4 Seasonal Meals to Try This Spring

Now that the weather has warmed up, I am so ready to ditch all of the heavy, cold weather dishes like pasta, warm soups, and brie sandwiches. As delicious as those things are, I've moved on to craving nothing but fresh fruit, smoothies, and vegan kebabs. Here are four fresh, springtime recipes for you to enjoy alongside a luscious green salad. 

Pitaya Bowls

Similar to acai bowls, pitaya bowls are a great refreshing breakfast. The base is made with blended pitaya (otherwise known as dragon fruit) which you can buy in packs at Whole Foods. Top with all of your favorite fresh fruit and take your breakfast outside into the sun! See here for the recipe.

Vegan Hawaiian Kebabs

Recently, I've been craving grilled kebabs and all things tropical. For a vegan version of Hawaiian kebabs, grill some Beyond Meat chicken or Gardein 'Beefless Tips' and add to skewers with grilled bell peppers and pineapple. To be eaten outside, preferably. For a version with chicken, see here.

Strawberry Lemon Scones with Lemon Glaze

These scones made with strawberries and lemons have the perfect combination of fresh flavors for spring. Plus, they are dairy-free and made with spelt and oat flours. Find the recipe here.

Lush Sea Smoothie

This gorgeous, Instagram-worthy smoothie is super simple and easy to make. The bottom layer is two frozen bananas blended with a teaspoon of algae powder. The middle layer is one frozen banana blended with half a teaspoon of algae powder and the top layer is coconut milk and shreds. I believe this should make two smoothies.

What are your favorite healthy, warm-weather foods?

The Cutest Gym Accessories

I apologize in advance because I've been busy lately and feel that I haven't been able to give my blog posts the attention they deserve. Luckily, I'll be back on track with posts soon but, in the meantime, don't be surprised if I miss a day or two this week and enjoy this collection of cute gym accessories!

Spring Spa Day

Is there anything better than a relaxing spa day? Every once in awhile, I like to spend an entire day relaxing at home, using my favorite beauty products, mixing up DIY masks, and feeling rejuvenated. As a way of spring cleaning your body, try this spring spa day routine!

Start with yoga.
Begin your spa day with a restorative yoga session at home. You can choose your own poses or try a routine like this one from Yoga with Adriene. This will help to set your intention for the day and massage the internal organs.

Cleanse + Steam
After yoga, cleanse your face with a gentle cleanser like Fresh's Soy Cleanser or Caudalie's Gentle Cleansing Milk. Consider using a konjac root sponge or your favorite handheld cleansing device to gently exfoliate your skin. Then, create a facial steam by adding a few drops of essential oil and fresh herbs to a bowl of boiled water. Cover your head with a clean towel and let your face hover safely above the water in the steam for up to five minutes.

Apply a face mask.
After steaming, apply a face mask that utilizes fresh ingredients like rose, cucumber, honey, and lavender. I suggest Sisley's Black Rose Cream Mask or the Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask. Or, you can make a mask at home. See below for a recipe!

Body scrub.
While your mask is on, draw a warm bath and use a good body scrub. I suggest something like Herbviore's Coco Rose scrub or Kopari's Coconut Crush Scrub. You can also make a great, inexpensive scrub at home using sugar and your choice of add-ins.

Hair Mask
While the bath is filling, apply a mask to your hair. This can vary based on your specific hair concerns but I like a nice oil or the lemon cleansing mask from Christophe Robin. Leave this hair mask on while you soak.

Add a bath soak.
Once the bath has filled, add your favorite bath soak. This can be anything from a rose petal salt soak to Herbivore's Coconut Milk Bath Soak or Fig + Yarrow's Mustard Soak. Chill in the bath for as long as you're comfortable then rinse your face and hair and get into a comfy robe.

Manicure + Pedicure
Apply your favorite hand cream and once your skin is dry, apply a fresh coat of polish to your fingernails and toenails. Try a pretty spring color like mint, blush pink, or even a soft lavender. 

Aromatherapy + Meditation
Finally, wrap up your spa day with aromatherapy and meditation. You can use an essential oil diffuser or make an essential oil room spray to spritz your sheets. Use your favorite meditation app to choose a guided meditation of any length you desire.

THE RECIPES

DIY Rosewater Sugar Scrub
1 cup sugar
1 ounce rosewater
1 tbsp coconut oil

Blend together coconut oil and rosewater, then pour over sugar. Mix well, then use as a body scrub in the shower. Be sure to rinse well.

DIY Strawberry Hair Mask
5 fresh strawberries
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp honey

Use blender to mix ingredients into a paste. Apply to hair for about 10 minutes, then rinse.

DIY Lemon & Honey Mask
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsbp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp cinnamon

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth then poor through a sieve to remove any chunks. Apply to face with a cotton round.

My 12 In-Flight Essentials

As you may have noticed, I'm a huge proponent of curating your life. Every facet! That even means curating your experience on airplanes. I love traveling and, even though I hate sitting down for long periods of time, I still actually enjoy flying. Granted, that's probably because I've been doing it since I was a newborn which has given me a lot of time to perfect my process. 

