Why These 3 Incredible Herbs Should Be a Part of Your Daily Routine

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In the New Year, like everyone, I like to re-assess my life. Am I seeing friends enough? Am I doing enough squats? You get the picture.  

And like many of you I've taken a keen interest in my own health and wellness over the past few years as we make the shift towards natural products, holistic remedies, and generally cleaner and more thoughtful ways to look and feel our best.

You may be aware of my vitamin obsession if you're a regular reader of TheLoDown but if not, you are now!  I had a pretty serious health scare in 2016 over what was discovered to be severe vitamin deficiencies due to a genetic issue (though I eat a primo, healthy, varied diet) that resulted in some unexpected depression, anxiety, and general malaise. There are many opinions out there regarding the need for supplements, but in my case, I'm an advocate as taking vitamins may have saved my life once I discovered I had such a severe deficiency. There are tons of brands to choose from when it comes to vitamins and supplements, and I can tell you through personal research and experience that they are not all made equal when it comes to quality and brand values. My favorite affordable and accessible brand? Nature's Way. They make high-quality formulations for a reasonable price and always have what I'm looking for. Even cooler? They're the first herbal brand that's Non-GMO Project verified and Tru-ID certified (meaning you know the herbs listed on the labels are actually found in the bottles).

Since going down the vitamin rabbit hole, I've moved beyond my weekly B12 injections (that I require for the rest of my life) and Vitamin D with K12 (another one I need) and have had my eyes opened to just how much other formulations can help maintain a healthy body. I've moved as far away as I can from drugstore remedies, prescriptions, and over the counter painkillers, trying to find holistic alternative to support overall health.

I used to pop ibuprofen like candy, take an antibiotic for acne, and regularly reached for drugstore diuretics when I felt bloated - but no more, and it's all because of a bit of personal research and development that I was able to give those goodies up...for good.

It's important when taking turmeric to find a formulation with a high percentage of curcuminoids. This is the active part of the ingredient. Avoid a product with a bunch of fillers, and it's a good idea to take it with a meal as black pepper helps it to be absorbed better into the body.  

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Turmeric is now my go-to for overall health support. When I forgot to take them for a week or so, I really noticed the difference.  

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Next, let's move onto Fenugreek, one of the world's best kept secrets at helping soothe stomachs everywhere.* I discovered this herb through my friend Hannah who swears by it when she eats dairy to help aid in the reduction of bloating.* I incorporated it into my routine, and agreed that it really helps!

One note - it can make your urine smell kind of funny. BUT, it's worth it. I take them almost daily when I eat.  

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Ashwaganda, known as Indian ginseng, is an herbal supplement that has become a part of my daily regimen that supports my Instagram-ready lifestyle.  It can help even out your cycle (hello, Vitality Tonic) so when Aunt Flo comes a'knockin' you're ready for her. If you want natural beauty, I suggest a natural herb! It smells funny, but whatever! It's the price you gotta pay so you can delete FaceTune from your phone.

Now that I've shared three of my favorite herbs with you, I'd love to know some of your favorites and how they support your overall health and wellness journey! You can get all three herbs I mentioned (plus the loose turmeric powder and Curica Turmeric Drops) from Nature's Way.

Why These Affordable Wellness Finds Will Change Your Life in 2018

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DO EVERYTHING

for less...

Starting to take your wellness resolutions seriously yet? It's almost mid-January so the time is def upon is. I even included this gorgeous picture of a soothing beach resort to remind you that travel is a huge component of being healthy and well, and with President's Day Weekend coming up in February you have a perfect opportunity to get out of dodge on the cheap for a few days, do some yoga, and clear your head.

If you're like me and need some motivation to help push you back into the swing of things, allow me to introduce you to some of the best wellness finds you can buy that are actually affordable too. From gear to books and retreats, there's no time like the present to get moving on this new year!

 

TRAVEL SOMEWHERE MEANINGFUL ON THE CHEAP

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Get to Holbox, about 2 hours outside of Cancun, before everyone else does. It's the new new Tulum, and still relatively affordable, while being insanely gorgeous and perfect for some downward dog and cucumber bevvies. My very cool New York friends Jilly, Elise, and Marissa were just there and they loved it. Trust them.

If you want to attend an actual yoga retreat, check out Omm Retreat (the next one is in May) at the Villa Flamingo's hotel in Holbox for 5 nights (plus 2 yoga classes a day, daily breakfast and a farewell dinner) for $900. YEA. $900. Book it now.

 

READ THIS BOOK BY KELLY LEVEQUE

At only $17 on Amazon, nutritionist to women you love in Hollywood, Kelly LeVeque hands over the keys to healthy, lean bodies in her book Body Love: Live in Balance, Weigh What You Want, and Free Yourself from Food Drama ForeverKelly is a master at approaching the kitchen with a sane sensibility, plus her recipe suggestions come from nutritionally-sound science which I'm a big fan of. Her food is delicious, creative, and easy to make (I know first hand because I've tried it) - like great comfort food made with healthy ingredients.

Also, pretty great client list she has going...just check out her Instagram to see some of the famous bods she gets into shape (hello, Jessica Alba and Molly Sims).

 

DOWNLOAD THIS APP

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Tone It Up girls, you know who you are! I'm starting the Tone It Up program in early February once I get another steroid injection in my back for a herniated disk (fun) and I can't wait to get my body moving. The app has like, a billion 5-star reviews from women just like you who want to get after it at the gym, Karena and Katrina (the co-founders) are fellow Southern California goddesses, and they really like pink (like me). At $12.99 a month, it certainly is a more affordable choice than a personal trainer and having looked over the incredible content, definitely looks to be worth the spend.

