Full House

bed2I’m moving into a new place very soon and, surprise surprise, I’m being a little indecisive about what I want the final product to look like. My main concern is decorating my bedroom, but there still aren’t enough Pinterest home decor boards in the world to help me hone my vision. One thing I do know is how I want my space to feel: calm, serene and balanced. Every time I ask for Tory’s help she just tells me to look into Feng Shui followed by a quick disclaimer: “Though I really don’t know anything about it..” Well what do we when we don’t know about an ancient Chinese art that dates back thousands of years? We educate ourselves.

Feng Shui is all about using energy flow and environmental factors, or “ch’i”, with the understanding that your outer surroundings affect the course of your life whether it’s your relationship, career or health. When translating Feng Shui practices to the home, the goal is to create an environment that is in harmony with your energy. Feng Shui (literally meaning “wind and water”) teaches you how to guide the energy of everything you bring into your home (even inanimate objects) and let it flow freely. I quickly learned that my goal of creating a balanced room is exactly what the principles of Feng Shui intend for your space. Here are the Feng Shui bedroom tips I’m focusing on for my big move:

Clean house, literally – There is no sense in using the principles of Feng Shui when your home (or room) is cluttered. Remove all unwanted and necessary items from the space before moving forward with a design plan.

Head of the bed – The head of the bed should be on wall farthest from the door but not directly across from it. When your feet are pointed directly out the door this is known as the “coffin position” because it’s how the dead are removed from China. I wish I was kidding.

The rest of the bed – Don’t store anything below it. It sends out energy and does not allow the ch’i to flow under and around the bed while you sleep. The bedroom is a private space and needs to be protected.

Toss the television – It’s not ideal to bring a public thing, like a TV, into a bedroom as it disrupts the energy. If you must have one, hide it in a cabinet to keep it from being a focal point.

Balance comes from symmetry – The calm Feng Shui feel comes from a combination of masculine and feminine, the safety and comfort of soft linens and a sturdy headboard, and night stands and lamps that frame and protect the bed.

Odds and ends – Place the shoes in your closet facing out, it channels progress. Black tourmaline discharges negative energy and rose quartz vibrates your heart chakra. Bring fresh flowers in whenever possible. When you get to the end of this tutorial a little skeptical and not sure where to start…go into your room, close your eyes and if you feel good, you’re probably doing something right.

 (Sources 1, 2, 3 – Image via Crush Cul de Sac)


PSA: Jules Smith Americana Choker


Consider this your public shopping announcement – we thought why share these deals with each other and not let you guys in on the fun? In the first of hopefully many we present to you: this gem of a choker necklace. We’ve had our eyes on them and admired many but we were waiting for the price to be right. This Jules Smith Americana Choker is, in ours eyes, perfect. A simple gold design with a slight curve for a cool twist. Our favorite part: it has an open back so it can be worn with the opening either way (we love dual-purposed items).

(Image via)

Make It Count


About two months ago I was perusing Instagram and came across an invitation for a conversation being hosted by some consultants of BEAUTYCOUNTER at a store in NYC. I recalled seeing the name as well as gold embossed bottles numbered 1, 2, and 3 popping up around the green beauty blog circuit and visited the website. The three pillars that stuck out to me instantly were that it is chic, safe,  and effective. Check, check, check. I decided to stop by the event and see what it was all about. I immediately was greeted by one of the most welcoming, energetic and friendly people I have ever met: Annie Sullivan. She told me about why she joined the team and after some chatting we found out that we live in the same town! We instantly bonded and have developed a great friendship (she was even kind enough to include Kerry and I on her blog as featured fabulous females!) Not long after Annie graciously hand delivered a sample kit to my door I was hooked. I  have to admit that I am nothing short of obsessed with this brand and this movement.

Fast forward to last Thursday, Annie informed me that the CEO Gregg Renfrew was going to be speaking at an event two blocks from my house. Even though I already knew quite a lot about the brand, I wanted to meet this inspiring woman I had read all about. Gregg Renfrew is one of the most chic and savvy businesswomen I have ever encountered. She was a consultant to Jessica Alba for the starting of The Honest Company (another one of our favorites!) Looking like she breezed in right out of a J. Crew catalog with an all black ensemble and a white blazer draped over her shoulders, she instantly captivated the room. It began with this video:

The Truth Is Inside

Gregg mentioned that she noticed women were concerned with eating healthy and organic and how much they were exercising but there was a missing piece of the puzzle: they were all knowingly putting up to 12 beauty products a day (containing hundreds of chemicals) onto {ergo into} their bodies and not thinking twice about it. Gregg learned that “1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women in the US will be diagnosed with cancer; our children’s generation is the first that is sicker and may die younger than their parents.” The startling facts continued with: the U.S has only banned 11 total ingredients in cosmetics (compared to the more than 1,400 banned in Europe) and the last law passed for cosmetics was in 1938. How do you spell scary? Working directly with celebrity makeup artist Christy Coleman and the EWG (you know why we love this) over the course of four years they developed what has now provided over 250,000 safe products across the U.S. Gregg stressed how they set out to make products that were safe but also something that made women feel sexy and beautiful as opposed to the hemp container products found in Whole Foods. They ultimately chose to sell the brand through consultants because of the belief that the sharing of important information was equally as vital and getting these products out there. It couldn’t be sold in brick and mortar locations because the story behind it was crucial in the exchange of goods. The line is also available via e-commerce as Gregg recognized the obvious necessity of this in our digital age (each product on the site is accompanied by its EWG rating and a surplus of knowledge.) My current favorites include: the Lustro Face Oil 1, Gentle Exfoliator Polishing Cream, The Nourishing Cleansing Balm and the newly released Sunscreen that was just chosen as one of  Goop’s top safe sunscreen picks. I encourage you to read about this incredible company’s mission and if you’re in the Long Island/New York City area contact Annie for information. Being someone whose appreciation for effective and clean products is growing everyday, I now consider Beautycounter a staple in my life and on my vanity.

(Image via Beautycounter)


Patriotic Duty

1-American-Beauty_Cover_132443320225.jpg_gallery_maxBy now we think you might understand our mutual penchant for wearing A.B.E.s (all black ensembles) in the colder months. It’s easy, classic, and allows you to repeat clothing without much notice. There’s definitely an art to the A.B.E. and we work all winter to master it. But in the warmer months, while we won’t be wearing as much black, you won’t necessarily find us wearing bright pops of color and wild patterns either. In keeping with the lean closet movement, snatching up those items would mean that our closet lacks the versatility and functionality we need when (hopefully) packing our bags almost every weekend to head out to some refreshing body of water. The solution = the all white ensemble. Not much makes up an all white ensemble and therein lies the beauty of the outfit. Ours most often consists of a crisp pair of white jeans and a light cotton top. No muss, no fuss.

As we come into the hottest part of the summer, the all white ensemble is our style prescription to you this 4th of July. We believe that it’s your duty in the US of A to employ the colors of our beautiful country and why shouldn’t you look fantastic while doing it. If you’re bold and want to take it one step further, throw on a red lip. Go wild! It’s a free country! And if people accuse you of lack of patriotism…do not go quietly into the night. Assure them that white on white is American chic at it’s finest.

(Image via Vogue)

Beauty Wellness Wisdom: Part II


The second half of the Beauty Wellness Wisdom event was a melange of tips and treatments from some of the leaders in the holistic beauty industry. I caught some of these visionary entrepreneurs speaking in the second session and spent the remainder of the afternoon doing what I do best…learning about products. First to speak was someone who I’ve read a lot about (here, here and here) and admire greatly: Dr. Pratima Raichur. She explained her approach on ayurvedic skincare and preached about how external beauty is a true reflection of what is going on internally. The note she finished her speech on that still rings in my mind when looking for a new product was “if you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.” Obviously not to be taken in the most literal sense, but if you aren’t comfortable enough with the ingredients in a product to ingest it, why would you apply it to your largest organ? I was hoping to be able to have a private consultation with Dr. Pratima but she was completely booked. I plan on making a visit to her spa for a treatment and to restock on my new favorite sunscreen.

What followed was one of the biggest highlights of my day. I had the pleasure of getting a makeover with Rose Marie Swift, makeup artist to Miranda Kerr, Gisele and many others and the genius behind Kerry and I’s obsession – RMS Beauty. I have been a huge fan and follower of Rose Marie for quite some time and was elated that I was able to spend some one-on-one time with her. She was quirky, kind and enthusiastically knowledgeable about all things makeup and green living. When I first sat in her chair she informed me in the nicest way possible that I was applying my bronzer/blush like a 1980s midwest flight attendant. She continued by showing me step by step how to apply her cult classics: uncoverup, lip to cheek, living luminizer and buriti bronzer to give myself a subtle and natural lift. First by starting with the uncoverup as a sheer, lighter foundation and under my eyes. Followed by the buriti bronzer “applied directly underneath the cheekbones starting in line at the outer crease of the eye and out and fanning upwards softly to create a contoured look.” Then the lip to cheek applied right on the apple of the cheeks and to absolutely not fan it outwards…as I was mistakenly doing before. And finally the living luminizer along the brow bones, along the bridge of the nose, at the highest points of the cheeks and the v of your lips to get the coveted glow. I highly recommend all of these products as I use them every day and love the way they look and feel. I find a lot of comfort in knowing that they are actually helping my skin as I wear them. (The main ingredient in the entire line is coconut oil – which I’ve expressed my feelings about in depth.)

I could easily pretend that after this day filled with an abundance of wisdom, holistic living principles and reflective exercises I turned into a completely green, calm and healthy yogi but that would be a lie…I had a donut and a green juice simultaneously the other morning while blasting Partition on the subway. But what stuck with me from this experience was the general concept of taking care of myself on all levels – physically, mentally and spiritually. You only have one body (and I was even given a few more inches than most) to look after…so do what you can, when you can, with your own best interest in mind. 

Beauty Wellness Wisdom: Part I

Beauty Wellness Wisdom at ABC Home - thenotepasser

A few weeks ago I attended Beauty, Wellness, Wisdom held at ABC Home. It was a day-long event celebrating holistic beauty, health, well-being, wisdom, and wonder. The morning opened with Lodro Rinzler, author of Walk Like a Buddha, leading us in how to set our intention for the day. This was different from the typical goal-setting I sometimes do in the morning (which typically involves a notepad filled with a long list of tasks that rarely gets done by the end of the day.) He mentioned how the moment we wake up in the morning, our minds race with a thousand things we plan to do, avoid, stress over, we immediately reach for our phones which further exacerbate these feelings, thereby setting a tone and a pace for the entire day. Lodro suggests: upon waking, not to hop right out of bed and get going nor to hit snooze and lay there pondering, but rather to sit on the edge of your bed and focus on your intention for how you want the day to unfold. On the days that I remember to do this, I feel a lot more centered and calm for the first half of the day, a time that can usually be plagued with anxiety and rushing.

Next came the first speaker, the very funny and charismatic Joe Cross, who wrote and directed “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead.” Three years ago Joe was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and weighed over 300 pounds. It was at that point that he decided to take action and stop “outsourcing” his health. He described outsourcing as putting his serious health issue in a stranger’s hands to solve, while taking no responsibility himself. Explaining that 70% of disease is based on lifestyle choices alone. There are two buckets for your health, he said: the unlucky bucket (filled with things you can’t do anything about unfortunately because they are beyond your control) and the insanity bucket (filled with damage you do to yourself that you have complete control over.) So you have decided to live your life a certain way and now having been sick you decide to “outsource your health to someone else.” One of the things Joe discussed that resonated with me was the “Tall Tree Analogy” meaning you climb up and look down at what you’ve been doing to yourself. How have you been treating your body and what has occurred as a result of that treatment? Utilizing that, Joe came to the conclusion that he needed to fast to eliminate all the toxins he had put in his body over time. Seeing as he only needed three things to survive: air, water, and food, he chose to eliminate meat (or “anything with a mother or a face” as he put it), and focus on plants, referring to them as “the connection for our success.” Because a true famine fast consists of only water, Joe came up with the idea of juicing all the fruits and vegetables as a way of outsourcing the digestion of the fiber and nutrients to the juicing machine, so he would only be drinking the liquid from them. He went on to do a 60 juice fast where he lost 100 pounds and cured his autoimmune disease to the point where he no longer needed medication for it. Joe travels across America trying to ‘build a community’ to help those in similar situations as his, emphasizing the importance of outside help to get through what can be considered withdrawal from t . He closed with a point that I think we are all subconsciously aware of but often ignore: that we cannot alter the environment we are in (the common distribution of processed foods available at every corner) therefore we must alter ourselves.