Aside from a Global Entry membership, here are my top twelve essentials for your next flight...

Headphones | For music and podcasts. Be sure to download a playlist of podcasts prior to boarding so that you're able to listen in airplane mode. My long flight favorites are the Rich Roll podcast and Mischief Managed.

Sunglasses | To wear from take-off to landing. Even if the window is closed, I like to wear my sunglasses for a false sense of privacy.

Passport Case | To make everything cuter. I tend to take my passport with me even on domestic flights because I find it easier to keep track of. I don't like the idea of taking my driver's license out and potentially dropping it, so I just put my Kate Spade passport case in my Truffle pouch (see below) and use that for peace of mind.

Truffle Pouches | For easy access and to make you feel cute. I currently use two of these clear pouches---one to store my travel documents and the other to store my in-flight beauty products. I'll keep both pouches in my tote bag so that everything is organized and easily accessible when needed.

Cozy Socks | To feel at home. On longer flights or ones in the early morning, I like to put on a pair of warm socks to feel more cozy. Typically, I look ridiculous because I put on cute socks along with compression socks for my calves (try putting compression socks on in a tight space, you will look ridiculous). I don't have any pre-existing conditions that require compression socks to be worn, they simply just make my legs feel better when sitting for long periods of time in an air-compressed environment. At the very minimum, have some cozy socks for your cold feet!

Water Bottle | To stay hydrated and avoid sketchy airplane water. The cleanliness of airplane water has been brought in to question many times, so I like to err on the side of safety and bring my own water bottle. Plus, I drink a lot of water so I don't want to wait for the flight attendants to provide a refill. I recommend a slim, relatively lightweight bottle that you can keep in your bag.

Hand Cream | To keep your skin moisturized. We all know how drying airplane cabins can be which is why I suggest bringing along a face moisturizer as well as a good hand cream. Not only will this keep your skin hydrated, but the smell will make your trip feel a little more luxurious.

Sunscreen | Because you are closer to the sun. If wearing sunscreen while your feet are on the ground is important, it's even more important when you are 36,000 feet closer to the sun. For quick flights, I apply when I'm getting ready at home and then again after boarding the plane. For longer flights, follow the basic guidelines of reapplying every two hours.

Sanitizing Wipes | To protect from germs. For me, cleanliness is my number one priority on flights. As soon as I get to my seat, I wipe the entire space down with sanitizer from the seat and the armrests to the tray the window. Before and after eating, I sanitize with EO hand sanitizer as well. Honestly, I'm surprised I haven't started wearing a surgical mask.

Facial Mist | To keep your face feeling fresh. Along with moisturizer, I like to pack a travel sized facial spray to spritz my face a few times during the flight. Typically, I'll spritz after moisturizing, anytime during the flight when I start to feel gross, and then in the airport bathroom when I'm reapplying my makeup. I recommend choosing a small spray bottle rather than an aerosol because the small bottles have more control and won't cause you to spray your seatmate. 

Healthy Snacks | To avoid plane food. Plane food and typical airport snacks may be gradually improving, but for the most part you are still met with processed, heavily salted and sugared food that isn't going to do any favors for your nutrition goals or your skin. If there's a juice bar in the airport, I'll get a protein shake or a green juice but other than that, I bring a good snack bar (from Sakara or Lara), a piece of fruit, and maybe a little bag of crackers or popcorn.

Reading Material | For obvious reasons. On flights, are you a magazine person or a book person? I'm often both so I bring one of each. My typical modus operandus is to read a magazine first and a book later. My favorite magazines for airplanes are Town & Country, Real Simple, Vogue, and W. As for books, I choose something of moderate length because I aim to start and finish it between my flights to and from. It also has to be engaging and not too intellectually dense since the reading conditions aren't optimal. Right now, my picks would be contemporary novels like Elif Batuman 's The Idiot, Noah Hawley's The Good Father, and Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.

What are your in-flight essentials? Do you like flying or do you dread it?

My Favorite Workout Videos

I'm very picky when it comes to gyms and, thus, currently don't have a membership anywhere. Instead, I've created my own gym space at home with pretty much all of the equipment I need for my workouts. As a person who exercises in the evening, it's so nice to be able to get a good workout without having to leave the house. Sometimes, I'll use an app like Keelo to find new workouts but I typically go straight to YouTube.

Over the years, I've gathered tons of favorite videos. Light a candle at home, put on your favorite workout clothes, and try some of them.

Tracy Anderson's Mat Arms
This is my all-time favorite arm workout and also one of my very favorite workouts in general. It's challenging and it will make your arms burn more than they've ever burned. Even my dad (who is a triathlete/surfer/Ironman/Spartan race enthusiast) thinks this workout is hard---and it's only seven minutes!

Blogilates Victoria's Secret Angel Arm Slimming Workout
Throughout high school and college, Cassey's Blogilates videos were my go-to workouts. This VS arms video is my favorite of hers. Sometimes when I'm short on time, I'll skip ahead and just do the weights section.

