Winter Skincare Essentials

Now that Winter is finally here and the humidity has completely left the air, it’s time for me to change up my skincare routine. My skin is begging for more hydration. This year’s the first year that I’ve actually felt like my skin was really dry. It’s been peeling and flaking (I know, gross) and it’s in need of a serious overhaul.

If you’ve read my earlier post on my skincare routine, you know Dr. Hauschka’s Cleansing Milk and Clarifying Toner are everything to me. However, I’m in need of some additional love. Since that post, I’ve added Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil which has done absolute wonders for my face, so much so that I had to get their Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel as well. So what is squalane and why I am I so on board?

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Squalane is a moisturizing molecule that our bodies naturally produce. However, it’s levels severely decrease over time. I chose the Biossance line mostly because they offer eco-friendly, sustainable, plant-based squalane from sugarcane. Yass. I’m all about that. This really skyrocketed my skincare routine moving into fall and winter.

Once temps really began dropping, the cold air wreaked havoc on my skin. I needed further moisturization. Enter Tata Harper Clarifying Moisturizer. Technically this stuff is for oilier skin, but I really like its lightweight, matte feeling. GAME CHANGER. I’ve always loved Tata Harper, but this is the first time I’ve actually used their product continuously, and I just love it.

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Last, but not least, these next two products really were the cherries on top. First, Mun Pure Argan Oil. Get this now. Slather it all over your body, sit back and let your skin soak up all that goodness. Argan oil molecules are much smaller than other oils giving it the ability to sink into the skin quicker. It’s really beneficial for any skin type. Second, the La Tierra Sagrada Hair Treatment I got specifically to nourish my hair and scalp, and boy does it knock it out of the park. With coconut oil, vitamin E, rosemary, palo santo and a selection of other beautiful oils and essences, it helps repair skin and hair damage, balances out imbalances, and moisturizes all at the same time.

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To say the least, my skincare routine has turned into an all out spa treatment. I honestly look forward to it everyday, not only because all of the products I’m using are clean ingredients, ethically sourced and cruelty-free, but also because it is a way to slow down and get in tune with my body.

**I was not paid to mention any of these brands or products. I truly love and use all of them on a daily basis!

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LH 2017 Gift Guide

 

It’s that time of year again. You know, the time between being thankful for those in your life, and giving back to those in your life. The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas I find myself thinking about those who’ve made a difference in my life throughout the year, and how I can send some appreciation their way. In most years I definitely fall under the procrastinator umbrella, running to the store at the last minute to scrape up the last of the gifts. This year, however, all of my shopping is already done, and the majority of my presents are already wrapped! What? Who am I?

So, since I’ve been really on top of it this Christmas, and have done a lot of research leading up to now, I thought I’d offer some of my favorite gift ideas. From your beauty loving best friend to your fitness freak sister, there’s something for everyone. The best part is that everything is under $100! 

I have to note, none of these brands paid me to put their products on my site. These are all just brands and products that I truly love and believe in, and I think anybody would be over-the-moon to receive them this holiday.

For The Traveller

  1. All Birds x Outdoor Voices Wool Runners 
  2. Cuyana Alpaca Scarf
  3. Cuyana Classic Passport Case
  4. Ursa Major Traveller Skincare Kit
  5. Everlane Modern Commuter Backpack
  6. Everlane Bomber Jacket

 

For The Workaholic

  1. Appointed Planner Gift Set
  2. Cuyana Leather iPad Sleeve
  3. Appointed 2018 Wall Calendar
  4. Komono Estelle Deco Watch

 

For The Homebody

  1. Cuyana Pima Long Sleep Set
  2. Standard Wax Reed Diffuser
  3. Pair of Thieves Wool Socks
  4. Farmhouse Pottery Vermont Wood Candle & Gift Box
  5. Parachute Home Classic Bathrobe
  6. Jenni Kayne Cedar Candle
  7. Maison Louis Marie No.9 Vallée de Farney Candle

 

For The Beauty Lover

  1. Biossance Head-To-Toe Hydration
  2. Herbivore Botanicals Coco Rose
  3. Biossance Face & Body Brush
  4. Ilia Love Me Do Gift Set
  5. Maison Louis Marie No.04 Bois de Ballincourt

 

For The Fitness Lover

  1. Alo Yoga Ripped Warrior Bra
  2. Outdoor Voices 7/8 Springs Legging
  3. Nike Juvenate Sneaker
  4. S’well Smokey Quartz bottle
  5. Alo Yoga Mat

 

For Him

  1. Herschel Studio Dopp Kit
  2. Norse Projects Lambswool Scarf
  3. Ursa Major Shave Set
  4. Komono Winston Deco Watch
  5. New Balance 247 Knit Sneaker

 

Happy Holidays!

