Counting My Blessings

Thursday, November 28, 2013

How many times do we ask someone for something? Now, contrast that with how many times we say "thank you" for the things we have? I'll admit it: my comparison is embarrassingly unbalanced. It's just so easy for hardworking, focused gals to shoot for the stars and forget the wonderful things we've got below. When fall began, I vowed to take the time to count my blessings in my fall bucket list post. What better time than Thanksgiving to do that?

"Thankful" by Josh Groban

Graduating law school & passing the bar. I get really down on myself at times for all the things I'm convinced I should've accomplished by now. But the truth is, although I've got so much more to accomplish, I've done quite well for myself so far.

Unconditional love from my parents. Our parents will always care about us because they made us. But, frankly, they don't have to love us unconditionally, and I'm so lucky that mine do. Whether it's my mom's courtesy calls to talk about the Voice contestants or my dad bringing me treats he thought I'd like while he was shopping, I'm reminded everyday about how amazing they both are. And that's a huge understatement. I wouldn't be, at all, if it were not for them.

My incredibly sweet boyfriend, who's way too good to me. Speaking of my prince, I'm truly blessed to have a man in my life who's tolerated me and my eccentricities for far longer than I expected. Not just tolerated, but loved. Neither of us are perfect, but our silly dance parties and cuddle fights are moments I live for. I've always been content on my own, but you make me a long for a life with someone beside me. And I truly believe that person can be you.


Supportive yet inspiring best friends. The people I'm lucky enough to call my best friends are each amazing in their own right, but collectively, they form an invaluable support system - always there to catch my tears when they fall but give me room to grow absent judgement and fear.

Lipstick Stains & Coffee Cups. I started blogging this July as a way to break up the agony that is studying for the bar. Truthfully, I should've done so long ago. I've always felt like writing was the best and only logical way for me to express myself. Nothing seemed to come out right anyway else. I'm so thankful for this blog and the people I've connected with along the way.

Photo Credit

A beautiful NYC skyline for reminding me that this world is so much bigger than myself and my daily struggles. That no matter what is going on in my life, I can always depend on those city lights to set the sky ablaze night after night. Cheers to this city, for being alive and welcoming no matter what time I take to the streets for a long walk to clear my mind. For being my sanity and my solitude. You complete me :)

Finding  myself. Sometimes, I get frustrated because I'm twenty-five and just now feel like I'm finding myself. And furthermore, I went through those crucial "finding years" between 18 and 22, only to realize I knew who I was and wanted to be all along. I have to remind myself constantly that there are so many people older than I who have yet to begin finding themselves because they don't even know that they're lost. Yes, that's a paraphrase from Avicii's "Wake Me Up" because it embodies much of what I've been feeling these past few months. Whether it's about finding myself or creating myself, I'm so lucky to be here, now.  

Photo Credit; Edited by me

What are you thankful for this year?

I Have A Confession.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I'm addicted to Instagram. Well, that's not much of a confession these days.

Correction. I'm addicted to Instagram comments. Hmm, that's a little odd.

To be specific, I'm addicted to the hating-type comments and commenting fights people get into  over a celebrity/pseudo-celebrity's post on Instagram. Okay, this woman needs therapy. 
You see the problem now, right? Seriously, I can't quite figure out when I stopped being a lover, but suddenly watching or rather reading people hate on celebrities can occupy me for nearly an hour before I snap myself out of it. It's like a trance. I actually don't follow that many celebrities on Instagram. But one of their pictures will scroll across my feed (or someone I follow will post a screenshot) and before I know it - I'm clicking and searching and then clicking again, and bam! I bump smack into a comment war about how Kim K's bottom must be fake because how else could it look that good in a white bathing suit post baby weight. And then I'm slightly obsessed with the thread of comments. I must know what was said before and after that comment, and I have to know what made xO_iLoveYouKim call Why_Is_Kim_Relevant a 'dirty hating wannabe hoe'. (Yes, that phrase was uttered as an insult to a Kim K hater. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.) And to top it all off, I'm not even personally invested in the slightest. I mean, I give Kim K props because she looks good, real or not real, but I don't particularly hate her or love her (now Khloe's different - Laahhvvveee her!). So why am I researching this all like a private eye, examining the picture for editing or incision marks and checking the profiles of commenters who seem like attention-seekers? I honestly don't have an answer, at least not a good one.

