Friday, February 27, 2015

Reader's Choice

I want to thank you all for your kind words & well wishes - I am so grateful for your understanding during what was a very challenging week for me.  I am finally starting to feel better and am looking forward to getting back to my regular work schedule next week (including new outfit posts)!  Because so many of you provided suggestions for content, I decided to combine them all into one post for today - hopefully there is something here for everyone!  I may even consider making this a regular series, so if you have more ideas, please share in the comments below or send me an email.


I've mentioned it on the blog before, but several of you have been asking more lately about the skincare products I use.  A few months ago, I tried switching to some organic facial products and my skin didn't respond well.  So, I'm back to my old favorites for now, but would really like to find all-natural products that work just as well as these.  I have very sensitive skin & many of the anti-aging creams I've tried in the past were too rich for me & caused breakouts, so I try to keep my routine very simple.  I also noticed an improvement in my skin when I removed sugar & dairy from my diet (more on that below).  

I have been using this since my dermatologist recommended it to help calm down my irritable postpartum skin after my son was born (he's now 7).  It seems old-school to be washing my face with bar soap, but my skin has reacted poorly every time I've tried another type of cleanser. 

2) Clarisonic Mia
I'm going on 4 years of using this tool and I honestly don't know how I ever lived without it.  I use it every morning when I wash my face - it really facilitates a deep clean that leaves my skin looking healthy & helps it to better absorb my moisturizer.

3) CeraVe AM/PM
This was another dermatologist-recommended product that I swear by.  Though I've tried a few other moisturizers in the past year, nothing hydrates my skin like this one.  I love that the AM version has SPF30 & that the PM version has hyaluronic acid & ceramides.

4) Kate Somerville ExfoliKate
I received a small bottle of this as a free sample with a Sephora order a few months back and I was instantly hooked.  Many exfoliating scrubs I've tried were too abrasive for my sensitive skin, but this one didn't aggravate it and left it feeling soft & smooth.  I use this twice a week & I've noticed a huge difference in the overall texture & brightness of my skin.  


Changing my diet at the beginning of last year was one of the best decisions I've ever made.  Clean eating has completely eliminated my joint pain, digestive issues & it's even improved my hair, skin & nails.  I find that I have more energy throughout the day & I'm sleeping better at night.  Though it makes traveling & eating out a challenge, it is well worth the sacrifice to have my health back on track.  Here are some of my favorite meals that I make on a regular basis (you can also check out my Pinterest board here for more healthy recipe ideas):

I am always working to get lots of Omega 3's into my diet because it helps reduce inflammation in the body and it's so great for your skin.  I tried about four different recipes for salmon cakes before finding this one, which is the best of the bunch.  I make these almost weekly using this sockeye salmon.

Though not a meal all on their own, I make these whenever we have tacos as a family.  I have this tortilla press, which helps get them really thin, and I love having leftovers to make breakfast burritos or wraps for lunches. Sometimes I will double the batch and freeze half (with parchment paper in between) to pull out later as needed.

This recipe is my husband's favorite meal because it tastes like takeout, only it's so much better for you!  I typically serve mine over cauliflower rice but my family eats theirs with white rice.  The process is a bit time-consuming but completely worth the effort.

One of the best kitchen tools I purchased this year was my spiralizer.  A whole new world of cooking was opened up to me once I realized I could eat zucchini noodles.  This is so quick & easy and a great alternative for lunch instead of my usual tossed salad.  A second place honorable mention goes to this Thai-inspired zoodle recipe (also a household favorite).


Many of you mentioned on Facebook that you'd like to see some outfits that will help you incorporate spring colors into your looks, even though you're stuck still wearing winter layers.  This is the time of year when I start packing away my tartan plaid & fair isle pieces and try to wear more brights.  If you haven't already, this is the perfect time to pull out your white jeans and work them back into your wardrobe - I like pairing mine with softer hues like light grays and pastels.  