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RenĂ© Redzepi Is Working Out, And Why You Should Be Too

A few days ago Men’s Journal came out with an article about the importance of exercise for those with high stress, intense jobs, like chefs. It detailed how chef RenĂ© Redzepi, of Noma, started feeling stronger and more energetic in the kitchen and at home once he began working out. “A few years into this, I started noticing that I was incredibly exhausted. I felt so drained on weekends, I didn’t have the capacity to do anything. Even creative work made me tired — I was tired all the time,” he said.

Wellbeing is a hot topic right now in the restaurant industry, but has been mainly focused on mental illness and tough working conditions. Restaurants can take a huge toll on one’s mind and body, and if we don’t do something about it, it can quite literally kill us. It’s so important to not just take care of our mental stability, but also our physical one as well. There are many healthy benefits to exercise that can combat these rigorous tolls restaurants have on us. It alleviates stress and anxiety, can help you tap into creativity, and can help control addiction.

I’ve been working in restaurants for almost 10 years now. I would have these ebbs and flows of working out and then taking months off. I could always tell the difference in my energy levels, nutrition, and performance at work when I wasn’t doing some sort of physical activity. I would sleep in late, drink more alcohol, be bothered by small guest requests, and overall make more and more exceptions to my healthy lifestyle.

In the past, my workout of choice was running. I would run every day for about 2 months, take some time off, feel like crap, then start running again. It really wasn’t sustainable for me as a work out, mainly because I hate running and so does my body. Since playing soccer for so long, my knees are weaker than I’d like, so after a while I’d start taking more and more days off from running so I didn’t aggravate them. After about 6 months of feeling like complete crap, I decided to join a yoga studio.

REV-A-LATION.

I took yoga when I was in high school to supplement my soccer workouts, but I never took it seriously and rarely thought about it once I was in college. However, I learned quickly, that yoga was not just about meditation and relaxation. There were days when I was sweating so much I couldn’t see, days when my arms were so sore I could barely hold an empty tray. Yoga was much gentler on my body, but demanded much more focus,  thus much more sustainable for me to continue. The results came slower than they did when I was running, but I’m much happier with them. I’ve been practicing yoga for over 3 years now, and it has become a sort of release for me. It has completely changed the way I work both mentally and physically. I don’t get heated over people’s mistakes, which gives me a much clearer mind to work to find solutions quickly.

While I am fully aware that yoga is not for everyone, I do think that those of us that work in such intense and stressful environments need to find something physically challenging that will in turn empower some mental positivity. It could be running, boxing, rock climbing, cycling or yoga. What matters is balancing out that intense part of your life with something that makes you stronger in mind and body.

I would love to hear some of your favorite ways to release stress!

Takashi Murakami | The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg

There’s nothing quite like a good art exhibit, especially when it brings some one like Takashi Murakami to the city. For those of you who are unaware of who this man is exactly, maybe you’d recognize his work on Kanye West’s Graduation album cover, or his long-lasting collaborations with Louis Vuitton. He’s one of the few artists that have been able to blur the lines between high art and commercialism.

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His style is bold and colorful, and uses a wide range of media. There is a heavy influence of manga (Japanese graphic novels) in the superflat style, a term he coined which describes the specific style of Japanese anime and manga. In that comic style, you can find character’s, many times Buddhist monks, represented throughout his work. It was fun to watch stories evolve from painting to painting. Though, my favorite was the wall of smiling flowers. It makes you feel so happy.

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The sheer detail of each piece is mind boggling, and the process is borderline nauseating. Part of the exhibit breaks down the steps of his process for one (of maybe a hundred) character in one of his works. Starting with sketches on trace paper, to computer renderings, to more sketches, colors and finite details.  It would take a lifetime for a single person to complete one of his wall-sized works. Thankfully he employs a team of people that make the execution just a little bit quicker.

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Check out the detail on those paintings behind this massive alien-octopus sculpture. Layers upon layers upon layers are seen in even his most minimal works.

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He titled his exhibit The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg after a Japanese folklore that expresses the idea that an octopus will eat its own leg for self-protection. The exhibit is an incredible retrospective of his work showcasing his evolving style from Nihonga (traditional Japanese painting) to his current, and iconic pop-art meets manga instillations. His exhibit began at the Museum of Contemporary Art earlier this month and will be there until the end of September. It’s the perfect way to get out of the heat and see some pretty cool art. (Pro-tip – if you live in Illinois, the MCA is free on Tuesdays!)

