Sezane Is Everything

Have you all heard of the French clothing brand Sézane? It's as if someone crawled into my mind and designed a brand based entirely off how I want to dress. The pieces are beautiful, yes, but the styling is inspirational. Another great thing to note is that Sezane only releases two full collections per year with a few capsules in between. This stands in stark contrast to the problematic production schedules of fast fashion retailers. I really, truly mean it when I say I want everything.

Wish List: Home Decor

Okay, I've got to admit that since I initially put this list together, I've checked two things off of it. One part of the way I do minimalism is to keep lists labeled Have, Need, and Replace whether it be for clothing or home decor. An important part of maintaining minimalism for me is to be very clear about what I should be shopping for. The first priority is to find items from the 'need' column and the second priority is to replace. This method really helps me to avoid buying things mindlessly.

Since I first made this list, I've checked off the first two items but am continuing to search for the rest. Who knows how long the process will take? Regardless, it's nice to have an ongoing list of things you need so that shopping doesn't make you feel guilty.

  • Clean, simple lamp.
  • New set of white dishes.
  • Chunky,  knit blanket.
  • Soft, patterned rug.
  • Accent chair.
  • Chic coffee table.
  • Black-and-white fashion and art coffee table books.
  • Pale gray nightstand.

5 YouTubers I'm Loving Right Now

Each month, it seems like I fall deeper and deeper into the black hole that is YouTube. Over the years, it's come so far and for me, has become a viable alternative to traditional television. I look forward to spending time at the end of each day watching my subscriptions and getting inspired. Here's a few channels that I'm really loving at the moment.

Edgy Veg
Candice's channel features vegan versions of all kinds of comfort foods. While these aren't everyday recipes, she provides tons of ideas for special occasions. Plus, she's hilarious. This particular video has a moment that absolutely killed me---I'm still laughing about it weeks later.

Danielle Carolan
I was introduced to Danielle's channel in a recent collaboration she did with Carly from The College Prepster. I've since watched several of her videos and just find them to be so fun. She has a really positive and energetic personality which can be magnetic.

ChrillSims
Okay, don't judge me. I used to be obsessed with The Sims and I recently found this channel which features a series about solving various Sims mysteries. They're completely hilarious and I've watched every single one.

Simply_Kenna
Kenna's videos are so adorable and well-produced. She has videos featuring her painting process, DIYs, and clothing lookbooks. My favorites are always her Harry Potter related videos.

Jenny Mustard
Jenny is one of my favorite people on the internet. She's an adorable Swedish blogger/YouTuber with unique, minimalist style and wonderful vegan recipe videos.

5 Ways to Practice Minimalism

One of my biggest goals for the new year is to continue and also expand my practice of minimalism. As I slowly work through the process, I have been keeping these five ideas in mind.

Purge your belongings.
The easiest way to begin practicing minimalism is to do a full purge of your belongings so that you can have a sense of starting fresh. Go through your space, room-by-room, and essentially get rid of anything you don't love or that doesn't serve a purpose. The easiest places to begin are the storage bins you haven't opened all year. 

Create organizational systems.
Developing a system for holding yourself accountable can be a great help in practicing minimalism. One example is for every item you buy, you must get rid of one item that you already own. 

Adopt zero waste techniques.
It's certainly a big endeavor to go completely zero waste, but adopting a few techniques can make a huge difference. A simple swap could be buying a set of mesh produce bags to use at the grocery instead of the plastic bags provided. Some other easy ideas include using a microfiber cloth for cleaning instead of paper towels, using a glass water bottle, and re-purposing old clothes.

Focus on quality.
The adage of quality over quantity is key. Rather than buying dish sets for every season and piles of fast fashion pieces, try to spend more money on less items. This way, your pieces will last much longer and you will ultimately get more "bang for your buck", so to speak. This is not only the economical choice, but also the environmentally conscious choice. 

Have a vision.
Decide very specifically on the aesthetic of your life and strictly reject anything object that doesn't fit your chosen aesthetic. Into Mind has great resources on developing your wardrobe aesthetic and the same principles can be applied to home decor. I recommend that you go as far as creating a color palette that you rarely stray from. When you stick to a specific aesthetic, it's much easier to be discerning with the items you purchase.

