book report: may 2018

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I got quite a bit of reading done this month and happened to read several books I loved! I read a total of seven books, some in a lounge chair by the pool and others while cozy in my bed. Hope you find some you might like!

Goal Progress: 16/50

Here We Lie by Paula Treick DeBoard
This book was about two college roommates: Megan, who is from a modest upbringing in the Midwest, and Lauren, the daughter of a wealthy Connecticut senator. Their lives become intertwined and something happens during the summer when Megan goes to visit Lauren's family on their private island off of Maine. The scandal comes back to haunt them later in life. I honestly didn't love this one. The ending was predictable and I didn't really connect to either characters. 

11/22/63 by Stephen King
This was the first Stephen King book I've ever read and wow, I loved it! The story is about a high school teacher, Jake Epping, living in 2011 who goes back in time to try to save JFK from his assassination. The story is a long one (850 pages!), so there are plenty of other stories before you eventually get to the JFK plot. Despite being super long, I was really impressed by King's storytelling because it never felt slow or boring. There's even a really sweet romance that I enjoyed a lot. I truly couldn't put this one down!

Influence by Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen
As a huge MK & Ashley fan, I'm shocked that I had never picked up their book from 2008 until now. I randomly saw it at the library and am so glad. They did a bunch of little interviews with people like Lauren Hutton, Diane von Furstenberg, Richard Prince, Peter Beard, and more. I loved reading through this book and hearing about all of the things that inspire the artists that were interviewed. It made me really nostalgic for a time before social media changed the creative climate of the world.

Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan
I'll start by saying this was a rather strange book. You go into it thinking it's a thriller but it ends up being something else entirely. The book jacket describes the plot as being about a group of college friends who go off to explore an abandoned prison, then one of the friends disappears and several years later, a secret resurfaces that brings them all back together. This was definitely more of a literary novel than a thriller and it was beautifully written. However engaged I was, I wasn't that entertained by the story and by the final fourth of the book, I was ready for it to be over. If you're looking for beautiful prose though, this has it.

Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith
This book of essays was so, so wonderful. This is coming from a person who doesn't often get too into books o essays or short stories, so my endorsement should mean a lot! She covers many topics so intelligently, from Facebook and Justin Bieber to Renaissance art and race in London. Some of my favorites were 'Fences: A Brexit Diary', 'On Optimism and Despair', 'Getting In and Out', and 'Love in the Gardens'. 

Kintsugi Wellness by Candice Kumai
I really enjoyed this book about Japanese wellness. It covered all sorts of Japanese concepts, featured beautiful recipes, and had a great little travel guide in the back.

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
If you like Grey's Anatomy, I think you'll like this about two doctors who have been friends since medical school. When a former colleague reappears, their lives are shaken up. The story is set in Louisville, KY and Charlotte, NC so it has a nice Southern vibe.

workout review: soulcycle + cyclebar

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One of the little series I'm going to do as part of Wellness Wednesday is workout reviews. I've been to a good amount of group workout classes and have done even more at home using online resources, so I want to share my experience with you guys to help you pick which classes you want to add to your routine or just try out for fun!

I'm starting with the two versions of indoor cycling that I've tried: the iconic SoulCycle and a similar class called CycleBar which is found in more locations.

overview of workout
SoulCycle - The class is held in a dimly lit room with a loud, energized soundtrack that's different with each class. Sometimes, there are even special themed rides (i.e. Taylor Swift, Hamilton). Upon arrival, you get signed in and rent your cycling shoes if you don't have your own. There are lockers in the lobby for you to store your things (especially your phone). 

When you initially enter the classroom, you want to go ahead and get clipped into the your bike. If you need help with this, don't hesitate to ask because the instructors are more than happy to get you clipped in and adjust the bike height for your body. Once you're clipped in, you'll want to start pedaling to get warmed up.

