Thursday, November 8, 2018

The only Thanksgiving recipes you'll need

My sister-in-law unabashedly assigned us specific Thanksgiving recipes every year. "Why not just request a dessert?" I asked my husband early in our marriage. I soon learned of the meticulous way she selected recipes; searching cookbooks, magazines, and this source. The result was an absolutely epic meal year after year.

Due to her efforts, I'd like to think our family has a solid list of the best Thanksgiving recipes around. Whether you're hosting or bringing a dish to pass, I can promise these recipes will not disappoint:

If your a prepare-in-advance-type-gal (that's me!), you can't go wrong with this Ina Garten recipe. It's delicious (especially that stuffing!) and you're guaranteed to impress your guests with your skills.

But if it's just not Thanksgiving without the presentation of the whole bird, this recipe is our tried and true, with gravy.

But truth be told, I'm in it for the side dishes, and there are so many good ones.

The best stuffing.

The best salad and this citrusy gem.

As I child, I loved canned cranberry sauce, but this grown-up version (minus the pepper) is much more appetizing.

If sweet potatoes are your thing, these are the best. These are delicious and beautiful. But you also can't go wrong with the traditional buttery mashed.

These green beans are full of flavor and can compete with the Thanksgiving favorites.

If you're kids are like mine, it's not dessert without chocolate. This pie hits all the seasonal notes (mmm, that cinnamon) while satisfying your chocoholic.

But a girl's gotta have her favorite pumpkin pie. And the girl's husband has to have his apple pie.

And while we're on the topic of Thanksgiving, do you dress up for the holiday? I love to wear something pretty, but comfortable. I just ordered these (hello, elastic waistband) to wear with a simple sweater and colorful statement earrings. And I love these festive heels, but these beautiful flats are more practical for running around the kitchen. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Election Day

It all seems cynical now, but as a teen, I used "privileged" like a dirty word. As in, "how privileged to have two parents?" Or, “how privileged to buy that thing/travel there/do that?" And like most teenagers, it was undoubtedly said with attitude and a scowl. Within my own vocabulary, "privileged” was interchangeable with "spoiled."

There's no denying privileges yield certain advantages, but it's not exactly "spoiled" if it's appreciated and respected as the blessing it is.

In this country we all share one privilege: the ability to vote. It's the gift of an opinion, and to make that opinion heard. Don't squander that.

Last week, I returned home after my kindergartener's Halloween parade to find a message about a possible area bomb threat (that turned out to be nothing more than a prank). I was moved to tears thinking about how often I take our safety for granted; and how that safety can quickly be compromised.

I typically avoid political discussions here not only because I'm saddened beyond words, but because I want this space to be peaceful and uplifting. However, regardless of your political affiliations, I encourage you to use your privilege to vote today.

If you're in Wisconsin, your polling place can be found here, and here's a sample ballot. A complete list of candidates in our state can be found here.

Are you voting today?

Thursday, November 1, 2018

To carry your heart

As soon as the cold creeps in and evidence of the holidays fill the stores, I feel a familiar void that comes with remembering loved ones no longer with us. Another year without them at the holiday table. It’s easy to dismiss those thoughts, but I like to linger in the memories for a moment, hoping to preserve a part of them.

There's comfort in unearthing opportunities to remember, but the sadness has dulled. I know "forgotten" is something my grandparents will never be.

It’s within my grandpa’s reliability I found hope that all men are not the same, and it’s worth waiting for a good one (and I did). When I hesitate or waver in uncertainty, I’m reminded to trust myself the way he trusted me. And it’s within the intuitive, wickedly smart force who was my grandma that I always find my power as a woman.

My children will know them because they know me. I carry them with me.

It’s a place in my heart I’ve often thought was held only for those who have left us, but I’ve since realized I frequently feel the presence of others who still walk this earth.

It’s within my husband’s integrity and work ethic that I find strength to make it count even after a long day. Or the way my father-in-law never acts to be accepted or approved by another that I’m reminded to do what’s right for me, not what’s popular. It’s my sixth grade teacher pushing my hand across the paper, reminding me the gift of the written word. These people, and so many others, are the real influencers in this world.

Who do you carry with you?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Learning new things

I appreciate a great book or podcast. My inner-student relishes in researching things and experimenting with new products. Learning new things is such an integral part of growth and improvement, don't you think?

Last week, I was reminded the importance of setting aside logistics and schedules, and taking a break (and that glorious break was spent here).

Other times, I learn something through repeated experience, like gratitude is the fastest way to inner peace, or solo time is necessary for mental health.

Sometimes it becomes evident as it's practiced over time, like all the ways to be more patient.

Sometimes it's frivolous like this shampoo and conditioner combined with this guarantee a good hair day.

Or that the best white tees (and the best long-sleeved ones here) don't have to be expensive.

And the best deodorant is chemical-free (and lives up to the hype).

On occasion, necessity is the teacher, and I discover an entire house can be cleaned with only these.

Every once and awhile, it's something life-changing, and worth the time to subscribe and read daily.

What new things have you learned lately?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Do you exercise?

Years ago, I read there are two types of people: those who can enjoy just a bite of something delicious and those who can’t be tempted with it in their house at all. I’ve long desired to be the former, but alas, I might be hardwired for the second.

Sure, I may have been cursed with a wicked sweet tooth, or maybe it’s deeper than that? A lack of willpower perhaps? Whatever the case, this trait seems to bleed over into other areas of life.

I’ve always been more of your daily-routine-type than a once-a-week gal. It's all-or-nothing. In-or-out.

Exercise is no exception. Some can hit the gym when it's convenient, but others, myself included, need the scheduled daily routine otherwise I put it off for “later this week” until it’s Friday afternoon.

As the school year commenced, I wanted to begin a new routine, and darn it, that routine was going to include exercise. But after a month, I noticed something.

Instead of having more energy and all those good endorphins exercise promised, I was stressed. I was sacrificing sleep for exercise and scrambling to fit it all in before the kids came bounding down the stairs on the hunt for breakfast.

So I’m curious, do you exercise and how often? What’s the secret to motivating yourself to get there?

While we’re at it, can we talk about the clothes? I buy a couple pairs of these at their bi-annual sale and I love these basic (and inexpensive) cotton tees, but a friend showed up at drop-off last week in a cute and coordinated outfit from here of all places. And it seems social media is hooked on this company’s classic pieces, and now I’m tempted to invest in these or these.

I’m also adding these to my Christmas list because working out without music or a good podcast is torture.

