I’d like to start off by thanking everyone who has encouraged me to keep this newsletter going. Right now, despite the almost 90 degree weather all week, I’m very excited for plaid, crispy leaves, bonfires, and apple cider. The transition into a new season always brings me creativity and inspiration. This time last year we were planning our trip to Hudson Valley. It’s a great place to spend a fall weekend and I’m working on a travel guide. Look out for that soon.
Eating healthy while on vacation is absolutely a challenge. For me it’s so hard to pass up the opportunity to try new things. Back in April on a trip to Sanibel Island, Florida, I made a point to cook a healthy (Whole 30-compliant) meal. Inspired by Florida flavors, I made coconut shrimp with an avocado-lime slaw. I love this dish because it has a great balance of protein, healthy fat and nutrient-dense vegetables. To cut down on cooking time I bought a pre-made slaw mix and just made the dressing. Simplicity is key when cooking in someone else’s kitchen.
Spring is finally here after another long winter (doesn’t winter feel longer every year?). I feel like a different person when the sun is out. This week, I’ve felt very inspired by spring – the colors, the produce, the weather, etc.
Thank you to everyone who read last week’s newsletter; I can’t say how much I appreciate all the feedback and support. Please continue to send feedback, and if you think someone would enjoy the content, please pass it along
First I have to thank everyone who signed up for the Newsletter. I appreciate all the support and feedback. So far the newsletter is designed to be a little recap of my week focusing on three topics: things I bought or want to buy (which will mostly fall under the umbrellas of beauty, food, and home goods), media I’m consuming (anything from news articles, tv shows, podcasts, books, etc.) and the best thing I ate all week – either my experience with a recipe or a restaurant. If you know someone who might enjoy the content please send them here to sign up. Thanks again!
I don’t have a cutsie name for the green smoothie I start my day with every morning but I would describe it as well-balanced and tropical. It’s made with spinach, pineapple, orange and coconut. The spinach is packed full of vitamins, the fruit adds sweetness and potassium, and the coconut milk adds plenty of fat to keep me full. I usually have this with eggs for breakfast but will sometimes just take the smoothie alone to go. No, I do not have a Vitamix. I use this blender by KitchenAid. I would recommend this blender because it’s only $100 and has never given me any issues. I make a big batch of the smoothie, pour it into silicone ice cube trays and freeze. When I want to make a smoothie I just blend a 5 cubes with a half cup of water. Surprisingly to me the cubes keep their flavor for well past a week in my freezer. I love making the smoothie with frozen cubes because it creates a refreshing, slushy effect and the smoothie will stay cold for a long time on the go (I love Working Glasses because they are inexpensive, durable, and easy to clean).
I’ve read so many glowing reviews of Glossier products that I finally had to try some myself. I opted to try out two of the brand’s most popular make up items first: Generation G lip color and Boy Brow. So far I’m pretty impressed. I love the lip color, I ordered Cake and I love how natural the color looks and the soft formula. Boy brow so far seems very similar to Mac Brow Gel. I like the small tube because it’s great to throw in a bag. I would buy both products again but I think they should be at a lower price point considering the amount of product. Glossier did throw in some swag with my purchase – a sheet of stickers, a plastic bubble envelop make up bag, and a poster.
I keep seeing these everywhere. I’m in love with the minimally designed, sassy key tags. The simple look of the key tag keeps the focus on the humor. If you just glanced you wouldn’t notice the words on the key tags but the words are what make it so clever. I’m probably going to order this one
Various Projects can also make custom key tags and I’ve seen some pretty great ones on Instagram. I also appreciate that the e-commerce platform that is Apple Pay friendly. Apple Pay is so easy to use that it makes me instantly more willing to buy something.
Big Little Lies on HBO
I’m sure the book is better, I haven’t read it yet, but I’m absolutely addicted to the TV series Big Little Lies. The A-List cast delivers episode after episode. There’s mystery, glamour, petty drama, beautiful sweeping views of Monterey Bay and all set to melodic, beautiful music – everything I want in a TV show. It’s HBO’s classy, socially acceptable version of Real Housewives. Read more about Big Little Lies in this great piece on the show from The New Yorker.
Don’t Keep Your Day Job with Cathy Heller
This podcast offers great inspiration on turning a passion into a paycheck and practical advice for dreamers from people who are making a living doing a creative job. The author is a singer/songwriter who discovered she could make a living of music if she focused on licensing her music instead of pursuing a record deal. Even listeners who aren’t interested in quitting their 9-to-5 will appreciate the interesting stories in each episode.