Bookshelf: Self-Care & Improvement

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
This book is a compilation of tools and advice Tim Ferriss gained from over 200 interviews on his podcast with athletes, billionaires, Special Ops commanders, and more.

The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein
Gabrielle Bernstein's book is a guide to release mental blocks like doubt, fear of uncertainty, and control in order to live more fully.

The Plant Power Way by Rich Roll & Julie Piatt
These two are like my spirit guides. Their cookbook has a ton of amazing recipes, including ones that aren't recipes at all (my favorite kind) and are instead just ideas about different ways to prepare food. What I love about this book is that it isn't just a cookbook---there are sections about yoga and other concepts of physical and mental wellbeing.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius is one of my favorite figures to look to with regards to self-improvement. This book contains a series of mental reflections on various topics such as rationality and emotions written by Aurelius with no intent to publish. One of my very favorite quotes is something he once said:

You should be like a rocky promontory against which the restless surf continually pounds. It stands fast while the churning sea is lulled to sleep at its feet. I hear you say, ‘How unlucky that this should happen to me.’ But not at all. Perhaps say instead, ‘How lucky I am that I am not broken by what has happened and I’m not afraid of what is about to happen.’ For the same blow might have struck anyone, but not many who would have absorbed it without capitulation or complaint.
— Marcus Aurelius

Intuitive Being by Jill Willard
Amanda Chantal Bacon of Moon Juice described this book by saying: "Imagine a world in which everyone had faith in their intuition and fully listened! What a brave, love consciousness field we would be. There are simple steps to tune into the knowing that is alive, inside and your birthright...for the love of humanity please get as many people to read Jill Willard's book as you can. #SUPPORTYOSELF."

Designing Your Life by William Burnett & Dave Evans
This book is a course in designing your life based on what you want (as well as helping your figure out what that is). Burnett and Evans, of the Stanford design school, use actual techniques to help you do this. As a visual INTJ ("the Architect"), the methods they use are perfect for the way my brain works. If you're like me and need more than just platitudes to really make any difference, this may be for you!

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
I've said before that I've been doing hygge since birth, so it's no surprise that there's a hygge book on this list. This book captures the crux of hygge, explaining what it is, why it's magical, and how to achieve it.

The Nordic Theory of Everything by Anu Partanen
I'm not sure if there will ever be a day that I stop recommending this book. It's unlike the others listed here because it's on more of a macro level. It explains the policies and lifestyles in various Scandinavian countries that allow their societies to operate smoothly. I'm definitely the kind to romanticize Scandinavian countries and I'm not afraid to admit it. Even if "the grass is always greener on the other side", I really think we Americans could stand to learn a few things from these societies.

Dream Weekend: Woodstock, Vermont

Saturday would start with a morning hike, bundled up in a sweater and boots, then I'd have pancakes and orange juice from Mountain Creamery. I'd spend the late morning wandering around town, popping into the Yankee Bookshop, then the general store to pick up provisions for a lunch picnic. After lunch, I'd head to the Woodstock Inn & Resort spa for a hot stone massage and body treatment. For dinner, I'd have risotto cakes, seasonal field greens, and then creme brulee at The Prince and the Pauper.

Sunday would start early with breakfast at the Woodstock Farmer's Market, then I'd cuddle with animals at Billings Farm for the rest of my life. At some point, I'd have to break for lunch so I would go to Ruth's Table for soup, salad, bread, and cozy apple cider. That afternoon, I'd take a long walk and pick up some beautiful things from Farmhouse Pottery. Dinner would be butternut squash ravioli at The Quechee Inn at Marshland Farm. After dinner, there'd be dessert and drinks by a campfire somewhere.

Preparing for a Wonderful 2017

I know it's been said one thousand times by now, but 2016 was an incredibly strange year. Among many other bizarre/frustrating/annoying things, I was inexplicably resistant to anything involving ambition, be it goal-setting, vision boards, or mantras. It's weird because these are all good things that I have always liked.

I feel as though my aversion may have been related to the fact that 2016 was the first year of my life which contained no formal schooling since I began preschool in the mid-1990s. I guess, subconsciously, I just didn't have the capacity to think about the topic any longer. 

