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Fashion Dare: Rock Winter White

As I’ve documented on here before, I am all about breaking the fashion rules. Nothing looks chicer than a woman confidently going against convention. And winter white is no exception—when worn well after labor day, it just looks cool. Right now everything is dark and drab: from the cloudy skies to the black boots on my feet, and I found myself longing for a little shock of bright white! Enter the winter white mani:



I am amazed at the effect these white nails had on me all last week. The bright white on my fingertips just feels so fresh and exciting and lovely! I cheated a little, and went not for a solid white but a lace pattern over a pearly cream, but I couldn’t be happier with the result. And at-home-manicure-phobes, fear not! These are Essie stickers—from filing to finish, this whole look took just 6 minutes to complete.

Also, as you can see, I’m currently loving the midi-ring trend. The rings in the pics are both from Forever 21.


Will you be rocking any winter white soon?



How About a Little Sun(flower)?

Oh man, this winter is really trying to make us say “uncle”. Today is the second day in a row I have worn tights underneath my pants, two pairs of socks, a thermal shirt layered with a standard blouse and an oversized cardigan with a pashmina draped around my shoulders for good measure. Basically, this winter has effectively turned me into an Olsen twin.

Exclusive - Mary-Kate Olsen Shows Off Her Unique Fashion Sense
So how do we show Jack Frost who’s boss? How about baking up a little sweet treat so bright and cheerful you forget for a moment you are as puffy as the Michelin man from all those winter layers.

My dear, sweet, adorable co-worker quit last week, and I decided to make these sugar cookies with royal icing for her send off. Her favorite flowers are sunflowers, but of course these cookies would work just as well with whatever cookie cutter shape you want to use. (Again, I apologize for the crummy cellphone camera pic–I snapped the photo quickly at work!)

Crazy Daisy Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

Pre heat oven to 350

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
cakepop or popsicle sticks

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat at low speed until combined.
Whisk together flour, baking powder & salt; add to butter mixture and beat until combined.

Roll out on a floured surface about 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out cookies.
Place on parchment lined cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart, and insert stick about 1/3 of the way into each cookie. Keep a close eye on your cookies as oven temps can vary, but mine just started to turn golden at about 9 minutes.

Cool at least 10 minutes before transferring cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

3 cups powdered sugar
4 tbs water
2 tbs light corn syrup
1 tsp almond, lemon or vanilla extract (I use 1/2 almond and 1/2 vanilla)
food coloring as needed

Mix all ingredients together, and use immediately. Note that the glaze spreads out perfectly smooth and shiny, so use less than you think you need. If the glaze begins to harden, you can add a tiny drop or two of water and stir.



New Face Favorites

Over the summer, I abandoned the retinol product I was using because it caused my (already sun-sensitive) skin to break out in nasty, painful hives.


Notice the fan I’m wielding above? That’s because it was over 100 degrees in the Tuscan countryside. I was slathering on SPF during the day, and straight argan oil at night to heal my parched skin. Anti-aging was my last concern.

Come fall, I was dreading reintroducing retinol to my nighttime routine–my skin takes about six weeks to adjust to retinol use and in the interim is dry, flaky, and red, which is a very common (but temporary!) side effect in the initial weeks of usage.

Enter what can only be called The Miracle Product: Roc Retional Sensitive Skin Night Cream.

I’ve already gone through 3 tubes of this. Obsessed. This is, without a doubt, the gentlest retinol product I have ever used (and I’ve tried a ton). I noticed a major improvement in my skin’s texture, particularly on my chin and around my mouth. It is also starting to diminish those dreaded fine lines on my forehead! From the get-go I’ve been able to use this every night without any annoying side effects–just soft, clear skin. Win!
I usually stick to just concealer throughout the winter as my super pale skin is difficult to color-match with foundation, but I have a new holy grail face product:
Rimmel Match Perfection foundation. It claims to have “Smart-Tone Technology to mimic your exact skin tone and texture.” I have to say, I am using 101, classic ivory, which looks far too dark/yellow in the bottle, but miraculously blends so beautifully and is truly invisible on the skin.
There are supposedly light reflective particles in the formula, but I can’t detect them at all. That being said, it does have a dewy finish–perfect for winter skin! The texture is just dreamy, like a very absorbent lotion, and has a gorgeous, fresh scent. It has SPF 18 in it, but I can’t detect it at all–no smell or stinging around the eyes. I use just my fingers to blend this in, but I think a makeup sponge would work well, too. My one tiny complaint is that it could really use a pump–it’s so runny I’ve had more than few “oops!” moments…
Although it feels extremely light on the skin, it is definitely a medium coverage and buildable up to a full coverage. It has decent staying power, too. Here it is on my skin at the end of the day (I apologize for the awful cellphone camera selfie, I leave before the sun is up and return after it has set for the day, so for decent light I had to snap these at work!):
What skincare products are you loving right now?

The Gallery Wall

This has been on my to-do list for years…YEARS! In every apartment I’ve lived in, I’ve always wanted to create a gallery wall. Quirky, effortless, intimate–I just love them. In my current bedroom, I have super high vaulted ceilings, which begs for some vertical-climbing artwork to create visual interest. I finally gave the ol’ gallery wall a go, and love the results!

I still have some tweaking (leveling, sanding/repainting the empty frame and adding something to it!), but already like what I see:



From left: cardboard taxidermy , honeymoon photo of my parents, Nate and me, horseshoe, Smead family crest, engagement photo of Nate’s parents, vintage shot of 72nd and Broadway in nyc.



I haven’t decided what to put in the empty frame. I think it would be a bit cheeky to hang mistletoe, but would that look out of place come February? I definitely want an object…I’ll have to go treasure hunting in my mom’s basement later and see what I can find!

