Friday Favorites

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It finally feels like summer has arrived with warmer weather and pulling out my shorts. Hooray! Check out the links I’ve been loving this week.

1. This cute phone case from Kate Spade. I’ve been looking for a phone case for a while, and I love this fun print and cute color!

2. This great guided meditation video with Melissa Ambrosini. Definitely something I am going to try to do daily to inject some mindfulness into my life.

3. This great article “The Crossroads of Should and Must” is not only inspiring and perspective changing, but includes some great illustrations.

4. This TED Talk by Louie Schwartzberg. It gets especially inspirational at 4:40, and reminds us to all take a second, look around us, and be grateful for all we have.

5. This funny Buzzfeed of great yearbook photos— my favorite are the coordinated ones.

6. Paris in Four Months, which has beautiful photos that make me want to hop on the next plane to Paris.

7. This Buzzfeed post on 27 Things You Will Never Look At The Same Way Again.

8.  One of my all time favorite The Selby posts from a family in Kamakura, Japan.

9. This super interesting Into The Gloss post with Debi Mazar on beauty and life.

10. Lately I have been loving 8tracks for finding new music for whatever mood I’m currently in.

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Easy Open Faced Breakfast Sandwich

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I have always loved eggs for breakfast– they are high in protein that keeps you full until lunch and are delicious. I recently started cooking up this spin on a breakfast sandwich that’s healthful and delicious! It’s filling but still light and won’t make you feel heavy.

 

All you need is:

-A whole wheat English muffin

-2 organic eggs

-Arugula

-Parmesan cheese

Simply toast the two English muffin halves, and top with 2 sunny side up eggs. Over top put on some arugula and some grated parmesan cheese!

 

You can obviously change up this recipe easily– switch the arugula for spinach, choose a different cheese or melt the cheese, add some bacon or sausage, etc.

I love to serve this with some fresh fruit (I have currently been loving strawberries, bananas and mangoes) or some avocado!

Be sure to let me know if you try it out!

Five to Follow

Instagram has become one of my favorite apps. In addition to being a great way to keep up with friends, it’s also a great source of inspiration. Whether it’s amazing photographers, mothers, foodies or personal trainers sharing their days, meals, or tips, Instagram has something for everyone. Here are five to follow:

1. Luar & Woffdene (@silverspies)

Juliette Steen, twenty-one year old photographer and writer from Brisbane, Australia shares “moments in daily life” with gorgeous photos of healthy foods, her cat, clothing, and more.

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2. Common Table Company (@commontableco)

Common Table Company is “a movement dedicated to building community around the table.” The account features photos others have posted on Instagram of shared meals (below, @benschuyler). Share your own with the hashtag #mycommontable, and check out the drool inducing food photos of others.

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3. *kessara (@kessara)

Kessara Dhana, mother and Chicago resident will give you your fix of beautiful soft-tones. Her feed is filled with flowers, sweets, and beautiful city and outdoor landscapes.

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4. Alice Gao (@alicegao)

NYC based photographer Alice shares food, NYC, and behind-the-scenes shots from her shoots. With 750,000+ followers, her feed is definitely worth checking out.

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5. Keaten Abbott (@keatenabbott)

Oregon-based writer and director Keaten Abbott shares beautiful wide shot snaps, primarily of nature. His feed also includes photos of his wife Taylor (@tayloroctober) and travels.

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Spring Picks

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Spring is finally here! The weather is finally getting warmer, and the trees are turning green again. Here are some of my favorite products for spring:

1. Josie Maran Infinity Cream Intensive Creamy OilOils are taking the beauty world by storm, and Josie Maran’s creamy oil is definitely worth trying. A lifesaver during the winter, this versatile product with ‘infinite’ uses is great for spring, too. Use all over your face for a heavier moisturizer packing in serious glow, or use more sparingly– over dry elbows and heels, to keep brows and baby hairs in place, over dry cuticles, as a highlighter on cheekbones and brow bone, or as a lip balm. The cream formula is much neater than oils, but still has the same effect!