I'd love to hear any tips and tricks you're willing to share! Xo

Thursday, October 18, 2018

On writing

I'll let you in on a little secret: most bloggers write posts weeks in advance. Perhaps it’s because sponsorships have specific time requirements? Maybe it’s because a rigorous posting schedule doesn’t allow for time to write between photo shoots and other deadlines?

As a non-blogger blogger (is this a thing?), I’m not restricted by these guidelines, so I pretty much operate on the fly. It’s probably because I think and write spontaneously too. Often times I’ll be going about the typical day when I'm struck with an idea.

Most of the time, I am driving to school pick-up or mid-lunch with a toddler, and I can’t drop everything to flush out a thought. I carry a notebook (and my favorite pen) so in desperate times I can jot down a couple sentences, but my writing takes a backseat to life.

In the last two months, I collected all those sentences and unfinished thoughts into something resembling a dozen blog posts. The keywords being “something resembling.” It wasn’t so much a compelling piece of work I’d proudly share here as much as a lot of fragmented nonsense. Each time I’d start anew, I’d get caught up trying to finish these previous inspirations into complete thoughts worthy of publishing. It ended up feeling more like an anchor than the life raft I needed on days when time was limited.

I don’t want to write like that. It’s a bad use of my time and yours, and I appreciate your support and readership more than to post something that’s just “good enough” so I can check that box. I woke up this morning and deleted all of those incomplete posts. It appears that the quote, “let go to move forward,” is as applicable to writing as it is to life.

See you back here next week for some new and refreshing content. Xo

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

What to make for dinner?

No matter how much preparation goes into grocery shopping and meal planning, we usually end the week with a couple wilted vegetables in the refrigerator and no real plan for dinner. And sure, we can order take-out, but sometimes when resources are limited, that's when things get interesting.

Here are my favorite (mostly) pantry meals:

If you have chicken, try:

Chicken chili. Skip the cream and just blend one can of the beans with the chicken broth. No jalapeno? No problem.

Chicken salad.

Or spread Dijon mustard atop the chicken and coat with crushed pecans and bake until cooked through.

If you have eggs, try:

Quiche. Any vegetable works here. Meat optional.

Mark Bittman's spaghetti with fried eggs.

Or simply hard boil four eggs and mix with a mashed avocado (or mayo if that's more your thing) and a pinch of salt and pepper for quick egg salad.

If you’re working with scarce supplies, try:

Caramelized onion pasta. It's much tastier than it sounds.

Mexican tomato rice and beans. No jalapeno or fresh herbs? Use red pepper flakes and dried herbs, and a squeeze of lime before serving.

What are your go-to pantry recipes? Please share below.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Worthy Reads: October edition

There are so many things to enjoy about the fall season, but I have to say the epic sunrises top my list. There's nothing like a pretty pink sky over the calm water, but this month's internet gold comes pretty darn close, so let's get to it.

According to this article, neither bribery or punishments are effective in parenting. Maybe this explains my before school frustration last month? I'll be adjusting my methods accordingly.

I bookmarked these two marriage hacks. I loved this article, and promptly started my own list to glance at when annoyance strikes at the end of a long day.

Oh, that's the trick. Do you wake up before your children?

Fall is in the air. I just busted out this handy gadget to clean up my sweaters. Game changer.

My laundry secret to keeping those new school clothes stain-free. A single bar lasts forever.

Along the same lines, I purchased these last year to wash delicates, and bonus: we've eliminated the accidental shrinking and ruining of delicates in the dryer that can happen when a well-meaning husband takes over weekend laundry duty (when this happens, please see: marriage hacks)

What articles or helpful products have you discovered recently? Enjoy your Thursday and I'll see you back here next week.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

On a first name basis

Years ago, while hosting a family dinner, my sister-in-law mentioned she was contemplating a name change. She no longer wanted to be called "Mom" and instead preferred to be called by her first name. Having just become a mother myself, it struck me as odd. Why wouldn't you want to wear your namesake with pride?

But I understand now. "Mom" quickly becomes "Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, MOM!" Repeated again and again until it's spoken with frustration and heard like nails on a chalkboard.

And to be someone's mom?! Whoah, right? Most days we are best suited as "Amy and John;" just two people doing the best we can with the limited preparation we were given for this parenting gig. Sometimes I think my kids are the ones teaching us the lessons (further proof).

There might be something to this first name thing. It sends the message that this isn't a hierarchical relationship, and it allows for honest connection (the kind most people only find with their parents after having a family of their own). Parents aren't perfect, that's too high a standard for anyone. We are people, and when the curtain is lifted and our children see us as just that, it allows for deeper understanding and communication.

I still love my name "Mom" and all the responsibilities and blessings that come with it. But I'm curious, would you consider being on a first name basis with your children?

In related news, my favorite parenting "manuals" (if only there were such thing) include this one and this one.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Are you a chronic apologizer?

Recently, my daughter came home from a failed play date. She felt terrible for a mistake she made with a friend. Days later, she still couldn’t shake it, repeatedly apologizing to anyone who would listen.

As I sat with her and we rehashed the misunderstanding, I began to see her more clearly, with her remorseful tears and punishing words. Her conversation was familiar because it was a situation I frequently found myself in as a child. I apologized so often that I would apologize for apologizing.

When this article went viral a couple years ago, I was forced to face my real problem with chronically apologizing. When I’d bump into someone in the grocery store, I’d apologize. When I didn’t have time to help out at school, I’d apologize. When I'd monopolize a friend's time venting about some issue, I'd apologize. When my child was screaming, I'd apologize. But what was I really apologizing for? My kids being kids? My lifestyle? My existence?

Quickly muttering the words “I’m sorry” doesn’t always convey the empathy you're after anyway, but it does leave you feeling terrible about yourself. I suppose that’s the point, right? Sometimes situations warrant that kind of remorse, and sometimes they don’t. But repeatedly using those two words lowers your energy and keeps you stuck in a cycle of anxiety and guilt.

And sure, my daughter may have made a mistake. I made (and still make) plenty of them too. But don’t use “I’m sorry” when a “thank you for your patience/time/help/hospitality” is appropriate. Not only does it speak to how grateful you truly feel, but it's the kindest thing you can do for yourself.

If you're in a reading mood, here are my other favorite self-care practices. I would add this bath soak, or this one, this candle, and this (a splurge, but long-lasting) to a "not free, but luxurious" list of self-care products.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018's October!