Would you try a gallery wall in your home?



New Year, Same Resolution…

Write more. Here. There. Write more. Buy stamps. Remember your camera. Remember to take pictures with your camera. Write more.  Maybe in cursive. Figure out how to write capital Q in cursive. Rinse. Repeat.

So, it’s been…a while. Where have I been?

















But I’m here now, so I guess I’ll be seeing you once in a while.

It’s good to be home.




Summer: Season of the Bottle Tans

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Here’s the thing: the sun is bad for you. It causes skin cancer, premature skin aging, wrinkles, sun spots, freckles, and sunburns just aren’t attractive:


All that being said, I love the look of a golden glow. Doesn’t everyone prefer the look of sun-kissed skin?A faux tan is THE best way to sport a darker complexion, for all the reasons listed above and these added benefits: it evens out your skin tone, so you need less foundation/concealer; it takes about 10 pounds off your appearance; it leaves your skin moisturized as opposed to the drying effects of the sun. It’s 2013, time to step into the shade and slap on a good sunless tanning product.

My natural skin tone is a true ivory:


Notice that I am a whole shade lighter/pinker than my dear friend Katie, who is herself a fair-skinned beauty. In order to look NOT albino, I have to rely on sunless tanning lotion:


After just a couple of applications, I’m nearly as tan as my gorgeously olive-skinned bff, Jessica! I have tried at least 50 different products, and all of them are pretty comparable. What I have figured out is that for my skin type/texture (dry and prone to rough spots), lotions are far better at providing an even tan than a mousse, and my bare hands are more favorable than a mitt/gloves. In general, the drugstore products are every bit as good as the high-end and department store offerings, mostly because they all use the exact same ingredient: DHA. NONE of them smell good, no matter the claim on the bottle; after 6 hours or so, they all make you smell like a beer-soaked piece of moldy bread…As awful as that sounds, I promise you it’s better than skin cancer.

I also prefer to switch up the brand every couple of uses to avoid becoming too orangey or too muddy, as nearly all products tend to lean one way or the other. Here is my current collection:


Why is there a white wash cloth pictured? Because nothing exfoliates better than a good ol’ fashioned wash cloth! Most exfoliating scrubs leave behind a residue, which is like kryptonite for DHA–it can’t penetrate the skin if there is an oily barrier. Of all of these, my two favorite are probably the Palmer’s cocoa butter for it’s initial chocolatey scent and beautifully even tan, and the L’Oreal sublime bronze for it’s super natural looking brown color.

Here’s the regiment: exfoliate in the shower, paying extra close attention to inner wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles. After you are thoroughly dry, massage in the lotion as you would any moisturizer, using sparingly on wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles. Wash your palms with warm, soapy water, taking care not to splash. Using your damp washcloth from the shower, gently swipe off some product from wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, AND your hairline. Let the product soak in for a few minutes. Use this awkward time standing naked in your bathroom to organize and clean out your medicine cabinet, read a magazine, or paint your toe nails. When the lotion is mostly absorbed, put on your pj’s and go to bed. Why should you never use tanning products during the day? Well, in addition to the whole moldy-bread smelly thing, any moisture will wreak havoc on your tan. It’s too difficult to completely avoid sweating/washing your hands/coffee spills/rain during the day, so just don’t go there.

Need one more awful sunburn to inspire you to break out a sunhat and buy a bottle tan? Here’s a picture of my darling boyfriend yesterday, fried extra crispy:



40 Books to Read Before You’re 30

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A couple weeks ago, a Buzzfeed list of the “65 Books You Need To Read In Your 20s” circulated Facebook, and I have to say I was seriously disappointed…Not just in the choices on the list (or not on the list), but that anyone would accept Buzzfeed as a credible source on must-read literature! That’s like asking the Queen of England to create a list of the funniest fart jokes or Honey Boo Boo Child to recommend diet and exercise tips. This is NOT a knock on Buzzfeed– I love a good list of the “16 funniest lies you can tell a child” as much as the next girl–but basing your summer reading list off their recommendation? Ludicrous!

Now, what makes my list more trustworthy than Buzzfeed’s? Well, for starters, He’s Just Not That Into You didn’t make the cut. Oh, and you’ve probably already read half of these books. That’s the point–if you’re pretty damn close to 30, you should have already come across many of these reads because they are cultural pillars of our society. I must note that I do not like all these books, in fact there are several I would say aren’t even “good”, but they should be read.

I must admit that I found this process to be tortuous. There are books I spent hours reflecting on, and still regret not putting on the list (Wurthering Heights, The History of Love, Harry Potter!), but I wanted to condense it to just the essentials. I’d love to hear your feedback, though–what would you have skipped? Added?

In no particular order…(Click on the title to go to Amazon to read a description/order)…


1. The Lorax, Dr. Seuss

2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

3. The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein

4. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery

5. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

6. The Giver, Lois Lowry

7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky

8. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkein

9. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, Sherman Alexie

10. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

11. Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt

12. The Princess Bride, William Goldman

13. Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

14. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

15. East of Eden, John Steinbeck

16. Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift

17. Slaughterhouse V, Kurt Vonnegut

18. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

19. Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer

20. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

21. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

22. Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts

23. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

24. The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay

25. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver

26. Freedom, Jonathan Franzen

27. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace

28. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

29. Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami

30. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving

31. The Plot Against America, Philip Roth

32. White Teeth, Zadie Smith


33. The Glass Castle, Jeanette Walls

34. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand

35. In the Garden of Beasts, Erik Larson

36. Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond

37. Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt

38. Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom

39. Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer

40. Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt