e49b9fc4de7f8ae163ce648007eb2f01 *crickets*


I realize it’s been pretty darn quiet around these parts the past week or so, and I feel like I owe you all a bit of an explanation.


In lieu of doing that annoying “vague blogging” thing where I allude to a cool new project/issue/magical trip that I can’t talk about yet, I’ll just say this: I’ve been dealing with A) a little bit of a health situation (everything is ok, but I am starting to feel like I’m on Mystery Diagnosis) and B) a little bit of a professional situation that C) have left me with zero brain bandwidth to blog. That was kind of a vague blog, wasn’t it? Ugh, I’m sorry. I did my best.


The good news is, as soon as I gather myself (and clean my room), I’ll be back in action here–probably within the next few days. Thanks for sticking with me even on the days that I suck at this!





image via @irenekly on instagram 

the year of 50 books: 6-10

book suggestions 2014 the year of 50 books: 6 10


It’s official: the year of 50 books is turning out to be a lot of fun. Not only have I read some great ones so far, but I’ve been getting recommendations left and right, and reading in-tandem with some friends (which makes each one kind of like it’s own mini book club). In case you’ve missed what the year of 50 books means and all you hear is me rambling, head here for a full lowdown. And if you’re already looped in? Well onto books 6-10, then!



314772 281427445217498 151780294848881 1152897 737238917 n the year of 50 books: 6 10

Insurgent, by Veronica Roth I mean, you guys had to know this one was coming, right? I loved the first book in the Divergent series, so onto the second it was. I didn’t read them one right after another, because that seem like a lot post-apocalyptic drama to handle in one sitting. I have to say, I’m not as crazy about the second one as I was the first–in my opinion, the storyline didn’t have the heart-racing sense of urgency and continuity of other series (like The Hunger Games) and I was left wondering whether or not I’ll finish it off with the third book. Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off–no literally, like 2.5 seconds after. We find out that SPOILER ALERT Four’s mom is very much alive, which leads to a mess of a situation because Tris doesn’t trust her (I mean, duh). But Tris trusts Four’s abusive father, Marcus, enough to partner with him to try and end Erudite? Right. That makes sense. END SPOILER ALERT I think what bothered me most about the second installment in the series is that the Tris that we all know and love from the first book seems to have taken a quick break–gone is the strong girl who joined Dauntless, and instead she’s replaced by a Bella-esque caricature of herself (sorry Twilight fans….*crickets*). She was taking foolish risks and betraying people I didn’t think she would, and I’m not sure that I liked it. I like my characters to stay true to themselves, and I get kind of mad if they don’t! I mean, will I read the last book? Probably. I’ve come this far, so I might as well, right? Rating: 6 out of 10



Moriarty Cover 2 the year of 50 books: 6 10

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty This was definitely one of my favorites of the bunch–it was sad and angsty and happy and intriguing all at once…I really, really loved it. Set in Australia, The Husband’s Secret follows numerous characters as their lives intersect and they deal with the consequences of their actions. I have to say, the way the book ended was nothing like I expected, but I was left feeling satisfied by it–it certainly wasn’t a happy ending by any means (In fact, I cried on the subway. Just one small tear you guys.), but I felt like all the character’s stories were tied up nicely. That “secret” the title calls into question? It’s one Cecilia Fitzpatrick finds in a letter addressed to her from her husband to be opened in the event of his death–while he’s very much alive. The letter sends numerous lives into a tailspin, and the whole thing is one big emotional roller coaster. The present-day stories are intersected with flashbacks to one very terrible event, and history of the Berlin Wall–couple that with the constant presence of Tupperware (I mean constant, no joke.) and overarching theme of Pandora’s Box and you have a very obvious message: sometimes things are contained for a reason. Rating: 9 out of 10



16045140 the year of 50 books: 6 10

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman Real talk: I had to keep turning back to the cover of this read to make sure that this book was, in fact, written by a woman. The main character, 20/30-something man-child Nate is almost too real. Like, “I might swear off men forever” kind of real. We’ve all known a guy like him–always over-analyzing his women, looking for foolish faults, falling too deep too fast and then getting scared. But for some reason, as frightening as this look into the dating man’s mind was, I was entranced by it. I saw so much of my current life situation in Nate’s experiences (he’s also living in NYC and a writer, so there’s that) and I really enjoyed following through the ups and downs of his ever-tumultuous love life (even if he didn’t end up with who I wanted him to end up with). The prose was witty and full of life, and there were lots of big, astute words–I’m really glad I read it on my iPad, because the dictionary feature definitely came in handy. The central love affair of the book (if you could call it that, because Nate seems to have an allergic reaction to the word love) deals with Hannah, who Nate meets at a party. The disintegration of their relationship (it’s not really a spoiler, considering you really see it coming) is written with such preciseness, and with such nuance, that it can only have come from an author that has experienced the same. This book will make you very thankful if you’re in a relationship (unless you’re in a relationship with a Nate) and maybe just a little bothered if you’re not–either way, it’s a must-read in my book. Rating: 8.7 out of 10