2. Revlon Colorburst Matte BalmThese easy to wear balms are perfect for when you’re on the go– without a mirror, you can easily swipe them on. They come in amazing shades from nudes and light pinks to bright oranges and purples. For matte lip products, they aren’t too drying– just swipe a layer of your favorite lip balm on first (whether it’s the Josie Maran infinity cream or your favorite Burt’s Bee’s) and you’re good to go. My favorites are the featured pink Elusive, light orange Mischievous,and nude Complex.

3. Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in All Fired Up . This bright orange red color is amazing for spring. Each time you look at your fingers, you’ll be in a good mood! The Sally Hansen formula is easy to apply with an oversized application brush. This bright color only warranted one coat from me, which is always a plus in my book. The polish also dried quickly, and so far hasn’t chipped off my nails (without using a base or top coat!)

4. Paul Mitchell Clarifying Shampoo 2. If you’re looking for a good clarifying shampoo, this one is great. I have lots of thick hair that can get oily easily, and a clarifying shampoo is perfect to get rid of any oil or product buildup. Used once a week, this product will make all the difference. The bottle is huge so will last forever, and it’s bright, lemony scent is sure to wake you up in the morning.

5.  Chloé Rose de ChloéThis gorgeous scent is light, girly, and definitely rosy. For all those girls who want a punch of rose, this perfume is for you. If you’re looking for something rosy but not quite as girly, I’d recommend Le Labo Rose 31— while universally worn by girls today, the fragrance was originally designed for men– basically, it’s not as sweet.

6. Urban Outfitters Pastel Hair Chalk in Pretty in PastelsA fun way to change up your look without getting it cut is to add in some hair chalk! The simple product is sealed in by heat and easily washes out with shampoo at night. Transform a simple look (and be sure to take some photos!) with some awesome hair color. This box came with various blues, purples, pinks and greens. I recommend wetting your hair and the chalk to make application easier and the color brighter.

7. Caldrea Rosewater Driftwood Hand LotionThis housekeeping brand has the most delicious lotions. I definitely loved the spicier Vanilla Quince Santal (limited edition) for winter, but this Rosewater Driftwood is perfect for spring! In addition to using it on my hands, I use it on my body. The lotion has a gorgeous subtle rose scent, definitely mixed in with a little saltiness from the sea.

8. Dogeared Gold Dipped ‘The Circle’ NecklaceSince purchasing this necklace online a month ago, I’ve been wearing it nonstop. The delicate necklace and pendant goes with any outfit– from formal dresses to simple t-shirts. A perfect necklace to wear alone or layer, I’ve absolutely been loving it this spring.

Being Present

Image What did you do last weekend? What are you doing next summer? Remember that time we…? What do you want to do when you grow up? Where do you want to be in 10 years? What do I have to do later? Why did I say that stupid thing yesterday?  The number of questions we ask and things we think about that involve the past and future are endless. And it is certainly important to reflect on both. Reflecting on the past can give you a better understanding of yourself. Through learning, progress and change are made. And it is important to have goals, to know where you want to go in life, to plan ahead.

However, most of us have no trouble in reflecting on the past or planning for the future. What more of us have to have difficulty with is simply being present. The only thing we are guaranteed in life is right now. We cannot change the past, and we cannot predict the future… we are not even sure we will have a future– as morbid as that may sound, it’s also true. All we have is now. Life is truly amazing– the world we live in is filled with such beauty, as is each person and experience we face. But the world and life, like us, only exist in the present moment. To truly experience and live, one must stop thinking about yesterday and tomorrow and focus on today. It is meaningful to add moments of mindfulness and awareness to each moment, pushing ourselves to be more present in our lives. Read on for a few tips on how to be a little more present each day.

1. Disconnect IMG_9066 It is difficult to be truly enjoying the moment when you’re constantly connected. Technology has been amazing, allowing humans to do things that were previously unimaginable. However, with technology there is also the expectation that you are always available. No longer does work end once the sun goes down and the worker goes home. It is all too common to see friends at meals together but on their phones, flicking through text messages, Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat and Instagram. It is a common sight to see people stopping to film videos or take photos during music concerts. There’s a new culture of FOMO (fear of missing out), looking at what others have done or are doing.

