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quick tip: what to wear when you travel.

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Vacation! Huzzah. It’s about gosh darn time. I’m heading out to see the parents (affectionately referred to as Barb and HTRP — Hal the Retired Plumber) in North Idaho for a full week of relaxation in the wilderness. Idaho is the anti-Manhattan in the best possible way. The air is clear and there are no taxis honking wildly and a ‘traffic jam’ is only ever like five cars slowing down because there’s a moose in the road. It’s a glorious adventure in great sleep and days spent in the kitchen and dinners at the picnic table in the back yard. I. Can’t. Wait. I love me some city but I’m a country girl at my core.

Getting from New York to Idaho, as you can imagine, is a bit of a trek. Multiple flights and a significant drive are par for the course, which is why when it comes to my travel wardrobe; comfort, longevity and multi-purpose use are at the top of my list. No one needs to look like a total schlub when they’re traveling (don’t even get me started with the people who wear their pajamas to the airport), but your wardrobe should be thoughtfully selected — this isn’t the time for a ball gown either. You can meet the needs of your travels and do it stylishly with a few simple tips.

A few things to consider:

Planes and airports are dirty places. Like really dirty. Choose an outfit that can handle that. Stick to dark colors and durable fabrics in case your seat mate decides that some of their red wine would look really great on your jeans. Leave your whites and pastels at home.

Temperatures tend to fluctuate greatly during travel. Who hasn’t been on a flight that was stifling one minute and freezing the next? Come prepared with layers to ensure you’re equipped for whatever temps come your way. Stick to natural fabrics that are breathable and are less prone to wrinkles. And factor in the weather at your destination — do you need to bring a jacket? Does your outfit translate easily to different climates? Don’t forget your sunglasses!

You carry a bunch of shit with you when you travel. You know you do, so invest in a stylish yet durable travel tote. Don’t bring your entire apartment with you, but have a bag big enough that it can easily carry your wallet, a bag of travel-sized toiletries, your laptop/tablet, a snack for the plane, and anything you’re taking to entertain yourself during your flight or layover.

You’re basically going to get naked going through security. With security protocol the way it is these days, keeping it simple is key. I’m loving the gladiator sandal trend for spring, but if I can’t slip my shoes on and off with ease, they’re not my day-of travel choice. This applies to clothing as well — choose pieces that are easy to take on and off and limit the amount of accessories you wear. This will save you time getting through security and will limit the serious side eye you’ll get from other travelers when it takes you 20 minutes just to disrobe.

Below are a few favorites from my travel wardrobe (incidentally also what I’m wearing today, minus the Givenchy tote — but isn’t she pretty?). These get me from Point A to Point B with ease, and I look good doing it. Onward to Idaho!

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makeup monday: how to make your lipstick stay all day.

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Y’all know how much I love lipstick. I really, really do.

But what I love even more is lipstick that stays all day. I picked up the following method a few years ago after an embarrassing amount of internet research and I’ve never looked back. The Two Coat Method is simple and genius and ensures that your kisser stays quite kissable from dawn til dusk. The use of a highly pigmented lip color is key here; this won’t work for a sheer formula or a gloss. Those are not meant to stay all day, so no matter how many coats you apply, they’re going to be gone by the first sip of your morning latte. If you use a highly pigmented color (Nars, Stila and Revlon all have great options), however, this trick will work beautifully. All you’ll need is your lipstick of choice, a tissue, concealer, and some translucent powder.

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Here we go.

