Its a New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone!

As I did not win the big Powerball, I’m still teaching in Gallup, NM. 🙂 My kids and I have finally moved into a rhythm that seems to mostly work for all of us.  My sixth graders are just about through a unit on Malala Yousafzai, the young girl in Pakistan who was shot in the head (but survived and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize) by the Taliban for speaking out and demanding that girls be able to go to school.  We watched the documentary on her that was excellent – I highly recommend to all and you can rent it from Amazon here: He Called Me Malala.

My seventh and eighth graders have been working on the global health unit I created in grad school.  It has been an eye-opener.  Mostly due to the fact that I assumed, when writing the curriculum, that students would have some knowledge of geography tools, maps etc.  My students do not.  One of my 7th graders thought Greenland was the continent of Africa and even after pointing out the facts on a world map to her, she swore that Africa was “above” the USA.  But other than basic geographic skills the unit has been going well.  They are now researching their individual diseases and will present next week.

Then, I am excited to say that I am turning my humanities class into a geography class.  We will be exploring all aspects of the five themes through the lens of a zombie apocalypse.  This crazy and fun curriculum called Zombie Based Learning was designed by a geography teacher that wanted to make a project-based geography class that kids could relate too.  All year I have heard this and that about zombies from my students so I am hoping this will be a big hit.

As to my writing book 2 of the Treasure Chest Mysteries – well, I am working on it.  The first one came so easily and now I think the pressure (me putting on myself) to write another just as quickly has stymied my imagination.  So I have spent more time learning the basics to illustration which I am finding I really love, no matter how rudimentary my drawings/paintings are.

Drawings CollageI just started taking an online class (as there aren’t any classes in Gallup) through the site Craftsy.  Lynne Chapman is the illustrator/instructor and she is simply amazing.  I love her style of drawing and her wonderful personality makes it so enjoyable to spend time watching her videos and trying out her suggestions.

I have also started working on getting myself back into shape.  Oh how easy it was to just hunker down when the weather dipped into the teens and yet still continue to consume the same calories.  Bad Gretchen.  So I am working on the slow return to a healthier me.  I have signed up for the Moab Spring Trail Run (8k) in early March. Last weekend I purchased a pair of rather bright running shoes (can’t fail to see them waiting for me by the door!) and I am now attempting to figure out where all the oxygen went.  I swear my extreme huffing and puffing is due to elevation!  Really! 🙂

Running ShoeThat just about wraps it all up here in Gallup.  My cats are wondering what to do with themselves with all the snow and frozen ground.  They have grown thick fur coats and are quite lazy…and cuddly.  Here is a parting shot of Albert – checking out my phone.  Have a great New Year!  GretchenAlbert

 

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Filed under Animals, Education, Global Health, Middle School

Snow Day!

So the big storms that have been predicted for this winter here in Gallup, New Mexico have yet to materialize.  But yesterday we did get the storm that has been battering the northwest.  We didn’t get rain, what came down was a wet snow, and since the temperature outside quickly went down to the upper 20’s, everything froze.  While it was exciting at first, the reality of departing from a school that was on a steep hill, quickly became stressful.

So instead of going up the hill towards home, which I observed others trying and spinning out, I went down to find a more slopping upward hill.  Eventually I circuitously found a path and since most of the roads still had a dusting of snow on them, with enough speed my little Volkswagen Jetta chugged up the hills (just like the Little Engine that Could one of my favorite books) without too much side sliding and I made it home safe to my two furry friends.

The snow fell more throughout the night and the frozen streets remained solid ice, so…no school today!  Beautiful sunshine out, but only 16 degrees.

So today I continue writing on Book 2 of The Treasure Chest Mysteries.  What a great day!

Gretchen

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Filed under Adventure, New Mexico, Writing

My First Book, The Launch

Hi All,

A few months ago my mom found a really fun, wooden chest.  It was covered in a circus motif and painted by a local artist in her town.  With my nephew’s baby on the way, she snatched it up and sent me a picture of it.  Seeing the chest sparked an idea and I started writing a story with the thought of giving it to the parents, my nephew and his wife, at Christmas.  So I have been working on the story and attempting my first illustrations.  With the great encouragement of friends, family and my current 6th graders that I am teaching, I decided to not only give it to my nephew, but to publish it.

I decided to self-publish through Amazon’s Create Space.  It was a fairly painless experience and now my book is listed on Amazon!  I am beyond excited.  I am finally coming down from my initial high and working on promoting the book, as well as writing the next one, as it is to be a series.  But I have to be careful not to over publicize right now as my nephew might see the PR blitz!  That would ruin the fun for Christmas.