It's mostly entertaining. It's astounding how personally invested people get with a celebrity's life, which social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter give us an unclose and personal look at daily or whenever they update. And I find it hilarious how people take the time to post such hateful comments on someone's photo and then others find it necessary to defend that person as if they were best friends, resulting a 1,000+ comment love/hate fest. Can't you all just judge and obsess silently like the rest of us (somewhat) normal people? And when did people get so damn mean? It's not like your comments are getting lost in the webs of the internet, never to be seen again. These celebrities get that same little symbol over their heart tab just like the rest of us. I can't imagine opening up Instagram and reading some of those comments.  

Moral of the story: people are despicable. Just kidding. The moral is that I need to find a much better use of my time. For real.

I can't be the only one with a (not so) slightly strange habit on social media. Care to share a few of yours?

Being An Adult: House Cleaning

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A few days ago, I posted a (rather lengthy and typically silly) comment to the blog of someone I recently (and randomly) followed. A piece of said comment went a little something like this:
Lack of what my mother would call “tidiness”? I just tossed a carton of milk with September 29th on it, I should get some kind of award or maybe they should condemn my fridge:\ & well, the smaller the space, the bigger the reason to have all my stuff all over it. I find new places to stuff unnecessary things everyday. 
Yeah, I'm that girl. Ask any of my friends. Well, you kinda can't. So just trust me: I am. When it comes to my apartment, I am an organized, yet complete, mess. I'm not so messy that I can't locate anything, but most of my belongings are usually strewn about my apartment. My favorite top isn't in the "tops drawer", but I know without a doubt it's wedged between the shoe box and the printer under my dining room table, so it's all good. Except it's not.

It's actually quite terrible that I'm such a hot mess, or rather that my apartment usually is. This past weekend I sat down and silently berated myself: I'm twenty-five years old. People are married with children and a stable career/business at my age. I need to get it together. And at the very same time, I saw Blair Fowler's recent video. Now, I'm not nearly as ambitious as she is (frankly, I don't have all that time; that's a lot she's got going on!), but I'm working on a cleaning schedule of my own. So here I am, telling you about my untidiness issue and my plan to hopefully solve (or at least curb it) a little bit.  

wash dishes
wipe down bathroom sink
organize/clean off coffee table & dining table
make bed
put clothes away
tidy dresser & nightstands
clear off couch
take out trash
spot clean as necessary

wipe down mirrors & windows
tidy living room (Tuesday)
tidy bedroom & change bedsheets (Wednesday)
do laundry & drop off dry cleaning (Wednesday)
clean bathroom (Thursday)
vacuum, dust, swiffer floors (Thursday)
clean kitchen (Friday)
sort through mail & take out recycling (Saturday)

scrub bathtub & bath tiles
clean out fridge & pantries
clean oven

replace dish towel & sponge
wipe down couch & clean between cushions
wipe down wood furniture throughout apartment
wash/dry clean duvet cover & euro shams

steam clean carpets
sort through & organize clothing
flip mattress (¼ annually)
dry clean duvets & blankets
Spring/Fall deep cleaning
sort through makeup

How do you handle "big girl things" like cleaning?

Monday Morning Motivation

Monday, November 25, 2013

Friday Favorites & Obsessions

Friday, November 22, 2013

LuLuLemon Star Runner Pullover. Am I a "Star Runner"? Not even close. But this pullover is still great for my measly beginner status. Whether I'm jogging lightly or walking (eep!), this rulu/mesh top keeps me warm yet dry and is super soft too. Did I mention that I got it on sale in store? #Winning. Go here and click the video in the the center to learn more about it!
Best Disney Channel Original Movies. This article gives us a list of 25 DC movies that need to be released on DVD. I agreed with so many of them, especially the #1 movie which is my all-time favorite DC movie. And then someone mentioned Tru Confessions in the comments (it wasn't on the list), and I cried just remembering it and Shia LaBeuf's special moments. Such an amazing movie.
This video. Jane Elliott's constructs an exercise that separates blue-eyed students from those with brown eyes to teach a valuable life lesson, and the results are pretty startling. The lengthy video is worth watching in its entirety, but I think the best part is from 2:00 until 8:10. I researched a bit and found out that Elliott's been teaching this exercise for a very long time - click here to see the demonstration from 1970!

