Top Social

January Favorites

Sunday, January 28, 2018
The first month of 2018 is in the books, so it's time to take a quick look at my first favorites of the year!



Beauty

I've been using Glossier products since the middle of last year (thanks sister for the birthday present!) and I loved everything I had tried enough to ask for even more for Christmas. Thanks to my sister AGAIN (love yaaa) I now have tried the Cloud Paint (in Dusk), Haloscope (in Quartz), Balm Dot Com (Birthday Cake scent) and a small sample of their perfume, Glossier You. Just like the products I've tried before I have absolutely loved all of these.

The Cloud Paint blush is so natural and blendable, and the consistency gives a much glowier look than a powder blush would, especially in the winter when my skin tends to be much drier. Initially I was a little disappointed at how small the tube was, but you seriously need only the tiniest drop which means the tube will last practically forever. I just take a small drop on my index finger, rub it together with my other index finger and then apply. I use a clean finger to blend it out. It's practically fool-proof which is exactly what I need at 6am.

Haloscope highlighter is another creamy, super winter-friendly product. I was previously using the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone and while I do like it for summer, a powder in winter just gives me icky feelings. Haloscope however is a really nice, pretty natural highlight and blends a lot better into my skin. I tend to alternate between rubbing some on my fingers to apply that way and applying it directly from the tube (aka when I'm extra lazy). I don't wear a lot of heavy foundation so I don't have much problem with it pulling my makeup when applied directly, but I can't really comment on how it'd perform for those who do wear more foundation. Overall, I really love the highlight it gives!

The Balm Dot Calm in birthday cake is practically edible. I've been compulsively applying it, especially when I'm stuck at my desk all day. The glitter in the balm is not at all overwhelming -- it's more of a barely there type situation. Half the time I end up with more glitter on myself due to the packaging rubbing off on my hands when I grab it. I'm not even sure if any of the glitter on the tube will be left by the end of this week. If they could fix that, I'd be completely sold. It's a simple balm, and I'm sure it's nothing any better than regular old chapstick, but it definitely wins in the cuteness department and sometimes that's all I want for a little daily pick-me-up.

I would also like to go on record and say that the Glossier You perfume sample that was sent with my package is the one and only perfume sample that I've completely finished. At first the scent to me smelled mainly flowery, but the more I smelled it it uncovered a depth and complexity that I didn't expect. It doesn't scream any one thing. There's lightness, but there's also warmth. It's girly but also hints at musky. It doesn't hit you with a big cloud of fragrance but makes you want to lean in to understand it all. I really enjoyed wearing this and it was subtle enough that I even sprayed some on my pillow case one night. I haven't decided if I want to make a full-sized purchase yet, but that's mainly because I already have too many perfumes I'm trying to work though. All in all I would definitely recommend this perfume to those of you out there that want a slightly more sophisticated floral scent.

Don't forget you can get 10% off your purchase if you use this link!



Style

I would be completely remiss if I did not mention my January all-star, the MVP of my wardrobe, the probably over-worn black Everlane cashmere crew neck sweater. This thing is amazing. I've been working on adultifying my wardrobe lately, and for over a year I would frequently stare longingly at the Everlane link for their cashmere sweaters and think to myself "someday you'll be mine." Well, I finally did it. I purchased my first grown-up adult cashmere sweater in early fall and then sat and waited for the temperatures to drop.

If I had to guess, I'd say I've worn this sweater one or two times each week for the last 3 months. It's super soft, the cut and sizing is great (I got a medium) and it hasn't pilled much at all except a tiny bit under the arms. I usually wear a t-shirt underneath to extend the number of wears (thanks wool for being probably the best fabric ever), but I've hand washed it a couple times as well with great success. All in all, this is probably my favorite style purchase in at least a few years. Now to decide if I should pick up all the other colors...
Fitness

On the gym front, I've been taking a break from my gym this month and hitting my yoga mat at home instead. Every day I've joining in on the True 30 day yoga journey with Adriene over at Yoga With Adriene. I've done her 30 day yoga videos in past years, but something about this year's series is really clicking with me. I feel much more attune to all the nuances of the yoga, my body and the mindset. Taking a break from constantly focusing on the results and going along for the experience alone has been incredibly enjoyable for me. As the program comes to an end I'm already thinking about repeating the videos as a regular part of my workout -- and mental health! -- routine.


Life

Is there really anymore more important than food? All those other categories in life are great fun and all, but food -- it really has my heart. I'm finally getting back to eating better after a solid month or so of holiday meals and constant sugar. More veggies, less sweets (😢). It's been hard to say goodbye to molasses cookies and pie, and to help me wean myself off, I decided to make cooking more of an adventure this month. I decided to cook all new-to-me meals for the whole month of January! I'll be letting you all know how that goes in an upcoming post so keep an eye out for that.

The star of this adventure, however, has been the Minimalist Baker blog. I had never tried any of their recipes before this month, and so far every single one I've cooked has been amazing. They are all really simple, and while that made me worried that they wouldn't be very flavorful, I've been proved dead wrong. Somehow they manage to pack a flavor punch all while being really simple, using pretty common ingredients and keeping things healthy. I think I've accidentally eaten more vegetarian and even vegan meals this month than I have in my whole life and I definitely haven't missed anything. I am sure I'll be trying out a lot more recipes soon!

