Best Fall Candlesfeu de bois | pumpkin chai | oatmeal cookie

i have a bit of a thing for things that smell good. this is my worst nightmare. as a ginormous neat freak and a person with what i’m pretty sure is a pretty hardcore nose (both in the large jewish sense and in the strong sense of smell sense), i’m constantly thinking of ways to make both myself and my home smell pretty. and by pretty, i mean, i want to smell fucking AMAZING (thank you, tocca cleopatra, for your help in that regard), and i want my apartment to do the same. when you’re a crazy cat lady to the max, this can be a little bit difficult. i try to keep smells to a minimum by disposing of penny’s lady bizness on the regular, and cleaning my apartment from top to bottom once a week (or more, depending on how anal i’m feeling on any given day).

but my real savior in the scent department is candles.

hi, my name is sarah, and i am a CANDLE WHORE. i cannot get enough. the security guard at the west broadway anthropologie store and i are pretty much on a first name basis (at the very least, he sees me and thinks, this bitch, buying her candles again). thank goodness my mother never remembers to read this blog, because she’d absolutely keel over if she realized how much i spend on candles on a monthly basis. my expensive candle habit takes a bit of a hit in the summer months, when fresh flowers take priority over a faux wax version, but come fall and winter, i am ALL ABOUT THAT WAX, ‘BOUT THAT WAX

specifically, i’m all about that pumpkin/fireplace/cookie/fir-scented wax. there is nothing i love more than sitting on my couch enveloped in the smell of nest’s pumpkin chai. it is, hands down, one of the best fall candles out there. RESPECT, nest. you kill it. (come christmas time, nest’s ‘holiday’ pretty much never stops burning in casa de sarah and kaitlyn). i may be a jew, but i LOVE me the scent of christmas trees, and since i can’t really get away with owning one, i can own the next best thing: a candle that smells like the real thing.

anyway, back to my faves. i’ve been known to go a little crazy buying anything and everything from illume (they do a separate line from anthropologie – don’t miss out on their oatmeal cookie and pumpkin souffle boulangerie jars), but when i’ve got extra cash money burning a hole in my pocket, i head straight for the diptyque. in the spring, i’m all about rosa mimosa, in the summer, it’s baies for the win (it’s baies for the win any season, really), but come autumn, i can’t get enough of feu de bois. there is, i tell you, no other candle that mimics the smell of a real, wood-burning fireplace better than this one. 

when you’re a city-dweller, and especially, a new yorker, a real, wood-burning fireplace is a pipe dream. it’s about as realistic as going an entire year without seeing a crazy person on the subway (love you, nyc). fireplaces and garages, i tell you. they’re what suburban dreams are made of. but since we concrete jungle folk can’t get the real thing ’til we head upstate to hudson or across the water to jersey, we’re destined to burn candles instead.

diptyque’s candles may be expensive, but they burn forever, they burn cleanly, and they smell beyond incredible. trust me when i say: if you can afford to splurge, feu de bois is THE fall candle. there’s nothing else like it.

can’t stomach spending more than $20 on a freaking candle? i feel you, girl. make a beeline for your local anthropologie store, and stock up on their oatmeal cookie boulangerie jar. at just $16, this candle burns beautifully, lasts for 35 hours, and best of all, doubles as an easy way to make people think you’re a baking goddess who whips up soft, molasses-laden oatmeal cookies on the regular. talk about killing two birds with one stone.

so, what are you waiting for? you have shopping to do!

 

d37ff42e4d64659ae9a6726e427c0777yesterday, i cried during a bar method class. that’s a sentence i never really thought i’d write. at soul, maybe. soulcycle’s all about letting your emotion out, and it’s a dark room lit by candles. crying (at least, quietly), is almost encouraged. but at bar method, poised and pretty, ballerina beautiful is what it’s all about.

before i go any further, let me say: i didn’t cry because i was sad. for once, i wasn’t crying because i felt out of place, or because i felt useless, or incapable, or that dreaded f-word, fat.

no, yesterday, i cried because i was happy. because i was proud. because lara, an instructor who’s been with me through most of my journey (and lord knows i still have a ways to go), said something so moving, so beautiful, so kind and goddamn wonderful that i almost lost it.

every bar method class starts with arms – shoulders, biceps, lats, then straight into pushups. mid pushup, i felt lara next to me. she repositioned my tuck (bar method terms for rolling your hips forward and squeezing your glutes til they feel like buns of steel), and told me to move my arms back a couple of inches. as i got into the correct form, she pushed her microphone to the side, and said, quietly, so only i could hear, “you’re making room for a body that’s no longer there.”