Hooray for Friday!

*** Early morning friday favorite addition - Catching Fire! I went to the midnight showing of the second movie installment to the Hunger Games series and it was ah-mazing!

-- Note to self: must be as badass as Katniss Everdeen. 

10 Things I Learned From Carrie Bradshaw & the Gang.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I took a second to look back through my blog posts today and was very surprised that I hadn't posted anything about this before, considering how obsessed I am with it. 

Sex And The City changed my life. How is it possible that a television that premiered and ended all before I turned 16 years old had such a major impact on my life? I know that it doesn't seem logical at all. But the truth is I own the entire box set and both movies, I worship Carrie Bradshaw's style (comparable only to that of Ms. Blair Waldorf but that is a rant for a different day!), and I find myself quoting the show more than I care to admit. I love these women, I love this show.
I'm a firm believer that everyone and everything has value and can teach you something. After re-watching the entire series for, I don't know, the bagillionth time, here are a few things the lovely women of Sex And The City taught me: 

Lesson#1: Let him chase you. You've gotta know that you're worth it, and that if some guy doesn't think so, then he's not worth it. The ladies of Sex And The City weren't perfect and, at times, even came off a bit desperate for love (like a single Charlotte declaring she was getting married that year in season 3). Yet, each of the women ended up with men that truly valued them, whether they knew it at fist sight or it took a few seasons. Even Mr. Big (whom lots of people thought Carrie a fool for letting back in) chased Carrie all the way to Paris.    

Lesson #2: Don't rush the "M" word. It's okay not to be married. None of these women were married before their mid-30s.


Sure, as stated above, Charlotte frequently freaked out about all the 26 year-olds with their husbands and babies, but the marriages that lasted were the ones that happened in their own sweet time. And Samantha never got married, but couldn't be happier. True love exists and eventually, we will find that person who's just our type of weird. "Some where, out there, is another little freak who will love us, understand us, and kiss our three heads and make it all better."

Lesson #3: It's also okay to be sexy & comfortable with it. But it's not all about sex. If the title of show didn't drive that home, the content sure did. Sex and the City was about sex, but it was also about the city and the friendship these 4 women shared. Yet the "sexy" wasn't in short abundance, that's for sure. Each woman was uniquely sexy and either coming to terms with it or basking in it. We all no Samantha was not afraid to love sex and warded off any judgments, even when occasionally from her friends. Miranda had no issue with the idea of casual hookups and decided somewhere in the middle of the series that neither her number of sexual partners nor her single status was going to define her. Even though Charlotte truly was a hopeless romantic, she was no stranger to the dynamics of a sexual relationship, frequently surprising her girls with a sexual tip here and there. And Carrie, well, she was a sex columnist after all. And of course, there was no shortage of sex talk, which leads into the next lesson.

Lesson #4: Say what you need to say. There is no topic too taboo, no sight too unsightly that we can't talk about it. In fact, it isn't even necessary to talk about it within the confines of your best girlfriend's apartment. We can talk about faking it, cheating, getting pregnant, and dating politically-incorrect politicians, or chat about dirty talk, post-it breakups and religious conversions at a dinner table in the middle of this week's trendiest restaurant. You just may have to refer to it as "coloring" when there are minors around.

Lesson #5: We can't be fabulous all the time. By the end of the series, each woman had found their perfect fashion statement but not before a few fashion faux-pas. But we live, we learn, right?

