Weekend Reflections; A Rainy LDW

If there’s one thing a rainy holiday weekend is good for, it’s shopping. 

Lounging and snuggling don’t hurt either. Fortunately, we did sneak in a few hours of sun on Saturday before the clouds rolled in. This Labor Day Weekend was exactly what a lazy holiday weekend should be…a whole lot of doing nothing. My mother and I spent the day together today getting pampered with mani-pedis and taking advantage of the holiday sales at our mall and Bloomingdales. Hope you’ve enjoyed your weekend. Have fun tonight and sleep in tomorrow! LOVE long weekends when Monday’s kind of don’t exist. ;)

 

The last quiet week of summer before New York returns to its usual busy self.

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Matching pants + pedicure.

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Cozy summer scented candles warming up a rainy night.

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Calories don’t count on holidays, right?

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Pineapple + Toasted Coconut + Hazelnut topped yogurt from Chobani Soho.

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A gorgeous view during Saturday morning’s run.

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Shopping with my mom always yields an endless supply of samples.

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Supplies ready for a chalkboard commission piece.

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Sunday manicure…with coffee of course.

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Shopping trips left me with Flash Tattoos, a new perfume, a few makeup essentials, birthday gifts for my husband and these new pieces of jewelry sure to become new obsessions.

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xoxo

 

 

 

Thoughts on Running

There’s nothing quite like the peace and solitude one finds on a long run. (this link made me lol ;) )

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I mentioned the other week that I registered to run my first full marathon this spring. I know I’m a ways out but I figured why not start now. The earlier the better, right? 

I used to do a longish run every Saturday until this passed November. That was when I started teaching 2-4 spin classes on Saturday mornings. Obviously, with that much spinning a run was simply unnecessary. I’ve run cross country since high school and I always thought distance running came easily to me. Hah…that’s funny. It wasn’t the exercise itself, what made it seem “natural” was due to the practice, discipline and consistency. The simple act of running regularly made it feel like it was easy. However, once I stopped it was a challenge to start again. I didn’t exactly pick up where I left off. Even though all the spinning I was doing was technically endurance, it wasn’t running. It’s simply different parts of the body used in different ways. 

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Two weeks ago on a Saturday morning I set out for my first “long run”. I did around 6 miles (I was normally banking between 8-11 miles every Saturday morning, granted I only did it ONCE a week!). Surprisingly, it felt fine so the following week I figured I’d ramp it up. Well, I ramped it up to 10 miles and apparently it was a little too much, too soon. I was so sore. Like, could not even work out until the following Tuesday. 

So, yesterday morning I dialed it back a bit. I did a 9 miler on a completely new route and slowed my pace just a bit. I felt a lot better. I’m glad I gave myself more than enough time to train because clearly, I’ll be needing it. What I realized this morning, though, was that there really is nothing quite like a long run. It’s the best way for me to clear my head, be alone with my thoughts and just be. 

(and take mid-run selfies..)

(and take mid-run selfies..)

However, this is the BEST, hands down best part of a long run: listening to new jams and discovering new-to-me artists. Nothing beats downloading a brand new album or two on a Friday night and looking forward to listening to it the following morning. A lot of people ask how I stay motivated or get myself going to run distance. Well, there is your answer! 

As a spin instructor, and all around music junkie, discovering new beats is a serious passion. Mid run is when I zone out to the beat and movement of a song as well as take note of how it makes me feel. It’s where I decide what goes into my playlist, where it will be and what movement will be choreographed to it. 

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Yesterday’s run playlist was all about this band that my husband just told me about called Slightly Stoopid. I had heard of them before and had heard a few of their songs here and there but had yet to download any specific song or listen to an album in its entirety. Dan was raving about them so I downloaded two of their albums for my run and I’m now just as obsessed as he is. If you like reggae, ska or just chill-out beats with a beachy vibe, definitely check them out. Dan found them from a song he heard in the background of a surfing video. 

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xoxo

Weekend Reflections; A Weekend in the Sun

Sometimes the last weekend before Labor Day sends us into a panic mode; there’s only one more week of summer. Of course, if you’re in school or you have kids, that’s somewhat true. School typically starts up after Labor Day and though the weather is still warm those lazy, free days have come to an end. I kind of started this weekend with an underlying notion of just that feeling. I felt an urge to spend every day at the beach and check off the rest of my summer bucket list. However, the weekend in the sun did just the opposite. Instead of running through a list of “summer to-dos” I pretty much forgot everything and enjoyed life. Labor Day does not mark the end of summer…summer actually has an end date and it’s about a month away! So, I took a deep breath, relaxed and simply enjoyed the days in the sun, the cotton candy sunset skies and time spent with my husband and friends.

