When I visited my friend, Alexis, in Nashville last month, one of the activities I was most excited about was paying a visit to Lemon Laine, a natural beauty & wellness shop that opened earlier this year. Natural beauty retailers are few and far between, so when I found out that my home state had such an Instagram-able and chic beauty and wellness destination, I knew I had to check it out! From the moment we set foot into this beautiful boutique, we felt welcomed. They graciously allowed me to photograph their beautiful store (even with my eyesore of a camera) and we took our time browsing their skincare and wellness offerings with their staff close by, eager to answer any questions we had. Alexis decided to book an appointment at their exclusive Oil Bar, a completely customizable service in which you work with a Lemon Laine skincare expert to create your own unique facial oil, tailored to your personal skincare needs. I can’t think of a better way to pamper yourself (or someone you love- Christmas is almost here!) than to take a seat at Lemon Laine’s Oil Bar, sipping a glass of complementary champagne and sniffing & selecting your personal facial oil’s blend of skin-supporting essential oils! It was definitely a treat and Alexis is loving the results from regular use of her own facial oil blend. Lemon Laine’s products were definitely more wellness and skincare focused than many other natural beauty boutiques I’ve visited. With a wall full of supplements (and even a Smeg fridge stocked full of Coconut Cult yogurt), it’s clear that they truly stand behind their motto of “feel good first”. There were SO many skincare products to choose from (in addition to their Oil Bar services), and I appreciated that they had a good mix of products from a wide variety of brands. Their selection was well curated in that you hardly saw one single brand’s entire line- just the products that founder Laura Lemon had personally chosen to grace the picture-perfect shelves. Keep reading to see the products I decided to pick up!
This is my favorite natural deodorant formula that I’ve found so far and I was so surprised to see it lining the shelves at Lemon Laine because it was once only sold through Native’s website! I’m excited to try this scent because I’m a sucker for anything Lavender and Rose scented, so the combination of the two is a dream come true for me! The formula is really creamy and nourishing and once your body adjusts to using natural deodorant instead of chemical antiperspirants (which can take up to 3 weeks), you’ll never have to worry about being stinky or needing to re-apply it throughout the day.
I’ve been wanting to try Cocokind’s products for quite a while and when I saw their sticks at Lemon Laine, I decided to see what all the hype was about. The MyMatcha has only three ingredients- coconut oil, beeswax, and matcha green tea powder. These travel-friendly sticks can be taken anywhere and used for a multitude of purposes such as a moisturizing lip balm or a brightening under-eye treatment for dark circles. I’ve only used this for a few days, but it’s super moisturizing, yet has a nice texture that’s not too “balmy” and works well for use on more delicate areas such as under the eyes.
Natural lip balm is not hard to come by, but surprisingly, it is hard to find formulas housed in a twist-up tube for more sanitary on-the-go application. I brought these with me on my trip to England and they kept my lips in tip top shape, despite all of the time spent on planes and outside in cold, windy weather. These vegan lip balms are definitely getting a permanent spot in my purse. Shop Vanilla here and Mint here.
Inspired by Hawaii and made with precious natural ingredients like raw honey, french green clay, algae, spirulina & chlorella, this mask is the equivalent of a nourishing green smoothie for your skin! I’ve only used this once so far, but I adore the scent and texture of this mask- and I love the texture of my skin when I wash it off even more! I’m looking forward to many more mermaid-worthy at-home facials.
Another multi-purpose stick from Cocokind, this product treats and heals not only active breakouts, but also corrects pigmentation issues from previous episodes. The *all organic* ingredients include; sunflower oil, beeswax, turmeric, ginger root, & tea trea oil. To use, simply apply to problem areas, let sit for 20 minutes, then remove with a damp cloth. So far, it truly does seem to be a quick, effective, and affordable spot treatment product.
I started to transition to green beauty over a year ago and one conventional product I hadn’t given up juuust yet was lip liner and lip color. I had built quite the collection of MAC lipsticks and had found a couple of creamy liner formulas that I loved. While I’m not crazy about this particular formula, it’s a good product to lightly define your lips.
There were several goodies on the wellness wall that I would have loved to have taken home. The bright packaging of this turmeric blend won me over and with such clean ingredients like ground turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper, it’s a potent powder that can be added to anything- lattes, smoothies, oatmeal, chia pudding, etc. Turmeric has many health benefits, and this blend is a fun way to easily incorporate more of it into your diet.