Lesson #6: Heed the red flags. Sure. Those insanely awkward situations from our college years make for some great stories to tell. But that doesn't mean you should ignore your deal breakers. Had Miranda left when her recent beau wanted to have sex in the back of a taxi, she might have been spared the embarrassment of him not caring as his parents walked in during the act days later. A man spouting derogatory terms at you during sex should be deal breaker, not a project as Charlotte learned in season 3. Samantha should've spared herself the time and energy courting a Friar - he's just not that into you, or sex for that matter. And Carrie should've known that getting involved with a guy she met at her shrink's office was evidence of her shrink's conclusion that she chooses the wrong men.

Lesson #7: Be self-sufficient. We all love shoes, but you won't love them so much when you realize that the $40,000 you need to buy your apartment back from your ex is the $40,000 worth of shoes on your shelves. Cautionary tale, indeed. Both Miranda and Samantha worked big girl job and as a result, we're always financially  stable. And somehow, Carrie and Charlotte made the glamorous life happen on the salary of a columnist and an art studio manager. Yet, both women gave up parts of themselves for relationships they were convinced were going to last (Carrie's apartment and Charlotte's career) and learned the valuable lesson of self-sufficiency.  

Lesson #8: Love the skin your in. None of the girls has major body image issues and they were all quite slim, but the show also never glorified the model-esque stature. Although she was short, Carrie dabbled into modeling one episode but was fantastically bad at it.

And I vaguely remember an episode where Carrie talked Charlotte through her insecurity with her thighs, giving her the courage to strut confidently into the sauna at the gym.

Lesson #9: And age gracefully. Even with Carrie's witty "it got old" response to Miranda's question of what happened to aging gracefully, aging was never cast in a strictly negative light and occupied very little of the show's content. When the series began, all of the women were in their mid-30s, except for our dear Samantha. Despite all the talk of being an old maid and dear Samantha who celebrated her 35th birthday a few times, complaints about wrinkles or sagging skin were kept to a minimum. These women embraced their age without sacrificing any of the style and sass, proving your 30s and even your 40s or 50s aren't a death sentence (as YOLO chanting 20-somethings would have us believe).

Lesson #10: Everyone needs good girlfriends, whether it's to help you through a terrible breakup or set you straight when you're being a little cray cray. The ladies had so many lovely moments, supporting each other through everything. Carrie, Charlotte and Samantha support Miranda in Philly at her mother's funeral although she insisted she was fine. Samantha babysat for new mommy Miranda, who was in desperate need of some "me" time. In the season 2 opener, all the women support Carrie through her recent break-up, yet Miranda provides a much needed reality check when all conversations lead to relationships - "How does it happen that 4 such smart women have nothing to talk about but boyfriends... what about us?" You tell 'em, Miranda. And in season 3, a soon-to-be-wife Charlotte is not too happy with Carrie for having an affair with a very married Big, and she tells her flat out as they pack up Charlotte apartment.
Right before the ladies send him to get Carrie, Big said it best: "You girls are the loves of her life. A guy is just lucky to come in fourth."

...Err in the direction of kindness.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

As I waddled up to the door with Trader Joe's bags in each hand, an unknown hand reached the handle first and tugged it open. Once I reached the second door to the storefront, I turned to hold it open for the customer I thought was behind me and didn't see anyone there. Then it dawned on me. That woman just held the door for me. I was astounded and I walked through the Container Store in a daze that only a rush of endorphins from a random, and totally unsolicited, act of kindness (or a really good workout) can give you. I literally wanted to drop my bags and run out of the store so I could find this saintly woman and thank her for her gesture. What's wrong with me? At first, I chalked it up to being a New Yorker, completely jaded and totally unaccustomed to anything other than a side eye and a side step from fellow New Yorkers. But then I thought about it. Man, they just don't make 'em like that anymore. It didn't matter that this was a major U.S. city where people weave between each other with little to no eye contact. This was humanity. Kindness is a virtue lost on most of humanity. Society trains us expect the worst from those who don't "owe" us anything and to refrain from extending yourself to those we aren't directly connected with.

