Top Social

May Highlights

Sunday, May 27, 2018
favorites may tulip pink yellow garden flower

tree sunset sun light leaves shade spring buds

May is great for a lot of things, like warmer weather, longer days, the tail end of tulip season and the start of peony season and the sudden resurgence of outdoor events and markets. But the best thing of them all? The first three day weekend after five long months of no days off of work (if you work in a typical corporate American job at least). Happy Memorial day weekend everyone! Hopefully you've got a nice holiday weekend planned, whether that means it's jam-packed with activities or you're not planning to see another soul until Tuesday morning and are looking forward to your mini-hibernation. Let's make the most of the extra time off and take a sec to catch up on some of the things I've loved this May.

bike bicycle trek hybrid fx3 matte black

bike bicycle trek hybrid fx3 matte black shadow wheel

My absolutely no-contest, favorite-est, favorite ever for May is my new bike! The boyfriend and I have been talking about getting bikes for probably about two years now, and because we're both slow to take the plunge regarding any major decision, we only just now actually got them. We have matching bikes (*queue simultaneous awwws and gags*) because we're just so cool - Trek Fx3 hybrids. I should be clear that the entire reason I got the 3 model versus the other Fx models is because it was the only woman's bike that came in matte black. Yes, I'm ridiculous, but it's so damn pretty. Also I don't want a ridiculous color I'll grow quickly tired of when bikes don't exactly come cheap. We've clocked about 48 miles already after only two weeks and I'm so excited to hit the trails more as the summer goes on. Oh, and I'm officially on Strava now so let's be friends!

franco sarto gene sandal flat slide yellow strap summer

And with new bikes comes...completely impractical shoes that you could never wear while biking. Right? I think that's how that works. Regardless, I walked into a DSW completely on a whim and found love -- Franco Sarto Gene sandals in yellow. They're flat, they're incredibly cushioned, they're brightly colored which is usually not me at all, but I'm absolutely loving them. The combination of the leather and suede straps plus the diagonal angle sets these sandals apart from all the other generic slides out there this season. So far my favorite outfits with these shoes have been wearing all black tops and jeans to really bring out the yellow, or when I've used them to bring a casual feel into an otherwise more put-together outfit. I am positive I'll be getting my use out of these! I see they also come in brown and black so let's see how long I can hold out. And by the way, they seem to run short, so I sized up a half size from my usual 8.5 to a 9, which fits perfectly.

vegan plant based eating vegetarian healthy avocado onion chili black bean sweet potato

The last favorite of the month is a result of going down the YouTube rabbit hole for far too many hours -- vegan lifestyle videos. I haven't made the switch to veganism or even full on vegetarianism by any means, but I've been spending a lot of time learning about the lifestyle, nutritional considerations, effects and just getting some good meal ideas. I have a lot of things to say about why I'm becoming more and more interested in veganism and vegetarianism, so I'll probably do a separate post about that, but for now I'm just really enjoying making more plant-based meals each week. YouTube has been a phenomenal resource for hearing about all the different experiences people have had since going vegan. I definitely recommend checking out people like Pick Up Limes, Sweet Potato Soul, Nikki Vegan and Zanna Van Dijk if you're interested in learning more!

And with that, I'll leave you with this cute doggo picture. Enjoy your June!

dog black lab car ride ear

Books I'm Itching To Read Next

Sunday, May 20, 2018
book chair reading cozy tea coffee mug black walls girl

Most of my daydreams about cozy home life involve me and a book.

Sitting on my sunporch under a blanket, reading on a crisp spring morning while my cats sunbath in the windowsills.
Laying out in my backyard with a beach read and some lemonade.
Listening to a late summer thunderstorm from the safety of my front porch while I devour the last pages of a compelling read.
Curling up in front of my fireplace and digging into a long classic with a cup of hot cocoa.

Does it really get any better than that?

bookshelf books book spines library

If you follow me over on Goodreads, you know that I've set myself a fairly lofty reading goal for 2018 of 30 books. As of today I've read 11 books, so I'm doing pretty well but I have a long way to go yet. There are certainly going to be plenty of chances ahead of me to live out all of those idyllic scenarios and luckily, I have a "to read" list that keeps up with and far exceeds those 19 remaining books!

books book library spines

So what am I looking to read next? How funny you should ask, I've got a list right here.



A Gentleman in Moscow - Amor Towles

I read the author's first novel, Rules of Civility, two years ago and loved it. The prose was so atmospheric and gorgeous that I found myself rereading sentences just to revel in them. Rather than exploring more of late 1930s New York City, Towles' third novel takes place in 1920's Moscow. The book centers around a Count stuck under house arrest, living in a hotel. Historic, character-driven fiction, fantastic writing and a trip to a foreign country from the comfort of my own bed -- that's everything I could ask for. And great reviews certainly don't hurt either.








