7 comfort travel essentials

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Ease the stress of travel with these packable items

I feel like I’ve been writing a lot about travel lately. Perhaps it’s because I’ve unwittingly taken on a bi-coastal lifestyle since April, when wedding season started. My most recent East Coast jaunt, which is still in progress, has included multiple ferries, planes and automobiles. I’m actually on my fourth ferry ride of the trip as I write this post, leaving picturesque Martha’s Vineyard and headed toward the Cape, where I’ll wrap up the last few days of my vacation with family!

I’m a creature of habit, and while I love to travel, it’s stressful to be thrown out of my daily routine. To ease the stress, I pack strategically. You’ve already seen my list of must-have inflight items for travel, but here are my overnight travel essentials. These are the items that help me feel as comfortable as if I’m at home, even if I’m hopping from B&B to relatives house to hotel every other night.

Check them out below….

1. BKR Glass Water Bottle - I drink a lot of water, and when I can carry it with me in a BKR I don’t have to worry about locating a water fountain or finding somewhere to buy a bottle.

2. Kindle Paperwhite with Dylan’s Candy Bar Kindle Cover - Nothing helps me wind down for bed like a great book. I love the Kindle Paperwhite because it’s lit from within so you can read in bright light on the beach or late into the night without disturbing your neighbor.

3. Tempur-Pedic Neck Pillow - I’ve had a bad neck for as long as I can remember, and nothing sets it on a downward spiral like a bad mattress or unfamiliar pillow. I stick this baby in my suitcase whenever I travel to avoid a vacation filled with more muscle spasms than fun.

4. Advil brand Ibuprofin - In the case of a bad mattress (or too much wine , as is inclined to happen on vacation) these pain killers come in handy.

5. Holly Go Lightly Sleepmask - when I’m on the move, I try to sneak in sleep wherever I can fit it, even if it’s on an airplane in the middle of the day. With this mask I can tune out the light and distractions and catch some recharging Z’s any time of day. Also, it’s super cute.

6. Chia Bar Snacks - traveling is taxing, and there’s not always healthy snacks to reenergize with. I love this bar because it fits easily into my purse and gives me the perfect boost of energy with only 100 calories.

7. Sole Society Duffel Bag - This faux-leather duffle bag fits a weekend worth of ensembles plus all the aforementioned items with aplomb.

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3 Steps to flawless makeup foundation

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The relationship you have with your foundation should be a committed, long term partnership.

Mascaras come and go, bronzers entice you with May to December romances, and, sure, you may step out with a wild eyeliner every once in a while, but foundation is the product you bring home to mom.

If skin is the starting point for any beauty look, then foundation is, well, the foundation for every makeup look. (Don’t miss my skincare essentials and vitamins for healthy skin) More broadly speaking, the foundation or base of your makeup also includes concealer and setting powder. Together, these three products should give you a clean, naturally flawless complexion. You then build on top of this base with colorful products. You can go to town with dramatic smoky eyes and statement lips and sculpted cheekbones–or simply add mascara and blush.

Here are my tips for applying a makeup base along with my favorite foundational beauty products, chosen because they consistently create natural, dewy, flawless coverage.

Step 1

Sweep a coat of foundation over clean, moisturized skin using a foundation brush.

giorgio armani lasting silk foundation

  • My Everyday Foundation Pick: Armani Lasting Silk Foundation Compactprovides natural looking sheer to medium coverage, perfect for everyday. I’ll put it on with a damp Beauty Blender sponge for sheer, natural looking coverage or apply with a foundation brush for normal-medium coverage. The compact is easy to put in my purse, and I’ll often apply additional layers throughout the day as needed.  

Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

  • My Formal Foundation Pick: Armani Luminous Silk when I want a flawless look for evening, a gala, wedding, etc., I’ll wear this foundation instead of the other foundation or in addition too–Armani Beauty products are made for layering, so you can wear these together for extra, long-lasting coverage. I generally apply with a foundation brush and then blend with the beauty blender to get rid of any creases. Armani Luminous Silk has been a favorite makeup artist and celebrity foundation for years and years; you’ll see it used on many magazine covers.