Each class varies, but typically you'll go through different resistance levels and positions (standing, sitting, and the signature 'tap it back') for the majority of the class. Toward the end, there's a seated arms portion where you used hand weights. 

Classes regularly cost $34.

CycleBar - This workout is pretty similar in nature to SoulCycle but there are a couple of differences. The vibe is the same, with a dark room and fun music.

The big difference is that CycleBar has video monitors in the front of the room that show how your performance ranks in the class. This is really great for someone like me who is fairly competitive because it really makes me want to perform better. If I look up and see that I'm near the end of the pack, I'm really motivated to step it up. If you're new to cycling and are feeling less confident or if competitiveness isn't something you enjoy, keep that in mind and maybe select a different class.

The other difference is that I don't believe CycleBar has a weights portion. It's all cycling, the entire time. Aside from those two differences, these classes are interchangeable and I love them both!

Classes regularly cost $18 and you can get a free intro ride.

what it's actually like
Challenging but really fun! The first time I did SoulCycle, my lungs were on fire after the first five minutes. I was not at all new to fitness and worked out a lot at the time, but it was still really challenging. Those first five minutes honestly felt like I was going to die! Haha. But then, I got into a groove and the rest of the class was super fun and invigorating. I remember leaving class and being able to breathe so well! The fresh air felt amazing on my lungs. My friend and I went to dinner afterwards, had healthy salads, then ran up multiple flights of stairs to our hotel rooms (we were living in a hotel during an internship). 

So yeah, I won't lie and say it isn't hard. It is challenging and at some parts, unpleasant. But the music and energy of the instructors make it so much fun. Plus, you'll feel amazing afterwards.

what to wear
I recommend moisture-wicking, cropped leggings. Bike shorts work too, although I think cropped leggings to be more comfortable. Definitely avoid any long, flowing yoga pants. Pair your leggings/shorts with a tank top because you're going to sweat! 

what to bring
A headband to keep hair out of your face. A full water bottle to stay hydrated. Your own clip-in shoes if you have them. A hand towel just in case your studio doesn't provide one.

reasons to stay in this weekend

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I don't know about where you guys live, but the past few weekends here have been super rainy! It seems like the weekdays are reasonably clear but once the weekend arrives, the weather is rainy and gloomy. However, I'm not complaining. As much as I love sunny days by the pool or perfect breezy weather for going out on the weekends, a proper rainy weekend can be exactly what you need sometimes.

Even if it's not raining where you are, here are a few perfectly good excuses to stay in this weekend:

Bake a batch of Milk Bar cookies at home.
I love my Milk Bar treats and recently discovered that Target sells Milk Bar cookie mixes! We ordered the Cornflake-Chocolate Chip-Marshmallow mix and the Compost Cookie mix. They're only $4.99 each, so pick a flavor and bake some up this weekend! One thing I will mention is that the first time I made these, the dough made according to directions was very wet and the cookies ended up being very flat and cakey. The flavor was still good but the texture wasn't. The second time around, I added some extra flour. The dough still felt too wet but I baked them anyway and they turned out much better (although still a bit too soggy for my taste). So my point is, you may need to add extra flour according to your personal judgment. 

Read this incredible article on manifesting from Goop.
Goop recently did an interview with Lacy Phillips about manifesting your dreams and it's so, so good. There really is a magic power within us all to create the lives we want. I can vouch for that!

Read two new books about royals and Greek gods.
Andrew Morton, the premiere royal biographer, has a new book out about Meghan Markle. Reading this is a great way to ease a royal wedding hangover. Also, there's Madeline Miller's book Circe which is about the daughter of the Greek god Helios. When she's banished to a desert island, she meets figures like the Minotaur, Medea, Daedalus and Icarus, and Odysseus. I've heard it's a really magical story that's perfect to read over the weekend.

Binge watch season two of The Crown.
I love this series and highly recommend it to anyone interested in the royals, history, or even just filmmaking. Season two spends more time following Philip, Margaret, and Charles. Episode nine follows young Prince Philip and Prince Charles at Gordonstoun, respectively, and is my favorite episode of the entire series. Perfect for a cozy weekend.