 

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Saturdays At The Market

Shots from Green City Market this past Saturday. Every year the market vendors grow and grow, offering a wider variety of produce and goods each time. The warmth, the smiles, and the juicy strawberries get me every time!

 

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Create & Cultivate Conference in New York

Earlier this month I flew (or so I thought) to New York for the Create & Cultivate conference. The conference was to be an all-day event on Saturday, so most of my other activities were planned for either Friday or Sunday. My flight left at 7:30am on Friday morning, giving me plenty of time to get settled in my Airbnb, get some exercise in, and explore the city. Wellllll that didn’t exactly go as planned. During our flight both Laguardia and JFK airports closed due to rain and high winds, so we were diverted to land in Albany. ALBANY! We all got off the plane with no clue as to if our flight was ever going to take off again that day. They assured us it would, but hour after hour we continued to get news that neither airport has reopened. We had been just 1 of 6 diverted flights to Albany alone, and the agent at the desk was getting some serious harassment. I decided just to take matters into my own hands and buy an Amtrak ticket – a 2.5hr ride into Penn Station. Well 12 hours after my original flight left, I finally made it to my Airbnb, exhausted, hungry, and annoyed that an entire day I had planned in NYC was shot.
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I couldn’t bear to travel anymore, but I was starving, so I walked over to Sunday In Brooklyn and grabbed a seat at the bar. All I remember saying to the bartender was something along the lines of “wine and food please”, like I was lost in the desert and had just found an oasis. I’m hoping what was actually said can off a little more elegant, but I honestly didn’t really care. Several glasses of wine and about three quarters of the menu later, I had finally come to, and the restaurant was packed to the brim. The wait seemed to be long and the people standing behind me were anxious for either a drink or a table. In classic form, I ordered a whiskey and asked for the check. I was satisfied and one more seat in the joint would probably satisfy someone behind me – and the host. Let’s be honest, a chaotic and busy restaurant may be preferable to the owners, but it’s a nightmare for a host, even a good one. The longer you linger at your table, the more chaotic the night gets, and let me tell you, people do NOT like waiting!
The conference was the next morning with a strict start time of 8am. Hundreds of women (and a handful of men) herded to the The Knockdown Center, a massive industrial building in Queens. We were all waiting in line, shaking hands and handing out business cards before the doors opened. Once they did, HOLY SHIT. The prettiest booths I’ve ever seen were lined up all the way around the building. The weather had turned to warm, cloudless skies, and the interiors of the building seemed to mimic that. There was one little coffee shop out back that got hit with the brunt of everyones morning caffeine fix, however, with some stroke of genius, I had brought a little cold brew coffee with me allowing me to browse around before the crowds came. I headed over to Vital Proteins for one of their beauty waters. I opted for the Matcha Latte with their Aloe water. So damn good – I ended up finding myself here several more times throughout the day.
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There were so many drink options from Health-Aid Kombucha (my absolute favorite) to Kopari’s coconut water. I was basically just walking around to find another drink. While I was beverage hopping, I did get to check out the insane amount of other things happening. I created my own mini-Birchbox, and fell IN LOVE with Clarin’s Multi-Active Jour cream. The smell is so yummy. There was a glam booth where girls were getting their hair braided and curled, or you could get your makeup touched up with Laura Mercier products (obsessed!). I bought the most beautiful ring set at Gorjana. I’m so happy about this purchase. I literally could have bought everything there. I also had a notebook case pressed with my initials. I have something of a notebook addiction. I’m currently writing in four different notebooks, not including anything on my computer. It’s a problem, I know.
While it seems like I may have only been there for the goodies and free drinks, I had a full day packed with panels of badass #girlbosses and one f*cking. These chicks ranged from very successful bloggers to designers to brand VP’s. It was a great mix of backgrounds that brought up interesting discussions and new points of view.
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The conference was mainly focused on social media, blogging, e-commerce and marketing, which ended up bringing together many women working in fashion, beauty, and/or wellness. While I tend to work with and speak to an audience connected to the hospitality industry, I constantly find myself talking a lot about these topics i.e. women’s fashion in fine dining. So there was an automatic connection I could make with everyone I met or heard speak. I met with brands, designers, influencers and chief marketing officers who were all offerings ideas about best practices for a successful business. I soon realized that what I was taking away from each person was universal knowledge (not subject to one industry or another) about the necessity of successfully utilizing different online platforms.
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It was comforting to hear these highly successful women talk about what it was like for them when they first started because it mimicked the trenches myself and the other women sitting around me were going through. We weren’t alone, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. For me, an over arching topic that was brought up time and time again was authenticity. Being yourself, finding your voice and creating consistent and authentic content seem to be paradigm to these ladies’ achievements. Be inspired by what other’s are doing, but don’t lose YOU. There were some other really great points made regarding engagement, conversion rates, negotiating contracts, and affiliate programs. You know its good when everybody’s intensely taking notes. What I found to be the most intriguing nugget of information was from Lauryn Evarts of The Skinny Confidential. First, I love her, she’s f*cking hilarious. Second, she laid down some serious knowledge about growth hacking.
Growth hacking is about diversifying content and distributing followers to your different platforms. The first part means that your different platforms should offer different kinds of content. For instance, you should NOT be sharing a photo to Instagram and then, though Instagram, sharing that same post to Twitter and Facebook. The content won’t be presented the same way, and if your content is the exact same, it doesn’t give your audience a reason to be engaged or even follow you on your other accounts. This leads into the second part of growth hacking, distributing followers. Once you’ve diversified your content, then you can start nudging followers to your different sites. If you post on Twitter saying you’re debuting a new Spring menu, then you should let your followers know that they can check out your Instagram page to see some photos.  Once they’re on you’re Instagram account, you can let your followers know that the new Spring menu is up on your website and that they should check it out. Diversifying your audience allows them to feel more of a connection to both you and your business, which in turn gives them more incentive to make an investment, in this example, a reservation. Evarts says she growth hacks all day every day, and it has become essential to the success of her business. Hell Yes.
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My absolute favorite panel, however, was lead by Bobby Kim from The Hundreds. It was all about representing people on the fringe, whether thats women, minorities, or people of different body types. It was eye-opening and empowering. Bobby did a phenomenal job at directing the conversation and keeping things light. Topics went from realizing that only you can direct your own life, to finding a voice for black women in fashion, to rape culture. It was vastly different from anything else that day, and incredibly refreshing. It was inspiring to hear all these women using the platforms they worked hard to gain (by being themselves) to speak out about issues they see or have gone through.
The day ended with me making a last lap to collect all the cool little snacks that were lying around and grab a coveted coffee that seemed to be the hottest commodity of the day. It was a whirlwind, but I learned a ton, made lasting connections to incredible women pursing their passions, and left more inspired than I could’ve imagined.
I headed back to Chicago on Sunday, and thankfully had a smooth flight without any glitches. It was a long and tiring weekend, but I squeezed out of New York all that I could (as you one does), and am more anxious than ever to go back.
**Watch out for a follow-up post on my exquisite dinner at Aska Saturday Night!