What was supposed to be a short break from the blog ended up being a month-long hiatus. I underestimated the difficulty of this year's school transition. Maybe it’s the earlier start time, or the new and numerous after-school activities, or that the easy-going third child I was promised has turned into a full-blown toddler/monster on the cusp of “the terrible twos” (a phase I previously thought was an exaggeration). I sure love that exhausting little monster though.

In the limited "free" time I’ve had, I'd open my computer only to realize the nagging to-do list was louder than any thoughts I might put together here. The stress that accompanies being overextended has the ability to quickly squash any lingering creativity and inspiration.

But I kept feeling that pull; not wanting to throw in the cards on this blog space. It’s the days I’m surrounded by piles of laundry and toys and I’m feeling the literal pull of a toddler on my leg that I’m reminded not to give up on this little piece of me. The part that’s blessed to be a mama and wife, but also has an insatiable appetite for reading and learning and putting all those pieces together in writing.

So here I am. No childcare, and no real plan when or how I will find time to write, but I’m committed to this space anyway and I hope to see you here too. XO

And just in case you missed it, there are so many good fall sales happening right now:

I snagged this topcoat, this flattering sweatshirt, these jeans (their jeans never fit me well until this pair and they're perfection), this on-trend belt, and this bow (super cute for a holiday party). All at 40% off.

I also stocked up on my favorite loungey sweatshirt, and it's never too early to buy the kids matching holiday pajamas (the style I ordered is already sold out!) at 40% off.

I'm also waiting for these classic Chelsea boots to arrive, and now I think I need this top to wear with jeans for date night or wide-leg black pants for the holidays.

The friends and family sale event is happening here, so I ordered our favorite monogrammed kid's towels as the "something you need" part of Christmas presents.

I also stocked up on a few more falls basics like this dress, this sweater, and these long-sleeved tees - always "on sale". I'm tempted to order these as well. Have you tried them?

I'll see you back here on Thursday.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Out of office

I've loved seeing so many of your first day of school photos already. I'm still in denial we're back at it in one week around here.

This time of year is always a hectic one in our household, as we try to get organized, establish new routines at school, start back up with extracurriculars, all while my husband is simultaneously in the busiest season at work. It is easy to get overwhelmed and feel depleted at the end of the day, but it's important I remain present for my family.

See you back here mid-September with some new and exciting content!

In the meantime, scroll through some of the most popular posts in the right sidebar or check out the ever-changing resources page.


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Are you intuitive?

As I watched my girls playing "guess-what-number-I'm-thinking-of" the other day, I was reminded of a time I too wanted to be psychic. As a child, well before iPads, the classic road trip entertainment involved a lot of "guess-what-I’m-thinking-about-right-now."

As an adult, I have the closest thing to psychic powers: intuition; the knowing without knowing. Studies have shown people born from difficult childhoods often become highly intuitive because of their need to quickly read situations, but we all possess this superpower to some degree.

For as long as I can remember, I've had this deep awareness of my own thoughts and feelings, this strange ability to know what someone is feeling without words, or know exactly how to handle a difficult situation with a boss, or easily put myself in someone else's shoes.

And sure, being intuitive without boundaries can be exhausting for all of these reasons and more, but this high-level intuition is so beneficial in relationships and in having a deep sense of purpose.

Einstein called it "the only real valuable thing," and Steve Jobs declared it "more powerful than intellect."

Can intuition be taught? I believe it can, and should be! There are a few simple things you can do to maximize your intuition:

Be an observer: Spend a moment to take in all that is going on around you. When meeting your child after school, you might observe the chaos on the playground, and see your child's face just before she sees you, and that can be enough to know she had a hard day.

Be a listener: Word choice and tone of voice are so important. It's the "I'm fine" versus "I'm great." Yes, sometimes words are just words (and we aren't always thoughtful with word choices, especially when we're busy), but tones are indicative of feelings too. You can often determine based on the combination whether your spouse needs a little extra support, for example.

Be creative and adventurous: Plan a vacation, take a hike, read a book, whip up something new in the kitchen, get creative in an art class. Do whatever you need to do to unleash your imaginative side and allow you to see things from a different point of view.

Find quiet time daily: Schedule time to think, breathe, feel, and get in tune with your own vibrations and energy. It's often through listening to ourselves, that we're able to best hear the unspoken words of others.

How has intuition helped you? What helps strengthen your superpower?

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Back-to-school style with Mac & Mia

When a stylish mom and her equally hip kid approach you at a birthday party and start talking kids clothes, you listen. I jump at any chance to let someone else dress my girls, who are not easy customers. One loves all things sparkly and girly, and one prefers ponytails and athleisure.

Jessica is the local mom and brave Mac & Mia stylist who agreed to put together some back-to-school outfits for my girls. Mac & Mia is not a subscription box with a commitment. You request a box of high-quality, boutique-brand clothing and accessories when it works for you. Genius, right?! The clothing starts at $24 and accessories at $9.

The process was so simple. I registered on the website and my girls chose sample outfits, listed color and style preferences, sizes, prices, and where we currently shop. I was charged a $20 styling fee to secure my order.

Boxes ship that week, or on a date of your choosing. I received an email with the tracking information and two days later, the boxes were on our doorstep.

Emmerson opened her box first. In full disclosure, I entered the wrong size (mom fail) so most of the items were too large (is it wrong that I kept a sweater for myself though?), but she loved the cute, comfy joggers and a fun necklace. At eight years old, it's nearly impossible to find anything she loves to wear, so her approval was monumental.

Elin opened her box next and I was blown away. Our stylist nailed it - we loved everything! If it wasn't for a fit issue and a duplicate piece to something we own, we would have purchased it all.

I don't mind spending a little extra money on quality clothing and the most adorable accessories (and stocking up on cheap leggings and basic tees elsewhere) if I'm confident they will get a lot of use out of them. All our pieces were mix and match, so they have many different looks.

I completed the emailed link and commented with what and why we were returning each piece (so our stylist knows for next time), and simply packaged them up in a pre-labeled mailer and dropped it at our UPS drop box. Within a couple days, they charged my credit card for the items I kept (minus the $20 stylist fee because we chose more than two).

If you're interested in trying Mac & Mia, click here for $20 off your first box!

Have you used Mac & Mia? I'm sold! It has definitely changed the way I shop and we will no doubt be using this service again and again!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Whatever happens, love that

For someone who spent years reading only magazines, books have really been showing up for me. "Whatever happens, love that," is the last line in this book (and one that I highly recommend). That sentence got me thinking about what that means in my own life.

