My Body, My Choice (...of Soap)!

 
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It’s no secret that I am obsessive when it comes to skincare. I research products thoroughly, invest in facials, and haven’t gone to bed without doing my full routine in probably 5 years (The last time being after I came home drunk after a Miley Cyrus concert and woke up with the worst hangover and worst breakouts of my life). I’ve gotten my routine down to a science- from the neck-up, that is. I had put all my focus into my face, that my body often went neglected. I’d lather on whatever soap was in the shower, MAYBE put on lotion when I got out (am I wearing a dress? Nope! DRY & ASHY IT IS!). I always just figured my face was at the forefront of how I present myself to the world, and my body was secondary. Living in Las Vegas, I wear less clothing than ever, due to the simple fact that I don’t want to die of heat stroke. I started to take notice that my body was looking a bit tired. My skin looked dull and almost colorless. It didn’t have the same glow or bounce as my face. I’ve been so wrapped up in my complexion, that I neglected 95% of my body. I always figured my body would take care of itself, like it was the older child and my face was the baby that required 100% of my attention (sorry to my sister, who probably knows this feeling ALL TOO WELL).

I’ve found an arsenal of products for the body that have taken my limbs from dull to divine. Look out world…no literally, look at my legs they’re GLOWING!

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I have been sweating more than usual, which I didn’t think was possible, until I moved to the desert. I shower every single day, sometimes twice, and I still get breakouts on my back and shoulders on occasion. Being the genius that I am, I knew that A.H.A products had worked well on my face, so I found something similar for my body. It’s definitely helped in keeping breakouts at bay. However, I noticed the biggest difference when I started clipping my hair up when I was conditioning it. I keep a big clip in my shower, and pile it on top of my head, so the conditioner doesn’t get on my back. Hair product can have irritating ingredients for the skin. When I started doing this, I saw serious results within days.

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My hot (as hot as the topic of back acne can be) tip when it comes to bacne is to use a Salux washcloth. They are like the hotter, cooler sister of a loofah. They take your body wash and turn it into fluffy suds. The long-towel shape makes it easy to get every inch of your back and shoulders.

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Back to bacne, because my exes reading this definitely want to know more (Hi guys! I’m doing GREAT!), I scar easier than Sarah Sanders lies. This means every breakout leaves a dark mark. Vitamin C serum has done wonders for my face, so I was ready to get spendy on a body wash with the same ingredient. I was pleased to find a $5.99 solution at Trader Joe’s with their Citrus Body Wash. It leaves my skin feeling tingly and energized. I haven’t been using it long enough to notice a difference in my scars- I also apply Vitamin C Serum after I shower-, but it’s an enjoyable experience, which is more than I can say for the aforementioned exes (are you still here??).

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I try to wear sunscreen on my body everyday, because I’m in the car a lot, and my office is mostly windows. I don’t want to be 40 wondering where these hand wrinkles came from, when I should be worried about running sh!T at PTA or something. Most body sunscreens leave a whitecast, and smell like a 5-year-old at the beach. This one from Supergoop melts into skin with no white cast, moisturizes, and leaves a dewy glow, and smells like fresh flowers. It also comes in a convenient pump, which makes me 90% more likely to use it every day. Laziness is an art form and I am Picasso.

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I’ve talked about this Nuxe oil before, and I probably will until my last breath. If you go to Paris, bring an extra bag just to fill up with this luxurious body oil. The spray-cap prevents you from wasting product, and I’ve noticed a difference in the quality of my skin after using for a few months. After I shower at night (sunscreen is my moisturizer during the day), I coat myself from neck to toes, slipping into bed feeling like I own an estate in the French Countryside. All I really own are childhood insecurities!

Time to take these products and GET ME BODIED. This is definitely what Beyonce meant. I’m sure of it.

In Repair

 
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After a rough stretch of days, I officially declared myself in a “funk”. You know the feeling- you don’t quite feel like yourself, every emotion and feeling seems to be heightened. My first memory of this feeling was when Marissa Cooper died in The O.C….BUT THAT WAS DIFFERENT! A “faux funk”, if you will. A real, adult funk is hard to shake, surrounded by feelings of self-doubt, uncertainty and unworthiness.

I have very little reason to be anything less than ecstatic these days. We just closed on a house, we have a cute new puppy to love (and to chase around the house when he steals my underwear from the laundry and puts it on his head. MY GIFTED SON!), we just got back from a vacation, I’m healthy, and I actually like going to my job.

But for the past few days, I just haven’t been feeling it. I have felt removed from myself, my routines, my usual character. I’m not going to be too hard on myself here- these periods happen no matter what your life looks like in that moment. But I knew I had to take back my humanity. I’m not a runner, I don’t “find myself” with yoga, I can’t “sweat it out!!” with boxing. Over the last year or so, I’ve had to find activities and practices to put in my arsenal that bring me back to myself. My personal practices include:

-Going to the library and finding a new book (cookbooks are therapeutic to me, even if I never make anything from them.)

-Sipping my coffee in the morning at home, not from a to-go cup in my car (great news for my cup holders, which are usually espresso stained)

-Reading outside

- Going to Trader Joe’s and perusing every aisle, grabbing all the snacks that look good (and usually opening a box of something in the car to eat on the way home…maybe I should be taking better care of my car)

-Baking something (this week it was a cherry tart, which I overcooked but Michael said it’s the best tart he’s ever had. 1000 POINTS TO MICHAEL!)

-Buying flowers that I will most likely kill within 3 days but that first day…they are healing!

Even writing this right now, outside with a glass of wine (blame any errors on the Pinot), is a therapeutic action in repairing myself. I take these mundane, somewhat daily things and I put them on priority. Some may call it “self-care”, but it’s more than that. It’s the practice of reminding myself that I am worth caring for.

We all require healing. Maybe it’s once a month, or once a week. Maybe it’s massive work (I firmly believe therapy is the greatest gift you can give yourself), or just a tune-up. To heal is to be human.

In my favorite book, Heart Talk , Cleo Wade says “It does no good to think about running a marathon when you still have a broken foot”. Take the time you need, put priority on your practices, your “self-activators”. Find your way back and remember, you can never be truly lost if you know who you are.

dust

 
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Don’t worry- I’m not going to start this post with an “I’m back after a little hiatus!” bit. I’ve played it and it’s gotten old. The truth is, I just stopped writing. Not because I didn’t enjoy it or have anything to say, but simply because life got busy. Right after I published my last post in November, I finally got a job in Nevada. A job I love, and I decided early on I would give it my all. I put all my focus not just into my job, but also my marriage, which was finally back on the ground after a difficult move, and immersing myself in our new community. The last few months have flown by, and it’s almost a year-to-date that we found out we were leaving Detroit. And guess what? I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and it completely snuck up on me.

In all my contentment, I still I felt an itch to put pen to paper again (I write all my posts in a notebook before typing. Eat your heart out, Shakespeare!!!) Every day when I would walk into my closet, I would pass a framed copy of “The Nines” logo that my friendly so sweetly made me for my birthday one year. I would walk by it, think “I should write soon”, and then just go in my closet and get distracted by a sweater. But yesterday as I walked past it, I noticed all the dust that had accumulated around the frame, and it hit me. I was letting the dust collect around something I loved. I gave up on something that was supposed to be growing. And in true “Carrie Bradshaw” style (even though she is THE WORST, don’t get me started) , I had to wonder “When being content stunts your growth-is it really such a good thing?”.

No-one made me stop writing. It was actually the opposite. My husband would ask if there was anything new to read, my boss said she really enjoyed my writing. I feel supported by the people around me. But I used all the things going on in my life as a crutch to avoid doing something that was enjoyable, but required a lot of effort. I was so busy with life and happy with just-the-way-things-were that I forgot that growth requires doing. That in order to have a voice, you have to speak. I neglected the piece of me that loves to talk about women’s rights and skincare and how not needing a bra until 8th grade ruined my self esteem- we’ll get to that later, OH WILL WE EVER!

This post isn’t about “being back, guys!”. It’s meant to serve as a reminder that if you have let dust collect around something you love, something that makes you who you are-you can always clean it off and pick it back up. You can also hire a cleaning company. That has no double meaning- the dust was so alarming that we literally hired a cleaning company. Talk soon. xx

Earrings, Anklets & ...Arthur?