On Saturday afternoon my family lost our beloved Aunt Nancy. She was a woman whom I never saw without a (perfectly lined and lipsticked) smile on her face. She was constantly full of joy and excited about life and the people she loved. She loved her family and whenever she saw us she would grab us so tight and make sure we knew just how much we meant to her. On Sunday morning my husband and I went to the beach and while we were there I made a point to remember Nancy. Her memory helped me appreciate every little ounce of beauty and love that was present. I stared out at the vastness of the sea and pondered on how small I really am and how fleeting time is. It’s so important to live each day to the fullest and enjoy every minute, every second. When Dan and I dipped our feet into the Atlantic Ocean, it was cold, but we dove in so fast that we forgot about the temporary discomfort of the initial chill. I had the best time catching waves with him, floating out in the ocean hugging my legs around my husband and laughing so hard. It was such a great day that by the time we got home we both completely passed out. I slept from 7:15 last night until I woke up around 7 this morning. Something I never do! This week my focus is to live in the moment and cherish every last one.

 

 

Friday lunch with a friend at The Grey Dog.

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A vibrant summer manicure.

 

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My new favorite spot in the city.

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Salty blonde waves.

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My favorite color palette.

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My new buddy.

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Date night ootd.

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Saturday dinner at one of my favorite restaurants.

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Dinner view.

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Enjoying a blue Coronarita…and, ok, this was a check off from the summer bucket list. 

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My favorite dude.

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Cotton candy sunset on the sand.

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Froyo, aka $16.00 worth of topping bar.

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Sunday morning sunrise over the Atlantic.

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Our playground.

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A view I’ll never tire of.

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Sunday Funday in the sand.

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A storm earlier in the week left its mark.

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A Sunday morning photo that I will be framing.

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Hope you all have a beautiful and fulfilled week & remember, it’s not Summer’s last!

xoxo

be inspired

For as long as I can remember, something, somewhere, someone or any of combination of the three has always inspired me. I’ve always had something in my head that moves me, drives me, helps me focus and keeps me going.

However, throughout my life there have been three constant things that never fail to inspire me:

  1. My faith
  2. The beach
  3. Some random person that I’m currently infatuated with

Is that last one a little bizarre? Do you ever hear a chick talk about her “girl crush”? I basically have a new “girl crush”, like, every few weeks. Then of course, there are a select few in constant rotation. They are chicks who have a rad sense of style, a positive outlook on life, or something curious that simply intrigues me. Is that weird? Do you guys ever become completely infatuated with just how….cool someone else is that they literally motivate and inspire you? 

Aside from being a super creep, my faith is a constant standby. It’s something I can always cling to no matter WHAT is happening in my life.

Then, of course, there is the beach. My happy place. Facing the ocean elicits an instant calm that no pill could ever duplicate. I wanted to pop in and quickly share a few images that have ignited my spirit.

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^^ like, those chicks? Obsessed.

xoxo

Dan’s Banana Nut Muffins

Now this recipe is a long time coming! 

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I think my husband and I have been making muffins for the week on Sunday mornings for the past 5 or 6 months! That’s how long I’ve been waiting to come here and share my outrageous, amazing, phenomenal muffin recipe!

Except there was a teenie, tiny, little problem….

The muffins weren’t outrageous or amazing or phenomenal. 

Don’t get me wrong, we loved them!! We totally gobbled them up week after week, but….well, let’s just say, if we owned a restaurant, we wouldn’t even give them away. Not that they didn’t TASTE good. Taste was not the problem. It was more technicality issues than flavor, the flavor has always been there (hence why, week after week, month after month, they’ve been devoured). The thing was, we could never get the recipe just right. Each week we tweaked the recipe little by little trying to make the perfect muffin. What is a perfect muffin, anyway? We didn’t really know at first, but we were quickly able to check off what a perfect muffin was not

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Let’s review. A perfect muffin is not/does not:

  • sink into a giant, gaping hole in the center
  • puff up while baking only to deflate into a flat, squishy pancake after cooling
  • look great on the outside but be slightly gooey and raw-ish on the inside [although, candid moment here…we totally lived for those gooey centers. We called them “gooey muffins” and I would beg Dan to undercook them so they could be extra gooey. I’m sorry, but, I love dough and batter in all forms. As much as we loved this “failure” I simply couldn’t bring myself to write a blog post titled “Gooey Muffins” and go on about the BEST EVER raw cups of dough, raw egg included! Yea, no.
  • Have pre-made Pina Colada pancake mix in the batter. Thanks for sneaking that in, babe. 
  • Have chunks of raw corn or fruit in them that contain way too much moisture and develop grey mold on them within a day

There were more, but I’m trying to make you hungry here…

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Mmm, that’s better. 