How To Sit - Thich Nhat Hanh

This book is completely unlike anything I've read before, but I'm very intrigued. First in a series of 5 "mindfulness essentials" short books, this book talks about sitting. Nothing more. Just how to sit. I've been reading more and more about mindfulness and meditation over the last few years and I would love to continue exploring. This book should be a fairly simple read practically speaking since each chapter is only a single paragraph long but I'm sure it'll take a lot more to unpack and digest the advice, visualizations and practices.








Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion - Elizabeth L. Cline

I'm simultaneously looking forward to and dreading reading this book. I have been increasingly aware of and interested in my personal impact on this planet, whether that be environmentally or ethically, and one of the biggest industries that I regularly participate in is the fashion industry, a notoriously bad industry in both regards. I'm hoping this book will back some shock value, because it's been really hard for me to kick the fast-fashion habit even though I know I should. It will surely be hard to read this, and I'll be sad to part with the fun, cheap fashion stores I rely on now, but I will certainly be happy about it in the long run!







Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking - Dana Schultz

Maybe this doesn't really count as a book, but that doesn't stop me from really wanting to dive into it. I cooked my first recipe from the Minimalist Baker blog in January as part of my 30 day experiment with all new recipes and since then I've made several of Dana's recipes many times over. In fact, I've got a batch of the quinoa taco meat in the oven right this moment! I love that all the recipes are plant-based so I can feel good about having less of an environmental impact but most of all I love that they're all super simple and every single one I've tried has been packed with flavor. I cannot wait to learn more about plant-based cooking and try out the recipes that are exclusive to the cookbook.






One Small Act of Kindness - Lucy Dillon

Lastly, the cherry on top. I absolutely love a good chic lit book. They're fun, unpretentious and always make you feel good, especially when the author frequently involves dogs in the story! I've read several of the author's previous books and I'm looking forward to returning to the little world she's created in small-town, dog-loving England. They stopped releasing her books in the United States as far as I can tell, but luckily I popped over to London recently and picked this book up. I'll laugh, I'll cry (I'm a sucker for those emotional rollercoasters) and I'll do it all with a G&T in hand, lounging out in the summer sun!

My Skincare Journey & Current Routine

Sunday, May 13, 2018
I wrote in my April favorites post that I was feeling very content with my current makeup and skincare routine so it only feels right to share a bit about that with you! I'll start with the foundation of it all -- my skincare routine and the journey I took to get to where I am now.

skincare beauty anti aging moisturizing hydration lotion sunscreen mask aha acid vitamin c

I really got into skincare about two years ago when I realized that 30 was just around the corner. Luckily I haven't struggled much with acne or any other skin concerns, so I was just focused on prevention. I knew enough from beauty magazines, etc to know that if I wanted to prevent wrinkles, retinol was my friend. I used face wipes or a foaming cleanser to take off my makeup at night, and introduced a pretty strong retinol eye cream. At this point I wasn't too concerned with hydration so I'd often have pretty flakey skin, especially in the winter. I was at least smart enough to start using a sunscreen on my face, so that's one plus!

skincare beauty anti aging moisturizing hydration lotion sunscreen mask aha acid vitamin c cerave

Eventually I started learning a little bit more about big time skincare additions like vitamin C and antioxidants. I found some serums online to add to my routine, but I still focused more on what I now think of as bonus add-on products. It wasn't until I discovered r/AsianBeauty and then r/SkincareAddition over on Reddit that I really changed how I think about skincare.

skincare beauty anti aging moisturizing hydration lotion sunscreen mask aha acid vitamin c the ordinary

I quickly learned the importance of nourishing and protecting your skin first, and putting all other products second. I realized that the face wipes weren't actually going to get my face very clean and that my foaming cleanser was way too harsh for my skin. Out went the high pH, stripping cleansers and in came the balm and oil based products. I ditched the wipes entirely which my face and the environment both appreciated. Suddenly I wasn't a flakey mess anymore!

skincare beauty anti aging moisturizing hydration lotion sunscreen mask aha acid vitamin c japanese sunscreen pa++++ 50spf

I became a woman on a mission to absorb all the skincare knowledge I could. I checked Reddit daily, started reading skincare blogs and watching YouTube videos about peoples' routines. I took notes and learned about all kinds of chemicals and ingredients. Now that I had my dryness under control I wanted to start adding in some of the things I saw other people using. I began to lose sight of what skin concerns I actually had and would try something so long as other people had seen it work for them. I was adding new products into my routine very quickly (big no-no) and using things that were inappropriate for my skin type. At one point I over-exfoliated with some BHA that I probably didn't need to be using in the first place and I could not figure out why my face was feeling so tight. My skin barrier was so damaged and/or confused by all the different products that to top it all off I started getting acne, despite never having had a problem with acne before.

skincare beauty anti aging moisturizing hydration lotion sunscreen mask aha acid vitamin c peter thomas roth cosrx rice water

At the beginning of this year, I stopped using anything but an oil cleanser, a moisturizer and a sunscreen. The acne went away and my skin felt more supple than it had been in months. After my skin stabilized, I very slowly started adding things back in -- one new product every two weeks. Today I'm not using much more than that stripped down, emergency routine, and my skin is as happy as can be.

