There's nothing better than curling up with a cup of tea and a good book on a cold winter day. Or, if you're like me and have an hour long subway commute, a good book can (somewhat) transport you from the crowds of people all around you. Check out the books that have been keeping me sane this winter! PS - If you have any recommendations, leave them in the comments below. PPS - If you don't use Goodreads yet, download it to your phone! It's a great app that lets you track your reading progress (it's so satisfying to see what percentage of the way through a book you are) and see what your friends are reading. It's also a great way to keep an archive of books you've read and a list of books you want to read next. Happy reading!!
Arcadia by Lauren Groff
I just finished this book and it was amazing! It's about a boy who grows up on a hippie commune in upstate New York, but eventually moves to New York City and is forced to transition into normal society. The book is beautifully written and full of rich details, and I related to the main character, Bit, in many ways. It's possible I may have teared up on the subway while reading this. The story makes you think about modern life and what's really important. It tackles everything from depression and grief to finding love and purpose. Such a good read!
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
This book is so good, I was reading it on my subway commute and rode five stops too far before I realized I had forgotten to get off. It's a fantasy novel about a magical underground world in London and an everyday man who gets sucked into it. This book is an amazing escape full of suspense and mystery that really makes you think. I didn't want it to end!
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
I don't want to give anything away, but this was a beautiful coming-of-age story about a person who was born different from everyone else, and the struggle they went through to find their identity and embrace who they were. It covers everything from their ancestors' lives in Greece to their childhood in Detroit and their modern day life in Europe. The story really spans over a century. It's full of detail and history and takes a while to read, but the story is incredible and makes you see things from a unique perspective. PS - It also won a Pulitzer Prize!
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
This book was definitely a pageturner I couldn't put down. It follows the life of a woman in 19th century China, from her childhood and her foot binding, to her arranged marriage and life with her husband. It's a sweet, sad, thought-provoking story about friendship, trust, strength, and womanhood. I learned so much about the history of the treatment of women in China that I hadn't known before! And it really reminded me how important it is that women stick together and support one another.
<3 HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY <3
Valentine's Day... love it or hate it (or think that it's cheesy), it's still a nice day to show the people around you how much you appreciate them - and a great excuse to eat chocolates. I combined both with this super simple V-Day craft! These little candy-filled treats are quick to put together and will be the perfect sweet surprise to give to your family, friends, coworkers, and significant other. Check out how I made them below, and keep spreading the love!! XOXO
Supplies You'll Need:
-Small take-out style boxes (I found them at Michael's)
-A heart shaped stamp and an XOXO stamp (I found mine at PaperSource)
-a red stamp pad
-red and pink string (I found mine at PaperSource)
-kraft paper blank gift tags
-candy (I used Valentine colored kisses, m&m's, and peppermint patties)
1) Carefully stamp hearts all over your take-out boxes. Note: to stabilize the boxes I placed my hand inside while stamping.
2. Once your boxes are covered, set them aside and let them dry.
3. While your boxes dry, decorate the gift tags with your XOXO stamp (or any other stamp you'd like) on one side and a personal Valentine message on the other. I wrote, "Sweetest wishes for a Happy Valentine's Day!"
4) Fill up each box with an assortment of candy and then close them up!
5) Use the colored string to attach the gift tags to the handles of each box (I cut equal lengths of both colors, red and pink, and used them to tie up the tags).
6) All done! Now share them with the people you love :)
I'm normally more of a bagel or omelette person, but on some weekend mornings I wake up with crazy cravings for sweet breakfast foods... donuts, cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip pancakes, etc. Sadly for me (but lucky for my waistline) it's a bit of a journey to get from our apartment to somewhere that sells these things, so I usually go without. But recently, I was browsing Pinterest and came across a smoothie recipe that's supposed to taste like cinnamon rolls. So, I decided to give it a try. I modified the recipe a bit to avoid added sugars and it tastes delicious!! (Disclaimer: Okayyy... it doesn't taste exactly like a cinnamon roll but it's a yummy and nutritious alternative.) Check out how to make it below. Let me know what you think!!