As your typical type A person, I always have a plan. And a back-up plan for the plan. Just when I've accounted for every scenario, life happens. And oh boy, I admit I'm not the best at dealing with the uncertainty that comes with it. Instinctively, as adrenaline takes over, I will do anything to to turn the tide in my favor; fighting to the bitter end.

Oh my goodness, what I wish my younger self knew about break-ups, career disappointments, those devastating miscarriages - at the risk of sounding melodramatic, all those times I was convinced my life was ending because I didn't get what I planned for and so desperately wanted.

Because it wasn't what I needed.

It's only normal to believe we know what we need most, and do whatever we can to actualize it. But I've discovered that some of the greatest things have happened when I didn't plan for them. In the moment, it never occurred to me that what I actually needed was to be changed by and grow from heartbreak, failure, or disappointment. Would I have met my husband? Ever taken a break? Be the mother I am? Birthed these exact three beautiful babies?

Acceptance, marriage, children, wealth, that job, that house, that friendship....we are convinced we need things that aren't always true to ourselves or aren't truly needed by us.

So while I will always have a thoughtful plan in my back pocket, show up, and give it my best effort, being able to surrender and accept there is a power and energy greater than myself is essential. We are given exactly what we need at that exact moment in time. Let that sit with you for a moment, because there is so much peace there. I will forever be working on this, and I'm grateful life continues to give me opportunities to evolve and find calm in the unexpected.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Worthy Reads: August edition

Camps and summer sports are ending, and we're slowly coming to terms with the fact that school starts in a couple short weeks. Summer days can seem so long, but this time of year I'm always surprised how quickly the months flew by. I hope you enjoy this month's edition of internet reads with sibling giggles in the background (rather than fighting), knowing full well, you'll miss it all soon enough.

"We now live in a country where it is seen as abnormal, or even criminal, to allow children to be away from direct adult supervision, even for a second." What does this mean for us parents? More importantly, what will this mean for our kids?

I love the idea of incorporating a five minute happier workout in my daily routine.

My new favorite instagram account for daily inspiration and reflection.

Did you know Trader Joe's has a recipe section on their website? I'd love to have this for dinner and this for dessert. And wouldn't this make an impressive (but super simple) dessert for dinner guests?

In other food-related news, my garden has exploded! Please send me your favorite zucchini and tomato recipes ASAP.

If you're on the hunt for a fitted but not too fitted, not sheer, perfect white tee, a blogger/internet friend shared her unexpected source with me. And you guys, these are so good and only $8!

I just started this book and I'm already hooked. Have you read it?

Finally, please remember to vote today. More information for my Wisconsin friends here.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Politics, business, and family with Liz Sumner

I’m excited to introduce my friend and all-around amazing woman, Liz Sumner. As a mom, small-business owner, village trustee, and most recently, State Assembly candidate, Liz wears many hats. While I’m over here simply trying to manage my family’s circus, she is conquering it all with enthusiasm and grace.

It doesn’t take more than a few minutes of conversation to realize Liz knows her stuff. She graduated from Marquette University before completing her MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. After working in Chicago, she returned to her north shore roots to open her own business, finally settling in the Village of Fox Point with her family in 2012.

Liz quickly realized the village board needed a trustee who was deeply versed in the issues affecting young families. In her second term as trustee, Liz set her sights on something bigger: State Assemblyperson for the 23rd district.

Today I asked her some rapid-fire questions on business, family, political aspirations, and how she’s doing it all.

Alright girl, what I really want to know is how you’re managing all these responsibilities so seamlessly?

It takes a village! My parents, my husband, and my sitter are all incredibly supportive of what I am doing. Without them, I could never do all of this. I would love to claim everything runs smoothly around our house and in our lives, but that's not always true. Managing schedules, household needs, business concerns, and village trustee duties can be difficult. I try to make sure everything is on the calendar.

Take us through your average day. 

I drop the kids off at camp around 8:45 then head out to canvass for four or five hours. I try to make it to SHOP for a few hours in the afternoon to check in and discuss any items that have come up and see what new arrivals are in. I close out the work day with yoga at 5:30 - I’m so addicted to hot flow yoga at Empower. It helps calm my mind, and stretch and strengthen my body. Afterwards, I'm home to bathe my kids, read them a book, and put them to bed. My husband enjoys being with the kids in the evenings too (he also owns a business), so depending on the night, I may make dinner for the two of us; or read mail, email, or finish up work or campaign-related tasks. I watch a show or two after dinner while writing thank you notes for campaign donations, then it's off to bed.

Let’s get into the details. Tell us what a member of the state assembly does.

As a State Assemblyperson, I will represent the interests of the residents of the 23rd district while writing and voting on legislation to change or maintain state laws. The first order of business is to pass the budget. When I'm not in Madison, I will do constituent outreach in the district, which includes holding town halls and taking meetings with residents and local elected officials. This is an important aspect of the job because I will be forwarding ideas to the committee that have been brought to my attention by residents. It's important to me that I listen to their concerns and do what I can to alleviate them. 

I'm hearing our residents' concerns about education and the environment. They want quality public education for all children, and want to know that our beautiful lakes and rivers will be preserved for generations to come. Residents also want access to affordable health care, and common sense gun laws passed so that we can all feel safe in our communities.

Who is the 23rd district? 

The district runs from Whitefish Bay through Fox Point and Bayside and into Mequon, Thiensville and Grafton.

Why did you decide to run now? 

I’m very concerned about the direction our state is headed. Our current Assemblyperson is a rubber stamp for the conservative agenda at the state level and I don’t think that's reflective of the wants and needs of the residents of the 23rd.

How has being a mom of two and a small business owner helped prepare you? 

It has taught me how to delegate! I realize that I can’t do everything. I need to focus on what I am good at and let others help me in areas that they excel. It has also taught me patience, flexibility, and quick thinking. My negotiation skills have drastically improved since having kids as well - they negotiate for everything!

What can we do to help? 

Volunteer, donate, spread the word about my campaign, and make sure you and all of your friends vote. We get so busy and think our votes don’t matter, but it's so important to make time to make our voices heard. Schedule 15 minutes on August 14th and November 6th to head over to your local polling place and cast your vote. Get more information on voting here.

Thanks Liz! For more information on Liz’s campaign, check out her website.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Summer meals (and a giveaway!)

As part of my ongoing effort to stay organized, I don't buy unnecessary spices. You know, the ones required for one recipe and three years later you find them, expired, in the back of the cabinet? But there are a few spices I use again and again, especially during summer months.