So as soon as my nephew has the book in hand, I’ll launch my Facebook page etc. and let you know.  I did take the plunge and set up a Twitter account as well.  I have also created a website for the book which you can view here.  But for now, if you know of anyone that has a child reading at the 1st – 3rd grade level – I would really appreciate it if you would pass the word on about my book – it ships internationally!

You can see one of the main characters on the side bar to the right with a light blue background – Titanus McDuff.  Below is the cover of the book.

Cover Trade

Thanks and have a happy, creative day!

Gretchen

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Filed under Adventure, Animals, Fourth Grade, Third Grade, Writing

Hanging Out in Gallup

Hi All.  So I promised to write more about Gallup and teaching here and I guess it is about time to do just that.  I am sitting here on a cold, grey day with the threat of snow gathering in the clouds, so here we go.

Gallup, New Mexico is a very unique place.  It is the home to about 20,000 people and is mostly surrounded by the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni reservations.  There are few trees.  Or at least what I consider to be trees.  Sage brush everywhere, big open spaces and rocky outcrops galore.  I have had the opportunity to explore a bit.  There is an area that is national forest about 15 minutes away that has lots of pines and some good hiking trails.  But most of the area is known for its canyons, arroyos and scrub.

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I was surprised that I haven’t seen very many horses or cows.  But maybe that is due to the fact that the open spaces are immense, and the scrub grass is not plentiful.  People here are passionate about hunting and the Navajo are very proud of their heritage and work hard to keep it alive.

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The town itself does not offer much.  It is full of trading shops (retail stores selling Native American arts and crafts) that are really beautiful, but also extremely expensive.  There is one coffee shop, but it isn’t open on Sundays.  Most of the restaurants are connected to gas stations.  There are a couple of bars, a library and two movie theaters.  This is a place for family get-togethers rather than outside entertainment.

At the beginning of school I coached the 8th grade volleyball team.  Challenging and often fun.  Attitudes towards working hard at a sport and respect for your coach are different here, not quite what I was expecting.  But overall a good experience.

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I am teaching 6th – 8th grade Gifted and Talented (GATE) Humanities.  My sixth graders are adorable; little sponges that still really care about learning.  The seventh graders, well, they have an excuse – puberty!  The 8th graders are a tough group, across the board – school-wide.  I think it is just one of those years/groups that aren’t so great: super rude, bad attitudes, superiority etc…  But, there are a few shining nuggets – thank goodness.

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8th graders

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6th graders making their Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe games

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I have also been going on some good hikes…

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Pyramid Peak

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Strawberry Canyon

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Milk Run Loop

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Milk Run Loop

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Purple Haze Trail

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Canyon de Chelly, Arizona

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El Morro

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El Morro

Other than that I am writing a couple new children’s stories and I’ve started teaching myself to illustrate.

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But above all, it has been great to have my two favorite guys with me again.  I so love them.

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Albert

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Oscar

Until next time,

Happy Fall!  Gretchen

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Lower Antelope Canyon

Its been a while, so thought I’d return with some great photos of a fun one day adventure into Arizona.  Yesterday I spent a lot of time driving, but ended up deep inside the earth winding my way through an ever-so-small passage that twisted and turned its way through a gorgeous canyon that you wouldn’t know existed if you looked from ground level.  Apparently it was originally discovered by a young Navajo girl that had lost her sheep and she had gone down searching.  What a discovery!

Can you see the canyon?  None of us could.

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Here is how we descended down into Lower Antelope Canyon, just outside of Page, Arizona:

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From here, our guide Kyndra, of the Navajo Nation and Ken’s Tours, expertly moved us gently along as we oohed and ahhed our way through.  She told us the best way to pick up the amazing colors our eyes were seeing, on digital film, was to shoot in a chrome setting.  My iPhone 6 picked up the colors better than my Canon Power Shot, so that is what most of these photos were taken with.  But I have to tell you, although the colors seem to be unreal – they are what my eyes, without filters, saw.  It was a stunning hour and a half.  As we descended, the colors changed from soft earth tones to more vibrant colors depending on the angle and where the sun hit the calcium in the sandstone.

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IMG_4193The sandstone was full of bits pebbles and sea shells.  The undulating waves of stone had been formed from thousands of years of being below sea level and then the subsequent eons of flash floods – one of which happened just two days before I arrived.

Here is Kyndra showing how high the ground would have been (where we would have been walking) before the flash flood two days before. Glad we weren’t down there:

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This is the “Chief.”

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“Woman in the Wind”

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It was really hard choosing photos to show you.  I took over 200!  I found myself just spinning around as every angle offered another stunning photo opportunity.  I would have loved to go again and just absorb.  I tried to often, to just stand there, but then you just don’t want to miss catching the beauty.

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Walking beneath the “Chief” – you can really see the how the colors change depending on your angle.  Bright orange and red from afar, but below deep purples.