url1 the year of 50 books: 6 10

If I Stay by Gayle Forman Um, sob city guys. This whole book was an absolute downer–albeit an enjoyable (sorry if that’s weird), well-written downer. The very (very) short book follows 17-year-old Mia after a catastrophic car accident changes her life forever. It’s written through the eyes of Mia in “limbo” in the  hospital, as she tries to decide whether she should live or let go (I told you it was dark). Honestly I don’t have much to say about this book other than that it was good–there wasn’t a ton of character development and I was left feeling sad and not really wishing that it was any longer. I feel like the short length of it really lent well to the story–it was just a slice of Mia’s life, and it had a rushed sense of urgency because she needed to decide–fast–whether or not she was going to live. It definitely made me hug my family a little tighter (and search Netflix for a funny comedy to watch after). Rating: 6.7 out of 10



460x the year of 50 books: 6 10

Dirty Love, by Andre Dubus III This was a good one. Dubus, who wrote House of Sand and Fog, turns his prose into short stories for Dirty Love and they’re just that–a bit dirty, a bit gritty, a bit salacious and packed to the brim with engaging, intriguing characters. Truthfully, books with mini-stories in them rarely appeal to me–I like following a character from start to finish–but this was different. I felt that, while Dubus left some of the character’s stories unfinished in the traditional sense, they all had a sense of finality to them that satisfied me. They all center around love, but certainly not the butterflies and sunshine type–there’s loss, there’s love for all the wrong reasons, there’s betrayal. Each character is consumed in different ways with the acquisition of love, while simultaneously trying to escape the gravity that comes with the emotion. I think my favorite story was that of Marla’s, an overweight woman experiencing her first real relationship–Dubus so perfectly wrote the very nuances that are present when a relationship is slowly-but-surely disintegrating. No matter the character though, Dubus was able to embody them perfectly…it wasn’t one author trying to take a stab a lot of different characters–it was a bunch of real (or, what felt like real) lives spilling onto the pages, told only the way that person could tell them. I really loved it. Rating: 9.5 out of 10






image: unable to find original source. let me know come across it!




DIY moisturizing hair mask (from your kitchen!)

DIY moisturizing hair mask DIY moisturizing hair mask (from your kitchen!)


I’ve put my hair through its fair share of rough patches. I heat style it on the reg, I’ve dyed it on occasion–I even sprung for a Coppola Keratin treatment last summer (which I loved the results of, but in the end it was too $$ and too damaging to continue doing). While it’s in pretty good shape considering, there’s always room for improvement. And one of my favorite ways to usher in shinier, stronger strands? Hair masks.


DIY hair mask ingredients DIY moisturizing hair mask (from your kitchen!)


I have a slew of masks stashed in my closet that definitely get the job done (one of my favorites is this vanilla-scented repairing elixier from Fekkai), but when I can, I like to turn to the natural ingredients I have in my kitchen to mix something up. A winning combo lately? Avocado, coconut oil, coconut milk and olive oil. Get ready from some seriously hydrated hair.



DIY hair mask application DIY moisturizing hair mask (from your kitchen!)


Let me break down why this little combo gets things done: first up, you’ve got the avocado, which is moisturizing and can aid in treating hair loss (something I’ve had a big problem with over the past year or so). Then you have the coconut oil, which can penetrate the hair cortex to improve hair’s strength and flexibility. Then you throw in the coconut milk, which contains vitamin E and fats that promote growth. Finish it off with olive oil, which sits on the top of the hair follicle and adds a ton of shine and smoothness, and you’ve pretty much hit the holy grail.


DIY hair mask DIY moisturizing hair mask (from your kitchen!)



