Beauty, Fashion, Featured, My life

JULY FAVORITES 2019

July 10, 2019
July Favorites 2019

Here I am again, rounding up all of my favorite things from this month to share with you. This month is multifarious and contains everything from French skincare to my mediocre gardening skills. Enjoy!

Listening:

The Simple Sophisticate Podcast

I’ll simply leave you with the description provided by the podcast host (also wonderful author and blogger) Shannon Ables.

The simple sophisticate is someone who prefers quality over quantity, sensible living over mindless consumption, personal style instead of trendy fashions, has an insatiable curiosity for life’s endless questions and a desire to live a truly fulfilling life rather than being led around by the nose. Inspired by her lifestyle blog The Simply Luxurious Life, Shannon Ables (the original Simple Sophisticate) shares with listeners tips on how to live a refined life on an everyday income. From achieving your goals, preparing a memorable meal, creating a capsule wardrobe, traveling the world (Francophiles tune in as Paris is a favorite destination), and living life to the fullest without breaking the bank, living well is really quite simple.”

This podcast is all-encompassing, realistic and inspiring for all ages and walks of life. Able’s demeanor is positive and genuine, and I feel like I’m listening to a close friend when I tune in weekly.

Emilie-Claire Barlow

I stumbled upon jazz vocalist, Emilie-Claire Barlow’s, music nearly 10 years ago. Her lithe yet warm vocals have since been the subtle background to many of dinner parties and quiet afternoons spent at home. Toronto born, you can expect an eclectic mix of French and English.

Reading:

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

While I’m not usually one for fiction (I know, I’m trying), this novel came via the recommendation of a family member and The New York Times Book Review, so I’m taking a stab at it. I won’t say much, as I’m only about one-third of the way through, but thus far, it’s an immersive coming of age story intertwining a vivid ode to nature.

Flourish by Martin Seligman

I’ve read many of esteemed psychologist, Martin Seligman’s, books including Authentically Happy and Learned Optimism. While this book is much more research-forward than most self-help books (specifically within the text itself), it still provides readers with applicable takeaways and a comprehensive overview of the field of positive psychology. I also found the notes in the appendix quite helpful and interesting for further research.

Watching:

Big Little Lies

I devoured Liane Moriarty’s novels The Husband’s Secret, Truly, Madly, Guilty, and of course, Big Little Lies. So when HBO decided to bring this coveted story to the screen in 2017, I was definitely intrigued. While I only started watching it last month (a little late to the game, I know), I’m already impressed by the dark, comedic storyline laced together with the complex, multifaceted characters.

For Lovers Only  

After seeing each other for the first time in years on separate work assignments in Paris, former lovers, Sophia and Yves, rekindle their romance in an affair that takes them across France from Normandy to St. Tropez. The simplistic, black and white cinematography makes for transcendent love story filled with romance, style, and unrepentant passion. I watched this film when it premiered nearly 8 years ago and continue to watch it at least once a year for its artistic allure and inspiration.

Little Joys:

Avène Hydrance Rich Hydrating Cream

My dry, sensitive skin luxuriates in relief that this simple moisturizer provides. As a coveted French pharmacie essential, this long-lasting, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic formula restores and maintains skin’s hydration. I use this in the morning under my sunscreen and at night after cleansing.

Image result for french pharmacie

Caudalie Beauty Elixir

I finally gave in to all the buzz surrounding this cult-classic product on a recent trip to Hong Kong. This multipurpose mist is crafted using potent plant extracts including polyphenol-rich green grape, rosemary, orange flower, and rose. Simply shake and spray over your face, neck and décolleté to prep the skin, set your makeup or simply refresh. The glass bottle looks elegant on your countertop or bedside table too.

Tenacious by Mixologie 

When it comes to fragrance, I tend to gravitate towards more masculine, earthy scents over floral or fruity. (For reference, Tabacco Vanille by Tom Ford has long been a favorite.) I recently stumbled upon this Mixologie rollerball when shopping for a travel-size scent. It encapsulates all of my favorite notes including vanilla bean, smokey musk, amber, sandalwood, white oak, aged bourbon, tobacco flower, and tonka, and does so in a subtle, non-overbearing manner.

