Monday Motivation: Trying New Things

What is the purpose of being human and alive without doing new things?
— John Sulston

Last month, I wrote about rejecting convenience. One very clear facet of rejecting convenience is trying new things. I always think it's funny when I encounter people who are set in their ways when it comes to things like food, movies, music or ideology, the latter of which can of course be rather harmful. With all due respect, I cringe when I hear about people who take the same vacation year after year, especially to highly sanitized bastardizations of "real" places you could actually visit in the world. I say this with little judgment because there is always a reason for these choices, but I think it's good personal development to push yourself outside your own boundaries and try new things as often as possible.

These new things don't always have to be huge endeavors. Yes, taking a solo trip abroad is a great thing to try and was something that I personally quite enjoyed. But, there are plenty of little things that you can do on a daily basis to push yourself out of the comfort zone. You could try a new restaurant or style your hair differently. I'm usually so laid back with my hair styling that it was exciting to try out a few new straightened hairstyles recently. 

I encourage everyone to challenge themselves this fall (and in the months and years following it) to try new things as frequently and fervently as possible. Be open to new kinds of food, new styles of music, genres of books and movies you may not expect to like. Travel to new places, try out new activities, and experience things you have not yet experienced. Be open to ideologies that differ from your own and think critically before making judgments.

3 Clean & Easy Meals

My favorite recipes tend to not be recipes at all. Typically, they consist of a few fresh ingredients thrown together and served simply. It always irks me when I search online for "easy, healthy recipes" and end up finding recipes that actually require a good amount of prep work and tons of ingredients. It can be very impractical--buying all of those ingredients which will inevitably spoil before you can finish them. So, I like to keep things simple. Here are three clean meals that are actually quick, easy, and require minimal ingredients.

Green Wrap
Spinach tortilla, hummus, green bell peppers, avocado, spinach, crumbled goat cheese.
- Spread a thin layer of hummus on a spinach tortilla.
- Add favorite greens. I like green bell peppers, avocado, and spinach but you can choose whatever suits you.
- Top with fresh goat cheese and your choice of light dressing or protein.

Socca Bread w/ Green Side Salad 
Chickpea flour (preferably homemade), water, olive oil, salt, herbs of choice, tomato sauce, salad greens, one lemon.
- Whisk one cup of chickpea flour with one cup of water, 1.5 tbsp of olive oil, salt and optional chopped herbs. Let the batter rest for at least half an hour.
- Cook according to preferred method (stove top, baked, etc). My preferred method is to cook on the stove top. Fill a cast iron skillet with a bit of olive oil then fill the pan with a thin layer of batter as if you were making a crepe over medium-high heat. Flip after three minutes and let the other side cook for three. Both sides should begin to brown.
- Serve dipped in tomato sauce with a side salad of mixed greens. 
- Top the greens with a blend of equal parts olive oil and lemon with a bit of honey. 

Roasted Plums
Plums, maple syrup, berry of choice.
- Cut plums in half and remove core. 
- Arrange on a baking tray and place a berry (raspberry, blueberry, etc.) in the scooped out core.
- Drizzle with good quality maple syrup.
- Roast in the oven on 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

What are your favorite easy, clean recipes?

What to Watch to Get Excited for Autumn

Harry Potter
There's nothing like Harry Potter to get you in the mood for fall. The films offer all of the autumn inspiration you could ever want---from the academic setting to the cozy wardrobes to all of the library scenes. I recently marathoned the first three films, concluding that they are the best of all to get you excited for the season.

Gossip Girl
Specifically, the Thanksgiving episodes. Fall in New York is always an appealing setting, so these are fairly obvious choices. The Season 1 Thanksgiving episode (1.09) is the best, with Blair in her perfect outfits and lots of great fall scenery.

Fantastic Mr. Fox
I used to read this book obsessively as a child because I loved the descriptions of Mr. Fox stealing turkeys and cider from the nearby farmers. If that's not autumnal, nothing is.

The Dead Poets Society
No list of autumn films can exist without including this one. It continues with the themes of academia that were pointed out in Harry Potter and adds the layers of East Coast prep school and literature that result in autumnal perfection.

You've Got Mail
With more New York fall scenery and that line about freshly sharpened pencils, this is another ubiquitous fall movie pick. 

