4 habits for a calming nightly regimen

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Sleep is sacred. My outlook on sleep and my nightly regimen is quite definite - it's one of the most important routines I allow myself to follow. It's not necessarily a tedious to-do list, but rather a series of steps that I make the time for myself to take. I treasure my sleep! I have found that several factors account into a great night's sleep - no late snacks,  sleeping in my own bed, finding time to 'wind down' before hand - some are obvious! But here are some habits that I consistently stick to - honestly, every. single. night. 

1. Moisturize.  I never used to do this until recently but now using my favorite moisturizers - a rotation of this and this - is something I can't imagine not doing! It calms me, makes me feel cooler (literally, it brings down my temperature) and gives me this clean feeling. I usually apply a generous amount to my hands, elbows, legs, ankles, knees, feet - the usual dry spots. This is more of a personal preference but it is a nice treat to end the day!

2. Shut off anything with an on-off switch 15 minutes before closing my eyes. This is a hard one, because it's a rule that is so easy to break. I often do. But I find that when I steer away from digital light, I sleep better and feel so much more rested in the morning. I rely on my phone in the morning as an alarm clock, but I try to set it in advance. It involves discipline, but when it comes to sleep, you have to put yourself first and realize that a refreshing night's sleep really is important. The worst thing you can do before bed is scroll through dozens of instagram photos and crowd your mind with a billion thoughts - it's occupying your mind with visuals and ideas that will not help you wind down! Some old-fashioned techniques like reading a book or magazine never fail me. Luckily, I fall asleep (like a log!) quickly.

3. Stretch out. Okay, this one is my absolute f a v o r i t e. Spending a good, solid five minutes on stretching before sleep absolutely, 100% of the time gives me the most invigorating yet calming feeling ever! I love back bends and gentle yoga moves - nothing heavy duty or cardiovascular. I use a yoga block or strap sometimes, but mostly focus on lower body stretches in the legs, hip openers, and core. I do this all on the floor so that I can be all over the place. Sometimes in place of stretching I will attempt to meditate. I try to mimic my yoga classes. I take a few moments to breathe deeply and allow every fiber of my body to totally melt into relaxation - literally going from fingers to toes, up and down, under and over.

4.  Make your bed in the morning. I am sure there are people out there that will shake their head at this one - some people hate making their beds in the morning! And when it's me, during the process, yes, it's annoying. As I am tugging at the covers and throwing the pillows back up by the headboard, I always silently bemoan the fact that it is a work day and I have to get through so many hours before I can climb back into bed again. Parting the bed first thing in the morning is probably THE hardest thing about waking up! But by the time the day is over, and it's finally time for my regimen, the very last thing I do is pull back the covers and climb under my luxuriant sheets. I always think to myself, "I've earned this today!" as I unfurl the top layer of my duvet. So, simply, making the bed gives yourself something to look forward to later in the day, and sets up the reward in advance.

I hope you can try one of these - they are so simple and anyone can try it out. Let me know if it works for you and if you see any noticeable difference! Wishing you a refreshing and restful sleep!



scenes from my weekend

Memorial Day weekend was spend 90% outside and I consider that a good thing! It feels like a waste if a beautiful day is spent indoors. So my weekend included a lot of time out on this deck [above], by the riverside, in the park, and helping in the garden. No big travel plans or beach trips here. I particularly enjoyed the in the garden; deadheading plants and watering are so calming. It makes me feel so attached to home, the mornings, and watching everything make little tiny bits of progress as it grows.

To keep things short, there has been a lot going on under this roof. S has returned home for a short stay, so we are making the most of his time here! In the family, everyone is busy with their own things...lots of good changes are coming. I myself am starting grad school this week and I am a little nervous! It hopefully isn't too bad, though. Once I begin I think all will be good. I have this gut feeling that I am leaving out half of the story, and there is just so much going on that typing about it here would just be a little superfluous for a blog post.

The best part of the weekend was that S has been home! And luckily for us, we have been able to be outside (putting up a fight against the allergies - which have hit me from nowhere!) and spend a lot of time with friends catching up. It definitely went too, too fast..

ciao! xo


red orange

nude flats aldo | hat target {similar} | skirt banana republic  (old - similar here) | tote street level | striped tank loft | watch kate spade  

I've had this old red orange skirt forever and finally have found the perfect way to wear it! It's such a bold and overpowering piece, so finding a balance was tougher than I previously had thought. While it's originally a fall skirt, I loved going with a light and airy look by pairing it with a blousy striped shell and my favorite new nude flats.  Over the weekend, I found myself on a nice aimless drive - the best kind. We ended up stopping at the doorstep of a local countryside inn - I was pretty into the rustic turquoise doors. It seemed to be a great backdrop :)

This look is such a mix of nautical and polished. The beach vibes come from the loose, nautical tank (with ribbed details that make it more casual) and of course, the straw hat. But below, the pencil skirt and pointed flats bring it all together in a more cinched, polished look. The flats from Aldo are becoming my new favorite - they go with absolutely everything - and they have a cool side cutout detail with a gold clasp. This is probably one of my favorite spring outfits ever! 