and just like that she was gone, and i was pushing up, and down, and up, and down, squeezing my eyes tightly shut so i didn’t burst into tears in front of 25 other women (many of whom, i should note, have become friends, and who likely would have been perfectly fine if i’d shed a tear or two).

it took a good five minutes for me to regain my composure, lara’s words reverberating in my head. my form was off because i was making room for a body that was no longer there. a body that was no longer mine. a body i’d worked so, so hard to shed – and a body i still felt (and feel) weighed down by.

when you’re on a weight loss journey (and lord, is it a journey), it can be hard to see your progress. it can be discouraging to step on the scale and see that the numbers haven’t changed as much as you’d have liked them to (especially when you know, deep down, that your body IS changing and the scale just isn’t showing it). it can feel like you’re plodding up a mountain that’s never going to end. i’ve been feeling that particular form of discouraged lately, following a recent annual physical where my weight stayed the same, but my blood work – my cholesterol, my numbers, all my internal markers – were off the charts good. look at my chart, and if you ignore the weight, i’m just about as healthy as a person can be. as my doctor likes to say, “you’re skinny on the inside!”

which is great, fine, well and good. health comes first, right? but in a world filled with body shaming and comparison and the never-ending pressure to be thin, not strong, i don’t want to be skinny on the inside, i want to be skinny where it counts.

every so often, i’ll have a moment – i’ll catch myself in the mirror at bar, or i’ll complete a sprint at soul – where i feel like, yes, i can. i can complete this class. i can keep up with everyone else. i can do this. i do deserve to be here. i do fit in. but those moments are few and far in between, because when you’re scrutinizing yourself every single day, it’s hard to step back and see the bigger picture.

but yesterday, lara helped me see it. she helped me remember where i was when i started, and just how FAR i have come. even if the scale doesn’t always reflect it.

after class, i lingered and waited until she was free, then tapped her on the shoulder and said, “i just wanted to say thank you.”

and she wrapped me up in the biggest of hugs and said, “love you.” and what she really meant, i knew, was, “i’m proud of you and i’ll keep pushing you until you get where you want to be.”

people often ask me why i deign to pay a staggering $250 a month to attend bar method classes. that story above? that’s why.

packing list_vermont

ONE | TWO | THREE | FOUR | FIVE | SIX | SEVEN | EIGHT | NINE | TEN | ELEVEN | TWELVE

next weekend, i’m headed up to vermont for a weekend away in a ski town with a few girlfriends, and let me tell you, as a fall-loving basic bitch, i cannot wait. there is literally nothing i love more than the idea of wearing plaid, drinking a hot chai, sporting a leather jacket, and walking around in places where the leaves crunch beneath my feet. in my ideal fall moment, i’d also want to be simultaneously apple picking, and also wearing a sweatercoat layered beneath that leather jacket (depending on the chill, of course), also those karen walker sunnies above. i’m hopefully carrying that beyond adorable plaid kate spade saturday purse above, too.

did i mention i fucking LOVE fall? i swear, i loved it before it was cool to love it. all those buzzfeed lists about basic bitches and PSLs and all that ish can back off, because i am the original fall loving bitch. i’ve been pinning things like this for years. YEARS I TELL YOU.

anyway, moral of the story is that i just love this time of year so so much, and i cannot wait to spend a week frolicking in the leaves, drinking too much apple cider, sitting in the hottub and marveling at how amazing the foliage is in the northeast in october. october, i love you. northeast, i love you more and i promise i’ll never leave you for the west coast. fall outfits, i love you the most, and i want to spend all of my money on you. specifically on oversized scarves and big cozy sweaters and other things that are far from flattering but offer comfort beyond belief.

so, here’s what i’d be bringing to vermont if money was no object. chances are, i’ll be bringing a few of these things in real life (specifically, a fedora of some sort, a giant leopard scarf, and definitely a baggu for apple picking!), but the rest are on my “wear in my dreams” list.

next up on my packing list: MEXICO!

bedroommakeover

 

why hello print | mirror | pouf | task lamp | storage baskets | rug | campaign dresser | nightstand