The Social Network
While this is perhaps a more unlikely pick for a fall movie list, I think that any film set at Harvard (see: The Paper Chase) is a good choice for fall.

Continuing with the theme of academia, books, prep schools, and Wes Anderson, Rushmore is another good option. If you're heading back to school, it will get you excited and if school is a thing of the past, it will have you suddenly wishing to return.

Gilmore Girls
Even when it's summer on this show, it somehow always feels like fall. Stars Hollow is perpetually cozy and the scenes at Chilton and Yale fulfill the academia criteria.

What are your go-to fall films?

Healthy Morning Habits

Before you get out of bed, try a few simple stretches to warm up your muscles for the day. A quick and effective sequence consists of knee-to-chest back stretches, lying glute stretch (my all-time favorite), child's pose, twists, and cat cow.

Set the Scene
Whether it is a week day or weekend, it is worth the few minutes it takes to create a serene, uplifting space for your morning routine. Light a candle or two in a relaxing scent like lavender or eucalyptus. Better yet, try Maison Margiela's Lazy Sunday Morning scent. Once the candles are lit, put on your favorite morning playlist. You may prefer to hear upbeat songs in the morning, but I love the Yiruma station on Pandora or baroque music because it makes me feel like a French queen (always a good confidence boost). 

Start your morning skincare routine with a splash of cold water to the face and neck. This will not only wake you up, but it will also help to remove any puffiness from your face. Use a gentle cleanser like Glossier's Milky Jelly Cleanser followed by a moisturizer containing SPF and hyaluronic acid (try Neutrogena or Murad), then a toner and your favorite eye cream (which should be kept in the refrigerator for best use).

Lemon Water
Head to the kitchen and have a glass of lemon water, preferably warm but cold works too if the weather is too hot for anything otherwise. This will help to balance the pH of your body and aid digestion among many other benefits.

Gentle Yoga Flow
If I have the time, I like to do a quick and gentle yoga flow---maybe a few sun salutations, a vinyasa sequence or one of Yoga with Adriene's wonderful, short videos.

Unless you are making a hot breakfast, I recommend prepping the meal the night before so that it is as simple as pulling a bowl out of the refrigerator in the morning. My very favorite go-to breakfasts are yogurt bowls (plain greek yogurt with honey, seasonal fruit, and granola) and chia seed pudding (an almond-vanilla variation topped with fruit). On the side, I suggest having a cup of matcha tea which will help to get you energized and feeling full.

Five Minute Journal 
To set intentions for the day ahead, try working on a five minute journal. You can write daily mantras, goals, about the dreams you had, or just about anything. It's a good way to set a positive tone for what's to come.

Protein Shake to Go
Before heading out for the day, blend a quick protein shake with frozen fruit, a plant-based protein powder, and greens. My favorite combination is banana, cherry, blueberry, almond milk, Blue Adaptogen Protein Powder, bee pollen, spinach, and a bit of honey.

5 Movies to Be Excited About

Summer is ending and with it, the awful summer movies are set to disappear. With awards season finally beginning, we will see the release and promotion of handfuls of films worth being excited about. Each year, I attempt to see every Best Picture nominee which can be difficult since the nominations aren't officially announced until very soon before the actual ceremony. It takes a lot of well-researched guess work to figure out which films to see. I was successful last year in seeing all of the Best Picture nominated films, but this year may take things a bit easier. 

In my recent research, I put together a list of five upcoming films that should spark your interest whether you are a film connoisseur or not. 

The Light Between Oceans
Sept 2016 
My two favorites--Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander--star in this beautifully shot film about a couple who find a baby washed upon the shore near their seaside home.

November 2016
Aliens make contact with Earth through some sort of minimalist monolith and Amy Adams is a linguist who helps to communicate with them. This is based on a short story by Ted Chiang, which means it is more than promising.

God Particle
February 2017
Yes, the truth is that I'm mostly excited about this because of Daniel Bruhl and Elizabeth Debicki. Side note, a friend and I used to talk about writing a screenplay about space travel starring Elizabeth Debicki, so someone must have overheard us and stole the idea. 

May 2017
Not much is known about the new live action Barbie movie except that Diablo Cody is writing the screenplay, so nothing else matters. 