While the skirt is bright and punchy, the piece that brings everything together is the straw hat! It was a steal (only $12.99!) from Target! I immediately knew that I had to have it as soon as I tried it on; I love the old-fashioned cloche style; it makes me feel like a 1920s beachgoer whether I'm wearing it at the beach or not.  I think everyone should own more hats - at least one for every season. Hats are so classic, and they add so much to an outfit (my black floppy hat and my faux-leather hat are my two other go-tos).

ciao! xo


everyday, easy diamonds

I've never been one to wear a lot of bracelets, or pile on bangles that jingle and weigh down my hand. When I use my hands (hello Italian side!) during a conversation or at work, I always feel so noticeable and loud! Although I love the look of many bracelets, I have found a new favorite staple with my new Anjolee bracelet. I particularly love wearing it with my watch, or by itself. It adds such a subtle glimmer of sparkle to my arm, and it is gentle enough for every day use.

Perhaps my favorite detail of this piece is the weightless and lithe chain that allows the real focal point of the bracelet, the five diamonds, to move and shine. The column links allow for effortless flow   and absolutely no jingle! The five little diamonds are beautiful, feminine, and vibrant. I don't wear diamonds a lot, but this piece is so versatile and easy to wear on a daily basis. The column links remind me of delicate fringes of coral - perfect for summer! Their jewelry is custom made, and their collection of diamond wedding bands is fabulous. I am impressed with their quality, clarity, and classic elegance. I love the dose of sophistication my bracelet brings to any look.

ciao, xo

Thanks to Anjolee for sponsoring this post!


five things i love about countryside living

It isn't often that I take time to appreciate the countryside. Its qualities are things I notice only when they aren’t present - like when I’m wandering around the city, stuck in traffic, or smelling stinky city smells.  But to contradict myself, I am noticing the beauties of the countryside and appreciating it more and more. It often happens when it is screaming at me in the face - through a color-splashed sunset, or an unmanned "leave $5 in the mailbox" fresh flower stand at the end of someone's drive. It's incredibly hard to narrow down the things I love about country living, but I have chosen what means most to me. At a time when most people my age are living their lives in sky-high apartments or spending weekends at IKEA for city dwelling furnishing, I am holding true to my countryside roots!

The phrase 'farm to table' is, I think, a phrase born from the city; because here in the countryside that's just how food is expected to be: from the farm. I think it took me time to actually appreciate this, because I definitely took it for granted when I was younger. There is just the right balance of farmers markets, grocery stores, and farm stands in my area. Each place is a go-to for its own reason. It makes it easy - especially in the warmer, in-season months - to cook and come up with creative and healthy dishes. 

Fresh grown herbs and a diverse gamut of spices is something I depend on daily when I am cooking. Vegetables and fruits during the growing season are another staple, especially for dinners or smoothie making.

I really do appreciate my morning commute as a time to think. My morning commute has long stretches of open road; horse farms; foggy fields; sunrises and the occasional deer. I don't take it for granted - even if I am driving to work. There is rarely any traffic (usually I get stuck behind a school bus) and the road is wide, surrounded by green trees and pretty views of open land. Last year I even got to drive over a covered bridge every day - a rarity, even around here!

Even better than commuting? Weekend drives. 

Something about a small, store-front lined street with lamp posts and cobblestones appeals to me. I love all of the little spots near and far from home; although each one is a short drive, they are always worth a look. I'm still finding new things every time I go. I think my #1 favorite this year goes to Princeton - I love everything about that place and would love to live there someday.

In a typical main street town you can almost always find bits of the city: i.e. a Starbucks, maybe parking meters, a couple of name brand stores, and historical buildings. What makes them different is the mom and pop stores, the farm stands, the fresh flowers that are laid out in window boxes and pots out side of store fronts and doors. Little cafes and lunch counters. Ice cream shops and eclectic tarot card readers. Historic hotels-turned-restaurants and Revolutionary War era inns (hey, George Washington "slept" here!).

Summer nights (or spring, or fall - not so much winter) are meant to be spent outdoors. My mom's garden is an entertainer's eden - it begins on the deck and spills out into the surrounding corners of the property. It is adorned with fairy lights and citronella torches and candles. In the purple twilight of a summer evening, the illumination is just so lovely. I love how isolated and tucked away a gathering can feel at home - we are in our own little world and the rest of civilization feels like miles away! 