Finishing the morning session was the Mind Body Green Panel, with the founder Jason Wachob, Woodson Merrell (chairman of the department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center), and Seamus Mullen (a chef who uses food as a way to aid his Rheumatoid arthritis). All three enthusiastically analyzed the concept of treating the body like your own personal ecosystem. Talking about the microbiome, defined as “the ecological community of commensal symbiotic, and pathogenic microorganisms that literally share our body space”-I had to look up a few of those words to fully comprehend it myself. Basically  it’s where eastern and western medicine meet. All three panelists agreed on the belief of using food as medicine, as studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between bacteria in the gut and overall health. They all praised the consumption of probiotics and prebiotics daily. Probiotics being the live bacteria that help balance the microbiome by supporting friendly bacteria. And prebiotics being the foods and nutrients that feed the friendly bacteria in your microbiome. They all suggest incorporating fermented foods and probiotics into your diet and drinking organic juices (important that they are organic to avoid pesticides! Otherwise there is no point because you are just putting more toxins in.) As well as utilizing “microbiome superspices” such as turmeric and cinnamon. Dr. Merrell finished the discussion with an incredible insight about our genes. He described the genes as the software to our hardware and that they are not necessarily set in stone. Declaring “you have tremendous power to change them through all aspects of lifestyle-your stress levels, the water you drink, and especially the food you eat.” The opening of the day was overwhelmingly informative and enlightening. I learned ways of looking at all aspects of my life and overall health from different perspectives. Since the event I have been especially conscious as to what I consume and how each decision I make affects me. I encourage you to read more about all those who were included in the opening conversations of the Beauty Wellness Wisdom event, citing the ABC Home blog, they were “an esteemed and eclectic bunch united by their innovation, creativity, insight, and, most importantly, deep humanity.”  

(Image via The Note Passer-A new favorite read!)

Spring Cleaning

Picture 68

“Your health means everything,” those words staring at me were a nice little reminder as I rode the subway to work one morning. It is something I often lose sight of when I’m stressing out over trivial things like beach cover-ups or what methods I need to make my skin have a flawless glow. In the past, I’ve read about how skin is greatly affected by your digestion but didn’t really take full advantage of that information. However, this simple train advertisement stuck with me and sparked an extensive Googling spree about inner health, and in turn its effect on the external. After a thorough investigation on the topic, I want to introduce to you a few ingredients to try that I’ve found give the highly sought-after natural glow from within. It won’t matter what getup you have on because radiant skin is all we really want, along with a clean bill of health. The short list I have compiled (that over time as I add will eventually become tall – seems inevitable for me) includes an ingredient for cleansing (without the faintness and cross-eyed stigma of a juice cleanse), my love for the healing powers of Ayurveda and a non-ingredient snuck in there for optimal health benefits.

Beets – I know, all I could think of when I was reintroduced to beets on a menu was the “Killer Tofu” song from Doug. But it turns out beets are quite the superfood. They are filled with carotenoids (antioxidants that naturally cleanse and detox the body, and also reduce the negative effects of UVB radiation) and help the body respond better to exercise. They can be eaten raw, like in this recipe from Beauticate, cooked, or what I find to be the quickest and simplest way – mixed into a refreshing juice. And if you’re still not too fond of the taste, it is available in supplement form as well.

Turmeric – This Ayurvedic herb referred to as “The Golden Goddess,” is a superfood in fighting inflammation (which has been shown to be a leading cause of aging), preventing cancer, as well as a slew of other benefits. Whether adding a dash of it to a morning smoothie, into your favorite recipe, or taking it in supplement form twice a day as I do (my trusted brand is Banyan Botanicals), a little goes a long way. And coming from someone who has had issues with her stomach that sequentially affected her skin, I can say turmeric has been a godsend and I’ve received numerous compliments since I started taking it.

Probiotics – Okay, technically not an ingredient but according to research are “essential to basic human nutrition.” Your stomach contains good bacteria or “beneficial flora” which helps us digest and absorb our food, shore up our immune systems and contribute to the manufacture of vitamins. Probiotics are used to fortify and rebuild this natural flora. As of late, I’ve noticed it cropping up in skin care discussions and even being called “the new beauty food.”  If you’re not convinced yet that you need a probiotic, The Chalkboard Mag did a great breakdown (get it?) of the reasons you should consider one.

(Image via)

Here Comes the Sun

SummerIf you’ve been on some kind of tropical vacation in the past month or so, you can stop reading right now. You’re probably all bronzed and glowy and have no need for the knowledge I wish to impart on the rest of the group. While you were gone we were in the cold, frantically searching for ways to look less like Casper the Friendly Ghost and more like a Dolce & Gabbana ad by the time we first bared our legs for the season. In college, this was a no brainer for me: hop into a shower stall with a golden can of Neutrogena micro mist and spray like there’s no tomorrow. But as I became more cautious of the products that I use (your skin is your largest organ, people!) the options in the sunless tanning department ran a little low. Enter Chocolate Sun: while the name leaves something to be desired, this hydrating sunless tanning cream is completely natural and mostly organic. The additional perks: it doesn’t irritate my extremely sensitive skin, smells like a Hershey’s bar (not the chemical perfume that you’re used to), and develops into a lovely tan sans orange streaks. Cocoa Glow is my shade of choice and should work for light to medium skin tones. And please don’t let the novel length application instructions freak you out…I suggest throwing them out the window and learning the tanning process organically.