I’ve been interesting in baking something with frangipane (almond pastry cream) for a long time and this week the stars finally aligned. Earlier in the week I stumbled upon this recipe for Mazariner and on Saturday I ate a blueberry frangipane tart from my favorite coffee shop, The White Rabbit Café in Greensburg. I used the recipe but instead of making mini tarts I just made a full-sized tart. I loved this recipe for the wonderful flavor – the frangipane has a perfectly balanced amount of almond – you can taste it but it was not overwhelming.I loved the cardamom in the crust and the orange in the glaze. The texture of the frangipane was very nice – sort of a creamy spongey and very moist. Mine baked kind of unevenly but I’m almost sure it’s because of my oven temperature was off or uneven. If I did it again I would add orange zest to the glaze, add cherries to the frangipane and top the tart with sliced almonds. The tart paired perfectly with an almond milk cappuccino.
This week I thought a lot about working on building my capsule wardrobe with quality basics. I’m also looking to upgrade certain pieces with a more polished-looking grown up version. I’m trading in my well-worn Minnetonka moccasins for these beautiful loafers from Everyone. While I have never bought anything from Everlane I have heard glowing reviews from friends and I admire their business ethics.
A little two years ago I started hearing a lot of buzz about a diet called Whole 30. Well, diet is the wrong word. Whole 30 is less of a diet and more of a reset button on eating habits. This reset button comes with non-scale victories like clearer skin, better sleep, more energy, etc. After researching the diet I decided to give it a try. After all, it’s only 30 days. My boyfriend and I were looking for some antidote to months of feeling pudgy and sluggish. I won’t go over all the specific rules of the diet, because all the information is available on the Whole 30 website.
At first I tried to do it without eating meat – only limited fish – but quickly caved and started to add some meat to the diet. This was tough for me because I have avoided meat for the past several years of my life. The key thing for me was that the diet embraces responsibly sourced protein which I feel less guilty about eating. The main reason I stopped eating meat was because I do not believe in factory farming because of it’s negative effects on the environment, the animals, and the people working in that industry.
On my second go around I feel much more prepared and I know how to combat the obstacles that make this diet difficult. I recommend doing Whole 30 with a buddy. It is nice to be accountable to and share meal ideas with someone. Another thing that helped me was keeping a journal of my experience. I used the App Day One 2 to track my meals, moods, sleep, and how my body was responding the the changes in my diet. I tried to take a picture of every meal, snack, cup of coffee, etc. that I ate. This was great because if I didn’t know what to make myself I could just flip through my pictures until I saw something that looked good. And the essential thing, I found, to successfully completing this diet is planning and cooking in advance. Cooking Whole 30 compliant meals can be tough. There is a lot of chopping, marinading, roasting, shopping, prepping involved in cooking all fresh foods. Last but not least: guacamole. on. everything.
The best unintended result of Whole 30 was that it helped me develop my cooking skills. Cooking has probably become my favorite hobby over the past two years and this really pushed me outside of my cooking comfort zone. I saw it as a challenge and found the constraints helped me be even more creative.
A typical day.
I usually start my day with an egg, a salad of mixed greens dressed with salt, pepper, and a small drizzle of olive oil, and a smoothie (they say not really to have smoothies but I think mine is okay!) of spinach, coconut milk and a few pineapple and orange chunks (I think the smoothie is acceptable because it is mostly spinach and the coconut milk is my breakfast fat). Once I got sick of eggs I started making coconut-almond crusted chicken nuggets to have with salad for breakfast. Sometimes I also ate diced roasted potatoes or other vegetables on the side like peppers and onions or something. I also always have at least one espresso or cup of coffee to start my day. I’m absolutely not ready to ditch caffeine.
Eating lunch and dinner at a regular time can sometimes be difficult because I typically work from 1-10. Usually I pack lunch and dinner eating lunch at 3 and dinner around 6 or 6:30. This is usually some combination of salads, protein, soups, fruit, and vegetables which I prep ahead and take. Usually I eat the soup at 3 and eat the salad, protein and fruit during the evening break. I definitely mix it up and bring a ton of food to work so I’m not tempted by break room snacks or baked goods at coffee shops. Here are some of the meals I packed:
Shrimp fajitas over a salad dressed with a wedge of lime, guacamole on the side and some fruit
Spinach and chicken dressed with a squeeze of lime, broccoli, guacamole, sliced strawberries and kiwi, sparkling water
a small salad, sliced strawberries, chicken soup, sparkling water
Dinners at home I tried to make fancy and fun whenever I had the time. This was great and the meals were some of the best dinners we ever made. My favorite was probably salmon with a side salad – simple but delicious. We also made a great dish with cod, steak and potatoes, and hamburgers without the bun. Whatever we had time to cook. Here are some memorable dinners:
Salmon, half of a baked potato, salad
salad, cod with a lemon-herb sauce, baked potato with leeks
chicken breast, guacamole, salad, cooked carrots
steak, salad, sautéed mushrooms, asparagus, onion, and guacamole
While it could be challenging at times, I ate some of the best food of my life during Whole 30. I’m so excited for my second time around this month. I’ll continue to post updates, tips, recipes, etc. during this month. If you want even more content on my Whole 30 follow me on instagram (@ingeboooo) I post each meal to my Instagram story.
