Summer Skin Care Routine

Happy Monday beauties!

My apologies for missing my usual weekly post last week but I am in a bit of a creative rut.  I started this blog because I love to share with people- I always have.  I feel thankful to have a platform to share with others.  I still very much enjoy blogging but when life gets busy, I prioritize spending quality time with the people I love.  The term quality is key here.  It is one thing to coexist in the same space with someone else but quality to me means truly connecting and feeling present.  When Mark gets home from work, we like to cook something for dinner and watch a few episodes of a show that makes us laugh- we’re currently watching How I Met Your Mother the second time through.  I try my absolute best to put my phone and computer down and be present engaging in this special time together to decompress.

The point of me telling you this is that I am trying something new- feeling less guilt for what I’m not able to accomplish, and doing things when they feel right.  Last week, I never found the time to write a blog post and it felt like a chore.  I don’t want a passion of mine to feel like an obligation so I will continue to add to this blog when it feels right for me- I hope that’s okay with you guys 🙂  Mental health is something we all have to work at- sometimes it requires more effort and nurturing than we allow ourselves to devote to it.  We should all forgive ourselves for not getting to everything we set out to, and we all deserve to carve time out in our day reserved for whatever the hell we want- whether that be reading a book, sitting on the couch watching tv, or sipping on a coffee for a few extra minutes.  

Since we are on the topic of self care, I think it’s an appropriate week to share my current skin care routine with you guys.  As I shared a few weeks ago in a post, I have started to invest more time and research in skin care since.  I am learning that what I put in my body is just as important as what I put on my body.  With an understanding that a high percentage of the products I put on my skin are absorbed into my bloodstream, I have started to look at body and skin care products with a whole new lens.  My updated skin care regimen reflects this knowledge as I now have the resources and knowledge to make healthier choices for my body while still feeling beautiful and doing what I can to prevent the inevitable wrinkle and blemish.  

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CLEAN & PREP 

I use these Burt’s Bees Grapefruit wipes to remove my makeup and gently cleanse my skin.  While I do know that there are cleaner products on the market, I am quite frankly- a little lazy.  I want to wipe off my makeup and the day’s sweat and germs the easy way, without having to tie my hair back, rinse with water AND dry off my face with a towel.  Not to mention, if I’m already in bed and too tired to walk to the bathroom, I can ask Mark to bring me a wipe.  Nothing else provides that level of ease 😉  This way there are NO excuses.

TONE 

I absolutely love the Thayer’s Witch Hazel as a toner and apply it using a cotton round.  It feels refreshing and cleanses my skin one step further than with a wipe.  Witch Hazel is anti-inflmmatory and anti-bacterial, it decreases oil production and the appearance of redness, and it promotes healing.  It is a wonderful and natural way to treat and prevent acne.

MOISTURIZE

I make my own serum and use this retinol moisturizer, which I recently shared in my July favorites post.  See below for instructions to make the serum.

Serum:  I make my own serum using essential oils and rosehip oil that I absolutely love and have found to be incredibly effective- it is an integral part of my skincare routine that I can see myself sticking with for years to come.  I only use Young Living Essential Oils as I have full trust in their purity standards and they are the only company who has their own farms- they have complete control of the cultivation process from planting the initial seeds to the distillation and packaging.  This is the “Seed to Seal” promise that only Young Living offers.  If you have any questions about essential oils, how they work, what to use specific oils for, and how to incorporate them into your own healthy lifestyle, feel free to contact me!  There is absolutely no pressure to purchase- my goal is to provide education and facts.  The three essential oils I use for this serum are included in the starter kit!

Ingredients:

– Frankincense essential oil (lifts and tones skin, fades scars and stretch marks, promotes cell regeneration)

– Lavender essential oil (controls bacteria-causing acne, reduces inflammation and redness, soothes skin)

– Copaiba essential oil (anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, tightens pores, evens skin tone)

– Rosehip or jojoba oil (this is the rosehip I use)

– Glass dropper bottles (I love these)

 

Directions:

Fill 2/3 glass dropper bottle with rosehip or jojoba oil.  Add 15 drops of each essential oil and combine by shaking gently.  Store in a cool, dry place.

SPOT TREAT

I use a drop of Young Living Tea Tree Essential Oil on blemishes which dries them right up.  For a refreshing, acne-fighting spray, I combined witch hazel and 15 drops of tea tree essential oil in a glass spray bottle like this.  I put spray this on my face when I run out of cotton rounds or don’t have them easily accessible and I mist it on my chest after a workout if I don’t have time to shower!

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I hope you all enjoyed this week’s skincare post and give yourself permission to take some extra time out for yourself this week.  Cheers! xx

-Leah

July Favorites

Happy Monday beauties!  I hope you’re having a more productive day than I am- this post is all I’ve managed to do so far but it’s not to late to get moving 😉  How is it already August this week?!  In light of July ending and it being Monday, I will be sharing a few of my favorites from the month.  You guys know the drill by now- I hyperlink the numbers below the photo collage and each title above the product descriptions.  

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1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

1 | Yeti Tumbler

I have had my eyes on this Tumbler for almost a year now and I recently made the purchase.  I am SO glad I did- the quality of this product is unparalleled and it is so easy to clean.  I also have a Swell bottle (which I too loved) but it was harder to keep clean and got a funky musty smell after a few months of use.  The 30 oz. Yeti allows you to to hold plenty of liquid, actually see whats inside because of the large opening and clear lid, comes in a ton of colors, and does exactly what its supposed to do- it keeps your hot beverages hot and your cold beverages cold for a LONG time.  I like that I can fit ice cubes in without any problem, which is one of the disadvantages of the Swell bottle.  The Yeti lid is magnetic too so you can access every part of the bottle to make sure its clean.