Savoring:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

The only joy I obtain from summer, is the fact that autumn is right around the corner. For whatever the reason – whether it’s my Northern European lineage or strong sensitivity to the sun – I simply do not thrive in warm weather. So, until my beloved overcast days return and the wool sweaters reappear from the depths of my closet, I’ll be baking my pumpkin treats (all of which you can find on here) and scrolling through Pinterest looking for autumn inspiration.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Gardening

I recently took it upon myself to find flowers and vegetables that thrive with a dose of the morning sun, but primarily prefer a shaded environment. (Those are the attributes that constitute my tiny container garden here in the city.) It turns out that hydrangeas and kale fancy just that.

So far, everything seems to be thriving. However, from what I’ve read, these plants are quite resilient. Don’t get the wrong impression, I am certainly not the pinnacle of domesticity.

Hydrangea, Flower, Pink, Violet

What have you been loving this month? Be sure to share with me in the comments below or on Instagram or Facebook. I really enjoy hearing from you!

Wishing you a wonderful rest of the week.

Featured, My life

INDEPENDANCE DAY MUSINGS

July 3, 2019

On this July 4th, let’s raise a glass in celebration for the wildly simple, yet, profoundly complex concept that is freedom.

My gratitude for freedom doesn’t come from dire circumstances or traumatic personal experience, but from the awareness I try to cultivate based on other people’s lack of. I feel a tremendous responsibility to continually stay informed and engaged and to check my privilege as someone who could easily and ignorantly turn a blind eye.

As we celebrate our independence, I encourage you to take a moment and consider those who live in nations or under circumstances where freedom is less abound.  

Today, I think about:    

  • The 5.7 million registered refugees and 6.6 million internally displaced people who have been barbarously uprooted by the violence and destruction of the ongoing Syrian Civil War. 
  • The genocidal attack on the Yazidi community nearly five years ago in Sinjar, where the Islamic State enslaved and killed thousands of innocent men, women, and children, subjecting captives to the most unimaginable horrors.
  • The devastating hindrance and impact that educational inequality has on women and girls globally and that despite progress, females still continue to face multiple barriers, based on gender and its intersections with other factors, in the access and right to quality education.
  • The children being held in despicable conditions at the United States-Mexico border, a completely preventable an unnecessary humanitarian crisis. Also (and despite your personal political beliefs), consider the sacrifice and trepidation these families must have encountered in their pursuit of safety and asylum.
  • I also think about the vast inequality and austere issues pressing the United States. Reading the statistics on gun violence and hate crimes has left me aghast. My mind wanders to racial inequality, wage inequality, and homelessness. I think about the rising cost of healthcare and the fact that 11.8% of households were food insecure last year.  I think about those who endure microaggressions and racial oppression daily (of course outside the U.S. as well), and how it must feel to live in a country where freedom is touted, but one’s opportunity can be hindered simply because of race.  

Today, let’s momentarily consider our life without independence, because this holiday can be more than just fireworks and a day off. Today can be an opportunity to consider the antithesis of our freedom. We must acknowledge that we, as humans, are exactly the same as those living in countries where genocide and sexual violence are common corruptions. We must also acknowledge that people in such dire circumstances love their families the same way we do, and dream of a better future just like us, and desire justice and equality, yet, will likely never possess the right or resources to pursue it.

If you’re privileged enough to be in a position today where you don’t have to think about your freedom, instead, channel that energy into how you can help those impacted by injustice, inequality and terror everyday – both here at home and on a global scale. We are one.

Beauty, Featured, Wellness

Sunscreen 101: The Basics of Sun Protection

June 24, 2019

Medical professionals and skin care experts alike can all agree that wearing sunscreen daily and year-round is non-negotiable. Not only is protecting yourself from the sun crucial for overall health, it’s also a major piece of the anti-aging puzzle. Here’s what you need to know.

TERMINOLOGY

The sunlight that reaches our skin made up of two types of harmful rays: ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB).

UVA

  • Think UVA = aging rays.
  • UVA rays penetrate the dermis, which is the second layer of skin under the epidermis.

