Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Travel in Style

In keeping with the travel theme I've sporadically had going on this month, today's post is about being (style) ready to hop on an airplane. 
I can count the number of times I flew before the age of 18 on one hand—two fingers, really—once to Florida around the age of 10 and again on a school sanctioned trip to California when I was a freshman in high school. I'm going to go out on a limb and say I likely wasn't terribly stylish, as I never put much thought into how I looked growing up (more on that here). In college, I finally started to get the hang of flying somewhat sporadically, with three trips in consecutive years to Vegas, another trip back to LA, a spring break in Florida and my first time abroad in Italy. I like to think my travel style improved, but really, college is about comfort over fashion—although I can guarantee I was at least in jeans, since I've never been a big fan of sweatpants outside of frigid weekends I spend on my couch. 
Now, I fly at least three or four times a year, on top of train and bus travel around the East Coast. This year alone has included a trip to Phoenix, London, two visits to D.C., several trips to Long Island and multiple flights back home. 2015 is looking just as packed, as I'm hoping to squeeze another European visit and Phoenix trip (where my best friend lives) in between a few trips home, a bachelorette party in the Ozarks and a wedding in Illinois. Racking up those frequent flyer miles has also helped me work on my travel style game, narrowing in on what works and what doesn't when I want to zip through security quickly, since I'm one of those people who shows up maybe an hour before my flight leaves. 
Since I frequently fly between different climates (ahem, winter in Iowa), and it can get pretty hot hauling your luggage around the airport but cold on the plane, I focus on layers, usually a t-shirt or light sweater layered with another sweater or pullover. Once I'm in the airport I tend to carry my coat til I get off the plane because I hate the extra bulk, so I always have a scarf within reach in my bag. Keeping the outfit hue neutral or dark makes it easy to look chic, and I usually wear heeled ankle boots because they're both awkward to pack and easy to style. Since I usually travel late at night or early in the morning (looking at you, 6a flight home next month!), I keep my makeup minimal as I'm sure you can tell by these photos. Light BB cream/face powder, a coat or two of mascara since my eyelashes are naturally half blonde, and a bright lipstick. I stash a small makeup bag with non-liquid essentials in my purse and tuck the rest that I'm traveling with in my liquids baggie or suitcase! I also keep a pair of sparkly earrings or a necklace on hand in case I need to look more put-together once I'm off the plane. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Link Love

Kicking the week off in reverse with a link love post I never got finished in time for the weekend, which is pretty much the condensed story of my life right now (other condensed version: I fell asleep on my couch with my computer open. But that's a story for another time). 

Between travel, work and the official start of the holidays this week, I've not had much time to focus on my personal life (or blogging, as you can easily guess). I've got a lot of great content planned out, so one of my goals for the rest of the year is to find ways to execute it!
This past week has been all about prepping for the holidays. We always do a Friendsgiving, or "Baby's ___ Thanksgiving" (this year'll be the 6th my roommates & I host!) with anywhere from 15-20 guests at our apartment. I currently have four and a half pounds of butter, five pounds of sugar and about ten pounds of flour on hand, and will be spending a few hours each of the next few nights prepping pie crusts and gathering ingredients for the homemade dinner rolls I make each year, along with desserts and side dishes. I never used to be big on Thanksgiving, probably because my family usually gathers at Christmas, I don't eat turkey and by my teenage years usually had to go to bed early so I could work retail when the mall opened at 3 or 4 a.m.  In recent years it's really grown on me since it presents an opportunity for a large scale adult dinner party (read: we drink a lot of wine and usually wind up playing a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity), so needless to say I'm already looking forward to Thursday! There's also been some re-decorating in my apartment going on leading up to this, and I hope to share some behind-the-scenes and decor photos with you soon while we change some things up. My coffee cup is empty and it's time for me to get ready for work, so on to the good stuff—what I've been loving, readying and favorite-ing lately!

A great read on an institution of a bookstore, Shakespeare & Company in Paris.

Also a veggie? Well & Good is making the holidays easier with these vegetarian recipes for Thanksgiving (or any holiday, really).

If you buy one boot this season, I really think it should be these ones from Loeffler Randall.

Fascinated by this New York Magazine article where women were asked to draw their own breasts. Everyone is different—and many have a story of love, dislike or even breast cancer (warning: probably NSFW).

If you love ballet even a little bit as much as I do, Racked went behind the scenes at NYC Ballet and captured some beautiful photos of the Nutcracker costumes before the shows begin!

As someone who feels like I'm constantly trying to do too much, this essay on burnout hit close to home.

Need wine glasses for the season? Crate & Barrel is always one of my favorite places to shop—tons of (super affordable) options!