2 | LilyAna Retinol Cream

I have recently begun investing more time and research into proper skin care- Lord knows I want to look 25 forever.  I now use sunscreen every morning in my CC cream, and I have gone from someone who used to bake in the sun with tanning oil (just typing that makes my stomach turn), to someone who opts to sit under an umbrella and reapply 30-50 SPF liberally.  I was the only one in my group of friends who didn’t burn at all on our trip to the Dominican in May.  That being said, I have started using more anti-aging products in my daily skincare routine and this Retinol cream has surpassed my expectations.  Its VERY affordable on Amazon and after using it for over two weeks, have noticed a significant difference in my skin’s tone and texture.  I have a more even skin tone and my face has never felt softer.  I would love to be able to go sans concealer with my improved complexion but I still have significant dark circles under my eyes (thank you genetics)- so if anyone has any recommendations for that, send them my way!

3 | Set of Five Flameless Candles 

I shared these a few posts back in my apartment tour blog post but I need to give them the attention they deserve.  These candles have a waxy surface, making them not only look real but feel like a normal candle, they are ALL operated with a remote so you don’t have to manually turn them on and off every time you use them, and best of all, they are are just under $17!  You just can’t beat that price when a one single flameless candle from your standard home decor shops like Pottery Barn would cost $50.  I would recommend these over and over again.  Just make sure you have or purchase AA batteries since they are not included 🙂

4 | Young Living Peppermint Essential Oil

If you know me, you know I sweat.  It’s just the way I am and there’s only so much I can do to control it.  This Summer has put me to my limits with this ridiculously hot and humid weather.  One thing I ALWAYS have in my purse is peppermint essential oil.  It’s the first oil I ever fell in love with because of its cooling properties that have helped tremendously with tension headaches and my constant state of being hot.  I only trust Young Living because I am assured of its quality and purity- to learn more, check out my blog post on essential oils here.  I put a dab of the peppermint oil in my fingers then rub it on the back of my neck, temples, and behind my ears.  It provides cooling relief within a minute or less.  For some people, this cooling sensation may be too intense so if this is the case for you, I would recommend mixing a drop of essential oil with a drop of carrier oil like fractionated coconut or olive.  Peppermint essential oil has been in my bag of tricks for over two years now and I truly don’t think I would survive Summer without it!

5 | Leather Zara Slides 

These shoes are easily my favorite closet addition I’ve purchased this Summer.  They are quite affordable being that they’re genuine leather, they look way more expensive than they are and are a great dupe for the $600 YSL slide.  The brown leather ensures that they look good with just about everything and they are very comfortable!  I have a wide foot and they have definitely stretched a bit to form to my wider foot, making them super easy to walk in but I think they would work really well for someone with a normal or narrower foot.  I sized up a half size from my usual 7.5 to an 8.

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I hope you guys enjoyed this post!  Be sure to let me know if you purchase any of these for yourself and what your thoughts are.  You guys know I only ever promote items that I use myself and truly believe in- I am not earning a commission on these- yet- but never say never 😉  Cheers! xx

– Leah

Plowshare Farms Dinner

Happy Tuesday my friends!

I hope you all had a nice weekend and feel refreshed and ready to tackle the week ahead!  I had the opportunity to attend a dinner hosted by Plowshare Farms in Pipersville, PA on Saturday with my Mom and we had a fantastic experience.  Last September we were able to attend the Outstanding In The Field event at Plowshare Farms, which was a truly special evening so we jumped at the opportunity to attend another dinner at the farm.  Continue reading to learn more about this special farm, what to expect from one of these events, and how to attend one for yourself!

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THE FARM

Plowshare Farms located in Bucks County, PA produces organic, chemical-free produce and grass-fed lamb through sustainable farming practices.  Husband and wife Teddy and Faith Moynihan have run the farm since 2014, and it is evident how much of their heart and soul is embedded in their work.  They offer a 24-week CSA (community supported agriculture) membership, with over 100 varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and dried goods.  CSA members have the option to pick up their weekly share of goodies directly from the farm in Pipersville or other convenient Philadelphia locations such as Rittenhouse Square- click here to learn more.

Teddy, Faith, their sweet boy, and their team of employees are some of the most genuine and warm people I have had the pleasure to meet.  They make you feel like a welcomed member of their family when they greet you and they are happy to answer any and all questions you have with a smile on their face.

 

THE DINNER

The typical flow of a farm dinner is as follows: arrive and enjoy curated and masterfully crafted cocktails with ingredients fresh from the farm, chat and enjoy circulating appetizers, tour the farm and learn about the sustainable growing practices and produce, then sit down for a family-style meal prepared by a talented chef and kitchen staff from a local restaurant.  The dinner my Mom and I attended this past Saturday was a bit unique due to the weather- steady rain and gusty winds for the entire duration of the dinner.  As we had the opportunity to attend a farm dinner last year in the sunshine, I was curious to see how the experience compared.  Let me tell you, I don’t think a single one of us was upset- we were seated under stung lights at long tables with white linens in their “washing station” and it was the coziest, most intimate setting for good conversation and delicious food.  Teddy and Faith left the farm tour optional for those who were daring enough to brace the elements and they had a few takers!  So rest assured, rain or shine- you are in for a treat!

 

THE COCKTAILS

Three featured cocktails were prepared by Slow Drinksutilizing ingredients from the farm to create a masterfully crafted work of art.  The bartenders had a beautiful arrangement of herbs and garnishes on display.  They were true artists- incorporating natural, rustic elements such as dehydrated lime slices and chicory root flower.  In order to write a truly informed blog post, I of course had to try all three cocktails and MAN were they delicious.  I love trying new cocktails and these were a fun step outside of my typical comfort zone.  I never ever drink bourbon but once I learned that it was bacon-infused, I had to go for it!   Give Slow Drinks a follow on Instagram for a peak at their beautifully crafted beverages.