July 2017
I'm a trailer snob and this is one of the best ones I've ever seen. If the film is half as beautiful and well-done as this short glimpse, I'll be very happy.

What upcoming films are you most excited about?

7 Days, 7 Looks with Lyst

The time for transitional dressing is drawing near, which means it is also time to evaluate your closet and fill in any gaps you may find. Lyst is great for this kind of thing because it's essentially a one-stop shop for any wardrobe item you may need. Here are seven looks from which to draw inspiration for the upcoming weeks of transitional weather. 

(Back to Work)

Theory | Loeffler Randall | Loeffler Randall

(Lunch at Palma)

A.P.C. | Rebecca Taylor | Kate Spade

(Night at the ballet)

J.Crew | Cara | Repetto

(Working from home)

Etoile Isabel Marant | Ugg | Maxmara

(Casual office)

Equipment | Office | Henri Bendel

(Spending the day at Smorgasburg)

Isabel Marant | Ancient Greek Sandals | Manifatture Campane

(Brunch at By Chloe)

Chloe | Schutz | Kate Spade

This post was written in collaboration with Lyst.

Collected Week 8.19.16

Artwork by Scott Sueme, courtesy of The Jealous Curator

Artwork by Scott Sueme, courtesy of The Jealous Curator

Looking forward to fall, stocking my pantry with amazing things from Moon Juice, filling my office space with black-and-white photos of Paris given to me periodically by a co-worker.

Pride and Prejudice

Re-watching Gilmore Girls season six.

Grimes and only Grimes. Also, a wonderful podcast called Harry Potter and the Sacred Text in which the hosts do a reading of Harry Potter as if it were, naturally, a sacred text.

I really admire the entrepreneurial spirit of Kent Couch, who is fueling innovation at his Oregon gas station and convenience store---no pun intended.

The Beauty Rest Guide

This post was inspired by a prompt from Casper.

This past Monday was National Relaxation Day, which had me thinking about all of the ways I love to relax. Incidentally, one thing that I find super relaxing is watching YouTube videos on or reading blog posts about other people's relaxation routines.

Whenever I've had an exhausting day or a long week, the first thing that I like to do when I arrive home from work is take a good nap. I've always had a strange love affair with napping because it seems to be the solution for so many problems. Feeling grumpy or annoyed? Take a nap. Didn't sleep well the night before? Nap. In college, my roommate and I would bond by locking ourselves in the dorm to take long, afternoon naps before dinner. 

These days, I like to take advantage of all the benefits naps have to offer and that often means incorporating skincare into my afternoon sleep. Casper---the super innovative mattress start-up you always hear about on Rich Roll's podcast---put together a great Napping 101 Guide that will help you make the most of your sleep sessions and I've added on a few ideas of my own: 

The Beauty Rest Guide

Remove all makeup
Even though you may not be down for the night, be sure to remove all makeup from your face before even taking an afternoon nap. In addition to keeping your pillowcases clean, this will also prevent your pores from becoming clogged and will allow skincare products to be absorbed properly. Use a gentle cloth remover or your favorite micellar water.

Blend a serum into your cream moisturizer
When taking a beauty nap, I like to blend a serum into a heavier moisturizer in order to create a stronger treatment. Recently, I've been using Caudalie's Premier Cru elixir and cream to create a rich blend that will nourish your skin with several highly effective anti-aging ingredients such as resveratol, viniferine, and grapeseed polyphenols. 

Apply a sleep balm to your temples and wrists
To help induce a deep sleep, apply Badger Sleep Balm to your temples, wrists, and even under your nose. The balsam fir, bergamot, and lavender scent will put you to sleep immediately and help to relax your mind which is often needed for effective afternoon napping.

Create a relaxing sleep environment
To ensure the most relaxing environment, spray your sheets and pillow cases with a relaxing lavender linen spray made from essential oils and water mixed with vodka or witch hazel. Set your room to a cold temperature to ensure a restful sleep and to reduce sweating. If possible, incorporate a humidifier to help add moisture to your skin, nostrils, and lungs.

