Thursday, July 24, 2014

Warby Parker's new Beacon collection + Q&A

Recently, one of my favorite brands Warby Parker reached out to share the launch of their new Beacon Collection, a limited edition collection of four new frames in different colors, fitted for both sunglasses and glasses. I've been a fan of Warby Parker for awhile and wear the Cranes in 'Sugar Maple' for reading before bedtime. I love how this collection has a unique point of view, evoking a very specific urban, joie de vivre lifestyle. And the frames look so fun and hip -- I like the oversized Nancy the best, especially the yellow frame. You can see the whole collection here.


Brian Magida, Director of Digital Marketing for Warby Parker was kind enough to answer a few of my questions regarding the new collection and working at the start-up. Thanks Brian!

Q: What was the inspiration behind the Beacon collection? I love the lifestyle images!
A: This collection was inspired by impromptu, can’t-duplicate-them all-nighters, when having no plans brings endless possibilities. We designed our newest line of frames to make a similarly fine companion to late night dates, rooftop sunrises, and everything in between.

Q: What's your favorite pair of Warby Parker glasses?
A: In terms of eyeglasses, my favorite pair is currently the Winston in Lunar Fade. It is a classic (we introduced it in our 2nd collection) and I haven't found a replacement since. On the sunglasses side, I currently wear the Lowry in Green Citrine.

Q: What's your favorite part about your job?
A: For me, it is the learning curve. It is super steep and being at a young company, we are still trying to figure everything out. We are encouraged to take calculated risks. I also love the viewpoint we have on retail-- one which isn't rooted in just e-commerce or brick and mortar. We are really focused on blending the two of them together and providing a unified experience for the consumer. That concept is extremely challenging but it makes coming to work every day super fun, exciting and rewarding.

Congrats on the new collection, WP team!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

governor's island biking date

This past Saturday, Ben and I went on a biking date in Governor's Island. Reason being: I am the proud owner of a beautiful new bike!!! Meet the Windsor Essex: a new-but-vintage-looking, ocean blue bike from wholesale site Bikes Direct (such a deal!). Ben's a biking aficionado who a) knows my taste and b) knows how to find great bikes, so it took me about 3 seconds after he sent me the link before I ordered it. Below is the capture of a sentimental moment: a woman and her first NYC bike... it was instant chemistry. (Thank you B for assembling!)


To get to Governor's Island, we biked along the East Side river down to the ferry, which then took only about 10 minutes to get to the island. Usually, I would wear my new Bern helmet while riding in the city, but it was nice to take it off on the island since there are no cars and lots of space for bikers. 


One of the first places we ended up was Hammock Grove, a brand new area that just opened this summer. It's a great break spot to hydrate, eat snacks, and relax on one of the 50 hammocks available. We brought fruit and snuck in Crabbies in a water bottle -- if you're not yet hooked, Crabbies is the most delicious ginger beer I've ever tasted. I can't get enough of it - it's all I want to drink this summer!


There are so many new features in Governor's Island. First off, SO many more food options. Last summer, I think there was only one food stand, but now, between the outdoor food court and a whole line of food trucks, I'd say there are about 15 food vendors in total. We shared a mango and strawberry smoothie and had Sweet Chili for lunch....because who can say no to Thai and Vietnamese fusion street food? Ben was happy that we were able to use his amazing flannel picnic blanket, which folds into a backpack. That thing is the best. 


What really struck me is how enchanting Governor's Island must be for children. I've never seen more kids in one place, playing soccer and just running around while their parents picnicked or napped. Such a different setting-- so much freedom and room to roam compared to Manhattan! There are so many things for kids to explore and play with: quirky sculptures (like the one below made out of 30,000 cups), artsy mini-playgrounds and even a mini-library.


Have you visited the newly renovated Governor's island yet? It's open until September 28 and the ferry is only $2 (or free on the 10 AM, 11 AM and 11:30 AM ferries from Manhattan). We had such a great time, and I would love to go again before summer ends!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Nordstrom Anniversary sale amazingness!


Friends, are you ready for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale today? I'm sure you've heard all the buzz leading up to it (since this sale is pretty legendary)... I'm so excited to browse through all the new fall items marked down up to 33% between now and 8/3. I don't have an extensive fall wishlist right now, but if I see any cute jackets, rain boots, or riding boots, I will probably do some damage -- after all, free shipping, free returns always makes a girl want to pounce first, think later! Here are some fun links from the sale...