Step 2

Dab concealer wherever you need more coverage, such as under your eyes, around your nose and on blemishes.

amazing cosmetics amazing concealer

  • My Concealer Pick: Amazing Cosmetics Amazing Concealer is super duper pigmented, so you only need a tiny bit. It brightens and covers completely, and it’s water-resistant! It’s seriously good stuff. I’ll put a tiny bit on my finger tip, so it warms up and then dab it where needed. Then I’ll blend the concealer in with a beauty blender sponge.

Step 3

Set the look with a dusting of light-diffusing, mattifying, translucent setting powder.

makeup forever hd microfinish powder

  • My Finishing Powder Pick: Make Up Forever HD Microfinish Powder. I love this product. I’ve been using it for years. It’s translucent and sets your makeup and slightly mattifies while making pores disappear by putting translucent, light-diffusing particles across your skin, so your complexion looks soft-touched and flawless. 
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The ultimate bridesmaid dress: Annabelle by Jenny Yoo for BHLDN

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bridesmaid dress - annabelle dress bhldnOne Dress. Infinite possibilities. Happy Bridesmaids.

I recently discovered BHLDN. Where was this site when I was planning my wedding?! From the big ticket items to the accent pieces you would otherwise be running to a dozen specialty stores to find, it has everything. Literally.

While browsing the site, I stumbled upon the Annabelle by Jenny Yoo–or, as I like to refer to it, the “ultimate bridesmaid dress.” The $260 price seems steep–until you look more closely at this aisle-sweeping, bias-cut, tulle frock. The skirt features two “ties” of fabric that can be pulled up over the bodice to create more than a dozen necklines.

One and done (tied a million different ways)

A single garment hasn’t flattered so many body types since The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants! Ah, yes, Annabelle is a wondrous gown! Sometimes, she’s is sassy and one-shouldered, other times she’s sexy and strapless. You can dress her up for an elegant evening affair or down for romantic beach bash.

Hm, Annabelle? With so many mercurial mood changes and her penchant for being tied up, this frock is starting to sound more like Anastasia (née Steele)!

Between the eight color options and endless necklines variations, it’s impossible to get bored with Annabelle! Could this actually be a dress that your bridesmaids will really truly wear again? I think yes!

Mosey on over to BHLDN for more Annabelle styling tips or to purchase the dress.

The criss-cross neck is my favorite! How would you wear Annabelle?

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I tackle Barry’s Bootcamp San Francisco – and conquer a hangover

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I enter Barry’s Bootcamp reluctantly and exit a toned Barrliever

It’s 10:30 p.m. Friday night. I’m at the Brixton catching up with friends over my fourth drink in as many hours when suddenly a light bulb goes off in my head: I signed up for Barry’s Bootcamp tomorrow morning. Expletives float in my wake as I run to the bar to close my tab and out to the curb to catch an Uber home. It’s going to be a rough morning.

Fast forward ten hours. I’m downing coconut water and ibuprofen in a vain attempt to silence the throbbing in my skull (these are the rare occasions where I wish I was 22 again as to be able drink hangover free) and mentally psyching myself up for this work out.

Thinking it will my nerves will calm if I know what to anticipate—preparation is, after all, the antidote to anxiety—I head to their website for some info on class. My curiosity is met on the homepage by a throng of aggressively fit men and women with skintight black leggings, conspicuously absent shirts and rippling abdominal muscles. Their power poses (and tribal armband tattoos) communicate virility and their pouts are nothing less than Blue Steel.

Clearly, I’m not about to enter the “judgment free zone” of Planet Fitness, where there are no dumbbells above 75 lbs and a Bay Area woman was infamously asked by management to cover up because her toned bod was “intimidating” other members.