Photo Credit
But perhaps, it's not all "doom and gloom". Strangely enough, over the past few months, kindness seems to be a theme that I've encountered quite a bit.  Sometime this past fall, Carli Bybel hosted a "Random Act of Kindness" challenge, doing just that - challenging her viewers to step out of their comfort zones and do something randomly kind for another person. Of course,
there were some people who misinterpreted this as a ploy to secure more viewership, but it seemed more genuine than that. Regardless of her motives, Carli inspired countless viewers to extend themselves, whether that was purchasing a meal for a homeless person or gathering clothes for a family going through a crisis. And, I think, when it comes to kindness towards those in desperate need of it, the result outweighs the motive.

Two weeks after I completed the bar exam and about two months after graduating law school, my mom emailed me an inspiring article from the New York Times. The article features a convocation speech given by George Saunders at Syracuse University in May of this year. The speech was given with the intention of inspiring recent graduates to "err in the direction of kindness" no matter what forces work against them in that plight. Yet, in August, this message proved to be just as relevant to both my mom and I simply as people looking to be better people. And I think everyone can relate to that.

I've read this speech about ½ a dozen times and I find it just as moving with every re-read, finding new lessons and gems of wisdom tucked within the words of another. Here are a few of my favorite passages:
So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it: 
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.   
Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly.  Reservedly.  Mildly.  
Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope:  Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?  
Those who were kindest to you, I bet.  
It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.
Do all the other things, the ambitious things – travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.  Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial.  That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality – your soul, if you will – is as bright and shining as any that has ever been.  
It's been over three months after stumbling upon this article, and I must admit that I'm still
trying to find a way to truly implement this advice in my life. Like most people, I've always longed to be a part of something that was bigger than myself. I don't want to regret not stepping in with stronger force on behalf of someone who really needed me to. I want to be that unknown hand holding the door for someone with too much to carry - not because they asked me to but because I saw them and knew they needed a helping hand.

What do you think about the role kindness plays in our lives? Do you agree that for most it is secondary to a host of other things?

Monday Morning Motivation

Monday, November 18, 2013


Friday Favorites & Obsessions

Friday, November 15, 2013

November 15, 2013

New Layout! I've been working on this layout for a week or two, and it finally went live this past  Monday! Whatcha think?
How To Eat An Apple 101. An apple a day keeps the doctor away? Maybe not, as we've been eating it wrong all along! Yeah, apparently apples are supposed to be eaten from top to bottom. I don't like biting into fruits as it usually irritates my mouth, but I'm still a bit surprised. Watch the video here.
"Ooh, Kill 'Em, Terio." I'm so very behind on this adorable little man and I know this. But I've watched it multiple times this week, and now say this constantly. It's actually kind of annoying, now that I think about it. Haven't seen it yet? Just google "terio ooh kill em".   

Also, I've changed my commenting system to Disqus because A - I like that it emails me (& you!) when someone responds to a comment, and B - I like the way it looks. What do you think?

Oh, & happy weekend!

A Girl Who Reads: Mockingjay

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Title: Mockingjay

Author: Suzanne Collins

Publication: 2010

Major Characters: Katniss Everdeen and friends

Main Plot: Katniss Everdeen has sparked something that she can no longer control. But should she want to? And, how can it be the subject of both her dreams and her nightmares? When she's become the face of a movement but not truly at it's all-knowing center, it's nearly impossible to know what's true and what isn't. But the odds are in her favor - real or not real?

Favorite Line(s):
"It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart."

"You're still trying to protect me. Real or not real," he whispers. "Real," I answer. "Because that's what you and I do, protect each other."

"There are still moments when he clutches the back of a chair and hangs on until the flashbacks are over. I wake screaming from nightmares of mutts and lost children. But his arms are there to comfort me. And eventually his lips."

My Rating: 5

Considering that this is the final installment of the Hunger Games series, I have to be careful not to give too much away. (We're in the business of reviews not spoilers). It's tough not to gush about this book though because I thought it was the perfect culmination to the story of Katniss Everdeen. The first two books introduce us to Katniss, a 16 year-old girl from one of the 13 districts of Panem, the post-apocolyptic nation that arose after the fall of North America. The reader learns to love this young girl, whose rebellious yet fiercely loyal nature is on display from the first page. She's compassionate but not afraid to kill when she must, big-hearted but capable of holding back tears when she needs to. By the time of the Reaping in the Hunger Games book, I wanted to be Katniss Everdeen. And that hasn't changed in the 1,200+ pages of her story.