Herbivore’s Pink Clay Hyaluronic Acid Mega Moisture Creme Mask ($48)
I bought this mask last September from Sephora and only really used it twice. This is totally out of my own laziness and not a reflection of the quality of the mask at all. I bought this for two reasons: I wanted a hydrating product for winter and the gorgeous packaging (is that bad? I’m just being honest). Initially I was VERY turned off by the separation of the product. I even considered returning it when I saw yellowy goops of oil bubbling between gobs of pink gooey clay. Also, I think the product leaked and the box had an oil stain on it. But that stuff is just a mark of a genuine small-batch, independent beauty company. Speaking of small batch, I don’t think this product is available anymore. That doesn’t mean a true Internet-sleuth couldn’t dig up a jar, it just means Sephora isn’t selling it.
I admire Herbivore Botanicals for their commitment to using high quality ingredients when formulating products. They make a variety of face oils. The most popular on Sephora.com is the Blue Lapis variety, but they have specialized oils for cell rejuvenation, youth preservation, and hydrating glow oil. A short aside on the topic of face oil: I’m a firm believer in face oil, I love layering the stuff all over my face before I go to bed and waking up to baby-soft skin and how smoothly my make up goes after applying it. Oils have become an essential step in my skin care routine. Anyway besides oil they sell facemasks, soaps, lip moisturizer, mists for literally everything, and bath salts.
On to the mask I bought. I am somewhat of a mask-hoarder. I love trying different skin care products and my biggest weakness is a great mask. It’s so fun to see your face transform after slathering on a mask. I like brightening with minty green algae masks and pore vacuuming with charcoal. Masks also deliver amazing results that are both instant and lasting. I am all about a great mask. Herbivore’s Pink Clay Hyaluronic Acid Mega Moisture Creme Mask, which I promise I will never write out again for the rest of this review, is hydrating without leaving my skin feeling oily. That’s my key takeaway. I like that my skin feels soft and smooth and clean but not, well, too oily. My skin just feels clean and hydrated and nice. Applying the mask is a little messy. I wouldn’t do it without the provided spatula and although some things I’ve read online call it “pre-mixed” I absolutely recommend thoroughly mixing it before use. I let the mask sit for about 20 minutes and it does not ever dry out like other clay masks (probably because of the oils in it) so don’t wait for the mask to dry into a hard layer. I just splashed it off with warm water and then pat my skin with a towel to dry.
Is this the absolutely greatest mask I have ever used? Probably not. It’s better than average and because I admire Herbivore Botanicals I will buy their products again. I mainly bought this mask to support a good company and try out their line. I really want to try out their charcoal products, texturizing hair spray, and lip products.
And just for fun and a good laugh, here is my Snap Story quick take of the mask.
The days growing longer and buds popping up on trees and blooming into bright leaves inspired me to add some fresh herbs to my bedroom. So far the little guys have endured pretty well on my window sill. I love the way they look and smell. The pots come from a little flower shop in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood called Toadflax. The store offers fresh flowers, luxury beauty products, and chic home goods. It’s an endless supply of perfect hostess gifts- the shop is packed from floor to ceiling with things like gourmet chocolates, jams, and teas, candles, beautiful cashmere socks, home decorations, and specialty one-of-a-kind teams. It’s the kind of place that sells natural bristled tooth brushes and Marvis Toothpaste, which I reviewed awhile back, you can read about more about the toothpaste here.
I walked by these charming pots sitting in the window of Toadflax a few times before I bought them. I love how they look a little lopsided as if they were actually hand crafted. They are made by a California company called HomArt. Unfortunately I’m not sure how they could be procured online (but I also have not put a lot of effort into it). I thought herbs would be a good filler and the green leaves of Rosemary and Sage would look nice in them. As a nice bonus the herbs add a nice fresh smell to my room. Because there is no opening on the bottom I added rocks to the bottom before transferring the herbs into the pots. So far I have been really on top of watering them and I hope they last at least through the summer. I’d love to use the Rosemary for cooking. Right now I’m just really please with how they look.
Here is a picture of the plants potted out on the deck. I also took some pictures of the pots on the window sill but the lighting does not do them justice.
I am absolutely not a gardener so if anyone has advice about how to keep these alive please let me know!