-1 cup vanilla almond milk (I used unsweetened)
-a large scoop of plain greek yogurt (about 1/2 a cup)
-1 ripe banana
-4 pitted medjool dates
-1/4 cup of old-fashioned oats
-1/4 tsp cinnamon
1) Dump all ingredients into blender (I use a NutriBullet).
2) Blend for about 2 minutes, or until the smoothie has a smooth consistency.
3) Pour into glasses, sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon and swirl with a spoon. Enjoy!!
Happy Friday/Groundhog Day! Since the groundhog saw his shadow (boo!!).... does anyone else get the mid-winter blah's?! I don't know about you but around this time each year my skin is dry and pale, my hair is dark and limp, and I start to miss my summertime glow. Sooo, for today's Friday Fix I'm sharing some of the natural beauty products I'm loving right now. They've been saving my skin and hair and keeping me feeling pampered this winter! Enjoy the weekend and take care of yourselves! Xoxo
SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Body Wash
I love this body wash! It's made of natural ingredients and feels so soft on my skin. Plus I love the subtle scent. It has shea butter, which softens the skin, frankincense and myrrh extract, which just sounds cool but also is anti-inflammatory and heals skin, and coconut oil, which is firming. Since I've started using this body wash my skin has felt a lot less dried out. BONUS: it's on sale right now at Target. Wahoo!
Available at Target, $8.10 SALE
Burt's Bees Micellar Water
For the longest time, I've been using those Neutrogena face wipes to remove my makeup at the end of the day. But over the summer my mom introduced me to micellar water and it was amazing!! It took my makeup off so smoothly - no tugging required, like with the wipes. But I was hesitant to use it because I wasn't sure of the ingredients. That's why I was so excited when Burt's Bees released this new Micellar Water. Its ingredients are 99.5% natural, which makes me feel good, and it works so well! I love it! PS - if you like to use wipes, they also have a Burt's Bees Micellar Cleansing Towelettes.
Available at Target, $11.99
Carol's Daughter Black Vanilla Moisture and Shine Leave-In Conditioner
When you have a long, wavy mane like I do, you need A LOT of conditioner. This leave-in spray smells amazinggggg and I use it right after I get out of the shower, before I comb out my hair. It doesn't weigh my hair down but makes it a little easier to get the comb through all my tangles. And it has natural ingredients - no parabens or artificial colors. I really can't emphasize enough how yummy it smells!
Available at Target, $9.39
Maui Moisture Nourish & Moisture + Coconut Milk Shampoo for Dry Hair
My hair gets dry and staticky during the winter and I hate it. But this shampoo has helped to make my hair a lot more manageable. It smells great, feels good, and does the job! Plus it's made of yummy natural ingredients I can actually pronounce like coconut milk, guava oil and mango butter. BONUS - it's vegan and paraben-free.
Available at Target, $8.19
Kristin Ess Soft Shine Beach Wave Spray
This spray smells really good and doesn't feel crunchy or dry out my hair like a lot of other beach wave sprays. It goes on super soft and provides a little boost of shine to my waves. It's meant to be used after you air dry or curl your hair (not before you dry like many other wave sprays). It's a nice change from the traditional salty beach wave sprays I've tried - just what my dry winter hair needs.
Available at Target, $14
SheaMoisture Dragons Blood & Coffee Cherry Rebound & Revive Body Lotion
This body lotion has a soft, subtle scent that I love and it softens my skin without feeling greasy or taking forever to sink in. I also love that it has a spray nozzle at the top - it makes it so much easier to apply after my shower. Plus it's sulfate and paraben free!! Can't get enough of this stuff.
Available at Ulta, $10.99
My name is Abby Formella and I'm a 26 year-old working girl living in the lovely borough of Brooklyn, New York.