 

GET THE KINKS OUT WITH THESE YOGA BALLS

I discovered Yoga Tune-Up balls through my ex-boyfriend's ex-girlfriend (that's a mouthful). I never met this nice gal, but the introduction to the Yoga Tune Up ball was like a gift sent from heaven. These round, rubber balls can be placed under the body at various pressure points, or where you have aches and pains and used to essentially massage the discomfort away. I LOVE THESE things, and at $18 on Amazon you'll want to buy a set for everyone you know.

 

GET HEALTHY FOOD ONLINE

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It's probably sick-in-the-head for how often most of us shop online, but if we gotta do it, at least there are businesses out there that cater to our better nature. Enter Thrive Market, a newish online grocery that brings niche and upcoming wellness brands across food and wellness to the masses. In essence, they cut out the middleman to bring you great food at affordable prices. 

I even like their own brand of products - you gotta check out the Coconut Aminos. Yum!


So - that's my list of affordable wellness finds that will certainly change your life in 2018. What are some your faves? I'm always on the hunt and would love to see your lists below in the comments!

XOXO

LB


These Frozen Chocolate Banana Bites Are The Perfect Diet-Friendly Dessert For When You Get a Sugar Craving

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It's diet season, y'all. I know, January is the worst. It's also like a full-on SNOWPOCALYPSE on the east coast right now, and I know that if you're locked inside you'd like something fun to do, ideally something fun that's also delicious. You prob have chocolate and bananas lying around your house allowing for the perfect, diet dessert alternative to left-over holiday treats, cookies, and pies (you really should ditch those by now, come on). One little bite of a frozen chocolate banana isn't going to kill you, but 2 week old pie could do some damage in more ways than one.

A frozen banana bite is satisfying, sweet, filling, and won't totally break the bank if you're on that dreaded New Year's diet (even though my recipe is a bit more indulgent than others you may find on the internet). I'm skipping coconut oil in favor of butter and cream for these bites because they turn out about 1935784 times more delicious, and also, I didn't have any coconut oil (shocking, I know).  I eyeballed the cream until it thinned out the chocolate enough to make it appropriate for dipping and then decided butter was also a great idea for some additional richness because, yum. If I'm going to convince you to skip cake in favor of these, they should at least taste heavenly, one tiny little bite at a time. Don't go overboard and shove them all into your mouth at once and you'll have successfully conquered the sugar monster by feeding it a little, but not a lot.

On to the recipe!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 3 bananas, cut into thin slices

PROCEDURE:

1. Find a metal bowl that will fit inside one of your sauce pans so that the bottom of the bowl could touch water inside of it, but so that the rim of the bowl fits outside of the sauce pan. Or use a double boiler. Point is - you want the bowl to sit in water in the sauce pan. Fill the pan with some water.

2. Add your chocolate chips to the bowl and get the heat going to medium high. Stir the chocolate as it begins to melt. Add the butter and cream to help the chocolate thin out a bit. It will start to get shiny and when it does, you're ready to start dipping your banana slices. Keep the heat on low during this part so that your chocolate sauce stays thin.

3. Have a piece of parchment paper ready to go on a sheet pan. Using 2 forks, dip a slice of banana into the chocolate mixture with one fork, shake off a bit of the excess chocolate, then slide the slice off the fork with the other fork so that it lays flat on to the parchment paper. This will keep as many sides of the banana slice looking pretty and covered in chocolate.

4. Dip all the slices, then wrap the sheet pan in plastic wrap and get into the freezer for at least an hour. Enjoy these little treats whenever you have a craving for something sweet!


How to Detox This New Year and Not Lose Your Mind

Bring it on, 2018. Gently.

Bring it on, 2018. Gently.

Okay. It's January 2nd. I'm still feeling a little bit mushy, and you may also wish that your legs were wrapped in Juicy Couture faux-velvet pants. I've seen the memes on Instagram - everyone has been eating and drinking their faces off since about December 20th and fat-cow syndrome is upon us. 

It's really not about the weight for me, and it shouldn't be for you either. Weight comes and goes and a few pounds melts off rather easily when you eat veggies for a week or so. It's really about the sluggishness that sets in, the desire to crawl into bed at like 6pm and watch episode after episode of Parks and Rec or The Crown. Your skin looks tired and unless you jump right into the gym for GYM 2018 on the morn of January 1st, it can be daunting to get back into a routine.

Let me make it easy for you. Let's get back at it, feel better, look smokin', and allow ourselves to be focused on work and our loved ones without completely depriving yourself of the good things in life. I find that crazy detoxes simply don't work, because after a few days of losing your mind, you're over it.

With that in mind, here are my 5 tips for how to detox into the New Year and not go bananas. I'm calling it the "Totally Tame Detox for Sane People." Here we go!

Breakfast: Go For Greens and Fiber

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It's really easy after the holidays to want to reach for the last Rice Crispy treat when you wake up. When you're eating sweets day after day you start to crave them like an addict, so I GET IT. Starting your day off in the right way however is the hardest yet most important part of the detox to get through, so here's how to make it easy.