UVB

  • Think UVB = burning rays.
  • UVB rays penetrate the epidermis, which is the uppermost layer of the skin.
Image credit: WebMD

SPF

SPF stands for sun protection factor, which indicates how much protection a product offers against UVB light. According to Medical News Today, “By law, a sunscreen product’s label must include a sun protection factor (SPF) number to indicate the level of protection from UVB rays, and state whether or not it has passed a broad-spectrum test against the sun’s ultraviolet (UVA) radiation.”

Broad-Spectrum

Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect the skin from both UVB and UVA rays.  Be sure to always purchase and use a broad spectrum sunscreen.

WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS? CHEMICAL vs. PHYSICAL

Physical

Physical sunscreens contain active mineral ingredients, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which work by sitting on top of the skin to deflect and scatter damaging UV rays away from the skin.

Benefits of using a physical sunscreen:

  • Blocks both UVA and UVB rays. (Note: ALL physical sunscreens are broad spectrum)
  • Works immediately upon application.
  • Unlikely to irritate the skin, making it a more suitable option for sensitive skin types.
  • Unlikely to clog pores as it sits primarily on the surface of the skin.
  • Can limit rosacea flare-ups and irritation as it deflects heat from the skin.
  • Long shelf life.
  • Note: specific types of clothing can be a simple and effective way to physically protect your skin from sun exposure. For more specific information, read this article by The Skin Cancer Foundation.

Potential problems associated with physical sunscreen:

  • Can be rubbed off more easily than chemical sunscreen, especially when it comes in contact with water or sweat (requiring reapplication).
  • Often leaves white streaks on the skin requiring more effort to fully rub in.
  • Not always suitable for use under makeup because of its white cast and texture.
  • May be less protective if not properly applied to all areas of the skin.

Chemical

Chemical Sunscreens contain organic (carbon based) compounds, such as octisalate, oxybenzone, octinoxate and avobenzone, which create a chemical reaction and work by changing UV rays into heat, then releasing that heat from the skin.

Benefits of using chemical sunscreens include:

  • Thinner formulations. Consistency makes application easier.
  • Limited streaking and white cast.
  • Less needed to cover large areas of the skin as it spreads easily.
  • Is more resistant to sweat or water compared to a physical sunscreen making it more appealing to those with active lifestyles.

Potential drawbacks of chemical sunscreen:

  • Efficacy starts 20 minutes after application to the skin requiring some planning. 
  • More likely to irritate the skin (higher SPF formulations tend to be more irritating)
  • Protection levels begin to drop when in direct UV light, necessitating more frequent reapplication.
  • Increased chance of redness in rosacea-prone skin.
  • Has the potential to clog the pores, and thus exacerbate acne.
  • Often can drip into the eyes causing stinging and irritation.
  • Some chemical sunscreens are not considered “reef safe” meaning they damage the oceanic ecosystem. States like Hawaii have banned the use of sunscreens that contain chemicals deemed damaging to coral reefs and ocean biodiversity.

TIPS & TRICKS

Did you know most people only apply 25-50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen? It’s absolutely imperative that you apply enough and at the correct frequency.

Here are a few crucial pointers:  

  • Apply enough sunscreen to cover all skin that’s exposed. Most adults need about 1 ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) to fully cover their body.
  • Don’t forget to apply to the tops of your feet, neck, ears and scalp.
  • Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before going outdoors.
  • Don’t forget to protect your lips with a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • When outside, reapply sunscreen approximately every two hours, or after sweating or swimming, according to the directions on the bottle. 

In addition:

Eyes

  • Sunlight reflecting off water, snow or sand further increases exposure to UV radiation which can increase your risk of developing eye problems. Certain sunglasses can help protect your eyes. Be sure choose sunglasses labeled with a UVA/UVB rating of 100% to get the most UV protection.

PRODUCTS I USE DAILY

In conclusion:

It’s important to remember that all skin tones and types are subject to damage by UV radiation. So regardless of your ethnic background, please take care to protect your beautiful skin from the sun.

…and finally

You can use the most touted and efficacious anti-aging creams and potions on the market, but if you’re not using sun protection daily, you’re essentially throwing money down the drain. For the health (and beauty) of your skin, take sun protection seriously.