Tone It Up's The Best of Tone It Up Mashup Workout
I've said before how much I love the Tone It Up girls. Their workouts are challenging but the videos make you want more because the girls and the ocean backdrops are so pretty! Since I couldn't choose just one, I thought I would share this "best of" mash-up video.

Yoga with Adriene Balancing Ocean Flow
I've always enjoyed yoga but have found it difficult to find enough videos on Youtube that I enjoy in order to really develop a practice until I found Yoga with Adriene. She's very chill and has a relaxed but incredibly knowledgeable way of leading her routines. This particular video is especially relaxing with the ocean waves in the background.

Jenny Mustard's Relaxing Pilates Workout
This should be your workout of choice for days when you do not feel like exercising. We all have those days and in those cases, it's smart to skip out on something more intense in favor of something that matches your vibe. This is a 30 minute workout but, honestly, it's so relaxing that it goes by very quickly.

Millionare Hoy's 30 Minute Cardio Kickboxing
I love all of Millionaire Hoy's kickboxing videos for days when I have a lot of energy and want to do something fast-paced and intense. The workouts are usually around 20-30 minutes but they are incredibly effective and challenging. I personally prefer kickboxing to other forms of cardio because the fast-paced nature makes it easier for me to go on longer.

Ballet Beautiful Total Body Sculpt
Mary Helen Bowers' workouts are similar to Tracy Anderson in that they look easy, but they are deceptively difficult. Ballet Beautiful workouts focus on very small movements to tone your muscles. This kind of workout doesn't feel as physically taxing as an intense cardio workout, but you will definitely be sore afterwards.

modelFIT Full Body Workout
Have you heard of modelFIT? It was founded by Justin Gelband, the iconic trainer to Miranda Kerr, Irina Shayk, Anne V, and other Victoria's Secret models and actresses. In this video, his co-founder Vanessa Packer does a workout that consists of tiny movements and ankle weights. These moves aren't like the ones you've done in your other fitness classes. They're rather unique, which provides a fun way to switch things up.

What are your favorite workout videos?

Afternoon Reading {3.21.17}

Photo via Pinterest

Photo via Pinterest

Surprise post! I packed the most delicious lunch today: raw green bell peppers stuffed with homemade guacamole and chickpeas, a homemade zucchini muffin, and a giant glass of ice water and lemon. Tonight, I'm excited for the new episode of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills as well as a nice yoga session and recovery from my ongoing exhaustion due to the time change. If you, too, are still struggling with the adjusted time, here's some reading for your Tuesday afternoon to make it better. 

Byrdie has a great list of six things to do immediately following your workout. This routine sounds like the perfect evening to me.

Paula Pant of the Afford Anything blog has a wonderful post about curating your life. I especially resonate with her point about the $100 yoga pants---it's a principle that I try my best to live by and one that is often questioned by others.

As if I need another subscription to keep m up at night, Fashionista has launched a podcast! You can listen to the first episode here.

I've got an in-flight essentials post coming up but, in the meantime, read about the beauty routines of travel editors. I second (or third) the suggestion to use EO's hand sanitizer!

Have you heard about Tarte's new makeup that's meant to be worn at the gym? I usually go barefaced, but this Popsugar article has me curious!

5 Outfits for Spring Activities

Photo via Pinterest

Photo via Pinterest

I have been so in the mood for pretty, spring clothes lately! Even when the weather was too cold to do so, I've put on my favorite blush pink, floral blouse as a way of summoning warmer weather. Finally, it seems that the warmer temperatures might be here to stay so here five outfit ideas for some of the spring activities you may have coming up.

Picnic

Bike Ride

Dining al Fresco

Jumping in Puddles

Spring Break

6 Ideas for Work & School Lunches

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It's taken me a long time to build a small arsenal of lunch recipes that work for me. Most food doesn't travel very well and ends up being disappointing by lunch time. Luckily, in the past year and a half of post-grad life, I've come up with a few options that never disappoint.

Hummus Wrap + Grapes
Load up a whole grain or chia wrap with hummus, avocado, marinated artichokes, cucumbers, greens, and tomatoes for a fresh, sandwich-alternative. Serve with a side of grapes to balance out the savory and acidic flavors. 

Chick'n Sandwich + Side
A whole grain bun and a Quorn vegan chick'n patty topped with tomato, lettuce, and avocado or a pickle is an easy plant-based way to get your Chick-Fil-A fix. Pair the sandwich with a fresh side salad or homemade baked french fries. Serve with lemonade for optimal enjoyment.

Udon Stirfry + Naan
This makes a great leftover meal! Boil a few servings of udon noodles for 5-10 minutes then add to a pan or wok with tamari, broccoli, sweet corn, diced carrots, and marinated tofu. Portion out into meal prep containers and enjoy during the week with a small piece of naan on the side.

Brie Baguette + Salade Verte
This is one of my favorite lunches. Lightly toast a baguette or ciabatta roll then spread your favorite jam one side and butter on the other. Add a few slices of brie and allow to melt. You can also add a slice of Tofurky or turkey to the sandwich. On the side, have a green salad with romaine, endive, and your favorite homemade vinaigrette. 