Planning to get more into some of my favorite gifts later on, but this set of Tom Dixon candles is the perfect luxe gift for friends or family.

The Everything NYC twitter account recently shared this great night shot I captured of the Empire State Building. Every time I look at it, I love NYC a little more.

Already eyeing easy, breezy dresses for next spring and this one is top of my list.

images: one || two || three || four

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

10 Questions for: Briar Winters of Marble & Milkweed

Kicking off a new series (of sorts—we'll see how often I can pull it together!) on the blog with this post. One of my reasons for starting a blog was because I wanted somewhere to catalog things. An online diary, of sorts, from what's going on in my head and my life to the way my style is evolving, while also acting as a shopping wish list and place to share new products and companies—which brings us full circle back to today's post, on local organic & analog apothecary Marble & Milkweed.
I've been trying to simplify in life this year, from gutting my wardrobe (swapping college clothes for adult ones has started a never-ending donation pile in my apartment) to eating cleaner and healthier (more on that another time), which has most recently stretched to re-evaluating my beauty and skincare routine. While I'm an admitted product junkie who likes trying new brands, I'm actually pretty loyal to the majority of my beauty products and brands—just like you are, I'm sure! 

There's been a wealth of reports in recent years about the ingredients in beauty products that are unhealthy for your skin, and while some of the claims may be over-exaggerated, there's definitely no harm to putting natural products on your skin. Once I started this search, I stumbled across Marble & Milkweed, an apothecary studio based in TriBeCa that hand-makes disarmingly simple skincare products, using organic and fair-trade ingredients. Founder Briar Winters was kind enough to let me drop by her studio to shoot some photos and asker a few questions! Read on for ten questions with Briar,  from how she got started to her favorite ingredients and how to incorporate natural skincare into your current routine. You can check out her online shop here, and her products are also available on Etsy! Some products change seasonally based on ingredients that are good for the weather and readily available. I'm a huge fan of the Cardamom lip balm (get the tube instead of a tin), and just ordered a facial serum and cardamom butter this week.
What inspired you to start Marble & Milkweed?
After years of working in pastry kitchens here in New York City, I felt ready to begin exploring some of my favorite flavor and scent combinations from a new perspective. There’s a real kinship between the apothecary and the kitchen, and much of my work with Marble & Milkweed is informed by my culinary training, especially the intense focus on beautiful, pure raw materials.

Have you always been interested in natural and organic products? 
I grew up in rural Washington State, playing outside and having a small garden of my own there. These early experiences have absolutely inspired a continuing desire to live in harmony with nature. When I moved out on my own and began to make more of my own purchasing decisions, I began to educate myself about the provenance of the foods and products that I bought and used. I began to feel uncomfortable with many of the industrial ingredients used in my skincare and household products, so I began researching other options. Eventually, I started creating all of my own products from the highest quality food-grade ingredients.
When you first started making skincare products, did you follow recipes you’d already found or was there a lot of experimenting until you found things that worked?
I did so much research when I first began getting interested in crafting skincare, on everything from clays and botanical essences to cold-pressed oils, and I began experimenting from scratch. I’ve also found a lot of inspiration in ancient skincare traditions and rituals, including those of Ayurveda. I knew what I wanted my products to feel and smell like, and I began from there, allowing myself to be guided by the innate qualities of each ingredient.

What product would you recommend to start with to someone who’s just discovered your line and isn’t using a lot of natural or organic skincare products yet? 
I would begin with one of the serums. They showcase the incredible healing power of botanical oils in their purest form, and they absorb easily into the skin. A few drops after cleansing and before bed will completely change the way your skin feels in the morning. Coming of age, the conventional wisdom said that using oils was bad for oily skin, but now that I understand more about the different types of oils and the way our skin works, the balancing effect of a well-crafted facial oil seems inevitable. Cold-pressed oils are full of nutrients and help protect skin in such a deep way, while the scents of the botanical essences soothe the spirit. 
Marble & Milkweed represents more than just a desire to take care of your skin, you also promote environmental consciousness with reusable/recyclable packaging and minimal ingredients. Is this something you’ve always been passionate about, or have you grown more aware yourself year after year?
Both - it’s something that has long been a priority of mine, but I continue to educate myself about how I can do more. Washington State has had comprehensive municipal recycling programs for much longer than New York City, and so I grew up sorting things carefully, and developing an awareness of our impact on the earth. After learning about the irreversible environmental damage our overuse of plastic causes, I felt inspired to avoid it as much as possible. The deeper I get into my work, the more connected I feel to the natural world and that’s something that I hope to share with my customers through the conscious choices that I have the opportunity to make when it comes to philosophy, packaging and ingredients.
You’re running a small and successful company on your own. Tell me what a typical day looks like at the Marble & Milkweed studio.
I’m not a very early riser, probably thanks to many years of working dinner service hours in the pastry kitchen. My partner, Michael, still works nights in the kitchen, so I feel fortunate to have the freedom to dovetail my schedule with his to give us quiet mornings together. It takes me about 20 minutes to get to my studio in TriBeCa from our home on the Lower East Side. Each day at the studio is different, depending on what must be done. Some days are reserved just for packing and shipping orders, and quieter days are spent crafting products. I’m lucky to have a post office with late hours just nearby, and trips there are a nice way to stretch my legs during the day. I often work quite late into the evenings, and I try to always leave the studio as orderly as possible, so that the next day begins smoothly. Somewhere between all of that, of course, lies ordering and sourcing supplies, bookkeeping and administrative duties, and keeping up with my social media accounts. I love doing it all myself, it gives me the chance to create exactly the situation I want across every area of my work.