 

THE CUISINE

The food, of course, is one of the main attractions and this dinner did not disappoint.  A four-course, family style Malaysian inspired meal was prepared by Chef Ange Branca from Saté Kampar.  See photos below to for a peak at the full menu.  I have never tried Malaysian cuisine and I probably wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for the opportunity to attend this dinner.  Chef Ange highlighted the flavor of the organic ingredients without overpowering or covering up their natural qualities.  The kitchen staff was able to achieve this by cooking with coconut shell charcoal, which is a method Chef Ange uses in her restaurant Saté Kampar, which is located on Passyunk Ave in Philadelphia if you are local and interested in trying some delicious, authentic Malaysian cuisine.

Chef Ange spoke with true passion when discussing the history of Malaysian cooking practices, techniques used, and the value of wholesome, minimal waste cooking.  One of the favorite dishes of the evening was a salad of Plowshare Farms baby carrots dressed in a lime vinaigrette- when Chef Ange tasted the carrot fresh from the soil to prepare the evening’s menu, the carrot greens reminded her of a spice native to Malaysia, and she incorporated them into the salad for a colorful and herbaceous addition.  Each dish incorporated a complex and multidimensional blend of flavors and spices and were designed to compliment one another as would an artist’s palette.  Chef Ange explained that she intentionally served all of the dishes at once, in order to honor the typical Malaysian style of eating.  She spoke of memories from her childhood in the town square, holding up a banana leaf to be served a pile of white rice and an array of colorful spices.  As a painter would blend paint on their palette, the various spices blended into a sea of color and diverse flavor, which was reflected in her presentation of dishes on Saturday.

 

THE EXPERIENCE

I can’t stress enough how exciting and enlightening it is to attend one of these farm dinners.  Not only are you able to enjoy a unique and delicious meal made with the freshest and healthiest ingredients available, but you have the opportunity to truly connect with people.  These dinners are intended to bring people together and remind me of why I love food the way I do- the shared social experience, the smiles, and the deep-rooted traditions that bring people closer together and transcend race, religion, and culture.  The family-style service ensures a shared social experience and encourages, if not gently forces you to learn about the people sitting near you.  If you love food, learning about different cultures, trying new things, and pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone, I strongly encourage you to get tickets for the next event hosted by Plowshare Farms on August 11th.  For more information about this dinner prepared Root and Suraya- click here.

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I am so thankful for our local farmers and the nutritious and tasty produce they work tirelessly to cultivate.  Support your local farms because without them, there would be no food!  Cheers to a fantastic week and here’s hoping for some sunshine amidst the rain! xx

-Leah 

 

Fish Taco Recipe

Good morning and HAPPY Monday beauties!  

Today’s post will be short and sweet as I am sharing my recipe for the delicious fish tacos I made for dinner last week.  They are super simple, light and healthy, and so tasty- the perfect dinner for a Summer evening.  Hope you enjoy 🙂

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| INGREDIENTS |

Deveined, peeled shrimp (about 4 shrimp per taco)

6-inch corn tortillas

1 bag of Cabbage slaw

Mayonnaise

Sriracha

1 ripe avocado

1-2 limes

Olive oil

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Old Bay seasoning

Salt

Pepper

 

| DIRECTIONS |

1 | If you purchase your shrimp frozen like I do, thaw by placing in a strainer and running cool water  for approximately 5 minutes.  Mark and I really enjoy the Aqua Star Raw Shrimp that come prepared to cook- I get them from our Amazon Fresh orders but I think they are sold at Walmart and other grocery stores in the frozen food section.

2 | Add ~ 2 tbsp. olive oil to pan and allow it to heat up, then add shrimp.

3 | Season shrimp to your liking using Old Bay, onion and garlic powder, salt and pepper, and the juice of half a lime- we like our shrimp fully coated in seasoning.  Once the shrimp are done cooking, you can begin step 4 while they cool in the pan.

4 | In a medium size bowl, mix ~ 3 tbsp. mayo, 1-2 tsp. Sriracha (make it is spicy or as mild as you like), and a sprinkle of garlic powder.  This is the approximate amount I used to make dinner for Mark and I so if you are cooking for more than 2, add accordingly.  Add cabbage slaw and combine ingredients until the slaw is fully coated.

5 | In a separate bowl, mash half of an avocado with a fork and squeeze the juice of half a lime.  Add salt and pepper to taste and mix together.

6 | Heat corn tortillas in an clean frying pan.  Flip when slightly toasted.

7 | Yay it’s time to assemble and eat!  Spread a thin layer of avocado mash on the center of the tortilla, top with four seasoned shrimp, then slaw.  I like to add one more squeeze of lime juice, roll it up, and bon appetit!

*Optional but refreshing- pair with a chilled Corona Light*

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I hope you all have a fabulous week and feel inspired to make something tasty for dinner.  Be sure to tell me if you use my recipe to make fish tacos- it would make my day 🙂  Cheers! xx

Leah

 

 

Apartment Tour

Happy Tuesday readers!  

I hope you all enjoyed a safe and happy Fourth of July with your family and friends!  Our good friends were visiting from Colorado so we had a fun night out at Tao downtown and a mellow Fourth with wine, charcuterie, and a view of Macy’s fireworks on the East River.  