Egg + Avocado Sandwich
Spread a thin layer of Earth Balance or butter on a thin sandwich round and add scrambled eggs mixed with feta. Layer a few slices of avocado and press down so that the cheese melts into the hot scrambled eggs. Serve with a side of fresh blueberries and a green smoothie.

Picnic Box + Cold Pressed Juice
Perhaps the easiest and most fun lunch of them all is a picnic box. Fill a bento box or several containers with a combination of cheese, fruit (grapes, apples, pears, peaches, blueberries, etc), chopped raw veggies, nuts, crackers and nut butter, and dark chocolate for a smorgasbord type lunch. Serve with a cold pressed juice from your favorite juicery.

Dream Weekend: Charleston

First on the schedule would be breakfast at The Daily. I'd start the day with a plate of avocado toast, a pastry, and cold-pressed juice. I'd spend the rest of the morning on a bike ride through town and to the beach. For lunch, I'd head to Chez Nous for a fresh, comforting French meal and sparkling wine. Next, I'd attend a a candle making workshop at Candlefish. For dinner, I'd go to Xiao Bao Biscuit for a stirfry. After dinner, it would be a necessity to get a cone from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream which is incredibly delicious.

I'd start Sunday morning with breakfast at The Park Cafe. I'd order some scrambled eggs with a side of fruit and orange juice. The morning would be spent shopping downtown at stores like Lily, Blue Bicycle Books, and Mac + Murphy. For lunch, I'd have a white sauce pizza and a sparkling drink from Obstinate Daughter before heading to Sugar Bakeshop for a cupcake or a piece of pie. Later in the day, I'd relax at Zero George and then head to dinner at La Farfalle for foccacia and pasta. 

What to Wear

How to Support Initiatives Threatened by the Federal Budget

I'm going to be honest and say that my heart is hurting today after reading the news that the current administration's new budget plan aims to cut funding to arts, humanities, and social protection services. More than ever, it's our responsibility to protect the things that matter to us, so here are some ways you can support the initiatives that are being threatened.

  • Donate here to support the operation of PBS. Investing in public broadcasting helps to educate and inspire all Americans regardless of socioeconomic status. Public television can be universally accessed and serves as the sole source of local broadcasting in many areas. Much like public libraries, PBS allows all children to experience culture that they may never otherwise have access to. 
  • On a similar note, donate here to support NPR. Similar to PBS, National Public Radio is an invaluable resource for Americans as a non-partisan source of news and culture. Unlike traditional broadcasting, NPR has a reputation for their deep dives into news, politics, and world events which help listeners gain a deeper understanding of the issues shaping their communities. 
  • Shockingly, Meals on Wheels is another service which would be negatively impacted by the proposed budget. In my eyes, only a morally bankrupt person would even consider eliminating funding from an organization whose aim is to provide meals to the food insecure elderly, poor, disabled, and veterans. Not only does this service provide what is sometimes the only meal an individual will have in a day, but they sometimes provide the only human interaction that individual will receive as well. If this is as heartbreaking to you as it is for me, you can donate your money here or your time at your local Meals on Wheels chapter.
  • Another organization affected by the proposed budget cuts is the United States Interagency on Homelessness whose goals center around ending veteran, chronic, youth, and family homelessness. Those of us who are privileged to have a consistent roof over our heads should feel a sense of noblesse oblige to support those less fortunate than we are. Whether we do so as moral obligation or religious (see Proverbs 14:31), I believe it's our duty to support our neighbors regardless of their economic situation. Click here to see the many ways you can support the homeless with or without donating money of your own.
  • It seems clear that the arts and humanities are under a general attack by our current administration. To put it simply, why should we increase our already outrageous military budget at the expense of numerous arts and social programs? If we no longer place value on the crucial facets of human life, then what exactly are we fighting for? Bearing that in mind, here is a great article outlining how you can support the arts during the current administration.

 

Experiencing World Culture Without Leaving Home

I'm lucky to travel quite often but one of my biggest wishes in life would be to travel even more---not constantly, but pretty close. There are too many incredible places in the world for me to sit still! For many of us, it sometimes isn't possible to travel for a variety of reasons. Luckily, that doesn't mean that you can't experience different cultures.

I recently got a desk calendar from Rifle Paper Company that features an illustrated map for a city around the world each month. I decided that, each month, I want to cook a meal that corresponds to the city on my calendar. For instance, this month was Tokyo so I went to the Asian market and got all of the ingredients to make homemade miso soup as well as an udon stirfry, and a box of Pocky. 

Expanding on this concept, there are so many ways you can appreciate and experience global cultures without leaving home. I've put together some ideas for a few destinations. Keep in mind that these ideas are on the stereotypical side. I chose foods, movies, books and music that are atmospheric and easily evoke thoughts of these places. This is by no means a comprehensive list of the best things from each city.