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I’ve never really been a “jewelry-girl” It all started when I was in second grade, and my dad took me to “Limited Too” to get my ears pierced- against my mom’s Explicit! Instructions! Not to! Fast forward two months, when my lobes were so severely infected, that I had to go to the doctor to get the earrings removed. I was intent on getting them re-pierced, until I saw that episode of “Arthur” where D.W.’s friend’s piercing gets infected and turns her bunny ears bright green. I was apparently so traumatized by the cartoon-horror of it all, that I didn’t get them pierced again until high school.

I did however, dive into necklaces in my teens, when I got the iconic Tiffany’s heart chain-pendant, which was essential to my Hardtails and Uggs look. But jewelry in general never quite stuck with me, I just wasn’t buying or wearing it- and I always felt like just a little something was missing from all my outfits.

In the past year, I started investing in some everyday pieces. I began with a simple gold initial “A” necklace, my mom gifted me a small gold vintage pendant, and Michael got me a beautiful gold necklace for our anniversary. Slowly but surely my collection started to grow, and expand with more earrings, anklets, even a toe ring I won’t talk about. I’ve found some perfect pieces to form a sort of “starter kit” for a recovering non-jewelry wearer.

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Two years ago, I apparently had no guidance in my life because no-one cared to inform me that sleeping in earrings was really bad for you, and may or may not rip your ear lobe. My left-lobe is still in recovery, but I’ve finally been able to wear earrings again thanks to these stickers.

The first pair I reached for is these perfect gold hoops from Ank Studios. Hoops and huggies are having a big moment right now, but so many can look cheap, or cost more than a month’s worth of Thai takeout (in hindsight, we should have not moved within walking distance of a Thai restaurant). I found Ank Studios on Instagram, and they seem to be the perfect mix of cost-efficient, yet high quality. They’re light on my ears, and they look and feel expensive. I’ve been wearing them with everything from a cocktail dress, to a sweatshirt or t-shirt. There’s something so chic about wearing nicer jewelry with everyday basics.

 

Brinker and Eliza The Best Is Yet To Come Necklace -$88

I’ve longed for this necklace since seeing it on just about everyone at Paris Fashion Week. It’s the perfect mix of costume and chic. I’m currently wearing it with a t-shirt and jeans, but can’t wait to wear with sweaters and skirts all winter long. I’ve found that I prefer my jewelry to be a little more playful. Unless someone wants to get me a diamond necklace, then I can get serious REAL FAST.

 

Roxanne Assoulin Hip Hop But Not Earrings -$120

When my beloved ear lobe was healing, I strictly wore clip-on earrings. When I found these by Roxanne Assoulin, I felt like they were the essence of me- loud, colorful, and a little crazy. The mismatched pair was love at first sight, and I finally splurged on them before going to Europe last Fall. I’ve worn them with everything from sweatshirts to formal dresses. They’re eye-catching, playful, and can jazz up any outfit. Definitely an investment worth making. At least that’s what I told my financial planner. I’m sure he understood!!

A Cowrie Shell Anklet

Cowrie shells were all the rage in jewelry this summer, worn by just about about every influencer and your favorite 10-year-old coming back from summer camp. I really wanted a cowrie shell anklet, but wasn’t willing to pay the hefty price tag I kept seeing. Thank God for Etsy! For $7, I have the accessory of the season, and I can’t wait to take it into Fall. I plan to wear it over white athletic socks with sneakers, or with a skirt and heeled sandals (SANDALS YEAR ROUND IS NOW MY REALITY!!!). It puts a little Johnny Tsunami in my step and honestly, I think that’s something we could all use right now. Go big or go home!! (I will most definitely go home).

 

Vintage Jewelry

A lot of jewelry I’ve found has been from vintage or antique stores. Especially if you wear clip-ons, this is the way to go. I’ve shopped locally (if you’re in Michigan, “Crimson Rose Antiques” in Birmingham is my favorite), but have also seen great finds on Etsy and Instagram. Since vintage jewelry is a little worn, I usually just polish up with a cloth or take the item to get professionally polished at a jeweler. I found a beautiful, delicate rhinestone evening-watch a few months ago. It was far too big for my wrist, and badly needed a shining. I took it to my local jeweler, where they removed a few links and polished it up so it looked brand new. All in all, I think the watch + the maintenance cost me $30. Shout out to all the grandmas everywhere for making it possible to shop such chic vintage jewels, I will wear your clip ons with pride!!

 

Self-Care

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When I first looked into the phenomena known as “self-care”, I was pumped. Who doesn’t want a reasoning behind more bubble baths, a glass of wine after work, or a $60 candle? I quickly got carried away in the practice. Paying $150 for a Hydrafacial? SELF-CARE! Taking a yoga class where a sweaty man literally sat on my back and told me to breathe through my chakra? SELF-CARE (also kind of gross)! Brunch at 3pm on a Sunday and binging “The Office” for the rest of the day? SELF-CARE!

I found myself doing more things that I enjoyed, and I liked putting an emphasis on “me time”. But I was perplexed when I didn’t find myself feeling more valued, or more at peace with myself. I felt pretty much the same, but with better skin and more flexible limbs.

I was making a homemade clay-drink creation (if you value your insides, don’t do this) when I started thinking: maybe my self-care isn’t just outward action, but internal practices I had long left behind. I decided to carefully study myself over the next few days and observe my own internal thoughts and how they materialized in my life.

I was about four hours into this exercise when I couldn’t ignore what was happening. My negative self-talk was through the roof. Just about everything I did, I attached a personal, negative emotion to it. When I tried to get up from the couch and felt a little gimpy, I scolded myself for not working out more. When I checked Twitter for the 6th time that day, I mentally noted how lazy and unmotivated I was. When I got dressed, I frowned in the mirror, knowing I wouldn’t ever look like the long-legged girl I saw on Instagram that morning. Even when I was eating lunch, I thought “take smaller bites you animal!!!”. It’s like a judgey Italian Grandmother was living in my head, commenting on my every move.

I noticed over the next few days how prevalent negative self-talk was in my life. It hindered how my day went, how I felt about myself, how I interacted with others. I was the Regina George of my own brain. The way I spoke to myself was unkind, judgmental and showed no signs of gentleness. I realized no matter how much self-care I practiced, none of it mattered, because I didn’t really care about my inner self, and how it was being looked after.

Self-care is many things. It is laying down for a bit when you’re feeling anxious and tired. It’s choosing to stay in and put some clay on your face. It’s spending an afternoon at the library, with you and only you. It’s calling a friend for a good laugh. There are so many ways to slow down, and check in with yourself. But no mud-mask in the world can hide the effects of negative self-talk. Why do we allow our inner voice be so mean? Is it because we feel unworthy of the kindness we so willingly give to others? If another person spoke to me the way I spoke to myself, they would be gone faster than this $6 Lavender Blueberry scone I’m eating in the spirit of LOVING MYSELF.

It’s true that I never feel fresher than after I’ve spent a day at the spa, having my muscles pounded into the ground, lounging around guzzling cucumber water. I speak to myself like a damn goddess when my limbs are sprawled out on a daybed, taking another sip of my Oolong tea. I usually enter the week calmer, with more confidence. But what if I could mentally check myself into my spa-safe-haven every morning, choosing to speak to myself with kindness? For starters, I would save a ton of money. For the past few weeks, every time I went to negatively speak to myself, I refrained, and rephrased. Instead of “You didn’t get to the grocery store today, you’re so lazy”, I would check in and say “I did not make the grocery store a priority today. I did some other really productive things instead”. Or one of my brain’s classics: “you will never look as effortlessly gorgeous as that girl on Instagram”, I will take a second to remind myself “her beauty does not take away from my own.”

It’s been a real challenge to reshape the way I think, and it’s something I work on every day. Self-care can present itself in a multitude of ways. I love buying a luxe face mask I’ve been saving up for or lighting a new candle. But I will not allow companies to capitalize on my need to love myself, if I truly cannot achieve that on the inside. I’ve got a long way to go- and I know I can’t totally get rid of that Italian Grandma living in my head. But instead of a judgey one, I’m trading her in for one that always tells me I need to eat more, grabs my face and tells me how lovely I am.