That's it for my January favorites! See you guys next week!

Book Review: The Reading Group - Elizabeth Noble

Sunday, January 21, 2018
A new year means a new reading challenge for myself on Goodreads, and the first book down for 2018 is The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble! I picked this book up at the annual library charity sale for only a buck and I'm glad I did.

The Reading Group Elizabeth Noble book review

This book follows a group of five women for a year, joined together by a book club. All of the characters live in the suburbs of London, but range in age from thirties to later forties. Harriet and Nicole are best friends, having met in a new mom play group for their first children. Now, a few years on and another child later, both are facing marital problems. Harriet is busy wondering if the grass is greener on the other side while Nicole is coping with an unfaithful husband. Susan and Polly, also best friends, are a bit older, both having grown children. Susan is taking care of her ailing mother and Polly is just learning that her twenty year old daughter is pregnant. These four are joined by Clare, Susan's coworker's daughter, whose marriage is suffering due to their fertility issues. Each month they get together to discuss a different book and, inevitably, their own struggles shape and shine through in their opinions.


This was a very poignant and enjoyable read. Susan's relationship with her mother and Polly's with her daughter had me consistently contemplating my own relationship with my mother. While all the subplots revolved around the same general concept - relationships - each character related to her friends, significant others and family members in such unique ways. I never got bored with the topic, and in fact found myself stealing moments away to read just a little more. I don't have children of my own, but the tapestry of emotions the author created surrounding taking care of your children, day in and day out was incredibly easy to relate to.

The Reading Group Elizabeth Noble book review book shelf shelves books library

As an English major myself, the way the characters related to the books they read, and in such different ways, really spoke to me. It was nice to see characters thinking outside their own sphere, and the author was skilled at conveying the major themes of the books without heavy explanatory dialogue. I hadn't read a single book the characters' book club covered, but I still was able to get a general sense of the plot and what it meant to this book's story when the characters reacted to the book club book in the ways they did.

The Reading Group Elizabeth Noble book review candle perfume spine

However, the book certainly lacked diversity. All the characters are well off, suburban-dwelling, educated, straight white women with husbands (or ex-husbands) in middle- to upper-income jobs. While this is fairly typical for chic lit I'd still love to see someone break that mould. Finally, one of the twists (no spoilers here! I'm sure you'll know what I'm talking about when you read it.) seems just a little too coincidental for my taste, but luckily it didn't detract too much from the storyline and was quickly made up for by the realness of the characters' reactions.

In the end, the well-written range of emotions and the exploration of all kinds of relationships really won me over. I will definitely be holding onto this book for good and I plan on making my mom read it as well. I enjoyed the author's style so I'm also eager to read any of her other novels. Overall this book gets a 4 out of 5 stars from me!

Battling Winter Dryness

Sunday, January 14, 2018
If you hadn't gathered now from all my recent posts, it's damn cold. The year started off with a high below zero degrees and has only warmed up marginally since then. Not only do those temps make me whimper just thinking about them, but my skin is crying out along with me. In order to keep from turning into a giant lizard-skinned, flakey mess I have to deploy a host of defenses throughout the season. If you're stuck in a frozen tundra like me, hopefully these little tips can help you maintain some semblance of happy, hydrated skin. Or hair. Heck, maybe even just slightly less chapped lips and noses.

winter dryness skincare dry cold beauty tips

1. Put humidifiers everywhere. Most of the time they're big and not very pretty, but oh are they worth the eye sore. If you own your home, you might even consider getting a whole house humidifier installed on your furnace to really up your humidifying game. If you can't go that far, you can try leaving water from your showers or baths in the tub after you're done, plugging a sink and filling it up with some warm water, or simmering water in a teapot on the stove. Every little helps.

kari-shea cold blanket winter cozy hygge cat skincare dryness cold

2. Dial down the heating, up your hygge game (even if it's just ever so slightly). I know lowering the heat sounds like the last thing you'd want to be doing, but your furnace is enemy number one when it comes to preserving any moisture in the air. If you can layer up a bit more and get all cozy under some blankets, lowering the temperature will prevent the furnace from running as often, allowing just a tiny bit more moisture to stick around.

3. Moisturize with lots of light layers, applying from thinnest consistency to heaviest. If you're oily or acne-prone, lighter moisturizers are often less risky (of course everyone's skin is different) so several layers lets you take advantage of these formulas but still get enough hydration. Dryer or dehydrated skin can stand heavier creams, but be sure you're picking a moisturizer for it's effective ingredients rather than just it's consistency.

winter skincare dry dehydrated skin beauty kbeauty korean moisturizer hydration

4. Go easy on the skincare actives and exfoliation. Your skin is already working pretty hard to keep a healthy moisture barrier with all this cold, dry air, so we don't want to make it even harder than it has to be. Time to temporarily shelve the harsher acids, peels and physical exfoliators and trade them out for gentler alternatives. This one from The Ordinary is my choice for winter time. Your flakes will still be banished but your skin will thank you for the light touch.

