Song of The Flowers: Floral Botanicals That Make Your Skin Sing

There is a certain prissy femininity  deep within me that is satisfied by using flower-based skincare. I always think of myself as relating to a women somewhere in France in the 18th century who’s personal apothecary has supplied with all sorts of loveliness for what ails my feminine visage whenever I spray on rose water. Or alternatively, as a geisha when smoothing camellia oil over my face, knowing I’ll come away with soft and glowing skin. Whether or not it stirs in you the same kind of melodramatic glamour, floral botanical skincare keeps you far from looking like a weed.

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Camellia oil

Popular in Japan, and also known as Tsubaki Oil, Camellia oil has been used by geishas for centuries to take off makeup and purify skin – which honestly was reason enough for me to indulge, given their lost standing connotations with flawless poise and beauty – but if you need more proof than that then please do read on; It is a singularly healing oil that enhances skin’s moisture retention ability. Camellia oil is ripe with palmistic and Omega-6 Linoleic fatty acids, as well as numerous anti-aging polyphenol antioxidants. Soft, supple skin is a promise with continuous use of camellia oil.

Where to find it:

Boscia Tsubaki Oil Line

Boscia boasts a completely preservative free line of skincare. Of course, if you are a purist you may purchase the tsubaki beauty oil to pat onto your face before smoothing on moisturizer. My personal favorite is the tsubaki oil night mask after which my skin is smooth and luminous, hiding the fact that I’ve only gotten four hours of sleep while wearing it. Thank God for these little things that help us get by.

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Tatcha One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil

Tatcha is my dream-love skincare fantasy. I can see myself residing in my perfect apartment, plainspokenly elegant and minimally romantic with just the right amount of weathering for character, and slipping into an agent provocateur silk robe to perform the Tatcha skin ritual. Their pure camellia cleansing oil melts off makeup and smooths skin to silken perfection.

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Rose Water/Oil:

Rose not only evokes terribly romantic connotations, but smells amazing and possesses a few handy skin-saving properties. Rose oil is highly regenerative and anti-inflammatory to the skin. Rose oil also has a profound effect on skin in the way that, when added to other creams and serums, it primes it to absorb more of your chosen product, making them vastly more effective.

Fresh Rose Mask

I remember once looking at a jar of this and thinking “oh rose face mask, that must be lovely” then opening it and being introduced the  a brown and gelatinous product. All aesthetic issues aside, it smells quite pleasant and actually is very richly hydrating and soothing to irritated skin, possibly that which has been windburned in the unrelenting New York winter wind or sunburned from tanning in Nice. I don’t know. We’re dreaming here.

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Jurlique Rose Water Balancing Mist

I’ll be honest with you right here at the start- there are certainly more inexpenisve  versions of this available, and I will even tell you that you can make your own rose water – but if what does it for you is a name brand, then Jurlique’s Rose Water Balancing Mist is just the luxurious, sonorously titled spray of choice to brighten your complexion. I like to mist this on as a final step after I’ve applied my various creams and serums to keep my skin looking dewy and hydrated.

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Calendula 

Calendula, a cousin of the marigold, is a soothing, healing oil that treats your skin gently as a new born baby. It can be used to slow signs of aging and impart skin with a youthful glow. It is gentle enough to use on baby’s skin, but effective enough to tackle (or prevent, if we are being smart, which we are) signs of aging.

Where to Find it:

Kiehls Calendula Extract Toner

Recommended for normal to oil skin types, this toner – and the deep cleansing face wash that accompanies it – is gentle and effective at cleaning skin while being soap, alcohol, and paraban free, making it an essential for delicate skin.

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Jurlique Calendula Redness Rescue Soothing Moisturizing Cream

A mouthful though it may be, Jurlique’s – dear God don’t make me say it again- This moisturizer is an excellent option for those prone to the unwanted blush of redness due to skin irritation or acne.

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Chamomile 

Chamomile is a long-standing and well known soother to us all. Whether you’ve been given chamomile tea to settle an upset stomach or know the scent from sachets of the flower meant to induce calm, the general connotation is of a soporific sweetness. Chamomile in skincare has the same effect. It is excellent at calming eczema and psoriasis, protects skin from free-radical damage, and is well suited for skin as delicate as a baby’s.