As meal planning takes a backseat to pool days and camps, our dinner menu is simplified. Meal prep might be a couple pounds of chicken into the Instant Pot and shredded. Or a pan of sweet potatoes roasted in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spices go a long way to making the same ole' thing different.

Pizza and sandwiches become summer staples. And I can't do it without Penzey's sandwich sprinkle and pizza seasoning. Spice blends aren't the most obvious pantry choices, but I find these two to be so versatile.

Sandwich sprinkle is great on mixed greens with a little shredded chicken, sweet potatoes, and a drizzle of olive oil. Also, sprinkled over day old bread and tossed with olive oil, it makes delicious croutons (homemade croutons are my favorite part of any salad). This seasoning is even better when used with a half pound of shredded chicken mixed with a mashed avocado and some diced apple or grapes, served with crackers and bread.

The pizza seasoning is equally delicious, and makes for the best summer pizza on a cauliflower crust or naan bread (for individual pizzas). I have a friend who puts a jar of tomatoes, a can of white beans, and a handful of kale into a blender with a generous amount of pizza seasoning to make a healthier pizza sauce. Our favorite pizza variations include:

Barbeque sauce + corn cut fresh from the cob + a handful of shredded chicken + mozzerella (or roasted cauliflower if dairy-free) + diced green onion or cilantro + pizza seasoning

Pesto or tomato sauce + any summer vegetables (think diced asparasgus, zucchini, corn, summer squash, spinach) + mozzerella or goat cheese + pizza seasoning

I'm excited to gift a sandwich sprinkle and pizza seasoning to one lucky reader! Just comment below or on social media with your favorite, easy summer meal and I'll pop them in the mail to a winner chosen at random on Thursday.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

What makes a marriage work?

I am getting to an age when friends and acquaintances are separating; and in the middle of a heated argument with my own husband, I can't help but wonder, are we safe? We certainly love each other, but what really makes a marriage work?

I didn't witness a model marriage growing up, and even so, marriage and relationships are so intimate. You can't learn one (or judge one for that matter) from the outside. Truth be told, more than a decade into it and I still have little idea about marriage, but I do have a couple theories.

I now understand why people are delaying marriage until later in life, because as far as I can tell, whether or not you grow together with someone you meet in your early twenties is kind of a crap shoot. Is it still the same perfect fit as the day you were married?

That fit changes so much over the years, especially once children make an appearance. Responsibilities, priorities, and interests shift throughout the seasons of life. During silly marital spats (or even sizable disagreements), I find comfort in the big picture - babies, jobs, and other circumstances change, but the essence of the person next to you does not. You are creating a tangled history with this person - one that will be intertwined with highs and lows.

There seems to be a single thread woven throughout my own marriage, and so many others. It's the thread that says, "I am highly committed to your growth as a person." There is nothing more powerful than supporting your spouse's goals and desires, and standing alongside them through those hard, mucky parts. It seems that the deeper you are willing to go, the less likely your relationship will unravel.

After years of marriage, most people will describe their relationship as stronger now than on their wedding day, but there's no quick way to get there. It's through tremendous commitment and openness that we make a happy marriage, and often a better version of ourselves.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Life lately

I'm taking a break from my regularly scheduled content to bring you: real life. Ha!

Lately I have been maybe...

Nostalgic for a less complicated time; one with less concern and gossip over other people's lives and personal decisions; a slower-paced, more thoughtful life, when we had all the time to have real conversations. Basically, nostalgic for the summers of my own childhood.

Does that exist in today's world? Or even more curious, did that actually exist in the 1980s, or is that just what we call childhood (and conversely, this is what we call "adulting")?

Now, I consider myself a spiritual person who believes in fate, karma, and other supernatural powers, but I wasn't sure where I stood on the manifestation of thoughts and feelings. Until this weekend.

I was craving a slower life, and boy did the universe hand it to me. Unfortunately, it was in the form of the stomach flu, taking down each family member one-by-one until the only one left standing was a very energetic and unsympathetic one-year-old. If the universe can have a sense of humor, so can I. And I'm going to use that humor and newfound power of manifestation to find a slower pace, laugh often, and squeeze out every last minute of this glorious summer.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The importance of family vacations

“We are a collection of experiences, not things.”

Part of those experiences include taking family vacations. It only takes one great family trip to realize the importance that break is to a healthy mind. Exploring a new place brings a freshness to your relationships, spending time with family in the absence of day-to-day responsibilities reminds you how cool and fun your people are, and trying new things expands your horizons and your mind.

So I’m curious, do you have an annual budget for a family vacations? (We don’t). Do you plan months ahead or are you a spontaneous traveler? (I’m a planner, but unfortunately not far enough to get any vacation deals, but I should do more to capitalize on pre-trip happiness). How do you find new vacation spots – a friend, travel agent, websites? (I rely on websites, but am so curious about using a travel agent). What has been your favorite family vacation? (Ours was Charleston or this one).

I would love to read about your best family vacations in the comments below.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Sakara: An honest review

Two weeks ago, after indulging in all the food on this trip, I decided to try a ready-to-eat meal delivery service. Sakara is a plant-based, dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free meal service created by two New York City-based nutritionists.

I ordered the three-day plan and tried to eat clean(er) the days leading up to its arrival. Tuesday afternoon, the Sakara box arrived on my doorstep, complete with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, beauty water, detox water, tea, and a few extras.

Upon opening the box, I had immediate regrets about not contacting them with my food allergies. I have a few weird allergies, one of them being dates, so I noticed I wouldn’t be able to eat the protein bars or one of the breakfasts.

I was sure my biggest challenge would be portion sizes, but the opposite was true. I couldn’t finish all the meals (the salads are huge!) and I never felt hungry or deprived. That being said, there were a few things I just didn’t like, the kaffir coconut mylk for one, and I couldn't get past the feeling I was chugging perfume when I drank the beauty water. And by the dinner on second day, I wasn’t too thrilled to see arugula again.

I promised you an honest review, so in my opinion, it’s a great one-time service if you're in a food rut. I really got so many good meal ideas out of it, but I can recreate many of these at home for much less (and with fresh ingredients). I guess I don't quite understand all the hype, but I suspect most of those raving reviewers are paid?

That being said, if Sakara ever decides to bottle and sell any of their dressings or sauces, I’ll be the first in line to order. Every single one was so delicious.

Have you tried a meal delivery service?

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Why is vulnerability important?