If you ever find yourself in the Nashville area, take some time to stop by Lemon Laine for a real green beauty treat! Any products in my haul that you’re anxious to try? Tell me which ones in the comments!
If you know me, then you’re familiar with my love for Paris. So it may come as a surprise to you that this summer was the first time I made it a priority to visit the famous French bakery and restaurant, Ladurée in SoHo. Known for their rainbow-hued macarons in beautifully decadent boxes, they now have two locations in New York City alone and are rapidly moving across the globe, expanding their brand into Asia and the Middle-East most recently. You can visit Ladurée in New York via their quaint little boutique in the Upper East Side neighborhood on Madison Avenue for on-the-go macarons, or you can dine at their location in SoHo on West Broadway for a full, fancy French dining experience, best enjoyed al fresco on their beautiful garden patio. Read on for a look into our magical Sunday brunch at Ladurée SoHo!
The garden is very spacious, and it also has a bar with a menu full of Instagram-worthy cocktails (lots of them are topped with a macaron skewer!). I came for drinks earlier in the summer and even my plain glass of champagne was garnished with a rose petal! Our original plan was to have afternoon tea in the garden, but they don’t allow you to make tea reservations on the weekends and wouldn’t sit us in the garden for tea on a Sunday (they have a small dining area inside, as well), so we asked for the brunch menu and begged for a table outside (there were plenty when we arrived at noon). If you’d like to have afternoon tea al fresco, I’d suggest making a reservation during the week.
But first, coffee (and tea!). My friend Kristin and I sat under the gorgeous tree-filtered sunlight and caught up while waiting on our meals. I believe presentation is a large part of the formula of Ladurée’s success, so of course our caffeinated beverages were delivered in adorable striped china with saucers, mine with my own silver teapot, and Kristin’s coffee with the cutest serving creamer. It was the perfect sunny Sunday and we couldn’t have asked for better patio weather.
Kristin ordered the Ladurée Style Eggs Benedict, while I had a sliced sweet potato topped with avocado mash and an egg. We both enjoyed our dishes and they were light enough to save room for the most important part of any meal at Ladurée- the macarons, of course!
I ordered the “Ispahan” rose, raspberry, & lychee pastry while Kristin ordered a round of macarons. I talked her into trying my favorite flavor, the rose, but the vanilla won her vote for best flavor. It’s funny- I’m always tempted to make my box as colorful as possible and often forget how good the plain old chocolate and vanilla are. The chocolate reminds me of the perfect brownie- crispy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside. We planned on saving half of our treats to take home, but obviously they were too tasty to make it off the patio! We left with full bellies and refreshed moods after our sunny Sunday brunch at Ladurée SoHo.
Tips for Dining at Ladurée SoHo
Make reservations through Open Table, especially if you’d like to dine in the garden. Note that reservations for afternoon tea are only accepted Monday through Friday.
If you are unable to reserve a table in the garden, a good way to still take full advantage of the lovely patio is to order a cocktail and sit at the bar. Drinks are pricy (average between $20 and $25), but I think the experience of enjoying the patio is worth the expense.
If you’re only interested in the pastries, order from the boutique and enjoy them in the small seat-yourself booths inside. They’re actually slightly up-charged on the dine-in menu, so you’ll save a few bucks, too!
While our food was beautiful and tasty, Ladurée isn’t known for their entrées and although this was my first experience dining in their restaurant, I would recommend it for pastries & coffee, afternoon tea, or brunch over lunch and dinner, especially if you’re trying to stick to a budget. The presentation of the food was definitely Instagram-worthy, but for me, the taste wasn’t anything special (my poached egg was a little water-logged) and the prices are pretty steep.
“Sunday Brunch at Ladurée SoHo” Photographed by Emily Davis
While New York City has a reputation of being one of the most expensive cities in the world, there are still a lot of cheap and even free sights to see and things to do. One at the top of my list is to take a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge. I’ve only ever been during the day, and I imagine it would be especially peaceful in the morning or evening, but I love the contrast between the bright blue skies and the bridge’s brown brick arches. Slather on some sunscreen, throw on a pair of sunnies, and head to the bridge with a friend (or a good playlist), and experience the contrast of the Brooklyn and Manhattan boroughs. If you’re staying in Manhattan and walking across to Brooklyn, DUMBO is a chic little neighborhood off to the left side of the bridge exit. If the trek over the bridge leaves you famished, DUMBO boasts popular New York area restaurant chains such as Westville and Bluestone Lane. While you’re in the area, don’t forget to go to Brooklyn Bridge Park and take a whirl on Jane’s Carousel, then peruse south and walk along the edge of the East River for a breathtaking view of the Manhattan skyline.