Paris

Eat
Start the day with a cafe au lait and a little croissant from a local bakery. For lunch, try an easy frisee salad with organic red wine, a slice of cheese, and toasted baguette. Pick up some assorted bakery treats like macarons, eclairs, and tarts for when you need a treat.

Listen
Paris Cafe Jazz
Paris playlist

Read
Swann's Way by Marcel Proust
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelman

Watch
Midnight in Paris (2011)
Paris, Je T'aime (2006)
Hugo (2011)
Before Sunset (2004)
 

Japan

Eat
Start with a traditional miso soup or bowl of hot ramen. Pair this with a roll or two of sushi and a matcha tea before indulging in green tea mochi and several flavors of Pocky

Listen
Japanese Traditional Kodo & Shakuhachi Music
Japanese Pop & Indie
JPop

Read
The Lady and the Monk by Pico Iyer
A Year in Japan by Kate T. Williamson
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Watch
Spirited Away (2001)
Lost in Translation (2003)
Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

U.K.

Eat
There's nothing more quintessentially and stereotypical British than an afternoon tea, so that's what I'm going to suggest. Brew a pot of earl grey and serve alongside finger sandwiches and scones with clotted cream and jam. For a more Cornish approach, have potato wedges and a Cornish pasty

Listen
The Great British Breakfast
British Invasion
The Ultimate Classical Royal Wedding Album

Read
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
White Teeth by Zadie Smith

Watch
Love Actually (2003)
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Notting Hill (1999)
The Great British Bake Off (2010-)

New York

Eat
Honestly, I'm not going to recommend you eat pizza because if you're not in the city, you're not going to get the right pizza. Instead, have a good ole' cliche pretzel or bagel. Then, try one of the city's more contemporary iconic foods like a ramen burger, a vegan cupcake, falafel, and pierogi. 

Listen
New York City Vibes
Matt & Kim's New York City Playlist
Hamilton soundtrack

Read
From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

Watch
Eloise at the Plaza (2003)
Gossip Girl (2007-2012)
Begin Again (2014)
The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

 

How to Have a Lovely Bath

If you're like me, a bath is one of the easiest ways to feel more relaxed and at ease. I take them for muscle pain and when I feel like I can't fall asleep and, in both situations, they are typically an immense help. However, I don't like to linger in the tub for too long. I start feeling hot pretty quickly, so I like to stay in for 10-15 minutes. However, it's important to maximize that time! Here's how to have the best bath of your life.

Set the scene.
Start with a squeaky clean bath tub and remove all products from the edges unless you plan to use them during the bath. Dim the lights and set the scene with as many candles as you can safely burn around the tub. I suggest choosing one scented candle paired with several smaller, unscented tealights. Arrange all of your desired products on a pretty tray to keep nearby and pour a glass of ice-water or chilled herbal tea to enjoy while in the tub.

Choose the soundtrack.
Continue creating a relaxing environment by choosing the right soundtrack. For me, a blend of music and ambient noise works best. The music is up to you---it could be zen. new-age spa music, classical, jazz or acoustic folk. Pick the music that makes you feel most at ease. Lately for me, that's been this compilation of Studio Ghibli piano songs. Consider pairing the music with a background of ambient noise. I use the Relax Melodies app which allows you to layer ambient noise to create a real sense of environment. Some combination ideas using this app are: jazz music + urban rain + city ambience for a vintage New York feel; acoustic folk music + campfire + night + wind in trees to feel like you're out in the woods; or zen music + ocean + winds + wind chimes for an oceanside spa vibe.

Pick your products.
Start by choosing a bath product to mix with your water. This could be an oil, a soak, a foam, or  a salt. If your aim is to relax, I suggest choosing scents like lavender, vanilla, and coconut as opposed to eucalyptus, pine, and ginger which are more likely to wake you up or make you sweat. Actually, just the thought of a ginger bath makes me feel anxious. Next, pick a body soap, a hair mask, and a face mask to multi-task (or multi-mask, ha ha) while you soak. I also suggest using a dry brush before you get into the bath to stimulate circulation and slough off dead skin cells.

Manage your state of mind.
Most importantly, try your best to reach and maintain a relaxed state of mind. No bath soak, candle, or face mask will put you at ease if your mind is racing. Try breathing techniques like alternate nostril breathing or the 4-7-8 breathing technique (breathe in for 4, hold for 7, breathe out for 8). Take your mind off of any anxieties by repeating a mantra or going through the alphabet a few times. Take lots of deep breathes and, like meditation, leave the bath when you are still in a state of peak relaxation. This way, you will carry it with you through the rest of the day rather than soaking for too long and being thrown back into a state of stress.

12 Beauty Buys from Anthropologie

Is there anyone who doesn't love wandering around Anthropologie on a weekend? Typically, I'm infatuated by the home decor section but I've recently fallen in love with their beauty selections. Their collection is highly curated and feels very feminine and special, like little things you'd find in a Paris apothecary. They certainly carry well-known brands like Sunday Riley and Mario Badescu, but there's opportunity for all sorts of discovery with little known gems like Indie Lee, French Girl, and Make Beauty.