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lessons From A Shopping Freeze

This Saturday will officially be the end of my 2 month hiatus from shopping.  Prior to this spending freeze, I was only purchasing new items using money I made from selling old pieces on Poshmark.  So, even before this, I was regularly holding myself to a budget, but I still learned so much from completely halting all my purchases for 60 days.  It was a personal decision and something that I ultimately felt convicted to do.  Looking back on it now, I'm so glad that I chose not to spend during this time & I thought it might be helpful to share what refraining from shopping showed me about myself & my spending habits.

1) Impulse purchases were sabotaging my budget
The first time I noticed this, I was walking into Old Navy to buy some socks and miscellaneous items for my kids. All of their new spring arrivals had just hit the store - but instead of walking through begrudgingly with blinders on, I decided to conduct an experiment.  I carefully browsed the racks & picked up the things that I loved.  I took them all to the dressing room to try on and then added up how much I would have spent (had I been allowing myself to shop).  Let's just say that the total was well over $100.  I walked out of the store that day with just the items I needed for my kids and, though there are a few things I will most certainly be buying once they are on sale (like this faux leather tote), I realized that most of the things I took into the fitting room weren't necessarily pieces that I needed to fill gaps in my wardrobe.  Was this open-knit pullover totally adorable, budget-friendly & perfect for the beach?  Yes.  But how many striped lightweight sweaters did I already have sitting in my spring/summer storage bins at home?  I honestly couldn't remember.  And that's when I realized that I had gotten into the habit of shopping simply out of a desire for MORE THINGS.  Now, this isn't to say that I won't buy some items for next season because I adore them and will get great use out of them.  But, it really made me take a step back and be more thoughtful about what I'm buying & why.

2) Shopping your closet can be fun
During these last two months, I was forced to look at my closet with a more discerning eye & my creativity was put to the test.  I learned that I have WAY more clothes than I realized and certainly more than enough to last me 2 months (or even 2 years!) without having to repeat constantly.  I didn't want to merely skate by and wear a variation on the same pieces over and over again.  I wanted to make the most of this time and truly grow from it - so I challenged myself to wear the oldest pieces that I owned at least once a week (as mentioned here), I did a lot of remixing and when I really hit a styling roadblock, I let my daughter pick my outfit for me!  It opened my eyes to the items I owned that were the most versatile, it made me attempt different pairings (I took notes on what worked & what didn't) and it renewed my love for pieces I'd long forgotten about.  

3) Fashion shouldn't be #1
Even though I wasn't shopping during January & February, I was still actively cleaning out my closet & selling off pieces on Poshmark...which meant that money I normally would spend was going into the bank instead.  Because things tend to sell in phases on consignment sites, I wasn't really aware of how much I was making & was surprised when I saw the total dollar amount.  Having that extra money available to use enabled us to give to friends in need & support a local charity that is close to our hearts.  Though we already give regularly out of our earned income, it felt good to be able to help out even more during what was a very tough season for so many.  As a fashion blogger, it's easy to lose perspective because I get so focused on sharing outfits & searching for affordable finds.  But, this time off from spending helped me realize that, while I love finding a great deal & looking my best, there are far more valuable things that deserve my time, money & attention.  I never want to sacrifice or forfeit the chance to do good because I've already used up all my extra cash on clothes & shoes.  Finding a better balance between the two is something I plan on being more intentional about.

Thanks for bearing with me as I took on this challenge - it had such a profound effect on me, so this definitely won't be the last time I do it.  And, for those of you who decided to join in, I would love to hear what you learned during this time in the comments below!

*images: 123


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Looks I Love

I came down with something towards the end of last week and have been the sickest I can remember being in years (which is saying a lot for someone with an auto-immune disease).  I thought I was on the mend over the weekend, but took a violent turn for the worse on Sunday & literally felt like I was going to die.  I have since seen a doctor and think I am (fingers crossed) finally on the path to recovery.  Because of our current subzero temperatures, I felt it best not to push myself to take outfit pictures while my body is still healing & rest is so crucial.  So, instead, I decided to share some looks that I recently came across & thought were a great inspiration for spring layering.  I did my best to recreate them with similar currently available pieces (though I took some creative liberties with the first outfit) & kept everything under $80.  