View of downtown Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian walkway.
Once you’ve walked the bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn, head to the DUMBO neighborhood and walk along the East River via Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Jane’s Carousel is a memorable and cheap activity to include in your Brooklyn Bridge experience at only $2 per ride.
The Manhattan Bridge as seen from Brooklyn Bridge Park. The DUMBO area of Brooklyn stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. See what all of the NYC neighborhoods stand for here– I had no idea until recently!
I was wearing;
Nordstrom BP 55MM Cat Eye Sunglasses in White/Pink (linked above)
Forever 21 White Crochet Crop Top (no longer available, similar options linked)
H&M Button Down Denim Skirt (no longer available, similar option linked) Also worn here, here, here, and here
Sam Edelman Rowan Mary Jane Flat in Natural Naked (linked above) Also worn here
The weather has been pretty perfect since Luke & I arrived to NYC about three weeks ago- mild for the most part with only a couple of washout days. However, last Saturday was for the ducks and we found ourselves on our way to Central Park for a bike ride as the weather was taking a turn for the worst. We decided to detour to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to keep dry. The MoMA is my favorite art museum that NYC has to offer and it was a good indoor activity that allowed us to spend some quality time together.
From now until October 1st, the MoMA is running an exhibition to honor the world-renowned architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. As a previous interior design student, I’ve admired his work for quite some time but never realized how much of a designer he was until seeing this exhibit. The photo above is the original copy of a magazine cover designed by Wright, and the twelve exhibit sections were full of a lifetime of intricately detailed sketches, concepts, & designs. Frank Lloyd Wright redefined the role of an architect and his creativity and passion for his craft were so evident upon viewing his life’s work on display in the exhibit. If you’re interested in design, architecture, or even just innovation, I highly recommend seeing this exhibit before it ends in October.
Claude Monet’s huge “Water Lillies” provides a unique panoramic viewing experience.
(Left) Detail of Lee Krasner’s “Gaea”. I love when I can see the brush strokes and the layers of oil paint and the colors in this one are totally inspiring me. (Right) Admiring one of my favorite works, “Drowning Girl” by Roy Lichtenstein. Just missing Dave the Minion, who accompanied me on my last visit to the MoMA.
A testament to his innovation, Frank Lloyd Wright designed the iconic Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
(Left) Even in the rain, New York is still so beautiful! (Right) Drip Detail by the master of the drip paint technique, Jackson Pollock.
Artist unknown. I was so inspired by the color & texture of this piece.
(Left) One of my favorite works by Pablo Picasso, “Girl Before A Mirror”. (Right) After the skies had cleared, we hunted for a coffee shop in the area and came across Bibble & Sip, where I had the best (& cutest) matcha latte I’ve had in New York so far. It’s a jasmine matcha blend, so the jasmine cuts some of the bitterness of real matcha and adds a light and airy floral note that you can taste.
Even if you’re only in the city for a limited amount of time, the MoMA is a great option for rainy days (or maybe later on in the summer, boiling days!). Adult tickets are $25, but the museum does offer Free Friday Nights, every Friday from 4 pm until 8. I know I mentioned this in my first post about the MoMA here, but it is by far my favorite New York City art museum and the only one I haven’t visited is the Frick Collection (on my list for this summer!). I’ve got a huge bucket list of activity ideas for my Summer in the City series, but would love to know your suggestions for classic NYC summer activities! Leave your ideas below and have a wonderful summer!
“Summer in the City; Rainy Day at the MoMA” photographed by Emily Davis & Luke Bowes
Confession time… I’ve never been on a traditional “Spring Break” trip. Personally, beaches packed with a bunch of rowdy college kids funneling beer and throwing wet T-shirt contests never really appealed to me- I know, I’ll admit that I’m an old lady at heart. If I could re-visit my college days though, I would love to have saved up money for a girls getaway one year for Spring Break. Somewhere tropical, but not too far away, like the Bahamas would make for a relaxing and rejuvenating week off from classes and a memorable time with my closest friends. Although I don’t know when my next trip to the tropics will be, I’ve been dreaming of returning to the beach and basking in the sun’s warmth so I put together this little post including some of my favorite summer must-haves for your next getaway! Happy Shopping!