Perhaps it's the endless news stories on sexual harassment, but I've found myself thinking a lot about vulnerability lately. Only recently have so many women felt safe to reveal their nightmares. And although I can't speak personally to this subject, I imagine it takes an enormous amount of courage in the face of vulnerability to do this.

Because in sharing your truth, no matter the circumstance, there is the perceived weakness and judgement that comes with being truly seen.

After years of working to distance myself from my own family secret, I made the decision that it was a part of my story worth telling. I realized the disjointedness I was feeling was a direct result of my unwillingness to share my whole truth in an effort to fit in (it feels silly even typing that). I was a mess the day I hit publish on this post (vulnerability is uncomfortable!), and publicly aired something so personal, however, I no longer wanted to carry it alone.

In the days that followed, I received such sweet words of support that something shifted in me.

My upbringing taught me vulnerability is a weakness, and being tough in the face of tragedy or hurt is a necessary strength. The problem is most often those feelings go unresolved, and are buried deep. And shame grows in those quiet, unseen places. Shame can be fatal.

Only through sharing fears, insecurities, and differences, can we break those perceptions wide open, eliminating all power over our lives.

When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, it leads to deeper connections with others, and with oneself. And it empowers others to stand in the light of truth.

How has vulnerability affected you in your life?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

On reading habits

Sometime in the last year I transitioned from binge-watching TV late into the night to binge-reading (that being said, I did quickly plow through all three seasons of this show - it's so good). It's safe to say I've experienced all of these symptoms lately.

When I pick up a good, enthralling book, I'm counting down the minutes until I can crawl back into bed to pick it back up again.

I finished this quick read for book club a couple weeks ago (and also this one, which I highly recommend), then this exciting book. I'm almost through this easy, captivating beach read, I have this one on my nightstand, and I've been warned I'll need a lighthearted, fun book like this one after that.

For someone who used to only read the occasional magazine, this has been a huge shift. For many years, I was forcing myself to read (and always finish) the wrong books. I no longer care about what's made the bestseller lists, if I can't get into it in the first 50 pages, I move on (my tip: download the sample on iBooks and if you like the first 30 or so pages, order the book!).

What binge-worthy books have you read? Please share below.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

New York City family travel guide

There’s no shortage of NYC-based bloggers, so no doubt my expertise pales in comparison, but I’ve traveled enough times to know how to explore the city with a young family. New York may not be your first choice for a vacation with kids, but don’t be surprised if it ends up being a favorite. The keys to any successful family travel are fun activities, frequent food stops, and incorporating necessary downtime.

I’ve also found that paying up for a good, comfortable location is worth every penny when traveling with little ones. Over the years, I’ve stayed in various New York City neighborhoods, but the Upper West Side has our hearts. Midtown certainly is convenient for a shorter stay, but the UWS is quiet and family-friendly; and my favorite way to vacation is to live like a local. There are some great rentals (we loved staying here, but were also comfortable here) and boutique hotels. Midtown has all the usual big name hotels (we stayed here recently), but I would avoid Times Square at all costs. We’ve never taken the kids there.

I could write a lengthy post on restaurants alone, but I'll save that for another day. Instead, these are our favorite city sights, partnered with some quick bites:

The Empire State Building is a definite must-see for all. I would always choose this over the Top of the Rock (I've been to both). This is one of the only things that opens at 8:00 a.m. in the city, so go early to avoid lines if you can. Pro tip: Purchase the VIP express tickets. It will be worth it when you’re walking past the lines at the ticket counter and the lines to enter and the lines at security and the lines at the elevator. Come to think of it, there are lines everywhere in this place! Remind the staff at each transition that you have express tickets because they don’t check at each point. Afterwards, walk six blocks to Sweetgreen at 1384 W. Broadway or eight blocks to the 6th Avenue location. Then head to Grand Central Terminal (a sight in and of itself!) before heading home for afternoon naps.

The Museum of Natural History’s dinosaur (fourth floor) and biodiversity and ocean life exhibits (main floor) are favorites. Follow the fork and knife signs backwards to the discovery room for the hands-on children’s exhibit. The museum is pay-what-you-choose, but an entrance fee is suggested ($72 for our family). Pro tip: Outside food or drink is not allowed anywhere in the museum so eat a snack before entering (the cafeteria is gross). Order Shake Shack at Columbus Avenue via the app (don’t make the mistake of thinking you can walk in and order quickly) and pick it up before heading to the Arthur Ross Terrace and splash pad for a picnic on the north side of the museum. The splash pad is free and you can do this in conjunction with a museum trip or independently.

The New York Historical Society is the city’s hidden gem, and if you’re short on time I would choose this over all other museum options. At $6 for children and $21 for adults, it's less expensive and the downstairs children’s exhibit is amazing. Be sure to check the event schedule. This summer they have a magic show on Sundays and a story and craft on Tuesday and Friday afternoons. The children’s exhibit is interative and so, so interesting (for adults too). I had to drag my kids out of here after two and a half hours.

We will definitely be back to do Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in the future, but at this stage, standing in lines for an entire day is out of the question. The best (and free!) way to see these sights is to take the Staten Island Ferry. The subway to 1 Bay Street/South Ferry couldn’t be easier. Grab some banana chocolate chip or sour cream bread from Levain Bakery on the UWS before taking the red line 20 minutes to the last stop. When you exit the subway, Whitehail Terminal is directly in front of you. The ferry leaves every 30 minutes and is 25 minutes long. The 9:30 or 10:00 ferry is a great time to go – after rush hour but before the mobs of tourists. Enter on the right side of the ferry for views of the Statue of Liberty. After passing the Statue of Liberty, begin heading toward the exit ramp (opposite the entrance). If you aren’t planning to stay on Staten Island, you have five minutes to get on the ferry headed back to Manhattan. You will exit the boat, go through the terminal to walk onto the departing ferry.

The ferry is easily paired with the World Trade Center Memorial. Head back into the subway and take the yellow line NRW uptown to Courtland Street. It’s a short walk to Memorial Plaza. Stop in Starbucks for an iced coffee and a snack before hoping on the blue line AC at Chambers Street Station home.

Another highlight of our recent trip was our walk through Central Park to Victoria Gardens (at Wollman Rinks, which is also high on my list of suggestions in winter). I suggest buying the $24 unlimited rides and park admission for the kids. There’s only a dozen rides and a few games (which aren’t included in the unlimited rides package), but it’s perfect for ages 1-12. Afterwards you can walk to Dylan’s Candy Bar (admittedly a tourist trap, but I’m never above a bribe) and then walk across the street for some shopping at Bloomingdales while the kid’s are momentarily entertained with their candy selections.