Going into 2017, I feel refreshed and ready to focus more on setting and achieving goals as well as the cliched "following my dreams". During the first week of January, I started off the year by creating an outline using the tenets below.

Choose Your Goals
Find a fresh notebook and start by outlining your goals for the year in list form. You can be freeform and just let the ideas start flowing or you could organize your goals into categories (i.e. wellness, work, travel, etc). While the goals can be short, mid, or long-term, I do suggest making them as specific as possible. I think the problem with many New Year's resolutions is that they're often too vague and thus difficult to keep track of or stick to. For instance, instead of saying you want to get in shape, create a measurable goal such as working out 5-6 days per week. 

Create a Plan of Action
Once you've determined the goals, use a sheet or half-sheet of paper to outline your action plan for achieving each one. Determine what steps, big and small, need to be taken and create daily, weekly, and monthly sub-goals in order to get there. 

Develop an Arsenal of Inspiration
On another page, create an ongoing list of things that will inspire and motivate you to achieve your goals. I like to mostly include quotes and songs, but you could also use this space as a vision board and use photos for inspiration.

Start a List of Things You'd Like to Try
Create an open section to list things you would like to try to do this year. I consider these to be tentative goals---things that I'd like to do but am not ready to commit to pursuing. For instance, I would like to try waking up earlier on weekdays but don't necessarily want to make it a serious goal. Some other examples on my list are taking an online class, making more YouTube videos, and logging my daily meals. 

Plan a 30-Day Challenge for Each Month
Whether or not you have big yearly goals, another fun way of trying new things and growing in the new year is to plan out a 30-day challenge for each month of the year. I've chosen to plan out my monthly challenges through June and then readjust based on what's going on in the second half of the year. As an example, my January challenge could be meditating daily, reading everyday, or filming some stock footage for future videos each day.

 

I'm really excited about the upcoming year!
What goals have you set for yourself and what are you trying to achieve in the next 12 months?

VIDEO: Recent Beauty Purchases

Over the past month and holidays, I'm happy to have added some amazing products to my collection while simultaneously cleaning out the old. Here's a quick video highlighting some things I bought for myself as well as a few little holiday gifts.

As I said in the video, I will be working on creating more video content for you guys. This video itself was pretty low production, as it was only shot with an iPhone in totally natural light. I plan on getting a vlogging camera in the near future, so bear with me for now! Thanks as always for watching and reading.

Glossier's New Moisturizer!

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As you might know, I'm a huge fan of Glossier. I've been reading Into The Gloss since long before the products launched and still read everyday. I was so excited when Glossier reached out and offered to send me their new Priming Moisturizer Rich to try out! Not only had I been aching for a new Glossier product, but the cold weather had me in desperate need of a heavy moisturizer. 

My honest thoughts on the product are exactly the same as my thoughts on everything else I've tried from Glossier. Just amazing. From packaging and scent to texture and results, I love it all. I'd used the regular Priming Moisturizer before and noted how it made my makeup go on easily, feel cleaner, and last longer throughout the day.

The first thing I noticed upon opening the jar was that the moisturizer smells just like lavender essential oil, which is one of my favorite and most-used scents. So, you're instantly put in a relaxed mood as soon as you open the jar to use the product. The cream is thick and velvety, but it only takes a small amount to cover your face and neck. 

I've been using this moisturizer for a week or so now and even on snowy, freezing days it manages to keep my face soft and hydrated. Honestly, I know I sound like such a fangirl but using this moisturizer just feels luxurious and comforting. 

Lucky for you, the new Priming Moisturizer launches today! This really is a perfect moisturizer for the current climate, so I highly suggest you place an order.

 

Contemporary Artists: A Few Favorites

As an art history student, the majority of my studies were centered around ancient or classical works of art. Those works are great but I was always most intrigued by lessons about modern and contemporary art because it doesn't tend to be steeped in religious or historical context. Rather, it focuses on political and social narratives or, in the case of the artists below, can simply be incredibly pretty. 

While I do love modern art of the 20th century for its political narratives, here are ten of my favorite contemporary artists whose works have a strong sense of magic and humor.

David Seguin
I love his stunning, hyper-realistic portraits.

Frederic Forest
Simple, minimalist line drawings which I have framed and hanging over my kitchen sink.

