Amy K

I enjoy riding bikes, cooking meals from scratch, hanging out with puppies, assembling puzzles, taking photographs, and poking people with pins (yes, really, I’m a licensed acupuncturist).

07 Jan


Saving Winter Skin pt 2! Saving Face!


Hello again! I hope that everyone is ready to delve further into the winter skin care discussion with part two of my Saving Winter Skin blog posts. If you missed part one you can read it here. Today’s post is about saving your face from the harsh elements - which we all desperately need this week! I’m going to talk about the science of skin sebum, mention a few of my favorite products, and leave you with some dietary suggestions to help improve your skin.

Why our skin dries out in winter:

Winter is rough. There’s very little moisture in the air, our indoor heating systems continuously blow more hot, dry air through our homes and offices, and us cyclists expose our faces to whipping winds on a daily basis. All this dryness sucks the moisture right out of our skin, leaving us with dry, flaky, and even chapped skin. These weather conditions will especially exacerbate certain skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis. 

You would think that simply hydrating our skin more would combat all that dryness. While that is entirely true, the key here is that we need to hydrate our skin with water AND oil. Oil? Yes, oil.

You might have heard in commercials or magazines that people tend to either have dry, oily, or combination skin. Well, oily isn’t the most accurate term for it. Technically our skin doesn’t produce oil - it produces sebum. Sebum is primarily composed of tryglycerides (~41%), wax esters (~26%), squalene (~12%), and free fatty acids (~16%)[i]. So the key to winter facial skin care is to replace the lost water AND sebum content.

winter skin products

Above are some of my favorite products that keep my skin healthy in winter.


How to keep your skin hydrated:

Ditch the Soap: Soap is notorius for dying out the delicate skin on the face. There's no reason your face should feel tight or raw after washing. A better method is to try oil cleansing. The oil cleansing method is based upon the theory that “like dissolves like”. Therefore instead of using harsh soap based face washes (or even gentle cleansers such as Cetaphil that are filled with propylene glycol and parabens), you use a mix of cleansing oils such as caster, jojoba, almond, or coconut to break down the dirt, make-up, and extra oil deposits in the skin, and then use a hot washcloth to steam the pores open and wipe away the excess oil. This method doesn’t destroy your natural sebum production like traditional face washes, and therefore leaves your skin more naturally hydrated. More detailed instructions on the oil cleansing method and how to mix up the best oil cleanser for your skin type can be found here.

My personal mix is 2 parts Heritage products band castor oil, 1 part Heather Loraine brand almond oil, 1 part Heather Lorraine jojoba oil, plus 10 drops each of Veriditas Botanicals brand tea tree and lavender essential oils. I mix them together and refill an empty jojoba oil pump top bottle. Then I put it in a cute owl planter that I never planted anything in it ;) I started using this method a 1.5 years ago and my skin has never been softer or smoother.

Water + Oil = Love: Another thing I did after switching to the oil cleansing method, was start moisturizing with a combination of hydrosol and oil. Since our skin is made up of oil and water together, the best way to replenish lost moisture is with oil and water together. Seems almost too simple, right? You might be wondering what a hydrosol is. They are the water byproducts from essential oil production[ii]. They have many of the same benefits of essential oils, but in a milder, water based concentration. Many of the best natural estheticians recommend spritzing your face with hydrosol before applying your favorite skin care oil to damp skin. The combination of water and oil help protect the sebaceous layer of tissue better than oil-free moisturizers or plain oil alone. Lots of people have recently been turned on to jojoba oil because technically it’s not even oil - it’s a wax ester - which makes it more similar in chemical makeup to our skin’s sebum than traditional carrier oils like almond or coconut oil. This filtered organic jojoba oil might be a good one to try if you tend to have “oily” skin and are afraid to try using an oil for a moisturizer. It is lighter and absorbs more quickly.

My favorite products are the Veriditas Botanicals brand lavendar hydrosol mixed with Aura Cacia brand rosehip seed oil. The lavender helps calm my sensitive skin and the rosehip seed oil contains a high amount of free fatty acids (those things that help make up sebum!) and is good for dry skin.

Moisturize from the inside out: If we’re dehydrated on the inside, it’s going to show on the outside. This means drinking enough water (especially if you’re riding long distances daily), eating foods high in water content (fruits and veggies), and eating enough dietary fat. Essential fatty acids and cholesterol are of vital importance to the integrity of the skin barrier[iii]. Some foods that are helpful for moisturizing and protecting your skin: salmon, mackerel, walnuts, free-range eggs, butter from grass-fed cows, and flax and safflower oil. Taking an omega-3 supplement such as fish oil can also be helpful.