Tell me a little bit about your creation process. What inspires you to make a new product? What’s the testing process look like?
The seasons and their corresponding raw materials are my main source of inspiration. The sensibilities and needs of our skin change throughout the year, so it makes sense to look toward the cycles of the natural world as muse.
What’s one of the trickiest things you’ve found about owning and running your own business? The most rewarding?
Balancing all of the different facets of something that often feels like its own being can be a challenge. It’s impossible to be very good at all of it, but it’s important to me to get good enough at the business side of things to support the creative side. And to know when to ask for help. It has been a wonderful learning experience. The most rewarding part is helping my clients discover the endless potential for beauty and harmony in the relationship between skin, spirit, and the natural world.

What are your favorite ingredients to work with? Do they change each season?

Some of my favorites in every season include rose, cardamom, sandalwood and chamomile, as well as so many others. As winter approaches, I begin to focus on the coniferous oils and essences, as well as the richest of the nourishing cold-pressed oils, which are perfect for protecting the skin as the weather becomes cold and dry. Focusing on the gifts of each season helps to give us a sense of place, and grounds us in the moment. 
What are your long-term plans for Marble & Milkweed?
Marble & Milkweed has evolved very organically from the beginning, and I intend to allow that to continue. More seasonal offerings are always on the way, as well as collaborations with a few carefully selected local farmers in sourcing raw materials. I’m also currently learning the ancient art of distillation in order to more deeply understand the process of creating hydrosols, with the hope of eventually distilling my own from locally sourced botanicals. 

Shop Marble & Milkweed online here and on Etsy here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Packing for London

And we're back!…This past week or so has turned into an unintentional hiatus. I've actually had a lot of content planned, but between work (the holiday season + we just celebrated our 15th Anniversary this week!) and travel, this little blog had to take a backseat. 

I spent just over four days in London this past week and made a point of trying to travel like an adult—which means a carry-on only (I picked up this new hard-sided Delsey for the occasion), and no overpacking. 
Surprisingly, I actually succeeded (for the most part...I might have checked my bag on the way back, but it was free!). Since I packed a lot of the littler things last-minute, not everything is documented via photo but I'll do my best to share my travel essentials and how I pack here. Temps in London this time of year hover around the mid-50's, but if you've been on the East Coast recently you know that it can actually feel pretty warm during the day, especially if you're walking all over town, with the evenings getting much cooler. I wanted to keep things casual and easy, so I started with my basics and decided to build out from there. 
I've got no problems re-wearing things several times in a row, particularly when it's cold and I just don't feel like getting properly dressed (I once wore the same sweater almost three straight days when I was home for Christmas…in my defense, it was about 5 degrees outside and too cold to take it off). I used to be a horrendous over-packer because I like to have options, but I've found it's easier for me to pack during the winter because I start with a core group of basics that I can mix-and-match for up to a week, and build out from if the trip is longer than that or there are any special occasions in the mix. I try to stick to a particular color palette, but can't resist getting a little color in here and there. This trip was all about neutrals—grays, blues, blacks, greens, navy and whites—to avoid making my friend late for work make getting dressed a cinch in the morning.
So, without further ado, here's how I pack for a winter trip, plus a few slight alterations for London!