  1. First things first. A key step to ensuring your lipstick looks great and has staying power is to start with lips that are moisturized and smooth. You can do this several ways — if you have a lip scrub, like Fresh Sugar Lip Polish, use that. If you don’t, a wet washcloth is a great substitute. Rub the washcloth vigorously across your lips to exfoliate, then moisturize with your favorite lip balm. Mine is this one.
  2. After you’ve given your lips a chance to absorb the balm (I usually do the rest of my makeup during this time), blot any excess balm with a tissue. Then grab your lipstick, smile at yourself in the mirror (hey you!), and begin to apply the lip color onto your bottom lip. You can do this either straight from the bullet if you have a steady hand, or you can use a lip brush for a bit more control.
  3. Once you have a good layer of color on your bottom lip, press your lips together a few times to coat your top lip and to get some of the color to sink into your lips, creating a stain of sorts. Fill in the rest of your top lip to your liking, make any necessary adjustments to your bottom lip, and press your lips together again. Don’t forget to get into the corners!
  4. Now, take your tissue, and with your mouth slightly open, blot your lips. Don’t be afraid to get in there; you want to really push the lipstick into your lips. When you’re done blotting, discard the tissue.
  5. Grab your lipstick again and apply a second coat of color. You can be a little less precise with this layer, the goal is just to add color where you need it, but the shape should be set at this point.
  6. The final step is the awkward but effective ‘stick a finger in your mouth and pull it out again’ trick, which will ensure that none of your lip color ends up on your teeth (oh, the horror).
  7. The final final step, if you really want staying power, is to brush your lips lightly with translucent powder. You may want to skip this step if your lips tend to dry out easily, but otherwise it really seals the deal.

If you have a shaky hand and need to do a few touch ups, concealer is your best friend. Grab a small brush (or your finger) and a bit of concealer and brush it just along the lip line. Then using your finger, lightly tap to blend. This will hide any mishaps and help to further define and highlight the lip color.

If you’re a gloss girl, now’s the time to pop some on, focusing just on the center of your lips for maximum plumpage (horrible non-word). Do one last check to ensure your lip line is smooth and your teeth are smudge-free and you’re ready to go. You may have to do slight touch ups during the day, but the Two Coat Method ensures that your perfect pout has staying power. Go forth and conquer your day!

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sunday dinner: spring vegetable pasta.

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Oh, weekends. Let me count the ways you are wonderful (why you gotta be so short?). It is glorious in fair Brooklyn today; the sun is shining, the air is light, and there’s a beautiful lazy quality to the day. I just don’t want it to end because this is living, people, and I want to live it right.

This spring vegetable pasta is perfect for days like these — comes together quickly, packs a lot of flavor into just a few ingredients, and is easily alterable to suit whatever your vegetable fancy. Not feeling peas? Use asparagus instead. Don’t like asparagus? Throw in some artichoke hearts. Any ol’ vegetable will do. You can have whatever you liiiiiiiike (just ask T.I.).

Spring Vegetable Pasta with Lemon & Ricotta

You will need:

sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
½ stick unsalted butter
2 medium leeks, white & pale green parts only
2 lemons
½ pound sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut in half (you can use frozen peas as a substitute and/or literally any other vegetables)
¾ pound dried pappardelle pasta (or other flat egg noodles)
½ cup fresh ricotta cheese
¾ cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese

Before you start cooking, the first thing you need to do is prepare the leeks. And by prepare, I mean clean them because they are dirty, dirty vegetables. The last thing you want is to bite into your delicious spring pasta and get a mouthful of dirt instead, so this is a worthy step. To clean them thoroughly, first take a sharp knife and cut off the dark green stalks on both of your leeks (you only want to cook the white and pale green parts). You should be left with two 4 to 6 inch long stalks that resemble giant green onions. Cut each of these stalks in half length-wise (you should now have four 4 to 6 inch long stalks that are half-moon shaped). Next, thinly slice each leek across the stalk into small half-moons about 1/8 inch wide. Grab a large bowl and fill with cold water, then place all of your sliced leeks in the water. Swirl them around with your hands to clean. The leeks will float, and as you stir them, the dirt will settle in the bottom of the bowl. Leave the leeks in the water to soak and clean further until you’re ready to cook them. 

