The other side of a quarter.

It’s the last day of my 25th year, and I wanted to reflect on how I felt at the start of of it and how I feel now.  I’m living in a different house than last year, my physical and mental health are very different and my lifestyle has changed dramatically, so let’s get into it.

If you always do what interests you, then at least one person is pleased. –Katharine Hepburn

I think this quote has been been driving most of my intentions this past year, I’ve spent a lot of time being introspective about what I want and if my life is reflecting those desires.  I’ve spent more time enjoying my freedom of being single and being able to make last minute plans without having to check with anyone, doing things that make me happy.

The list of things that makes me happy as changed a lot as well, eating healthy foods and getting a full night’s sleep is probably my most guaranteed way to get happy.  At this point I’ve tried Paleo, Vegan and wheat-free diets and I’ve made my own mash-up of the three and have felt so much better, it’s amazing what food can do for your health and happiness.  I’ve also recently purchased a Phillips Wake-Up light alarm clock and it’s fantastic.  I’m working on getting my phone out of my room while I’m asleep, right now it’s on silent and next to my bed, but I’ll get there!  Creating this calm environment for my body and mind has not only helped with my happiness but it’s also a process I’ve enjoyed and have realized will be an eternal and dynamic process, what works now can and will eventually change as time passes.

Socially, I’ve spent more time alone.  I find that it makes me a far better and engaged person when I’m spending time with family and friends, I’ve embraced my introvert nature and make an effort to plan out days that I spend alone.  Whether I’m getting things done, exercising (I’m training for a half-marathon right now…), binge watching Will and Grace, or anything else, it’s time that I need and I’ve been firm in making it a priority in my life.

One big difference is that I feel much more excited about the year ahead than I did last year.  I wasn’t sad or morose about turning 25 last year, I just think I was in a place that I was letting things happen in life rather than making the choices that guide my trajectory.  Time, health, family and friends cure all life ailments and after a couple of challenging years I finally feel like my true self.  26 is going to be great, and I plan to do a better job of posting updates and inspirations on here.  But for now, I give you a list of 26 things that I’m loving on this exact day.

  1. Younger Now – Miley Cyrus (Did not expect to love her new music this much, pleasant surprise).
  2. The fact that I’m not falling all over myself for the new iPhone, I’m getting better at not following the hype and realizing… I have a working phone… that I just paid off… it’s like they have a plan to get me to spend more money or something….
  3. Smoked Paprika, I’ve found a reason to put it on nearly everything.
  4. My waxed denim jacket that may be on it’s last year… I’ve had it for seven years I think, and it’s still one of my absolute favorite items I own.
  5. Classical music, I’ve been listening to the This is: Vivaldi playlist on Spotify and I love it.
  6. Podcasts, I just can’t get enough of them.
  7. New kinds of produce, I recently tried Kiwi Berries and Kuri Squash for the first time, so good.
  8. New Barn Barista style almond milk… I buy 3 every time I see it at Whole Foods, usually it’s out of stock.
  9. Sipsmith Gin, I bought some for the first time yesterday and it’s amazing.  I plan on having a couple French 75s for my birthday…
  10. My Birkenstocks, it’s still warm enough to get away with wearing them and I probably won’t put them away until November.
  11. My new glasses, I bought three pairs from Goggles4u.com and the clear, acrylic pair is my favorite.
  12. My Panda journal, my best friend got me one last year and I can’t plan my week effectively or mindfully without it.
  13. Avocados, now that I’ve pretty much cut meat and dairy out of my normal diet and splurge on them alllllllll the time.
  14. Making vegan desserts, I made vegan cheesecake last weekend and I’m making vegan chocolate chip cookies and raw, vegan carrot cake tomorrow.
  15. Will and Grace, I’m so excited that the season premiere is tomorrow, on my actual birthday.
  16. Health research, I’ve been looking for a functional medicine practice and I love doing this kind of research, I wish more people had the time to invest in their health and happiness.
  17. Historical dramas, I finally finished Downton Abbey and binge watched Victoria season one.
  18. Atypical, another great Netflix original, can’t wait for season two.
  19. My desk space, I finally cleaned it  up and hung my art and photos, I hope to spend more time there.
  20. The promise of fall weather, it’s going to be 88 degrees Fahrenheit here today… I’m ready for 60 degrees and coats and bonfires and such.
  21. Family, I’ve been able to spend tons of time with everyone over the past year and as we all get older (My younger sister became a legal adult over the last weekend) I know that it’ll get harder and harder to schedule that time.
  22. Dogs, I want my own so badly but I’m lucky that my family dogs are only a 30 minute car ride away.
  23. Candles, I always go a little candle crazy in the fall, I just love coming in and lighting them after a long day and having a cocktail while cooking something cozy.  #hyggelife
  24. Strong women, I’m very lucky to have so many female warriors to look up to and bond with, my friends have been making big changes in the last year and I’m so proud of all of them.
  25. Feeling confident in my choices, I love being in a place where I rarely doubt myself and make decisions based on my well defined values.
  26. That I have so many reasons to feel grateful.