Where To Find It

Aēsop Chamomile Concentrate Anti-Blemish Masque.

If you have sensitive skin prone to breakouts then this mix of clay and botanicals will help to sooth inflammation and prevent future breakouts by purifying your skin.

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There you have it, a bouquet of botanicals to keep your skin petal-soft and protected.

 

Gazing into the mirror

 

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Gift Guide For Your Very Specific Friends

Mentally scan the room at your last holiday party. I will tell you a small array of gift options for each friend your eye falls upon. Call me Santa, why don’t you.

Your Fit Friend: 

(They’re the one eating the decorative kale from the crudite platter)

-Vegetable Spiralizer-

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This is one of those kitchen gadgets that many people won’t buy for themselves because it seems non-essential -BUT- that’s what makes it the perfect gift. Make sure your friend tags you in all of their doodle foodstagrams!

-Unlimited Month of Classes-

My personal favorite is yoga, although I know that some of the higher octane fitness claqué might prefer soul cycle , or maybe reformer pilates for those who fall somewhere in the middle.

-S’well Water Bottle- 

S’well stainless steel water bottle: it comes in a million colors and prints, it lasts a lifetime, it doubles as a blunt object should things “get real”.

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Your Foodie Friend:

(The one who’s already over charred octopus as a starter -eyeroll-)

-Marble Slab-

I’ve yet to meet a foodie of the modern age that doesn’t see the value in having a marble slab. If your friend is at all in alignment with social media culture, then they’ve undoubtedly have lusted after the attractive marble backdrop of their favorite foodstagrams #EEEEEATS More practically, marble is ideal for tempering chocolate, or makes an attractive serving tray.

Subscription to Mouth

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Choose which indie food box your foodie friend will receive and inevitably rate on their food blog. If they’re more hands-on, try blue apron, which sends recipes and pre-portioned ingredients for a waste-free foray into new dishes.

Your Fashion-Obsessed Friend:

-A Paintbox Manicure-

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Paintbox is a chic, modern, overhead-fluorescent-lighting-free nail salon with a menu of avant-garde manicure options for highly social, instagrammable, compliment-garnering nails that your fashionable friend may even add new gesticulations into their body language for, you know, just to make sure they get seen. Your friend will be treated to coffee or wine and a plethora of Diptiyque products in the powder room.

-A Bio of one of Their Favorite Editors –

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Don’t assume your fashion-obsessed friend is little more than an air-headed magpie looking for the next shiny new object. Show them that you are aware of their erudite side (as evidences by their new Tom Ford tortoiseshells) and help them get more intimate with the love of their life-fashion. Memoirs of Grace Coddington, Andre Leon Talley, and Diana Vreeland come highly recommended.

Your Minimalist Friend

This is the friend who has everything so together (MORE)

A handy house cleaning 

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Since your minimalist friend has everything together as it is, help them keep it together. Trust me, the day will come where they will want to hand the reins over and let a professional dust and polish their chic, scandinavian minimal apartment to show off its plainspoken elegance stress-free.

-The Kinfolk Home-

For the minimalist, substance matters. It’s got to be form, function, or both. Kinfolk is known for its simple, elegant photography. Even if they never use these tips to decorate their home, it’s an attractive coffee table book.

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Your Gentleman Friend:

(The man in brogues by the bar discussing which mustache wax gives pliable hold)

– Engraved collar stays-

A very personal touch that will be all between you and him. Keep messages  sweet and simple or, if he’s your special gentleman friend, go a little bolder.

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-Shaving kit-

Obviously for your clean-shaven gentleman friend. This gift will acknowledge the apparent attention he pays to his grooming and give him an excuse to take a little extra time to himself.

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The Couple:

-Acro Yoga Classes-

Good for building strength, flexibility ,and mutual trust that can only been gained after a couple wordlessly exchanges that wide eyed look that says “don’t drop me.”

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-A Staycation At A Boutique Hotel-

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Obviously this is a couple who’s close to your hear. Many volunteer to watch their new baby and send them on a 2-day trip to The Ace Hotel or if you need something a little more boutique- The Crosby Street Hotel so they can have a little time to reconnect over the plush furniture and parkway floors – nothing says romance like tiny soaps.