Ethan Cook
He creates color-blocked paintings in soft, attractive colors.

Gray Malin
Bright overhead images of colorful beaches. I particularly love his collaboration with Swell.

Beatrice Cerocchi
Illustrations of colorful, magical fairytale-like scenes.

Sara Maese
Her work consists of these quirky, illustrated patterns that I think would look lovely as a bathroom wallpaper or journal cover.

Agata Wierzbicka
Eerie, neutral-toned, portraits that seem to fade into their own backgrounds.

Matt Blease
Humorous and sometimes punny pop-culture illustrations.

Henrietta Harris
A New Zealand based artist who creates beautiful, cold portraits and landscapes.

Ashley Longshore
She does these amazing, eccentric pop-culture portraits of people like Jesus and Kurt Cobain.

The Girl Friday: My Mum!

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Kristen, AKA My Mum

I'm excited that this next edition of The Girl Friday is featuring my mum! I'm fortunate to say that I have the best one I could ask for. She's multifaceted, interested in art, music, travel, and culture as well as vegan cooking---she and my dad even have a vegan cooking blog. She silently freaked out with me when we once walked past Lin-Manuel Miranda outside of Sweetgreen. She's the only other person I know who loved the movie Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. I feel like she could go anywhere in the world and make fast friends. She's incredibly friendly, but surprisingly tough---she once punched a big dude who was harassing her in high school and is not shy when it comes to her beliefs. Recently, she's taken up environmental activism and volunteers at a refuge for jungle cats and bears. I could say a lot more, but I'll let her answers below speak for me!

Follow:
@lastsummertreasures

What do you currently do?
After a career in banking, I quit working outside of the home so that I could spend more quality time with my family. Now, I work from home selling handmade products from my Etsy shop.

Where are you located?
New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Astrological Sign
"Virgo, which explains everything!"

How would you describe your aesthetic?
Laid back, nautical with a bit of quirkiness.

Girl Crush
Michelle Obama

Boy Crush
Ryan Gosling

Favorite Scent
Dolce & Gabbana's Light Blue and gardenias.

Favorite Film
The Before Sunrise trilogy and Les Miserables.

Favorite Book
The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

Favorite City
"Hands down, New York!"

Favorite Restaurant
by CHLOE.

Go-To Workout
"Various kettle bell and weighted bar workouts on YouTube."

Favorite Beauty Brands
Too Faced and Aveda.

What podcast are you listening to?
Travel with Rick Steves.

Favorite Indulgence
"Art supplies! Currently, I'm expanding my watercolors and Cricut materials."

Go-To Snack
Apple slices, orange slices, walnuts, pistachios and almonds.

Favorite Piece in Wardrobe
"I have several, casual go-to skirts that are easy to mix and match with everything from t-shirts to blouses and sweaters."

In an alternate universe, what career would you pursue?
"I'd love to be a professional artist!"

Who are your five ideal celebrity dinner guests?
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Chloe Coscarelli, Nate Berkus, Michelle Obama, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke. "I know I've named 6, but Ethan and Julie are a package deal!"

Who is your wellness idol?
Kris Carr.

Most Recent Binge Watch
"Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Emily's storyline was fantastic. Rory's, not so much."

Top 3 Places on Current Travel List
The Netherlands, Switzerland, and Italy. "Throw in a long layover in Iceland, please!"

 

This is part of an ongoing series in which I feature some of the coolest girls I know.

What to Wear to Work in the Snow

Puffer Coat + Shirt Dress + Tights + Over-the-Knee Boots

Channel the Russian street style girls by wearing a stiletto boot in the snow.

 

Light Camel Coat + Neutral Scarf + Beige Sweater + White Jeans 

Because nothing is more nonchalant chic than wearing white pants in a world of slush.

 

Pastel Coat + Cashmere Sweater + Printed Pants +  Flatform Brogues

Brighten the day with a happy coat and quirky printed trousers.

 

Velvet Blazer + Cashmere T-Shirt + Skinny Jeans + Chic Snow Boot

Update your daily French girl uniform with a velvet blazer and snow boots.

 

Gray Coat + Oversized Marled Sweater + Black leggings + Ankle Boots

Because this is the closest thing to wearing pajamas to work.