I have anxiously and excitedly anticipated writing today’s blog post, as I had so much fun making our apartment a home and incorporating functional, yet affordable pieces.  Interior design has been a valued interest and hobby of mine for years- I couldn’t wait to get started with a blank canvas!  I knew I wanted a cool, serene vibe that incorporated neutrals, texture, and pops of color with flowers and greenery.  This is Mark and I’s first place together, so I wanted to make sure he felt comfortable in the space as well, and didn’t want anything to feel too feminine or juvenile.  

Our process of finding this apartment was a fairly painless one.  We toured eight apartments total, and this was the last one we saw.  Online, the apartment was furnished in the photos which is always nice because it gave us an idea of what we could actually fit.  The second we walked in, we gave each other that telepathic glance and asked the broker what we needed to do to make it ours.  She said she had another showing after us and of course she had to honor her appointment, so we quickly went to the bagel shop on the corner and withdrew the deposit.  Our broker texted me to say the other appointment was a no show, and the process began- I smile just thinking about our excitement on that day!

Here’s what we loved about the space- it has lots of windows and natural light.  All of the other spaces we had seen felt too dungeon-like and I thrive in bright spaces.  We liked that the kitchen is “separate” from the living space where we would put the couch and TV.  I know that sounds somewhat ridiculous but a ton of the apartments we toured had a full horizontal wall of kitchen appliances in the living area- where in the world does the couch go?  Three inches from the refrigerator door?  Another huge plus was that our apartment came with already-installed window air conditioning units in both the living room and bedroom, which has been so nice in this hot weather.  Although it was definitely not on our “must have” list, the fireplace is a charming design element that makes the room feel cozy.  Finally, we absolutely fell in love with our street.  A few of our favorite restaurants are literally on the corner, it is very residential and doesn’t get too loud at night, and there are about a million laundromats, dry cleaners, and bagel shops to choose from.  

Now for the good stuff- photos!  I tried to hyperlink the websites that I purchased most of the items pictured if you’re interested.  Thank you for reading and as always, please let me know if you have any questions!

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| BEFORE |

We started with a blank canvas: an empty, freshly painted one- bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side.

We saw so much potential in the space and loved the clean white walls and hardwood floors.

| AFTER |

 Bathroom 

The bathroom is one of my favorite spaces in our apartment- it is flooded with natural light, overlooks our fire escape with a jungle-vibe view of overgrown trees and shrubbery, has a claw-foot tub, tons of storage (that’s saying a lot for someone with enough hair and skin care products to last a lifetime), and updated, neutral tile.  I didn’t need to do much to transform this space- just some towels and soap!

I got our towels, bath mat, hand soap, and the exterior shower curtain from HomeGoods, so I can’t link the specific items but they always have a fantastic selection.  The interior water-resistant shower curtain is from Amazon– we needed one that would wrap around the full circumference of the tub and this one works great!  I got our shower caddy from Target, linked here.  I bought the tension curtain rod from Walmart and the sheer curtains are from Bed Bath & Beyond.  Our sweet little succulents were a gift from my mom and I believe she found them at Walmart- I love them and they are so low maintenance.

Kitchen

I LOVE our kitchen, if you can even call it that 😉  It’s perfect for our needs and has a decent amount of storage.  The counter space is limited so I store our toaster under the sink but it works just fine for us!  We do not have a dishwasher but have been getting used to cleaning any dishes we make right away and it has been easy enough.  I don’t plan on hosting any elaborate dinner parties while we’re living here- ha!  I love the exposed brick backsplash and the glass window pane cabinet.  There’s not much to link here either-  I got the marble cutting board, grey and white dish towels, and rug from TJ Maxx.

Living Room

So this space was trickier than I anticipated to nail the layout since the fireplace is right of center and there is a closet on the wall we needed to put a couch.  We went back and forth for days deciding where to hang the TV- it was either going to be mounted over the fireplace or to the left of the fireplace.  Based on our handyman’s recommendation and lots of discussion, we ended up mounting it to the left of the fireplace and we are so happy with our decision.

Another challenge we faced was whether or not to include a dining table- we had one ordered but it was delivered broken, and after spending a few days in the space without it, we decided a dining table would make the room feel too crowded.  Another concern I had was how to hide the wifi port, cable box, phone line, and a million other cords that were bunched in a tangled mess for a week.  With the help of a few ideas from friends, I decided to go with a shelving unit with wicker storage baskets that had handles in order to feed the cords through to the outlet behind it.  I started out with just one shelf and two baskets but ended up ordering another set to add more storage.  We love it!

If you guys follow me on Instagram, I’m sure you are familiar with the rug debacle.  When we moved in, I brought with me a blue and gray patterned rug from my old bedroom that fit the space well- however, after living with it for a week or two, I wanted to make the room feel warmer as it was starting to feel too “cool.”  So I ordered a beautiful antique turkish rug from an Easy shop that had a warmer color palette with shades of red, orange, and peach.  I loved the look but Mark wasn’t as keen on it, so we ended up with a white jute rug from an Etsy shop based out of Spain that we are crazy about.  It brightens the space and adds a nice texture without overpowering with pattern.

We are so thrilled with the white jute rug and had a fantastic experience working with the PeraltaandCo shop owner, Marta- I have to give them a shoutout.  I direct messaged her on Instagram asking for advice on which rug to purchase and her responses were so helpful.  This handwoven rug is 100% biodegradable, made without chemicals, can be washed, and has a beautiful texture.  Marta was incredibly pleasant and very quick to respond to my international shipping inquiry.  I would highly recommend PeraltaandCo to anyone looking for a quality jute rug or other hand made home decor- you can check out their Etsy shop here and their instagram handle is @peraltaandco.  I’m all about supporting small business owners!