What I’ve Learned From Productivity Junkies

New York City is a Beast. That’s a non-negotiable fact. It’s where you come to make it, to prove yourself, and you will spend your formative years breaking your back to break even and working double digit hours to make your ascent to that loft in Tribeca that you’ve dreamed of since undergrad. I’ve recently made a habit of asking people I’ve met who have cultivated the necessary grit, ambition, and stamina it takes to achieve success in the city “how do you get yourself to be so productive?”I ask this question to everyone from millionaires contemplating their third real estate coup to everyday artists who are not household names, but are simply supporting themselves solely by their art. I mean, I’ve met a bona fide full time DJ with their own place in the West Village and access to the closets of top their designer brands whose advice was “if you’re pretty and kind of know what you’re doing they’ll let you do basically anything in this city”. Well played. But I know that beneath that cool girl insouciance is the same goal hunting wolf that lies under the collar of every Wall Street banker and restauranteur who enjoys all the same perks in life.

1. It’s Going To Take Time: Everyone I met started with this. “It took me a couple of years to get like this.” This kind of obsessive productivity-junkie personality type is not born, but created. This is kind of a relief because now I can no longer blame my lack of productivity on the previously labeled “fact” that there’s a chance that I was just “born average”. Complacency is a choice. Acknowledge this first, then get on your goals, uninhibited.

2. Accepting That Being Hyper-Productive Will Shrink Your Social Circle: So, remember that part in The Devil Wears Prada (ugh, yes, praise) where Nigel says “Let me know when your whole life goes up in smoke. Means it’s time for a promotion.”? Yeah, well, he’s not far off. When you employ such singularly focused  tunnel vision on achieving your goals it becomes inevitable that minimizing, or just full on deletion, of anything that isn’t in accordance with your goals will happen. Sometimes that means a social media habit, sometimes it means putting off happy hour or pumping the breaks on a friendship that doesn’t facilitate your chosen mindset. Sounds vicious, I know, but the good news is that if you’re already running in goal-oriented circles then your group will understand, and they won’t complain because they too are off achieving their goals.

3. The Resolve That It Will Take More Time: “I know it’s going to be like this for at least the next few years”, “I’m probably just going to spend my 20s like this”, “I mean, I anticipate that it’ll be like this at least until I’m 30, then I can slow down”. A sense of a long time arch is necessary for achieving anything worthwhile with your life. Impatience or want of instant gratification will spoil the whole thing because the reality is that nothing as big as your biggest goals happens overnight. Can I be self-indulgent with a simile just really quickly? Great. Okay, so, in my yoga classes I spent months trying to do a headstand. Every time my teacher would proclaim that it was time for the first inversion of the day I would cringe internally, wince at the pressure on my head and flail and kick my legs -seemingly uselessly- and spend a good 5-7 minutes looking like a freshly caught tuna flopping on the floor. Graceless. Every class I would try though, not expecting to get anything done, but autonomously putting in the work. One day it was effortless, I kicked up and up I stayed. This is what it takes. You can’t expect all of the results at once, you just grit your teeth and put in the work and believe that it will all come together.

4. Strong Bounceback Game: Everyone is going to burn out sooner or later. One day you wake up in a fog with an sticky, empty Ben and Jerry’s pint in one hand and Netflix paused with the message “are you still there” mocking you into your 6th hour Mind of A Chef. Its a grisly scene. Being able to clean yourself back up to a high polish and return to the best, most productive version of yourself is essential. I’ve seen some of the most high polished and productive people I know at full burn out on Sunday but back to smiling and shaking hands on Monday. Knowing that there is a time for excess and a time for restraint and how to compartmentalize them to be beneficial to you is a trademark of productivity junkies. Every Sunday isn’t for eggs benedict and mimosas – or quinoa whatever and bee pollen smoothie if you’re trendy and health conscious – you know how you do, Every Friday isn’t for being on scene at the Jane, but those that are are sacred because chances are that they don’t happen as often as you’d like if you’re actually getting things done.

 

There you have it. I’d write more, but I feel like getting things done so BYE! Be you, Be True, Be…yoncé.