Cozy up in a pair of Iris & Ink pajamas.
This brand has the cutest pajama sets right now. I love this cornflower blue set and this classic metallic-trimmed pair.

 
 

Try out two new cooling face masks.
Perfect for summer skin, there are two masks on the market that are meant to cool and refresh. First is the Cold Plunge Pore Mask from Ole Henriksen and second is the five dollar Sephora Collection watermelon After-Sun Mask.

At home workout, yoga routine.
Yoga with Adriene has a great Peaceful Warrior routine while Juliana at Boho Beautiful does her routines set against the most beautiful, real-life backdrops from a beach in Costa Rica to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand.

Chill with the Baltic Amber candle from Voluspa.
Cozy up with a blanket, a film, and light this baltic amber Voluspa candle for the ultimate chill experience.

a love letter to veselka

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Oh, Veselka!

You all probably know it's my favorite restaurant in the city, so I figured it deserves its own post. 

I can't remember when or where I first heard about Veselka, but once I kept hearing about it and seeing it on Gossip GIrl, I knew that I had to try it out. I finally went for the first time during a trip to New York when I first started college and was totally hooked on the pierogi. It's been my favorite ever since!

Veselka first opened in 1954 and still retains that midcentury, classic New York charm along with cozy Ukrainian vibes. They serve Ukrainian classics like pierogi, borscht, and really good sauerkraut but also have a huge brunch menu and New York favorites like the egg cream.

I take all my guests to Veselka and I swear, it never fails. No matter who it is, they always fall in love like I did! My brother said the cabbage soup was the best he's ever had and all my friends text me when they show up at the restaurant late at night to tell me how excited they are. One of my old co-workers and friends Ashley and I actually bonded when we first met over the fact that she loved Veselka too.

The food is amazing, yes, but there's also just something about the energy. Since it's open 24 hrs (and I've been there at pretty much every hour), I no doubt have a ton of adventure stories that result in my friends and me ending up at Veselka at all hours of the night. 

Have you been to Veselka? If not, please go next time you're in the city!

weekend list no. 36

Happy Saturday! It's another rainy weekend here, which is enjoyable in its own way, but I'm definitely looking back fondly on our weekend in Palm Beach. This photo above was from the courtyard of the beautiful Aerin store just off Worth Avenue. Is it not the perfect little spot for Pimm's cup and a magazine?

Lean Cuisine did a really cool experiential installation in Chicago. Check it out because I've never seen anything like it!

ICYMI, The Cut gave a rundown on some things that happened at the private reception after the wedding. Their first dance song choice makes me so happy.

If you're still in the royal wedding mood, I have so many good documentary recommendations for you (I've been watching these and reading the books for ages)! I can do a full post, but three great docs on Netflix are: Elizabeth at 90, The Royal House of Windsor, and Diana: In Her Own Words

I loved seeing Rosie's dispatch from the beautiful Chelsea Flower Show!

Karlie Kloss has a new series on her YouTube channel about trailblazers in STEAM. You should check all of them out starting here.

This home in an old bread factory in Carroll Gardens is an absolute dream.

I'm in the market for a new rain jacket. What do you guys think of this one?

Rebecca's post about fairytales made me want to pick up some classics. I've always loved that kind of simple storytelling.

Here are seven healthy breakfasts you can prep in advance over on A Pair & A Spare.

As I've mentioned recently, I'm in a big travel mood and the blog Hand Luggage Only is only fueling that! Loved this post on foodie spots in Italy and this one about Arundel Castle in Sussex.

I'm planning an Italian dinner party this summer and was so inspired by this piece about Brunello Cucinelli's dinner parties. I had read about his parties previously in Vogue or Town & Country and have wanted to attend one ever since! Another bit of inspiration was all of the outdoor dining in Call Me By Your Name.