Images: 1,  2,  3

Feminine + Chic

Polished + Classic

Modern + Cool


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

20 Under $20

For this month's edition, I tried to focus on easy transitional pieces for the in-between season that you can wear both now & into the warmer weather months.  I also included a range of casual styles & dressier items that would be easy to mix & match.  Try the white jeans with the peach sweater or the olive green blouse with the fringe skirt - the possibilities are endless and everything you see here is just $20 or less!

Bottom right:  Joe Fresh Sweater // Mudd Denim Jacket (w/ code FEBGIFT20)



Monday, February 23, 2015

J.Crew $250 Giveaway

It's been a while since I've held a giveaway here on PPF so I decided it was long overdue.  I wanted to host one as a way to say thank you for following along & coming to read each day.  Since I have a strong affinity for J. Crew, I purchased a $250 gift card for one lucky reader to win!  I am keeping the rules as simple as possible so it will only take a few seconds to enter.  Here are some new arrivals for spring that I've currently got my eye on - read on below for all the details!!

*Must be 18 years of age & have a US mailing address*

1) Follow PPF on Facebook or Instagram
2) Leave a comment below letting me know your user name for the platform you're following on.
3) This giveaway will close on March 2nd at 11:59am EST & I'll announce a randomly-selected winner the next day.  Good Luck!!


Friday, February 20, 2015

Understated Sequins

Though I chose not to travel to NYFW this month, I've been following the coverage closely to see what trends will be emerging later this fall.  Specifically, I was really inspired by the interesting mix of colors at the J. Crew presentation.  Seeing those combinations inspired me to look at my closet a little differently this week - I never would have thought about pairing dusty olive with camel, pastel pink & burgundy...but I really love the contrast of these shades together.  I almost wore a simple button-down blouse underneath, but decided that adding a dash of sequins was a much more fun & unexpected option with these menswear-inspired pieces.  

What I'm wearing:
Forever 21 coat, New York & Co. blazer (similar here or here), c/o TopShop top (similar), 
Maison Jules pants (last seen here), Charles Jourdan pumps (similar here or here), 
c/o ShopLately clutchc/o BaubleBar ring (similar), Ray-Ban wayfarers


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Winter Skin Fix

This has been such a strange & challenging winter - what began very late and seemed uncharacteristically mild at first has now hit us full force in February.  My skin had been handling the cold relatively well until the last few weeks of subzero temperatures.  The lotion I was previously using simply wasn't cutting it and I needed to pull out something richer & more intensive that could protect my hands from the arctic blast.  In addition to my own personal skin problems, I noticed that my kids were starting to have issues as well.  To keep their classrooms germ-free, they are required to wash with an anti-bacterial soap multiple times a day at school.  Unfortunately, my son & daughter have very sensitive their hands have become extremely dried out, nearly to the point of cracking, from excessive exposure to this harsh cleanser.  

But, this story has a happy ending & it's all thanks to a miracle product we were recently introduced to.  Skinfix is a new-to-me brand, but they've actually been around for decades, and their line has now been made available at Target.  I was so happy to find a product that didn't contain any harmful ingredients like phthalates, parabens or soy (which I have avoid, due to my auto-immune disease).  I started using the Skinfix Hand Repair Cream on our entire family 2 weeks ago and we have seen such a huge improvement!  I love that it's safe enough for all of us to use, that it absorbs quickly & immediately soothes our rough, dry skin.  I also appreciate that a little goes a long way - you only need a pea-sized amount, which means that a single tube lasts quite a while.  We now have one stashed in our car (for quick applications before the kids head into school), by the kitchen sink (essential for applying after washing dishes) & in my handbag (for easy access on the go).  And, best of all, it's under $18, so we can restock as needed without breaking the bank!