SWIMSUITS & COVER-UPS
I’ve been getting my swimsuits almost exclusively from Victoria’s Secret for so many years now, I almost didn’t know where to turn this year now that they’ve eliminated swimwear from their brand. I loved VS suits because I never had to worry about whether the bottoms had adequate lining or if the tops would be too sheer. I had certain styles that I knew were most flattering on me, so I would just stick with those and get a new color or pattern every now and then. VS PINK released new suits this season and, luckily, the ones I found are a little more refined than styles I’ve seen PINK release in the last few years! I know lots of people like Target’s swimwear, but I didn’t see anything that really caught my eye. I was really impressed with J. Crew’s selection, though it is a bit out of my price-range. They have several very classic swimsuits, with a few trendy ones for good measure. ASOS had some really cute & affordable options, but many of my favorites were already sold out like this one, and this one. I will have to test out some new swimwear brands this year and report back to you! I’d love to hear about your current go-to suits!
Please, please, please do not check your suitcase without packing it up with some mineral sunscreen! I swapped my traditional, chemical-laden sunscreen for a mineral one last summer and I’ve never looked back! Let’s just say it’s almost better to get burnt by the sun’s rays than it is to be slathering your body up with the toxic chemicals these products are comprised of. Learn more about these harmful ingredients and the benefit of mineral-based alternatives here. A little disclaimer; Zinc Oxide/Titanium Dioxide-based sunscreens are more “pigmented” than chemical sunscreens, so don’t expect the white “tint” to fade away completely- a small price to pay to avoid toxins if you ask me! I have yet to try the COOLA option linked above, but it has rave reviews and it’s one of the only more natural sunscreens with a skin-tone evening feature so this would be a great product to use on your face! I’ve been loving Herbivore‘s products lately and use the Rose Mist before applying my facial moisturizer, so it would be a great product to utilize (in addition to your moisturizer) for restoring hydration to sun-exposed skin and also for freshening up during a day at the beach. Sun hats & sunnies aren’t just chic accessories- use them to protect your delicate eyes and facial skin! Less sun exposure ultimately equals less wrinkles! I’m in love with my Lo & Behold Naturals peppermint lip balm and would probably opt for swiping some sunscreen on my lips before applying it (as it doesn’t have SPF). But the tin is not very beach (or sand!) friendly so I may try this COOLA one on a trip with lots of sun exposure.
OUTFITS & ACCESSORIES
I’m definitely the type of beach-goer that would be all set for the week with a few bikinis, some sunscreen, and a pair of sunnies because all I care about is laying in the sand all day, every day! Apart from these essentials, I will usually pack some denim shorts, casual graphic tees & tanks (this is another swimsuit cover-up option in a pinch, but I’m not crazy about the combo of sunscreen skin and tight clothing), summery sandals (at least one nice pair of flats and one pair of heels/wedges), and some breezy dresses. I typically don’t even bring jewelry, but I was too excited about the Sugarfix by Baublebar for Target collection not to share these fun and affordable options and I think you could really mix and match them with any and all of the dresses I’ve linked. P.S. I’m calling it now- I think these Steve Madden Jaylen wedges will sell like hot cakes so if you like them, buy them NOW! Chloé originally released this style, then Mark Fisher came out with a dupe last summer that was perpetually sold out (and it looks like the same is already happening again this year). These wedges are practically identical to both high-end pairs for less than half the price of the designer dupes! Yet another reason to love Steve Madden!
“Spring Break Packing Guide” Photographed by Emily Davis
While we saw so much during our first day in Rome, we still had lots of landmarks on the itinerary for day two – the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, Vatican City & St. Peter’s Basilica, and gelato breaks to squeeze in between all of the sightseeing. ? Get ready for one busy summer day in Rome!
We began our day at Rome’s single greatest monument and one of the “new wonders of the world”, the Colosseum. As I mentioned in the first part of my Rome Photo Diary, I took a couple of art history courses prior to this study abroad trip and it made me truly appreciative of the art, architecture, and history of Italian culture so getting to see all these famous works in person was life-changing. The Colosseum, the largest amphitheatre ever built, has a storied past. I will admit, aesthetically it’s much more pleasing to look at from the outside but being inside where gladiators once violently fought to the death, where animal hunts and public executions took place to provide a spectacle for the public, was chilling. Luckily it’s not what it used to be, but the fact that a place in which humanity witnessed some of the most barbaric forms of entertainment is still standing today, so many centuries later, is absolutely incredible.