To apply, you’re going to want to first blend 1/2 an avocado in a food processor, eliminating as many of the chunks and making it as smooth as you can. Once that’s done, mix it together with 1/8 cup of olive oil, 1/8 cup of coconut oil and 1/4 cup coconut milk (if your hair is longer than mine, you can feel free to add a little extra of everything, just try and keep the consistency the same so it doesn’t drip off your hair). Coat onto dry, brushed hair starting at the roots and distribute evenly with the help of a wide toothed comb. Once your entire head has been coated evenly, twist it up and clip it, allowing the mask to sit on your hair for 20-30 minutes. Rinse with shampoo and condition as you normally would, then style away!




p.s. My robe is from Plum Pretty Sugar in Pink Love Poppy!


cous cous stuffed peppers

colored peppers cous cous stuffed peppers


Whoever nicknamed Sundays the “day of rest” clearly was never a blogger. I’m not sure about you guys, but Sundays are always my go-go-go days. I give myself Saturdays off to do whatever I’d like, but Sundays are typically work days where I’m testing new recipes, writing up posts and planning content for the weeks ahead. After a day spent running around in the kitchen, there’s nothing I like to do more than sit with my feet up on my coffee table and eat a comforting meal. This week, I’ve teamed up with Le Creuset (the holy grail of cookware, as you food fans know) to share my recipe for cous cous stuffed peppers–a great Sunday night (or any night) dinner–and show off their gorgeous new matte color line!



cous cous for stuffed peppers 1 cous cous stuffed peppers



If there’s one thing I’ve mastered since living in my own apartment, it’s a rockin’ cous cous stir fry. Literally, it’s one of those “kitchen sink” type meals, which pretty much means I throw whatever veggies and yummy add-ons I have in my fridge into a pan and saute it up. To make it a little bit more hearty, I’ve been stuffing it inside some bright fresh peppers lately–it helps me pack in more veggies (never a bad thing) and makes a very packable lunch for the next day!


For the stuffing this time around, I cooked the cous cous per the directions on the container, then added it to a skillet with a bit of olive oil, chopped onions, garlic, yellow squash, kale and feta.


le creuset matte color cous cous stuffed peppers


And now for the star of the event–my brand new Le Creuset French Oven. I’ve always had pipe dreams of someday being able to own a Le Creuset cookware item, so naturally I was over-the-moon excited to try out their new matte collection when they offered. The mineral blue French Oven they sent over is the perfect size for so many of my favorite meals–roasted chicken, yummy short ribs and of course, these peppers (I’ve also been pinning recipe ideas from their Pinterest page so I know I’m using it for every dish possible!).


To cook up these babies, you’re going to want to first coat the base with a bit of olive oil. After removing the seeds and white parts of the pepper (I’m sure they have an official name, but I don’t know it), give them a quick boil (think five minutes max) in water, then drain them upside down. Once your cous cous is done, stuff your peppers with the mixture and set them upright in your dish (you can use any oven-safe dish with a lid for this, or cover one with tinfoil). I like to drizzle the tops with a bit of vegetable broth so the cous cous stays extra moist, but that’s optional. Cover with the lid and cook on 375 degrees for about a half hour, or until the peppers are a bit shriveled and tender to the touch (they should be able to be cut through very easily by a butter knife).


cous cous stuffed peppers with le creuset matte french oven cous cous stuffed peppers


I swear, these came out extra sweet and juicy this time around, and I’m giving all the credit to the dish–I felt like a real at-home chef when I was making this, and I can wait to break it out for more recipes this spring. The new matte color line from Le Creuset will debut in signature stores and online tomorrow–if you’ve been waiting for the right time to treat yourself to a piece that will seriously last you a lifetime, now seems like a perfect time!



**Please note, I was given this Le Creuset product to try out, but all opinions and commentary are my own–I completely recommend this French Oven, and all their products, whole heartedly. As always, thank you for supporting the brands and collaborations that make The Glossy Life possible!

video: a 6-minute makeup routine


I have a video for you today! Recently, I’ve gotten hooked on all sorts of makeup videos (ones from Lisa Eldridge are my favorite–if you haven’t heard of her, check her out!), and I thought it might be fun to try my hand at one of my own. Obviously I’m no pro like Lisa, but I love seeing what kinds of products and routines other women have, so I’m sharing a very basic, 6-minute natural look with you today for the times when you just need to get out the door looking presentable (and if you can’t see it above, you can find it on YouTube here)!


In addition to going through the products in the video, I’m also highlighting them below, with a little mini-review of each. These are the products I use every day, and have been for months in most cases, so if you have any questions at all about them, just let me know (p.s. they’ll be in the order they’re seen in the video)!



