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

Juniper Hill, Annandale NJ: Restaurant Review

Happy Monday everyone!  

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend.  We had gorgeous weather in NJ- sunny and hot, especially for this time of year.  I took advantage and had some patio cocktails and studied outside next to the river for a few hours on Friday.  No complaints here-  I just wish the warmth was here to stay!

In today’s post, I will be sharing about one of Mark and I’s favorite restaurants in Hunterdon County, NJ- Juniper Hill.  For the past few months, we have gone to dinner here just about every Friday night.  We have gotten to know the staff, have tried (most) items on the menu, and worked our way around the wine list.  The atmosphere, food, and staff are wonderful and we are so thankful for their contribution to the somewhat limited food scene in our area.  

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| Things to mention |

To give you a quick snapshot before I go into more detail, Juniper Hill is a restaurant in Anndanale, NJ owned by Hunterdon County natives Josh and Jennifer DeChellis.  It was converted from a bank- they made the vault into a cozy, private seating area with benches.  The executive chef and owner, Josh DeChellis truly has a passion for quality ingredients.  I am continuously amazed with the combination of fresh flavors and local ingredients.  The thought and care that is placed into each dish is evident, and it’s the reason we keep returning!

Do I need a reservation?

I would recommend making a reservation for a Friday or Saturday night in the dining room or patio.  Mark and I love the bar area, which you can’t make reservations for, but we always get a seat at the bar or a high rise table without a wait!  For reference, we tend to go on the later side- usually around 7:30 pm when Mark gets home from work.

What do I wear? 

Casual dress is 100% acceptable.  All of the wait staff wear navy and white gingham collared shirts with jeans, to give you an idea of the vibe.  Shorts, jeans, t-shirts, sandals, and sneakers are absolutely fine but you won’t feel out of place if you wear a pretty dress or a heeled shoe.

Patio dining

They have a beautiful patio that I was able to experience this past weekend.  It’s the perfect setting for a cocktail with your girlfriends or a date night on a warm evening.  The manager, Julie, shared their future plans to incorporate strung lights and shrubbery to make the setting more private and romantic.  I can’t wait to see what they do with this space as the weather gets warmer.

| Food |

Chef and owner, Josh DeChellis

The menu has a unique combination of dishes that reflect the chef’s diverse culinary training and experience.  He was educated at the Culinary Institute of America and worked for multiple renowned restaurants and chefs on a multi-continental culinary journey.  In NYC, chef DeChellis worked in restaurants Aquavit, Sumile, Jovia, and La Fonda del Sol.  In San Francisco, he worked for chef Wolfgang Puck at Postrio, where he likely learned a thing or two about wood-fired pizzas (another great dish offered at Juniper Hill).  In France, chef DeChellis cooked at Michelin start restaurants, L’Arpege and Lucas Carton.  His asian flare comes from a summer in Tokyo, Japan at  restaurant, San Kichi-ya.

The ingredients 

Fresh and local are two adjectives that come to mind when referencing Juniper Hill.  They only source seafood from responsibly-managed wild domestic fisheries, and have partnerships with local produce farmers- Stanton Mountain Farm and Two Barn Farm.  Chef DeChellis truly respects the ingredients, which is evident in his curated and creative use of animals.  Each dish is thoughtful, delicious, and beautifully plated.

Dishes to highlight

Crudo of Barnegat Sea Scallops- delicately sliced raw scallops paired with umami flavors of white soy sauce, Japanese citrus pepper, and cucumber, and scallion.  Octopus a la Plancha- tenderized and perfectly charred, the octopus is paired with fingerling potatoes, black garlic, and aioli.  We also love Cured in America- a charcuterie plate served with homemade toasted bread and pickled vegetables.  The cheese plate, fried chicken sandwich, pizza, and malt vinegar potato wedges are a few more dishes that we adore.  See below for our number one favorite dishes.

Our favorites

[Leah’s] Salad of Two Barn’s Salt Roasted Beets | [Mark’s] Squid Ink Spaghetti

 | Beverages |

Cocktails are prepared with fresh fruit juices and herbs, and the menu is altered seasonally to highlight the freshest ingredients.  They have a selection of beers on tap and wines by the glass or bottle, with a variety of price ranges.  Each time we visit, Cole (one of our favorite waiters) or the chef recommends a bottle of red for us to try.  We have yet to try a wine we do not enjoy and are so appreciative of the personalized recommendations they provide.  Genuine customer service goes a long way!