Sleep on your back
Sleeping on your back is the best way to prevent breakouts, fine lines, and wrinkles during your sleep routine. It's also the best position for your lungs and organ function which is important for detoxing. It can be hard for many people to sleep on their back. If that is the case for you, try propping up your arms with pillows on either side. This is more comfortable and will also sort of lock you in the position.

What are your napping habits? Do you have a beauty rest skincare routine?

The End-of-Summer Heat

This post was written in partnership with Irresistible Me.

Now that we are nearing the end of summer, it seems that the heat has reached its peak, leaving us all dying for autumn weather---only 36 more days until fall begins! As we wrap up the season, I've been thinking about all the ways we can use our beauty routines to combat the hot weather. Spritz your face with a good hydrating mist. Sooth your skin with a cooling gel. Protect your hair with a heat spray

It may seem counter intuitive to add more heat to your routine during the summer, but I find that straightening my hair can help it to feel more manageable and less thick on my neck on particularly hot days. Irresistible Me was kind enough to send me a hair straightener to try out recently and I absolutely loved being able to incorporate it into my routine.

I prepped my hair with a heat spray and gave it a quick brushing then parted down the middle, working backwards in small sections on either side of my head. Irresistible Me's straightener allows you to have great control over the temperature of the iron, so I set it at about 380 degrees which did the trick for my hair which is fine, but rather thick.

The whole job took about 10 minutes in total, which was great since I usually only spend about 2 minutes styling my hair in the morning and am not interested in taking much longer. 

Another great benefit of straightening your hair in the summer is that it makes it easier to work with if you are trying out various braiding techniques. I tried a quick double hairline braid after straightening and found my hair to be ten times easier to work with.  

This particular straightener is constructed with ceramic plates that are coated in crushed diamond particles and tourmaline, which help your hair retain its natural oils and combat frizz and humidity. The best part for me is that the iron seemed to add a bit of texture to my hair rather than leaving it too flat. 

Bookshelf: Lifestyle

1. Camille Styles: Entertaining by Camille Styles
I checked this out from the library and will never return it. This book is a total must-have. Camille has a wonderful approach to entertaining which isn't centered solely around throwing parties. She uses her experience as a event planner to make every day an occasion. 

2. Front Roe by Louise Roe
Louise offers tons of great tips on everything from clothes and beauty to home decor and upkeep.

3. The Body Book by Cameron Diaz
This is one of my favorite health-oriented books. It is comprehensive in scope and offers medically-backed information on diet, skincare, exercise, and more.

4. Lessons from Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott
I often talk about Jennifer L. Scott's books and the first in the Madame Chic series is still my favorite.

5. Living in Style by Rachel Zoe
A lovely little coffee table book about Rachel Zoe's life, career, and her tips for incorporating California bohemian elements in to your world.

6. True Prep by Lisa Birnbach
I love reading this each summer. It's filled with acerbic humor and perfect WASP references. For good measure, throw in the original.

How to Be a Smarter Traveler

Be mindful when packing
 Think about the activities you'll be doing and the weather when styling outfits beforehand and then pare down to the essentials. Style outfits that utilize mixing-and-matching pieces so that you can pack lighter. For instance, I have a trip to the city coming up. It's a seven day trip, so I've calculated that I will only need to bring along four full casual outfits, one formal, plus pajamas and workout clothes. Utilize your hotel's laundry services so that you can re-wear items of clothing.

Read blogger travel guides in lieu of guide books
Guide books tend to point you in the direction of the tourist hot spots and away from the places that are actually enjoyable and interesting. Forgo these guide books and use blogger travel guides instead. Blogs like Design*Sponge, Goop, and Tory Burch offer great city guides which point out the lesser known, locals-approved places you should visit in cities like New York, Paris, and more. Bloggers like Julia Engel are great at providing unique ideas for travel.

Utilize travel deal sites
There is no good reason not to utilize these kinds of websites. Never book a flight or a hotel without consulting a good deal site. For hotels, I absolutely adore Tablet and for flights, Expedia and StudentUniverse are always good.

Create a cheat sheet
I've mentioned before the idea of creating destination packets for each place you plan to visit. This is a great way to have ideas about what you want to do, see, eat, etc. but not have to actually plan out your days too stringently. I like to make long lists of restaurants, stores, museums/galleries, and other places that I find interesting so that I have a reference point.