Choose a breakfast of vegetables, fibers, an avocado, and an egg if you so choose (I'm trying to avoid eggs bc of a food sensitivity). The combo of the healthy fat from an avocado, with the protein of clean veggies, and the fiber in a GG Cracker will leave you full and satisfied. Making the right food choice for breakfast isn't just about keeping your waistline trim - it's about getting the right nutritional elements into your body so you don't LOSE YOUR MIND. Put good things in and you won't feel deprived. When I eat a robust breakfast of this nature I don't get hungry again until 2, and I really don't get cravings for snacks either.

Drink Water All Day

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If you're still drinking soda, like, get out of here. Or stop drinking soda. It's fucking killing you. That is the absolute truth. If you MUST drink a flavored liquid, make it alkaline water that's been flavored with fresh organic fruit, veggies, or herbs. Lemon water is nice, especially hot, first thing in the morning before breakfast, and a cool cucumber water is a great afternoon pick-me-up.

Point is, drink water, not other crap. Water is our lifeblood, and drinking tons of it not only keeps you hydrated but also moves all the shit you put into your body along until it's excreted in your pee or your sweat. Get an enormous BPA-free bottle you can re-use and fill that baby up again and again throughout the day.

If you're doing Sober January, dats cool. If you want a glass of wine at the end of the day, dats cool. But water > booze.

Eat a Carb

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This one may feel counter-intuitive for a detox, but trust me - the body's preferred source of energy are carbohydrates, so eliminating them completely from your diet is just whack. Don't go eating bowls of white flour pasta or smash pizza into your face, but good lord, a sandwich on whole wheat bread will do your body some good. Make smart choices = feel good.

If you can't eat gluten, then eat an apple. They're surprisingly high in carbs. Feel that energy boost coming on!

Go To Bed 1 Hour Earlier Than Usual

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Ya the holidays were just here and you probably got plenty of sleep, but turns out that if you sleep more you will live longer. It's a fact. Plus, sleep is delicious so this is part of the detox that you'll be really digging. Why not hit the hay an hour earlier than you usually do all of 2018? You'll be less stressed, have better skin, more energy, and most likely be nicer to your friends because you're well-rested.

If you're not sure where to get that extra hour, here's a tip: your devices are stealing it from you. Put your phone away and on night-time mode and don't look at it again until the next day. Instagram can wait, and that guy that's crushing on you can DEF wait. Happy Snoozing!

Read a Book

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Along the same lines of going to sleep an hour earlier so your body can get the rest it deserves, it's time to put your phone down (see above) so that your brain can get a little rest too. I find that doing this old-school thing that lotsa people don't do anymore really has this magnificent way of quieting the chatter that seems to be ever-present these days. I'm currently reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari and The Food Lab by J. Kenji López-Alt.

You could even go for an oldie but goodie and re-read all the Harry Potter books. Just read something besides the news on your phone once a day, everyday.


SOOOO - my "Totally Tame Detox for Sane People" sounds pretty OK, right? It's not about food deprivation - it's about good nutritional choices so that you can come off your sugar and salt-binge relatively unscathed. It's about quieting your body and mind with rest and reading. It's about clearing your body of all the toxins it encountered on NYE with crazy amounts of H20. And mostly, it's about getting back on track in a reasonable way that doesn't make the New Year feel like the biggest moment of suffering all year long. Good luck! X


Tried and True Gifts for the Beauty Lover in Your Life

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THE PERFECT PICKS

for the beauty obsessed...

I'm the ultimate product queen. I have so many potions and lotions in my bathroom I guy I once dated told me he almost broke up with me early on because of it. He thought it was SPOOKY. Well...fuck him! I'm beautiful!

With today's Gift Guide I present to you my selects for the beauty lover in your life - personally tested and loved not just by moi, but by many a beauty lover out there. The lady or guy in your life who loves a product as much as me will get down on their knees and thank you for your keen generosity. To the list!


Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial

This is my absolute favorite facial right now. It's a mini-peel and can only be left on for 15-20 minutes, but when washed off, your skin really is soft and smooth like a baby.

Byredo ROSE OF NO MAN'S LAND

Those in the know go to Byredo for their scentsational spritzes, candles, and room sprays. One of my new favorites is the sexy, subtle "Rose of No Man's Land". I imagine every bougie Burner in the world would like it too.

OUAI Smooth Spray by Jen Atkin

One of my fave PR companies sent me some OUAI goodies recently so I could finally sample all the goodness that is Jen Atkin. My thoughts on the Smooth Spray? It's a must-have, kick-ass addition to my hair routine that leaves my hair smooth and touchable after it's been blow-dryed. It's a MUST now, not just a WANT.

Urban Decay NAKED SKIN Concealer

I thought I had concealer all figured out until Urban Decay's NAKED SKIN Concealer came along. Holy fucking shit, y'all. This is the best thing I've ever put on my face to hide what ails me. Whenever I wear it everyone comments on how fab I'm looking "without make-up" and trust me, I don't correct them.

Girl Undiscovered Stumbled Across Paradise Face Mask

A nice addition to my line-up, I'm a fan of this newish brand's "Stumbled Across Paradise" Face Mask. After my family's Thanksgiving dinner I offered up a face mask party to my relatives and at least 8 of us walked around with this hydrating, skin-smoothing, yellow mask on our faces. Good times.

OUAI Memory Mist

Another newbie that I love from Jen Atkin! Her Memory Mist is sprayed onto dry hair and does magical things like give it shine, make it feel smooth in your hands, and keep your style in place. It smells great too. I always cough up for expensive hair products because really - they just work better.