Next, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is heating, take a large skillet and melt the butter over medium-high heat. When the butter is fully melted, add the leeks (I usually just grab them from the water and shake them a bit before putting them in the pan, but you can use a strainer or a slotted spoon too) and a pinch of salt. Cook the leeks, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium, and continue to cook until very tender, about another 5 minutes. Turn heat to low and finely grate zest of the two lemons directly over the leeks in the skillet, followed by a generous seasoning of pepper

When the water is boiling, add the peas and cook until bright green, about 2 minutes. Transfer peas to skillet using a strainer or slotted spoon. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes (you want the pasta to still have a little ‘bite’ to it since it will cook more in the skillet). When the pasta is cooked, transfer to the skillet using tongs or a strainer, but do not drain the pasta water. 

With the heat still on low, gradually stir in ½ cup pasta water, followed by the ricotta cheese and about half of the pecorino, followed by up to another ½ cup of pasta water if it’s looking a little dry. Toss the mixture until the pasta is coated and the sauce is creamy. Turn off the heat, and dish the pasta into a serving bowl, topping with the rest of the pecorino and another grind of fresh pepper. Serve immediately. 

Maybe enjoy it barefoot on your patio with a glass of wine and the last golden light of the day. That’s where I’ll be. Come on over, I’ll save you a seat. 

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low/mid/high: dry shampoo.

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Happy Friday, readers! Who’s excited for this week to be over? Me. I am. It’s been a doozy. Spring is making an angsty teenage entrance to New York City, happy and bright one minute, bitter and dark another. Also, my entire office has contracted the plague, so the week has been an exercise in avoiding wayward germs. I was only half successful. Coughs and fevers and stomach bugs, oh my.

Ah well, the weekend is upon us. And with the weekend comes a new feature on the blog: the low/mid/high series. A fun adventure in which I find my favorite versions of products at low, mid, and high price points. I am always on the hunt for the best price-value relationship for my purchases, knowing that sometimes the cheap thing works and sometimes you gotta throw down some cash for the quality goods. I’m here to guide you on what’s best, then you can decide what you want to spend. Easy peasy.

Today’s feature is all about dry shampoo. Despite my self-proclaimed obsession with beauty products, sometimes I’m lazy. Dry shampoo allows me to be lazy and also still look polished. It’s also great for extending a blowout to day two (or three) or adding a little volume to a hairstyle that might have fallen flat.  Whatever your needs, dry shampoo is a great tool to have in your hair arsenal.

Here are my faves at every price point:

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Low: Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Refreshing Dry Shampoo, $5.99.

This was a lucky drugstore find that turned into a major win. It’s great at reducing excess oil in your hair and has a pleasant scent to it, which is somewhat rare for dry shampoos. I find your hair stays fresh all day, although it doesn’t add as much volume as the more expensive versions. The bottle goes by pretty quickly for the size, but for the price, it’s a solid choice.

Mid: Ojon Full Detox Rub-Out Dry Cleansing Spray, $13 for travel size, $24 for full size.

First of all, let me just say that for such a great product, I cannot stand the name. It’s like 27 words long and uses the phrase ‘rub-out’. I can’t even. Other than that, it’s fantastic. It keeps your hair looking clean and polished all day long and adds great volume from just a few quick sprays. The smell can be a little strong at first, but that fades quickly. I also like that it comes in two size options; I keep the travel size in my desk at work for touch ups and have the full size version at home.

High: Sachajuan Volume Powder, $32.

This is the Cadillac of dry shampoos, both in terms of features and price. It’s fancy. It’s Swedish. And it is THE BEST dry shampoo I’ve ever used. It usually lasts more than one day, it adds amazing volume and it is the closest thing I’ve found to actually washing your hair. It’s not my every day go-to, mostly due to the price tag, but if I need something with staying power, this is what I reach for. I also sometimes use this as prep for a formal event or a night out. If you want your ‘do to stay fresh all night long (especially if there’s dancing involved), this is a lifesaver.

So there you have it. Go forth and purchase. I hope you enjoyed my first low/mid/high series. What other products should I test drive? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add them to the list!

 

 

 

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makeup monday: the best cheap (and not so cheap) tinted moisturizers.

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As you may know (or you may not), I’m a big fan of changing up my beauty routine on a fairly regular basis (my bank account knows this best of all…sigh). Aside from following new trends and trying new products that come on the market, I think there’s also a seasonality to makeup — what you’d wear in November isn’t necessarily what you’d want to wear come April. So as my thoughts turn to spring and all the light and fresh and new that comes with it, my beauty choices tend to follow suit.