We started off with banana nut muffins, then tried Hummingbird Muffins (inspired by a Hummingbird cake I made a few months back), which led Dan to think adding fruity pancake mix to the batter was a good idea (ok, it totally was, BUT, it turned what was supposed to be a virtuous muffin that I could eat pre-workout into a naked cupcake that contained ALL THE SUGAR but lacked the frosting. No.), which then somehow diverted into corn muffins which we definitely haven’t even come close to mastering. Finally, this past weekend, with the help of my new mixer, Poppy, we’ve FINALLY, FINALLY arrived at ………

Muffin Perfection

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Packed with whole wheat flour, coconut sugar, rolled oats, fresh bananas and minimal amounts of healthy coconut oil these muffins are virtuous enough for an energizing on-the-go breakfast or a perfect pre-workout snack! We were thrilled with how these came out.

I guess practice does make perfect. Although, I do think the stand mixer was a big help here. We really let the ingredients mix and whip up so more air was incorporated into the batter. This lightened up the batter which yielded softer (without being gooey or underdone!) muffins that were far less dense and held their height!

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The slight banana flavor is reminiscent of a sweet banana bread but the chewy texture of the oats, crunch of the toasted walnuts and nuttiness from the whole wheat flour make the muffins taste a bit more wholesome and breakfast appropriate. They’re definitely not your convenience store calorie bomb muffins, which we all know are just sad, naked cupcakes that have been labeled muffin. 

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We enjoy these guys for breakfast, snacks and pre-workout fuel! I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

 

Dan’s Banana Nut Muffins

Makes 12 large muffins, or 24 mini muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats [not instant]
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4c milk [ skim or almond ]
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp imitation butter extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup mashed bananas [ 2 large or 3 small bananas ]

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl combine whole wheat flour, baking powder and baking soda and salt and whisk or sift to combine. Set bowl of dry ingredients aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium to high speed mix the coconut oil with the sugars. Beat for 2-3 minutes until fully combined. Next, add in your egg and beat for another 1-2 minutes. Following that, add your extracts and mashed banana. After the wet ingredients are fully combined add your dry ingredients in two parts mixing on low after each pour. The batter should be quite thick, now you add your milk. Start with one cup, if it’s still fairly thick add the extra 1/4 cup. You want it to be slightly thicker than cake batter and pourable. Once added, fold your walnuts and rolled oats into the batter by hand, just enough to disperse them without over mixing. 

Pour the batter into your prepared muffin tins. It’s about a 1/4 cup of batter for each muffin if making large. The batter should reach the VERY top of the muffin pan! Just at the point where if you added more it would overflow. 

Bake the muffins for 15 minutes at 350. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes then remove and transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Muffins can be stored in the fridge for up to 8 days; wrap them snuggly in clear cling wrap! 

They also freeze beautifully! Wrap muffins individually in clear cling wrap and secure in an air tight ziploc bag. They can thaw at room temperature or overnight in the fridge. 

 

Enjoy!! xoxo

Weekend Reflections

Is it possible for a weekend to be simultaneously relaxing and laid back, yet productive? This weekend was definitely packed with a quality amount of late summer relaxation but also included my kick off training run in preparation for my marathon this spring. My husband and I have fallen madly in love with Boston Terriers after an absurd amount of puppy research. Due to the fact that we live in an apartment and both work it’s been quite a process trying to find the right breed for us. Bostons seem to be ideal, plus they’re insanely adorable. This afternoon we went to play with some puppies just to get a sense of their personality in person. Ugh, I had to hold back my tears. I wanted to take all three of them home! There is just something about those eyes, they’re so big and it’s as if they’re literally staring right into your heart and soul. Some women get baby fever…I have the worst case of doggy fever

 

Manhattan Love Story, a new show coming to ABC this fall filmed their pilot episode at my studio. The real score here was having access to the Craft services tent.get-attachment.aspx

 

 

Finishing another captivating Elin Hilderbrand novel while rehydrating and giving my legs some rest post-run.get-attachment.aspx

 

 

Snacks & draankss.

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Cookies & cream gelato pressed between two soft chocolate chip cookies = epic ice cream sandwich.

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Perfectly unnatural, fluorescent soda from the 150 flavor combination machine at Elevation Burger. This is strawberry Fanta + Peach Sprite + Fruit Punch Powerade. This totally satisfies my childhood quest of mixing EVERY single flavor at the soda fountain. 