Voluspa candle trioFrye riding boots | Dogeared necklace | Rebecca Minkoff crossbody bag | Bobbi Brown 'Nude on Nude' color setTrouve leather moto jacket | Philosophy 'Amazing Grace' set | Longchamp expandable toteMichael Kors watch | Kate Spade New York sunglasses | BP Wrap belted bootieNARS 'Dolce Vita' lip & nail set | Halogen calf hair pumpSmashbox 'Studio Pro' brush set
 
(Top Instagram image via here)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

summer highlights... I can't believe it's July already!

Is it just me or is summer passing by way too quickly? I have so many things I want to do this summer, like watch films outdoors, go biking in Governor's island and hiking upstate, the list goes on... but it's also important to remember (and appreciate) the fun things that have already happened this summer. So here are five of my summer highlights from the past two months...


...An amazing July 4th long weekend in New Kent, Virginia with friends. We stayed over at a beautiful river house on the Pamunkey river and spent plenty of time floating in the river, driving a golf cart around farm fields, star gazing, drinking Crabbies ginger beer (my new favorite summer drink), and exploring Colonial Williamsburg. Such a great four days enjoying nature and great people. (Thank you Sarah for hosting!)


...Adventuring in Brooklyn with my mom, sister, and Ben. We spent a full Saturday exploring Smorgasburg (in Williamsburg), Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, the greenmarket in Park Slope, and bits of Chinatown. My favorite part was devouring pizzas at Julianne's and then ambling across the Brooklyn Bridge.


... Nashville trip to visit Emily in May. I love, LOVE Nashville and how green and lush everything looked. It was so fun to experience both classy Nash and Nash Vegas (honky tonk Broadway, I'm looking at you.) Thanks so much for hosting, Emily.


...Shakespeare in the Park with Ben - my first time! We saw Much Ado About Nothing, which was more hilarious than I expected. So much fun. Watching a play in Central Park while drinking a beer... couldn't ask for a better experience.

...Weekends visiting my family in Philly and friends in neighborhood cities, like D.C. for Anna's masters graduation from GWU. Thank you, amazing parents for cooking up lobster and all my favorites whenever I come home. Thank you Anna, for being one of my oldest and dearest friends.

What are some of the highlights in your summer so far? Remember to take it easy and enjoy life as it comes!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

a sweet pair of board shorts

Ben and I are heading on a trip with friends to Virginia for a July 4th long weekend tubing, BBQ-ing adventure, and he just informed me that he bought these new board shorts.... let's just say, Helen Hearts approved! Way to go, B.

Shorts via AMBSN

Friday, June 20, 2014

Anthropologie tag sale!


Yippee!! Anthropologie's summer tag sale is here with 800+ products up to 50% off in markdowns! I love shopping Anthro for home goods and clothes (when they're on sale... you know how pricey things can get!). Here's my tag sale wish list... I have to confess I've already bought a few of these things. All of the below are under $50, how could I not? :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

balance: is it possible?


Balance. This is something that is constantly on my mind, especially as I get older. I am already wrestling and reflecting a lot on it-- and I don't even have a family of my own yet! Just thinking about how long it's been since I've posted on this blog makes me cringe a little - I'm going to be better, I promise! ;)

Only after I started dating Ben did I realize how hard it is to maintain balance when you're in a relationship. I think it's true when people say being single means being productive without even intentionally doing so! You have the precious time to invest so much in your own learning, meet new people constantly and deepen your friendships. I loved being single, and I love being in a relationship, though balancing is certainly a learning process. Spending time with Ben is my priority, but we both never want to be that couple who disappears into their own world, lost in each other while neglecting other relationships.

Also, I love my "doing me" time: taking long podcast-listening walks, reading in bookstores, and working out. Even running errands like grocery shopping or giving myself a manicure at home feel relaxing and irreplaceable. My Saturday morning runs across the Williamsburg bridge are sacrosanct too, yet I haven't gone in two weeks. Ah, balance!