Enter tinted moisturizer. This is the perfect time of year to leverage this wonder product for so many reasons: it provides lightweight, sheer coverage that gives the skin a dewy look; it tends to have higher SPF than more full-coverage foundation, which is a must when you start to spend more time outside; and it hydrates your skin without clogging pores because at it’s core, it’s still a moisturizer. It also suits a multitude of skin needs with readily available options for hydration, anti-aging, firming, oil-free, the list goes on.

Tinted moisturizer is also not a product that requires you to spend beaucoup dollars to find a brand that actually performs. While I find the pricier products have more positive long term effects (higher quality ingredients = higher price tag), I have been very satisfied with options at a more wallet-friendly price point. The following are my top three high price and low price brands and why I like them. With so many great options available, there’s a perfect match out there for everyone!

The Cheap

Of the options that you might find at a drugstore (or my favorite low-price beauty destination, the magic that is your local Target), these three really do the trick. I find that all of them provide natural, even coverage, and they make my skin feel hydrated but not overly greasy. The Aveeno option has the highest SPF and is the best option if you like beauty products made from natural ingredients. The Cover Girl option is the most moisturizing of the three, a great choice for those with dry skin, and the Neutrogena is good for more oily or combination skin or if you’re looking for an option with anti-aging properties (aren’t we all).

The Not So Cheap

If you’re willing to spend a bit more on your product of choice, these three options will pay off in spades.  I find all three give me a smooth, even, dewy complexion, and the coverage lasts throughout the day without needing to reapply or touch up. The Dr. Jart+ option definitely provides the fullest coverage of the three (in the best kind of way), which makes sense being a BB cream vs. a tinted moisturizer (typically BB creams fall somewhere between true foundation and tinted moisturizers on the coverage spectrum). It’s also going to be your higher priced all-natural option. The Estée Lauder is my go-to when I want to look slightly tanned; the formula matches to your skin tone and imparts this amazing sun-kissed glow that’s almost like actually going to the beach. Almost. And the Laura Mercier is the true workhorse of the bunch — it’s been around forever, gets rave reviews from everyone, and offers the broadest range of shades I’ve ever seen for a tinted moisturizer. It also comes in a variety of different formulas to suit your specific skin needs; basically if you want it, Laura Mercier has it. All three options are great for all skin types (though the BB cream probably works best on dry skin) and all are well worth the greater investment!

 

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sunday dinner: roasted salmon with lemon relish & shaved brussels sprouts salad.

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Today is one of those magical days where the sky is blue and the birds are chirping and the flowers are blooming and you can just feel it in your bones that spring has arrived. I want to throw open my windows and sing like a Disney princess, you guys. The whole city comes alive on these days; we emerge from our dwellings to soak up the sun, still with a hint of trepidation. Can this be real? Can we really put winter in the rear view? Oh my, I do hope so.

When it comes to cooking on a day like this, gone are the cozy stews and the steaming bowls of pasta. I want something fresh and vibrant, something that tastes of the new season that is before us. Fish is ideal for this type of weather — it’s light but filling and it pairs well with the vegetables that are currently in season. Cooked simply and paired with a crunchy, bright salad, this is the perfect menu to welcome spring (I hope…fingers and toes crossed).

Slow-roasted Salmon with Meyer Lemon Relish

1 center cut salmon fillet, approximately 1-1¼ pounds
olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Meyer Lemon Relish:

1 large shallot, minced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (you can use lemon juice as a substitute)
sea salt
1 large meyer lemon
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
freshly ground black pepper

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

1 granny smith apple
1 pound brussels sprouts
1 cup pecorino romano cheese, finely grated

Dressing:

3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

It’s best to deal with the salmon first since it will take the longest to cook. Once you have it in the oven, you can focus on the relish and the salad. First, preheat your oven to 200 degrees and place a baking dish half filled with water on the bottom oven rack. This will help to slightly steam the fish as it cooks, which will result in a firm but tender finished product.