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While the soda definitely stole the show for me, the food wasn’t bad either…

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Putting Poppy (yes, I named her. Yes, “her” meaning my mixer.) to work, testing out a new muffin recipe.

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Margs in the sun. 

 

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Walking out to the most beautiful day after an early afternoon showing of The Giver (could never be as good as the book, but this was surprisingly close!).

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Sweet little kittens that look like cheetahs.

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And the sweetest little Bostons that stole my heart in an instant.

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Of course, there was also Froyo. What is a summer weekend without it? However, it went undocumented because at $17.00 for my single cup….well, I’m embarrassing. 

 

xoxo

Summer Favorites

For a while I was coming up with a favorites post every week. Until I realized, I’m too much a creature of habit to have new favorites on a weekly basis. In reality, it’s more like a seasonal basis that new products, foods and etc. come into play.

So, I stopped the weekly posts for two reasons: 

1. Writing about the same shit once a week will bore us all to tears.

2. Trying to come up with new and exciting things I absolutely-omg-LOVED every week was exhausting. 

SO! Seasonal favorites it is! Here is a big ol’ pile of crap that I have been utterly obsessed with for the past few months:

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THINGS! 

I love all these products so much that that picture literally makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Before getting into detail on the product, let’s quickly discuss that minty green makeshift “vase” back there. It’s a large sized mason jar that I painted with a matte mint green Martha Stewart paint from Michael’s (I actually mixed two shades-Peapod & Ocean Breeze to create that exact color). After that dried I finished it with one coat of satin shellac from a hardware store. I stuffed in some coral and white fake flowers, also from Michael’s, because I adore the contrast of mint & coral like nothing else. It’s a great, cheap, easy DIY for anyone and would be especially cute in a dorm room! 

Moving along, let’s get into things that have made me extra happy this summer.

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We’re starting off with basic skin stuff. First, The Healthy Deodorant in Pure Vanilla scent that I picked up from Sephora back in June. I saw this at Sephora a while ago and while I was intrigued I was definitely hesitant to purchase because I wasn’t sure how an all-natural deodorant would stand  up to the amount of physical activity an sweat that my daily life demands. Then I saw some rave reviews about this product on Jaclyn Hill’s channel and figured I’d give it a shot. 

Wow. 

This product literally blew me away. Not only does it stand up to the most intense spin class, but it blocks sweat just as good as my super powerful, chemical-laden drug store deodorants! This may be TMI, but I’m that girl who’s underarms sweat buckets for NO REASON. Like, not even five minutes after throwing on a long sleeve top I will have that disgusting dark sweat circle from my side boob area down to my elbow. For real. I’m pretty sure this is hormonal as the amount of sweat I produce fluctuates throughout the course of my cycle. This deodorant, though, has kept me dry even the week before and the week of my period which is when my underarms seem to sweat the most uncontrollably. Also, the scent is incredible! I am in love with it and feel good when I use it knowing that I’m not depositing harmful substances into my skin and body. 

Next are these grapefruit scented cleansing wipes from Neutrogena. I teach multiple classes a day, work out and walk around the filthy-aired, polluted city of Manhattan on a daily basis. When I first started working in the city full time my skin went crazy. I’m talking breakouts like you wouldn’t believe. I knew it had to be the environment because unless it’s the week before my period, my skin does not break out. I picked these up as the alternative to washing my face 100000x a day. Of course, I do wash my face 1-2x more than I ever did now that I’m in the city but these are great for in between. I keep them in my work bag and wipe my face down after I teach, after a long walk that I feel a little grimy after or just when I need a refreshing pick me up.

Something to note with these wipes: I have incredibly oily skin, especially in the summer. These wipes are great for my skin type but my face does feel “tight” and slightly dry (although only for a few minutes) after using them. I would say they’re on the harsh side and would not recommend them to those of you with dry or sensitive skin. Definitely for my fellow oily chicks only. 

Tiger Balm Muscle Rub: This has been my SALVATION! I haven’t really used muscle rubs since I ran track in high school and I’m glad I found them again. I’m not crazy about IcyHot, it’s never actually soothed my muscle ache. This stuff tingles but once it soaks in my soreness completely dissipates. I can’t live without it, although I smell like a walking, breathing tube of toothpaste….but it’s worth it. 

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More skin things! I don’t know what it is but lately I’ve been somewhat OCD obsessive about my skin. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older. Maybe it’s because I’ve noticed the effects that the impurities of city air has had on me? Ugh, doesn’t that make me sound like such a spoiled little suburban twit? “OMG MY PRECIOUS SKIN CAN’T TAKE THIS ICKY CITY AIR!!!!!”. I’m that person. It’s fine. 