5. Along the same lines, make sure your daily cleanser isn't too harsh. Oil, balm or gel cleansers tend to be nicer on your skin than foaming cleansers. My favorite is an oil cleanser from Illi that I wax poetic about here. It does a great job of cleansing, especially removing my mascara, but doesn't leave me with any tautness or dried out feelings.

moisturizer lotion mini beauty winter dryness dry cold flakey skin

6. Make yourself a moisturizing schedule. It's easy to forget to slather on the lotions, especially when you're busy working, socializing, and endless scrolling through Instagram. If you set some reminders for yourself you'll never miss a hydration session! It's also a perfect excuse to stock up on cute portable moisturizers and chapsticks (Glossier does a mean lip balm. Use this link if you want 10% off.) so your schedule is enjoyable as well as preventative.

7. Avoid super hot water, even if it feels glorious and even if you're shivering and just want to get warm again pronto. Hot water will only dry out your skin more quickly! Lukewarm water might not feel as satisfying, but it's so much better for your skin. Aim for slightly warmer than room temperature when you're washing your hands, cleansing your face or hitting the showers.

kelly sikkema scarf scarves cold winter dry skin dryness protect prevent skincare winter

8. Finally, don't forget to protect all your hard work aka your skin when you're outside. Cold air and wind can leave you chapped, so hide all your loveliness behind hats, gloves, scarves, sunglasses, etc. Channel your inner winter wonderland diva and dive into all those cozy layers.

Here's to a little less alligator skin this winter! Now let's go find some more blankets and hide until Spring...

Things I'm Doing to Start 2018 Off Right

Sunday, January 7, 2018

It's not a new year if bloggers around the world don't post their goals and resolutions, right? I'm not about to chance it! Here's a quick look at a few things I'm doing differently this month to try to start 2018 off on the right foot. Nothing drastic, nothing too far-reaching, just some simple changes.


yoga healthy resolution new year goals fitness yogi mat succulent


succulent jade potted green sun



light on yoga block candle jade succulent yogi mat

Yoga
I'm really excited about this one! In 2017 I was trying to up my at-home yoga game by working through old videos on Yoga With Adriene's YouTube channel. I just finished up the Yoga Revolution playlist and low and behold she announced another 30 day yoga series, True Yoga, starting on January 2nd. I added the calendar to my bullet journal and I'm all set to do yoga every single day in January. Hopefully doing yoga right after I get home from work will give me a chance to decompress and leave the stresses of work behind.


cooking healthy eating fitness diet vegan vegetarian new year resolution goal


cooking diet vegan vegetarian healthy fitness new year resolution goal

Cooking
Usually when the new year rolls around, everyone suddenly takes a good hard look at what they're eating. Generally I think I eat pretty well, especially if we pretend the sugar-filled days between Christmas and New Years didn't happen. That's all just a blur... For 2018 I just wanted to eat a bit more variety, try to incorporate more veggies naturally and more fun with cooking. If we have to feed ourselves every single day anyway, might as well make it as enjoyable as possible right? So, for this first month of 2018 I decided to meal plan a whole month in advance, using only new-to-me recipes. Minimalist Baker and the January issue of Cooking Light were by only recipe sources which meant that all the recipes I chose were pretty healthy and, kind of accidentally, frequently vegetarian or vegan. I didn't aim for those dietary changes, but I am excited to try it out for a month. Eating fewer animal products is good for the environment anyway, so yay for that! Watch this space for a look at how this cooking adventure went for me.

skincare korean beauty kbeauty oil cleanser first sunscreen moisturizer cerave

korean skincare beauty cleanser oil first sunscreen sunblock sink white moisturizer

Skincare
Here's a change that's not actually about doing more, but about doing less. I'm obsessed with skincare already. All the products and ingredients are endlessly fascinating to me, which usually means I end up with way more than I need. To start this year I'm going back to skincare basics. Just a cleanser (which I love, by the way), moisturizer, and an SPF. I want a minimal routine that's rock solid so that I can confidently add new products and know immediately what effect they have, good or bad. It'll be hard to start longingly at my temporarily banished little skincare beauties sitting at the back of my bathroom cabinet, but I think it's for the best. I'm sure we'll all meet again soon.

compost eco friendly environmental zero waste green recycling reduce reuse

compost eco friendly environmental zero waste green recycling reduce reuse produce bag

Composting
That's right. Composting. Last year I started to delve into the zero waste movement, and while I'm nowhere near being zero waste, I've slowly been making some changes to get closer. For instance, I've recently switched away from tea bags to just using loose leaf tea, and I've switched to using reusable produce bags when I'm buying fruits and veg or things like lentils in bulk. I noticed at the end of last month while doing the super exciting task of taking out the trash that most of my kitchen trash was just food scraps. Why throw it away to go sit in a landfill where it can't even properly decompose when I can turn it into my own nutrient-rich dirt for my garden? I got myself a compost bin for inside and I'm lucky enough to be able to take it to my parents' house where they have a big compost pile. Here's to making a difference, even if it is only a small one!

I hope everyone had a fantastic new year and that your own new year's changes are going well.