Another piece to mention is our sectional sofa from Bob’s Furniture.  Mark and I didn’t have the budget to spend thousands on our first sofa so I was considering Ikea when a friend recommended checking out Bob’s.  I am so glad she did- the experience was as seamless as could be.  We went to the local store in Harlem to test out a few options in person, and ultimately decided on the Playscape Sectional in the color graphite.  The couch pulls out to fit two sleepers and has a TON of storage in the sectional portion where I can fit two full size pillows, sheets, and multiple oversized blankets.  Bob’s delivered the couch to our door, assembled it, then cleaned up and left with their garbage.  We also purchased the “goof proof” protection plan that covers five years of any accidents and includes a one-time total replacement if they are unable to remove a stain or damaged parts.  It comes with a cleaning solution that we’ve already put to the test twice and works like magic.  We are so pleased!

The final touch that makes our living room so special are the prints of Manhattan above our couch.  I absolutely love the look of a clean, black frame with an oversized matte and the square pair I had my eyes on online would have been over $500- absolutely out of our budget.  So I picked up this pair of black frames at HomeGoods for a fraction of the price- they had the oversized matte look I was going for and I only paid $27 for the two of them!  I couldn’t for the life of me decide what photos to put in the frames.  I ended up having my Dad customize a few of the prints he restores and sells to fit the odd 7.5×9.5 inch frame and I love the result.  Mark picked out the New York Stock Exchange print and I loved the Flat Iron building to pair with it, sticking with the Manhattan theme.  You can check out the rest of my Dad’s gallery of restored photo prints here.

Besides the fiddle leaf fig which I purchased at Geerlings Garden Center in Buckingham, PA, I linked the rest of the items below.  I wasn’t able to find my exact gold mirror but I linked an almost identical option at a great price:

jute rug | coffee table | sofa | black diamond throw pillow | cream throw pillow2-cube white shelf | wicker storage bin | set of five flameless candles | candle jars | coffee table candle | striped ottoman | curtains | round gold mirror

Bedroom

Our bedroom is on the smaller side but it fit a lot of what I brought from my bedroom at my parents’ house really nicely.  All of the full size bedding and pillow cases are Pottery Barn from a few years ago.  The small throw pillow, lamp, picture frame, gold mirror, and woven hamper are from HomeGoods.  Our headboard is from Wayfair and the dresser has been in my family for years and years.  If you guys are on the market for an affordable, wireless printer than scans and faxes, I am loving this HP DeskJet.  I love that I can print from my laptop or phone and it was super simple to set up!

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…And that’s it!  If you stuck with me until the end, THANK YOU!  I hope you enjoyed this little virtual apartment tour.  Cheers to a wonderful week my lovelies! xx

– Leah

Young Living Essential Oils 101

Good morning, happy Monday, and holy heat wave!

July has kicked off with some intense heat, but hopefully it will leave us with beautiful memories, beach trips, fireworks, and laughs with family and friends.  I am SO excited about this week’s blog post.  As I shared with you guys last Monday, I recently initiated a membership with Young Living.  

As you all know, one of my joys in life is to share with others- hence this blog.  I would be doing you all a disservice if I didn’t take the opportunity to share what I know about this fantastic company that prides itself on providing the best quality products and resources for healthy living.   My goal for this post is to help you understand what essential oils are, how you can use them, and the importance of using quality, therapeutic-grade products.  Happy reading!

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| What are essential oils? |

In simplest terms, essential oils are the extracted goodness from plants and other botanical materials.  There are different methods used for extraction, which include steam distillation, resin tapping, and cold pressing.  One of the main reasons quality essential oils can be pricy is due to the amount of labor and crops needed to make one bottle, making them intensely concentrated- one single drop goes a long way.  For example, hundreds of orange rinds are cold-pressed in order to create one bottle of orange essential oil.

Essential oils have unique molecular properties that makes them accessible to our body’s bloodstream and tissues.  This is why it is SO important to use quality, therapeutic grade essential oils.  They have the power to do a lot of good if they are used correctly and cultivated with high quality standards.

| How do you use them? |

Contrary to popular belief, essential oils are not a trend or fad and have in fact been around for thousands of years.  There are three basic ways to use them:  diffuse, ingest, or apply topically.  I will share later in the post a few of my favorite oils in the starter kit and how I incorporate them into my daily life!

| Where can I purchase essential oils? |

Although it is a positive thing that more consumers want to make healthier choices for themselves and their families, large corporations (and sometimes boutique shops) want to tap into this profitable market, and try their hand at producing “essential oils” that in no way have been cultivated to the standards that ensure safety and purity.

There is a TON of misinformation about essential oils, mostly due to the fact that consumers are not purchasing their oils from responsible and reputable companies.  I see essential oils all the time at TJ Maxx, Bed Bath & Beyond, Amazon, and stores alike- please be warned that these oils can (and often do) contain fillers and other substances in order to increase the quantity of sellable product and decrease the price.  Have you ever “watered down” a child’s juice? – that is essentially what these companies do.  At the very least you wasted your money, since the oil will not be as effective- if effective at all.  As one of the more serious consequences, these oils can be dangerous since they may contain chemicals that now have a one way ticket to your blood stream.

Unfortunately, these oils can be masked with convincing labels that flaunt “organic” and “therapeutic grade,” which is understandably confusing.  One of the red flags in purchasing a quality essential oil is the presence of an expiration date.  Quality, therapeutic-grade essential oils do not expire.  Another red flag- if the ingredients label contains anything other than the plant material used to extract that oil, don’t purchase it!