My absolute favorite cocktail is The Underdog, which is served in a salted rim glass and made with vodka, fresh ruby red grapefruit juice, and tarragon.  It is SO refreshing and not too sweet.  Mark’s favorite is the Smoked Maple Sour, which is made with Old Overheat Rye Whiskey, house-smoked maple syrup, lemon, and lime.  We both love their cappuccinos for a post-dinner pick me up.

| Staff |

Part of the reason we continue to come back to Juniper Hill is because of the warm, welcoming experience that a few of the staff continue to provide.  Cole and Chrystie are two of our favorite wait staff because they are so knowledgeable about the menu, provide honest recommendations for new courses to try, and are always a pleasure to chat with.  They greet us with a smile whenever we arrive.  Julie, the manager, always makes it a point to ask us how our week was and check in to ensure we are enjoying our experience.  Chef DeChellis has personally thanked us for our frequent patronage, and has made some delicious wine recommendations.  We always feel welcomed and appreciated.

| Atmosphere |

The overall atmosphere is cool and casual, with wood top tables, exposed brick, open barn doors marking the separation of the dining room from the bar area, a cozy fireplace, and warm lighting.  Tables in the bar area are high tops seating parties of 2 and 4, and two round tables are situated near the fire place for larger parties.  The main dining room has the same casual decor, with the vault dining area and another more private table with bench seating adjacent to the main entrance.

| $|

Juniper Hill offers high-end food for a fair price point.  When Mark and I go, we usually opt to share a couple of appetizers as opposed to each getting a main course.  Appetizers range in price from $10-$16, with an average of $12.  Main dishes range in price from $19-$39, with an average of $26.  Cocktails will run you anywhere from $10 to $12 and there are a variety of wine and beer sections.  For the quality of food you get, I think the price range is well within reasonable.

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I hope you all enjoyed reading and have a chance to grab dinner at Juniper Hill if you are local!  If you have any questions that I did not address please feel free to reach out- I am always happy to chat!  I would love to hear your favorite restaurants and what city/state they are in if you are not a local reader.  Enjoy your week and I hope you have a chance to eat a good meal- cheers! xx

– Leah 

Healthy & Easy Dinner Bowl Recipe

Happy Monday everyone!  I hope you all enjoyed a weekend of family and food- I know I sure did!  Per the poll results on my Instagram story, I will be sharing the recipe for my favorite dinner bowl.  Although I named it a “dinner bowl” since I don’t have access to a frying pan at work to make an egg, you could easily skip the egg and make a lunch-friendly version.  Or, if you’re a stay at home parent/work from home- you could whip this up for lunch in no time.

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 | INGREDIENTS |

Sweet potatoes and/or butternut squash (one or two of each)

Olive Oil

Salt & pepper

Garlic powder

1/2 avocado

1 egg

Salsa of your choice (I like this one)

Cheddar cheese

 

| DIRECTIONS | 

1 | Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2 | (Make once in the beginning of the week to have prepared ahead of time) Cut up sweet potatoes and butternut squash into similar-sized cubes, arrange evenly on a cookie sheet with parchment paper, then drizzle with olive oil, S & P, and garlic powder.

Pro tip: I purchase the pre-washed and pre-cut veggies in my grocery store to save me prep time and it works like a charm.

3 | Periodically check oven/move things around to make sure everything cooks evenly.

4 | Remove from oven after ~20 minutes, when veggies are tender and slightly crispy on the outside.

5 | Add olive oil to a frying pan on medium heat and cook egg to your liking.  I prefer a runny yolk for this recipe.

6 | Cut 1/2 avocado and cheddar cheese into cubes.  I usually cut about 1.5 inches into a block of cheddar cheese, to give you an idea of how much to include.

7 | Combine sweet potatoes/squash, avocado, cheddar cheese, and 2-3 spoonfuls of salsa into a bowl.

8 | Top with fried egg and serve.

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I can’t get enough of this healthy and easy meal, and find myself eating it at least 3x/week without getting sick of it.  I love that you can have the roasted veggies prepared ahead of time- I just microwave the sweet potato and squash in a bowl for about 45 seconds when I make it the rest of the week.  I hope you guys get a chance to try this out and enjoy it as much as I do!  If you have any healthy and easy recipes to share, please do- cheers! xx

-Leah 

 

 

10 Steps To A Happier You

Good morning everyone!  Today marks the start of a new week.  Monday’s are most people’s least favorite day- I get it.  It can be tough adjusting from a relaxing weekend back to the daily work grind.  In order to start the week on a positive note, today’s post is all about the power of perspective, and a few things you can do to become a more positive, happy person.  

I have found that I’ve needed to invest a bit more effort and time into self care as of recently, and that’s okay.  I take the time to listen to my body, and pay attention to those signs of stress.  Number one is being in tune with your own needs, and bringing awareness to these emotions.  When we are in tune with how we feel, we are better prepared to serve ourselves.  I have been dealing with an increase in stress, anxiety about approaching life changes, and more sadness than I typically feel at baseline.  

