If you have a blog you get to see a very basic analysis of your stats. You can see what posts and images are most popular, which countries your viewers live in and you can also see what keyword searches guide them to your site. To my surprise there are a LOT of people who search the term, “Irish Afro.” I did a silly post over three years ago about brushing out my hair titled Irish Afro and it has an unusually high rating. Based on the stats the citizens of Brazil and Italy are keenly interested in Irish Afros. Obrigado + grazie! Initially I suspected that some of these viewers must be in search of a green, curly afro wig for St. Patrick’s Day, but they search this term throughout the year so there is a sincere curiosity about Irish Afros.
The people have spoken and the numbers don’t lie, so I’m creating Irish Afro Part Two (cuid a dó) on their behalf. My hair has grown longer and I’m still entertained by brushing it out from time to time and documenting the weird and wonderful sculptural effects that happen. These photos are for all the Irish-Afro-loving people out there. I also post odd hairstyles more often on my instagram account (@plyometrics).
While most media tells us otherwise, I say don’t be afraid of your raw, natural state. There are people out there who appreciate it and support you.
There is a photo of my dad that shows where I get my Irish Afro but unfortunately no one in my family can find this photograph. He showed up to my Holy Communion with a gigantic afro and we were all amazed because we had not seen it before and didn’t even know that his hair could do that. Everyone in my family is on the lookout for this photograph now and once it is found it will be posted here.
Seeing my dad’s afro that day made an impression on me at a subconscious level. He was a man who worked with his hands (carpenter, electrician) and I remember asking him once if I would have hands as big and strong as his. He smiled and said they’d be strong, but maybe not as big and callused. I never got the chance to ask him if my afro would be as big and fluffy as his but years later I discovered that it certainly is.
My interest in creating poofy hairstyles started not too long after that. I’m sure I made my mom take this photo above because I was proud of my hairstyle.
Years later I’m still experimenting with the volume potential of my hair, even if it’s just for a few minutes to snap a funny photo.
No hairspray involved here, this is just from brushing it in an upward motion (above).
This style is staying in place with one tiny clip in the back, again, no hairspray used here.
Full brush out.
My nephews found this character in one of their books and said it reminded them of me. The resemblance is striking.
In motion on a no-brush day.
My hair usually gets pinned up later in the day because it’s so heavy.
No brushing, natural Irish Afro, air-dried.
Brushed and coaxed into a beehive style, only one tiny clip used to keep the volume in place.
Me as a quail. Morning hair.
Helmet head. Medusa-like.
Regular curly style, no brushing. If you’re in the San Diego area and have unruly, curly hair I HIGHLY recommend going to a stylist in Encinitas named Ashley Michael. Find out more about her here. She doesn’t have curly hair herself, but trust me, she totally gets it and that’s crucial! I’m in another state now, but the next time I’m in Encinitas, CA I’m booking an appointment with Ashley.
Channeling Lily Munster and the Bride of Frankenstein first thing in the morning.
Up-do at work.
Post-yoga, rogue curl.
Rare moment of total control, I use Tigi Bed Head hair stick for smooth finger waves and set it with small clips until it dries (then remove the clips).
Morning hair, floating braid, channeling Pippi Longstocking.
Workout style. I twisted the bottom half until it created one singular tornado curl and stayed in place. The top half is not pinned, it’s just doing some type of flip/float on my head.
Another rogue curl.
Full brush out, levitating hair in the photos above and below in true Leo fashion.
A word of caution if you have a thing for Irish Afros, and this comes from another ginger who has a most amazing Irish Afro, Luke Kelly from the Dubliners: “beware of the pretty colleens!”
If you have even .001% Irish in you I bet you know the chorus to the song below. Sing along and check out the guy at 3:22 holding 4+ beers! He probably ordered four beers for himself so that he didn’t have to wait in line again.
Here’s another great Luke Kelly/Dubliners song and his Irish Afro is in excellent form in this video.