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This is our path – see the sand at the bottom? This path twisted to the left. So fun.

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I took a couple in black and white and they are beautiful too – but the color, I just couldn’t resist.

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Here is how we climbed out (random tourist from Central Europe in photo):

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From there I headed over to Horseshoe Bend – this is the very low Colorado River:

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I would guess I was about 5000 feet up from the river. If you look at the small white spot center left – it is a tour boat docked by the side of the river that would have fit about 20 people.

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After a wonderful 3 hours of exploring this area I headed to Flagstaff and then back to Gallup.  Flagstaff was beautiful – full of trees and looked like a great town.  Leaving Flagstaff for my 3 hour trip home this was my view for most of it:

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Not exactly eye candy for this tree loving person!

A great day over all.  I’ll write soon with an update on Gallup, hiking, coaching volleyball etc.   For now, have a great week!

 

 

 

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Filed under Adventure, New Mexico, Photography, Travel

Cibola National Forest

Another great week in Gallup.  The students (kids – so young!) have been great.  We are starting to get our groove and its fun.  Volleyball tryouts finished on Wednesday and I now have 13 great gals to work with – starting tomorrow!  Today I went for another hike, this time an easy stroll through the Cibola National Forest.  Lovely and relaxing and met a fun gal mountain biking by that stopped and chatted.  It was perfect for my sore throat and stuffed head (thanks students!) and my out-of-shape lungs.  At the top met Andy, the fire-watcher, super nice and full of great info.  People just continue to seem so nice and helpful here.

Have a great week!

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This Time…NEW Mexico

Hello from down south.  After a crazy summer of finishing my masters of science in geography I’ve moved down to Gallup, New Mexico, to teach gifted and talented middle schoolers, Humanities.

Although the summer was busy, mostly with writing, writing, and re-writing my final paper for the program, my cohort and I had a bit of fun too:

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Mark and Carlos taking water samples in Newport, Oregon

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Mark and I at Heceta Head beach on a very coldy day.

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Amanda and I at Heceta Head beach before taking our water samples for our field studies class.

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Carlos and Adalia trying to figure out why it is cold at the beach in the summer!

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Bryan our fabulous field studies instructor, always able to point the way.

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Being super silly with our polarized glasses at the fish hatchery.

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Doing stream bed grids.

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Within the cave. Cool cave, can’t remember the name, but it went into the depths for a mile!

But now I am done with my masters program and down where canyons are king.  I drove down from Oregon on August 1st and 2nd – with two unhappy cats in my car with me – and arrived in the smallest town I have lived in for a long time; Gallup only has 20,000 residents.  The first week I was mostly involved with the before school paper work, but did take time to go to the Inter-tribal Ceremony parade.  My landlord and next door neighbor is the Deputy Chief of Police so he got me a seat in the Mayor’s bleachers. Photos aren’t great as I only brought my phone – but it was really fun to see all the native attire.

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Today, I spent the morning exploring Pyramid Peak, just ten minutes from Gallup.  So gorgeous.  Took about an hour to get to the top.  It is a great workout for someone who has sat on her rear all summer at sea level and is now at 6500 feet and out of shape.  The climb took me up to 7500 feet.  But despite the lack of oxygen it was a stunning hike, of which my pictures do not do it justice.

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Just getting started.

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I’m headed to the very tip top of that peak.

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Finally at the top taking in the views.

Tonight I went for a short walk to explore my neighborhood.  As I was walking home at dusk an amazing sunset appeared.  Great end to a lovely day.

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I’ve taught one week of school so far.  The administrators are fantastic and the kids are really fun.  I think I am going to enjoy it here.  I will write more once I’ve had more time teaching and exploring.  For now, have a great week.

Gretchen

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Filed under Adventure, Education, Grad School, Humanities, Middle School, New Mexico, Photography

Finally!

So happy that the US is finally seeing the right path that love is love is love.  Couldn’t be happier.

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Salsa, Exploration and Graduation

May was fast and furious!  I can’t believe it is June already.  The year is coming to a close here at the American School Foundation of Mexico City – just 11 days left.  I have really enjoyed my time at the school.  I’ve been teaching seniors and sophomores this semester and overall the kids have been really fun to work with.

