Five Things: Major Winter Haircare

I've been borderline-not-okay-obsessed with treating my hair right since roughly two years ago.

Currently, I have a long bob. I chopped nine inches (yes - NINE) of my hair off in November, so it's a lot easier to keep tabs on, but I remember - not fondly, mind you - the days of going through bottle after bottle of conditioner and wondering if I could be doing anything different. The answer was: yes, obviously, I needed to trim all the dead ends off. Duh. There's no substitute. But instead of doing that, I attempted to revive my hair with masks, oils, at-home remedies, and the like. I tried everything I possibly could to avoid a trip to the salon.

I hear (read: imagine) all of you sitting there dumbfounded, asking me, but why?! And I'll tell you. It's a horror story involving a Russian woman who, after I asked for a "warm-me-up" color revival, put straight-up bleach into my hair and left me under a hair dryer for FORTY FIVE minutes. I had to quite literally stop and remind her as she was walking past me that I was sitting there, and that my scalp was now on fire, and could she kindly wash the devil substance off my head. And, after the color came out and I was looking in the mirror at a shades-of-white blonde, I vowed (for a while anyways) to never let another person touch my precious hair again.

This is insanity. I know it is. But there's truly nothing that can console you when your long, beautiful, healthy hair goes from deep auburn and rich to straw-like and colorless, and you're sitting there crying in the salon thinking you might have to shave your head because the damage is just too much. Two years later, after multiple hair masks and remedies and me sitting at my desk cutting dead ends off my hair with some regular office scissors, I finally decided that I should take the plunge and let bygones be bygones when it came to salons. But that doesn't mean that I didn't discover some kick ass hair remedies along the way - and they are some of my favorites to use each winter season to prevent my hair from drying out, getting frizzy, and being a general hot mess.

1. Terax Crema Ultra Moisturizing Daily Conditioner ($23) - This super luxe conditioner is recommended by none other than beauty icon Liv Tyler (I mean, come on). It's got an amazing smell, including shea and juniper, which revitalizes stressed out hair from everyday wear and tear, while replenishing your tresses. Use this if you need to fix your split ends and breakage, re-moisturize your mane after chemical treatments and / or salon-related damages, fighting away static and frizz. This ish will leave your hair so soft and silky that you won't ever want to use anything else.

2. Sachajuan Over Night Hair Repair ($60) - For those of us that are massively lazy, just get products that work for you while you're snoozing. This one specifically is one of the BEST of those products. It's made from pure water (in gel form) that rebuilds and strengthens hair, giving it unreal shine with sea algae working to add moisture and shine to each strand from the inside-out with protein, trace elements, and minerals. Made in Sweden, use this if you need a treatment that is best used at the ends of the hair (where all the damage is anyways) to enable strands to retain moisture throughout the season, and saving them from being forever brittle.

3. Bumble and bumble Creme de Coco Masque ($28) - This mask, indulgent as it is with triple tropical butters, works hard to enrich your scalp with intensive moisture, giving you soft, glossy, and silky hair. This baby packs a punch and is great for someone with especially dry hair, acting as a putty for damaged strands. It's also great for all hair types (except super fine, which will be weighed down). I love this guy because it's so flexible - you can leave on for 7 to 10 minutes in the shower, or wrap in a warm towel and sit out in the sun for a bit. OR, if you're feeling super indulgent, leave it on overnight for an ultra hydrating treatment. Use this if you're in desperate need of something to calm down that dry and frizz-prone hair, ladies.

4. Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil ($48) - Ugh, I die for Josie Maran. This Argan Oil specifically is a nectar from the gods for your hair. It's 100% organic, chemical-free, and straight from Morocco. This bottle is loaded with Vitamin E, fatty acids, and has no fillers or fragrances - guaranteeing that it's healing and repairing processes are uninhibited. This oil can be used in your hair for shine and softness, on your body as a moisturizer, as a salad dressing... pretty much anything you're looking for. And the women who grow it also harvest it, meaning that you're empowering women each time you buy a bottle. Use this if you want to moisturize your scalp and enhance your color and shine, all at once.