Puffer Coat + Neutral Sweater + Black Jeans + Shiny Black Ankle Boots

If you're feeling edgy and want to be Lisbeth Salander.

6 Movies to Get Excited for in 2017

For me, 2016 wasn't my best year with regards to movies. As I've mentioned before, I usually follow a tradition of watching every Best Picture nominee but, for some reason, decided not to last year. Instead, I saw a lot of lower brow things, some of which I liked (Miss Peregrine's) and some that I regretted (Deadpool). This is totally fine. Not every movie I watch has to be obscure or even good. There's definitely a time for Judex and a time for Lifetime movies. So, this year I'm not sure if I will go all the way and see every nominee, but ever since watching The Clouds of Sils Maria, I do want to start watching better movies again. Here are six that I'm excited about!

Their Finest
January
Starring Sam Claflin and Gemma Arterton, this film is set in the 1940s and follows the two as they develop a propaganda film about the evacuation of Dunkirk, thus reflecting a coincidence on this list of films.

Ghost In The Shell
March
Based on the manga and anime series, Scarlett Johansson controversially stars in a live action adaptation about a a counter-cyberterrorism robot officer and her task force. The trailer is beautiful and the film also stars the underrated Michael Pitt.

The Circle
April
This film is based on a book of the same name by Dave Eggers, which I absolutely loved when I read it. The story is centered around a girl who is hired by a massive, cult-like company (think Google) and begs questions about morality and how we use technology. The film stars Emma Watson as the lead and, personally, I would have preferred to see someone like Mackenzie Davis in the role. But, Ellar Coltrane makes one of his first major film appearances since Boyhood, which is very exciting.

Dunkirk
July
I've been mad over this film since I saw the very first teaser trailer, which I will argue is the best trailer ever made. The film stars Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy and features Harry Styles in his first film role. It follows the evacuation of the British troops at Dunkirk, linking it to the film I discussed above.

Murder on the Orient Express
November
Daisy Ridley stars in this updated adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel, directed by Kenneth Branagh. The story follows the famed detective Poirot as he investigates the murder of a wealthy American passenger on the Orient Express. Leslie Odom Jr. is also in it, which is a huge plus.

Star Wars Episode VIII
December
How can anyone not be excited for the next Star Wars installment after Episode VII in 2015? Not much is known yet about the plot but with Daisy Ridley and John Boyega returning, it's sure to be great.

What movies are you looking forward to seeing this year?

50 Books Challenge Wrap-Up

After completing the 50 Books Challenge this year, I'm sharing my top ten books of the year as well as what I learned from the challenge. For 2017, I will be taking part in one of PopSugar's old reading challenges, here.

MY TOP TEN BOOKS OF THE YEAR

  • Still Life by Louise Penny
  • The Nordic Theory of Everything by Anu Partanen
  • It's What I Do by Lynsey Addario
  • All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
  • My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
  • Slade House by David Mitchell
  • The Circle by Dave Eggers
  • Camille Styles Entertaining by Camille Styles
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

WHAT I LEARNED:
I really do not like YA fiction. Honestly, that's the biggest takeaway. It isn't due to snobbery, there's just something about the tone in most that I've read that is hugely annoying. If someone can give me a recommendation to prove this wrong, please do so!

Definition of Young Sophisticate

As I begin a new year of blogging, I wanted to take a quick moment to define what my blog name means to me and how I aim to reflect that meaning in my content. The word sophisticate itself can refer to a degree of complexity or possessing a great deal of worldliness or reflecting educated taste. While the former often refers to machines or technology, I think it applies to humans just as much as the latter descriptions. 

Possessing sophistication is, of course, related to literature, film, music, current events, history, and more but I think it goes beyond that. One can be well-read and educated without necessarily being considered sophisticated. That's where the complexity comes in---a sophisticated person may carry many contradictions. Just like high/low fashion, they may be seen one week with a copy of a Tolstoy novel and the next week hosting a viewing party for the premiere of The Bachelorette. 

The point, in my eyes, is that, to be considered sophisticated, one must do everything with confidence. Ultimately, to be well-rounded is to possess sophistication so that's what I aim to portray in my content here on the blog.