 

i don’t know what it is about the month of september, but every time fall rolls around, i get this undeniable itch to redecorate. i want my home to change with the seasons, i want to start fresh, i want to throw out everything i own and start from scratch. now, i can’t afford to throw everything out and start from scratch (and honestly, even if i could, that would be incredibly wasteful and i’d never recommend it to anyone), i can put together a little mood board and start saving for a few pieces to redecorate.

i’ve been living in my little corner of new york city for five years now, and every so often, i splurge on a piece to make my space feel like home – but my bedroom has remained pretty much unchanged since i moved in. i’ve never regretted my moody gray walls, they make the space feel at once light and cozy, and i love my white bedding more than life itself. my bed is like a giant cloud, and i wouldn’t have it any other way. but my storage has seen better days. i’ve got two dresser in my room (oops, #clotheshorse): an antique chinoiserie style one that belonged to my grandma and that i’ll never get rid of (but it could use a good refinishing), and a cheap ikea piece i bought off craigslist and painted a pale pink. my nightstand is an antique i found in the basement of my building next to the trash cans (you wouldn’t believe the stuff people throw away in new york city!), and while it’s cute, it’s seen better days. i’ve also got a large leather armchair i found on the corner of 61st and 1st (bedbugs be damned) and hustled home that very afternoon a few years ago. my rug isn’t the right size for the space, and my TV is placed just a bit too high for late night movie watching.

all small things, sure – but the moral of the story is, my bedroom could use a little love. i’m a big believer in investing in your home (it’s a luxury to be able to do so, of course), because it’s the cornerstone of your life, and the place you come home to each night. give me the choice between an expensive handbag and an expensive piece of furniture and i’d pick the furniture any day. i’ve been super inspired by this room lately, and it’s got me craving a few splurges. i’d like to get a rug that actually fits my space, get some blinds that are a little bit nicer than my ikea curtains and shitty curtain rods, and maybe even get a mirror that isn’t the target version i found in the attic of our rented house senior year of college.

i mean, i’m 28 years old. i think i can get a real mirror, right? above are the items i’m thinking of. i’ll probably go for the rug first (a dash and albert striped beauty), then the mirror, some chic lighting from target, and some cheeky new art from etsy. those nightstands from serena and lily are to die for, but they’re pricey, and when i was home in massachusetts this past weekend, i snagged some old school mahogany side tables for an incredible $80 at an estate sale down the street. god bless suburbia, i tell you.

9e7bc83e540281b518053fb6f9e07f26recently, i had dinner with a couple of old friends – women i’d met during study abroad in 2006, back when we were wee babies just testing the waters of the world – and we got to talking about what we’d all been up to the last few years. ashley, who i hadn’t seen since 2008, had finished up her time at yale, gone on to tour the world with her a capella group, and then spent 2 years in the peace corp in malawi. from there, she’d traveled the world some more, and done all together “good for the world” things. martha, who i’ve stayed very close with, went back to boston to finish her nursing degree, went on to work in head trauma, you know, saving lives and shit like that, and just spent the latter part of a year doing an incredible kidney disease research project in nicaragua.

and it got me thinking: what the fuck am i doing with my life? see, as a kid, i thought i’d be doing great things. i went through a phase where i exclusively read lurlene mcdaniel novels, convinced that it was my destiny to be a pediatric oncologist. then there was my foray into songwriting, with a stint at a couple open mics, when i thought i’d be the next fiona apple, a teenage lyrical genius (guess that crown went to lorde). then i got into writing, really into writing, and i thought, i’m going to write stuff that will change the world.

i thought people would read my writing and feel things, that my words would give people goosebumps, that they’d make people laugh and cry and fight and make up again. i thought i’d do something great with this one singular talent i’d been given (especially since i’d failed so miserably at pretty much everything else i’d tried). i thought that if i couldn’t save the world with what i did, i’d save the world with my writing.

and here i am, 28 years old, working in PHARMACEUTICAL ADVERTISING. while my friends are doing things like attempting to cure kidney disease in sugarcane workers and bringing relief and calm to places in crisis.

and i know that we don’t all get to do great things. we don’t all get to change the world. we don’t all grow up to be the sorts of people that little kids look up to, that young people aspire to be.

but i sort of thought i was doing to, you know?

couple that with the fact that the internet and the blogosphere (i’m looking at you, pinterest) is FILLED with mantras like the one above, constantly reminding us that if we don’t do what we love, we’re failing. that if we DO do what we love, we’ll never work a day in our lives. that if we’re not doing chasing our dreams and making our passions a reality, we’re doing it wrong.

it can get overwhelming. it can make a person with a perfectly reasonable career and a great job feel like absolute shit. because here’s the truth: not all of us get to do what we love. the single mom who’s trying to make ends meet? she doesn’t get to do what she loves. she just has to go to work.