5. Rahua Omega 9 Hair Mask ($58) - If you want to bring your dull strands back to life, this baby is for you. It's a hair mask that's vegan, 100% natural, and only takes 15 to 20 minutes once a week to make a difference. It's sure to have your hair healthier and stronger for the season. It's a conditioning mask that promises to inject roots with shine, making your scalp healthier, minimizing frizz, and even preserving color (if you dye). It uses an omega-9 oil, Ungurahua, which penetrates each strand, healing it and infusing it with mad moisturizing properties to restore. Use this if you want something to fix everything at once, and then some - it's just that good.

When all else fails, y'all, just go with some Coconut Oil or Olive Oil and make yourself a DIY hair mask. Real talk, sometimes they work better than the fancy ones.


Beauty Bag: My Favorite New Year's Eve Tricks to Try

There are only a handful of celebrations throughout the year where I'll stray from my normal go-to cat eye and nude lip. To be fair, while that might sound a bit basic, I've experimented a lot in my past before finding my favorite look. In high school, I was all about the eye liner. Crazy ridiculous amounts of eyeliner that was meant to rival the likes of Avril Lavigne. In college, I went through a bare-faced phase when I refused to wear anything other than a tinted moisturizer (while I died my hair a rich deep auburn - with my uber fair skin, you can imagine how that looked). Nowadays, the cat eye is my dose of classic normalcy, but every now and again I'll throw in a pop of color with a bold lip.

Although I tend to stick to the same look for day-to-day and even night-to-night on the reg these days, I have an inordinate amount of makeup. I hoard it. Gifts from friends, family, and relatives; swag bags from workshops; free samples from the almost-too-often Sephora trips; giveaways from clients - there's not much that I won't get my grubby little paws on to add to my collection. So, on rare occasion, I bust out my suitcase (literally... a suitcase full) of makeup, plop myself down in front of the mirror, and just go to town. New Year's Eve is one of those occasions, so I thought it was only right to share some of my favorite looks (and maybe another cat eye or two) so you can experiment on your own.

Pink, Dewy, and Pretty
The Romantic Glow. Right now, I'm all about a dewy face. There's something so sweet and unassuming about a girl with glow - and a hint of pink adds a new layer of femininity, so you don't look oily, just uber fresh. To get this look, try using Burberry's Fresh Glow Luminous Fluid Base mixed with a matte foundation for a unique finish, or check out YSL's Dare to Glow Luminizer and apply to cheekbones, eyes, and lips.

Pop of Color
Red Lip, Fresh Face. Whenever I don't feel like putting the time and effort into eyeliner, I almost always go for a deep red lip. The bold undertaking of such a powerful pop of color completes any look better than a statement accessory can (at least in my opinion). My favorite shade these days? Chanel's Rouge Allure Luminous Intense Lip Color Lipstick in Pirate. Ugh, amazing.

Give Them Drama
A Dramatic Eye. The smoky eye gets turnt up - oh, yeah, I took it there - with enormous lashes and thick, luscious brows (oh hai there, Lily Collins). I love the effect of eyebrow-grazing eyelashes; they're youthful and playful and alluring all at once. Because I'm not a big falsies girl, I've only ever used two brands - Sephora's and Ardell's (found at Ricky's) - and both of them has several different styles so you can find a pair that's a fit for the look you're going for.

Or, as always... Wing It. When in doubt, just extend your favorite cat eye. The further the wing goes, the more of a statement you're making. It's like Brigitte Bardot times a million. No wonder it's my go-to look. Almost every damn day of the week, I find myself using Stila's Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner. It never wears off or fades, even after a full day of running around.


Book Club: Best Snuggle-Up Reads

It's actually a tragedy how little time I find (or make) for reading nowadays. This fact alone makes me much more sad than probably any of the other issues I can pick out of my adult life at any given time, because I absolutely adore reading. I remember as a child curling up on the couch with a book, wiling away the hours with my favorite characters. Usually, it's during holiday travel when I get the most reading done - on the ride to the airport, at the airport, on the plane, and traveling back - but I always put forth a great effort to take time whenever I'm on vacation to sit on the comfiest couch, wrap my entire body in the nearest quilt, and snuggle up with a great book. Doesn't that just sound like heaven?

I'm a person who's partial to the classics, and to sticking with the same authors once I find a voice that I like, so if you're looking for the latest reads from the newest writers, these babies might not be your best bet. But, if you're someone who can read the same book - cover to cover - over and over again, then let's be friends (and just read in silence in the same room together - that's not weird, right?)! Winter is the ideal season for what I call "Snuggle-Up" reads. These books, novels, and plays are for when you want to go full-on burrito mode in the coziest blanket you can find, with an oversized sweater and toasty wool socks (duh).