Here's a look at my current skincare routine:

AM

Rinse with water if necessary (it's usually not)
Indeed Labs Hydraluron serum
Cerave PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion
Shiseido Senka Aging Care UV SPF50+ PA++++ sunscreen (phew)

PM

Illi Total Aging Care Cleansing Oil (check out my review here)
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays)
The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 30%
Indeed Labs Hydraluron serum
Cerave PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion

As Needed

Sheet masking! I'm not terribly picky about which masks I use and I constantly try new ones.
Peter Thomas Roth wash off masks (I talk a bit about them here)
Skinfood black sugar mask
Cosrx Ultimate Nourishing Rice overnight mask

Shiseido skincare beauty the ordinary cosrx cerave pm peter thomas roth moisturizing lotion vitamin c aha ha mask sunscreen overnight rice

As you can see, it's not a terribly complicated or fancy routine. I've scaled back quite a bit from my heyday and so it feels so simple to me! I'm thinking of adding back a gentle retinol product again soon, so I'm sure things will keep evolving. This time I'll be sure to take it slow and really evaluate whether the product is right for me and worth my time and money. And now, off to go indulge my skin with a little Sunday face mask session!

skincare beauty the ordinary cosrx shiseido cerave pm peter thomas roth moisturizing lotion vitamin c aha ha mask sunscreen overnight rice

It's Guac Time!

Sunday, May 6, 2018
It's Cinco de Mayo today, and even the grocery stores have got on board this year. Everywhere I look there's ads for chips, salsa, Mexican beers and best of all, really cheap avocados! Let's just breeze on past the fact that we Americans are once again turning another culture's holiday into an excuse to drink and instead make one of my favorite (usually summer) recipes -- guacamole!

guacamole avocado tortilla chip lemon cinco de mayo summer recipe tomato green onion salt tabasco chips

Maybe this guacamole isn't the most authentic guacamole in the world. It's missing things like hot peppers, cilantro or red onions that you seen in a lot of other recipes. My friend from Mexico was definitely skeptical the first time he tried my guacamole, but within an hour the whole bowl was gone so I'd say it passed the test. It's a little more work than just throwing a can of salsa into mashed up avocados ( 😱 - but no offense to those that do. ) and you'll have to bear with the fact that I don't have precise measurements for this family recipe, but it's certainly worth it! Grab your cooking Modelo and let's hit it.

guacamole ingredients recipe avocado lemon tomato green onion salt tabasco garlic bowl

Here's what you'll need:

2 ripe avocados 
1 bunch of green onions
1 or 2 tomatoes (picked straight from the garden if possible)
Lemon juice, to taste (You probably won't need more than the juice of 1 lemon)
Garlic powder, to taste (Or optionally fresh garlic. Or both.)
Salt, to taste
Tabasco sauce, to taste

1. Chop 3 or 4 green onions. Include both the white part and the green parts!

tomatoes knife cutting board guacamole recipe

2. Dice your tomatoes, removing some of the watery, seedy part, but not all.

guacamole avocado recipe mash cutting pit

3. Cut your avocados in half the long way. Hit a knife, sharp side down on the seed until it sticks and then twist to remove the seed. Throw the buttery goodness into a medium mixing bowl mash (try a fork or a potato masher). You'll want a little texture so don't go overboard with the mashing here.

guacamole lemon juice squeeze juicer recipe

4. Squeeze on some lemon juice and mix in. The acidity helps prevent the avocados from turning brown.

5. Add your tomatoes and green onions. Stir to combine. There should be a pretty even distribution and you want to have enough of both veggies that there will be some in each bite.

guacamole chip taste recipe avocado tomato garlic green onion bowl

6. Season with salt, garlic powder and tabasco sauce and adjust flavors as necessary. If you're planning on eating the guac with chips, remember that they often bring a lot of salt to the table as well, so test it out on a chip!

And that's all there is to it. One batch will make a bowl for about 4 responsible portions, but like I did today, I often double up on everything because I find that people tend to devour it. Enjoy!

guacamole recipe food scraps avocado pit lemon green onion