When I closed the cover of Mockingjay, her story felt finished. Those who've read the 3rd book may disagree because, without ruining it for those who haven't read it, it's not a neat little bow. But life's not nice and neat. It's messy. That's true of war and true of life. While some things get resolved, other things remain undone. And that's okay. I particularly loved the final chapter. There isn't much action really, but the chapter covers a lot of ground, taking us months deeper into the story. It's quite a bit of thinking and reflecting, but it answers what I consider to be the burning question of the series: What will be left of Katniss, of everyone, when this is all over? Collins answers this question indirectly as she explains in simple, elegant language the everyday life of most of the characters. Not all the characters ended up as I would've hoped because we all play favorites. Yet, in my opinion, the future of each character rang completely true to who they were - warts, (liquor-addictions,martyrdom) and all.

Have you read Mockingjay? What did you think of the ending? And better yet, what should I read next?!  

Finding Fitness

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I've struggled with how to write this post for a while. In fact, a post titled "fitness journey" sat in my draft list as a placeholder almost since I started blogging. I knew I wanted to write about it. I just wasn't sure when or how, and I wanted to have enough content on here before I delved into it. So pardon me, while I fumble through my story. 

As a child and teen, I was always active, taking my turn at ballet, dance, track, basketball and gymnastics, the last of which I practiced for 10 years. I struggled with my weight after I quit gymnastics during the summer before college, but entered my freshman year at PSU firmly in control of it. Somewhere within that four years of beer pong and partying, I lost control of my fitness again and graduated college at +70 pounds. I was embarrassed and tired and frustrated. Once I got back to New York for law school, I was determined not to feel that way, and I shed 55 pounds over the course of 18 months. Most of all, I felt more fit than I had felt in nearly 10 years - not quite the 130 pounds of muscle I use to be as a 16 year-old gymnast but feeling so in control of my body that it didn't matter. 

Enter life. During my final semester of law school, the combination of personal happenings, academics and being the Editor-in-Chief of my law journal took up all the available space on my metaphorical plate, and I ate all of it without regard to what I was doing to myself. And within what felt like the blink of an eye, I was 30 pounds heavier. It was my clothing that first hinted at it - pants that wouldn't zip as easily, shirts that bunched around the buttons -, but I ignored it because there was too much going on to concern myself with it. I had to publish 2 journal issues, prepare for my client's case, study for finals and handle the life drama that pops up at the most inopportune moments. Then I had to register for the bar and prep courses, study for and then pass the bar. And all the while, I assured myself that it was just a few pounds and I'd shed them as soon as I got things settled. Fitness and exercise could wait, but these other things,  they could only be done right now. 

Was I right? I'm not sure. To say that I was completely wrong, that you should always make time for exercise,  would be over-dramatic in my opinion (although I would say that a eating healthy is always possible and preferrable). I don't think it's that simple. Would I have rather maintained my weight instead of graduating law school and passing the bar? No, I can't say that. (Bleh, that sounded like a brag, but I didn't mean it that way.) All I know is that I'm +30 pounds away from feeling fit and I'm not happy with the way that feels. 

So there's my story. The tale of how I found fitness and than lost it (or gave it away depending on how you look at it). It's quite depressing now that I read it back, and I find myself frustrated that I let it all happen to me, instead of making things happen. I know that my solution is to go back to my roots a.k.a the way I did things 3 years ago when I was dedicated to feeling and looking better (a journey I documented on my fitblr, which you can find here although I never post anymore). And I know that I'm going to find fitness again. I know that I have to. 

Jojoba, I lo-lo-ve you.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A few Saturdays ago, I left Zumba class and my scalp was on fire. On fire. It took everything in my power not to dig my hands into my hair and scratch my itchy scalp as I walked down the street. I enjoy working out, and I really love Zumba, but this intense itchy feeling I can do without. After making rummaging through my hair care bin, I discovered a solution in jojoba oil.