26… Let’s do this.

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Buddha Bowl

This week was my first attempt at making a Buddha bowl and it did NOT disappoint. It’s a really nice mix up from a greens based salad and new way to incorporate yummy tofu into my diet.  I highly recommend pressing your tofu ahead of time and marinating it for at least an hour (I prefer to prep mine a day ahead of time so it gets a full day to marinate).

The break down:

Grains: Rice and quinoa blend (I recommend using stock or broth with your favorite spices to cook your grains, it turns out way more flavorful).

Veggies: Cherry tomatoes, avocado and eggplant roasted* with smoked paprika.

Protein: Tofu, I used some leftover marinade for a light dressing on everything.

*Recently learned that NOT salting the eggplant before roasting makes it FAR less soggy. Game. Changer.

Sweet Saturdays

This past Saturday was a day of doing things, my favorite kind of day.  It left me inspired, tired from laughing and walking and grateful for time spent with friends and family.

 

The plan for the day was to drive out to the Luckett’s Spring Market out in Berryville, VA.  As a lover of The Old Luckett’s Store, this was my first time at their spring market and let me just say, it surpassed the hype.  If you love design and refurbished or homemade items, it’s heaven on earth.  Seeing as my budget has been mostly spent on travel and gifts as of late, it wasn’t a buying trip, it was more a fun thing to do on a spring Saturday.  I got lots of design ideas for my future hypothetical dream house (for which I have a dedicated Pinterest board), and time spent outside eating and drinking and looking around.

Podcasts…

Within the past six months I’ve become a big podcast fan.  I get so excited on the days my favorites release new episodes and I find myself sitting in my car in front of my house after my commute just wanting to finish the episode before I head in to get all the evening tasks done.  There are so many out there, some are super popular, others are hidden gems, so I thought I’d talk about my current top three.  Let it be known that I’m not into the murder mystery ones or anything like that, it’s more of my roommates wheelhouse so I get my pants scared off when she tells me bits and pieces about her latest episodes.  Unsurprisingly, mine are lifestyle, food and humor related, and that’s just the way I like it.

unqualifiedNumber one is Anna Farris’ brilliant podcast “Unqualified“.  Most podcast lovers have heard of it if they’re not already huge fans, I believe it won some awards this year and it has been fairly popular on Apple’s podcast app.  This one is interview based and has some regular features such as caller questions, hypothetical scenarios and other fun and thought provoking prompts.  My favorite recent guest has to be Eric Stonestreet (although Tom Middleditch comes in at a close second).  On “Unqualified” you get to see a more casual side of the guests in a interview setting, they still plug their projects but you start to kind of see them as real people and less “Hollywood”.

cherryThe second is allllllll about food and women, both of which I love!  “Radio Cherry Bomb” is a foodie podcast that interviews chefs, restaurateurs, cookbook authors, anyone with a passion for food and they focus a lot of energy on celebrating women in the food industry.  Just listening to it makes me hungry and want to spend a year eating at all the amazing restaurants they talk about.  Every once in awhile you’ll also catch a pro tip from the interviewee on their tried and true kitchen practices, it’s always delectably entertaining and I feel like the whole cast are the best of friends, something that isn’t always represented well in the world of women.