Recent Pins for Visual Inspiration

I had originally scheduled a vlog to go live today but am having trouble getting the file to work properly, so that's been delayed! In the meantime, here are some of my recent pins for your weekend visual inspiration. I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

What's In My Gym Bag?

Water Bottle
For obvious reasons, a water bottle is a must. I currently use the liter sized BKR bottle but I will say that they are rather large. If you're looking for a more compact bottle, I recommend Swell.

Facial Mist
I always carry a facial mist with me when I workout. Nothing feels better after a sweaty group fitness class than spritzing your face with a relaxing mist. 

Face Wipes
Face wipes are great for the gym since they're more low maintenance than a micellar water or other cleanser. They make it easy to remove my makeup quickly, without any mess or leakage in your bag.

Deodorant
Another obvious choice! I'm in the natural deodorant camp but I know that some people find that hard to adjust to. I'm just not comfortable taking the risk of using aluminum products long term. Agent Nateur is a great natural brand---it's healthy, but it smells and feels luxurious.

Headphones
Forgetting your headphones at home on gym days is not fun. Gym soundtracks often don't cut it....I need my own custom playlist, so I'm trying to have a second pair of headphones that permanently live in my gym bag.

Dry Shampoo
I don't workout in the morning so I have no need to look super put together after a workout. But usually, I'll go to the grocery store or run errands afterwards so I like to feel and look at least presentable. It's easy---I just use a bit of dry shampoo to create the perfect texture for an unsweaty top knot.

Mini Perfume
Rather than bringing an entire bottle of fragrance, I will buy a rollerball version of my favorite perfume or just bring one of the samples I get with my Sephora purchases.

Compression Socks
I tend to bring along a pair of compression socks if I'm going to be running that day---I have a great pair from Sigvaris. These are good for reducing swelling and muscle soreness in your calves, which (side note) also make them great for long flights.

Cute Bag Options

Creative Expression for Non-Artists

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As a former Art History student, I am clearly interested in art. I used to draw and paint quite often but wouldn't call myself a traditional artist. I'm relatively capable when it comes to creating art, but mostly do it because I enjoy the act of creative expression. I know that a lot of you like the feeling of expressing yourself, too, but may not pursue traditional artistic routes for various reasons. 

But, creative expression is so important! I truly believe that creativity is the key to innovation and success in life, so it's good to practice it often. Plus, it's good for your health. Being creative is relaxing and serves as an outlet for your emotions. So, here's a few ways that you can express yourself creatively without possessing a whole lot of artistic skill.

Painting
You don't have to be Michelangelo to enjoy painting! There are tons of projects you can work on that don't require a lot of technical skill. Work on painting a pre-traced canvas or one of the easy paintings at wine-and-paint class. Or, simply choose an appealing color palette and use it to create an abstract work.

Coloring Books
This is an easy one! There are so many beautiful coloring books on the market these days. All you need is a book and a pretty set of colored pencils. I like to sometimes spend an hour working on my Paris Street Style book, just coloring in outlines of perfume bottles, Parisian outfits, and cute hairstyles.

Writing
If you're a writer, this one is obvious---write a story, a poem, a book, anything. If you're stuck and don't necessarily want to form a full story line in your head, there are other options for you. Look up some creative writing prompts online. Set an alarm for five minutes and write whatever comes to mind. It's kind of weird but sometimes I create complex, fictional family trees as a way of relaxing.

Singing
Do it, even if you aren't a great singer! Whether I'm in the car or at home in bed, I'm often singing something because it feels good. You don't even have to write your own song---just pick one that matches your mood and is fun to sing. 

Art Journal
My best friend, mom, and I all worked on an art journal project a few summers ago. All you need is a sketchbook, some form of media (pens, colored pencils, paints, magazine cutouts, etc.) and a list of prompts which you can find on the internet. Each day, you follow a prompt to create something in your art notebook. Prompts ca be anything from "Show us the last dream you had" to "What is your favorite color?". You can get really creative with these!

Exercise
This may sound a bit odd, but I find that exercise is great opportunity to be creative. You can be creative in the way you develop your workouts (i.e. movie workouts, name workouts, etc.) or in the way you actually move. This is especially true for yoga---once you are comfortable with the basics, you can be really creative with the way you transition between postures or the way you perform them.

Curating
Curating has always been my default creative activity of choice even before I realized that's what I was doing----and that's probably why I love blogging so much. In my art history courses, my favorite projects were centered around curation. For a group project, we curated a festival of dystopian films set in L.A. and for an independent project, I curated an exhibit of artwork centered around the theme of royal portraits. But even outside of the traditional art realm, there are tons of opportunities to curate creatively. Put together a themed playlist, build your own at-home film festival, or even start a blog!

Cooking
I believe that cooking is one of the most creative art forms in existence. My favorite ways to be creative in the kitchen are developing new recipes from scratch, finding replacement ingredients when I don't have everything a recipe calls for, or updating recipes to be healthier or plant-based. 