I hope that I meet Luke Kelly in heaven so that we can take a photo standing next to each other with our Irish Afros. I’ll offer to be his backup singer. Our fans would pay to see the hair, but stay to hear the music. I hope that his hair is as magnificent as it is in this last video (progressively larger):
I came across an issue of National Geographic from September 1954 and I was impressed by the magazine ads and articles that incorporated hand drawn illustrations. They’re so detailed and the artists must have spent many late nights trying to work with unrealistic deadlines. There are ways to create shortcuts when drawing, but overall it’s a labor of love and will always take longer than planned.
Check out artist Walter A. Weber’s snake illustrations below. Amazing! How wonderful that he could spend a lifetime drawing animals- his passion since he was a kid in the early 1900’s.
Seeing these illustrations got me thinking about how “easy” it is to illustrate now. You just need to know how to use a computer and have a very basic understanding of composition and design. Raw talent helps, too, but it’s not essential with all the editing software out there now. When I first encountered the Adobe Creative Suite I really disliked it. It felt like cheating and made the little art club that I was in feel like it suddenly had way too many members. But I learned to embrace the technology and see how it could provide new areas to explore. I still prefer to draw with my hands but I’ve taken a particular liking to Adobe Illustrator because I figured out that I can do in seconds what would have taken hours to do the old-fashioned way. Illustrator is the one program that still makes me feel like I’m involved in an artistic project. I get so involved that I forget that I’m clicking away at a computer.
One of my favorite features in Illustrator is “Image Trace.” You can pull a photo into the program and after playing around with the Image Trace settings you’ll have an image that resembles a paint-by-number, watercolor, or graphic logo in seconds. Then you can ungroup all of the traced sections and play with the image as if it were a puzzle of color. The National Geographic illustrators from way back would lose their minds if they saw how easy it is now.
I pulled a bunch of vintage inspired images below and created various effects using Image Trace. I included some detail shots to show the amazing color separations close up. I enjoy zooming in and out to see the effects and deconstructing the original image. The series of images below will either make you want to learn how to use Illustrator or perhaps go for a bike ride instead.
I lust after this white vintage Peugeot bicycle with rainbow stripes. A friend of mine had one years ago and I fell in love with her bike instantly. I was so envious. I have to find one someday. Playing with the image of this bicycle in Illustrator makes it feel like it’s sorta mine for a few minutes.
I do. I love white nail polish. It makes me look tan.
I randomly came across this Human Heart illustration while doing an image search online and it is perfectly fitting for Valentine’s Day. I’m not sure who the original artist is, but I think most people could relate to the humor and honesty portrayed here. Most people could also relate to the highs and lows of love, particularly around Valentine’s Day, and this artist nailed it in one simple illustration.
I put together a series of Valentine’s Day inspired images from my photo library. It is peppered with a few images of great gift ideas.
Before you begin, here is a classic Mirah song to listen to while you browse the Valentine’s Day inspired images below.
Alter Eco Dark Blackout Organic Chocolate. Fairly traded, organically grown, and 85% cocoa! Simple and pure delight. Have a piece first thing in the morning on Valentine’s Day.
In Fiore based in San Francisco “is total floral seduction for your skin and for your soul” (as their website states). They use certified organic or wild-crafted essential oils, herbal infusions, and floral waters to create balms, oils and more for your skin. A friend of mine worked at In Fiore and she got me hooked on the Vetiver balm. It smells divine.
I saw this bedroom (above left) in an article in Dwell Magazine years ago and the image stuck with me. I love the lavender ceiling (they claimed that it’s ), the upside-down lingerie artwork and the simplicity of this room. I painted the ceiling of my bedroom lavender in my last apartment and I can vouch for its calming effect. Also, having lavender on the ceiling creates a unique lighting effect during the day- a subtle, rose-colored-ombre hugs the walls which makes the perfect nap environment. Read the full Dwell article here about this West Village home
I have always been impressed with Urban Outfitters’ lingerie designs. They have a tendency to create soft silhouettes in contrast to the puffy, padded, underwire-laden designs that flood the market. The labels Silence + Noise, Kimchi Blue and Out From Under have designs this season that are lovely, comfy and vintage-inspired. I suggest getting the Silence + Noise Alexis Strappy Soft Bras in every color (above). Or as seen below, treat your lady friend to the Silence + Noise Front O-Ring Strappy Bralette, the Out From Under Sheer Lace-Back Bralette, or the Kimchi Blue Allover Scalloped Lace Bralette (more colors available on the UO website).