PardonFinally, I saved the best for last.  “Pardon my French“.  I have no words.  Garance Doré is not only an amazing blogger, photographer, illustrator and writer… but her voice!  Her podcast is varied and colorful and her topics include living with roommates, green and healthy living and interviews with Joseph Altuzarra just to name a few.  Some are in a group setting, casual, just her and her amazing team sharing thoughts and opinions on something new, and some are live interviews that she hosts at events.  Every time I listen to an episode I want to go home, open a bottle of Rosé from Provence and invite all my girlfriends over to chat.  Suffice to say, it’s the highlight of my Thursday.

I think podcasts are the radio of the future, I hear my parents talk about how good radio used to be, just like how good MTV used to be.  Finally there’s an place you can get quality content with minimal overhead cost and advertising, you can even find whole communities that relate to a subject the way you do.  The quality is there, the creativity is there, it’s a mixture of new and old social tools and I’m a huge fan of the way it’s turning out.

Boston – Lowell 2017

One of the big perks of my current job is an opportunity to travel, it’s all domestic but it takes me places I wouldn’t really go otherwise and that’s pretty neat.  This past weekend I spent taking all kinds of transportation to get to Lowell, Massachusetts which is about 30 minutes outside Boston.  It’s a college town with a pretty cool vibe, it would’ve been even more fun if there wasn’t a snow storm during my visit… 13″ in April… that’s New England for you.

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As a genuine food and drink lover, my first mission was to find a cool coffee shop where I could hangout until I could check into my hotel.  After trudging through the snow for 20 minutes I gave up trying to find the place I had found on google map and settled for a small coffee house that closed early.  I dried off and did some more research trying to figure out why I could not find the entrance to this mystical cafe…  Turns out it was hidden in an old mill turned apartment complex.  I took a hidden elevator to the fourth floor and found THE coolest indoor shops I’ve ever seen in a residential area:

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It made perfect sense that they would put the shops indoors as it was April and snowing heavily, the shops included an apothecary, a cheese shop, a record store just to name a few.  Plus there was a stage for live performances, which looked pretty awesome with huge oriental rugs covering the stage made of reclaimed wood.  I finally made my way to the cafe, Coffee and Cotton, and enjoyed the relaxed vibe over a sandwich and fresh ginger kombucha.  It was the highlight of my weekend and I was happy to find that gem before starting my actual work.

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I also went on every possible type of transportation Boston had to offer and made a quick video of my travels here.  I’m thinking about making some more video content, we’ll see if I stick with it…

Spring 2018 Skincare Routine 

Ahhhh skincare…it’s become a small obsession of mine ever since I discovered Caroline Hirons on YouTube.  She gives amazing tips and reviews and you can find so much valuable information on her blog, a personal favorite of mine is her post on toners.  After watching hours of her witty vlogs, I started to gather info to create my own skincare regimen, or at least make some changes since my old routine wasn’t really doing much for me…

So, here’s the set up: two cleansers (One to remove sweat and make-up, one to clean the skin), a toner (or two if you want to spritz a more concentrated acid, which can be too much for some skin types), then serums (layer a couple if you like going from clear to opaque and liquid to cream) and finally your moisturizer and SPF.  Everyone is different and everyone can afford different products, I’ve taken turns “splurging” on some items though my level of “splurging” is not that ludicrous because I’m an entry level worker/college grad with too many loans to not feel guilty about spending that money later.

img_8148First up is my first cleanse.  Right now I’m using the Clinique Take the Day Off cleansing balm and I love it, I’ve also used the Pixi cleansing balm which as great but I find that the Clinique one is just silkier and reacts better to my skin.  It pulverizes mascara and eyeliner which I wear 95% of the time.  As per the advise of Caroline, I put this on a dry face and use a warm washcloth to wipe it off (invest in 14 washcloths if you’re like me and do laundry barely once a week).

img_8150Next we have the second cleanse.  This one proves to be the most challenging for me, I’ve tried a couple different products and I’m still not totally in love.  This one from Hlyamide is really nice BUT it’s pretty oily as well, this may be something I end up having to splurge a little more on as it’s the product that should really be nourishing and cleaning your skin once the makeup and sweat are removed.  I’ve just picked up a cream from Aveeno to try but haven’t used it long enough to include in here.  Second cleanse should be used same as first, #washclothlife.