Soon I fly back to the US to the gorgeous state of Oregon for the summer to finish my masters in Geography Education at the University of Oregon.  It will be good to have an MS to join my MA behind my name.  🙂

But let me recap a few fun events that happened in May.  First salsa dancing!  So much fun.  So very hard.  And here I thought I was a pretty decent dancer.  Well, if you don’t know the steps or the correct way the hips are supposed to sway with those steps then the whole thing is a disaster. I understand all the twisting and turning as I love to Swing dance, but salsa has specific steps that you must know.  I have gone a few times now and it is an absolute fact that I need a class.  This last Saturday I went with some friends to a salsa bar I hadn’t been to yet.  It was full of people with silver hair.  Great I thought, slower music, maybe I’ll get it a bit better.  But no, they are so comfortable with years of dancing salsa that the subtleties of their touch and sway made it nearly impossible for me to connect at all.  Yet they were so kind to me and kept trying, but it was helpless.  I am a person who needs to understand the concept.  Once I have it, I’m good to go.  But I obviously am missing the vital steps.  [here is a little taste of what one can do if you are really good! AMAZING LATIN DANCE!]

I also took a weekend off from working on my graduate project to do a bit of sightseeing which I have not done much of.  I went up into the mountains (about 9,000ft / 2800m) into thick forests of evergreens, pines and oddly enough palms.  The smells, the clean air, the quiet, all were so enveloping.  I am definitely meant to live in the mountains, not the city.  I just instantly felt more alive, more me, able to think and I couldn’t help smiling.  I think the friend I went with got a bit tired of hearing how happy I was.

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IMG_3108We visited a small town that has been declared a “Puebla Magica” which basically means that the government has given the town money to invest in sprucing up the town with new roads, paint on buildings, adding handcraft markets etc.  And this little town of Mineral del Chico did a fine job.  It is just charming.  We even found a house for sale – perfect weekend getaway.

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Then we headed over to Real del Monte which is a park with a big lake.  They have a zip line from atop one of the hills down and across the lake.  I was going to do it but was chickening out when a few others decided to try it as well, which was starting to give me the courage again – at least I wouldn’t be the only one to die.  But by then the operator couldn’t be found and we were out of luck (or was it good luck?).

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See the line above my head? That was the zip line.

From there, our little group headed over to an old silver mine.  Real del Monte mines have produced over 6% of the silver mined over the last 500 years.  There was a tour, but it was in rapid-fire Spanish so my friend and I decided to wander about.  We found ourselves all alone in the tunnels of a mine.  It was cool, literally, and drippy.  We went deep inside and just as we were getting to the end of one branch all the lights went out.  Yikes.  But the little opening, way, way down there was still in sight.  And then we remembered our iPhones have a flashlight mode – phew.  If I hadn’t been with my friend, all my old scary memories of when my brother used to scare me in dark places would have reared their ugly heads.  But instead we giggled and made our way quickly back out.

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IMG_3124Just as the big thunder clouds began to roll in we headed back to Mexico City.  Quick day trip, but good to be out of the City for a day.

This last weekend was graduation for our seniors.  There are 186 in this class.  I taught 55 of them.  All upper school teachers are required to attend and march in gowns and caps.  It was actually kind of fun.  The ceremony was really beautiful and the speeches were top notch.  Although I don’t know the kids that well, it was really fun to see them graduate.  Such a big moment in life.

ASF Grad CollageThen yesterday we had a “fun day” for what is left of upper school: 9th – 11th graders.  There was food, of course, and three legged races, watermelon eating contest, ‘pie a teacher’, and sumo wrestling.  Silly and fun 2 hours.

ASF Fun Day CollageSo with my seniors gone I only have two sections of sophomores left, which means my days are quite easy now and I am more focused on getting it done and moving on.

In my short 5.5 months, I have enjoyed my time here.  Mexico City is not very daunting as it seems like it should be considering there are over 22 million people living here.  It has beautiful sections and extremely poor sections and everything in-between.   There is always something to do.

But I am ready to get out of the city and away from the pollution.

Off to beautiful Oregon in 14 days!

Have a great week!

Gretchen

 

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Filed under Adventure, Education, Mexico

Coconut Oil Addiction

I have become an addict.  I admit it, but I won’t be engaging in any 12 step programs.  I love my addiction and I keep learning more and more about how great it is.  As you know, I normally do not re-post articles on this blog, but today I came across this great run-down of what this seemingly wondrous oil can do on the Greatist website and I just had to share.  Its kind of a ridiculously long list (76 suggestions!) but, for me, the more ideas the better.  Here’s to your health!

76 Genius Coconut Oil Uses For Everyday Life

We’re going a little nuts for coconuts—or its oil, at least. But can you blame us? It turns out that this miracle oil is the solution to many of life’s little (or big!) problems. Whether it’s dry skin, lackluster hair, digestive problems, or athlete’s foot, this smooth, slick, tropical-smelling elixir will help get you and your body back on track to healthy town. And it’s all thanks to its stellar all-natural makeup. Coconut oil’s main fat is lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid that positively impacts cholesterol levels. It also contains vitamins E and K, and iron, and has both antimicrobial and antifungal properties.