Josie Maran Argan Oil Matchmaker Foundation video: a 6 minute makeup routine


Josie Maran’s Argan Oil Matchmaker Foundation is the stuff of dreams. No really, I swear. If, like me, you’re the kind of person who can’t stand to feel like your skin isn’t breathing and just want light coverage, then this foundation is perfect for you. The shade adjusts to suit your skin tone perfectly and it’s moisturizing without being oily.



smashbox high definition concealer video: a 6 minute makeup routine


Smashbox’s High Definition Concealer gives really smooth, seamless coverage. While you can also use it under your eyes, I stick to using it just on blemishes, and I find that it stays put all day with little need to reapply. If you’re into something a little thicker, I also recommend Laura Mercier’s Secret Camouflage, which I’ve used with great luck as well!


benefit erase paste video: a 6 minute makeup routine


I don’t care if you’ve gotten 3 hours of sleep, Benefit’s Erase Paste will make it look like 12. I use it on the days where I haven’t slept well or had a little too much fun the night before. It’s very thick, so only a little dab on the pad of your ring finger will do. I like to prep my eyes first with Clinique’s All About Eyes under eye cream to keep them moisturized and wrinkle-free.


Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo video: a 6 minute makeup routine


Anastasia’s Brow Powder Duo is where the brows of your dreams have been hiding all this time. I used to used a waxy pencil to shape my eyebrows, but my life was changed (Is that weird to say about eyebrow powder? Probably.) when I bought this duo at Sephora. I shape my brows lightly with an angled brush, mixing the two shades, until they reach bold-but-natural nirvana.


benefit watts up video: a 6 minute makeup routine


I actually got Benefit’s Watt’s Up! highlighter back in a Birchbox when I had one, and I’m still not finished with the sample size (but will totally buy the big guy once I am). The thing I love about this champagne-colored highlighter is how soft it is. Just enough to bring an understated highlight to your cheek and brow bones, not enough to look like you went sparkle happy at a six-year-old’s birthday party.



RMS beauty lip2cheek video: a 6 minute makeup routine



Like with all RMS Beauty products, this Lip2Cheek tinted pot is organic and all-natural (something I’m really starting to gravitate towards in my beauty products). This tint is super pigmented and leaves you with a pretty, soft glow to your cheeks–kind of like you’ve just spend the day boating off the coast of Greece (or uh…at least what I imagine that might look like). Either way, super pretty, super good for you and the environment. Win win.



Lipstick queen lipstick in hello sailor video: a 6 minute makeup routine



Scary looking, right? Trust me, you only look like you have hypothermia for a few seconds, then the scary blue of Lipstick Queen’s Hello Sailor Lipstick changes into a sheer berry that really mimics a natural (yet slightly pigmented) lip. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on this, and people are always shocked to see what it really looks like in the tube. Kinda like show-and-tell.



viktor rolf flowerbomb video: a 6 minute makeup routine


I definitely consider perfume to be part of my makeup routine–something about spritzing it or rolling it on at the end just makes the process feel complete. Allow me to introduce you to my signature scent: Flowerbomb by Viktor & Rolf. Or at least, what I think is fair to say is my signature scent considering I wear it every day and a friend once told me the smell comforted her because it always reminded her of me (all together now: awww). It’s floraly when you first put it on (hence the name) but quickly turns vanilla-y on me, which is exactly the type of scent I love. Very understated and not overpowering.



let’s talk: 6 things every woman needs to stop doing…like, yesterday

6 things women need to stop doing lets talk: 6 things every woman needs to stop doing...like, yesterday


We all know that, as women, we’re our own worst enemies. That idea is nothing new (unfortunately). I’ve always been hard on myself, and I partly think it’s what drives my motivation in certain instances so I can’t say it’s 100 percent a bad thing. But the mirror was really turned on me recently when someone said to me, “Listen to yourself. I wish you were as good of a friend to yourself as you are to everyone else.” I don’t know–something just clicked with that statement. Because it’s true–for as much kindness and effort and love I put into my friendship and relationships, I don’t put nearly enough of that into my relationship with myself. My roommates were out of town this past weekend, and I spent much of my alone time thinking of ways to make myself an even happier, more positive and more respectful (to myself) person. In order to achieve that, here’s what I figure I (and I’d argue most women) need to stop doing:


| Stop apologizing |


I once bumped into a chair and proceeded to apologize to it–that’s when I knew my sorry game had gotten really out of hand. I talked about it a bit here, but I feel like we as women have a tendency to apologize for things completely out of our control. The train is running late? I’m sorry. The line at the grocery store was long? I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. It’s become code for “I’m going to shoulder the blame for whatever is hurting you/upsetting you/frustrating you even though it has nothing to do with me.” That’s a lot to take on, isn’t it? I hereby absolve us all from apologizing when it’s unnecessary.


| Saying yes when you really mean no |


I can’t even tell you how many things I’ve “yessed” just because I’ve felt obligated or felt bad. Yes, I’ll watch your dog for the weekend, even though I have a million other things to do. Yes, I’ll go on that blind date with your unsettling second cousin even though all I want to do is go home and crawl into bed. I’m slowly learning that saying yes to anything and everything cheapens my value. Stay with me here–that’s not to say that you shouldn’t lend a hand when needed, or say yes to new opportunities. But sometimes saying no shows that you respect your own time, and that others should too. Boundaries, people.