SkinMedica Total Defense + Repair Sunscreen

This is the only sunscreen I use on my face. Why? Because it's one of the ONLY ones on the market that also protects from infrared rays in addition to the usual UVA/UVB protection. Get this for everyone you love.

Joanna Vargas Daily Serum

This daily serum, along with JV's Vitamin C serum, rank high on my list of skincare loves. It smells like a green grass salad, y'all. It's hydrating, brightening, and I don't leave home without putting it on in the morning.

H2O+ Beauty Lip Stain

It may look orange in the tube, but it comes out light pink and super shiny on the lips! This stuff is dope! It just kind of melts onto your mouth in the prettiest shade. Hyper-moisturizing too. Love.

Oribe Gold Lust Pre Shampoo Treatment

OHMAGODDDD do I love this product. It's essentially a mask for your hair and leaves it so smooth, soft, and shiny. You apply when your hair is dry, before you shampoo. I like to mask my hair and face simultaneously (with a different product of course) for a bit, then step into a spa-like shower for the ultimate pampering treatment. Your friend's hair will thank you.

Mason Pearson Boar Bristle Brush in White

For the guy or girl with everything, get them a Mason Pearson in white. This is one of the best hairbrushes EVER and leaves hair looking smooth and soft. 


How To Perfectly Time Your Thanksgiving Dinner

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I'm a French Culinary School grad, so Thanksgiving is like my Super Bowl. Getting everything timed perfectly for dinner can be a bit of an art and I don't like to take chances, so I really think through my process and write out a list to help me get dinner on the table HOT for my family.

If you're cooking this year, give my list a once-over and see if it will lend a hand. I focus on the mains: turkey, gravy, stuffing, green beans - so add extra time if you make more dishes and if you do everything the day of. I start my prep the day before, and I recommend you do as well.

The Day Before

9am: Prep Turkey; wash, dry, remove wings for confit, dry brine and get into fridge overnight.

10: Confit wings; cook at 250 for 5 hours, remove from heat and let come to room temp, then fridge over night.

6pm: Prepare stuffing; cut bread into cubes and dry out in a 250 oven for an hour.

6:30pm: Gravy Base; make a roux and add stock, boil, then bring to room temp and fridge overnight.


Thanksgiving Day

8am: Make turkey stock; take turkey bones and brown along with onion, carrot, celery, add water and herbs and cook for 2.5 hours.

9am: Create stuffing base; cook onion and celery and sausage, mix with bread and get into the fridge.

11am: Add turkey stock to gravy base for traditional gravy, and gluten-free/dairy-free gravy.

12pm: Cook the turkey in parts; breast at 450 then 300F, and legs at 500F. 

1pm: Remove stuffing from fridge so it can come to room temp and prepare the green beans.

2pm: Cook the stuffing, and pull turkey from the oven. Finish the gravy with brown bits from turkey pan.

3pm: Cook rolls. Then re-heat the rest of of the meal in this order:

  • green beans
  • stuffing
  • turkey

3:15pm: Brown confit wings

3:30pm: EAT UP, TURKEYS.


This Old Fashioned Stuffing Is the Absolute Best Stuffing EVER

OLD FASHIONED STUFFING

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Get outta here with your nuts and berries, like seriously. I only want butter, sage sausage, more butter, and other tasty stuff in my stuffing. Let's get straight to Mona's (my great-grandmother) recipe!


INGREDIENTS

  • 1 loaf of good sourdough bread cut into cubes, and dried in oven
  • 3/4 to 1 stick of butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 celery sticks, diced
  • 1 heaping tsp. of dried sage
  • 1 pound Jimmy Dean or Farmer John's Sage Sausage
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3 cups of good chicken broth

PROCEDURE

1. Cut bread into cubes and dry the cubes on a cookie sheet in a 250 F oven until dry and toasty.

2. Melt butter in a pan, add diced onion and celery and cook until onion and celery until soft, adding sage, salt, and pepper.

3. Cook sausage in a separate pan until just done, then add the sausage and fat to the softened celery and onion. Check the seasoning here - it needs quite a bit since you'll be adding this to the bread.

4. Mix sausage, veggie mix with the bread in a large bowl.

5. Pour the broth over the stuffing and mix together gently.

6. Put the stuffing mixture in a buttered 12x16 or 10x15 dish (whatever you have is fine).

7. Bake in a convection oven at 375 for about 40 minutes (if it's coming out of the fridge) or until it's bubbling at the base and crispy and brown on top.


Gravy 3 Ways: Traditional, Gluten/Dairy-Free, and Vegetarian

GRAVY FOR EVERYONE

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The things you do for your family, amiright? This year, due to dietary restrictions and for the health of my loved ones, I'm making 3 different varieties of gravy - a traditional gravy, a gluten and dairy free gravy, and a vegetarian gravy. Le sigh. I'm starting the day before to make it easier on myself, but in reality, making gravy is pretty easy when you make a gravy starter like I do.

Yes, the secret is a gravy starter! You can make this the day before in a flash. In essence, it's just a roux combined with stock. Simple to re-heat, or keep low on the stove if you make it the day of Thanksgiving. When you're ready to turn it into the real deal, you simply add turkey stock and the brown bits from your turkey pan and flavor til it's perfecto. Or, if you go the vegetarian route, you can add brown bits from whatever veggie main you've maid (prob mushrooms, or something).