You can't really capture this in a city, unless you're on someone's rooftop. While that has its certain edginess to it, I'd take a garden party any day. We often round out the night with music, a bonfire for s'mores, and a tray of tea and coffees to accompany dessert. We've had everything from going away parties, graduations, tea parties, surprise birthdays, to family reunions.

I also love being in a place where nature - although routine for my eyes - is everywhere.   Birds, flowers, deer, full moons, hilly fields, creeks and rivers, foliage, and the soft wind. I can take a walk or drive and stretch my eyes nice and far. I hear birds chirping in the spring mornings and owls hooting during dark winter nights. I can look outside my window and see every shade of green possible. There are dozens of horse farms less than a mile away. The stars at night are bright and clear - nothing is obstructing their brightness. Barns are plentiful. Hills in the distance are winding and blue. There are lots of hidden drives and creeks and bridges. I could never, ever, ever tire of the flowers - wild or not. 

 - - - 

what do you love about your neck of the woods!?
ciao, xo


five days!

This guy is coming home in five days! If you're new to the blog, you probably didn't know that S and I have been dating for a while :) and right now he's located in Southern California for a temporary work move. The long distance has been tough and by no means ideal, but we are making it work through a lot of visits and frequent flyer miles. We have been lucky to go through our first 10 months without any huge gaps between visits; the longest stretch has been three months or so but since then, we have planned and worked around our schedules to make the time! And the next time is in...five days!!

This one is a special visit for a couple of reasons; #1 is that it is S's birthday! Since we won't be together for the actual day, we'll be celebrating it a little on the early side! I am excited for that, because he was sweet enough to celebrate my birthday on the west coast when I visited him last month (was it only a month ago?!). 

#2 is the warm weather! Philadelphia weather isn't all that great, especially by Los Angeles standards. The humidity can be horrible, the heat can be sweltering and sometimes it feels like we skip the gentle warmth of spring altogether. But I am crossing my fingers for the best! Last time S was here, it was around the holidays, so it was cold and our free time was limited due to family engagements and the frigid temps outside. S definitely doesn't miss the weather here (jerk).

#3 is alllllll the plans I have! Which is probably a total of 2. I have these ideal plans in my head that in all reality probably won't happen, like wine tasting, a beach day trip, a weekend getaway, blah blah. It's going to be a very hectic couple of weeks since I am starting grad school around the same time, but we'll find some fun stuff to do! I don't want it to feel rushed, like we'll have to squeeze everything in - so the big overarching plan is 'no big plans.' let spontaneity reign!

ciao! xo


a happy list

Some things that are getting me through these very busy weeks (and also making me very happy):
  • eating chocolate licorice (a weird new favorite/craving that came out of nowhere)
  • re-runs of the office on netflix
  • seeing the magnolias and cherry blossoms rain pink petals in a spring breeze
  • being tan somehow already (??)
  • sunlight at 8:00 in the evening
  • homemade penne arrabiata
  • the summertime urge to be outside and spontaneous
  • fajitas, fajitas, fajitas
  • margaritas, margaritas, margaritas
  • everything outside green
  • shell tank tops from loft 
  • on-the-whim weekends (like this DC weekend, pictured above) 
  • new leather sandals ready to be broken in
  • windows down on the way home from work
  • iced coffees :)
Being halfway through May is kinda nice...there's a lot to look forward to and I am finally feeling like summer is attainable! 


by the corral

Hi, everyone! Happy Thursday [already - this week flew!] The frenetic, crazy, I-don't-even-have-time-to-go-to-the-bathroom days have been getting to me; but somewhere deep down I know that this too shall pass. And when it does, I'll weirdly miss it. Anyway, I am looking forward to the weekend regardless and am so excited for one piece of big news next week: S is coming home for a nice long visit! I've been planning some cool things for us to do, but I don't want it to be a rushed visit filled with to-do lists.

I kind of want a day to look like the pictures above. Maybe a picnic in a dandelion-filled field? (ugh, allergies). These beautiful fields are my favorite fields. It's a long stretch of open land and a horse corral, surrounded by dense maple trees and lots of deer. They're right outside of my grandmother's house, where we spent Mother's Day. I remember growing up and being fascinated by the corral "out back," and watching deer graze around the apple trees in my grandma's backyard. I have the faintest memories of watching for real-life Bambi, going to search for my mom's old tree house near the creek, and going on excursions to visit the horses way out back. Even in my twenties I still look out the window and look for something. This past week's discovery was a lurking cat and an unsuspecting cardinal...there's always something to find.

lots of good things happening!

ciao! xo