So here's the question... How can I continue to lean in and invest meaningfully into my friendships, my family, my work, my relationship, and my personal time and do them well? Is it even possible? Do you agree with the saying, "You can have anything but not everything"? One thing I'm working on now is to stop trying to control my performance and just go with the flow. When I have the perfectionist mentality of being everywhere with everyone, I can quickly begin to see my day as a long list of to-do's and my friends as a thing to check off, done! (How sad is that.) Not good for anyone. What are your thoughts on balance? Is it possible?

(Yoga photo via here)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

helen loves: edition #11 featuring my makeup essentials

Since I haven't done a Helen Loves column in quite a long time, I thought it'd be fun to chat about makeup this time! I've worked in the beauty industry my entire career, but honestly only in the past year have I started really getting into makeup. My new beauty philosophy is to find my "holy grail" products that are worth the investment, instead of buying a ton of cheaper alternatives but not really being happy with them. From drugstore beauty to prestige products, here are the essential products in my makeup bag. Feel free to comment below and share your favorite makeup products!


Foundation:
I use Makeup Forever's HD Invisible Cover Foundation in shade 120 almost every day. It's pricey, but so worth it -- the shade matches my skin perfectly (they have 26 shades in total, so you can't go wrong!). The liquid blends in and "disappears" on my skin, taking any imperfections with it. I also like Maybelline Liquid Mousse foundation in 3.5. I'm also eyeing the Makeup Forever HD concealer -- I've actually never used concealer before, so I'm excited to try.

Powders:
To set my foundation, I use Dermablend's Loose Setting powder in cool beige. This has really helped make my makeup stay put, since I tend to have oily skin that sucks up any makeup within a couple of hours. I also recently learned how to contour (thanks to this video)... it's fun to emphasize certain features, like cheekbones, and actually feel like I know what I'm doing! I use Urban Decay's Naked Flushed palette's bronzer and highlighter.

Brush set:
My friend Liz introduced me to Sigma  (their brushes are comparable to Mac's brushes) and I am so glad that I took her advice and purchased the Sigma Travel Kit! The travel set is an especially great deal (all the brushes you need!) and comes in a cute travel-ready leather container. I have the coral set and it's gorgeous.

Blushes:
I use Tarte's Amazonian Clay 12-hour blushes all the time (my favorites are Exposed- a nice nude/bronze shade and Blissful - a warm peach shade). I also was a sucker and recently bought the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Ethereal Glow (a cool pink), although I'm thinking of swapping it out to Radiant Magenta. I really do believe I get a little bit of extra "glow" -- I'm a sucker.

Eyeshadow:
OBSESSED with my Naked 3 palette from Urban Decay. Obsessed. From light mauves to pink gold shadows, I literally use this collection of shadows every day --I mix and match and layer different shades according to my mood and always find the overall look very natural and "me" instead of like a crazy raccoon. I also have the original Naked palette, which I find has more metallic neutrals and colors and is more suitable for evening.

Eyelash Curler and Mascara:
I've tried the "famous" eyelash curlers like Shiseido's and Kevyn Aucoin's, but I still like my Revlon Cushion-Grip Eyelash Curler the best-- it requires less grip and feels so comfortable (I know, shocking term to describe an eyelash curler!). I swear by two mascaras: Urban Decay's Cannonball Ultra Waterproof Mascara and Lancome's L'Extrême Waterproof' Instant Extensions Lengthening Mascara.Waterproof formulas are my go-to because they stay put all day and hold curl better than non-waterproof formulas -- really important for someone who has short, straight Asian eyelashes!

Lipstick:
I have a ton of lipsticks, but my favorite daily wear lipstick is Too Faced La Creme.... I love how creamy, light and non-scented Too Faced formulas are. My favorite daily wear pink/nude lipstick is Spice Spice Baby. I'm also addicted to Baby Lips lip balm (Cherry is my favorite).

Extras/Touch Ups:
Sometimes, if I'm feeling super fancy, I'll use an additional highlighter above my brow, on the insides of my eyes, and cheekbones, to add some extra pow. I like using this Jane Iredale eye highlighter pencil and this Borghese shimmer makeup for that added highlight. I also have combination skin, which means my T-Zone (forehead, nose, and chin) tend to get oily throughout the day, so I carry Tatcha blotting papers with me to get rid of any excess shine.

What's missing:
I used to wear eyeliner quite often, but haven't been into it lately-- it feels a little too harsh. Also, my eyeliner always slides right off (raccoon eye alert!), even if I reinforce with an eyeshadow primer and buy a waterproof formula. Any suggestions? Do you prefer liquid or pencil?