Next up: Toning.  My new favorite step in my routine, why?  Because this is really the img_8151exfoliating stage, you’ve loosened things up with the cleansers and a washcloth and now it’s the acids turn to eat up all those dead cells, the key is getting a toner that won’t dry out your skin (Especially if you have naturally dry skin like me).  My favorite so far are these pads by First Aid Beauty, they have a slightly scrubby sides that helps slough off flaky skin and leave it prepped for serums.

 

img_8152As an extra acidic step I really like this toning spray from Hylamide, it leaves my skin feeling fresh and tingly.  Acids are something you want to build up to though, don’t just start using the heaviest most intense thing out there to get results fast, it does not work that way…

 

 

Now that we’ve cleaned and exfoliated the skin it’s ready for some serums, this is really where you get to customize your routine.  Depending on your skin, there’s a million things to try, hydrating, anti-aging, de-puffing, the list goes on and on…

Two of my favorites right now are from the Ordinary, because they’re not only super effective, they are also cheap as hell.  I’ve recommended this brand a ton because even if you try it and one or two products don’t suite you, you haven’t dropped a ton of money on them and won’t feel too guilty giving them to a friend to try instead.  Their Hyaluronic Acid is super hydrating and i like to top it with the brightening Vitamin C lotion that gives my skin a really great tingling sensation (When I say tingling, I mean slightly burning but it doesn’t irritate my skin.  It can be uncomfortable or irritating to others so proceed at your own risk).  Sometimes I like to trade out the Vitamin C for a Retinol or Lactic Acid  at night and in the mornings I like to use their Caffeine serum under my eyes.  All in all I’ve been happy with everything I’ve tried thus far.

 

img_8155Lastly it’s time to seal everything in with a moisturizer, I like this one from Neutrogena because it’s super rich and has SPF in it.  A lot of people say you should have a moisturizer AND a separate SPF but I haven’t gotten to that level yet, so for now I use this and then if I’m going to be out in the sun all day I’ll use another SPF on top because I have very fine skin and don’t want to turn to leather in my old age.

Leave comments with some of your favorite products if you like, I’m still on the hunt for that perfect second cleanse and would love some suggestions!

 

***not sponsored by any of these companies.

Afternoon Tealight

This past weekend proved to be fun, a bit active and ended on an almost too relaxing note (I got nothing done Sunday, instead I binged Netflix and napped… this is what happens if I think I can get through the day without caffeine).

 

The activity of the weekend was most definitely the highlight: Afternoon tea at the Willard Continental Hotel in Washington, D.C.  This is something my Mom has wanted to check off her list for awhile, and we finally got together with some friends and made it happen.  While everyone else was off at breweries and vineyards, we were enjoying some of the finer things in life: tea, scones, sandwiches and miniature desserts all while listening to a live, talented and well humored harpist (At one point she played the Game of Thrones theme song and my sister and I just about died).



As an alcohol appreciator but an absolutely terrible day drinker, it was nice to have a social meal that left me feeling ready for the Saturday night ahead, instead of falling asleep at 7 p.m.  The focus was great friends, in a beautiful setting, enjoying fantastic food and tea (Earl Grey is always the way to go).  In a world where restaurants and bars aim to turn tables and everything can be delivered to your house, it was great to sit and socialize at slower pace.  There was no pressure to wrap it up and get out so they could seat more people and the staff took their time taking us on our tea adventure.  We ended up staying for almost 3 hours and enjoyed it so much we decided to make it a bi-monthly activity.  I’m already looking forward to April and another afternoon of tea-light.