To summarize my answer to this question, there are a number of places you can purchase essential oils.  However, there is only one place you should purchase essential oils if you want to ensure purity, quality, & safety, and get the most bang for your buck.

| Why Young Living? |

Young Living is a company that prides itself on the most stringent quality standards in the business, which they call the “Seed to Seal” promise.  They only source the botanical material used in their oils from corporate-owned farms and partner farms that abide by their strict standards.  This means there is no “middle man” and quality is ensured at the very start- crops are not sprayed with harmful pesticides that can taint the purity of the ingredients used to make these little bottles of magic.

In addition to Young Living’s standards for pure and ethically-sourced ingredients, they have the same stringent standards for scientific testing. They utilize state of the art lab equipment and testing procedures that have become more reliable secondary to years and years of testing the same oils.  Essentially, the lab equipment becomes more sensitive at detecting molecular impurities over time, and Young Living has been refining these practices for the past 25 years.  If they have any doubts about the integrity or quality of the ingredients used to produce these oils (a bad crop season, etc.) they will not sell it!  If you’re interested in learning more about the Seed to Seal promise, clock here for a link to a more in-depth description.

| How can I get started? |

If you’re interested in trying essential oils for yourself, you have two options: purchase a starter kit and become a member OR purchase products at wholesale price as a retail customer.  I will go over both options so you can explore the benefits of each and decide what works best for you.

Retail customer

If you just want to try an oil or two to see what all the fuss is about, but aren’t ready to financially commit to a membership by purchasing a starter kit, you can choose to purchase individual oils at wholesale price.  Just choose the “retail customer” option.

Member

In order to become a member of Young Living, you purchase a starter kit, which is a curated collection of the company’s top selling and most used essential oils and products.  As a member, you are able to purchase all products at a 24% discount, have the option to be compensated as a distributor (only if you choose- it is by no means required), and have access to a monthly shipment of products that can be terminated or adjusted at any time based on your needs for that month (this is called the Essential Rewards program, or ER).

A starter kit comes with the following: Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint, Frankincense, Citrus Fresh, Panaway, Thieves, Copaiba, Digize, Stress Away, and Raven therapeutic grade essential oils, information about what each oil is and how to use them, a diffuser in the design of your choice, concentrated thieves cleaner samples (enough to make full size spray bottles for your home cleaning needs), 2 Ningxia Red Packets (antioxidant-packed juice made from wolf berries or Gogi berries), roller tops, and travel bottles.  The price of this starter kit is $160 and you are a member for life!

| What are your most-used oils and how do you use them? |

Peppermint

A dab on the back of my neck on hot, sweaty days like today.  A few dabs behind the ears, on my temples, and the nape of my neck for relief from tension headaches.  One drop in my water for an instant breath refresher and energy booster.  A drop on a cotton pad at the bottom of a garbage can to keep the stink away.  Three to four drops on a few cotton pads placed on pantry selves to keep critters away 😉 Bugs hate peppermint!

Thieves

Mixed in a spray bottle with distilled water for a multi-purpose cleaning spray- add lemon for extra gunk fighting power.  A drop in hot water for an immune-boosting tea.  A drop under my tongue and on the bottom of my feet when I feel sickness approaching.  Diffused in my home during the colder months to keep germs away and the apartment smelling festive.

Lemon

A drop in my water for a detoxifying, fat fighting, and hydrating beverage- super tasty too.  I’ll never cut another lemon again (at least for my water- ha!).  A drop on anything sticky for goo-gone fighting power without the awful fumes and hormone-disrupting chemicals.  Diffused with peppermint and lavender for an allergy-fighting combo.

If you’re interested in learning more about how I incorporate these oils and products into my daily life, follow me on instagram @leah_oliver.  I post my favorite diffuser blends, cleaning tricks, and plan to share recipes for facial serums and cleaning sprays.

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I hope this post was informative and non-threatening.  There is SO much to learn and it can be overwhelming but I tried to provide you with the basics.  I am amazed daily with the number of times I reach for these oils and I cannot wait to continue exploring the other products Young Living has to offer.  Please feel free to ask any questions you may have- I will do my best to answer, or refer you to another member from my team who has more knowledge to offer.  I hope you all enjoy your week and stay cool- I know I will thanks to my trusty peppermint essential oil 😉 Cheers! xx

-Leah

June Favorites

HAPPY Monday beauties!

How crazy is it that we’re already nearing the end of June?   Does anyone else feel like the warm weather months fly by in the blink of an eye?  I spent this past weekend enjoying a super low- key 25th birthday with Mark, exploring a few restaurants in our new ‘hood.  We ate Thai on Friday at the cutest place called THEP, then enjoyed a lazy Saturday afternoon followed by Sangria and tapas at Boqueria.   If you find yourself in the Upper East Side, I would highly recommend both!

To round out the month of June and welcome July, I want to share a few of my recent favorites with you.  You know the drill- the numbers below the photo collage and the titles above each product description are all shoppable links.  I own and genuinely adore each of these items and hope you will too! 

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1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

1| Capri Blue Volcano Candle

If you don’t know, now you know.  This candle, oh the love I have for this candle!  It’s Anthropologie’s signature scent- it smells like Summer and happiness and pretty much everything good in the world.  The site’s description hints at the magic that lives inside this beautiful jar- “tropical fruits, sugared oranges, lemons and limes, redolent with lightly exotic mountain greens.”  That’s more like it.  It burns beautifully, comes in all kinds of jar sizes and design options, and the jar doesn’t get hot so I don’t have to worry about it leaving a mark on our wood coffee table.  Each time I open the door to our apartment, I’m greeted with a scent that makes me smile.