I have more happy moments than I do sad- and I am aware of my role in this process.  I shared a few thoughts about this on my Instagram the other day, but I want to share them here too.  Happiness is a choice that I make daily, by reveling in the moments that make me feel thankful and spending time doing the things I enjoy.  Happiness comes easier on some days or seasons of life than others, buts it is always worth investing in.  Life is too short not to love.  Today I am sharing a few things I do every single day to contribute to my own happiness. 

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1 | Bring awareness to your thoughts and emotions

Awareness is one of the pillars to meditative practice.  Although this seems simple, many of us often feel a certain type of way without being able to attribute it to a specific source or cause.  The bottom line is, pay attention to your thoughts and emotions, the way things make you feel (either good or bad), and your initial reactions or responses to those emotions.  When you are aware of what makes you feel shitty, you are more prepared to deal with it in a healthy, adaptive way.  When you are feeling down, do something to lift yourself up.

2 | Practice gratefulness

I could write a novel on the power of gratitude.  A shift in perspective can truly change your life.  Start small and gratitude will slowly begin to trickle into your stream of consciousness.  Working in a healthcare field, I am reminded to be thankful every damn day.  There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. Clean clothes, a heated home, the ability to see your loved ones, clean drinking water, good health, a college education, the list is endless.  Do everything you can to shift your perspective when a negative thought pops up.  For example, if you’re a momma and you are up to your eyeballs in dishes, laundry, and boogers, be thankful for your ability to bear children.  If you are stuck in traffic on your way to work, be thankful that you are not involved in the car accident that may be causing the delay.

3 | Listen to music every morning

I am a firm believer in the healing power of music.  It has a special way of affecting the way we feel.  No matter what your morning routine looks like, you can always incorporate some feel-good tunes in.  I usually play my favorite Pandora stations on my phone while I do my hair and makeup.  I also listen to it in the car on my way to work.  Never underestimate the power of some good music.  It can do wonders to transform a bad day into a better one.

4 | Make plans to look forward to

These don’t have to be any extravagant outings or vacations, although they can be.  Plan a date night with your person, a happy hour with your girlfriends, a walk with your work bestie on your lunch break, a mani pedi, a hike, a picnic- whatever makes your heart happy.  Making these plans ahead of time will give you something to look forward to and make the days or weeks leading up to that event filled with a bit more joy.

5 | Infuse more fun into menial tasks

Off the top of my head, the menial tasks I tend to dread the most are dishes, sorting laundry, and any type of cleaning.  Do these things with someone you love, put on your favorite album, sip on a glass of wine, or change into your coziest sweats- I promise they will become much less painful!

6 | Move your body

This is SO important.  Get your energy flowing.  Go for a walk outside.  Mommas and caretakers, put the kids in the stroller or a wagon.  Just go as far as getting the mail if it’s cold out.  Gently stretch your muscles.  Lay face up over the armrest of your couch.  Do a plank for 1 minute.  Dance to your favorite song.  Be thankful that your body is capable of these things and take advantage of this gift.

7 | Give yourself permission to take a break

It’s easy to get caught up in the to-do lists, the work grind, the seemingly- endless effort we put in to reach our goals, the housework, the school work, the yard work.  We sometimes lose sight of the importance of self care, or feel guilty indulging in a quiet moment because there’s always something that needs to be done- right?  I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to take a break when you need a break.  Whatever self care looks like to you, allow yourself to indulge, quiet your mind, and relax.

8 | Make a goal for each day

One thing I find helps me feel happy and accomplished is setting a goal for each day.  I usually plan out each week day with the things I need or want to get done.  It helps me spread out my to-do lists over a longer period of time so I am not overwhelmed trying to finish everything in one day.  For example, if you need to clean out your closet, break up that task into daily goals for the week.  On Monday- go through your shoes, Tuesday- pants, Wednesday- tops, Thursday- dresses, Friday- coats.  By Friday, your job is done and you felt accomplished all week completing those small tasks.  I used this approach for my school work and I find that it’s a useful way to manage so many other responsibilities.

9 | Stop comparing yourself to others

This is so hard.  I think we tend to do this naturally as humans and the feelings that can come up are often toxic and self-deprecating.  It’s something I consistently have to work on, especially in the age of social media.  Focus on your own progress and compare yourself to the person you were one month ago, six months ago, one year ago.  Give yourself a break if you aren’t where you’d hoped to be.  Every person’s journey is different and in comparing yourself to someone else, you only make more space for toxic emotions and negativity.

10 | Get some fresh air

Go outside more often.  Even in the cold- just bundle your self in more layers.  Fresh air is good for our minds and our bodies.

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I share this post with you in hopes that it will at the very least, serve as a reminder that you have the power to shift your attitude and actions to be a happier person.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this post, whether you utilize any of these strategies yourself, and how you contribute to your happiness.  Cheers! xx

-Leah 

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