Wednesday, November 7, 2018

What’s in my (Cuyana) Bag + Mini Review

So I ended up getting the Cuyana structured tote and am really pleased with how it’s been holding up so far (it’s early). It’s big and roomy, versatile for work or for the weekend. The leather is really high quality and scratch resistant. I really think this will be a bag that will age quite gracefully. I was wavering back and forth with the color though… whether I wanted black or cognac. But I’m really glad I went with the cognac! 

I wrote earlier that I also bought the tote insert from Cuyana specifically for this bag, but I ended up returning it due to the extra weight and extra structure to the bag. I really liked it for the utility, but it just didn’t work out for me. That said, I do have a few things floating around the bag, but nothing unmanageable. I recently cleaned it out and took a picture. 

  • - Laptop sleeve: NO idea where I got this, but it holds my work computer, as well as my flat things (folders, papers, etc). 

  • - Manila Folder: right now, I’m wrapping up a few analyses and have printed out the reports, meeting notes, and background to look at. Every now and then, I print everything out just to give my eyes a break from Excel. 

  • - Moleskine cahier: A little notebook I keep with me to make personal notes and to-dos. Last note was a few Christmas gift ideas as it’s soon approaching!

  • - Kindle Paperwhite: Can’t live without this. Right now, I’m reading Onward: How Starbucks Fought for its Life Without Losing Its Soul. It’s written by Howard Schultz, who was the founder of Starbucks. It’s been really good so far! 

  • - Silver Bag from Laneige which contains: Mini Bite Lipstick in Chai, Travalo with Glossier You (10% off via this link), period supplies, small mirror, blotting papers, a Tide pen, and Panier des Sens hand cream. 

  • nuun immunity tablets: These are electrolyte drink tablets/immunity boosters. I dissolve one of these in my Nalgene (500ml) and drink it before I hit the gym. Now that it’s cold, the ‘immunity’ ingredients are meant to help, but I actually have no idea if they do anything other than a placebo effect 🙂 

  • Airpods: Another thing I can’t live without. Usually am listening to a podcast during my commute and they’re great to run in as well. 

  • - Gum: standard, but I always have a pack and it is always Orbit wintermint. 

  • - AMC giftcard that I was meaning to use with N.

  • - Hairtie because I always find myself without one. 

  • - Glossier Balm Dot Com (10% off via this link- Have had this for a while and love because it has lanolin in it. 

  • Nalgene 500 ml: This is the PERFECT size water bottle in my opinion. It’s small enough to carry anywhere and not feel heavy when it’s filled. It’s large enough for my day to day, as I’m almost always near a water source if I need to refill it.

  • Tory Burch wallet & smaller card wallet: Wallet carries all my cards (picked this up at an outlet a while ago), while my card wallet  only carries my building badge for work and my transit card. 

  • - Pair of socks: I don’t know why this is here. I think I must have thrown in a pair when it was raining one morning just in case my feet got soaked.

  • Wireless mouse: Another thing I CANNOT live without at work. The one I have is Logitech, and feels great in the hand. 
  • RXBAR (grabbed a sample from an Amazon Treasure Truck) & Clifbar (always have at least 1 bar in my bag in case I get hungry)

  • - Loose receipts, coupons, an “I voted bracelet”, and a grocery list 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

What I Wore #5...// Tote Shopping Update


It's been unseasonably warm this week. This may have been the last skirt I wear bare-legged in 2018! 


OUTFIT2_ (First foray into non-skinny jeans... what do you all think?)

H&M Mock Neck Sweater // Ines De La Fressange Uniqlo Corduroy Skirt // Rothy's 

I wrote earlier about my unsuccessful Form Bag purchase. I didn't realize how important the ability to expand and contract to the amount of things I needed to carry was to the 'perfect' bag. And despite how luxurious the Everlane leather was, I came to terms with how I would potentially use it and decided that it just wasn't practical.

Since then, I've been doing some more research on a work tote. I had looked at a few options: Kate Spade (rip), Everlane, Cuyana, and Longchamp. I also wanted a tote that was structured, but not too structured that it would be difficult to shove underneath the seat (I had this difficulty with the Lo and Sons tote - it either needed to stand up, or be zipped and laid sideways). Then it came down to materials. Nylon was lightweight and durable, but I really enjoy how leather smells and feels. The leather goods I do own are some of my favorite (Everlane Modern Loafers, my leather jacket, even my wallet!). 