Book Report: November/December

50 Books Challenge Progress:
54/50

 

The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
If only for the cover image, I had been looking forward to reading the fifth book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series. It ended up being one of my favorites---possibly tied with the first. 

The Cool Factor by Andrea Linnett
Finally, a book on style which actually relates to my own! This gave a look into the styling tips and aesthetics of some very cool, effortless women.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
I still don't understand the negative comments I always hear about Dan Brown's books. While they may not be works of high literature, I always find them entertaining and really well thought-out. 

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
If you haven't read this yet, please do it because the hype is well deserved. I've never read another WWII novel like this one---it was beautiful, uplifting, magical.

A Song For Issy Bradley by Carys Bray
This was my first foray into Carys Bray's writing. I've heard a lot of great things about her from my favorite BookTubers, so I decided to start with her first book. While I didn't love this story about a Mormon family dealing with a tragedy, I did like it enough to want to read more of her work.

The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante
The second of Ferrante's Neopolitan novels, this was slightly harder to get through than the first. It wasn't that it's boring or wasn't engaging. It's that Ferrante has a way of writing this series that almost creates a choking sensation, if that makes sense. She portrays the dynamic of a dysfunctional friendship in a way that really builds anxiety for the reader. It's great that she has the ability to do this so effectively, but it can make for a not-so-peaceful reading experience.

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
I didn't love this one. I went into it not knowing that it was YA and, no offense to YA writers and readers, but the tone of such books is not my taste and can be rather annoying. 

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny
This must be one of my favorites of the Chief Inspector Gamache series. It has a different feel than the others since it is set outside of Three Pines but it definitely retains the cozy vibes as much of the story relates to a library in Quebec City.

The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
My re-read of the Harry Potter novels has been wonderful thus far. 

Abandoned Books: Scythe by Neal Shusterman---it's good if you're the proper audience.

My Favorite Posts of 2016

I've had a lot of fun writing the blog this year and am so excited to keep working on it throughout 2017. Thank you to everyone who reads! I really appreciate it and think it's super cool that there are people out there who are interested in what I have to say. Here are my favorite posts from the past year if you feel like looking back:

January: Styling Your 2016 Resolutions
February: How to Do New York Like a Model
March:
Organization Tips for Travel
April: Dream Weekend in Copenhagen
May: 10 Things to Do This Summer
June: Lookbook: A Storm in Summer
July: 5 Simple Ways to Feel More Sophisticated
August: Back-to-School Dorm Room Essentials
September: The Ultimate Wardrobe Wish-List
October: 5 Restaurants to Try in New York
November: Bookshelf: Art and Semiotics
December: 10 Ways to Make the Most of Winter

 

My 2016 Favorites

With only three days left of 2016, I wanted to take note of my favorite things of the year. In terms of culture, it's been a very different kind of year for me. I moved away from a lot of my typical viewing habits and strayed from my tastes. Because of all the turmoil we saw this year, I veered toward comforting things and was really turned off by anything too dark---I ditched Westworld, Mr. Robot, etc.---in exchange for things that were relaxing, funny, or serious but not cynical. Honestly, I'm glad that I did. 

So, here are some of my favorite things from the past year:

Books
This is a hard one. I've decided that it's only fair to pick a book that I first read this year and I'm going to allow myself to pick both fiction and non-fiction. For non-fiction, I choose Anu Partanen's The Nordic Theory of Everything. Fiction is far more difficult, but I choose Still Life by Louise Penny because I devoured it and have since read five more books in the series.

New Meals
This has to be a tie. My favorite savory meal was the vegetarian eggs benedict from Bouchon in Las Vegas. They replaced the ham with tomatoes and served it with an incredible side salad and little slices of bread with the most delicious cherry preserves. My favorite breakfast was the gluten-free banana bread from Bluestone Lane in the West Village. The bread is topped with ricotta, pecans, bananas, and drizzles of honey and best served alongside one of their amazing iced chai lattes with almond milk.

Wellness Purchase
This is hands-down the Moon Juice Blue Adaptogen Protein. Not only does it turn your almond milk pretty shade of mint green, but it contains ingredients like tocotrienols and Blue Majik aqua botanicals to reduce inflammation and support muscle growth. Next, I'd really like to try the chocolate protein.