Obviously, for me, reading is all about settling into that mood. And these Snuggle-Ups will ease your summer nostalgia and have your heart yearning for a fireplace-heated cabin in the woods stocked with a full library, Pendleton prints, and fresh snow coating the ground outside. Not that you would venture out into it or anything - you're too busy reading. 

Snuggle-Up Reads
1. The Glass Menagerie - Tennessee Williams
2. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
3. Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë
4. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
5. Light in August - William Faulkner
6. Ice - Anna Kavan
7. A Christmas Memory - Truman Capote
8. Doctor Zhivago - Boris Pasternak
9. The Winter's Tale - William Shakespeare
10. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

(Side note: If you have any others you'd like to add, leave them in the comment section, and we can make it a running list!)


Day Trippin': Getting Historical At Chickamauga

In addition to the treasure hunting that happened at my grandmother's house in Georgia over the Thanksgiving holiday, my parental units and I took a brief little day trip (we wouldn't be us if we didn't) and headed over to the Chickamauga Battlefield. We love stopping by here whenever we're in the area for a few reasons. The main reason being that we, as a family, love being outside - and we're massive suckers for national parks with open fields and wooded trails.

Chickamauga is a national military park that's situated along the Georgia / Tennessee state line, and is known for an important battle that took place in the area during the Civil War way back in 1863. Fought in mid-September, the battle had the second highest number of casualties in the war, and was the first major battle that took place in the state of Georgia. It's regarded as a huge Union loss, who wanted to take control of the city of Chattanooga in Tennessee - which was widely regarded as the gateway to the heart of the Confederate South at the time. I won't bore you with much more of the details, but you can read more about it here. It's actually pretty fascinating if you want to pull out your history-nerd thick-rimmed glasses and take a look. 

We checked out a number of monuments at the park over the course of the afternoon, including the Wilder Brigade Tower (which hosts an 85-foot tall spiral staircase that made me infinitely dizzy), the Snodgrass House on Snodgrass Hill (which we clearly wanted to see just because of the amazing name), and a variety of statues / plaques dedicated to infantries that fought (many of which had the most fascinating facial hair I've seen in a while - that's saying something since I hail from Brooklyn these days).

All in all, the park was beautiful this time of year, with leaves still clinging to the branches of trees as well as covering the ground. It was a much needed reminder that, although it may be frigid and rainy in New York City, some places still have the crisp air of autumn hanging around.


Little Things: Bric-A-Brac At Grandma's House

Do you ever notice how, as you get older, you start collecting random things? When I was back in my college days, it was definitely all about paperwork and books piling up, but as I've aged - like a fine wine, really - it's gotten to be a bit more... expansive. Personally, I'm drawn to little things that tell a story, like a hand-carved tea box from Darjeeling or an antique woven and fringed blanket (both acquired from Instagram sales, don't judge me). What's even more terrifying than the realization that the tendency to accumulate these things makes me exhibit borderline hoarding habits, is that I've noticed that my mother and my grandmother do the exact same thing.

As I was visiting my grandmother's house in Georgia, I was awestruck by the grandiosity of her collection of these assorted objects, and how she knew a back-story for almost every single piece. As my father walked in on us clearing out some of the boxes in her garage, he and I started in on a conversation about the variety of terms for them. He began with bric-a-brac, a French term, and then we hit fun ones, like knickknacks, tchotchkes, baubles, doodads, and my all time favorite so far - curios. And, just like that, my collecting obsession now had a name.

The curios that I like to pepper my apartment with (just like generations of women in my family have apparently done before me) are something that I consider to be a part of my personality. I love collecting them, finding out all about them, and telling their stories to guests who pop in, just like my grandmother does. She was generous enough to share a few pieces from her collection with me (more pictures to come later!) - and then there were others that I stumbled upon in her house on my own when everyone was distracted with cooking for the holiday.

And, because I'm me, I wanted to share them here. I mean, if curios can't be shared, then what are they there for?

An Antique Cut Glass Mini Vase and Shot Glass (classy)
Assorted Brass Woodland Animal Statuettes
Antique Cut and Painted Glass Bluebell Bowl (friggin' gorgeous)
Not even pretending to know... but OMG.
Hand-Painted Antique Gold-Rimmed Saucer (this beauty is mine now!)

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