I ended up choosing the Cuyana Structured Tote in a caramel brown. It had been out of stock for a while, but finally came back in today. I also added in the tote insert for some additional structure and organization. It was definitely pricy, but I had scoured the internet for something that was as lightweight/not bulky and still offered a laptop sleeve + waterbottle pocket. I hope this ends up working out! 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Skincare Routine That Changed My Skin

Key word here is ‘Routine’… and also ‘Differin'

Starting with a little skin history... I have struggled with acne for a few years now. I’ve always had breakouts here and there during adolescents, but nothing as bad as the period during my 20s. I can pin it down to the start of the rise of K-Beauty, when I started using Missha’s Time Revolution Essence. I slowlym slowly realized that my skin does not agree with Sacharromyces Ferment and my skin broke out like it's never broken out before. 

A stint with Curology cleared my acne for the most part, but left me with weird texture issues due to closed comedones that would never go away or come to a head (no matter how many acids I used). I pared down my products to the minimum, trying to figure out what was causing my CCs, and eventually stopping Curology all together. It was then that I realized it was the Curology to begin with that was causing them! Turns out it was the sweet almond seed oil that they use in their base. After that, no new CCs popped up. Now it was a matter of getting rid of them. This is a before and after of my skin as a result of Curology, after 7 months of consistent use.

What you can’t see here is the flesh colored closed comedones. In a different light, you’d see the bumpy texture. I think at the height of it, I must have had at least 10 on each cheek. I tried AHAs and BHAs to exfoliate them away, but the biggest thing that made a difference in my skin was Differin. With its new OTC status and accompanying OTC prices, I picked up a tube of Differin at Walgreens on a whim. I read about the differin purge, the differin dryness, the differin depression...considered long and hard about whether or not I wanted to go through another stint of bad skin or not, and then gave into my routine-flightiness and slapped it on my face. After about two weeks, I was convinced I was immune to the Differin purge. I felt like my skin was getting better.

Then the purge hit.

I considered just quitting all together. Through it all, I developed a routine that I stuck to, where the products didn’t break me out and accomplished what I needed them to. I decided to stick with the Differin until the tube was through (as I had so read on reddit). My skin slowly got better. One thing that was getting me through it was looking back at my progress pics and seeing the improvement. Another was the niacinamide  that I had been using through it all. I’m convinced this, as well as the consistent use of my acid exfoliators, were helping reduce some of the scarring I had after the purge. 

Here’s a before and after with my skin today. It’s still not where I want to be - I’d love if my skin were scar-free and I didn’t have to wear concealer. But it’s at a point where it looks great with makeup on, smooth texture, etc. So I’ll take the wins where I can. 
Start of Differin Purge (left), today (right)

Here's the full routine: 

And if anyone has any secrets to helping fade acne scars, let me know in the comments!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

My Thoughts on the Everlane Form Bag

I wrote earlier that I had put an order in on the Everlane Form Bag. I finally received it after having to exchange it once (the bag I received the first time was oddly wrinkly and it bothered me!). I wanted to share my thoughts, as I couldn’t find very many reviews up (and all of the ones I’ve seen are positive/comped)! 

What prompted my purchase?
I wanted to switch to bringing a bag to work, instead of a backpack. The hesitation to do so was that I love all the function a backpack gives me. I have both hands available to me, can pack a lot of things into it, even weight distribution on the shoulders, great for travel… the list goes on. But it isn’t appropriate to wear a backpack in some professional settings (I hate carrying it when I travel for meetings), can read a little young, and it just isn’t fashionable sometimes. 

These reasons are actually why I was immediately drawn to the Everlane Form Bag. The whole ‘a computer bag that doesn’t look like one’ pitch was an instant sell. I carry my laptop to and from work everyday, in addition to my daily carry which consists of my wireless mouse, airpods, external battery, wallet, 16 oz nalgene, and a little pouch (contains Tide stick, hand sanitizer, emergency period supplies, a mirror, and whatever lip color I happen to be wearing). This expands and contracts depending on what time of the month it is ( - period stuff) or whatever the weather happens to be (+rain jacket, +scarf/hat/gloves). 