Featured, My life, Wellness

June Favorites 2019

June 22, 2019
June Favorites 2019

It’s been awhile…♥️

For the past few months, life has been a perfectly imperfect storm of hectic and crazy mixed with wonderful highs and devastating lows, but my goodness, I’m glad to be back here.

I thought I’d write the first post of a new series where I’ll be sharing all my favorite things with you every month!

This won’t be your typical ‘favorites’ post that you find on most blogs. I’m aiming to share more resources and information than products. The products I do share are things that are fun and simple (…and tangible. No $3,000 handbags on here) or have the ability to improve your life in some capacity. In addition, none of the brands I’ve mentioned below have sponsored or payed me to share their information. This is just me, talking to you about what I genuinely love.

I’m glad to be back and I hope you enjoy my June Favorites 2019! Please share what you are loving in the comment below.

Listening:

The Wabi Sabi Podcast by Candice Kumai

Candice Kumai is articulate and raw in the way she shares her experiences and masterful advice on everything from business and travel to beauty and dating. She started out as a model and the youngest contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef. She then paved her own path to success as an editor, content creator, chef and author of 6 best-selling books. (#GIRLBOSS) Candice’s words have provided me with peace and confidence to pause, reflect and ultimately believe in my own path. In a world full of external expectations, it’s refreshing to listen to those who’ve achieved success gracefully and unconventionally. 

Nutrition Rounds by Dr. Danielle Belardo, MD

Nutrition Rounds is a podcast for anyone interested in learning about plant-based nutrition through an evidence-based approach. Dr. Belardo interviews leading experts in medicine, nutrition and health-sciences and shares current data and information in tangible, approachable manner. 

I’m also still a diehard fan of This American Life and The Daily by The New York Times too. What podcasts are you loving? Comment below!

Music wise, Sara Bareilles’ newest album, ‘Admits The Chaos,’ has been on repeat. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Leon Bridges and Maren Morris’s acoustic album on iTunes.

Reading:

The Blue Zones of Happiness by Dan Buettner

After reading The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner last year, I instantly picked up his second book, The Blue Zones of Happiness, where he explores regions of the world where people live the most happy, fulfilling lives. Hint: money and status have nothing to do with it. 

How Not To Die by Michael Greger, MD

This book comprehensively details the connection between nutrition and disease.  Written in a way that’s easy to understand for those new to the subject, but also substantive enough that those already familiar with health and nutrition will learn a great deal of new information.

Watching:

Frontline on PBS

Frontline is a flagship investigative journalism program that provides an in-depth and unflinching look into some of today’s most pressing issues and current events. This is exquisite broadcasting and my most cherished resource for staying up to date on current events.

Little Joys:

Moleskine Classic Notebook

I am slightly reluctant to admit that I’m still a pen and paper kind of girl, however, the thick, ivory pages in this notebook paired with inky, black pens is nothing short of magic in these tech-laden times.

Ella + Mila 7-free nail polish in shade ‘Honeymoon Bliss’

I’m always on the hunt for the perfect neutral shade of polish and this one ticks all my boxes. It’s not too pink yet not too nude. It’s somewhere in between and it makes for an elegant, eye-catching manicure. I’m also a big fan of the polish remover from this brand.

Klean Kanteen tumbler

I recently purchased this mug knowing full well I would use it every day. It’s durable, easy to wash and slips nicely into my work bag. There are multiple size offerings, lid options and colors and it’s a fantastically simple way to cutback on disposable coffee and tea cups.  

Savoring:

Writing

You guys, it’s been a YEAR. (More on that later, I promise.) I’m truly luxuriating in reintegrating creativity and writing back into my routine after a particularly brutal few months. Sitting here at my desk, with a pot of oolong brewing by my side, is easily my favorite place to be.

Nature

I live with chronic anxiety and getting outside everyday has become an integral part of how I stay well. I love going for long walks around my neighborhood sans technology (no headphones + smartphone on airplane mode just incase of an emergency). I use that time to reconnect with myself and process the day. Spending time alone with your own thoughts is so important!