Instagram Photo
My favorite Instagram photo that I posted this year was actually the one of my banana bread breakfast from Bluestone Lane, which you can see below.

Movies
I typically watch all of the Best Picture nominees before the Oscars, but this year I skipped out on that---I actually haven't seen any! My favorite movies of the year were Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (because anything in the Harry Potter universe is a delight to me) and The Clouds of Sils Maria, which was absolutely stunning.

Albums
My most listened to album of the year was most definitely the Hamilton soundtrack. However, my favorite album released this year was The 1975's I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It.

TV Series
Another hard one because there were two in particular this year that I really liked. I'm going to choose The Crown because it encapsulates just about all of my personal interests and aesthetic preferences when it comes to filmmaking.

Beauty Products
This year, I became absolutely obsessed with Omorovicza's Rejuvenating Night Cream. I use this every other night and always wake up with glowing skin.

Wardrobe Purchase
I adore my black, cashmere turtleneck from Everlane. It's cozy, soft, and the perfect fit---slim, but not tight.

Blog Discovery
It's hard to believe I just started following Amber at Barefoot Blonde this year because I adore her blog so much!

New Year, New Bag

I've never been much of a bag girl. Though, it seems that there are a lot of people out there who are even despite not having much of an interest in fashion otherwise. While I tend to go for quality when it comes to the majority of my wardrobe decisions, when it comes to bags I either buy vintage (which is great) or I fall into a habit of buying inexpensive bags from Target and wearing them for a year before the stitching begins to fray. 

Quality bags can be a huge financial investment, but think of it as just that---an investment. Buying a high-quality bag will cause you to spend more now but it will prevent you from having to purchase and re-purchase lower quality bags every year. Plus, as with any other fashion category, buying quality is a much more eco-friendly option.

When investing in a bag, be sure to choose a label and style that won't go out of fashion, at least not for the next 10 to 20 years. 

Grove Collaborative

When it comes to cleaning, I am a bit of a contradiction. I love being organized and living in a clean home, but sometimes getting there isn't the most fun thing. Since I've been in my apartment, I've grown to enjoy cleaning more and more, mostly because it allows me to get caught up on podcasts but also because of the delicious smells.

With so many household and beauty products containing toxic chemicals linked to allergies, birth defects, psychological abnormalities, and cancer, it's incredibly important to be conscious of the products you use in your home. To make this easier, I recently joined Grove Collaborative which offers all-natural household products on a model similar to Thrive Market. They were mentioned in a YouTube video I was watching and I immediately signed up. 

You sign up for free and start adding (discounted) products to your cart, only paying for what you actually want. The service recurs each month, but they send reminders two weeks in advance so you can fill your cart with all of the necessities you need or pare down if you are looking to spend less that month. 

Some great things about Grove Collaborative:

  • All products come from natural brands.
  • Grove Co. itself is a b-corp, like Patagonia and Ben & Jerry's.
  • The company saves 25 square feet of rain forest with every shipment by donating ten cents from every order to the Arbor Day Foundation.
  • Their shipping is carbon offset.

I got a few basics in my first shipment and am excited to choose new products for my second box!

The first thing I chose was a tube of Tom's toothpaste. For the past year, I've been using a basic, mass-market brand to help with tooth pain but I've since stopped because I believe that it was causing me to break out. Yes, your toothpaste can do that. Thus, I switched back to Tom's.

I was most excited, however, about the Mrs. Meyer's holiday dish soap. I chose peppermint and vanilla which really is the perfect winter scent. Having a frothy sink of warm, peppermint scented water is a great way to motivate yourself to clean the dishes.

I gravitated toward these sponges because the pretty, neutral colors are so much more appealing than the acid yellow and green sponges you find at most stores. These really make your sink look so much better.

Using parchment paper while baking is a game changer. You can grease your pans with as much coconut oil as you'd like, but nothing compares to sliding your cookies right off the tray and leaving no sticky mess on the pan.

Granted, paper towels are a boring purchase but these unbleached, recycled towels from Seventh Generation are durable and eco-friendly which makes me feel better about using them instead of dirtying a cloth to clean the counters.

 

To get started with Grove Collaborative, click here!