What really takes the (coconut) cake is that it’s super affordable—a 14-ounce jar can cost as little as $7, making it the most wallet-friendly all-in-one product yet. Seriously, it’s a beauty product, household cleaner, and more. Check out these 76 ways to use coconut oil in your day-to-day life.

1. Care for our cuticles.

Treat dry, flaky cuticles by rubbing coconut oil into your nail beds. Use your fingers to massage some oil into the area—it’ll moisturize your hands in the process!

2. Treat your tresses to some TLC.

Store-bought hair conditioning treatments can get pretty pricy and are often made with some sketchy toxic ingredients. Enter: coconut oil. Beauty experts say the fatty acids in coconut oil will soften your strands. One way to use it: Whip up an at-home hair mask, like this coconut oil and honey concoction, coat your hair, throw it up into a bun, let it sit for up to 40 minutes, and then rinse it out in the shower.

Bonus: You can also use coconut oil on its own to prevent the ends of your hair from drying out. Just rub some onto the tips of your hair, and then shampoo as you regularly would to keep your strands shiny, healthy, and hydrated.

3. Use it as a frizz-fighter and flyaway-tamer.

Spread a tiny bit (apply sparingly—unless, of course, you dig greasy-looking hair) of coconut oil into trouble areas. The natural oils actually repel moisture, which is the culprit behind misbehaving hair.

4. Go for the glow.

To brighten up lackluster skin, combine coconut oil with baking soda, which is a superstar exfoliant. Just mix a little bit of the two together, gently rub into your skin in circular motions, and then rinse.

5. Whip up an at-home face mask.

Another combo for a better complexion? Coconut oil and honey. Mix the two for a hydrating, antibacterial face mask. Leave it on for about 15 minutes, and then rinse.

6. Nourish your lips.

Thanks to extreme weather, our lips sometimes need a little extra TLC to keep them soft and smooth. Slough off any dry, flaky skin with a DIY coconut-oil-and-brown-sugar lip scrub. Plus, who needs Chapstick when you’ve got coconut oil on hand? Just smooth some on your lips for instant hydration. It’ll look a little glossy, so let it sink in for a few minutes if you want a more matte look.

7. Buff your skin.

Speaking of scrubs, coconut oil is a fantastic ingredient for DIY body scrub. Just mix it up with brown sugar or salt, and add a drop or two of the essential oil of your choice for a gentle but effective exfoliating scrub.

8. Make bath time better.

Add a generous scoop of coconut oil to a bath to (literally) soak in its moisturizing benefits. Make bath time even better by throwing in some Epsom salts (they help soothe muscles and beat bloating) and your favorite essential oils.

9. Tint your lips.

Anyone who’s ever used lipstick is familiar with how frustrating it is when you’re down to that last, hard-to-access bit of lip color left in the applicator. Instead of tossing the tube, scoop out the remaining product and melt it together with coconut oil for a homemade tinted lip balm.

10. Remove your makeup.

One beauty editor’s secret: Use coconut oil to remove heavy makeup. Just rub a scoop of the stuff into your skin, leave it on for a few minutes, and wipe it all off with a warm cloth. Plus, this trick works on even the most stubborn eye makeup (we’re looking at you, waterproof mascara). Just apply some coconut oil to a cotton makeup pad and gently wipe off any product.

11. Moisturize your skin.

To keep your skin soft and supple, swap out your regular moisturizer for coconut oil. Don’t worry—it sinks in pretty quickly and will leave your skin feeling baby-soft.

12. Swap out your shaving cream.

Coconut oil is actually a great way to get a close shave and hydrate your skin in the process. Plus, it’s especially good for people with sensitive skin. If you’re in a DIY mood, you can even make your own shaving cream with it.

13. Clean your makeup brushes.

Just about every beauty and skincare expert stresses how important it is to keep your makeup brushes as bacteria-free as possible—for the ones you use daily, that means cleaning them once a week. Mix antibacterial dish soap with coconut oil (which also has antibacterial properties and will help condition the bristles) and give your brushes a good cleaning. Check out this guide for the step-by-step.

14. Improve your acne.

Real talk: Breakouts are always a bummer. To help minimize acne-related inflammation, experts recommend using coconut oil, which will also combat redness and irritation. Cleanse your face as you regularly would, and then apply a thin layer of oil (which will also moisturize your skin—see No. 11) to your skin. (Protip: If you’re doing this before bed, let it sink in so that excess oil doesn’t mess with your bedding.)

15. Smooth your skin.

Creams that boast anti-aging properties usually come with a pretty shocking price tag. Luckily, coconut oil can minimize the appearance of wrinkles. This totally works for the delicate skin around your eyes, too. Feel free to gently pat some coconut oil onto the area with your ring finger.