Create a sprinkle topper for your smoothie that tastes just like Red Hots candy by mixing the following spices in equal parts: turmeric, cayenne, cinnamon. Then dust the mixture through a small heart stencil on top of the smoothie. The spicy-icy combination is mood altering.
I recently found an original sketch for some t-shirts that I designed for a few friends that said “COOL BOOBS” in bubble letters. The design was hand screen-printed on tight, white cotton tees so that the letters would stretch across their chest and be barely legible. One friend mentioned that she still has the t-shirt which is now almost 10 years old and threadbare. It’s probably in peak condition at this point. Make a tight t-shirt for your sweetie!
Above is a pencil drawing that my mom did in February 1997. She was forced to do this by my high school art teacher at a parent-teacher meeting. I saved it because it is beautiful. If you don’t normally draw or make art, but you decide to make some art for someone special you might melt their heart.
My vegan-gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipe can be found here. They’re protein-packed so your health nut friends will like them, too. Make + share these and you will win hearts — forever.
You can’t go wrong with gifting a pair of American Apparel Stripe Thigh-High Socks. Think about it, you could buy someone a long, fuzzy robe, or you could buy them these thigh-high tube socks. Both will keep them warm around the house, but one will keep them warmer. Find more great options from American Apparel in their Hosiery & Socks section.
I was listening to WGCI today while driving around in Chicago and heard DeJ Loaf’s “Try Me” song for the very first time. When I came home I looked her up online because I was curious about her style. It was an instant crush. DeJ Loaf is this week’s #wcw because of her amazing feminine-tomboy style. She’s redefining femininity and is completely one of a kind. Comfy is sexy after all. She’s beautiful.
Here are some of my favorite photos from DeJ Loaf’s instagram feed:
On this shortest day of the year I now understand one of the main reasons why people love to live in the mountains- it’s the drama of the lighting. It’s like being in a theater and the characters are the sun, clouds, lakes, trees, mountains and all the little creatures that patrol the grounds. Even with the least amount of sunlight available it is so clear to me that lighting is key.
Who needs television or movies when you can watch the morning light seduce the hillside? If you really need a dose of drama then set up a bird feeder outside one of your windows and watch the territory fights, name calling and chest bumping begin.
This series of photos is from the last few days leading up to the 2014 winter solstice in Northern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming. There will be a bit more sunlight each day now!
At some point you should flirt with a shy mountain. It might not respond right away but it will eventually take notice and respond.
Happy Winter Solstice!
I found a new hobby here in Fort Collins. I don’t consider myself a strong runner, but trail running at elevation is an exciting new challenge for me and it’s readily available right outside my front door. I have a lot of respect for athletes who train at elevation because it is NO JOKE. On the first run I was winded after about 200 feet. It felt like someone was pressing down on my shoulders and as I kept running it felt like there were tow hooks attached to each of my lungs, pulling them down to the ground. But the views were spectacular and so I kept running.
On some of the uphill sections I would start walking and oddly enough that seemed faster and more efficient than running. The photos below are from the Horsetooth Reservoir area in Fort Collins, Colorado. The starting elevation is around 5,300′ and the highest elevation that I have run to so far is Horsetooth Mountain at 7,260′. It took just over an hour to gain ~2,000′ and the views of the Rocky Mountains on a clear day in the distance are spectacular.
I’m excited to see this place transform in the Spring although I’m terrified of the snakes that will be slithering through the fields at that time, too. Right now the scenery reminds me of the paint section of the art store. More specifically, it reminds me of the earthy brown shades of paint. Yellow ochre, raw sienna, burnt sienna, burnt umber and raw umber are pigments that surely must be created from this part of the Earth (harvested in December no doubt!).
I have also seen some very daring mountain bikers riding at night on the trails. They used incredibly bright bicycle lights and from a distance they looked like an elongated, bioluminescent creature navigating the night scape. It was a surreal spectacle and I will try to get some video footage of it if I see another cycling group braving the cold temperatures at night.