(Image via)

How Bazaar

bazaarJust four weeks from today I’ll be arriving in Istanbul for a trip I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time. Not only will I be there to celebrate the wedding of one of my favorite people but it will also be my first time in this beautiful city. If you know me at all, you know that there’s a certain amount of packing anxiety that goes along with any trip that I take. Add in a slew of wedding events and slightly unpredictable weather and the result is sheer panic. In an effort to be more prepared than I usually am, the list writing has started early and the online shopping boxes are piling up. Here are some of the items that made the short list:

1. A cross body bag is a necessity for me when traveling in another country: I can always have an eye on my belongings and my hands will be free to scoop up everything at the Grand Bazaar. This Mansur Gavriel Leather Bucket Bag serves the purpose and looks fantastic.

2. I won’t go anywhere without sunscreen, especially when I know I’ll be galavanting through a new city with my pals all day long. That’s where Consonant The Perfect Sunscreen comes in: it will protect my skin in the Turkish sun and double as a tinted moisturizer thus reducing my travel product count by 1.

3. I can’t think of a better shoe than the Loeffler Randall Fitz Chelsea Bootie to pair with my favorite black Frame jeans to hit up all of the tourist spots. A.B.E.s are essential for travel with limited packing space.

4. I’ve been holding off on purchasing the Waterlogue app as my day to day life can be less than glamorous but I think Istanbul might be the perfect excuse to take the $2.99 plunge. Who wouldn’t want a watercolor photo of the Bosphorus River?

5. We’re hoping to have time to do a Turkish bath in between all of the festivities (though slightly apprehensive after reviewing the full details – may need to add a bikini to the packing list). So while I may not have room to bring it with me, this Cuyana Turkish Robe will be a luxurious reminder of the country long after we get home.

(Image via)

Carpe Dosha

Moodboard Photo from Designlovescompany.com“This is great for my Dosha!” I proclaimed as my friends muddled blueberries into the potion they were making for me on a recent Friday night. It was a phrase I continued to abuse throughout my entire weekend visit to DC. After a series of side stares and eye rolls my friends decided to finally entertain me and inquire about this Dosha business. The look on their faces after I finished my rant wasn’t surprising. To them, everything I was saying was nonsensical but at the same time utterly intriguing.

I was first introduced to Ayurveda last summer when my boss, in a manner of nonchalance, asked me if I could track her down some Triphala Guggulu (I made the same face as you when I first heard it). She swore the ancient Indian medicine had been her secret to a natural energy boost, radiant skin and maintaining her figure. Coming from someone who is constantly juggling ten things at once and always manages to be glowing, there had to be some truth to it. After that it seemed to be cropping up everywhere I went. Mentioned in a few of my frequent reads (here, here, and here), overheard at Bikram yoga, and finally my mother informed me that my Aunt was receiving her holistic training certification in Ayurveda. My curiosity led me to spend an immense amount of time researching this ancient medicine. No doubt, it is an overwhelmingly detailed practice. Luckily I managed to find the most comprehensive breakdown and reputable resource at Banyan Botanicals.

After chatting online with a specialist and seeing that my man Dr. Oz was an advocate for it, I decided to dabble. The first step in my process was taking the test to determine my Dosha (usually you are a combination of two, one predominant in the fall/winter seasons and the other in the spring/summer seasons). Based on the results, you are given information about the characteristics of your Dosha and the ways to balance it for optimal health. I was surprised to realize being a Vata-Pitta that certain foods I considered my go-to ‘healthy’ choices were in fact the opposite of what I needed. Salads, leafy greens, quinoa-which make up about 60% of my daily diet (the other 40% by pastries and chia pudding) were in the seldom column of my nutrition list. Even though I have only been informally ‘practicing’ for a few weeks, I have to admit that I am surprisingly not going cross-eyed without my usual two coffees a day, have noticed a difference in my skin and feel lighter on my feet (for those who know my shoe size – this is a BIG DEAL). I encourage you to read up on it and I hope that, if anything, it’s simultaneously enlightening and phonetically challenging.

(Image via)