection (because no leaves)

My First Blizzard

When I used to read about blizzards hitting North America and how dangerous they were (back in Switzerland) I always thought that Americans were exaggerating a little. And I didn’t really pay any more attention to the subject until I experienced my first ever blizzard ever TODAY. And Spoiler Alert:

It was a creepy and scary experience.

Before I go into more detail on how my day went down, a few facts first (mainly for the ignorant European reader that is reading this and thinks I am exaggerating).

What is a blizzard?

Officially, the National Weather Service defines a blizzard as a storm which contains large amounts of snow OR blowing snow, with winds in excess of 35 mph (about 56 km/h) and visibilities of less than 1/4 mile (about 400 metres) for a period of at least 3 hours. When these conditions are expected, the National Weather Service issues a “Blizzard Warning”.

I was supposed to go volunteering on Friday but it got cancelled because of the “Blizzard Warning” for Thursday. I even remember telling Philipp how surprised I was about it. It seemed ridiculous to me to cancel work because of a few centimeters of snow. We’re talking about ca. 25 centimeters of snow. Every Swiss mountain village inhabitant would laugh out loud.

But boy, LITTLE did I know what was really about to happen.

What makes a blizzard dangerous?

Driving in your car can become difficult or even impossible due to “whiteout” conditions and bad visibility. Blizzards also can cause power outages due to strong winds and heavy snow. Pipes can freeze and regular fuel sources may be cut off. In short, they’re not the best.

What my personal Blizzard experience was like

For whatever reason I thought it would be a good idea to quickly go out to get something at a Whole Foods close by (about a 20 minutes walk).

Well, let me tell you. It was a very dumb idea.

I stepped out of the house first thinking, ‘oh, this is going to be fine’. Nothing spectacular, just a bit of wind and snow.

10 minutes into the walk I noticed how EMPTY the streets were, literally empty.

Streets that usually are packed with cars are empty. With the rare bus or post vehicle passing as if it was lost. I might have passed a total of 3 people on the walk there. 2 of them out with their dogs and not feeling too happy about it. You can tell by how people move somehow. Person 3, a woman, was obviously caring a bag of Trader Joe’s groceries. When she passed me, she made eye contact, nodded knowingly and smiled at me.

As if we were two accomplices, secretly being out, when obviously we SHOULDN’T.

20 minutes into the walk I couldn’t barely see anything in front of me anymore because of the wind blasting snow from all directions into my face.

I might never have been happier about recognizing the Whole Foods sign from afar. Next weird thing: The store was EMPTY, the parking space, too. Something I had never seen before. It was kind of creepy that there was only a handful of people wandering around such a huge store, while the snow storm was going on outside.

I entered the store and made a shocking discovery when I looked into a mirrored glass. My mascara was all over my face. From all the squinting and snow blowing in my face, I guess. It seemed like had been crying for hours.  Damned blizzard.

Let me tell you, it wasn’t a good look.

At the till a woman was in front of me. Picture a maybe 60 year old friendly lady, long grey hair, wearing fleece hippy-type clothes and a scarf in purple colors.  She must have been an arts teacher or teacher for kids with special needs. Maybe she felt like she had to talk to me because I looked like an abused victim and she was feeling pity for me. Or maybe she’s just a good American and she likes to do small talk.

Could have been both, I’m not sure. She started telling me how important it was to have a bit of chocolate (good, dark, organic one of course) every day and how she thought men couldn’t appreciate that the way women do. While I couldn’t really say anything about that I thought it would be appropriate to tell her I was Swiss (see how I’m trying to be good at small talk, gotta pull all the cards you have) and she was so excited about it. She then exclaimed ‘we’ll you’ve been born with it (it being chocolate)’.  The young man behind me jumped into the conversation as he had been overhearing us and just said, ‘well, we called it (being chocolate) vitamin c at home so we also had to have our daily dose’. The hippy woman looked at him smiling happily.

That was the only good moment of the whole trip to Whole Foods because the way back home was a disaster. The photos don’t really do it justice, you’ll find a little video at the end, which might give you a better idea.

Lesson learnt today: Don’t go out when there’s a blizzard. It’s just not going to bring you any good. There’s a reason that stores, schools and restaurants are closed.

What you didn’t know about squirrels

The word itself. Squirrels. Such a weird word, don’t you think?

Anyhow, not getting to what I wanted to say. Let me tell you a little something about squirrels (see how weird?). They are to Massachusetts what doves or rats are to any bigger European city. Or deers to Nara in Japan (only other type of animal that practically invades a place that I could come up with. Do you know another example?).

Let me introduce you to the two common types of squirrels in Massachusetts. There’s a red type (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), which is red or reddish brown on the back and white or gray-white on the belly. And there’s a gray type (Sciurus carolinensis) that is typically gray, with white on the chin, throat, and belly.

Around Cambridge, where we live and Boston the most common type of squirrel you’ll find is the gray one.

Where did all those squirrels come from? What’s their story?

Professor Etienne Benson (University of Pennsylvania) has published an article in the Journal of American History about just those questions. And wow, let me tell you, it’s quite a fascinating story. I’ll keep it short, but if you’re interested in reading the whole thing, here you go.

The Beginning of the Squirrel Story

The first introductions of free-living squirrels to cities  took place along the East Coast between the 1840s and the 1860s. Philadelphia was the pioneering city, with Boston and New Haven following.

The Squirrel Trend Phenomenon

You might ask yourself why were they introduced to the cities in the first place? Professor Benson says that the big squirrel trend started in the 1870s, where there was a movement  to fill the parks with squirrels that “was related to the idea that you want to have things of beauty in the city, but it was also part of a much broader ideology that says that nature in the city is essential to maintaining people’s health and sanity, and to providing leisure opportunities for workers who cannot travel outside the city.” These squirrels were basically the only wildlife people working in the city would ever be able to see.

Squirrel populations all over the country were growing. Feeding the squirrels became a common hobby during these years  and was even seen by naturalists and conservationists as a way to help humans learn how to better treat animals.

The Squirrel Conclusion

So. Should you ever run into a squirrel (wherever, whenever) again, send me a picture, because a) they’re supercute, let’s be real and b) because they are an interesting American historic relict of the 1870s, when they were put in parks for people’s entertainment.

You might want to see some real squirrels, after all the talking:

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