2 | Acure Clarifying Shampoo

Prior to adding this clarifying shampoo to my regular hair care routine, I was having an issue with excess oiliness.  Immediately after a fresh wash and styling, my hair was looking oily at the roots which is incredibly frustrating.  After two washes with this product, my problem was solved.  I was always afraid of clarifying shampoos because I thought my hair was too dry for them, but they are such an important component in a balanced hair care regimen.  Using this helped rid my scalp of excess product buildup, which is what was causing the oiliness.  Not to mention, it smells divine,  is super affordable, and it’s free of all the crap we should stay away from like parabens and sulfates.

3 | Young Living Rose Ointment

This is the product that opened my eyes, my heart, and my wallet to this fantastic brand.  The Rose Ointment is like a magic balm.  It is safe to use just about anywhere- cuts, scrapes, dry skin, lips, blemishes, feet, hands- you name it!  It has cleared up multiple problem areas on my face which I swear were the residual effects of a long, cold, and dry Winter.  If you are a Young Living member and haven’t tried this, add it to you ER order right away!  If you aren’t a member, no worries- you can purchase it at the wholesale price.  A Young Living blog post is in the works- I will explain what I have learned so far and how I incorporate therapeutic grade essential oils into my daily life.

4 | Aerie Raw Hem Sweatshirt

This sweatshirt is light, cozy, and flattering with an oversized fit.  I have it in the light heather gray color in a size small.  If you like the oversized look, get your usual size but if you like a more fitted sweatshirt, I would suggest ordering one size down.  This is perfect for those chilly, breezy Summer nights and looks adorable with just about anything you pair it with.  It is currently 50% off and is fully stocked in six colors!

5 | Travel Steamer

Okay I’ll say it- I definitely saved the best for last in this post.  OMG it’s good you guys.  I purchased it from Amazon for the sole purpose of bringing it on vacation with us.  I had never used a steamer in my life- and I was skeptical that one this size (just shy of 8.5 inches) would actually do much.  So we put it to work on the some of toughest garments to tackle- Mark’s balled up button-downs obviously packed with meticulous care.  The look on both of our faces when it effortlessly transformed deep set wrinkles into a perfectly crisp, smooth shirt- I swear I could have outsold some of the best sales women on QVC.

It works like freaking magic and it could not be easier.  A few things to keep in mind, it is very hot (obviously) and steam rises- so be careful of hand placement.  Do not fill past the “max” line, and avoid tilting the steamer forward or some water might spill out.  We have found the best way to steam something is to put it on a hanger and place it on the closet or shower door so it’s not far from eye level.  Mark uses this every morning to steam his work shirts since they are hanging in a rather tightly packed closet 😉  And yes, this travel steamer totally deserved two paragraphs.

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Well, that’s all for now folks.  Happy Summer- I hope its filled with adventure, grilled food, ice cream, smiles, laughter, bike rides, swimming, corn on the cob, and open sunroof drives.  Stay tuned for a blog post on Young Living Essential Oils and please let me know if you have any questions in the mean time!  

Cheers friends, xx

-Leah 

Life Lately

HI AGAIN EVERYONE!

I am so excited to be back writing after a few weeks off.  In order to re-transition to my weekly blog posts, I thought it would be appropriate to update you guys about what I have been up to for the past month and a half- so, here it goes!

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I graduated with my Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy, I studied for the boards, I anxiously waited for three weeks to find out the results of that exam and good news- I PASSED!  I vacationed in Punta Cana with Mark and our four close friends, I signed up for a membership with Young Living Essential Oils, and I moved to an apartment in NYC- AH!

Now that I am on the other side of all of these life changes, I am really looking forward to sharing more with you guys.  I have been working for years and years to make my dreams a reality, and it feels so surreal to be here.  Mark and I are having a blast making our Upper East Side apartment a home and exploring all the magic that Manhattan has to offer.

I want to keep this post fairly simple and light, and invite you to make suggestions for future content!  I look forward to sharing an apartment tour, restaurant and entertainment recommendations, organization strategies for small spaces, tips and tricks to designing on a budget, nuggets of knowledge and recipes for healthier living as I learn more about essential oils and how to incorporate them into daily routines, and anything else I uncover on this exciting new chapter of my life.

Before you return to your Monday musings, I want to leave you with a few words of encouragement to take on your week with a positive perspective.  Set goals with every intention of achieving them, and take small steps each day in that direction.  One foot in front of the other.  I set a goal for myself over a year ago to live in an apartment in Manhattan by my 25th birthday- I turn 25 on Friday.

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I hope you all have a happy Monday and a week filled with joy.  Here are some of my own beautiful moments over the past few weeks- Cheers! xx

-Leah

April Favorites

Happy Monday beauties!

My apologies for missing the March favorites post- life has been crazy lately!  All good and exciting things though!  I am looking forward to the approaching warm weather and want to look and feel my best after a long Winter.  Today I am sharing a few of the products that make me feel fabulous and my hope is that they do the same for you!  As always, the numbers at the bottom of the photo collage are shoppable links, as well as the titles of each product with descriptions.  

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1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

1 | Tory burch tote

I just received this in the mail yesterday as a shipment from the Shopbop sale so I was able to score it for 20% off!  I got it in the color ivory, which I love and know it will match everything I own.  However, it is sold in 4 other colors if ivory is not your thing.  It’s beautiful in person and completely waterproof- aka durable and easy to clean for every day use and/or travel.  I look forward to using it all Summer as my main bag and know from previous experience that Tory Burch makes good quality, durable handbags- I used my last one for the past 3 years!  This bag is currently sold at Bloomingdales which is hosting a sale for loyalists! Use code PRIVATE to get $25 off of every $100 you spend!