Breathe In Yoga Vida…

I don’t know why the West Coast gets all the yogi street cred for being the centered and healthy epicenter for the U.S.: New Yorkers are drinking just as much matcha, eating just as much quinoa, and seeking out just as many yoga classes. This New Yorker is, anyway. Well. Trying. Venmo for matcha, quinoa and yoga anyone?

There is a well known story wherein someone asked the Dali Lama how he finds time to meditate on busy days. His response; “on regular days I meditate 1 hour, on busy days 2.” The more you give of yourself to the world, the more you have to center yourself. Determined to build up my inner peace and develop some self-discipline I signed up for a $20 2-week unlimited trial at Yoga Vida, a premiere studio in New York, with the intention of attending 6 days a week for the duration of the trial. I kid you not – just clicking the “complete order” button brought me a little more peace.

The 666 Broadway location is gorgeous, spacious, and inviting. I already knew upon my first barefoot steps into the studio that I’d want to be here more than in my own apartment. Many chaturanga-cobra-downward dog cycles and a five-breath plank didn’t even convince me otherwise – although my triceps were screaming at me to shop the madness. My bodily exhaustion left little room for undesirable thoughts to creep in and for the first time in months my mind felt a clear of grit and sirens. That’s when I got my first hint of understanding.

For me, yoga became more rewarding when I stopped looking at it as a form of exercise that would ensure a lithe and strong body, but as a moving meditation. The purpose of going through the poses, sweat, and trembling became connected with more with an exploration of the state of my mind; can I find a way to relax through this?, why am I trying to force it?, am I resting here or am I ready to move forward? These questions are applicable in life on and off the mat. After a while I could complete a sequence on muscle memory alone, allowing me space to let the fog lift from my mind and just roll through the physicality of it as naturally as waves to a shore. That’s not to say that I mastered it or looked as graceful as some other members of my class – but I realized that it truly isn’t about that. It’s about connecting your mind, breath, and body in one fluid being. The people around you are part of your experience, but your focus should be on you, no matter how intimidating or distractingly attractive or athletic your peripherals. This was my full understanding at the end of week 1- 6 days in a row of yoga classes.  I was hooked. Not because I particularly loved the sweating, the occasional discomfort, the constant hip-openers, but more because I was acting on a promise I had kept to myself. I was making the conscious decision every day to participate in something that was keeping my mind and body healthy. This place had become a sanctuary from the daily operatic drama of the city streets, the demanded immediacy of technology, and my constant tangle of thoughts.

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666 Broadway Studio. 

view from the lounge window at the Broadway location.

  By midweek 2 the sense of community was setting in. I had chats with other students about previous classes, teachers knew my face and I felt comfortable in my worn out band t-shirts amongst the lululemon (even when it rode up and exposed my less than toned midriff in downward dog). It’s undeniable that I have more energy and my state of mind is more fluid – I can even kind of gracefully lower myself for chaturanga. This is when the real love affair began. “I can’t I have to go to yoga” or “sure sure, after yoga” became my top spoken phrases. Honestly it felt good to go somewhere and be with myself for a bit after being exposed to all of New York all day every day. It felt good to turn my phone off and not feel the tide of social media and work emails. I could control my thoughts and clear my mind faster, I could choose how deeply to allow things to influence me. Above all the amenities, community, and environmental comforts, this is the most important thing I could have taken away from my brief encounter with Yoga Vida.

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    Although I plan on trying a few other studios in the city, Yoga Vida has set the golden standard for me for what a yoga studio should be: inviting, communal, growth-inducing, and a facilitator of a pure practice. Now breathe in deeply, bow your head in gratitude, breathe out…. namastay.

  My most notable classes:

-Flow with Jenn Tardif: amazing teacher, gentle practitioner, amazing playlists featuring Leon Bridges and Mazzy Star.

-Slow Flow with Todd Rengel: be ready to be firmly but gently guided into your purest form. Get low in your warrior II because this class is very form oriented. You may be rewarded with a massage. Great music too – Annie Lennox, Massive Attack, I feel like there was sone Sade but I honestly might have manifested that in my mind’s own playlist generator. (Digression – I feel like I’d be a really good DJ)

-Restorative with Sarah Auster: this is a calming, nurturing class for your battered mind/soul/and body. Everyone in New York needs this class at least once a week.

note:: all photographs (@girl.named.alex)  were taken before class. Please turn off your phone when class is in session.