My favorite supplements are the Green Pastures fermented cod liver oil for fish oils, and wheat germ oil for a vegetarian alternative.

Protection: One of the best ways to save your face is to protect it. I'm a big fan of merino wool neck tubes worn up and over my nose during the briskest of days. They're breathable, lightweight, and incredibly warm. I hate having my neck exposed when I'm riding (my Chinese medical fear of wind exposure causing frequent colds and flus) so my merino tubes is my best friend. I also make a point to keep extra rosehip seed oil or Waxalene at work so that if my face feels chapped after riding, I can apply some as soon as I'm inside.


I hope that some of these tips are helpful for you. If you have any questions about the body care products or supplements i mentioned above, please feel free to comment here. Thanks and happy riding everyone!

Winter Biking, Wellness

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03 Mar


2018 #LoveMnWinter Recap!


It's not the gray days or the cold temperatures that make me feel melancholy. But this time of year is tough. It's not the winter season but the transition to the new year that preoccupies me with the frustration of things I didn't accomplish in the previous 365 days and the anxious weight of my self-inflicted expectations for the next journey around the sun.

And this year has been more difficult than usual. My feelings of inadequacy in my job, my relationships and showing up in the community have felt particularly accute. Being the steward of the #LoveMnWinter series made me feel less alone.   

Yes, there was humor and joy and badass empowerment in this year's posts but there was also vulnerability. Candid acknowledgment that sometimes we struggle to summon the strength to do any more than just make it through another day — and we don't have the pretend that it's not hard. That we all need moments of stillness and silence and straight-up surviving until the internal and external weather warms.  

So huge thanks to everyone who contributed; I know I'm not the only one who took strength and solidarity in your knowledge and contributions to the Grease Rag community! In case you missed a post, here's a recap / run-down with some of my favorite phrases or tips!

Day 1: Snow goof!

Day 2: Jump up and down and shake all of the feelings out of your body. Leave them there... Remember that we are deserving of love, kindness, comfort, hugs, compassion, & dumplings. 

Day 3: Collected winter memories...


Day 4: Often the hardest part of winter biking for me is deciding to do it — getting dressed and getting out the door with enough time to make my trip without feeling rushed and panicked. The difficulty, both of the deciding to do and the actual doing, is part of what makes winter biking so much fun. 

Day 5: I love turning on my blinky lights and gliding out into the empty streets like a tiny human shooting star, pedaling into the still unknown with endless possibility.

Day 6: Winter is my favorite time to drink port wine and tell myself I’m going to become a writer, a poet, or chess master. I've never bothered with these sorts of lies in June, July, or August. 

Day 7: People view me as a badass, while I view myself as someone who is just living their life, and enjoying a new adventure with new friends and old friends.


Day 9: This winter, I have been summoning my inner Matilda* and have spent so much time in the stacks that I have even developed relationships with some of the library staff.

Day 10: "Stay loose, flexible but firm," kept going through my head, from the wisdom of Grease Rag(gers). That trifecta got me through a terrifying but thrilling ride.

Day 11: This is a season of letting go, stripping down. Trees have let go of their flowers and leaves, we’ve put our gardens to bed. There isn’t an outward sign of growth — the work is underneath, in our roots.

Day 12: My winter body gets to transform. It gets its own sensations that my sumer body will never understand. 


Day 13: This winter, I radically accept reality. Bad days are a fact of life. I am allowed to feel cold and lonely and wonder if the snow will ever melt. Because those feelings are just as real as the exhilaration of arriving at work after a commute I was ready and excited for.

Day 14: When I’m biking, I’m truly by myself. There is no one to entertain, no calls or messages I can answer. It’s just me and the bike. 

Day 16: A few weeks ago, on a snowy February night, I leisurely scanned the colorful cards, smiling at the beautiful and silly sentiments from dozens of fellow cycling enthusiasts.


Day 17: I have been working to balance when it is important to honor these moments of low energy by cuddling up and hunkering down. And, I’ve also been working to notice when I have the urge to rattle this stuck-ness, by boosting my energy and pulling myself into a different headspace... Almost always, the first step is getting on my bike.