PS: Other Helen Loves collections

Sunday, May 25, 2014

memorial day = sales galore!


Friends! I have been thinking about how terrible I've been in blogging and definitely have a few posts up my sleeve to publish soon, so stay tuned and apologies for the radio silence on my end! I'm currently home for Memorial Day long weekend, which has been so nice and relaxing. A lot of family time, great food and long hikes in perfect weather. I've also been in quite the shopping mood (thank you, Memorial Day weekend sales!). Here are a few sale links-- only one more day, so check them out before they're gone!

Up to 40% off sale at Nordstrom's Half-Yearly Sale (+ standard free shipping & returns!)

30% off at J.Crew with code: WEEKEND

20% off at Asos with code: WEBEGRILLIN

40% off regular styles at Gap with code: EVENT

30% off sale styles and 50% off clearance at Theory with code: MEM2014

20-60% off Big Brown Bag sale and designer handbag sale at Bloomingdales 

Get $20 off $125, $40 off $200, $60 off $300, $100 off $400, and $150 off $500 at Athleta. Use code: SUMMER

Get 50% off the entire site over at Old Navy

Get 30% off of Loeffler Randall's spring sale

Get an additional 15% off Beauty Bar's sale section with code: BBSALEONSALE14

(Photo via here)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

spring-perfect street style

Ah, spring fashion. I love it. Bright lips and bright details, mixed with cozy, streamlined silhouette and loose layers. Here's some street style inspiration for your spring wardrobe mix. I especially love the floral details and light jackets!

 
 

(Photos via 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

Friday, May 2, 2014

giving thanks: 25th birthday reflections



I'm typing this up on a plane to Nashville right now, after reflecting on the past few months: all of the sweet details and revelations of how much I've grown and how much I've been blessed (and very undeservingly so). This past Monday, I turned 25, an age that I had always looked forward to. When I was in high school, I thought that turning 25 should feel so momentous and climactic. I imagined that I would be an incredibly confident, sophisticated, and unstoppable glamazon-- that's how a quarter of a century is supposed to feel, right? 

It's funny how as I grow older, all of my should's and supposed-to's have been fading away. My timelines and check lists are smoothing over, like bubbles dissolving into water, and all that's left is calm and deep, deep, peace, and something bigger than me and my expectations. It's God, and His wonderful plans. 

Celebrating turning 25 is not just celebrating me-- it's celebrating a milestone of His great works. I spent all of age 24 for the first time truly, vulnerably surrendering my entire life to Him and asking Him to be my Lord over everything: my relationships, my work, and my future. After several stressful years of being my own master, I was done with it. I needed Him to lead. I needed Him to make me the woman He wanted me to be: heart, mind, body, and soul. This daily practice of submission for 365 days made me feel vulnerable, but bold and secure at the same time, because I knew that God was trustworthy and had my best intensions in mind.

Daily submission has turned into openly receiving daily grace, which turned into recognizing His daily works. He's changed my heart and taught me so many lessons along the way. He's blessed me beyond my wildest dreams. It's a miracle that I have such a loving community of friends, from high school to NYU to Redeemer to L'Oreal and Quidsi. It's a miracle that I have my God-loving family. It's a miracle that I have the strongest, most caring boyfriend, Ben, who pushes me back to God and says things like, "I want Jesus to be your #1 dude, not me." (I know: heart-melting.)

Birthdays are fun, but this one was the most gratifying and humbling birthday I've ever experienced. And you know what? I think my high school self would be pleased: in Christ, I am confident, sophisticated, and unstoppable in ways that I could never have imagined. In an emotional blog post from October, I shared how I was reminded that His love is better than life. When I look to Him instead of focusing inwardly, His love is more tangible than ever, and I am so very grateful. 

(Photo via here)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

saturday contentment


How's your weekend going? I'm currently sitting on my couch listening to music, eating salad (trying to be healthy!), and looking forward to staying in tonight... isn't it so funny when you reach a stage in life where you're equally happy to be staying in by yourself, reading or watching a movie, as you are going out dancing with your friends? I'm a super extrovert but being by myself continues to give me such contentment -- does that ring true for you as well? For example, today, I jogged into Williamsburg and back, grocery shopped, and made dinner all for myself and by myself-- and it was awesome. Have a lovely Saturday evening, friends.