2| Coola tanning face serum

I picked this up during the Ulta 20% off sale after one of my favorite bloggers, Courtney Shields of BYOB recommended it.  This face serum goes on super light, and doesn’t break me out or clog my pores.  I put it on every 2-3 days and it creates a super natural, gradual tan.  It fades evenly and is created with 70% organic ingredients.  Although you can mix it with a moisturizer, I apply about 2 pumps worth of product on my skin at night before bed or in the morning before my makeup, depending on when I remember to do it 😉 I am obsessed!  Just make sure to wash your hands after application.

3 | Becca highlighter 

This highlighter is fantastic.  I also picked this up during the Ulta sale in the color champagne pop.  It adds the perfect, luminous glow that I apply to my cheekbones, down the bridge of by nose, in my cupid’s bow (that little divot above your lip), and under my eyebrows with a fan brush like this.  Although a bit of an investment for just a highlighter at $38, this should last me a LONG time since a little goes a long way- it is very pigmented.

4 | Botanics rose hip oil

My skin, for whatever reason, has maintained its Winter level of dryness and hasn’t quite bounced back yet from the cold temperatures we endured all Winter/ pretend Spring.  As I shared in my Winter skincare essentials post, I absolutely love the Senegence Nangai facial oil.  However, I am still in a position with very limited income as I finish up my degree and get my license to practice Occupational Therapy, so I was looking for a less expensive alternative.  This Botanics facial oil fully lived up to my expectations and at only $17.99- it is incredibly hydrating, smells fantastic, and is 100% organic with ALL natural ingredients.  That’s what I’m talking about.

5 | Banana Republic sneakers

I have been on the market for a pair of plain, white sneakers to wear with cut offs, dresses and jean skirts as it gets warmer, and these are perfect.  I sized down a 1/2 size to a 7 from my usual size 7.5 and they fit nicely.  I love the minimalism of this style sneaker and the pop of gold on the back.  My word of advice- they are too pricey at full price.  Wait until they go back on sale! I got them 50% off during a sale recently, which Banana Republic runs often.  They are still stocked in almost every size!

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Cheers to the warm weather, sunshine, and feeling fabulous!  xx

-Leah

 

 

Collagen Peptides: Worth The Hype?

Happy Monday friends!

My hope for this blog is to be a resource for you.  A place that you can reference for a real perspective and unfiltered, honest advice.  Being a young woman in my 20’s on various social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest- I am interested in investigating the “hyped” products that bloggers and social media influencers are touting and raving about.  I have always had a passion for beauty and fashion, and sometimes fall victim to the social media crazes and hot products- because, of course I have to see for myself if they really are worth the hype! 

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Today’s post is an honest review of collagen peptides.  If you aren’t familiar, collagen peptides are a collagen supplement in powder form that are extracted from animal protein sources.  The product I purchased twice and most people I know use are sourced from grass-fed bovine hide (aka-cows).  One day I woke up and all of the bloggers I follow are posting videos on Instagram stories of this dissolving powder substance in their morning cup of coffee- claiming it can help with hair, skin, nail, and bone/joint health.  Um, sold.  So I bought a $43 20 oz. canister of the Vital Proteins collagen peptides from Amazon to see for myself what benefits this supplement could provide.  I then bought the individual daily packets just for good measure.

Within my first week, I was sold.  I immediately noticed a difference in the strength and health of my nails.  I was excited to see what my hair and skin would do with these almost immediate results. I waited patiently for 2 months, taking 1 scoop or packet of collagen peptides with my morning cup of coffee each day.  Here we are two months later, and to be honest, I’m not sold.  My nails are back to peeling again, and any changes in my skin can likely be attributed to a more routine skincare regimen.  My hair typically grows fast so I haven’t noticed any ground breaking changes in that department.  If I’m being really generous, I have maybe noticed that the baby hairs by my ears (which have been damaged since the day I started using a hair straightener) have grown more than usual- but the jury’s still out on that.

If you haven’t gotten the gist yet, I am sharing my pretty unpopular opinion in recommending that collagen peptides are NOT worth the hype.  For minimally noticeable benefits and their monthly cost, I just don’t see the appeal in adding these to your daily beauty regimen (and budget).  I did some research and I am not the only science-minded person to be skeptical of the benefits that orally-ingested collagen can provide.

First things first, collagen=protein, and the building blocks of protein are called amino acids.  Think of them as legos.  They are the basis of a lot of the connective tissue in our bodies- hair, skin, bones, etc., and the amino acids that make up collagen are highly plentiful in the human body.  As a part of the natural aging process, our bodies produce less collagen the older we get- lovely.

I am all for ANY product that will minimize the look of wrinkles in my skin or conditions like osteoporosis/ arthritis.  However, after searching high and low, there is little to no evidence that the collagen derived from animal hide contributes to healthier skin, hair, and nails.  It is digested with the help of the acidic fluids in our GI tracts and the likelihood of it maintaining its integrity and accessing the blood stream is slim. I did find one study that provides minimal evidence for the ingestion of a different type of collagen in contributing to decreased pain and inflammation in patients with osteoarthritis.

All in all, ingesting collagen peptides in powder form likely will not do your body harm.  However, as someone who has tried it for herself and done some research to investigate further, I will no longer be spending money on collagen peptide products as I did not personally see results from the use of them and would rather spend my money on shoes or makeup 😉  I will be doing my part in maintaining optimal collagen levels by not smoking cigarettes, working out, eating a healthy, protein-based diet, and protecting my skin from the sun!

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I hope you all appreciate and respect my personal, honest opinion of this “hyped” product and return to my blog in the future for more reviews and recommendations.  Cheers to a beautiful week and the first one that truly feels like spring here in NJ!  Cheers! xx

-Leah

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