Pronounce "ho-ho-ba", this oil has worked small miracles in my life since its entry. Jojoba is actually a shrub that grows in the southern region of the U.S. and Mexico (see picture above), and the oil comes from the seeds of the plant. After doing tons of research, I discovered the many uses of jojoba oil and I've been hooked ever since. Jojoba oil is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, as Native Americans made use of it to clean wounds for years, and can also be used as a tanning oil, an eye makeup remover, and an acne treatment to name a few. But I mainly use it as natural moisturizer for my hair and skin.

Photo Credit
Softening hair, removing dandruff and calming an itchy scalp.
Jojoba oil has become a part of my hair care regime over the past few months for removing flakes and reliving the dreaded itchy scalp. 
Because of the texture of my hair, I don't have to wash my hair as frequently and I can plan things out accordingly. So, the night before I plan to wash my hair, I moisturize my hair and scalp with a combination of oils. In a clear squeeze bottle, I mix jojoba oil and tea tree oil (don't sleep on tea tree oil - it's the bomb too!), and apply the mixture, concentrating on my scalp. Then, I work a generous amount of jojoba oil through my hair and moisturize the ends of my hair with argan oil. Before going to bed, I pull my hair into a bun on the top of my head, being sure to tuck the ends in. After washing and conditioning the next day, I'm left with hydrated, soft and flake-free hair. 
To relieve an itchy scalp, I just use the dropper nozzle on the clear bottle. Parting my hair horizontally, I apply the mixture as close as possible to my scalp without irritating it.

Quenching dry skin.
During the winter, most women go through various moisturizing products, searching for the one that will keep skin soft and soothe dry skin. Jojoba oil absorbs easily, hydrating it without leaving any greasy residue behind. And the oil doesn't have an odor which I really like, because sometimes a scented lotion gets in the way of whatever perfume I chose for the day. In fact, if you look at the ingredients, lots of moisturizers contain jojoba oil. So it's no wonder that it's known to trap moisture and combat both wrinkles and signs of aging. One of my favorite uses is rubbing a bit of oil onto a dry patch which, like magic, makes it disappear. It's also a pretty awesome as a pre-shave conditioner.

Convinced yet? Is jojoba oil part of your beauty arsenal? Let me know below! 

Monday Morning Motivation

Monday, November 11, 2013

Friday Favorites & Obsessions

Friday, November 8, 2013

"Chocolate" by The 1975. I have a slight YouTube obsession, which is partially what led me to this song (see Miss Glamorazzi's recent video). I've also been on the hunt for great British artists ever since hearing some pretty awesome stuff in a few bars and club during my visit. I can't help but dance around to this :)

Victoria's Secret Body Wash, Butter & Spray in Such A Flirt. My ultimate favorite is the Pure Seduction scent, but in an effort to use the products that I have, I haven't allowed myself to repurchase it until I use up some stuff. And in the process, I've found this alluring, fruity mixture of starfruit and white orchid - although it's no Pure Seduction!
Olivet Middle School Football Team. The entire team was in on a 'secret play' for their teammate, Keith. For more about the play affectionately dubbed "the Keith Special", click here or watch the video below. I love hearing stories like this, especially at a time when children can be so mean.

Happy Weekend!

Beauty Product Review: Tree Hut Shea Sugar Body Scrub

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tree Hut Shea Sugar Body Scrub

I didn't mean to like this scrub. I really didn't. Let me explain.

I've been using Lush's Ocean Salt for about a year now as a body scrub, although most people utilize it as a facial one. I've repurchased it and plan to do so in the future. But one Sunday (my pampering day), I looked into an empty container in shock. Where did this magical stuff go so quickly, and why did I not notice it until 9pm tonight? So, I jumped into some shoes, grabbed my keys, and ran out to Bed, Bath & Beyond to grab any ol' scrub for the night. I'd read a review on this scrub on Elle Fowler's blog, Dreaming in Blush, but didn't necessarily see it as a must-have. But as I searched the beauty section that night, I gravitated towards it as it was the only scrub I recognized, and carried the container in the Brazilian Nut scent to the register.