(Photo of Kate Winslet via here)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

currently reading...


What's on your reading list? I'm on the last few pages of Delivering Happiness, Zappos CEO Tony Hseih's book, which had been on my to-read list for a long time - it's really fantastic. I totally relate to Tony's passion to build something that touches peoples' lives and love that he explicitly called this drive a "calling." Also interesting to learn about how Zappo's extremely family-oriented culture came about.

On my to-read list: I just got my pre-order kindle copy of Marina Keegan's posthumous collection of essays and stories called The Opposite of Loneliness. I stumbled upon her site on my Facebook newsfeed and was really saddened by her story -- she passed away in a car accident only 5 days after her graduation from Yale undergrad in 2012; what she left behind are incredibly courageous, moving stories that are compiled in this collection. I read her story "Cold Pastoral" in the New Yorker and really admire how boldly vulnerable her writing is (without being melodramatic). 

Lastly, I'm trying to get started on (again) and complete (hopefully) Tim Keller's Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work, which provides a great perspective of why work is important and a gift from God. Keller is my incredibly wise church pastor and I've read his books before, but since there is SO much great content, I always need the extra push of discipline to get through each book. Here goes!

(Photo via Freshome)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

coachella-inspired looks from sole society

In 2012, I bought my first pair of shoes from Sole Society back when they first launched. Since then, Sole Society has partnered with 20+ influencers & bloggers to curate their shoe boutiques and collaborated with Julianne Hough on her own collections. Recently in 2013, they extended into bags and accessories. It's been so delightful watching Sole Society grow into a successful direct to consumer platform, stretching beyond shoes. Here's a peek at their fabulous selection, inspired by Coachella fashion which feels like a mix of Americana and Navajo (in my opinion!). What are your favorite Sole Society picks?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

the wanderlust list: my travel to-do's!

I think I'm getting seriously sick... with the travel bug. (Okay, that was cheesy.) If we're ever hanging out and you notice me gazing off into the distance, it's not you, it's me. I've been in such a wanderlusty mood for the past few weeks, my Facebook wall is covered with travel inspiration. I know I've already been really lucky to have gone to San Fran and the Bahamas so far this year, but I think they only whet my appetite for more :) Here's my latest travel to-do list, with a good mix of domestic and international cities -- what's on your list?

My friend Lindsay recently vacationed in Tulum, Mexico with her husband and really loved it. It's a non-touristy beach town that's filled with history like Mayan ruins, cool caves and cennotes, and interesting shops run by local craftsmen. 

Arizona hiking roadtrip idea: Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Sedona. My friend Tina and I are currently obsessed with Antelope Canyon at the moment -- the water-formed rocks look like multi-colored waves in different lighting... dreamy.

Ziplining, jungles, and beaches! Costa Rica is high up on my list because it seems like it offers the perfect balance of relaxation and outdoors adventuring.

I've read about Positano, Italy numerous times on my favorite bloggers' sites. They all rave that it's the ultimate family vacation: a small village filled with culture and super kid-friendly, on the Amalfi coast. Keeping this in mind when I have a family of my own one day!

I know a few Californians and New Yorkers who often vacation in Palm Springs or Lake Tahoe. Both places look serene and relaxing. Would be fun to go for a long weekend sometime soon.

The next time I visit Asia, I really hope to go to Thailand (and Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia too if it's a long trip). Delicious food, beautiful beaches, cheap massages, and lots of city life to explore, what's not to love? I especially want to hang out with tiger cubs in the Tiger Temple and shop in the Floating Market (above) in Thailand.

Other cities that I'm itching to go to but don't have the time to find photos of for this blog post :):
Seattle: Amazon HQ, friends are living there, and ultimate hiking/biking trip with beautiful mountainous scenery.
Chicago: Everyone calls it the cleaner, better New York. Could this be true? Also, I really want to understand all the fuss about its deep dish pizza.
Nashville: I am ready for honky donk and music. Plus, Emily lives there. 
Guam: I never thought about Guam until I read this Huff Po article, and now I'm sold. Sounds amazing. (Those sunset pictures are unreal.)


(Photos sources: Antelope Canyon here; Costa Rica here; Positano here; Palm Springs here; Thailand here.)
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