Fall Fashion Finds

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Judging by the abundance of pumpkin spice lattes and apple-orchard-selfies on my Instagram timeline, fall has arrived. Temperatures have even gotten cooler here in Nevada. I went from having to wear a bathing suit for survival to t-shirt weather, a major upgrade. But living in the desert has not deterred me from dreaming about scrumptious sweaters and turtlenecks so bulky, that they hide my hormonal chin breakouts. It will be another month-or-so before I start stocking up on boots and just about everything made of wool (upper lip would be drowning at the moment), but I wanted to get a head-start and share the best fall fashion trends, and my personal favorite finds, with all of you!

 

J. Crew French Girl Blazer

Blazers really made a comeback last fall, and don’t seem to be going anywhere fast. Gone is the formal undertone of the blazer, replaced with oversized, menswear inspired styles meant to be worn with t-shirts and over slip dresses. What was once a serious, masculine piece of clothing is now the pinnacle of every good wardrobe.  

I love the look of this one from J. Crew. It’s double-breasted and unstructured, giving it the ultimate cool, French girl vibe (hence the blazer’s name- kudos J. Crew). I’ve will live in this over a t-shirt and jeans, but I also love it over a lightweight sweater and bike shorts. YES! Bike shorts and blazers. Free blog name up for grabs.

*I found this blazer to be true to size. It’s naturally a little boxy and oversized.

Zara glitter turtlenecks

I’m a sucker for a good turtleneck. I think they’re the epitome of chic and looking put together. Also when I don’t feel like doing my hair, I can tuck it into the turtleneck, and no one has to know I didn’t have time to wash it because I stayed up all night thinking about Peter Kavinsky ( Calm down-he’s over 18. I checked.).

This turtleneck from Zara is a great basic, and sparkle was all over the runways for the season. Wear alone with jeans, skirts, or under another sweater or sweatshirt. Maybe on the one day in January that it dips below 50 degrees, I’ll wear mine with heavy white jeans and boots. Marking my calendar!!

 

Novelty/Fisherman Sweaters

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A few weeks ago, “The Cut” mentioned that Harry from “When Harry Met Sally” would be their fall style icon, and I’ll never be the same. Meg Ryan definitely has peak 90’s style in the classic film, but it’s Harry who’s quietly serving me bulky sweater CHICNESS. Paired almost too-simply with just jeans and sneakers, it’s the fall uniform. This is a unisex look, ladies and gentlemen! Honestly there’s nothing hotter to me than a man in a big bulky sweater. I really never thought I would say that Billy Crystal is a style icon, let alone a sex symbol. 2018 is wild.

I tend to either buy my sweaters one size up, or even look around in the men’s department. A slightly over-sized fit is best for a cozier, cooler look.


WESTERN-INSPIRED BOOTIES

Listen- I get that no one wants to look like Jessie from “Toy Story”- I haven’t since I was 10-years-old at least. But cowboy boots are back and better than ever. Don’t take it so literally- we’re talking stylized versions of the Western-wear. Extreme pointed toes, ankle cuts, outlandish colors like bright white (my favorite) and red. They’re a perfect update for things already in your closet- jeans, dresses and mini skirts. “80’s Western” is big for the season, further proving that Pixar really was just LIGHTYEARS ahead (PUN! INTENDED!)

Rad Plaid

A few years ago, I really wanted to be Cher Horowitz from for Halloween. I couldn’t find a plaid yellow skirt to save my life. Fast-forward to today, and I can walk into any Target and make a “Clueless” look for any day of the week. Plaid is back in a big way. Larger, exaggerated prints, mixing plaids by color and material. Tartan trousers, oversized coats in fresh colors, plaid nylon totes- I feel like a Golf icon and I’m all in.

To keep it modern, try mixing different colors of plaid, like with a scarf and blazer. My personal favorite is to mix by material. Sleek Tartan pants with a wool buffalo-plaid scarf. Will you look like a fool? As if!!!

 

Animal Print as a Neutral

I live for animal print. I don’t wear fur, so it’s the closest I’ll ever get to feeling like a cool a$$ jungle cat. I was thrilled to see it all over the runways, mixing different leopards and cheetahs, chic zebra trench coats and sultry snakeskin boots.

My favorite version is in the form of skirts. Having an animal print skirt can be a wonderful neutral in your wardrobe. Pair a brown and black cheetah-print midi with a turtleneck, white blouse, even one of those chunky sweaters mentioned earlier. Mix two different animal prints if you’re really feeling wild.

 
This Fall, jump in some leaves for me. Enjoy some cider and overdose on doughnuts. Wake up early and take a walk in the crisp fall air. This will be the first time in my life I don’t experience a Michigan fall or winter. Right now I’m feeling nostalgic, but I know come December, I’ll be pretty pleased when the only ice I’m scraping is off my frozen margarita, poolside. PERSPECTIVE!

One Year.

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When were engaged, Michael and I heard from so many couples: “the first year of marriage is the best of your life!”. But what we rarely heard, was the honesty of all the changes that come with being a newly married couple. Instagram photos and tributes to our spouses can be deceiving, so today, on our first wedding anniversary, I wanted to write my version of a love letter to my husband.

One year ago, Michael and I got married. It truly was the happiest day of our lives. I didn’t think I could love him any more than in the moments we exchanged our personal vows. We went on our honeymoon in Hawaii, embraced in marital and tropical bliss. Our first Christmas together was magical, and I loved ringing in 2018 with a bottle of champagne from the comfort of our own couch. The marital rumors were true- I was happier than I had ever been.

In the Spring, Michael and I started to get restless. We had been living in our rented condo for almost two years at this point, and were looking ahead to the future in terms of our careers. We knew it was time to start making moves. We imagined staying in the area, buying a house, getting a dog, or FIVE! Or maybe we would move to a big city and live the life for a few years. It was on my lunch hour one day in March that Michael called me and said he was put up for a great new position in Las Vegas. Through the decision to take the job and move, our marital bliss slowly faded away. When faced with a big, life-changing decision- that’s when our marriage got real. By April, we packed up the condo and moved our things across the country. I moved in with my parents, and Michael commuted back and fourth between Detroit and Las Vegas. Tensions were high, the situation was less than ideal. Michael loved his new job, but I was weary of a new home and career uncertainty.

We finally made the full move in July, and while things have been exciting and new, some days have been a struggle. It isn’t this cinematic picture of marriage, romantically eating pizza on the floor surrounded by moving boxes. The image I had in my head of what marriage should look like wasn’t matching our reality. It made me wonder if we were failing in our first year.

Looking back on the past year, I now can see with full clarity, that my marriage is perfectly real. In the times that we struggled, that was when we decided how we will be as husband and wife. After every serious talk or disagreement, my husband showed me beautiful comfort and unconditional understanding. I gave him compassion and unwavering faith. I truly feel that we both emptied ourselves for one another in this year, in the most wonderful way possible. Here today, in a coffee shop on the other side of the country, I can honestly say that I love Michael more today than I did on our wedding day. There is no Instagram tribute or Facebook post that could explain how closely I will hold this year to my heart. I will look back on the days I came home crying (didn’t have to look back very far, as it was probably last week), losing faith in myself and my career, only to be laughing an hour later, feeling completely renewed by viewing myself through my husbands’ eyes. 

There is no perfect marriage. You’re going to argue, disagree, maybe even slam a door (I’m an Italian Aries, sorry!!!). Life is great when it’s moving smoothly and seamlessly. House, dog, steady job. But if you’re lucky, it’s in the moments of change, the moments of complete uncertainty and risk, that you really realize how wonderful love and marriage can be.  It was in the struggle that I truly saw how beautiful our life will be together. Not because we’re perfectly married. But because for the first time, I feel that we both gave each other absolutely everything we had. And in return? We made a life, together. When they say “the honeymoon is over!”, good. That’s when the good part really begins.

In our vows, I told Michael that he is my greatest gift. It’s never been truer than it is today. Happy first anniversary, Michael.

The Shopping Rule That Put an End to My Impulsive Purchases

 
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A few years ago, I was looking through my closet when I realized- I hated just about everything in there. Most of us have had this moment. It’s not that we truly have nothing to wear, it’s that we have nothing we WANT to wear. My closet was so chalk-full of items that it was an arm workout to go through it all (am I a fitness influencer now???). I stared at it all, seeing all the wasted dollars and credit card charges, and I started taking pieces out one by one. 4 garbage bags later, I knew I was still lacking that satisfaction of going in and effortlessly picking something out. Not one-offs, but clothing that could carry me through a multitude of events.