Hollywood’s favorite workout comes North

Barry’s Bootcamp, I read, is a staple in Hollywood, where it’s so beloved that it was part of a storyline on HBO’s Entourage and is frequented by the likes of Jessica Biel and Jake Gyllenhaal. Allure magazine named it the “best celebrity workout” and a cover of Shape magazine with a hand signed “thank you” from cover girl Kim Kardashian is featured prominently on the website. All this high profile love is very well and good, but I’m still unclear about what the class actually entails, and I’m growing increasingly  leery of the term “bootcamp.”

I take a deep breath, pull on my Lulus, pour my coffee into a to-go mug and drive to SOMA, where Barry’s Bootcamp San Francisco opened in May. It’s just a block from AT&T Park, but there isn’t a game, so I’m able to find street parking easily.

I drag myself through the threshold of the brand new, bustling studio. As one class filters out and the next checks in, the lobby is filled with the kind of bubbly camaraderie built on sweat and endorphins. I get the feeling there are a lot of regulars around me who, like those at Soul Cycle or CrossFit , would say they were “obsessed” if asked how they like Barry’s Bootcamp.

I store my belongings in a keyless locker and check out the shower-equipped ladies locker room before heading to class.

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The fitness studio is hot, the music is thumping and the lights are low and moody. My head spins. Treadmills line the back wall and the front of the room is full of aerobics steps with a variety of hand weights and balls. Men and women filter in,  dividing themselves evenly among the apparatus. I’m trying hard to ignore my nausea and focus on the words of the instructor who is already buoying us up for the start of class with animated reminders of why we came here today and how hard we’re going to work to improve ourselves during this hour. I soak up her encouragement. I need all the help I can get.

From the spins to the sweats to the sweet endorphins

Class begins with a bang of Beyoncé. The lights soar up, flashing disco-style as the instructor issues two sets of instructions; one to those warming up on the treadmills and the other to those of us, like myself, who have started on the floor. She then proceeds to talk us through an approximately 7-minute set.

The room is steamy by the time we switch so that “treaders” are now on the floor and I’m on a treadmill. “Don’t throw up. Don’t throw up,” I silently implore myself as the treadmill begins to pick up speed. After 60 seconds spring at 8.0 speed, I break into a heavy sweat. It’s restorative. The endorphins have overtaken the ache in my head.

barry's bootcamp San Francisco review

I fit in after just one class!

By the time we complete the first floor-treadmill rotation, I’m no longer feeling sick. By the time we finish the second, I’m sweating hard and feeling good (maybe I was thirsty from sweating out all the toxins from the night before, but I had to refill my water bottle mid class) and by the time we start the final rotation, I’m mentally scanning my schedule to find a time I can come back.

Constantly switching between anaerobic strength training on the floor and aerobic cardiovascular work on the treadmill is both effective and distracting, which makes time fly. Energy stays up throughout class, crescendoing at the end of each set with a high-intensity energy sprint accompanied by an uptick in music and increased flashing of the lights.

I appreciate how directed the treadmill work is. The choreographed incline and speed changes keep even a non-runner like me engaged and challenged. On the floor, the exercises multi-task by working several body planes at once–squats with hammer curls, lunges with side twists. We’re encouraged to pick up the heaviest weights we can handle, which makes sense for those who want to build muscle mass, but, since I want to build long lean muscle for a more dancerly bod, I stick with light to medium weights.

As we wind down after the final set, I stretch out my burning hamstrings and reflect on the word “bootcamp.” From I can tell, the term refers only to the militant-like insistence that each participant have fun and work hard. There was none of the angry yelling or singling out I feared. It was completely acceptable to slow down and catch your breath as necessary during class.

Would I do Barry’s Bootcamp again? Absolutely!

It’s the perfect way to mix up my regular fitness routine and challenge myself once a week–or, whenever I need to combat a hangover.