What I'm wearing:
c/o Dorothy Perkins coat (I'm wearing a US 4), Ann Taylor sweater (also similar here & here), LOFT shirt
c/o Old Navy jeans (similar here or here), Joan & David boots (similar here or here), c/o Old Navy bag (similar), 
Bracelets: Vintage, Forever 21 (similar) & LOFT (similar), Nails: c/o JINsoon Auspicious

Trusted for generations, Skinfix's award-winning products ensure head to toe happy and moisturized skin
Available exclusively at Target


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Colorful Pout

There are few things I hate more than spending money on a new lip color only to find out that the shade looks completely different on my lips than it did in the tube.  Over the years, through much trial & error, I've discovered a handful of lipsticks that I love & wear repeatedly.  So, I decided to put together this handy guide to share my go-to colors with you in a way that shows how they actually look both in the tube & on my lips.  I chose to focus just on pinks & oranges, because they are ideal for the upcoming season.  I am sharing three different hues in each color group so you can find your favorite based on the intensity & brightness you are most comfortable with.  I have tested these on two of my girlfriends who have different skin color than mine (olive & medium) and each shade passed with flying colors.  Even better, these are all drugstore brands so it's an affordable way to update your beauty routine for spring!


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Spring Forward

While the storm rages on here in NY, many of you who live in warmer climates have been requesting some spring looks.  So, I decided to head indoors for this shoot so I could share a few of my favorite pieces for the new season.  A classic trench is such a crucial wardrobe staple, but I also love the idea of an updated version in a color other than traditional khaki.  This draped fabric is even more gorgeous in person and is a great lightweight option for the warmer weather.  I am absolutely in love with this olive green and can't wait to contrast it against other bright colors (like citron & persimmon) in the coming months.  Another easy update for spring is to go lighter with your accessories - as much as I love my oversized chunky boyfriend watch, the pretty pastel hue of this modern wrap style may have just converted me.

What I'm wearing:
c/o Dorothy Perkins Trench (25% off w/ code DPFW25; I'm wearing a US 4; also in black & stone), 
Joe Fresh blouse (similar), c/o Old Navy jeansGap belt (similar here or here), Charles David Pact pumps
c/o JustFab Kai bagc/o La Mer Collections Wrap Watch, H&M ring (similar), BaubleBar Cairo ear jackets
c/o ShopLately ear cuff, Lips: Revlon Smoked Peach, Nails: c/o JINsoon Auspicious


Monday, February 16, 2015

Wardrobe Workhorse

A denim jacket is one piece that I believe every wardrobe needs, especially in the spring & summer.  This classic topper pairs perfectly with casual styles like a striped tee or little white dress, but it's also great for adding a cool contrast to more sophisticated pieces.  The one I own (shown above) is over 3 years old and only seems to get better with age.  I personally prefer a lighter wash with a slightly worn-in look...and I almost always roll or scrunch the sleeves up for an even more effortless feel.  Whether you already have one & just need new ideas for how to wear it or if you're still searching for your ideal denim jacket, this post has got you covered!



Friday, February 13, 2015

Creature of Habit

If you haven't already noticed, I tend to wear my favorite pieces with high frequency.  I'm a big believer in this, especially when you find items that fit great & make you feel good. These jeans are my absolute favorite pair - they're over a year old, perfectly worn in & unbelievably comfortable.  Though I keep trying to force myself to wear my other denim, these are almost always the pair I reach for.  What are the pieces that you can't live without & gravitate towards repeatedly? 

What I'm wearing:
Zara coat (last seen here; similar here or here), c/o LuLu*s top (similar here or here), 
Old Navy chambray shirt (similar here or here), c/o Old Navy jeans, c/o JustFab Edalia pumps


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Steals Under $30

I realize there's nothing ground-breaking about pastels for spring, but I always seem to gravitate towards these muted hues this time of year.  I really love the idea of injecting small doses of pastel into an otherwise neutral look (think crisp whites or soft grays) and pairing them with darker colors (like the mint/navy combo below).  These outfits are ideal for the coming season and everything you see here is just $30 or less!