Clothing
  • 1-2 cashmere sweaters
  • 1-2 cropped sweaters
  • 1 sweatshirt
  • 1 pair dark/black skinny or straight-leg jeans
  • 1 pair blue skinny or straight-leg jeans
  • 1 pair of non-jean pants
  • 1 dress and/or 1 skirt
  • 1-2 t-shirts
  • 1 lighter jacket (if the weather will be above 50)
  • 1 neutral colored coat
  • 1-2 scarves
  • 1 bag/purse and 1 foldable tote
I never travel in colder months without a few cashmere sweaters (I'm partial to my ones from OTTE), which I wear at least three times a week—including as I type this—and sometimes to sleep in if it's a particularly chilly night. Cropped sweaters have become my latest go-to when I want to feel a little more put together, as they're easy to layer over a dress or blouse. I make sure to stash an oversize scarf with my easier-to-reach "personal" item, which doubles as a blanket or pillow on the plane as needed. Since most of this list is a no-brainer, it'd be a bit boring for me to run through every piece, but I do always make sure to have at least one skirt or dress with me, no matter how casual my trip might be. Make sure it's something that travels easily (i.e. nothing pouf-y or that you can't get the wrinkles out of quickly). It's one of those never-know situations! My purse for this trip was a bucket bag from Sole Society, which I've been carrying non-stop since I got back as well. Since I carried on with just a suitcase and my Lo & Sons bag, it tucked easily on top of my clothes so I could pull it out once I arrived in London. I also tuck a foldable tote in my bag just in case I need to carry a few extra things around, like getting my laptop to a cafĂ© or, in warmer locales, as a beach bag!

Shoes
  • 1-2 pairs of sneakers
  • 1 pair flat boots
  • 1 pair heels/heeled boots
I prefer to travel in sneakers if I can get away with it, especially for longer trips, which has meant recent investments into sleeker styles, like my Vince slip-ons and Reebok Skyscapes (a.k.a. the most comfortable shoes I own!). Anyone who's stopped by this space in the past year or so knows I'm constantly wearing my Loeffler Randall booties, but they don't always fit the bill for those never-know dressier situations, so a pair of heels or heeled boots is a must. Come mid-winter, I adjust this list a bit to include a pair of tall, flat boots and, if I'm in Iowa, snow boots (ugh). 
Tech, Entertainment & Necessities
I use my Lo & Sons bag—I have the O.G., and have been traveling with it pretty exclusively for over a year now—to carry all my electronics, chargers, books, papers and snacks. I usually tuck my liquids baggie on top so it's easy to get to when going through security. This trip was all about downsizing, hence the neutral wardrobe (and why there aren't outfit pics from this trip—they would have been pretty boring!). My usual wallet is stuffed with credit cards, cash, receipts, punch cards, business cards, you name it; for London I wanted something sleeker and easier to keep track of. This passport case has card slots and a zipper pouch inside, and once I arrived and didn't need to carry my passport, I transferred the basics over to a slim card case. To keep my purse as light as possible once I arrived, I opted to take my Olympus E-Pen 7 Lite camera instead of my dSLR...I was a little apprehensive at first, but since the Olympus is maybe half the weight of my Nikon, my shoulders were thankful, and I still got some amazing photos! I also travel with a Leica film camera most trips, but I'll get into those preferences another time. An external Mophie charger is a must, especially in other countries—I made sure it was fully charged before I left NYC and made it through the entire next day before I needed to actually plug anything in. 

Makeup/Beauty
  • face wash
  • moisturizer
  • sunscreen
  • hand cream
  • hand sanitizer
  • toothbrush & toothpaste
  • shampoo & conditioner
  • body wash
  • coconut oil
  • razor
  • perfume (roller ball or travel size)
  • nail file
  • bb cream
  • mascara
  • black eyeliner (pencil or gel pot)
  • cream blush
  • a few lipstick colors/glosses
Last on the list—and the last thing I pack—makeup and beauty products! I tend to pack these up as I get ready on the day of my flight, which helps me make sure I'm getting all my essentials and means I don't have  go digging through my suitcase to find my toothbrush before I leave. This list varies a lot depending on where I'm traveling; for example, I keep a set of basics (shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, a toothbrush, etc) at home so I don't have to travel with much, and I'll often forgo liquid basics if I'm not checking a bag and I know they're easy to find once I arrive. A few things I always travel with, though, are perfume (I actually bought a new one when I arrived in London this time, more on that later!), bb cream, mascara, lipsticks from Nars & Bite Beauty, and coconut oil, which I use in place of moisturizer and usually put into a 3oz bottle as opposed to scooping/pouring out of the jar. 
Once everything is rolled up and packed where it belongs, I do a little evaluation, and—this is where the cheating comes in—see what I can add on. Usually this is because I was considering another item already but told myself it wouldn't be necessary; if it fits the aforementioned palette I've got going for the trip and is different enough to justify bringing, I'll add it. If it's another pair of dark skinny jeans, or plaid scarf? Nope, gotta stay. And I quite literally have to say that to myself, sometimes out loud, or else I'll try to justify stashing a bunch of things last minute that I will not need on a short trip from home. 
traveling with: Delsey Carry-on Suitcase c/o Zappos || Lo & Sons OG bag in Sky Blue

Now—what do you pack when traveling? Anything I missed on my list that you consider essentials?