If you find yourself with a little time while everyone is napping, enjoy a mama’s afternoon out. Grab a fresh pressed juice at Joe & The Juice and do some shopping. And no matter where you stay, there is no shortage of shopping! A Tempo and Liana are cute, UWS boutiques. Across from the Museum of Natural History is Book Culture (children's story times on Tuesdays and Saturdays) and an adorable kid’s shoe and clothing store next door. As you head south there’s Joie, Theory, Sandro, Intermix, and some of the usual staples. Stop at Magnolia Bakery on the way back to pick up cupcakes for dessert.

For older kids, I also highly, highly recommend the MoMA. Buy tickets ahead and get there at 10:00 a.m. to avoid lines. Don’t miss the MoMA store behind the museum on 53rd. Afterwards, girls will love Alice’s Tea Cup (chapter 2) for lunch, but if the walk is too much, Burger Joint, inside the Le Parker Meridian, is also a family favorite.

After naps at home, order Patsy’s Pizza or pick up a greek salad and some picnic fixings at the New York institution that is Zabar's and walk over to the Great Lawn at Central Park for dinner. Belvedere Castle is fun to explore (although currently close for renovation).

We also spent a morning in Brooklyn on our most recent trip. I would skip this if you’re short on time or if you have a little one that takes two naps (it’s a little difficult to get to and from). At $2 per ride, the kids rode Jane's Carousel several times. Check out Juliana’s Pizza for lunch and don’t miss Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (cash only). I really wanted to schedule a trapeze class in Brooklyn, but our kids are a little too young.

We also loved the Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular, seeing the real Santa Claus at ABC Home, the New York Public Library's reading room, and the tree lights and window displays around the holidays.

What are your New York City favorites?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Worthy Reads: July edition

I’m over here nursing what can only be described as a pretty intense vacation hangover. You know it's bad when you find yourself googling "advice for post-vacation sadness." So while I'm working through these tips, I hope you enjoy this month's internet favorites.

I can't believe I'm admitting this, but I bought a ridiculously expensive hairbrush and I can't stop talking about it. Since having babies, my hair has changed (dry, but oily...who knew that could be a thing?) and this has been a game-changer.

I received a sample of this shampoo and quickly ordered a full-size bottle. It's so refreshing, but not at all drying.

Margaritas are my official drink of summer, so you better believe I’ll be trying this recipe.

But before I do that, I’m hitting a diet reset because vacation was a little indulgent to say that least. Stay tuned for my review in the coming weeks.

I’ve been feeling “the ache” so much lately. Do you get this? Does it ever really go away?

The only podcast I've listened to more than once.

Finally, this article is an important and real-life look at the lingering effects of the border crisis. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Bon Voyage

Do you ever see a quote floating around the internet and it is what you need to hear at that exact moment? About two weeks ago, I came across this Tony Robbin's quote:

"Where attention goes, energy flows."

I've been thinking about it ever since. I don't have anything particularly enlightening to say about it right now; only that it has me thinking about negativity and gossip, happiness and goals, and how we manifest so much in our lives. I need to be more mindful of where I'm focusing my attention. 

What quotes have impacted you in this way?

In other news, I'm taking a two-week break to travel, spend time with family, and attend a (very exciting) wedding. I’ll be back soon and full of inspiration to share. In the meantime, you can follow me along here, or check out my ever-changing resources page. Happy summer!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Be a bridge

The other morning, I was making small talk with the two women who clean our house. They are hardworking ladies trying to launch a business in hopes of gaining financial freedom. I couldn't help but think about our interaction the rest of the afternoon. How is it that I sometimes feel a shared life with them, more so than with my own neighbors?

It's a strange feeling to grow up fighting to make something of your life when the odds are stacked against you, and then to be on the other side. Does your new life ever really feel like "home"? I no longer belong in my old life, but sometimes I feel like a fish out of water in this one. Don't get me wrong, I love this life and I'm so proud of my family. I wouldn't want things any other way. But I am learning to live without the nagging feeling that I must be in a constant state of stress, and instead find peace and contentment in this wonderful, yet imperfect fit. I've often read such transitions can be insolating and lonely, but I don't see it that way.

What some might see as loneliness or the sense of not belonging is actually a bridge. In my case, it's a bridge between struggle and prosperity. But it becomes a bridge between people; two groups that are never meant to understand what it's like to be in the other's shoes. It's the ultimate way to understand both worlds and have deep empathy for their inherent issues simultaneously.

There are so many opportunities in life to be a bridge.

Maybe you suffered a period of infertility before having a baby and can empathize with the feelings of uncertainty and desperation that come with longing to be a mother, but also the hardships of motherhood? Maybe you were living your best life for years but suffered a loss and are now finding your footing in this new, changed life? Maybe you worked tirelessly as an employee for years and now you're the boss?

Your experiences are as unique are you; and only you have the power to bring them, and people, together. And there is nothing more rewarding than bridging the gap between people and having meaningful human connection. So let's go out into the world and build our bridge.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Organizing 101

A couple weeks ago, I had a hilarious text message exchange with my mom that was along the lines of, "Help me, I can't get organized. How did you learn?" And yes, it's true we lost a puppy under a pile of laundry. And yes, my brother's pet snake escaped and we found it a year later, still alive, in his disastrous closet.

But it might surprise you to learn I was not organized either. I cringe now, but I definitely slept on a pile of dirty laundry in my college dorm room more than once.

It wasn't until I moved into my own tiny, closet-less apartment after college that I had to acknowledge my mess; there's no one else to blame, or clean up for that matter, when you live alone. As our family grew and we moved more times than I can count, being organized became a necessity. Here are my tried-and-true tips for every justification under the sun (and trust me, I've used them all):

"I need this shirt/kitchen gadget/book/picture frame/etc." No, actually you don't. Don't dilute the things you love with more things. I have a great pair of dark wash skinny jeans that I reach for often. It goes without saying that there is no reason to buy a second pair of a similar style because I'll always choose my favorite. Yet we're all guilty of buying multiples of things we already own (I'm talking to you, striped shirts). My second rule of thumb (to a minimalist closet) is if it doesn't coordinate with at least two items I already own, I skip it. Don't buy things that require buying more things!