We all have the one-offs. Your friend calls you and tells you she has an extra ticket to the John Mayer concert (it’s still 2010 in my mind)! And in my totally sane brain, I convince myself there is not one thing in my closet that could impress the throngs of moody 18-year-olds in attendance. I go to the mall, find some perfect $25 tank top that will be the envy of a pre-pubescent crowd, and John Mayer, if a miracle happens. I wear it to the concert, get 1000 photos in it…and proceed to never wear it again. Repeat for a bridal shower. Repeat for a job interview. Repeat for another John Mayer concert (I went to a lot in youth- I’m not ashamed). I’m here to help you avoid the one-off, and possibly explore the psychological meaning behind needing something new for every occasion. Just kidding! I don’t have enough time in the world to get into that.

After my garbage bags full of my one-offs were donated, I sat down and made a list in my phone. A list of things I felt I needed to really create a “Capsule” wardrobe, a few items I would be happy to pull out and wear to work, to drinks, to run errands in. I think my original list was something like a great oversized blazer…nice black ankle boots…jeans I felt comfortable in and could wear causal or dressy… a tailored white blouse. I went for the basics, and I vowed I would not buy anything that wasn’t on my list.

A few months went by, and I truly bought almost nothing that wasn’t on that list. Every time I was tempted, I would ask myself if it was on my list, or conductive to my closet-building. 99% of the time, it was not, and I would put it back or exit out of the browser. If I were in “Game of Thrones”, I would be dubbed “Alexandra Ayaub, First of her Name, Queen of Adding to Cart”. It’s my favorite past-time, other than eating Macaroni and Cheese in bed and watching “Grey’s Anatomy” for the 100th time. My “Seattle Grace” nickname would be McCheesy, in case you were wondering.

Make a list every season, or as frequently/in-frequently as you need it- but be fully realistic about what it is that you need. I constantly hear from other women “I need dresses!” “I need more tops!”. Write it down when you think of it. When you are tempted to buy something, go back to your list. Is it on there? When we get sidetracked and spend our money on things we don’t really want or need, there’s nothing left for what we DO desire. I’m not saying other items don’t slip in every now and again. My AMEX knows the importance of a vintage beaded bag. But having a list helps us control those impulsive purchases, curbing our spending from being a free-for-all.

Here’s what my list looks like right now:

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My list might take a few months to fulfill, and financially, a few might have to wait. But that means in the interim, I’m not buying other wasteful things to take their place. Not everything on the list needs to be expensive! That over-sized blazer on my original list? I found at Target for $25. I know for the loafers, I’ll spend a little more, because I want them to last forever. Just make sure whatever you find, you love, feel good in, and can wear it with other pieces you already own.

Ever since I started this exercise, I have been building a closet full of things I love, wear continuously, and I am actually saving money. We create “To-Do” lists all the time, to help us focus on what we need to get done, and feel accomplished when we’ve done so. Why not do the same with our wardrobes? 

Thanks to my list, I know EXACTLY what I’ll be wearing to my next concert (it won’t be John Mayer, ok!! …mostly because he’s not on tour)- and it won’t be a tank top that some 17-year-old ends up buying from Plato’s closet.

 

"Day to Night" is a Scam and I'm not Falling for It Anymore

 
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I was addicted to magazines when I was growing up. I would spend hours flipping through my “Teen Vogue”, “Vogue”, “Cosmopolitan”, “Teen People” (R.I.P.)- and a resounding theme was “Take your outfit from day to night!”. Every issue, every season, there were new ways to take my pencil skirt and blouse from desk to daquiris (even as a 15-year-old, this was important to me even though I had no job nor could drink?). I consistently see it in publications today, swapping out ballet flats for a funky block heel, or a pendant necklace for some gaudy beaded thing. I quickly realized that now in my adult working life, I never once worried about taking my outfit from day to night- so why are magazines still so obsessed with it?

Don’t get me wrong- I’m obviously here for pieces that can be worn for multiple occasions and events, but that never quite seems to be the clear narrative. Here’s my theory: back in the 90’s, early 00’s, women were dressing more formally for work. Fashion and clothing weren’t as accessible as they are now, with the birth of fast fashion and online shopping. We’ve gotten so much more creative and expressive with “professional dress”. Most work places don’t enforce a formal dress code of suits, pencil skirts or dresses. And even if they do, what’s the problem with wearing those things out after work? It’s martinis with your messy friends, not the Queen.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t think “Day to Night” is as crucial to working women, because most “nights” consist of going home, taking our pants off, throwing on a face mask that will fix EVERYTHING, and watching last night’s shows while simultaneously exploring every crevice of the internet. Oh, and fighting the patriarchy, but that goes without saying. AM I RIGHT LADIES?

Men never have to worry about owning extra accessories or stuffing “a great, sassy belt!” into their work bags if a date is on the after-work agenda. They show up in the exact same thing they put on that morning, maybe putting on a little extra deodorant or checking for boogers. Why is there such a strong narrative that the clothes that women wear to work, aren’t acceptable for a drink that we probably desperately deserve?

Most women I know aren’t remotely interested in “Day to night!” unless it involves tips on how to take off our bras off through our shirts before we get in the door. We’re just fine in what we’re wearing, thank you very much. It’s all a ploy to get us to buy more things, and convince us that we need more to be more. I’m not falling for it anymore, and I’ll show up to dinner in the same thing I worked in all day. Not all heroes wear capes…but we will wear the same pants all damn day.

We Need to Talk About Paul Manafort's Wardrobe

I often dream about having an unlimited budget for clothes. The beautiful things I would buy…I would essentially dress like a rich woman lounging in the Hamptons, year-round. Well one of America’s least favorite (do we have favorites??) con-men, Paul Manafort, thanks to off-shore bank accounts, DID have an unlimited clothing budget. For the cool cost of 1.3 million dollars, he decided to look like a dollar store drug dealer. A garbage gangster. Clothes that scream “I’M RICH WORLD, CAN’T YOU TELL?!”. Tacky plaid blazers that looked more like Danny DeVito in “Matilda” than Nick Wooster. Snakeskin overcoats- which in reality was very clever, considering he really IS a traitorous snake. I love a good theme.

In an attempt to cover up my constant anxiety over the state of our country and its lack of leadership, I thought I would dissect a few pieces of Cheatin’ Paul’s lavish wardrobe.  I use the word “lavish” very loosely, because I really do believe this is the only wardrobe in the world that looks like it is from a Men’s Warehouse outlet sale, but for the cost of a large home. BEEP BEEP, HERE COMES THE FASHION POLICE (followed by the real police- enjoy prison, Paul!!)

 

THE OSTRICH JACKET- $15,000

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When I first heard of this infamous ostrich jacket, I envisioned something grand, possibly with feathers and proper tails. What I didn’t expect, was the bomber jacket of 90% of taxi drivers- and even that’s offensive to hardworking taxi drivers everywhere. This man, who’s supposed to be the “best of the best”, was swindled into buying a coat that looked like every teenage “bad boy” in every movie, that hangs out behind the bleachers saying things like “do you always do what your parents tell you to?”. Honestly the sales associate that sold him this piece deserves our utmost respect, possibly even an award.

PYTHON COAT- $18,500 (LOL)

You know the saying “you look like a million bucks!”? This looks like a craigslist coat being advertised for an upcoming estate sale. I truly want to know where he intended to wear this, other than some underground speakeasy at 2am meeting with Ukrainians-actually this purchase totally makes sense now. Let’s carry on.

The Plaid Suits- $15,000

The boxy fit of these suits is a felony alone. You could fit four Jared Kushners in just one of these blazers. We could house a small family coming across the border under one of these, but honestly, they’ve already had it hard enough and shouldn’t have to endure any further trauma. Anyone who says that letting immigrants into the U.S. is horrific, hasn’t seen one of these suits. Next.

The Double Breasted Blazer- $$ unknown, but to be honest anything over $100 is too much for this

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Remember that episode of “The Office”, where Michael accidentally wears a women’s suit? It seems that Paul got lost on his way to "Alan Couture" and ended up at an "Ann Taylor". Hillary wore it better. So did Michael Scott.