Day 18: There’s no time for bullshit. On the brutally cold days, I come home and it is all I can do to eat and go to sleep. I live more essentially, thinking not of wants but of needs. The clarity of it stuns me, when my body and my heart demand that they come first.

Day 19: Pretty much everything is more fun and enjoyable when shared with a loved one, whether they be your significant other, friend, or even random stranger that gives you a thumbs up for slogging in the opposite direction through salty slush. 

Day 20: Biking in the winter has changed my life. It's not always easy and has tested my limits — physically, mentally, emotionally — but, I know I'm better for it! I'm thankful for the bright sun on cold winter days, for how my body has adapted to weather changes, getting time outside, learning how to layer and thinking about how I spend my time differently. 

shruthi-cropped.jpgDay 21: NO SHAME! Seriously! If I feel like taking the bus, or driving, or staying home, no one shames me for not being "hard core" enough. You all understand that we need to listen to our bodies and do what is right because winter is harsh. 

Day 22: Besides washing your hands and drinking lots of water, what else can you do to give your body its best chance at warding off illness? Fire cider and raw honey.

Day 23: Warmer days and green things coming from the ground is coming soon. Today is February 23, and there are 26 days until the first day of spring.

Day 24: It's weird that a few months ago the trail had so many people on it, and there were the sounds of nature. I had to strip down to my sports bra because of the heat. Today I was praying my hand warmers would last a bit longer, and wishing there were more people around me to enjoy the trail and view.

Day 25: All of these things started off as a tiny ice cube, but I started exploring and discovered a whole iceberg of things to learn and people to meet. Did anything get produced? "Done?" Not really. But my relationships are growing, my brain is being fed, and I wouldn't have had the attention span in the full swing of summer. I love winter for being a blank canvas for my busy mind.

Day 26: I love walking through fresh snow when it's late at night and you're alone.


Day 27: In summer, I like beer and kool aid. In winter, I like booze and coco.


12 Dec


Cycles for Change Hosts a Grease Rag


Cycles for Change has been hosting a vibrant women and trans* open shop night weekly for years, but we have recently joined the Grease Rag family!
Every Tuesday, from 5-9pm, all women, trans*, femme folks are welcome to join us for an open shop night at Cycles for Change.  

712 University Ave. E., 
St. Paul, MN 55104
(651) 222-2080
Facilitators Claire, Kate, and Kenzie, along with mechanic Anne, will help you with what ails your bike.  Come on in!
Often during the snow and cold season we have month long basic bike maintenance or overhaul classes, and everyone is welcome to listen in on those or work on their own projects. We always have bikes that people can practice on and three speed hubs to dissect. We are a teaching space and if anyone has a different class they'd like to see, we can try to make it happen!
Look forward to some special events coming up, including our Grease Rag kick-off!

Grease Rag Frogtown- St. Paul

Dakota Sexton

Dakota Sexton rides a tiny Fuji and enjoys a good mid-day nap.

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Dana DeMaster

Dana lives and bikes in Saint Paul, Minnesota. During the day she is a program evaluator and data therapist in human services. At night and weekends, she can be found parenting two great children, rabble rousing for better bike infrastructure in Saint Paul, and sewing a wardrobe from the 1940 to 1965. Her favorite thing to sew is underwear from the 1950s. Her writing can also be found at

06 Feb


Day 6 Loving Winter 2017


Day 6 Loving Winter 2017

I #lovemnwinter! Today, I love winter fashion.


I love biking in the winter. To enjoy biking on a brisk, ten-degree morning it helps to be well dressed – there is no bad weather, only bad clothing, right? I also love retro fashion and looking great while biking so I am always on the look-out for how to combine comfort and warmth with looking amazing. This year’s great discovery has been the wool circle skirt. Even in below zero temperatures, I am cozy and stylish in heavy wool with a pair or two of fleece leggings underneath. With some basic sewing skills and equipment, you, too, can be warm and stylish! This is a how-to about sewing your own skirt. 

This article assumes you know how to operate a sewing machine and have basic sewing skills. 

Looking good picking up children


  • About 2 yards heavy wool (This is expensive. I get mine at SR Harris and wait until they have a coupon. Joann Fabrics offer lots of coupons, but do not have the selection of quality wool that SR Harris does. I have also had good experiences with
  • About 2 yards lining fabric. I recommend polyester/acetate lining available in the lining section of the fabric store
  • A 7-9 inch invisible zipper
  • A 1 to 1.5 inch button
  • To be extra fancy and retro use a horse hair hem. Ten yards of horse hair (don’t worry – this isn’t actually made of horse hair. It is a plastic mesh that used to be horse hair in days of old.)
    • Horse hair hem gives your dress added shape and structure – a little of that poof seen in old skirts. You can also use regular hem tape available in the notions section or forgo the hem tape and just turn up your hem.