The Barry’s Bootcamp Breakdown

Pros: The treadmill was surprisingly fun and provided a level of cardio that’s hard to achieve outside of spin class. The comprehensive mix of cardio and strength training is a rare blend and made for a super effective workout. Constantly switching apparatus made the hour-long class fly by, and I enjoyed the intensely encouraging style of instruction.

Cons: The SOMA location is geographically undesirable from my neighborhood, and the parking situation is undoubtedly sticky during the week and impossible when there’s a Giant’s game. The club like atmosphere inside the fitness studio was mostly a pro, but, at times, it had the same drawbacks of being in an actual club; the music could reach  ear-piercing levels and the room was hot and sticky.

Verdict: This a fun yet challenging, fast-paced workout that I’m sure to try again.  I enjoyed the atmosphere and loved the combo of cardio and strength training. It seems to build a more jacked physique than I aspire to, so I wouldn’t make it my regular workout, but I would throw it in the mix for a fun challenge.

Cost: single class $3o, less with package

Difficulty level: 8/10

Barry’s Bootcamp San Francisco offers classes multiple times a day at 236 King Street

Barry Bootcamp in Irvine. Foto: Thomas Engstrom

 

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Seaside style for your tabletop

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A long island fete inspires nautical chic decor

It’s a short week here in San Francisco as I gear up to head East on Wednesday for (you guessed it) a wedding. I’m particularly excited about this Long Island affair–located in Smithtown, a charming bayside village half way between the city and the Hamptons–as it is my big cousin’s wedding. I have the privilege of being a co-Maid of Honor!

As I geared up for the nuptials and plan out my wardrobe for the week (one perk of being a bridesmaid is that I know exactly what I’m wearing for the big event), I found myself channeling vintage Long Island charm. This sweet spot of entertaining style is located somewhere between Gatsby’s East Egg of yore and Kourtney & Khloe Take the Hamptons of E! TV. From tactile touches, like linen table runners and sailor’s rope napkin rings, to whimsical mermaid statues and animated marine dishes, this set of nautical entertaining pieces presents a playful take on Long Island’s classic seaside style.

For more vintage LI inspiration like, check out this gallery from Town & Country.

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Stealing My Favorite Salad from The Grove

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the grove - berkeley bowl salad - the grove berkeley bowl salad - berkeley bowl salad recipe

A DIY version of my favorite takeout salad

Chris and I are on our way home. It’s late. We’ve had a couple of glasses of wine and now we’re hungry, but too tired to cook. I refuse to get a frozen pizza from the corner store.

..and Action

“Where should we get takeout from?”

“Want to just pick something up from the Grove? I could really go for a Berkeley Bowl salad….”

This scenario plays out at least once a week. Partially because we live near The Grove on Fillmore and mostly because I’m obsessed with The Grove’s Berkeley Bowl Salad. It’s so fresh and healthy that you don’t feel gross eating it before bed, but tasty enough you don’t notice there’s no cheese or meat on it (although you could easily add grilled chicken for extra protein).

I was ordering it so often that it became easier for me to figure out to make the salad at home. Luckily, the recipe is super duper easy. Take a look below to see how to create this simply delicious meal yourself!

the grove - berkeley bowl salad - the grove berkeley bowl salad - berkeley bowl salad recipe

Interpretation of The Grove’s Berkeley Bowl Salad

INGREDIENTS
baby spring mix
chopped tomatoes
alpha alpha sprouts
chickpeas
sliced avocados
sliced cucumber
shaved carrots
red onions (optional, I always skip this)
Dill buttermilk dressing (I make a healthier version by mixing chopped fresh dill, chopped chalets, non-fat greek yogurt, olive oil and cider vinegar or white wine vinegar with salt and pepper to taste)

PREPARATION
Mix ingredients together, dress lightly and serve

the grove - berkeley bowl salad - the grove berkeley bowl salad - Berkeley bowl salad recipe the grove - berkeley bowl salad - the grove berkeley bowl salad - berkeley bowl salad recipe the grove - berkeley bowl salad - the grove berkeley bowl salad - berkeley bowl salad recipe

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