16. Improve scalp health.

Massage coconut oil into your scalp to fight dandruff. Get ready to bid adieu to those pesky flakes!

17. Soothe sunburns.

If you’ve spent too much time in the sun (and have the lobster-like appearance to prove it), use coconut oil for burn relief. It’ll calm your skin and moisturize it to help minimize peeling.

18. Quiet down eczema flare-ups.

Because it’s both a moisturizer and an anti-inflammatory, coconut oil can help calm itchy and irritated skin related to eczema.

19. Make your own massage oil.

It’s no secret that massages in the spa feel awesome. The ambience, the pampering, and the oils, oh my! Though it might be hard to set up the same Zen-like atmosphere at home, you can definitely get in on the massage oils, no appointment necessary. Just warm up some coconut oil (and maybe add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil) and get massaging.

20. Banish B.O.

Smooth some coconut oil on your armpits. The lauric acid can help kill the bacteria that causes stinky sweat. But be warned: Some experts believe it may not be powerful enough to be your sole method for deodorizing your pits.

21. Polish your pearly whites.

If you’re looking for a natural alternative to regular toothpaste, try going the DIY route. Your plan: Mix coconut oil with baking soda until it’s pasty enough to spread on a toothbrush.

22. Soften and deodorize your feet.

Between working out and running around, our feet get a beating on a day-to-day basis. Before bed, soften cracked, rough skin and calluses by exfoliating your feet and then applying a generous layer of coconut oil. Since it has natural antibacterial properties, it’ll deodorize as it softens. Then slip on some socks to wake up with much smoother, better smelling soles.

Bonus: To enhance its benefits, add a drop or two of tea tree oil to the mix and apply both before bed and throughout the day. Treating your feet to this combo not only keeps stinky smells at bay, but may also help treat athlete’s foot.

23. Enhance your eyelashes.

Similar to the way it can help strengthen your head of hair, coconut oil can also help strengthen lashes—and that’s especially good news considering it’s all too easy to damage those short hairs. Just apply some oil to a cotton swab and spread it onto your lashes before going to bed.

24. Wax on, wax off!

If your hair removal routine involves at-home waxing, use coconut oil to remove excess wax from your skin—or from any surfaces in your waxing workspace. Just smooth some of the oil onto any area that’s still sticky, and then wipe it off with a warm washcloth.

25. Make patent leather shine.

By definition, patent leather should be shiny and sleek. The next time yours is lacking in the gloss department, wipe some coconut oil onto its surface to return it to its high-shine finish.

26. Get rid of gum residue.

Chewed gum any place besides inside a mouth is generally a good cause for despair—until now. Use coconut oil to remove any tacky gum residue from the surface in question. It even works on hair and carpet!

27. Keep your shower squeaky clean.

To avoid using harsh chemicals to clean your tub, douse a rag with coconut oil and watch the shower scum wipe away.

28. Condition wooden flatware and furniture.

Keep your wooden spoons, cutting boards, and any other wooden utensils in top shape by conditioning them with coconut oil. To keep wooden furniture looking good, it’s important to clean and treat the wood. Enter coconut oil. Just like you would with your wooden utensils, apply generously and letting it seep into the furniture. Consider buying in bulk if you’ve got a lot of ground to cover.

29. Clean metal items.

Metal that’s gotten lackluster is just another material that can benefit from a layer of coconut oil—it’ll clean bronze and help deepen its color, and remove rust from steel.

30. Fix squeaky hinges.

Is anything more annoying (or potentially creepy, depending on the time of night) than a squeaky hinge? To silence the squeak, use coconut oil to lubricate the hinge in question.

31. Care for your guitar.

For the more musically-talented among us, consider using coconut oil to condition and lubricate guitar strings.

32. Unstick a stuck zipper.

Whether a broken zipper is holding you hostage inside your own jacket or preventing you from opening a bag, coconut oil can save the day. Restore stubborn zippers to working order by coating them in coconut oil.

33. Treat leather.

If you’re rocking a leather coat or some sweet leather pants, give leather apparel new life by rubbing them down with coconut oil to clean and condition and restore lost sheen.

34. Start a campfire—safely.

If there’s one item on this list that deserves a merit badge, this is it. Instead of depending on lighter fluid, soak cotton balls in coconut oil and use them to start your campfire. To get a good fire going, add them to the kindling you’ve assembled and give the mixture a light.

35. Keep motors in working order.

If any of your electronics or kitchen appliances have motors, they could benefit from coconut oil. Use it as a lubricant to keep the motors running and humming at peak performance.

36. Season cast iron cookware.

Because cast iron pots, pans, and skillets don’t have a nonstick surface, they require a prep step before you can actually use them. Though you can season them with vegetable oil and shortening, you can also coat them in coconut oil. Take a look at this step-by-step on how to season your cast iron pans.