| Wasting your energy |


In the past, and even now, I’ve spent a lot of time wasting my energy on things that I really have no control over; Where I’m going to be in five years, whether New York is the right place for me, if so-and-so likes me. I’m trying harder these days to focus on the things I do have control over–my mood and reactions to situations, positive thinking and manifesting what I want out of life. When I find myself slumped over a problem, unable to move forward, I ask myself a (kind of morbid) question: if I had a year left to live, would I be thinking of this “problem” differently? The answer is usually yes, and with this in mind I’ve been able to slowly let go of situations, problems and people that I have no energy for.



| Holding yourself back | 

Good can be scary. Getting what you want–even more, getting what you’ve worked really freakin’ hard for–can be even scarier. I’m no stranger to self-sabotage, and I’d venture a guess that many of you aren’t either. I don’t know whether it’s because I feel like I don’t deserve opportunities that come my way or because I get so paralyzed by fear and self-doubt that I’d rather live with the guilt of bowing out of the race than face the fact that I might actually get what I’m going for. Either way, it’s unhealthy and serves as nothing but shackle-and-chains holding me back. I resolved to work on this back in January, but it’s admittedly still in-progress.



| Body smack talk |


Growing up, I was quite the lanky beanpole. I was a little dancer and athlete, and it wasn’t until I was in 8th grade and had just had my first of what would be five knee surgeries that I even thought about my weight. After spending a rough 6 weeks on crutches, I had gained a few pounds and was absolutely miserable (couple that with the fact that I was also a moody 13-year-old, and I’m sure my parents had a lovely year…). And, even though I was an active, fit athlete all through high school and college, that knee surgery cycle has continued up until my first year in the city–I can’t say I’ve ever been 100 percent happy with my body since that first time. It frustrates me that I can’t do some fitness challenges I’d love to try my hand at, or that I can only really workout a few days a week (not conducive to a bikini-ready body) if I want to continue being able to exist pain-free. I pour a lot of frustration and resentment into my body and I’m only recently realizing how damaging that can be, manifesting itself both mentally and physically. Listen, we all have something we don’t like–your thighs are too big, your jeans don’t fit quite like they used to, you wish you had more defined muscles in your arms. We’ve all been there. But be kinder to yourself. If you don’t love your body for exactly how it is in this moment, how will it ever feel loved enough to do what you want it to do–win that race, bike strong through that Soul Cycle class or fill out those skinny jeans? You (and I) have to work with it, not against it.



| Relying on others for happiness |


This is 100 percent the most important thing on this made-up list I just created. If I could bold it ten times over, I would. At some point in life, whether it’s already happened or not, you will be disappointed by people. Probably more than once. Rarely do people react or act the way we wish they would–to think they could is just foolish. But the important thing is that you love them anyways–and more so, that you move on with your happiness, independent of their actions. A happy life is never one led in the shadows of someone else’s actions. Relying on others to prove your self worth, to fix you, to make you a whole person is a sure-fire way to end up incomplete. If you focus on forming yourself into someone with dreams and goals and guts and an inner strength, you won’t spend your life waiting for the people who you surround yourself with to fill a void within you–you’ll just get to enjoy the ride with them.






image: Melissa Findley for Tuula Vintage

roasted salmon with lemony smashed potatoes

fresh salmon roasted salmon with lemony smashed potatoes



So about that unintentional blog break–I guess I owe you guys an apology! Work has been pretty crazy for the past few weeks, and in lieu of putting up a bunch of posts that screamed “half-assed,” I instead opted to take the week off. The good news? Things are (hopefully) calming a bit, and I’m back with some fun things this week, starting with this recipe!


Salmon was one of the first things I learned to cook for myself, and to date it’s still one of my favorite dishes. I guess I have to attribute that to it’s ease–if you get yourself a good piece of salmon (I always try to buy mine fresh from a place like Whole Foods or the great seafood market on my street), you really have to do minimal work in order to bring out the flavor. I love roasting some veggies right alongside the salmon (as evidenced by that ton of asparagus down there) and making a yummy side to go along with it–which is why I’m forcing upon you my favorite recipe for lemony smashed potatoes. Trust me, there’s a lot of goodness coming your way.


salmon with lemon and asparagus roasted salmon with lemony smashed potatoes


For the salmon, you’ll need to first start with a great filet of salmon (obviously)–skin on. Set your over to 375 degrees, and pull out a glass baking dish. Place the salmon in the center, skin side down, with vegetables on the surrounding edges if you want. Top both the veggies and the salmon with 2-3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, making sure you spread it over the top of the salmon with your hand, as well as around the veggies.