Let’s start with this purifying clay mask on the right. I picked this up for, like $3 at CVS. For a cheap product, I was beyond surprised. This does a great job at cleaning out my pores and pulling out impurities. Have you ever noticed, after using a mask or getting a facial, your pores “open up”? Not in a bad way where they look bigger, but, they literally look like they can breathe. That’s how I feel after I use this product. I can literally see my blackheads release. Once a week I’ll use this mask and follow it with an exfoliating scrub to remove all that gunk that had risen to the surface of my skin. As I said, I’m oily, so blackheads around my nose and chin are my biggest issue and this product battles them like a CHAMP. It’s wonderful.

Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado: If you know me, you know I’m the ultimate Kiehl’s junkie. They can do NO wrong. I rotate through several of their eye treatments and in the summer I adore this one. It’s incredibly moisturizing, but perfect for summer because it’s not too thick or greasy. I can use it during the week the week when I don’t wear any face makeup or powder and it doesn’t leave me looking crazy shiny like almost every other moisturizer in the world does. I don’t just use it on my eye area, I also rub it into my forehead. That’s a little trick I’ve been doing for years. I always put eye cream on both my forehead and neck. Eye cream is specially made for delicate skin and is incredibly moisturizing and great for wrinkle prevention and anti aging.

Khiel’s Creme de Corps Whipped Body Butter: This cream is crazy thick!! For a dry skinned person, it’s ideal! This cream is great in the winter but I especially love it in the summer. I don’t use it every day because it can feel greasy, especially if I’m out or working. However, this stuff is THE BEST product I’ve ever used post-beach!! After a day in the sun my skin DRINKS this stuff up!! If my skin is slightly burnt or dry this cream brings it back to life instantly. It also maintains my tan WAY better than any product I’ve tried that’s marketed to do just that. It’s a must have for any sun worshipper. 

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On to hair and body! This leave-in treatment from Kiehl’s is fairly new. OH MY GOSH. How did I ever live without this?! When I’m blonde my hair needs all the extra TLC it can get. I’ve been really good with my hair lately. I’ve been using the right products, obsessively putting oils on my ends, using leave ins, minimizing my use of heating tools and getting trims regularly. I got my most recent trim last week and my stylist told me my hair was looking MUCH better, healthier and even…THICKER!!!! I’ve always been very self concious of my thin hair so for her to grab my hair and tell me there was “so much of it” basically made my life. I’ve never been less than honest on this blog so I will tell you that I know a huge part of that improvement is due to the fact that I’m back at a healthy weight. When my weight and body fat was too low I didn’t get my period, my hormones were out of whack and my hair fell out in chunks on a daily basis. The one thing she recommended was that I use some moisturizing oils and leave in products after the shower, especially on my ends to keep the damage from my color to a minimum. 

Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille: Anyone who knows me knows that vanilla is my signature scent. Back in June I was craving a new perfume, something a little deeper and sexier than what I normally wear. This perfume delivered. It’s incredibly rich and the tobacco lends a unique, somewhat masculine scent that compliments the vanilla with a rich, almost spicy note. It’s incredibly sexy.

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Fun things! I am the epitome of a candle hoarder and this candle from Bath & Body Works is the ULTIMATE summer candle!!! If you closed your eyes and took a whiff, it would transport you right to your last trip to the beach when you were sitting in front of the crashing waves, inhaling the scent of the ocean while simultaneously rubbing in Coppertone sunscreen. It makes my apartment smell like a day at the beach. I have been especially loving it during the rainy days!

Essie nail polish in Tart Deco: Few things compliment a tan better than a coral manicure or pedicure. This color is the ideal coral! So beautiful and so classic!

Pavan Liquor: Clearly we can see that this bottle is nearly half way gone. IT’S SO DELICIOUS! I have had it straight, mixed in champagne, added to white sangria, added to a margarita and with vodka and club soda. At first I couldn’t recognize just what the flavor was, but then it hit me……this tastes EXACTLY like SWEET TARTS!! Oh my gosh, it’s just incredible. It’s tart and refreshing and not at all syrupy or overwhelmingly sweet like most liquors are, which is why I can have it straight. Also, that bottle. The liquid is a golden hue so when it’s full (which won’t last long, trust) its a gorgeous golden turquoise ombre. So pretty!

 

Sorry for the length of this post, but I hope you enjoyed these reviews! Please share any current favorite things you’ve been loving this summer! I can always use an extra excuse to shop ;)

xoxo