Download a good transportation app
HopStop used to be my go-to, but now that they are no longer around I recommend the app Transit which makes navigating any subway system super easy. That way, you don't have to look like a newb carrying a map or asking for directions.

Dream Weekend: Switzerland

I would start the day with a breakfast drink and piece of bread, overlooking whatever inevitably spectacular view I have access to. Then, I would go take a long walk around Lake Lucerne and visit the Lion of Lucerne which commemorates the Swiss Guards who were killed during the French Revolution. After exploring, I'd have a pizza lunch at Valentino then visit the Rosengart Collection to see pieces by Picasso, Miro, Braque, and more. For dinner, I'd have rustic mountain fare at Grottino 1313.

In the morning, I'd have a traditional Swiss breakfast of muesli with fruit. Then, I'd spend the morning taking a long hike and stop for a picnic lunch of cheese, fruit, baguette, and lemonade before continuing through the mountains. Back in Luzern, I would tour Tribschen---the former home of Wagner. Then I would spend some time at Inseli Park and have a cocktail at the bar Voliere. For dinner, I'd have French food at Brasserie Bodu before spending the evening at La Madeleine for music and cocktails.

What to Wear

How to Enjoy Culture Without Living in a Major City

Use the internet to watch performances
While nothing beats watching a performance live at Lincoln Center or the Palais Garnier, you can find many incredible performances online whether through YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, or other services. Oftentimes, you can find full-length ballet, symphony, and opera performances on YouTube---including vintage performances from cultural icons. Netflix and Hulu feature wonderful cultural documentaries.

About anything. Purchase coffee table books from the bookstore and borrow library books about all kinds of cultural outlets. Some great options are Poetics of Music in the Form of Six Lessons by Stravinsky or the new book about Hamilton.

Listen to cultural podcasts
This is one of the easiest ways to absorb cultural knowledge from anywhere in the world. Some recommendations are SymphonyCast, The Dinner Party Download, and anything from The New Yorker.

Visit a local performance venue
You may not have considered it, but why not patron your local venues? Just about every town has a playhouse or theater which host local and traveling performances. It may not be Broadway, but there is nothing like a live performance. This is especially important for children. I can guess with confidence that my love for culture stems directly from the fact that I attended many, many plays as a child.

Take advantage of culture when you travel
Of course, the best way to experience the best cultural attractions the world has to offer is to visit them in person. Whenever I visit a major city, I make a point to attend some sort of performance (although it usually ends up being ballet). The next time you go to New York, Paris, London, wherever---be sure to pick up tickets for a good play, symphony, opera or ballet and take advantage of being within the vicinity of some of the world's most talented performers.

8 Feel-Good TV Shows to Watch This Weekend

AKA What to Watch When All Other Television is horribly depressing.

Just Add Magic
I stumbled upon this kids show on Amazon Prime and sort of became obsessed with it. I've watched the season two times through and really hope there will be a second season! It's about three friends who find a magical cookbook and have to use the recipes to save one of the girl's grandmother. It's adorable.

Fixer Upper
Chip, Joanna, their adorable kids and farm are always a great feel-good option.

Cedar Cove
A cute show starring Andie MacDowell as a judge in a small coastal town.

Happy Endings
The best friend group sitcom if you ask me. Watch it on Hulu for laughs.

The Great British Bake Off
With soft spoken British bakers, frolicking goats, and sweet little baked goods, this show is literally the television equivalent of Xanax.

The West Wing
A reminder to always strive for civility.

Barefoot Contessa
Similar to The Great British Bake Off, Barefoot Contessa provides amazing recipes but can also help put you to sleep in the best way.

Gilmore Girls
The ultimate.

How to Channel Audrey Hepburn

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.
— Audrey Hepburn

I like to think that if our one true queen Audrey Hepburn was in her prime in today's world, she would dress strictly in J.Crew, Lisa Marie Fernandez, and Delpozo for formal events.

The Beauty Look

Start by creating fresh, dewy skin by finding your best skincare routine. Focus on retaining moisture, using products that contain hyaluronic acid. For makeup, use a matte foundation like this one from Makeup For Ever then fill in your brows with Glossier Boy Brow. Add a cat-eye and a bold, red lip using Guerlain

The obvious hairstyle is a gamine pixie cut but the rest of us can try a simple ponytail or soft curls for an old-school Audrey look.