Let's get started first with my personal favorite: traditional gravy, made with butter, flour, homemade turkey stock, chicken stock, and a whole lotta love.

TRADITIONAL GRAVY

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups turkey or chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • Brown bits from turkey pan
  • Black pepper and salt
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce

PROCEDURE

1. The base for your gravy is a roux - a combo of butter and flour that thickens up stock. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium-low heat. Once melted, quickly stir your flour into it with a whisk and stir continuously for about 5 minutes to cook the flour. You'll want to get a roux a nice light, golden brown color. It should kind of expand and look like a science project in your pan. It should smell nice. If you burn it, start over.

2. Once your roux is cooked, add chicken stock in a steady stream while stirring. Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a boil then a simmer. Your gravy base will start to resemble gravy as it thickens over the heat. You can season a bit here but I always hold off until my turkey stock is done and I add the liquid and brown bits from my turkey pan. Let this cool and put in the fridge if you're making it ahead, or keep it warm if it's close to dinner time.

3. To make turkey stock (I highly recommend doing this in addition to using chicken stock in the base) brown your turkey bones in butter, then brown  onion, carrot, celery in the same pan. Put everything back in the pan, along with black pepper and parsley stems, then add water to cover and cook for about 2 hours. Strain and ta-da: turkey stock!

4. When it's dinner time, get your gravy base back on the stove and to a simmer. You'll want to add some turkey stock to make it taste like turkey gravy, and you can deglaze your turkey pan (only if the bits aren't burned) with some white wine. The brown bits may be so flavorful that you'll want to add them to your gravy just a bit at a time until your gravy is the right flavor. You may not even need to season with salt, but I do add black pepper generally. I also add a hit of fresh lemon juice, and a dash of Worcestershire. Then, it's gravy time.

 

GLUTEN-FREE / DAIRY-FREE GRAVY

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 tablespoons Earth Balance (to replace the butter)
  • 6 tablespoons gluten-free flour 
  • 4 cups turkey or chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • Brown bits from turkey pan
  • Black pepper and salt
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

PROCEDURE

In this gluten-free and dairy-free gravy, simply follow the directions for the traditional gravy but use Earth Balance instead of butter, and gluten-free flour instead of flour. The roux on this one may require a bit of management on the proportions since we aren't using traditional ingredients. You'll want the consistency to be like a thick paste before you add stock. ALSO - CUT OUT THE Worcestershire sauce in this one - most are NOT gluten-free.

I'll assume if you're eating a dairy-free gravy, you won't be adding butter to your turkey pan for brown bits, so feel free to add these to your gravy for flavor.

 

VEGETARIAN GRAVY

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups veggie stock
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Small amount of white wine
  • Black pepper and salt
  • Brown bits from your main veggie dish

PROCEDURE

For a vegetarian gravy, follow the recipe for traditional gravy, but use vegetable stock in place of chicken/turkey stock. When it's dinner time, deglaze the pan used to make your veggie main to get any brown bits off the bottom, and add to your stock a bit at a time until it's really tasty. Season and you'll be ready to go!

-side note, a keen reader just told me Worcestershire sauce also contains fish sauce so it isn't vegetarian so don't add to your gravy. Who knew?!


How To Cook The Best Thanksgiving Turkey Of All Time

GOBBLE, GOBBLE, Y'ALL

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Happy Day Before Thanksgiving, my loves! My favorite holiday is upon us, and as it stands, I always start cooking the day before. You could, conceivably, do it all the day of, but why kill yourself over it? If you're the chef, like me, get started today and make room for an extra glass of wine tomorrow.

Today I'm sharing how I cook my turkey, and brace yourself, because it's a bit unconventional. It yields however, the most delicious bird ever, so get into it. Here's what's up: I cook the bird in 3 separate pieces for maximum flavor, tenderness, and to keep it super moist. That's right. I take the bird apart into the breasts, legs/thighs, and wings and cook each piece in a different way. And while it means I can't present the bird as the pièce de résistance of my table, it's so effin' good it don't even matter. Oh, my turkey also cooks in like 2 hours so that's pretty awesome also. How? Super high heat - it's the best, guys. 

THANKSGIVING TURKEY 3 WAYS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Turkey (keep the neck and organs)
  • Box of Kosher Salt for dry brine
  • Dried herbs for dry brine like rosemary, sage, and thyme
  • 1 big plastic bag/trash bag (not food but you need one)
  • Canola Oil (about 8-9 cups for the confit, plus more for the breast/thighs)
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 10 TBSP honey, give or take
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 apple

PROCEDURE

the day before

The day before Thanksgiving, or two days before, we're going to confit the wings of our turkey and also apply a dry brine to the rest of the turkey. To "confit" means to slow cook an animal protein in it's own fat, or the fat of another animal. Because I don't want to buy gobs of duck fat, I just use canola oil to confit my turkey wings. I even buy 4 extra wings because they turn out so good. So with time in mind, I confit the day before as it takes many, many hours. The day of, I brown the wings in a pan right before dinner and they're crispy on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. It's a great way to enjoy a part of the bird that otherwise goes under-appreciated.

When the wings are removed I apply a dry brine of kosher salt and dried herbs all over my intact bird. I'll break down the bird to the breast and thighs the day of for cooking. A dry brine gives a lot of flavor to the bird and is way easier than a salt water brine. Trust me on this.