Styling
Finally, a creative outlet that we can use each and every day is styling. Take some time to really think about your daily look---from the clothes to the hair and makeup to the accessories. You don't have to have an endless wardrobe to be creative with your look. Or, if you want to take it further, use sites like Polyvore to style the clothes you don't have and get ideas for new looks. This can also apply to your home decor. Style your living room differently one weekend or go smaller and create a visually pleasing vignette on your fireplace mantel.

How do you like to be creative?

Dresses I'd Wear on the Bachelor

First things first, I would never be a contestant on The Bachelor. Aside from the obvious (it's fake and also weird), I honestly know that I would a) be painfully bored (no books?!) and b) be unable to contain my need to troll everyone and c) end up talking about Al Shabaab or murder rates (two topics that often come up in my party conversations). Needless to say, unless the bachelor was Jon Favreau or Tim Hetherington (RIP), my sanity would not fare well and neither would my prospects. 

Regardless, Nick Viall's sad season is coming to an end soon so I felt compelled to do something fun and vaguely commemorative. I tend to find most of the rose ceremony dress choices questionable. It's not nice to judge and I know they're restricted by budget, but there's just too many rhinestones and sad fabrics. Since I'd already be talking about the prison industrial complex, I might as well branch out from the group with my style options as well. 

Out of the Limo | Juan Carlos Obando
I'd play the old bait-and-switch by starting my first impression with a minimalist, skin-toned slip dress which would most certainly stand out in a room full of bedazzled prom garb (no offense, but seriously). I'd have messy beach hair, a French girl red lip, and a brooding demeanor. This would set things up so that he'd be noticeably unsettled when I draw comparisons between the cocktail party and The Battle of Helm's Deep.

Typical Rose Ceremonies | Needle & Thread and Vilshenko
For your average rose ceremonies, I'd start slowly transitioning into more unusual looks. I'd pick a dress from Needle & Thread paired with a top knot and bare face for a look that says "the princess saves herself in this one". For the next one, I'd try a cotton midi dress from Vilshenko because they're pretty and look really comfortable. By that point, I'd be well over the whole operation, so I would need something that feels good.

Out of Town Self Portrait
The first few out-of-town locations seem to be more metropolitan, so I'd pick this blush-nude toned lace dress from Self Portrait. It's the kind of thing that would definitely be questioned by others, hence the appeal.

Tropical Island | x by nbd
The franchise always inevitably ends up on a tropical island, so I'd come armed with a dress that would allow me to switch up the neutral palette but still retain my vibe. This one I found on Revolve is great not only because it's cute but because the sheer panels at the bottom will remind everyone of the Self Portrait dress that likely confused them earlier in the season.

Getting Sent Home | Marchesa
I think everyone knows when they're about to get sent home, so I'd prepare by breaking out the big guns---an embellished, flutter-sleeve ball gown from Marchesa with a sheer, v-cut top. This is not a dress suitable for crying in a limo about being unlovable. This dress says, "Boy bye!" and also, "This dress cost more than your Sugar Bear Hair endorsement."

Afternoon Reading - 3.6.17

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Happy Monday, everyone! I'm super sore from yesterday's workout (my quads and hamstrings are screaming) but I'm wearing a new blouse that I bought over the weekend---I've been searching for the perfect one for months---and have a lovely new haircut, so all is well. Since it's Monday, here's some reading to get you through the afternoon:

Noma has promoted its former dishwasher, a Gambian immigrant to Denmark, to the position of partial owner. Amazing story

Self put together a list of seven face masks you can make at home. I love a good honey mask, but I'm eager to try the avocado one as well!

Glamour shared some great tips for looking better in your clothes by nailing the fit. 

Reika from Front Row Beauty reviewed three shades of Mac's Retro Matte Liquid Lipstick. I love Lady Be Good. Which do you like best?

From Darling Magazine, here's seven ways you can produce less trash.

Bookshelf: Feel Good Reading

Sometimes, you need a book that will lift your spirits and boost your mood. As of now, I am really not interested in reading anything overly dystopian or dark just because we get enough of that in the news. If you're looking for a feel-good book to pick up, try one of these!

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
When in desperate need of a mood boost, always pick up a Harry Potter book. It's my immediate go-to for comfort!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Classics can have a reputation for being heavy, but Pride and Prejudice is so light and enjoyable. It's almost like the Regency version of Real Housewives with its social politics and boy talk.

Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny
Yes, they are murder mysteries but the setting in a Canadian village, the lovably complex characters, and descriptions of French comfort food are a feel-good combination. 

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
This book is so funny. I think most of us want to be friends with Mindy Kaling and reading all of her hilarious stories and thoughts is pretty close to doing so!

The Woman I Wanted to Be by Diane von Furstenberg
If you're looking to be inspired with regards to your career and life path, this is a great pick. DVF is a formidable icon and reading her life's story is sure to help you feel like you can do it too.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
This is one of my favorite stories. It's magical and captivating but spiritual and uplifting beneath the surface. The ending is such a beautiful twist.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The lightest story of Middle Earth, The Hobbit is a great pick when you want something in the fantasy realm that isn't dark or dystopian. It's a great adventure story with a very sunny, comedic tone.