My Favorite Facial Cleansers

To put it simply, I have tried a lot of cleansers. We all have our collections and mine is skincare products, which I hoard in drawers, baskets, buckets and medicine cabinets. It often takes time to find right skincare routine and often means parsing through the endless options available to you in-store or online. Over the years, these are the five cleansers that have stood out to me and that I continue to use.

Aveda Outer Peace Foaming Cleanser
Perfect to use after the gym or a long run, as it has an instantly cooling effect.

Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser
Though the product name suggests it, this cleanser doesn't produce the kind of foam you would expect. It feels more like a cream and has these lovely, dissolving beads. The texture and scent makes it a nice pick for winter.

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser
One of my all-time favorites which sort of came out of left field. I am fascinated by Glossier's origin story, having watched Into the Gloss grow from a brand to a product company. This cleanser has a light, rose scent and a gel texture that feels amazing on the skin. The biggest selling point is that it effectively removes makeup, including mascara.

Kate Somerville Purifying Cleanser
This is the perfect cleanser for those with skin inflammation, acne or blemishes. The cleanser is anti-bacterial which is great for soothing irritated skin and feels cool when applied which creates an instant clean feeling. I recommend using this one with a konjac sponge for best results.

Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser
This cleanser contains alpha and beta hydroxy acids which are key ingredients for exfoliation, anti-aging, and acne-prone skin. I like to use this cleanser primarily at nighttime in order to give the ingredients plenty of time to work.

Collected Week 8.5.16

Photo via @briananlee

Photo via @briananlee

What I've Been Up To:
Pure barre, having sore muscles, listening to a lot of NPR Politics, dying laughing at Chad Johnson, looking forward to autumn.

Getting caught up on magazines since I am now ahead of schedule in my 50 Books Challenge. 

Re-watching every season of Gilmore Girls.

The most amazing podcast called Heroine.


  • This was an interesting, art-centric piece on the concept of minimalism
  • Is Booth and Williams not the coolest company?
  • Excellent insights on brand-building in the beauty industry from John Demsey of Estee Lauder.


10 Ways to Wear a Simple Black Sweater

One of the easiest transitional items for fall is the simple black sweater. It can be dressed up or down, for warm or cool weather, and to go with any personal style. With autumn quickly approaching, invest in a new black sweater and try out some of these pairings.

Midi Skirt, lace up block heels.

Layered over white button down with shorts + tights

Distressed skinny jeans, ankle booties, silk scarf

Boyfriend jeans, flat loafer

Skinny jeans, white converse, simple bag

Black Skirt, metallic flats

White Jeans, Tortoise Shell Glasses, Black Espadrilles

Black pants, nude pumps, burberry trench

Black cropped pants, black ballet flats, pearl earrings

Cut-off shorts and sandals

6 Simple, Black Sweaters Under $150

A simple, black sweater is a staple for every girl's closet no matter your style, taste, or budget. Here are six options under $150.

Mango | Zara | J.Crew | Everlane | Alice + Olivia | Everlane

Monday Motivation: Rejecting Convenience

Photo via Pinterest

Photo via Pinterest

Convenience, while by definition may seem positive, can be a dangerous thing. Slipping into a life dictated by conveniences and passive routines can be mentally and spiritually restrictive. On the surface, convenience seems like a positive thing. After all, most technological advances thrive due to the pursuit of convenience. But in reality, convenience is not equivalent to efficiency or productivity.

In reality, too much convenience is a gateway to a passive lifestyle. Convenience is what causes people to take the same vacations year after year, causing them to miss out on adventures that are meant to challenge them spiritually, mentally, and physically. Convenience is what causes people to eat poorly, to never branch out.

It is so important for us to push ourselves into situations that are new, adventurous, uncomfortable, wild, and even a little bit dangerous. To do things the hard way sometimes. To travel to places where you don't speak the language. To take the longer route. To take the time to hand select and prepare your food. To have difficult conversations and to embrace disagreements. 

I truly encourage you all to reject convenience whenever possible, even if it's just for the sake of doing so.

If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal.
— Paul Coelho