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i’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how we got to this place in society – a place that so relishes our ability to say, fuck a career, fuck a stable salary, fuck benefits, i’m just gonna DO WHAT I LOVE. how we got to a place where pinterest-pretty is pervasive, where everything is about showing just how beautiful and perfectly styled and amazing our lives are, each and every day.

here’s the thing: that shit? it isn’t real. as my friend molly said the other day, “not all of us save the world. some of us just wake up and go to work.”

or, as my mother said to me this weekend, when i explained that i was feeling kind of shitty about my job, “some of us save the world on the side. that’s what you do.”

it’s true, isn’t it? that sure, some people do amazing, incredible, life-changing, world-changing things. and i should be proud, thrilled, amazed, to call some of those people my friends. they inspire me to be a better person, to ask more, to learn more, to do more – but i don’t have to do those things in my day job. i don’t have to wake up each morning and say, goddammit, i am so fucking THRILLED to go to work today. sure, i can say that some days (and honestly, some days, i do), but the rest of the days, i can just be satisfied. satisfied to have a great job, to work with great people, to have a job that enables me to live in the greatest city in the world, one that pushes me and teaches me every.single.day. of my life. i can be satisfied to have things that others in the world can’t take for granted. things like a 401k, and health insurance, and the knowledge that i’ve got a paycheck coming in every 2 weeks.

those things aren’t glamorous, and they aren’t pinterest perfect, and they most certainly don’t amount to saving the world. but they are a luxury, and they make me lucky. because someday, my boring job will enable me to give my children the sorts of experiences my parents gave me. they’ll allow me to send my kids to summer camp, to take them on vacation, to show them the world, to give them perspective. and maybe i wouldn’t have those sorts of luxuries if i worked at a tiny non-profit.

so what if i haven’t written my life-changing novel yet? so what if i don’t save lives daily? instead, i get up and go to work, and i get paid to write each day. my 16 year old self – she’d be pretty proud of that, pharma advertising or no pharma advertising. do i feel uninspired sometimes? sure, but that’s why i started this blog. do i feel like i could do more sometimes? sure, but that’s why i volunteer, and donate my time and on

 

 

wild rice and peach saladthere comes a time each summer, when i’ve eaten one too many ice cream cones and had one too many drinks and i just start to feel like a giant blob of unhealthy. such was the case during the week leading up to labor day, when i told myself, after a weekend of somewhat-controlled debauchery on the jersey shore, that i was going to “eat clean” for a week.

that didn’t last. i mean, i tried, really, i did. and i definitely ate healthier, but if there’s one thing i learned about myself, it’s that putting restrictions like “eat clean all week” on myself just make me want pasta even more. whereas, when i just tell myself i’m actively going to try and eat healthily, and swap my ice cream cones for berries, i’m somewhat able to do so.

anyway, during my “eat clean” week, i stumbled across this recipe from the QUEEN of eating clean. seriously, this woman is perfectly happy to eat a giant bowl of vegetables for dinner and call it a day. i mean, i wish i was that sort of human, but i’m just not.

i adapated sarah’s recipe to fit my own tastes, and to make it work-lunch worthy, i served it over arugula, which beefed it up a little (and added some greens, which are always healthy, right?!). it’s delicious. trust me, you want to make this.

what you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups wild rice mix
  • 1-2 ripe peaches, sliced
  • 1/3 cup mint, chopped (plus more for garnish)
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • juice of one large orange
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • pink himalayan salt or sea salt

what you’ll do

  • cook rice according to package directions. generally speaking, rice is a 2:1 water to rice ratio, with a bit of butter or oil thrown in.
  • stick your rice in the fridge to cool. meanwhile, mince your garlic and shallot, and juice your orange.
  • mix the shallot, garlic, OJ, EVOO, red wine vinegar and a little bit of salt (i used sea salt) into the bowl. stick your fork in and taste it. add more salt (or a little pepper, i did) if you’d like.
  • slice your peaches and roughly chop your mint.
  • in a large bowl, combine rice, peaches, and mint. add dressing and mix well, then stick in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors really seep in. i left mine in there overnight, since i was bringing it to work the next day.
  • when you’re ready to serve, fill a plate with a hearty serving of arugula (spinach or mixed greens would also work nicely here), and top with rice salad. sprinkle with some fresh mint and a little bit of salt and pepper, then toss to combine.

et voila! a healthy, pretty salad that will make everyone else at the office jealous.