1. Wash and dry turkey completely. Save the neck and organs and set aside in the fridge. Cut off the wings of the turkey and set aside. Combine your dried herbs of rosemary, sage, and thyme with kosher salt (you'll be looking for about 2-3 cups of salt/herbs because a lot falls off). Pat the salt/herb combo all over the outside and inside of the turkey. Grab an enormous plastic bag, or a fresh trash bag (my preferred method) and place the turkey inside, making sure to twist the bag so it's air-sealed as best as possible. Put that turkey in the fridge until cook time on Thanksgiving.

2. To confit the wings, completely submerge wings in oil at 250 degrees for 4 to 5 hours (you could get away with 3.5 hours the day of) then let the wings (still in oil) to come to room temp for at least 2 hours before putting the wings in the fridge. Brown them in a pan right before meal time. You'll want to season the wings with salt, pepper, and your herbs before placing in the oil.

the day of

On Thanksgiving Day, I start early so that I can get a good turkey stock going for gravy from my turkey bones, but the actual cook time on the bird is like 90 minutes or LESS. I know - it's a far cry from your mom and grandmother's slow-cooked turkeys, but when you blast the bird with heat, skin-on, it seals in moisture, browns the skin beautifully, and makes for super tasty meat. Plus, it's really easy. As I mentioned before, I cook the breast and thighs separately at different temperatures but the same method, because they SHOULD be cooked at different temps so they can be pulled at the right time for well-doneness. The thighs inherently take longer and should be cooked at a higher temp than the breasts, so removing them from the bird makes a lot of sense. When you do this, you also get the rib bones for stock which guarantees excellent gravy.

1. Remove your turkey from it's trash bag (lol) and wipe off any excess salt/herbs that remain. At this point we'll be breaking the turkey down into pieces - if you've never done this before I highly recommend you watch a how-to video on YouTube. Remove the thighs/legs first, followed by the breast. Hold onto the ribs - break them into smaller pieces and save for stock/gravy.

2. Heat your oven to 500 degrees F for the thighs (if you have 2 ovens, heat one to 500 and the other to 450 for the breast). 

3. Wash, dry and chop your fresh herbs. Rub them over the breast and thighs, then give your turkey a little massage with room temp butter to give it a layer of fat over it's skin. This can get messy, but don't worry about it. If any of the herbs fall off just put them back on. No big deal. Place the thighs in a low-lying dish (you could choose a glass casserole to make it easy) and throw in some onion and apple. Drizzle with canola oil (this helps them get nice and brown). Get them into your 500 degree oven and cook until they hit 160 degrees on your meat thermometer. They'll continue to cook a bit once they're pulled from the oven and when we re-heat the thighs for dinner they'll cook just a bit more. While the thighs cook, drench them in a mixture of melted butter and honey a few times (I use a brush to do this) so they get a nice, crunchy glaze to them. Because the heat on this part of the bird is so high, you may end up burning bits of the herbs in the pan. I tend to avoid the liquid that comes off the thighs for gravy just in case there's anything burned in it because I don't want to risk imparting that flavor into the gravy. When you cook at 500 degrees you run the risk of some brown bits that border into sort of burned territory. Worry not though - the liquid and brown bits that come off the breast will do just fine!

4. For the honey/butter glaze - simply melt butter in a sauce pan and add honey, keeping at a very low temp on the stove for easy access.

5. When the thighs are done, pull them from the oven and wrap them gently in aluminum foil. Get your oven to 450 for breast-cooking time. I like to put the breast on a rack over a pan - because they cook at a lower temp there's less risk of any burned bits in the pan, which means tasty gravy for all. Do the butter rub along with the herbs, and the canola and add onion and apple to the pan. Cook the breast at 450 for about 30 minutes to get a nice brown on them (and moisture seal), and make sure to get the butter/honey glaze going on it during this time. Drop the heat to 300 degrees, then cook the breast until they hit 145 degrees. Again, they'll cook more after being pulled, and they'll cook a bit more when re-heated for dinner. Wrap in aluminum foil until you're ready for dinner. If you serve the breast right away let it sit for at least 15 minutes before eating so that the meat re-absorbs all the liquid that comes to the surface.

6. When it's time for dinner, get your wings out of the fridge so you can brown them in a pan. Add a bit of canola or clarified butter and brown them up. Once brown you can cut pieces off of them - they will surely be the hit of your Thanksgiving meal. 

7. Reheat your breast and wings for about 5 minutes at 300 degrees, and slice into beautiful pieces for a serving platter for your Thanksgiving table.

8. Eat up, and enjoy the tastiest bird you've ever eaten.


Where To Buy This Hydrating Elixir of Youth

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I think it's been determined that until scientists discover some crazy plant that reverses aging, the best elixir of youth we've got is water, right? Or I suppose it's less about the water itself and more about the benefits that come from your body being appropriately hydrated.

The benefits of staying hydrated cannot be overlooked, and you certainly can feel and see the difference in your body when you're getting the hydration you need.

Now imagine being 2-3x more hydrated after drinking 1 bottle of water than you typically would be. Your skin would glow and feel so supple, you could exercise for days, and your digestive system would flow smoothly, keeping extra lbs at bay. It's possible, and all thanks to this crazy popular electrolyte drink mix that's blowing up on Amazon right now: the Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier.

I first saw this product being touted on Instagram and was curious - I'm a slave to my water filter and go back 8 or 9 times a day for fresh glasses of water. I have to pee CONSTANTLY, and generally get up twice every night. I'd love to able to drink a bit less water just to skip the constant bathroom line wherever I go. Sleeping through the night also sounds dope.