In other areas of your home, don't buy single purpose items like an egg slicer or popsicle molds. Are those fun and convenient? Sure. But ultimately you have to store all those things. I like mixing bowls that double as tupperware or work as serving dishes. I'll pay a little extra for the bike trailer that doubles as a jogging stroller rather than purchase two separate items down the line. And borrow from a friend if you only need to use something once or twice. Be realistic about how much storage space you have and limit your belongings accordingly. Organization is just easier when you have less things.

"It is a gift/sentimental." As we age, we get sentimental about our things, often keeping them long after they've served their purpose. Is there another way to honor the memory? I have my grandmother's cookbook. Rather than keep the book, I plan to frame and display one recipe I remember her making as a child and pass the book on. And with the exception of a couple pieces per year, I don't save my children's artwork. Instead, I take pictures of all their work, recycle the originals, and make a small book that we page through often. I love honoring a memory in ways that are accessible or visible daily. Don't be tempted to keep things because you have been keeping them; only keep those things that bring you immense happiness.

"I don't have time." Do you know what takes time? Running around trying to find car keys when you're supposed to be somewhere. We've all been there! So put those keys back in your purse as soon as you walk in the door, put the spoons in their place in the drawer, open mail as soon as you bring it in, wash all the fruits and vegetables before you put them in the refrigerator. And be efficient with your time. Don't walk upstairs empty-handed if you can take that toy/folded laundry/hair bow with you. Do it now to save yourself time later.

"I don't know where to start." Do you have a closet that empties every time you open the door? Start there. Do you have an overflowing tupperware drawer? Start there. The point is, start somewhere. Organize the closet and buy bins to store like supplies if needed. Throw away tupperware without lids. Start with a single area that irritates you daily and I dare you not to want to keep going.

"I don't have a place for this vase/kitchen utensil/bill/etc." Every single item must have a home - the remote control, extra blankets, toys (so many toys). Get bins or vacuum bags or a label maker or whatever you need to do to create a clear place for your things. Every time you're done using said item, put it back in it's home. It's equally important to teach other members of your household to do the same. It may be your job to establish the "home" and the process, but one person can't be responsible for keeping the entire family's things organized. Organization is a team effort.

"How often do I need to do this?" If you're following the above tips, you're doing a little every day. If items are finding their way "home" after being used, a complete clean-out is rarely necessary. But every season, I have to go through closets. I used to get overwhelmed with the idea because I thought I needed to sell items or find appropriate homes for them. So much so, I would avoid doing it altogether. Cleaning closets is hard enough, so at this stage of my life, it's okay to throw things away (and let's be honest, most of those kid clothes are stained anyway) or donate those that can be reused. There's no need to overcomplicate things.

Do you consider yourself organized? Add your tips or tricks below!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

A guide to the summer skin according to an expert

If I’m indulging in some much needed self-care, there’s a good chance you’ll find me at the little brick house in downtown Whitefish Bay. Located near the corner of Lake Drive and Silver Spring, High Brow Waxing Boutique is group of talented estheticians offering everything from lash lifts to facials to waxing, of course. Stefanie Corbett is the fierce lady and skin authority behind this local, woman-owned business.

When she’s not bestowing radiant skin facials and pain-free waxes on clients, you can find her whipping up scrubs and bath salts as part of her second business, Haven & Blythe. Yes, this woman is a powerhouse! And today she is discussing everything we need to know to achieve a summer glow.

You’ve been in the beauty industry for nearly 20 years. What drew you to this profession? How have things changed?

I was drawn to esthetics because of my love for makeup. Once I began my course work at the Institute of Beauty and Wellness, I fell in love with all things skin care! Having the ability to improve a someone's confidence through a wax or working through skin care challenges is incredibly rewarding.

In my opinion, things have changed quite a bit. Clients want to see more technology included in their treatments, while maintaining natural and pure ingredients. We’re seeing more lasers, microneedling, and machines offering non-surgical solutions. I think it's great!

You’re a long-time fan of Yon-Ka Paris Skin Care at High Brow. What do you love about this product line?

Yon-Ka has been a pioneer in skincare for 6o years! They are by far the most customized line I have come across in all my years as an esthetician. For example, they have over 30 moisturizers alone; each one providing the exact treatment promised. I find that so rare; a line that is so tailored to every unique skin type, and truly works!

You’re quickly approaching your first wedding anniversary. Congratulations! Do you have any tips for brides, or guests, who want to look natural and luminious for the event?

It's all about the facial. Don’t wait until the month of your wedding to treat yourself. Let your esthetician work their magic for at least 6 months prior and the glow will show.

Speaking of facials, tell us about your proprietary derma-renew facial?

It's the ultimate facial! It starts with dermaplanning exfoliation, followed by a Yon-Ka brightening peel, and finished with a hydrating Yon-Ka Excellence Code Sheet Masque. Because the results are immediate and long-lasting, it has quickly become our most popular facial.

Let's say you’re going on a summer getaway, what 1-2 products do you pack?

That’s tough! SPF is a must in the sun. Our time in the sun now will be reflected on our skin over the next 20 years, so layer on the SPF! I’d also grab my Yon-Ka Excellence Code Masque. I love this mask because it's simple but action-packed. It's applied at night, in place of a moisturizer and when you wake, your skin is radiant, hydrated, and firm.

Do you have a favorite sunscreen brand?

Well, my love for Yon-Ka runs deep! In additional to being paraben-free, their sunscreen also loaded with vitamins A, E, and B5 so you're getting the benefits of a treatment cream in each application. I love that! In terms of a body SPF, I love La Roche Posay Anthelios because it's super lightweight and great for all skin types.

I’ve asked you many times, but let’s settle this once and for all. What is the correct order to apply skin care products?

There's a little wiggle room to this one, as everyone has their preference, but I apply in this order:
cleanse, tone, eye/lip cream, serum, moisturize, and finally, SPF.

And don’t forget, your exfoliants and masks should be applied 1-2 times per week to maintain healthy skin!

What is the one thing everyone can do to maintain healthy summer skin?

Drink your water! The majority of skincare challenges are a reflection of what you’re putting in your body. If you’re not staying hydrated, your skin will show it by looking dull, dry, and even more aged – GASP! So drink up, generally speaking 8-10 glasses of water per day is best to maintain the summer glow we're looking for!

Thank you so much, Stefanie!

High Brow Waxing Boutique is generously offering readers 10% off a single service this summer when you mention this site! Yesss! I recommend the derma-renew facial (or really, any of their facials), or a lash tint/lift (perfect for those summer months when you'd like to forgo eye makeup, but you still want to look alive). Go get your glow on!
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