Sprinkle both with salt and pepper. Cut up half of one lemon into thin slices (you can remove the seeds if you want–I just get annoyed trying to do that so I don’t bother…you don’t really eat these slices anyways) and place them on top of both the fish and the vegetables. Squeeze the other half of the lemon over everything, then place in the oven to cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the fish has turned a chalky pink on the outside and appears to be cooked all the way through and is flakey on the inside. You can serve with an extra half a lemon if you want to give your guests the option of another squeeze.



red and gold potatoes roasted salmon with lemony smashed potatoes


For the potatoes, you’ll want the small-to-medium sized baby potatoes, in any color you want (I usually go with red, gold and purple, but the store didn’t have purple this time around). Figure about 8-10 potatoes per person if you’re serving more than yourself (you can up that a bit more if a) you’re really hungry, b) you especially like potatoes or c) yours are extra small). You’ll also want two fresh lemons and italian parsley.


Smashed potatoes roasted salmon with lemony smashed potatoes


First, you’re going to want to boil the potatoes until they’re cooked through (meaning you can stick a fork in them and it slips out rather easily). Once they’re cooked, drain the water out and place them on a cutting board or other clean surface–it’s time for the smashing! To “smash” them, you essentially want to press down on them with your palm hard enough that the skin breaks, but the potato still stays pretty much intact. No need to Hulk-style your potatoes into oblivion…a nice little smush will do.


Smashed sauteed potatoes 1 roasted salmon with lemony smashed potatoes


Once you’ve smashed them, you’re going to want to heat them in a skillet with a bit of olive oil, flipping until both sides are browned evenly. While they’re browning, mix the juice of two lemons in a bowl with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a generous bit of parsley.


roasted salmon with lemony smashed potatoes roasted salmon with lemony smashed potatoes


Toss your potatoes in the lemon/olive oil dressing and serve alongside the salmon and veggies. Lots of lemon, but it’s all delicious!






kale & quinoa rainbow bowl

healthy quinoa and kale rainbow bowl kale & quinoa rainbow bowl



You may not be able to tell from my last few recipe posts (fancy grilled cheese, sweet biscuits or French beignets, anyone?) but I’m actually on a bit of a health kick lately. It can maybe be attributed to the impending bikini season (if winter ever heads out of town), but even more than that, I’m just trying to be more conscious of the types of food I put into my body. More veggies and fruits, less processed foods, dairy and grains. But cheese, always cheese.


One of my favorite new dishes (if you could call it that) to pull together is a rainbow bowl. I know this is one of those, “Um, I don’t need a recipe for kale and a bowl of vegetables, thanks…” things, but I wanted to share it anyways because it’s so yummy!


Basically, it’s as easy as this: one cup cooked quinoa, one and a half cups kale (raw kale or roasted kale, your choice), then go crazy with the veggies–I topped mine with orange pepper, tomatoes, avocado, carrots and snap peas. Finish it off with a heaping scoop of hummus and call it lunch (or dinner, even!). I always feel super well-behaved, full and energized after eating a rainbow bowl. Plus, they’re so colorful and fresh looking–it makes it feel like spring, even if it’s not quite here yet!





easy entertaining: DIY grilled cheese bar

diy grilled cheese easy entertaining: DIY grilled cheese bar



I like to share my favorite things with people. And one of my favorite favorite things happens to be cheese. When the opportunity popped up to host some of the SELF girls at my house on Monday for a cheesy (figuratively, and literally) game night, the cracked out Ina Garten in me went crazzzzyyyy. I sent out a quick e-mail asking for food preferences and wouldn’t you know it; every e-mail that rolled in said cheese, cheese, cheese. Very SELF Magazine of us, no?


selfgame3 easy entertaining: DIY grilled cheese bar


I stuck to a pretty simple, fool-proof menu: my famous salted chocolate chip cookies (well, they’re not mine exactly, but you get what I mean), apple cider donuts, mini mac and cheeses (I modify this recipe from Martha a bit and it never fails me) and–my favorite part–a DIY grilled cheese bar.