A Look Inside Chicago’s Hottest New Boutique Hotel: The Robey

 

It’s easy to say that the Six Corners, where Bucktown’s luxury meets Wicker Park’s creativity, is one of the trendiest areas in Chicago. The food and shopping speak for itself – Shinola, Scotch  & Soda, Aesop. Also, Paul Kahan’s One Off Hospitality has started to build its empire here (Bigstar, Dove’s Luncheonette, Publican Anker, Violet Hour). Trencherman just reconcepted to the highly anticipated Trench, and now The Robey Hotel moved in and with it, Cafe Robey, Up & Up and the Cabana Club (coming in Spring 2017). The Robey Chicago has really laid on the class and luxury pretty heavily over the Six Corners, and I couldn’t be more excited.

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The new hotel sits in the old Northwest Tower, an art deco building built in 1929. Managed by Mexican hotel group, Grupo Habita, it is truly one of their signature boutique hotels. The interior renovation was designed by Nicolas Schuybroek Architects and Marc Merckx Interiors. The lines are clean and the warm, and the the dark palette beautifully contrasts white accents.

As you wander through the building, comfortable nooks appear around every corner. I just want to grab a good book and a strong cocktail and curl up against the warm, afternoon sun. Cafe Robey is on the first floor with an entrance right on the Six Corners. Beautiful marble tables are scattered throughout the room highlighted by deep red banquettes. It’s sleek without being pretentious.

Up & Up is an intimate bar on the top floor of the building. With a patio that wraps around the front of the building, the views are spectacular. The entire Chicago skyline sits right there in front of you. It’s the perfect spot for a swanky night cap.

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The Robey offers 69 rooms with four different room types: Landmark Queen, Urban King, Corner Suite, and Panorama Suite. All of the rooms are stocked with Le Labo amenities, and because of the triangular shape of the building and it’s unique height in the area, every room is light filled with unobstructed views of the city. It’s a fresh take on classic Americana and Mid-Century Modern.

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