37. Cut down on hairballs.

Coconut oil is good for our furry friends, too! To help keep your cat from hacking up hairballs, coat your kitty’s paws with a bit of the oil.

38. Condition your pet’s fur.

Just like you would condition your own human hair with coconut oil, rubbing some through your cat’s or dog’s coat will keep it healthy and shiny.

39. Supplement your pet’s diet and health.

Introducing a little bit of coconut oil to your dog or cat’s diet may boost their overall health—just be sure to check with your vet before you make any changes. Doing so may help with everything from weight management, to protection against arthritis and ligament problems, and can even help eliminate bag doggie breath.

40. Relieve your pet’s itchiness.

If you notice your pooch scratching a specific spot more than usual, rub some coconut oil into the area to help relieve any itchiness or irritation. This one’s another remedy to run by your vet before you test it on your pet.

41. Add it to coffee or tea.

The next time you’re readying your morning drink, ditch the sugar and honey, and flavor your beverage with a drizzle of coconut oil instead.

42. Make your own nut butter.

Who needs store-bought nut butters when you’ve got fresh nuts, coconut oil, a food processor, and some key flavoring ingredients? That’s seriously all you need to whip up the nut butter of your choice.

43. Cook up a storm.

If a recipe calls for cooking at high heat—like a stir fry, for example—consider using coconut oil. It’s got a high smoke point, meaning it won’t emit harmful free radicals as readily as other oils.

Coconut oil is also an awesome option when you’re roasting vegetables—especially winter veggies like sweet potatoes (it can pump up the flavor). Throw in some herbs and a splash of lemon juice, and you’ve got a scrumptious side dish.

And whether you enjoy them sunny side up, scrambled, or over easy, eggs are yet another food that are perfect candidates to be cooked in coconut oil. The options in the kitchen are really endless!

44. Dress your salads.

Olive oil is a gold standard in many salad dressings. To give your salads a different kind of flavor, try using coconut oil as the base of the dressing. Try this simple recipe with a subtle flavor.

45. Make your own granola.

Okay, homemade anything is generally better than store-bought, but there’s something about making your granola at home that makes it particularly special and tasty. Use coconut oil to whip up an oaty, nutty mixture.

46. Top your toast.

Swap out butter for coconut oil the next time you make toast. You might also want to add a sprinkle of cinnamon on top—delicious!

47. Eat it up.

Scoop up a spoonful and eat it as is for a bunch of healthy fats—seriously. Ingesting coconut oil is linked to a slew of health benefits, so feel free to swallow it.

48. Upgrade your smoothie.

Oil may not seem like a natural choice for a smoothie ingredient, but a tablespoon of the stuff can give you an energy boost—the body uses its medium-chain fatty acids as an energy source instead of storing it away.

49. Change up your baking game.

The next time you’re channeling Betty Crocker, add some coconut oil to the mix. If you’re whipping up a pie (mmm, pie!) or biscuits, consider using coconut oil instead of shortening or butter for a light consistency. The same goes for baked goods that call for a good amount of vegetable oil. In most cases, you can substitute it one-for-one.

50. Pop it like it’s hot.

We’re big fans of popcorn, particularly the homemade kind. The next time you reach for the kernels, opt for cooking them in coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. You’ll get a hint of sweetness with every bite.

51. Switch up your topping.

You’ve popped your corn, now top it off! Coconut oil is a great substitute for a buttery topping, especially when topped off with a sprinkle of salt. A little sweet, a little salty…what more could you want in a snack?

52. Grease cookware and bakeware.

Use coconut oil to grease pans and trays while you’re baking. Just scoop some out and smooth it onto the sides and bottoms of your pan to keep food from sticking to it.

53. Level up your oral hygiene.

Oil pulling is an Ayurveda practice that’s all the rage at the moment, is believed to help your wellbeing in tons of different ways: it whitens your teeth, improves your skin, gets rid of toxins, and more. To give it a go with coconut oil, swish about two tablespoons of it around your mouth for three to 10 minutes a day (though some recommend pulling for up to 20 minutes). Think of it as a sweeter, (slimier?) mouthwash.

54. Fight colds and the flu.

Eating coconut oil can help boost your immune system (by improving your white blood cell count). (White blood cells are the little guys that fight viruses and bacteria in your bloodstream. The more white blood cells, the more infection-fighting power is streaming through your system!)

55. Prevent chafing.

Not only can coconut oil stop chafing from actually happening, it can also treat an area that’s already been rubbed raw (just mix with calendula for a soothing ointment). Bonus for anyone who has a little bundle of joy: Coconut oil can help your baby, too. If your little one is suffering from diaper rash, try mixing up a diaper cream to soothe irritated skin.