Take out your salmon fillet and place it skin side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush the salmon with some olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. When the oven is warm, place the sheet on the center rack and cook for approximately 45 minutes. Depending on the size and the thickness of the filet, it might take a little longer to cook completely, potentially up to 1 hour. Your fish is done when it’s firm to the touch and juices are starting to run. Once fully cooked, take your salmon out of the oven and set it out of the way to rest.

While your fish is cooking, turn your focus to the relish first, then the salad. For the relish, first take your minced shallot and place in a small bowl with the vinegar (or the lemon juice) and a pinch of salt. This will allow the shallot to macerate, which is a fancy way of saying ‘soften and absorb flavors’. As the shallot breaks down in the vinegar, it will absorb some of the vinegar flavor, which will help your relish not be overpoweringly onion-y. That would be no bueno.

While your shallots are a-maceratin’, grab your lemon and cut it into 8 wedges. Remove any seeds and cut out any of the white spongy core. Cut each wedge in half again, then turn and cut thin slices across the wedge (the result will be a bunch of tiny triangles with rind on one side). Add these to the shallots, followed by the olive oil and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Next, let’s make the dressing for the salad. So many condiments! I heart the condiments. Whisk the cider vinegar and honey together until well mixed, then drizzle in the olive oil in a slow stream until combined. Season with salt and pepper (this could literally be my life motto, I say it so often) and set aside.

Take your apple and cut it in half, then cut out the core. Then take each half, cut into thin slices, then cut each slice into strips. The end result will be a bunch of matchstick-like pieces. Stick these in a small bowl and toss with a bit of the dressing. This will marinate them slightly and prevent them from turning brown.

Rinse the brussels sprouts thoroughly, trim the ends and remove any weird looking leaves (by weird I mean brown and wilty). OK. This is where the salad gets potentially dangerous. Using either a mandoline or a sharp knife, you’re going to thinly slice the sprouts. If you’re not careful, there’s also a strong chance that you’ll slice your fingers off. So look alive, young chef. This is not the time for distractions. When you’ve cut all the sprouts, throw away the ends and any bigger pieces, and place the rest of the shredded sprouts in a serving bowl. Add the apples and the rest of the dressing and toss. Set aside and let rest for 15 minutes or so, just enough time to soften the sprouts and develop some crazy good flavor.

When you’re ready to eat, cut the salmon into pieces and serve the relish on the side. Add a healthy handful of pecorino to the salad and toss to incorporate.

The simple flavor of the salmon plus the brightness of the relish plus the crunchy, vinegary, salty/cheesy flavor of the salad will delight your palate in the most spring-like way. Your first step towards warmer temperatures and fresh flowers and a feeling that all is new again. That sounds mighty nice.

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rock your friday: best of the 90s.

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Ever have one of those nights that starts as ‘just a glass of wine’ and then all of a sudden it’s after midnight and you’re multiple bottles in and your friend’s husband is playing DJ for an impromptu 90s alt rock dance party? No? OK then.

I had one of those nights last night, in fact I had that exact night last night, and it was amazing. Not only for the good company but also because it reinvigorated my love of 90s music. And by 90s music, I mean that angsty, flannel-y, guitar-heavy sound that got me through my teen years (oh, the drama). You can have your Janet and your Britney and your Natalie Imbruglia. I’ll stick with Oasis and the Goo Goo Dolls and Collective Soul (Collective Soul! Totally forgot about you, sorry guys). Who am I kidding, I’ll take all of it. Hashtag child of the 90s.

I’m still rocking to these sweet tunes today and I wouldn’t be surprised if they stay in heavy rotation for awhile (thanks in part to a late-night playlist generation session via Spotify). I’m not one to hide my music from the world either, so take a listen to the playlist below. My guess is you’ll be tapping your foot along with me. Or head banging. Or drinking wine and dancing around your apartment singing Black Hole Sun at the top of your lungs. All of these are great options for a rockin’ Friday night.