Measuring and Cutting

First, measure around your waist. Retro clothing generally fit at the natural waist, not lower on the hips like today’s clothing does. Measure where you want the skirt to sit on your body. Your natural waist is where your belly button is or the narrowest part of your torso. Then decide how long you want your skirt to be. For winter warmth and retro style, mine fall to about three inches below my knee. Get a friend and a measuring tape. Stand up straight and have your friend measure from your belly button to where you want the skirt to fall. Add one inch to this measurement for your ½ inch seam allowances.

I used this handy Circle Skirt Calculator to figure out my waist radius, which is half the diameter of the circle that will become your skirt waist opening. Mine is 4.5 inches.

Using the diagram from the calculator, lay out your wool on a large table. Measure and mark the distance of your waist radius along the fold and down the selvedge edge from the fold. I like to pin my measuring tape to the point and use that to mark a quarter circle between the two markings. This is your waist. From that same point, measure your waist radius plus the length of your skirt plus the inch seam allowance. For me this is 4.5 + 24 + 1 or about 30 inches. Mark another, larger circle of this radius from the same point that you did for the waist. Cut along both circles you drew. 


Lay the half circle you cut on top of the remaining fabric, fold along the fold, and use that to cut a second half circle. Do this with your lining fabric, but make the circle about two inches shorter. Finally, cut out a waist band. For a 2-inch-wide waist band, cut a 3-inch-wide by your waist circumference plus 3 inches for a 1-inch seam allowance and 2-inch tab for the button.



Now, lay one side of each half circle right sides together and sew that seam. Press. I recommend finishing the seam edges with either a serger or a zig zag stitch on a regular machine. Do the same with your lining. Then, put the right side of the lining on the wrong side of the skirt, lining up the waist. Baste the lining to the skirt in the seam allowance. At this point you will have a two big circles (wool and lining) that are sewed together at the waist and one side. We will close the circle next.


Finish the raw edges of both the skirt and the lining by either serging the edge or using a zig zag stitch. Put in your zipper using your favorite method. I will not explain how to do that, as it depends on the kind of zipper you have, but I like this tutorial for an invisible zipper and this one for a regular zipper. Sew the remaining side seams of both the lining and the skirt. I like to keep the lining separate from the skirt, but do what you want. Now you have a circle! Try it on to check for fit. 


 Add the waistband.

Fold the waistband in half, right sides together. To make the corners nice and neat, first sew one short side (width). Then for the button tab, sew down the short side, pivot, and sew about two inches along the raw, open side. 


Trim the seam allowances, turn out, and press. Press up a little less than half an inch on one side of the waistband. Take the raw edge of your waistband that you did not press, leaving the other raw side free, and pin it to the raw waist of your skirt on the right side. Make sure to line up any side seams and have the button tab aligned with the zipper. Ease in any extra material and baste. Check to make sure and lies nicely and sew seam. Clip seam allowances. 


Fold over the pressed edge to the inside of the skirt and pin in place. Stitch in the ditch (meaning your stitching line from the other side of the waistband) or hand sew waistband in place. Sew on the button under the button hole tab on the waist band.



Hang your skirt overnight. This is annoying, but important. The skirt is cut on the bias of the fabric and the weight of the skirt will cause the fabric to stretch. If you do not hang it overnight and just hem it, the hem will be uneven after gravity takes its toll.

After your skirt has hung overnight, check to make sure the circle is still even. Carefully trim where it might be uneven to insure the hem is even.


If you are not using hem tape or horse hair, press up half an inch along the hem of both the lining and the skirt toward the inside, then press up another half inch and sew the hem.

If you are using hem tape or horse hair, pin the tape so that the skirt edge is at about the middle of the tape. Sew the tape to the skirt along the inside edge of the tape. Fold to the inside so that the other side of the tape (the side you did not sew to the skirt) is about half an inch from the fold. Pin in place. Sew along the tape on the side you did not sew before. There is your hem! Do the same with the lining. Do not use horse hair on the lining, just use regular hem tape.



Now you have a fabulous and warm skirt to wear out in the cold. Just make sure to sit on your skirt and do not let it cover your rear light.



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