THE CASUAL WEAR- $48,500+

Paul Manafort’s casual wear is that of a dad that never shows up to his kids soccer games when he says he will. Poor kids, but it’s even sadder for the lizard used to make a $48,00 jacket, that looks like I pulled it from a bin at Mr. Alan’s.

 

While this was a fun exercise in fashion-policing someone who was wanted by actual police, let it serve as a reminder that every.single.voice.matters. I understand that Paul Manafort wasn’t an elected official, but he had a hand in electing someone who is. We get to choose the type of people that represent us as a country, in Washington, and in our own states and cities. The people that really make a difference, are us, the people. Oh, it’s also a lesson that money can’t buy taste. But I think we established that back at “Python coat”.  

Mask On, Mask Off.

It was a wise, wise man who once said “Get a hobby!!!!!”- it was my husband, and I think he said it to me when I finished all re-runs of "The O.C." in one week. Little did he know, my hobby would become skincare & masking, and I could do it all while re-watching the Chrismukkah episode. Take that!

I’ve tried many masks, some good, some bad, some smelly, some making me look like a straight-up serial killer in the night. But I found myself coming back to the same five masks every time, keeping them on rotation for my skin-needs at that moment. I thought I would share with you all today my holy grail of face masks, which is not to be taken lightly! I’ve tried a ton, and somehow these five have survived the test of time, which is more than I can say for my violin hobby, my drawing hobby, and even my horseback riding hobby (didn’t end well, don’t want to talk about it).

 

1. Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask- $22

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This has been my ride-or-die mask for a few years now. I do it at least once a week, preferably before an event or on a lazy morning. I am addicted to how this mask makes my skin look. I call it “Botox in a bottle” (NOT IN A BOTTLE BUT I MAKE MY OWN RULES), because it tightens, firms up and moisturizes all in 20 minutes. It also just feels incredible on your face. When I fly long distances, I put it on mid-flight and let it soak in like moisturizer.

Hot Tip! Put it in the fridge for the ultimate masking-experience.

Sometimes my skin goes into a meltdown more epic than a 6th grader at Hollister trying to cop a pair of jeans from their mom (me, that 6th grader was me). It needs serious work, but I don’t have time for or can’t afford a professional facial. This Tata Harper mask gives me almost the same results. It’s like a refresh button for your face. It helps me to get rid of little bumps, calm acne, and get my skin glowing again. Expensive price tag, but you’ll spend just as much on a new candle! No? That’s just me? Got it.

 

3. Kiehl’s Rare Earth Cleansing Masque- $30

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This is it ladies and gentlemen- a mask so good- that it got my husband into the masking game. Refreshing, purifying and effective. 86% of my summers are spent in this mask, because after .2 second of being outside and getting sweaty, this mask makes me feel clean again. On occasion, I do get a small breakout after using, because it’s bringing things to the surface. But for the most part, it helps balance my skin and unclog my pores.

 

4. Dr. Jart Water Replenishment Sheet Mask- $7.50

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The first time I did a sheet mask, I hid behind a door and waited to scare Michael (here’s those serial killer vibes!!). He ended up working late so I sat behind that door for a long time, but on the upside my skin looked UNREAL after. This mask has become my post-travel ritual. It restores all moisture to your face, leaving it plump and glowy.

Another hot tip- save the packaging to use the leftover serum as night cream the next day!

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Sometimes I come home from work and have so much to do (or just need to take a nap, it’s usually the nap), there is simply no time to sit down with a 20-minute mask. This is just as powerful, in less than half the amount of time. The directions say to leave it on for 2 minutes, but I leave it on for about 5 minutes- rules are made to be broken, baby. This stuff is a miracle. I wake up in the morning with bright, even skin. I really can’t believe the difference it makes overnight, it feels like it breathes new life in to your face. Major pay off with minimal work- the ideal face mask and also my resume objective!

 

So here’s to starting off 2018 with your best face forward! Unless you go out and drink your weight in $6 bottles of champagne this weekend. You get a pass for a few days.

The Winter Beauty Edit

Ahhh, the inevitable flakes of winter- and I'm not talking about the snow. As the weather gets colder, my skin gets flakier than a Pillsbury biscuit. I'm flakier than that girl you run into at Target from high school that says "we should get coffee sometime!!!". Get the ugly, gross picture? Good. Now we can proceed with what we're going to do about it. 

I'm a firm believer that some of your skincare and beauty need to change with the seasons. I've compiled a list of my favorite skincare and beauty products for winter to get you through these next few months (let's face it, Winter lasts until April).  So crank up your heat, ignore your unshaven legs as you pull on some big wool socks, and enjoy: The Winter Beauty Edit. 

 

Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich -$35

You all know my obsession with Glossier's Priming Moisturizer. I use it every morning before my makeup for a perfect base every time. So when Glossier came out with a richer version, you know I pressed “order” on launch morning before my eyes were even open. This is my top-winter product. It healed my dry, flaking skin overnight. It’s unbelievably rich, creamy and luxurious feeling. The best part is, you can’t use too much. It melts into skin like butter, bringing life back to dry, dull, winter face. I also use on my neck because I am in constant fear of Tech Neck (it's a sickness). It feels like a $300 cream Kim Kardashian probably uses- but it's only $35 and you don't have to act like Kanye makes sense.

* Psst: you can get 20% off and free shipping through my rep page here: https://www.glossier.com/reps/alexmauro

 

Milk Cooling Water- $24

Again- getting hydration on your skin in the winter is hard, because we’re indoors, cooped up under blankets just trying to get through it. Milk Makeup Cooling Stick is an easy, fun way to not only reduce redness and perk up tired skin, but it adds an extra layer of hydration. I keep mine in the fridge, swipe all over my face-especially under eyes- in the morning after washing. Also a perfect gym bag companion for after a workout.

 

Laura Mercier Face Polish- $32

Back to the flakes. You know the ones, you scrub and you moisturize and they just appear again like a stage-5 clinger at a party- BUT THEY WEREN’T INVITED!  When my skin needs a reboot, I scrub with this and it does exactly what it says it will- polishes your skin. My winter-dream team is washing clean skin with this, then Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich. You will wake up with a whole new face (not in a bad Heidi Montag way. It an awesome, how am I this glowing? in the winter way).

 

Kiehl's Rare Earth Pore Cleansing Mask- $30

Sometimes, you need a good detox, from harmful harsh heat in your house, from layering on makeup, etc. This is my ultimate. It detoxes skin without stripping it, it just leaves a nice, smooth, matte finish. It makes me feel so CLEAN afterwards. But because winter is a fickle biotch and will ruin this moment for you, follow up with Glossier Moisturizing Moon Mask. If you don’t’ have that in your arsenal already, skip this whole post and order that. Baby steps- and that is the first one.

 

Elta MD Suncreen- $20

Yes, you do need sunscreen in the winter. And fall. And all other times of the year. People always ask me what they can use to prevent wrinkles, and sunscreen is it. We don’t realize the damage those harsh office lights make, the sun when we’re in the car- etc. You can drive yourself crazy trying to avoid it or worry about it- or you can wear sunscreen daily. This one was recommended to me by multiple friends, and for good reason. It is unbelievably lightweight and silky. I put it on before my priming moisturizer, and you can’t even tell it’s there.  It blends in beautifully and protects all day. Get on it.

 

Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Eye Cream- $37

The top question I am asked is “what can I use for under-eyes?".  In service to all of you, I’ve tried just about all of them. This one is the only cream I have ever noticed a difference with. I do feel it helped with my dark circles over time, but more than anything it just made my under-eye area look not so tired. It smoothed the skin, actually making it look younger and healthier. A little goes a long way too- I've had it about 4 months and haven't even made a dent in the tube. 

Mermaid Perfume Body Oil- $50

Some days, you walk outside and are immediately assaulted by ice-cold wind, sharp, sleet-y snow and frigid temperatures. You think to yourself “I need a damn vacation”, but you check your bank account and it says “Girl lol no you need a BUDGET”. So how do you get away without actually getting away? Treat yourself to something tropical. On those miserable winter days, I crank up the heat in my apartment, take a bath (this is the best bath companion), and follow up with Mermaid Perfume Body Oil. It smells like you just left the beach, Mai Tai still in hand. It soaks into skin in seconds and leaves you with a lingering vacation smell all day. Not to mention crazy soft-skin worth of putting your bathing suit on (you can walk around your house in one, I won’t judge). Bonus points if you get their candle- it will fill your whole home with beach bliss. 