70s Invasion

Remember this knockout couple that I photographed this previous fashion week? I think they were on to something.

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Fashion, as everything else in life, has an ebb and flow – a pendulum swing that touches on one extreme and then and explores the grey areas in the middle before reaching the other. We have been through this 90s futuristic revivalist trend for a minute now and it’s time to return to a more romantic, but still accessible time. This year, for this fall, I am fully prepared for endless references to the 1970’s as evidenced by the following slow-building trends:

Floppy hats

off-the-shoulder tops

wide leg pants

beach waves

afro-textured/natural hair

the rebirth of the birkenstock as a trend shoe.

Matching skirt sets

Festival-wear

crochet details

All of these small things are slowly melding together to bring us back to the full aesthetic of the 1970s’ special brand of touchable, airy constructions and an ease about style. This will also necessitate a foil of opulence to the casual daywear that will be overtaking the streets. I’m looking forward to sequined necklines and lush textural contrasts like velvet, fur, seude, denim, and chiffon all within single outfits. You can currently see this influence taking place at your fast fashion shops like Zara and H&M. Color palettes should be rich and include browns ranging from cognac to sable, deep purples, goldenrod, and burnt orange.

Great american tastemaker Tom Ford is a big fan of the 70s aesthetic, so I’ll be looking to him first for all the right things.

Sunday Morning Songs: Coming Home by Leon Bridges

  This week for me has been the best sort of chaotic. It’s been productive and full of new experiences and I’m happily exhausted. To smooth myself out before I get back in the game, I’m treating myself to some me time with Leon Bridges. This song is slow and sweet like honey or a perfect summer night. It conjures images of slow-dancing barefoot on a hot night with your sweetheart.

Food52

“Food 52’s new office is having an open house Thursday night. Tears. Someone go for me please.” was what my friend Ariel’s (http://ariellouise.weebly.com) status read on Facebook one week before the Food52 open house. As a friend and fellow foodie, I took it upon myself to observe and report for her.  I mostly liked the idea of being the inside girl. Y’know, the foodie James(Jane?) Bond going semi-undercover on the East Coast to send word to the midwest. I have to tell you though, that I almost didn’t go because it was raining and I was tired and limp from a self imposed yoga every day challenge. Luckily I remembered that the invite promised cookies and found the strength to attend.

  Upon entering the space I was greeted by friendly guides in red aprons that encouraged the other guest and I to taste anything edible and take a look at all of the product offerings. I wondered if these idyllic surroundings were too good to be true and set about chatting with some employees. They all reaffirmed that yes, this is a dream job. Everyone seemed legitimately and genuinely happy to have the privilege to show up to work here everyday. After an hour of milling around in the spacious office I could see why. There is a palpable calm-yet-industrious vibe going on. You can imagine employees putting in hours completing their work fueled on bites and sips from the test kitchen, basking in the diffused light that pours in from the generous windows.

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Here is where you lose yourself fantasizing about your industrial meets provincial kitchen in your spacious loft in your imagination.

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The aforementioned cookies: blondies – with and without nuts. Naturally I had to sample both..a couple of times.

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Did you know that egg whites whip to a greater volume in copper bowls? Don’t you want these even more now?

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The office space is open, free-flowing, and flooded with lush natural light. Approachably chic employees clicked away on their MacBooks as us interlopers milled about and pretended that we only ate one blondie.

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One of the best features of the office is the fact that the test kitchen is so exposed and integrated into the main space. Stepping off of the elevator, it is the first thing you see beyond the welcoming lounge area.

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A few speciality drinks were served up from the test kitchen. I went for one called “The Botanist” which had a sweet but not overbearing floral flavor. Midway through I wondered if it was okay to show up to my vinyasa class a little buzzed…

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^^In case you were ever wondering how your favorite food instagrams were creating these gorgeous marble backdrops^^

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All in all, a good port in the storm for any food-loving New Yorker.

A