I got the lemon lime flavor, which claims to double or triple your level of hydration in a single packet through it's "Cellular Transport Technology", and was surprised to find that even though I really don't like flavored bevvies, this electrolyte drink, especially shaken into icy cold water, is surprisingly tasty and refreshing.

I also had no idea what "Cellular Transport Technology" was or why this product could hydrate to the degree it does, so I'll share what the Liquid I.V. company says on their website about it: 

Based on science pioneered by the World Health Organization, Liquid I.V.’s Cellular Transport Technology (CTT)™ uses a specific ratio of potassium, sodium, and glucose to deliver water and other key nutrients directly to your bloodstream, hydrating you faster and more efficiently than water alone. The specific ratio of electrolytes used in CTT creates an osmotic force that allows water to be absorbed in the upper digestive tract. Typically, fluids pass through the entire digestive system, losing water and vital nutrients along the way before being absorbed into the bloodstream. Think of Cellular Transport Technology as an expedited water delivery system in your body. The result: rapid hydration and a wholesome feeling for you.
— https://liquid-iv.com/science/

So there ya have it. A bit of potassium, salt, and sugar make hydration through water that much more effective. Pretty cool science if you ask me. And athletes, listen up: there's half the sugar in these babies than traditional sports drinks, but 3x the electrolytes! 

Read more about Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier here and to shop their products (they gave me a 20% off code LOBOS20 for ya).

My New York Apartment Tour

Welcome Home.

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THE WEST VILLAGE

New York City

My apartment in the Village is my sanctuary from the bustling city below. It's also the place I moved into when my last relationship ended, so making it feel warm, welcoming, and most of all - new - felt really important when decorating. I needed it to look and feel different than before, a place to make happy memories as I took a step forward with my life.

I got rid of practically everything I owned when I moved in search of that fresh start, and was lucky enough to be able to rely on my wonderful friends at AllModern to help me figure out all the new pieces I'd need (for a second time in NYC no less). If you're looking to furnish your home with stylish, well-made pieces quickly, AllModern is my absolute go-to destination. They have an endless supply of chic, affordable pieces for pulling a place together in a flash. I needed, and they really delivered.

With this apartment, I wanted the vibe to feel light and accessible - like you'd feel comfortable snuggling up on the couch rather than being nervous to walk on the carpet. I wanted understated mid-century touches, tons of plants, and for everything to feel quite uncluttered. And with that, I'll open the front door and welcome you in to my cozy, West Village apartment!


Obsessed with this Azemmour Woven Armchair

Obsessed with this Azemmour Woven Armchair

This corner in my living room, accessible right after you walk through the hallway near my front entrance, holds a special place in my heart. I love the combination of textures and colors between the Azemmour Woven Armchair, rattan cabinet, and glass mirror (here's a nice option that's similar to mine). The cabinet is one of the few pieces I've held on to for years - it actually came from Los Angeles with me to NYC in early 2012. I love it, even though one of the doors doesn't close all the way anymore. A New York apartment at heart, I get dressed most often in this corner of my house. Every room has many functions! :)



An enormous, cozy couch was a MUST-HAVE for my new apartment. I'm a sucker for Netflix and chilling, what can I say? The lovely rug is from ABC Home and unfortunately I can't find a link for you. Just like in my corner, I wanted to combine different textures to create warmth. The soft rug pairs really well with the almost blush-colored couch, and I love the dimension the coffee table adds.

Next to the couch on one side I added a marble side-table (another piece I've held onto for a while, also from ABC Home) and this lovely "Coast + Peak" Print for a modern look and feel. I'm also obsessed with Byredo and have their candles, perfume, and soaps sprinkled throughout my house.

Next to the couch is my dining area, a rarity in smaller New York apartments. I could have extended the sitting area of my living room to include a love seat or additional chairs, but because I love to cook and entertain at home, a dining room table was high on my list. I fell in love with the Lars Dining Table from AllModern! The white top and light, wooden base make it feel timeless and I paired it with navy chairs from West Elm to round out the area.

My Blue Cactus :P

My Blue Cactus :P

Let there be light!

Let there be light!

I needed a good looking TV stand because I spend a lot of time in front of mine so I went with this white number from Blu Dot (I also have a different version/different color in my bedroom). I love the legs on this piece and the little grates on the door so I can keep the stand closed and change the channel without moving. Remember the days when you had to physically turn the nob on the television to change the channel? We're REALLY LIVING in 2017 you guys.

Now, want a quick peek into my bathroom before heading into my bedroom?

 

A huge reason I got this apartment was for the bathtub. I love the color, the depth, everything! It's so relaxing in there after a long day in the city.

Let's hit the sheets now - it's bedroom time!

 

I'm a tiny person who loves a king-sized bed. I was lucky enough to find an apartment with a bedroom big enough to cater to my silly needs and so what was I to do except shove a king in here? My bed has a low-profile and fits the space really nicely. It comes out farther on all sides than the mattress does though, so watch your shins! The side tables have come along with me throughout the years and though I toyed over getting rid of them, I made the decision to let 'em stay. 

The orange paint print just visible on the floor is available here, and the photograph of the leaves above my bed is right here!