56. Say goodbye to scratchy throats.

Forget cough drops the next time your throat’s killing you! Soothe a sore throat by swallowing a bit of coconut oil on its own or adding it to your tea.

57. Lube up.

Proof positive that coconut oil has endless possible uses? It can make its way into your sex life. Though there hasn’t been research that focuses on the safety of coconut oil as a lubricant, it seems to work just fine, according to some experts. One caveat: Coconut oil can weaken latex condoms, so if you do want to use coconut oil between the sheets, opt for a polyurethane condom instead.

58. Relax.

It’s hard not to envision a tropical beach on a sunny day when you get a whiff of coconut—and what’s more relaxing than that? With that in mind, use coconut oil as aromatherapy. Try massaging some into your scalp and temples to relieve stress.

59. Get rid of lice.

Some believe that coconut oil is an all-natural remedy for lice. Test it out by using coconut oil as part of a two-step process. To start, rinse your hair in apple cider vinegar, let it dry, and then smooth coconut oil through your strands. You’ll have to let it sink in for up to 24 hours (sleep with a shower cap on to avoid ruining your bedding). Comb it out in the morning and then rinse your hair.

60. Treat cold sores.

The second you start to feel the telltale tingle of a cold sore on or around your lips, rub some coconut oil on the spot—the oil’s antiviral properties may help treat unsightly fever blisters.

61. Protect scrapes and scratches.

To help keep superficial cuts and scrapes clean (this isn’t for deep wounds!), apply a thin layer of coconut oil—it’ll work as a barrier, keeping out dust and harmful bacteria.

62. Heal bug bites.

Bzzz, bzzz… you’ve been bitten by a bug! Apply a drop or two of coconut oil to the area to relieve itching.

63. Calm bruises.

While it’s unclear as to whether or not coconut oil actually heals bruises, some suggest applying it to your black-and-blues can help calm the area.

64. Treat yeast infections.

Now, this is definitely one to take to your doctor before you testing it out, but some have found that coconut oil may help treat yeast infections when ingested and applied topically.

65. Improve your cholesterol.

Coconut oil’s star component, lauric acid, can boost your levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good kind) to help keep your heart healthy.

66. Keep your stomach happy.

Stomach issues—whether the occasional ailment or a more chronic condition—can really hinder your lifestyle. Ingesting coconut oil may help soothe your stomach and is even thought to ease symptoms from serious disorders like Crohn’s Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Another healthy-stomach benefit: Adding coconut oil to your diet—even just one tablespoon per day—can help treat ulcers. That said, stomach problems can be pretty serious, so it’s best to consult a doc before you self-diagnose with coconut oil.

67. Clear up congestion.

One of the worst parts about having a cold (and one of the hardest side effects to kick) is congestion. To help clear things out, try mixing up a homemade vapor rub. All it takes is coconut oil, tea tree oil, and rosemary oil. Rub this trio of ingredients on your chest and underneath your nose to breathe easier.

68. Repel insects.

Not only can it help soothe itchiness from insect bites, coconut oil can also be used in a DIY insect repellent. The ingredients you’ll need: coconut oil and essential oils like peppermint, catnip, rosemary, or tea tree.

69. Treat the aches and pains of an ear infection.

After checking with your doctor to make sure this remedy’s for you, mix up a solution that can be applied behind your ear.

70. Prevent nosebleeds.

One of the biggest culprits behind nosebleeds is dry, irritated nostrils. To keep them from drying out, dip your finger in coconut oil and gently apply it to the inside of your nose to coat as much of each interior as you can.

71. Breastfeed more comfortably.

Another tip for new moms: Keep coconut oil handy to prevent your nipples from becoming cracked or painful due to breastfeeding.

72. Boost your metabolism.

While adding oil to your diet may sound counterintuitive, the fats in coconut oil—medium-chain saturated fats—are easy to digest, can be used directly by the liver for energy, and encourage fat burning.

73. Clean your dental accessories.

If you use a mouth guard or retainer (hey, you have to keep those pearly whites in place!), use coconut oil to sanitize them during the day.

74. Clean your ears.

Dip a cotton swab into coconut oil (but just for a second—you don’t want it to be soaked), and gently clean earwax out of your ears.

75. Boost your bone health.

Not only is coconut oil a stellar ingredient in its own right, but it also helps calcium and magnesium absorption in your body, which can make for healthy bones and teeth.

76. Tip the scale in your favor.

Eating coconut oil may also keep your weight in check. Research suggests that consuming the slick stuff may help reduce waist circumference and abdominal obesity . Plus, coconut oil has fewer calories than other dietary fats—a serious bonus when it comes to weight management.

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