Sure, sometimes it’s nice to be connected. It’s nice to keep in touch with friends, and photos and videos are certainty amazing ways to capture moments to look back on. But after one or two photos are taken, it’s time to disconnect. It’s difficult to be truly in the present– enjoying a conversation, meal, or amazing music– if you’re constantly tuned into what others are doing or have done. Schedule time to disconnect. Put away your phone for your 30 minute meal. Turn your phone on airplane or Do Not Disturb mode when working out. Sign up for an art class and keep your phone in your bag. All your favorite apps will still be there when you turn your phone on again. But you may just find out that the experiences you live don’t even compare to the photos or posts on your phone.

2. Breathe

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It is incredibly easy to move through life quickly, feeling busy and stressed out. Sometimes, you just need to take a minute and take a deep breath. Whether you’re in the middle of studying for a test or doing work, or just find yourself in a rush when you don’t have to be, breathe. Take a deep breath in, hold it, and let it out. Feel the tension release from your shoulders and ground yourself in the present moment. Remember to be grateful for what you have, and then return to your day. Meditation and yoga are both amazing ways to become more present. Both can be intimidating, but they shouldn’t be– the goal isn’t to clear away all thoughts or to do amazing poses. The goal is to watch your breathing. Try to set aside five minutes– something we can all surely do, and take a minute to just close your eyes and breathe. This video and Headspace are two easy ways to give meditation a go.

3. Single Task IMG_5145 It’s all too easy to find yourself juggling several tasks at once. Instead of multitasking, try single tasking. In doing so, you may find that you end up a lot more focused, grounded, and productive. Choose one task to do, and focus on that task entirely for either a certain amount of time (iPhone timer is great for this), or until the task is completed. By focusing on one thing at a time, you can truly get into that task and achieve it at a much higher quality than could be done otherwise. In applying true focus, in addition to being more efficient, the activity you do becomes more like a meditation. Whether it’s washing the dishes mindfully or doing a math assignment, it is sure to be more enjoyable when you are mindfully going about it.

4. Slow Down and Look Around img_1113 There’s a difference between being busy and being productive. We often get in routines of rushing about, going from one thing to the next. Small moments like walking to meetings or getting a cup of coffee become mechanized and routine. While these small moments may not seem like much, they make up most of our days and therefore lives. In taking a minute to slow down, look around and be present, our lives can become more enjoyable. You may still have many meetings to go to, but in going between them throw away your fears or worries of the future and thoughts of the past. Simply enjoy your walk. Look at the trees around you. Enjoy the taste and smell of your cup of coffee. Be aware of the things and people around you. Don’t move through life so quickly that you don’t truly see the beauty all around.

5. Streamline img_5199 Time is limited, and thus it is incredibly valuable. There are tasks that we have to do– go to our jobs, fulfill certain engagements, attend certain events. However, there is also a lot of stuff that we do that we don’t have to. Some of this stuff is incredibly rewarding or nice– taking a stroll through the park, grabbing brunch with friends, or checking out a new band on a Friday night. These moments add to our lives. There are also things we do that we don’t have to, and they take away time we could be doing things that add to our lives. Eliminate the things that you don’t have to do that don’t add to your life. This may seem simple, however if you think about everything you do, you may notice that you go to things you don’t want to or have certain commitments that add no value to your life. By eliminating those things that do not add to your life, you’ll have more time for the things that do.

6. Listen img_5356 Too often in life we don’t truly listen. I know this is certainly something I have trouble with and am working on each and every day. When speaking with others, we sometimes interrupt each other. And even when we let the other person finish his or her thought, while they are speaking we are thinking of what we will say, of how we will respond. There is incredible value in just truly listening to what the person is saying. In doing so, we are able to approach a conversation from a place of understanding and thoughtfulness. In truly listening to others, we not only are capable of forming deeper connections, but also of learning and thinking beyond the confines of our own opinions, experiences and thoughts.