Grilled cheese is one of those foods that instnatly ellicits a content sigh from everyone–it’s just so comforting and yummy. I loved the idea of making it a bit more grown up, so I laid out the spread you see above–really though, anything is fair game when mixing up your GC Bar. You’ll want to stick to a few main groups:


| Breads | I stuck with a fancy, crusty white bread, but you could also do wheat, pumpernickel or rye. Maybe even cinnamon raisin if you want to get a little savory and crazy.


| Cheeses | The star of the ‘wich, so make sure you get the good stuff! I laid out gruyere, cheddar, mozzarella and goat cheese (not shown), and I made sure to grate them beforehand. The cheese always melts better (and easier!) that way.


| Spreads | Here’s where the fun starts. Obviously you know you have to coat the outside of the bread with butter when toasting them up, but the inside is where you can get creative. I gave the option of pesto, sun dried tomato spread and honey mustard for the girls, but something like a sweet chutney or spicy chipotle pepper spread would be yummy too.


| Veggies & Fruits | Anything and everything belongs here! Avocado, tomato, onion, peppers, mushrooms, pears, strawberries–you name it, you can probably slap it on some bread with some cheese and call it delicious. I stuck with onions and pears–kind of random, but they ended up in some pretty awesome sandwich combos.


| Meats | Ah, the dark horse of the grilled cheese world. You may think that adding meat veers things a little too close to panini territory, but I disagree–really, there’s room for everybody. I laid out a selection of Italian meets like sopressata and prosciutto, but thinking back on it WHERE WAS THE BACON?! Silly me.



diy grilled cheeses easy entertaining: DIY grilled cheese bar


Here’s my GC of choice: pesto, mozzarella and pears with a little slice of prosciutto for good measure. I want to eat it again right now.



my routine for fresh, glowing skin

fresh skin beauty routine my routine for fresh, glowing skin



I’ve always had a problem with consistency concerning my skincare routine. I run into two problems–either I don’t stick to an actual skincare schedule (aka, I’m lazy and sometimes will forget to wash my face before bed) or I get so eager to try out new products I get through work that I mix it up too much for my skin to ever get used to any sort of routine.


For the past four or so months, I’ve been really struggling with my skin and I couldn’t figure out why. I was suffering from bouts of acne, a trait I thought I left behind in high school, as well as skin that was lackluster and devoid of that healthy “glow” that’s so coveted. I knew I needed to stop trying to torture my skin into submission (I was exfoliating twice a day in the hopes of making my breakouts disappear, which is a big no-no) and develop a routine for myself, so for the past month and a half all my beauty brain space has been dedicated to that–and I think I’ve finally nailed it. The products I’ve included below are what I’ve been using every morning, evening and Wednesday/Sunday (for the masks and such)–these creams and oils, combined with lots and lots of water, have left my skin looking much more fresh faced than I was a few months ago. Do I still get a random breakout? Of course–but things are definitely a bit more glow-y around here! Here’s what has been working for me:


The Morning Lineup:


daytime beauty routine my routine for fresh, glowing skin



Murad Essential C CleanserI’ll be the first to admit this is more than I ever thought I’d pay for a face wash, but the amount of change I’ve seen since starting to use this a few months ago is outrageous. It has a nice bright, citrus-y scent that is a great wakeup during my morning shower, is packed with moisturizers and is specially formulated to counteract daily pollutants and free radicals, something that’s super important in the filth that can sometimes be New York City living. Bonus: it lasts forever–I know everyone says that kind of thing to justify expensive products, but I promise it’s true. I’ve already had it for almost three months and I’m not even 1/8th of the way through…and that’s using it daily!


Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day SerumI’ve been looking to jump into the natural skincare game for a while now, so when a friend sent me some Drunk Elephant Skincare products to try, I was super excited. The daytime serum, which is infused with fruit enzymes and anti-aging ingredients, is definitely one of the favorites in my vanity right now. Can you believe that at almost 25 years old, I’ve never used anti-aging products? I know, probably pretty dumb of me. I guess I just never trusted what they were promising, but I’ve definitely noticed younger looking skin after weeks of using this serum.


Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Face OilIf you’re anything like me, you’ve probably thought of face oils only as a very expensive way to ensure yourself a breakout, right? I was terrified of skin oil in the past, even though everyone told me not to be. Once I sat down and learned the benefits of it, it was still hard for me to find a face oil that didn’t turn me into a pre-teen again. Truthfully, one of my problems the past few months is that my face has been starved for moisture. Using this oil, or a Josie Maran one (which I’ll talk about a bit later) has made me realize just how parched my skin was. I combo this with the day serum and can usually go without makeup to work (but I don’t know if that’s really saying much, since I typically don’t wear a ton of makeup anyways).


Kate Somerville 24-Hour Pimple PunisherYes, using a product called the “pimple punisher” is exactly as gratifying as you’re imagining it to be. I just picture this little cream kicking any blemish’s ass when I dab it on, and that’s just what it does–the stick has an “a.m.” side, which is clear, and a “p.m.” side, which is more of a milky white. I notice that if I spot treat a pimple with this in the morning, it will usually shrink down in 12 to 24 hours. One gripe: the “a.m.” clear cream makes the spot on your skin a bit shiny and obvious, so you still have to layer on a bit of concealor to cover it up.