Boy Brow in Clear- $16

In the winter, I’m all about a more natural look- like an Eskimo with natural beauty just oozing from my pores. But as we all know, sometimes it takes a little work to make natural look polished. This is why I love Boy Brow Clear. I am faithful to Boy Brow in brown, but I do have some little baby hairs in the front that don’t quite need color, but just a little lift. Voila, Clear Boy Brow. All the same gorgeous, effortless, just a little messy brow, without color if you don’t need it (bless you).

Milk Makeup Eye Vinyl- $20

I had been coveting a glossy eye for months, but couldn’t seem to figure it out without looking like I had some weird disease. Then I was recommended Milk Makeup Eye Vinyl, and it changed the game. PERFECTLY glossy without looking oily or sick. It gives you the ultimate cool-girl look, because let’s face it, you are cool and should look like it. My favorite shade is the nude. Glide it on eyelids and pat in and BAM! You’re an Olsen (without the chain smoking, bravo).

 

Winter is tough- but taking care of your skin doesn't have to be. All of these products can be easily integrated into your routine, without sending your face into panic mode- because it's stressful enough just trying to keep your socks up in your boot all season.

 

* Title photo via Into The Gloss

Pink is the New Prozac

Here we are, in that deep, depth of Winter when it seems like we are just as far into it, as we are from getting out. Cold, icy temps, dirty sloshy snow covering the sidewalks. Every day seems like a scene from “Frozen” (and not the cool, singing parts. Just the shit weather). Yup- seasonal depression is in full swing. It may be vain, but during this period, I make it through with little pick-me-ups. A mascara here, a coffee before work, etc. My bank account may hate me but my soul is (possibly falsely) nourished. But recently, I found the holy grail of all mid-winter pick-me-ups. Hear me out:

During this time of year, I do notice one thing: I am in all black, all the time. Constantly sifting through a pile of black clothing, looking for that same black turtleneck, black jeans and of course, black socks to go with my black boots. Its become routine, and frankly, it’s a little boring. This winter, I decided to challenge myself and brighten my mood by brightening my wardrobe. I wanted one universal piece I could throw on my "Wednesday Adams" inspired looks.

Enter, the Pink Coat.

 

I'm going to need everyone to stop saying “I have too many coats!!!”. No- there is no such thing. When you live in Michigan (any other cold-weather state applies here), your coat is your wardrobe, and quite literally your outfit most days. I am sitting in a Starbucks right now, black turtleneck, black sweats and PINK COAT. There’s no way I was going to come out in this blistering weather and not flex on these high schoolers ordering hot chocolates- and all it took was one, simple piece. A pink coat is the new staple, and instant outfit brightener, a fool-proof way to look like you know what you’re doing. It’s the thing you need to get you through these next few months, and the options are much, much cheaper than a therapist.

Because I believe that "more is more and less is a bore" (Iris Apfel, my idol)- I have two options I can throw on over just about any outfit: a pink faux fur from J.Crew, and a wool pea coat I got in Ireland.

For warm, wool coat, I recommend finding something in the lighter, or “Millennial Pink (Glossier did it first tho)” range. It looks expensive, chic and well put-together.

If you're a little more adventurous (or in my case, fashionably obnoxious), opt for a bright, faux fur version. There is no way to be basic in a pink faux fur, it is instant FASHUN.

Consider pink your new base. It can be worn with black, white, red, blue, stripes, pajamas, sweats- YOU NAME IT. This is the easiest cure for mid-winter outfit ruts.

Here's a few options to get you through these next few months (let's face it, Winter goes until April. Don't live in denial).

Topshop Biker Jacket (on sale for $99!)

Style Nanda Pink Overcoat with Strap Detail, Asos ($264)

Via Spiga Faux Fur Coat (on sale for $139!)

 

Improve your mood, update your wardrobe, and make sure that when you inevitably end up in some 9th grader's Snapchat background at aforementioned Starbucks, you will STAND OUT.

 

Photos by: Ava Ranger

 

Gift Guide GIVEAWAY!

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Didn't get what you wanted for Christmas (I don't know why socks get such a bad rap. I got two new pairs and I am PUMPED)? The Nines is here to help! To celebrate the end of the local gift giving series, here's one big, local loving giveaway!

 

What it includes:

1 Neroli candle from Detroit Rose

1 Citrus, 1 Hibiscus, and 1 Pineapple Jalapeno cocktail mixer from Wolf Moon Mixers

A laundry bundle from The Old White House, including linen spray, dryer sachets, laundry soap and a scoop!

 

How to Enter:

Head over to my Instagram, @alexandramauro, FOLLOW and TAG a friend in the comments of the most recent post (photo of a Neroli Candle)! By following/commenting, you will be automatically entered to win. Winner will be announced Thursday, 12/29. 

 

Regardless of the winner, I hope that this series inspired a few of you to start shopping local. I love to give, and giving local this holiday season made it that much sweeter. That, and the chocolate Santa overdose that took place.

Good Luck! 

 

Detroit Rose

WHO WE'RE GIFTING... Your Girlfriends or Sister.

(let's face it, you're going to want some too)

 

There's not much I enjoy more than beauty, skincare, candles, and Disney Channel Original Movies. When I stumbled upon Detroit Rose, and it checked three of those four boxes (the last one was out of their control)- I was instantly hooked. 

My love affair started with the candles. If I am home, I am burning a candle. I would have really thrived in the Pre-Edison days. I'm not ashamed to admit I've spent upwards of $70 on a single candle. I found Detroit Rose via Instagram, and one look at the gorgeous packaging, had me getting my credit card out faster than you could say "Shopaholics Anonymous". To my delight, these beautiful candles were only $24. AND they're made right here in Detroit? SOLD. 

But like any great candle, it needs a great scent. I can confidently say that Detroit Rose's scents are unparalleled. They fill the entire room and wrap you in comfort and peacefulness. They have somehow managed to take that perfect "Sunday morning, wrapped in a blanket, watching Harry Potter with absolutely nothing to do today" feeling, and give it life in a candle. There are so many delicious scents to choose from, but here's my favorites I have burning on repeat:

*I know it's hard to choose a candle without smelling it first. For this reason, I have associated each scent with a notable person, to make choosing easier. Or just more entertaining. 

Cinnamon & Chai:

It smells like wrapping your house in one giant, cozy blanket. A spicy but comforting scent of vanilla, cinnamon and clove. This is the candle that's going to get you through the winter.

Who would burn it: Rory Gilmore. Before the revival garbage. 

Bourbon Orange Spice:

This one is Michael's favorite. It's a rich, buttery scent, made with the zest of orange, clove and anise. It's like the candle equivalent of melted butter (the feeling, not the smell). Smooth, and so delicious.

Who would burn it: Brad Pitt. In the Jenn days.  

Fig Tree:

I light this one every morning in my "Diva Den" (this is what Michael calls the spare room we had to make into my "dressing room", because I have SO.MANY.CLOTHES.) while I'm getting ready. It's clean, simple and earthy. Instantly turns any room into an oasis.

Who would burn it: Charlotte York. While she rearranges her flowers and makes brunch plans with the girls. 

Bergamot: 

The best way to describe the scent of this candle is "bright" (no, not a candle pun). It has the most delicious citrus notes, sure to perk up any space. It's energizing and inspiring. I love to light one when I write or am getting work done around the house. Currently lit as I write this (the candle, not me. I am an old lady and boring AF).

Who would burn it: Ina Garten. I light this and fantasize that she's about to make me a Quiche. Then my timer goes off for my bagel bites. 

BONUS burner: Lin Manuel Miranda. Rumor is he had this going while writing "Hamilton". That rumor was started by me.

Neroli: 

With hints of sandalwood and musk, this is the candle to bring out your inner goddess. It's sensual, peaceful and intoxicating. Side effect is that you may never want to leave your house. It's that good. 

Who would burn it: Serena van der Woodsen. Also Blair approved (but NOT Jenny. Forget her.). 

Tobacco & Bay Leaf:

As I write this, Michael yells from the kitchen that THIS is his favorite now. It smells like we live in a Restoration Hardware catalog (aka, the DREAM). Herbal, with hints of musk and citrus, it makes me feel warm and cozy on the inside. Also makes me want a giant reclaimed-wood bookcase filled with Sylvia Plath's best works. 