 

071f1eff1e6704c21a729ddd41fc8400yesterday was one of those days that made me think a lot about what i have, and how easy it is to lose everything in a single moment. i purposefully held off on posting; i think in the case of september 11th, for the most part, silence speaks louder than any words i could write. i didn’t live here when the planes hit the towers, but having been here for the better part of 6 years, i feel like i can at least call myself somewhat of a new yorker, and every year on 9/11, i feel a little pang in my chest, like a tiny piece of my heart has chipped off and swirled down the drain. the world is kind of a scary place these days, you know? i don’t remember the last time i saw something truly happy on the news, and conflict seems to be around every.single.corner. yesterday, i woke up to clouds obstructing the sun, and i thought, good. it simply wouldn’t seem right for the sun to shine on a day like today. 

like millions of other new yorkers, i got up, and went about my day. i took the subway, i walked to work, i got a coffee at my regular spot – but i did so with a heaviness in my heart that isn’t there on other days. then, when i got to work, i found out that a friend’s father had passed away the evening before. and while i’d never met him, and while this friend and i aren’t that close, i felt this dark cloud settle over me, one little prick of sadness after another.

the world just isn’t fair, you know? i know, that’s a silly and childish thing to say. of course the world isn’t fair. but sometimes i want it to be, so that bad things, hard things, things that break our hearts – so that those things don’t happen to the people i care about.

i’m not really the god-fearing type, but i do ascribe to the belief that there’s something greater than us out there, something that has a sense of our purpose, and our plan. that’s not to say there is a reason for everything, but i like to think that sometimes, there’s someone up there (oprah, is that you?) pulling just a few strings.

all that heaviness yesterday got me thinking about just how lucky i am. sure, i put up a post two days ago about my wounded heart, and sure, i’m SAF (single as fuck, a term i recently coined to describe myself), but if that’s the worst thing in my life right now, god damn am i grateful.

grateful. it’s a good word, isn’t it? it makes you think of the things, the moments, the people and places you’re thankful for. it reminds you to take a step back, and see everything as relative, and remember the good instead of focusing on the bad. on days when it seems like the world is a terrible, horrible, scary place, and like no one’s up there minding the store, i like to remind myself of what’s important: all the things i do have, not all the things i don’t. thinking about all those people who lost their lives on 9/11, thinking about my friend who will never get to call his father again – those are terrible, horrible things. and when i stop and truly think about them, they make me realize: my problems? not so bad.

so, as a short exercise, a few things i am grateful for.

1) my health, and the health of my loved ones. almost immediately after hearing about my friend’s father’s death, i texted my entire family. had my parents not been at a medical conference, i would have called. i just needed to hear that they were okay, that they were there. and then i said, i am so thankful that we’re all still here, and we’re all still healthy. my family isn’t perfect (who’s is?) but we love each other dearly, and i wouldn’t be where i am today without them.

2) my job. sometimes i hate it, but i quite like it, and i feel happy to go into work each day. doing something you enjoy is an absolute privilege, and i try not to forget that.

3) my city. i live in one of the most vibrant, exciting, interesting, diverse cities in the entire world. sometimes, new york uses me as its punching bag, but most of the time, the city is pretty damn nice to me, and i’ll be damned if i don’t feel lucky to live here.

4) my body. slightly connected to my health, but also its own thing. anyone who reads this blog regularly knows i struggle greatly with my body image (and i probably always will), but over the past few years, i’ve been working towards a place of acceptance. while i’m not there yet, i have gotten to the point where i have moments in which i feel strong, and capable, and oh so thankful for two working arms and two working legs, and the ability to get just about anywhere on my own two feet. there are many people (my own cousin included) who do not have this luxury; i try not to take it lightly.

5) my friends. i have never been the girl to have a huge group of friends, and slowly but surely, i’m learning to be okay with that. what i do have, however, is a good handful of people i can count on rain or shine, and then a whole other bucket of folks who are just plain wonderful, even if i can’t count them as my inner circle. this morning, one of my old coworkers reached out to send me a little ray of sunshine, and i can’t tell you just how much it made my day. people like that – ones who do things to make others happy purely out of the kindness of their own hearts – they make my time on this world worth it.

i’d love to know: what are you grateful for? 

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