Clinique All About Eyes CreamI call this little guy a miracle in a jar, and I’ve been reccommending it to friends for years. It truly is the best under eye cream on the market, in my opinion. I dab this on with my ring finger (need to be delicate!) in the mornings when I get out of the shower to give it a bit of time to soak in, and at night after washing up (you’ll see it in the photo below, too). It completely eliminates puffiness and reduces the appearance of dark circles–vital for those weeks where I’ve clocked long nights at the office or behind the computer blogging.




The Nighttime VIPs:


nighttime beauty routine my routine for fresh, glowing skin



Murad Clarifying Cleanser and Murad Acne Clearing SolutionAs far as I’m concerned, Murad products are the gold standard when it comes to acne skincare. Their acne-specific cleanser is the perfect wash for my face after I’ve spent the day wearing makeup, accumulating grime and probably putting my hands on my face one too many times. I try to make a point to only use the cleanser at night, since in the morning, there isn’t much “grime” on my face and it can be a bit drying if used too often. The acne clearing solution is a great all-over lotion if my skin is having a particularly rough few days. It significantly reduces the appearance of existing blemishes, and stops new ones in their tracks. Again, it can be a bit drying, so if I’m only experiencing one or two problem areas, I’ll try and contain my lotion application to just those spots.


S.W. Basics Toner: I truly feel like toner is the most commonly overlooked step in a nighttime beauty routine. A good toner, like the all-natural version I have from S.W. Basics, a Brooklyn-based skincare company, can help to remove any lingering makeup or dirt post-wash, even skin tone (so you can say bye bye to those dark spots your old blemishes left behind) and balance the ph of your skin, leaving you less oily. This is a step I’m learning I should never skip!


Drunk Elephant T.L.C Night SerumTruth be told, I never used to put anything on (besides a salicylic acid cream) my skin before bed time. Like a lot of other women, I overlooked the fact that the 8 hours (ahem, or 7 or 6…) of sleep we get a night is the time where our skin has the biggest opportunity to rejuvinate itself. This night serum from Drunk Elephant goes to work with a bunch of alpha hydroxy acids (fancy speak for little resurfacing tools) to slough away dull, dead skin and reveal the fresh complexion below. I honestly sometimes wake up looking like I just got a facial. You probably don’t believe me, but it’s so true!



There When You Need ‘Em Groupies:


beauty skin savers my routine for fresh, glowing skin



Josie Maran Argan Oil CleanserSometimes, when I’m feeling in need of a little pampering, I’ll wash with this argan oil cleanser. It smells amazing, and leaves my skin super soft!


Kate Somerville ExfoliKateAll I can say is, thank god Sephora includes this little tube in their “you know you wanna buy it” display section leading up to the cashier. I picked up the small version (I believe it’s $17 dollars?) on a whim one day because I had heard good things, and immediately became hooked. I usually do this quick mask (you only leave it on for 2-5 minutes) once a week to breath a little fresh life into my complexion. I haven’t really felt the need to buy the full-sized much more expensive version yet, because really the little guy works just fine for me. I end up going through a tube every four or so months.


Origins Clear Improvements Active Charcoal MaskAnother mask I’ll do probably once a week (usually on a Sunday night). The thick black mask digs deep to remove a whole bunch of gunk and blackhead-forming crap from your pores–plus, it’s really fun to put the mask on, send funny pictures via text and try and scare your roommates. Not that I do that…


Kate Somerville EradiKateWarning: this product actually smells horrible. I wouldn’t recommend it for the nights when you’re looking to impress someone special, but if you’re alone and don’t mind smelling a bit of sulfur while you nix those ugly, blotchy, red blemishes (especially the ones that are really deep and painful), then this is the product for you. If you dot enough on your face (using a Q-tip dipped into the jar), you usually look like you’re treating chicken pox.


Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Defense SPFMother Nature hasn’t provided me with much of an opportunity to try out this sunscreen yet, but I’m keeping it on-hand for when the warmer weather hits and I’m looking for an all-natural sunscreen that will protect and heal my skin without any of the irritants that I seem to be extra sensitive to (I always break out in rashes when it comes to sunscreen). I’ve also found that Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch sunscreen works great on sensitive skin!






top image, kristina soljo for yen magazine 


**Please note, I was given the Drunk Elephant products to try out, but I truly fell in love with the line and have been using them constantly. I recommend them whole heartedly, along with everything else here!