Who would burn it: My idol, Emma Watson. HOW CAN ONE PERSON BE SO PERFECT.

There are multiple other scents as well: Lavender, Rosa, Moss, Mistletoe, Leather, just to name a few. Each candle is hand poured here in Detroit, made from all-natural, vegan soy wax and premium fragrance oils.

 

BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE! 

Detroit Rose has launched a "Ritual Line". A line of skincare products, all natural, organic and filler free. 

Rose & Coconut Milk Bath Soak ($26):

Up there with naps, baths are the most underrated childhood pastime. There is nothing like taking a bath to make you feel like you have your life together. Funny thing is- I usually take one when it seems like my life is falling apart. It is the perfect way to unwind, clear your head and get back on track. And now I know there is no better companion to bath time than this bath soak. I didn't know I needed to bathe with real rose buds UNTIL I DID. This scent of this soak alone is enough to send you into a spa-like bliss. But the coconut milk, melting into your skin is absolute nirvana. Just a few spoonfuls in the tub leaves skin impossibly soft. 

Bergamot & Lavender Oil ($28):

After taking my soul-saving bath, I thought my skin couldn't get any softer from the coconut milk. Then came this body oil. I usually can't get down with lotions- I think they're a hassle and sticky and never seem to absorb or moisturize. This oil made my skin hydrated and glowy on impact. It's easy to apply and quickly melts into skin.  And the scent....it's what I imagine Blake Lively to smell like naturally (no wonder Ryan Reynolds loves her so much, also why do I think about Blake Lively so much?). It's just a hint of sweet citrus and lavender that provides you just enough light fragrance. 

Find it! 

Let's be honest- you're ordering some for yourself. You'll get the best selection on their site, and won't have to stress about shipping times. 

Need it by Christmas? 

Lark & Co.: Birmingham

City Bird: Detroit

El Dorado General Store: Detroit

Farmers Hand: Detroit

SMPLFD: Detroit

Knot and Bow: Brooklyn, NY

Asrai Garden: Chicago

Lillstreet: Chicago

A full lists of stockists, here

 

If it wasn't already obvious, I am now a faithful follower of Detroit Rose. The entire brand is dedicated to channeling your inner goddess (Yaaasss queen, I'm in here!!!), loving and appreciating yourself, and finding peace in the shit storm of life. Whether it's a candle, body oil, face mask (next on my list to try) or a bath soak- we all could use a little something to help us find balance in the day-to-day. That, and something very chic for your bathroom shelves. 

Busted Bra Shop

WHO WE'RE GIFTING...YOU!

(this one is for the ladies...or men- it's 2016 and I'm not here to judge. YOU DO YOU.) 

 

It's no secret that I am a proud member of the itty-bitty-you-know-what-committee (keeping it G here, my future in-laws read this. Hi guys!!!). I kept waiting to grow, but eventually I realized this is as good as it's going to get. I'm not bummed about my size- after many years, I've learned to love and appreciate my body. But there was always one thing I couldn't get behind- or under, I suppose: bras. I was a Victoria's Secret, 32A, push-up ride or DIE. They measured me countless times- 32A, year after year. But if I was wearing the right size, why was I always so uncomfortable? I was constantly playing with the skin-grabbing straps, or adjusting the cups. I thought it was normal I could fit some snacks, my phone, lipstick and an ipad mini in there. I was uncomfortable, but at least I had storage, right? I accepted that bras suck, but they're a right of passage to being a woman. Then, I saw the light. 

On a bender to my favorite vintage store with a girlfriend, we were just about to leave when a trip to the ladies room ensued. Right next to it, was Busted Bra Shop. To this day, I don't know what made me go in there. It was most likely divine intervention (I really think God could be a woman sometimes, good looking out). 

Upon walking in, the first words I heard were "I bet you're wearing a 32A. And it's the wrong size". I was baffled! I wore the smallest size that existed, what's a concave girl like me supposed to be wearing? Sadly unknown to me, there is a whole other world of bras outside of the pink and white stripes. I let Lee, the owner, take me into a fitting room (my friend, waiting outside the bathroom wondering where I went, sorry girl). Less than 5 minutes later, I was standing in there, sans shirt, with my Miracle Bombshell Gorgeous Miraculous 32AAAAHHH bra in the trash. Let me tell you- you are never more vulnerable than when you are in a fitting room, girls out, having a full on conversation with a woman you just met. Trust level is at an all time high.  I think I told her things I had never told anyone- like how I used to ride my bike by my crushes house blasting Ashlee Simpson (okay, now everyone knows). BACK TO BRAS. 

Well folks, as it turns out, I am a certified 28B. A size I didn't even know existed. The second I put on my new, perfectly fitted bra, it was love at first hook. For the first time, I was comfortable- that really does something beautiful for your own body positivity. The right fit is everything, and it turns out that the majority of women do NOT fall within standard retail sizing. Busted has sizes AAA-N, and bands from 26-56. With that range of sizes, how can we honestly accept that MILLIONS of women fall within the standard FOUR sizes mass retailers carry? Secret's out- we deserve more. 

WHERE TO GO...

The Park Shelton Building- Midtown

15 East Kirby Street, suite A

Detroit, MI 48202

 

When you shop at Busted, you are not only getting top notch service, quality product and a life-changing experience, but you're supporting a locally owned, Detroit business. A bra that supports you AND the local economy? Truly, Busted Bra Shop is the gift that keeps on giving. 

 

 

*Photo credit: Man Repeller

 

Wolf Moon Mixers

WHO WE'RE GIFTING... Your Secret Santa 

You know the drill. You pull a name out of the Secret-Santa hat at work. You open it up , and see the name of a co-worker you know nothing about. What the heck are you supposed to get them? A book? What if they prefer Netflix? Socks and underwear? That's a lawsuit waiting to happen. Really, there's only one thing you need to know about them- make sure they enjoy an adult beverage, and proceed with Wolf Moon Mixers. 

At a party a few weeks ago, I observed a friend mixing a green juice with Vodka. Yes, kale, grapefruit, apple, celery, and vodka- I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. In no way, shape or form was it drinkable. My poor pal just wanted a somewhat healthy alternative to the usual Diet Coke or tonic water. I thought that there had to be something better than a vodka salad. Lo and behold, right in my own city, lived a company that thought the same thing. All natural mixers, made from fruits, vegetables, cane sugar and flowers- all designed to pair perfectly with your favorite spirits. 

Hibiscus ($15):

My absolute favorite. I'm a tequila girl (I can feel your judgement from here), and Hibiscus mixed with silver tequila, makes the most delicious, fresh margarita. It's like in college, when the weather would break, and everyone would be outside on a Wednesday afternoon having a drink-I mean, STUDYING, mom!!!- That happy, satisfying taste, bottled. 

Alternate recipe: Hibiscus mixer, vodka, a splash of club soda and some fresh blueberries, muddled. 

*Not only do these mixers taste incredibly delicious, but the 32oz, aesthetically pleasing bottles look almost too good to drink. BUT WHO ARE WE KIDDING. Pop that bottle! 

Citrus ($15): 

You know that feeling when you're on vacation, laying by the pool, drink in hand without a care in the world? Citrus is that feeling in a bottle, even though you're sitting under a dozen blankets with your long johns pulled up to your bra. My go-to is to mix with some champagne, and a squeeze of an orange slice. This is Beyonce of Mimosas.

Alternate recipe: Citrus mix, vodka, a splash of club soda, and a slice of grapefruit to garnish. 

Pineapple Jalapeño ($15) :

Spicing up your life has never been easier, or more fun. The perfect mix of spicy and sweet, this flavor is ideal to mix with some tequila, a little lime and a lotta false-self confidence. For me- this mix is the party pleaser. The taste is strangely familiar, but deliciously different. Scary and Ginger would be proud.

Alternate recipe: Pineapple Jalapeño mix, gin, club soda. GINNING (take away my writing privileges)!!

* Check out two bonus flavors on the WMM site!

 

I'm no mix master. Hell, 4 years ago I drank wine out of a box and thought Smirnoff was top shelf.  The good people at Wolf Moon Mixers sympathize with me, and offer a plethora of delicious recipes, available here. At a party with no wi-fi (are you also churning butter)? Fear not- recipes are also featured on the back of the bottle.