And so the temporary solution became a permanent member! It's a gentle scrub but you definitely feel it as it sloshes away your dead skin to reveal a new layer of baby soft, supple skin. However, although it certainly isn't drying, I find that I still need to use a body lotion or body butter afterwards, which I'm not accustomed to with Ocean Salt. This doesn't bother me though because I always moisturize after a shower even when I don't need to. Now, Ocean Salt will always be a holy grail product, but I am partial to this brazil nut scrub as it leaves a wonderful yet faint scent of coffee behind it. Taking a whiff of it is like walking into a coffee shop, and I sigh every time I open it up. Furthermore, I can't deny that the price is like a dream in comparison to a lot of the products that I've tried. The container I have is huge with over 18 oz of product for only $6-$8 at my local drugstore (whereas Ocean Salt retails for $35 for a 8 oz jar). The drugstore also carries a body butter of comparable price, which I've contemplated recently but can't seem to justify purchasing. There are also body wash/scrub/butter trios in a few other scents, including mango and almond.   

Overall, I can't say for sure that this product occupies the #1 spot on my list of best body scrubs, but it's on the list for sure! I feel as though it will always be in the arsenal regardless, if only for its scent alone!

Have you tried this scrub, or do you have any other recommendations? Leave me a comment & let me know!

My New York City Love Affair ❤: Lady Mendl's Tea Salon Afternoon Date

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Although I'm only just finished season 2, Downton Abbey is one of my favorite shows ever. I usually don't enjoy period pieces whether they be television shows, films or books. But there is something about this series that transports me into the early 1900s in way that makes me wish I were part of it - and even convinces me I am at certain times! I just adore the British accents, formal dinner dress code, and somewhat subliminal humor and punchlines.

The closest most of us will ever get to life at this country estate in Yorkshire is afternoon or high tea. And to most people's surprise, New York City has a few wonderful tea salons. Google "high tea nyc" and over a dozen little shops will pop up. It would be a sin to visit the city, and not stop in for a spot of tea at one of these places. So, what's a girl to do when one of her best friends is leaving the city to embark on a wonderful adventure in Chicago? Afternoon tea, tarts and a bit of harmless gossip, of course! Lucky was I to procure the company of the lovely Jac of City Girl Finding Her Place In The World for a real life 'blate' at Lady Mendl's Tea Salon in Gramercy.

That luxurious floor length fur? Oo, kill 'em!
Elsie de Wolfe, better known as Lady Mendl, was famously known for her innovative eye for decor in the early 20th century, and affectionately referred to as "the first lady of interior design". She redesigned the homes of her impressive clientele, which included the Vanderbilts and Henry Clay Frick, bringing their spaces from the darkness of prior years into the light of the new century. Her design aesthetic was feminine and delicate, and focused on light, fresh colors. Lady Mendl was also a prominent socialite in both New York and Paris, having been considered the "best dressed woman in the world" by some. She sounds like fantastic company, don't you think?!
Lady Mendl's Tea Salon sits on the ground floor of the Inn at Irving Place, an adorable hidden walk-up on a quiet block in Gramercy. It is decorated in a style that seems reminiscent of her classic tastes, and feels cozy and delicate, as though the perfect space to chat and laugh with my girlfriends until we can hardly breathe.

 The only thing one has to choose at Lady Mendl's is what tea you'll be taking, as everything else is prix fixe. Over the times that I've visited, I almost always go for a white tea, staying away from the darker stuff (White Peony is my favorite!). Jac & I both had rather light teas with hints of jasmine, and alternated pots often so we could sample each other's (although we each liked our own best!). Once you order your tea, your server comes back promptly with a pretty big pot full of fresh brewed tea. No two teapots are exactly alike here, adding to the shabby chic feel of this little gem, but all are floral printed (as are the plates and other china). Apparently, they will refill your pot should you happen to drink it all, but I've never been able to finish mine quick enough. But it's the thought that counts, right?

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