Pros of the Form bag: 
  • * Really gorgeous design - great leather (par for the course for Everlane)
  • * The strap is super comfortable and allows for different wear (over the shoulder, cross body); distributes weight really well
  • * Magnetic closure is really nice; closes automatically, opens really easily. Gives the whole bag a really clean look.
  • * Fits just what I need, and no more
Cons of the Form bag: 
  • * Does not fit a Dell Latitude 13 inch laptop horizontally as advertised but DOES fit my Macbook Air. Have to put my laptop in vertically for it to fit. One note about even fitting a Macbook Air in - it’s really hard to do so, as the top of the bag is narrower than the bottom. You almost have to slide it in diagonally, and then readjust once it’s through the top. Then getting it out really difficult. I cringed imagining fighting with it in the morning in front of my manager. 
  • Note: My Macbook Air is 12.8 inches wide (edge to edge). My Dell Latitude is 12 inches wide (edge to edge). This was annoying, as the Everlane site mentioned that it fit a 13 inch laptop horizontally, and I believe that it does…. if you can get it through the opening at the top (which is narrower).
  • * Vertical laptop means the magnetic closure doesn’t work, so the top of the bag stays open
  • * Gets kind of lumpy when I put my daily carry (listed above) in. Really takes away from the sleek look of the bag.
  • * Fits what I need, but no more

For me, I reluctantly returned the bag as I was looking for something for work. I REALLY wanted it to work out. It was literally perfect, and had my laptop fit while allowing for the top to close, I may have thought to keep it (and just dealt with the difficult in and out). I still recommend if you don’t regularly carry a laptop to/from work OR if you have a small laptop. Definitely measure your laptop before buying this bag if you’re planning to use it that way! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

What I Wore #4


Quite a range for this outfit post. I’ve been loving Everlane Stretch Denim and it’s held up really well between washes. 
OUTFIT2_ H&M Mock Neck Sweater // Everlane High Rise Stretch Jeans - ankle // Everlane Modern Loafer

OUTFIT3_ Banana Republic Color Block Dress (old) // BCBG Marci Pumps

Monday, October 1, 2018

Weekend Projects

It was cloudy and cold this weekend, perfect for working through some weekend projects. N and I went to Brunch at Blue Door off the Armitage brown line stop. The interior is so cute/instagram perfect. N got a classic breakfast, pancakes, eggs, bacon, and hash browns. I got chilaquiles and a latte. 

After brunch and a little window shopping, we went home and I started on my projects. I popped in some headphones to work through all of this. It was very relaxing, and I love the end result of my closet now. I’m excited that I can see all of my clothes on their hangers and that they’re all taken care of and looking their best. 

Made a donation/sell bag of all the clothes that don’t fit/not my style
I ended up filling an entire Trader Joe’s grocery bag with things that I wanted to get rid of. I’m a latecomer to Poshmark, but I’m already addicted to scrolling through all the listings. I love the concept of the app, and am thinking about bidding on a couple items!  

Folded and stored all my summer clothes: Shorts, dresses, skirts, and tops
Did this to make room for my winter gear. We live in a small apartment and N and I split a closet. I hate when my closet rack gets too crowded. It makes everything less visible, harder to get to, and (this sounds silly to say) more stressful to get dressed in the morning. I like when there’s a little bit of space in between each of my hangers, and when everything is organized by color and style. 

Took a razor to my merino wool sweaters and shaved off of all the fuzz and pilling
The fabric shaving took the longest, but the difference is so noticeable! My sweaters look brand new. I just took a cheap BIC razor and pulled the fabric taut, shaving with or sideways to the grain. Looking at the before (left) and after (right) is so satisfying. 
Steamed/ironed all my fall/winter clothes
I realized that a lot of the clothes that I don’t reach for in the morning are blouses that are wrinkly out of the wash and look messy or unkempt. Steaming them breathed new life into these pieces and made thinking of outfits a lot easier. 

Somewhere during the process, I started thinking about long lasting clothes. A lot of what I donated/recycled were clothing that I either did not take care to maintain or clothes that were not built to last (fast fashion). A lot of the pieces that still remain in my closet year after year are easy care, usually made of cotton or wool, denim. Or they’re the nice silk blouses, winter coats, etc, that I dry clean or wash and air dry.  

Thursday, September 27, 2018

What I Wore This Month #3


A few outfits from this month. The weather here has been super transitional; chilly in the morning, warm in the afternoon. Reminds me a little bit of San Francisco!

OUTFIT1_wore to work outfit; there were a ton of execs on my floor, due to a board of directors meeting. Wanted to be comfortable, but not wear jeans/still look professional. It was also really humid out, with a thunderstorm in the forecast.
J. Crew Cotton Shell // Uniqlo Smart Style Pants // Cole Haan 2.Zerogrand Oxfords (These literally feel like sneakers, but look like sporty oxfords. Made of a knit, similar to Nike Flyknit or Rothy’s) // Columbia Rain Coat (not shown) 

OUTFIT2_ worked from home this day (a Friday) and headed home to the suburbs to visit my parents. Picture was taken at my dry cleaner’s, which had large mirrors and really good lighting!

OUTFIT3_ wore this outfit to work, shortly after picking up the stretch jeans at Everlane.