An interior view of the Colosseum.
In the mid-morning we continued our tour with a walk through the Roman Forum, stopping along the way to snap photos of adorable Vespa’s. The Forum was the center of Roman life in the imperial times, an ancient market and meeting place which also housed many important government structures. There are lots of reminders throughout the city that emphasize just how old Ancient Rome actually is but compared to structures such as the Pantheon and Colosseum, it’s hard to visualize how long this civilization and their creations have actually been around. The forum is a great place to reminisce on the “golden age” of Rome and imagine what it once was – a shining example of power and community.
We continued our walk through the center of Rome until we made our way to Altare della Patria, the monument built in honor of first Italian King Victor Emmanuel and the spot where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier resides. An impressive large white marble building, the bottom section contains a museum dedicated to the unification of Italy, but go to the terrace for what most consider to be the best panoramic view of Rome. As seen in the very first photo in this post, you’re able to get a great look at both the Colosseum and the Roman Forum from this spot.
A group of stilt-walking street performers pose for a photo in one of the piazzas we passed through on our way to Vatican City.
First on our Vatican City itinerary were the Vatican Museums, a group of buildings with 54 total galleries which house the vast papal art collection. Perhaps the most notable part of the museum is the Sistine Chapel, in which Michelangelo painted the elaborately frescoed ceiling and where his famous “Creation of Adam” can be seen. They don’t allow photography in this area, but I would definitely recommend you visit the Sistine Chapel even if you don’t have time for any of the rest of the surrounding museums. I’m much more of a fan of Michelangelo’s paintings than his sculptures (Nothing compares to Bernini) and this ceiling illustration is incredible and something you just can’t miss when in Rome.
This spiral staircase is one of the architectural highlights of the museums.
One of the most famous ancient sculptures ever, “Laocoön and His Sons”, on display in the Vatican Museums.
If you do have longer to explore the Vatican Museums, there are many great paintings by world-renowned Renaissance artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, and Caravaggio on display throughout the numerous galleries. I would, as always, advise you to do research about these pieces and artists prior to your visit so that you’re able to truly appreciate seeing them in person. Wikipedia is a good place to start. I made flash cards for my art history classes with a printout of the work glued to one side and all the important information about it on the other and I actually found it helpful to take these cards with me to the museums and cathedrals so that I could quickly refer back to them while browsing the museum.
The Gallery of Maps, a long corridor with an illuminated ceiling and huge, entrancing Italian maps is another highlight of the Vatican Museums.
Famished from an eventful day, we stopped for lunch at the first restaurant with outdoor seating that we could find and grabbed some gelato afterward for our walk to St. Peter’s Square.
A view of Vatican City, the smallest “country” in the world, from an open museum window.
There are so many adjectives that can be used to describe St. Peter’s Basilica. Grand. Opulent. Monumental. But no combination of words I could string together would do it any justice at all. It is the holy grail of Catholic Churches and the site of which so many historic events have taken place, including the coronation and inauguration of Catholic Popes past and present. Both Michelangelo and Bernini were on the design team of the new St.Peter’s Basilica, a shining example of Renaissance architecture. There was so much beauty to take in that I thought it would be better appreciated from the floor but unfortunately, security disagreed. ? It makes for a good story though, right?!
Bernini’s bronze “Baldacchino” guards the tomb of St. Peter.
We returned to Rome in a daze, still absorbing all that we’d seen throughout the day. We stopped into Ristorante Strega for a late dinner and enjoyed wonderful wine & wood-fired pizza on the beautifully ambient tented patio. We ended our meal on a sweet note with a photogenic and delicious tiramisù.
Since it was our last evening in Rome, we made one last pit stop to the Trevi Fountain before calling it a day. It’s always beautiful but like most of Rome, it has a certain romanticism at night. We decided it was the perfect ending to the first chapter of our Italian adventure.
Summary of Rome Travel Tips
Visit the Colosseumand imagine a time when gladiators once inhabited the arena.
Roam through the Roman Forumto get a glimpse of the oldest neighborhood of the Roman Empire.
Stop by Altare della Patriafor an unmatched panoramic view of the city center, where both the Forum and the Colosseum can be seen.
Take a minute to watch and even interact with the street performers. Italy is one of the few places where these talented artists seem to captivate locals and tourists alike.