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson
I love Julianne Donaldson's books! They are referred to as "proper romances" because the stories, set in the Regency era, do follow a love story but it isn't tragic, raunchy, or annoying. This is a great, quick read that'd be good for a rainy day.

12 Must-Have Pantry Staples

Besides the obvious coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, and brown rice, there are a few staples that I always try to keep on hand at home. They're all quite versatile and can be used in a great number of different recipes.

Raw Honey
Trader Joe's recently stocked a jar of fair trade Himalayan raw honey for an outrageously affordable price and, let me tell you, as soon as I saw it I (gently) tossed one in my cart and was tempted to hoard the entire shelf. Raw honey has so many uses! You can obviously use it for anything that calls for standard honey but you can also use it to make a face mask, soothe a sore throat, and mix it into a glass of warm almond milk as a sleep aid.

Bee Pollen
My jar of bee pollen often elicits questions and strange looks but, believe me, it's a superfood. Bee pollen is anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant, and is rich in protein, amino acids, B-complex, and folic acid. It can also work as an anti-histamine and help ease allergy symptoms! I use pollen from Y.S. Organic Bee Farms (available on Amazon or Whole Foods) and sprinkle a bit of pollen into my smoothies, yogurt bowls, or take a teaspoon by itself.

Protein Powder
The benefits of protein powder are clear, but I like to keep amped up versions (like Moon Juice's Blue Adaptogen Protein) in my pantry. You can, of course, blend the powders into smoothies and shakes, but I also recommend incorporating it into your cooking. Try out some protein pancakes, truffles, or vegan nice-cream.

Himalayan Pink Salt
This may seem a little basic, but I'm still asked about it from time-to-time. Pink salt is superior to table salt in so many ways! While table salt is highly processed, good quality pink salt is often relatively unprocessed and sometimes even harvested by hand. Unlike table salt, pink salt is unbleached and doesn't contain a ton of nasty additives. Accordng to Dr. Axe, the salt is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, can help balance your body's pH, naturally aids in digestion, purifies the air (hence the fact that I have salt lamps both at home and at work), and can even induce sleep. Plus, it has a much better flavor than table salt!

Chickpeas
To put it frankly, chickpeas are my addiction. I eat them constantly. Sometimes, my dinner will consist entirely of a can of chickpeas because they are that addicting. You can use them for hummus, dips, and atop salads but my favorite thing is to simply rinse, add salt, pepper, and paprika then roast at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. 

Chia Seeds
Like chickpeas, chia seeds have been a favorite of mine for years. It's one of the most versatile foods that I can think of and super easy to work with. They contain protein, fiber, fat, calcium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus as well as some zinc, potassium, and other vitamins. I add a tablespoon to my smoothies, sprinkle on top of just about everything, and add them to overnight oats. However, one of my all-time favorite treats is chia pudding. Simply add 3/4 cup of liquid to 3 tbsp chia seeds (plus add-ins like vanilla extract, fruit, etc.) and let it sit in the fridge overnight to create a super easy, cold pudding.

Tahini
If you like making your own dressings, tahini is a must. It's a thick paste made from toasted sesame seeds and it's incredibly flavorful, with a rich, nutty taste. You can use it in salad dressings, to top your Buddha bowl, to make protein truffles, or even in a handful of desserts. Tahini is rich in minerals, high in unsaturated fat, and is very easily digestible.

Rolled Oats
I always have a giant bag of rolled oats in my pantry, mostly for breakfast but also for smoothies and treats. Oats are good source of fiber and carbs and are also loaded with nutrients. Oats are also super filling, which helps prevent snacking, overeating, and feeling hungry before lunch. My go-to breakfast during the week is overnight oats or Bircher muesli, which are essentially made the same way. Fill a jar with rolled oats and almond milk, then stir in any flavorings (maple syrup, cinnamon, cardamom, lemon juice, Greek yogurt) then refrigerate overnight. In the morning, top with fruits and nuts. 

Nutritional Yeast
This is another one of my favorite go-to's that my family has been using for years! Nutritional yeast has a vaguely cheesy flavor and can be added to spaghetti or melted down with Earth Balance to make a broccoli sauce, among many other uses. It's a great source of complete protein and vitamins such as folates, thiamines, riboflavin, niacin, and other B-complex vitamins which means that it's a perfect supplement for vegetarians and vegans.

Bragg's Liquid Amino Acids
Liquid amino acids are essentially a healthier version of soy sauce. The taste is almost identical, but Bragg's is gluten-free and has no added table salt. 

Dried Fruit
I like to have a bag of dried fruit---right now it's cranberries---available for a variety of uses. I'll add some to my salad, mix a scoop into my muesli, or just snack on them straight from the bag throughout the day.

Nut Butter
Almond butter has a lot of hype these days and it's great, but I'm personally more of a peanut butter fan. I like Earth Balance's creamy variety or the freshly ground PB from the machines at Whole Foods. I use nut butter for so many things. Smoothies, sandwiches, banana toast, cookies, sauces, and so much more.

What are your favorite pantry staples?