The way you feel on a mountain can change in an instant, especially if you get cold. On this last run I got super cold once I reached the peak and stopped running. I had a light windbreaker with me and was able to warm up as soon as I started running again, but I think I’ll need to start trail running in a layered outfit somewhat like this instead. Just in case, right?
I don’t think that revealing your woman crushes should only happen on Wednesdays. Does the crush go away at midnight on Wednesday? That’s not the case for me. It starts way before Wednesday, then carries through all week, all month, all year. Nonetheless I’m happy to showcase my woman crushes mid-week.
Marilyn Monroe and Meghan Currie are this week’s #wcw. I’m doubling up because I see one crush in relation to the other. I went to a Marilyn Monroe exhibit at the Fort Collins Museum of Art recently and it sparked a conversation between my mom and I.
I mentioned to my mom that Marilyn was less than a year older than me when she died (she had just turned 36). The Los Angeles County Coroners office recorded her cause of death as acute barbiturate poisoning and speculated suicide. I have not researched all the reasons Marilyn was addicted to barbiturates but all of us at one point or another want to suppress or run from pain. Barbiturates were Marilyn’s answer to pain.
My mom pondered, “What if she were still alive? I bet she’d be doing yoga like you!”
I responded, “Maybe a yoga habit could have saved her life?”
What I meant by that statement is that yoga is its own barbiturate. It has a sedative effect in some instances, but it doesn’t suppress pain. Instead, it forces you to sit and deal with it. Literally, you have to find comfort in the discomfort. In the process you strengthen your center and it aligns you with your true self.
Marilyn hid from the pain and she allowed herself to be pecked apart by the Hollywood vultures surrounding her. She scattered herself and her center was lost.
This leads to my second #wcw, Meghan Currie, who is a Vancouver based yoga instructor. Meghan is someone who I admire because she seems truly centered and stays focused on a healthy antidote to pain. She makes incredible videos of her yoga practice and her time-lapse videos are particularly uplifting. I view both Meghan and Marilyn in a similar fashion- as teachers with a message. I’m thankful that Meghan produces her own videos and shares them with the world because there is a lot to learn from her. She projects fearlessness. She’s not afraid of her sexuality, of being open, of back bends and of digging deeper into the experience of being human. Watching her yoga videos inspires me to clear the living room and create space for any and everything.
She has many videos online. Below are a few of my favorites:
Yes, she’s wearing a one-piece here:
From Meghan’s bio page on her website I also discovered that we both share a love for:
handstands (I’m still working on these)
motorcycles (I like the vintage ones and ones with sidecars)
vegetables (yes, all day everyday)
graffiti (high school memories with my tagger boyfriend)
moss (all the colors!)
bicycles (the best ever)
dancing (I regret not taking ballet classes when I was a kid, and yes I love to dance)
beets (everyday, plus it’s the one vegetable I successfully grow in my garden)
music (a habit from childhood that I still practice- I lay in the middle of the floor and just listen)
language (especialmente el español!)
diagrams (like maps, I could stare at them for hours)
shaking (not always fun, but it means you’re getting stronger, right?)
wisdom (slowly acquiring this, and I admire those who have an abundance)
nonsense (already excellent at this and can provide plenty)
yard sales (+ house sales + thrift stores)
anatomy (like maps and diagrams, I like to study this, too)
instruments (I own a banjo and will one day know how to play it)
sprouts (the spicier the better)
spoons (hadn’t really thought about it, but yes, these are great inventions)
fears (not instant love here, but overcoming them is quite nice)
rocks (I love scrambling!)
writing (= healing, even if you don’t think you’re “good” at it)
art (the meditative aspect of “making” and using my hand/eye synergy)
ocean (I can never get enough)
laughing (it’s the ultimate belly workout)
arugula (try it in a smoothie!)
crying (not instant love here, but it’s like a wash cycle for your psyche)
singing (I’m not great at this, but I’m Irish and we like to sing)
love (I love love always)
wrinkles (especially on the face!)
raspberries (gimme all the berries)
breathing (trying to be more aware of this action that we take for granted and that unifies us all in life)