7. Allocate Time img_9127 In order to allow ourselves to be present during our days, it is also important for us to take some time to prepare for the future and reflect on the past. In allocating time to do these things, they can mindfully be accomplished, and then be forgotten. When you have a lot of things to do, rather than constantly thinking about them, write out a to-do list and a plan of what you will do. Put any dates or time blocks in your calendar, and move on. Take time to journal and reflect on your day. Write down any thoughts, feelings, or reflections you have. And once you are done writing, close your journal and move back to a place of being present in the now, the past being written away, your mind now free.

Hopefully these tips are helpful! I certainly have not mastered being mindful and present, and constantly struggle with thinking of the past and future. It is a constant effort to be more present in our lives. There is no end destination, and it is not easy; rather it is a journey we must take that can make our lives a lot more fulfilling. So take a deep breath, smile, and go about the day being present. Look around you at the flowering trees, smell the fresh air, and just be grateful for the life you have and the world we share.

Day Trip: New York City

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Though I was born and raised in New York, I don’t know the city that well. I know the stores I like to go to, and the restaurants I like to frequent, but I haven’t actually explored the city as much as I’d like. So when my friend invited me to join her on a day trip to New York, I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to try to get to know my city a little better.

We left Thursday night by bus, and arrived at around 11. Already, we started our adventure. We walked around New York, still pretty busy with people walking about in spite of the time. We then decided to head to bed and get an early start for the morning.

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We started out in the West Village, visiting Rosemary’s, an Italian restaurant. The outside of the restaurant is cute with outdoor seating, empty crates, fresh flowers, and tiles spelling out the name of the restaurant. But the outside doesn’t reflect what is inside– wood floors, exposed brick walls, gorgeous tile work, beautiful flowers, hanging light fixtures, and tons of light pouring through the floor to ceiling windows. The restaurant is way bigger than it appears from the outside, and feels open and airy. I started off the meal with a green juice of kale, apple, cucumber, celery and fennel (interesting… not the yummiest I’ve had, but definitely tasted healthy!), and then went on to an Italian Breakfast– burrata– an Italian cheese made with mozzarella and cream, fresh fruit (bananas, strawberries and blueberries), radishes, egg any style (I chose sunny side up), and bread. It was delicious, and a great way to start off the morning. My friend Emily started off with hot oatmeal that was served with butter, brown sugar, and golden raisins.

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After exploring some of the small stores on Bleeker Street, we stopped by Magnolia for their famous cupcakes… I went for the classic vanilla buttercream, and Emily chose banana chocolate. We enjoyed our cupcakes (so delicious!) in a small park, just enjoying the weather and company.We walked around West Village, a neighborhood that I now absolutely love. Filled with small parks, boutiques, and cafés, it’s definitely a gorgeous place to walk around. Spring is such a nice time to visit– the weather is perfect for walking, and there are flowers everywhere.

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After stopping by some stores, we head to 9th street for Ippudo for ramen. The wait was 30 minutes, so we gave them our phone number (they texted us when to come!), and hit up Muji nearby. The food was definitely worth the wait– we shared the pork buns, and then had delicious ramen. I went for the Wasabi Shoyu Ramen, while Emily went for the Pork Tonkotsu (pork) Soup Noodles. The food was great, and the service was really fast and good!

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After lunch, we walked around and stopped by a farmer’s market in Union Square (apparently open on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday– check it out!). We definitely enjoyed trying the samples of food, including incredibly ripe tomatoes, lemon curd, and fresh cheeses. We then walked around more, stopping by some larger stores– like Lulu Lemon, Nordstrom Rack, and Steve Madden, before heading back to the hotel for some e-mails and Facebook before meeting our friend Alice for dinner.

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We went to Avra, a Greek restaurant near the hotel, for dinner. We all split an American snapper, which was good. We then walked around and head to Macaron Café for some macarons– definitely recommend the expresso, lychee rose, matcha and nutella flavors. We then hung out for a while, with Emily and Alice stopping by a Japanese restaurant called Onya for a beef rice bowl for some more food (which they said was great!), before heading back.

I definitely had a lovely time in New York, exploring new restaurants and neighborhoods. It was great to be in the city with people not from the area– it encouraged me to try new restaurants and venture to new areas. I can’t wait to explore NYC more this summer!