Find It!: 

City Market: Detroit

Our/Detroit: Detroit

ML Spirits: Birmingham

Beverage Warehouse: Beverly Hills

Heights Food Center: Ferndale

Market Square: West Bloomfield

                     ...Find a full list of retailers, or shop online, here!

 

These mixers are the fun, delicious gift that keeps on giving. Not only do Wolf Moon Mixers make the perfect gift for your secret santa, but for your close friends too (they can invite you over for a drink and you can mooch off of your own gift). This cool, perfectly curated present is sure to be the talk of the office-unless Barb gets too drunk at the holiday party again and busts out a freestyle to "Silent Night"- she's got you beat. 

 

The Old White House

 

WHO WE'RE GIFTING: Mom/Mother-in-law

(no, not because they do all the cleaning, but because moms are the bomb.com and deserve a great gift!)

A few years ago, a friend gifted me The Old White House's Lavender Linen Spray. I kept it on my nightstand for a while, never really reaching to use it. But after a horrendously bad day (I think it had something do to with work and Adam Brody getting married), I came home in desperate need of relaxation and calm. I spotted the chic glass-bottle on my nightstand and figured I would give it a whirl. From that day on, I refuse to sleep in anything other than a bed full of lavender goodness. After falling head-over-pillow for the spray, I ventured into the entire Old White House line. I love the idea of filling my home with all natural products, and I love even more that they're made right here in Michigan. 

Located between Grand Rapids and Lansing (okay, a tad out of Detroit, but still local!), The Old White House is dedicated to creating laundry and cleaning products, all natural, all infused with Lavender, and all obession-worthy. 

Here's a breakdown of my favorite products:

Lavender Linen and Room Spray ($12):

Like I mentioned above, this is the ultimate way to feel relaxed and clean- even if your room looks like a tornado of Zara came through. Not only do I use it nightly on my sheets, but I use it on blankets, drapes, even my shower curtain. A few spritzes on my pillow is an instant trip to relaxation nation.

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Natural Lavender Laundry Soap ($8):

I loathe washing my clothes in harsh chemicals (just like I hate when someone mixes the tofu with the falafel at the salad bar at Whole Foods. The NERVE). When I use this, my clothes turn out like I'm Julie Andrews in "The Sound of Music", hanging my things in the crisp air while singing about deer or thread or something. Giving your mom a way to  get her clothes clean and fresh, all while using natural ingredients? You're now the favorite child. 

*Highly recommend the one that comes with the wooden scoop. It's $2...your mom is worth it. 

Lavender Kitchen and Bath Cleanser ($8):

I live with a man. I have clean our bathroom every other day (Okay..between my hair and makeup, the mess is probably mostly mine). I started to get worried that the bleach I was washing our shower with, was soaking up into the pores of my feet, and I would soon turn into something out of a Marvel movie. This stuff really cleans, leaves a fresh scent, AND I get to stay human. Sold.

I also use this in my kitchen, in the sink and on countertops. I do a lot of messy cooking, and this cleansers antibacterial properties leave me with a sparkling clean kitchen, sans risk of Salmonella. 

*For these products, a little goes a LONG way, I only use a small sprinkle on a sponge to get the job done. 

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Lavender Carpet Freshener ($12):

When you get older, you start to accumulate nice things, like Oriental Rugs. But you walk all over it in your boots, dirty sandals, etc., making your once-nice-rug look as tired as Donald Trump's hair piece (too soon?). Sprinkle this stuff on, let sit for 30 minutes and then vacuum it up. Carpet looks and smells like new! 

The Bundle ($45):

Can't decide what to get? The "Bundle of Natural Lavender Goodness" is the fool-proof way to go. It includes all of the above, and a Lavender dryer sachet! A small warning: your moms house is going to smell so good and be so clean, that you may want to move back in. Think that one through carefully. 

Find it!

Lark & Co. General Store: Birmingham, MI

Blumz: Detroit & Ferndale

Eastern Market, shed 4: Detroit

Out of D Box 313: Detroit

        ...and of course, online! 

(You don't have to live in Detroit to support it!)

WHY:

To me, products from The Old White House say you care. They're quality, heart-warming gifts that any person could use and appreciate. The fresh, clean scents are comforting and soothing- a nice change up from harsh chemical smells and harmful ingredients. There is something about the smell of fresh Lavender filling your home that calms the soul- until "Westworld" comes on. Then I'm at a loss. 

 

Good Jeans: Madewell

 

In a recent bender of "Laguna Beach", Season 3, I learned two things: in the early 2000's, True Religion was indeed a religion, and jeans were king. It got me thinking- I hardly ever wear jeans. And if I'm not wearing jeans, what the  $^!@ am I wearing all the time?

I am a notorious non-jeans wearer. The main reason being I hate shopping for them, and the way I look in them. I'm petite- 5 ft nothing. Every time I go to try on a pair of denim, I find myself mopping the fitting room floor with 3ft of extra fabric. Flare jeans? I look like a platypus. Capri-cut? On me- Boot Cut. It's incredibly discouraging, and a major blow to my self-confidence. 

This year, jeans reign supreme once again. Adorned with kitsch-y patches, intricate destruction, and un-finished hems, I found myself feeling left out, so I went shopping. Endless hours in fitting rooms, trying on styles that were too long, too tight and too expensive. Almost accepting my defeat, a group of girlfriends guided me to Madewell. I had always assumed Madewell was for tall, lanky girls, that like to shop at Whole Foods, listen to Vinyl and do hot yoga for fun (aka- girls way cooler than me). With nothing left to lose, I let a kind Madewell employee pick out some styles for me and corral me into a fitting room- and the rest is history. 

I tried on a few pairs of skinny jeans, and while they were undeniably good, I was looking for something different. This is the great thing about Madewell- styles that are on trend, and work on ladies 5'10 to 5'0. I walked out with three pairs that day- I even cleared out a drawer for my new collection (for comparison- I dated my Fiance for 4 years before I gave him half a drawer). 

 

The Cali-Demi Boot Cut

My favorite pair- it's been my go-to since I got them. The little "kick-hem" effect is perfect with my sneakers, even better with ankle boots that disappear under the unfinished hem. They're the ultimate cool-girl jean, with a universally flattering shape.  I love these in black, with an oversized sweater, or silk tank and leather jacket. 

BONUS: Madewell hems their jeans FOR FREE. This is usually a major expense for me, as 100% of my jeans have to be altered.

Cruiser Straight Jean

The comfiest jeans in the game. I've tried high-waisted jeans before. My Sophomore year of college, I stocked up on a bunch of cheap jeans where the waistband literally sat under my bra. Coincidentally, the extreme high-waist made me not notice that all the pizza and beer did NOT in fact disappear with my hangovers. On the Cruiser, the waist is just high enough, and the straight leg is a wonderful departure from the typical skinny-leg. Not to be confused with the Stanky-leg (still doing physical therapy as a result of that era). I love the lana wash- not too light, not too dark, just sheer denim perfection. 

 

9" High-Rise Skinny

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I figured I needed a staple-skinny jean in my arsenal. I typically stay away from skinny jeans, because they remind me of Delia's t-shirts and Etnies- circa 8th grade. However, Madewell has made skinny jeans cool again, with a leg that's not so skin tight, but skims the leg beautifully and comfortably. In another incredible feature Madewell offers, I got these monogrammed for just $10 bucks. You can get just about anything on your jeans, and while my first choice isn't appropriate for the 18-and-under audience, I decided to do a little self-promotion with mine. Other than FREE HEMMING!!, this may be my favorite feature from Madewell. It's a simple, personal touch to elevate your clothes. 

 

Although i'm on a strict wedding budget- I have my eyes on a few new styles. I can go without groceries for a month, no?

 

Cali-Demi Boot in Donovan Wash

 

 

I always thought jeans to be unnecessarily expensive, until I found the right ones. They are absolutely worth the investment, because of your cost-per-wear. I've worn each pair at least once a week since I got them, and they have yet to stretch out, fade out or give out. 

If you're like me, entering the fitting room with jeans is about as daunting as your gynecologists waiting room (Does everyone think I'm pregnant?!). But Madewell offered me a safe haven in my quest for jeans, with not just wonderful product, but exceptional customer service. Not only did they help me build on my wardrobe, but they have saved my legs from a lifetime of cold, leggings as pants, and best of all-razors.