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My bedroom TV stand by Blu Dot (don't mind the reflection of the AC in the TV)

My bedroom TV stand by Blu Dot (don't mind the reflection of the AC in the TV)

Another Blu Dot TV stand sits in my bedroom, this one in Walnut. This piece is quite large AND heavy so I'd highly recommend having the AllModern delivery team bring this one in and set it up. Trust me on this one.

I also get compliments on my television all the time - it's a Samsung Serif TV and it's NEATO.  Below are a few more touches from my TV stand.

On the left is the "After Sunset" print that I absolutely love, and on the right is a Vornado fan and Dyptique diffuser.


So, that's it for the peek inside my West Village apartment! I hope you guys like how I put everything together. It's really a sanctuary for me and I love being surrounded by pretty, understated items. Would love to hear what you think in the comments! 

XO

You Must Try The Insanely Delicious Mushroom Toast from the Gjelina Cookbook

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O M F G !

This toast will blow your socks off.

My Cookbook Club and I got together this week to make our favorite dishes from Gjelina, the crazy tasty restaurant in Venice, CA. They put together a gorgeous cookbook of the restaurant's dishes and it's quite extensive and thorough. The restaurant is best known for their pizza, but their veggie sides and pastas also fall under the category of insanely delicious.

I'm a sucker for mushrooms and decadence, so I chose to make the Mushroom Toast to bring to dinner. If you've never had the pleasure of enjoying a classic dish like Mushroom Toast, I suggest you immediately get yourself to the grocery to pick up the ingredients. Like, right now. I'll wait.


Back? Picked chanterelles or Hen of the Woods or another tasty mushroom variety? Delicious. I went with Hen of the Woods due to availability, and also scored on some Creme Fraiche at Citarella (lucky me). I cooked this dish on my Instagram Story and shared the step-by-step procedure, and I'm happy to share that this is a really easy dish to make. Since Stories disappear after 24 hours, I've put together a compilation of the video. Apologies that it's not the highest quality - it's hard to turn an Insta Story into great video content afterwards but you'll get some good tips from it nonetheless. The garlic confit is made using a process I learned in culinary school rather than the way Gjelina suggests it - I think my way is easier and less time-consuming.


here's the recipe from GJELINA in it's entirety:


Excerpted from Gjelina: Cooking from Venice, California by Travis Lett. (Chronicle Books) Copyright © 2015

Our customers freak out over this dish, and there is a good reason why — seared mushrooms, lashed with house-made crème fraîche, a splash of wine, and a few herbs, mounded on top of grilled bread is always a crowd-pleaser. We make no claims for inventing this combination, but we proudly carry the torch. There’s a classic version that calls for brioche and wild spring morels, with an optional shower of black truffles. A similar, far less opulent version, can be made with everyday cremini mushrooms and simple ciabatta or a baguette. We opt for a variety of mushrooms supplied by our friend Matt Parker at Shiitake Happens, including nameko, clamshell, pioppini, chanterelle, and hen of the woods, in addition to porcini, matsutake, and the seasonal morels we occasionally score.

Buttermilk stirred into good-quality heavy cream left out to culture for a few days yields a decadent crème fraîche with limitless possibilities. Real farmstead raw-milk crème fraîche is very difficult to come by, but if you are lucky enough to have access to it, by all means use it here. Do not substitute store-bought sour cream. It doesn’t hold up to the heat and may break and curdle the sauce.

When our guests ask me for a recipe and find out that it calls for homemade crème fraîche, they’re often hesitant, imagining that making crème fraîche is a complicated process. The reality is that it’s very easy to make, but simply requires a few days of waiting to pull off. The plus side is that crème fraîche keeps well in the refrigerator and can be used to enrich pasta dishes, risotto, soups, vegetables — anything you want to bring a little richness to. Whip it gently to serve over desserts, slightly sweetened or not, in place of standard whipped cream.

Unlike the other toasts in the Gjelina cookbook, this is best served piping hot, before the crème fraîche starts to set. Small portions can be served as an appetizer, but a large slab of this toast alongside a glass of earthy red is the way I prefer to take it down.

GJELINA’S MUSHROOM TOAST
SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS:

For the mushroom toast:
one 6″ hunk ciabatta, halved horizontally and then crosswise to yield 4 pieces
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for toasting the bread
1 lb mushrooms, such as nameko,
hen of the woods, chanterelle, porcini, matsutake
6 cloves garlic confit, sliced
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dry white wine
1¼ cups buttermilk crème fraîche (instructions below)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ tsp fresh thyme leaves

For the buttermilk crème fraîche (makes 4 cups):
4 cups heavy cream
1 Tbsp buttermilk

DIRECTIONS:

For the mushroom toast:

Brush olive oil on both sides of the bread, then grill or toast bread. (To grill, heat a large cast-iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat, and grill the bread for about 3 minutes on each side.) After grilling or toasting, brush the tops lightly with olive oil again.

Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add the olive oil and, when hot, add the mushrooms, in batches if necessary so as not to crowd the pan. It’s important that the mushrooms sear and not steam. Cook, without stirring, until the mushrooms are well browned, about 3 minutes. Give the mushrooms a good toss to turn them and then briefly sear on the other side.

Add the garlic confit to the pan, and season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. With a wooden spoon, stir in the crème fraîche until well incorporated. Cook until slightly thickened, season with more salt and pepper if necessary, and stir in the parsley and thyme.

Place the toasted bread on individual plates. Spoon the mushrooms and pan sauce on top, dividing it evenly. Serve hot.

For the buttermilk crème fraîche:

In a 1-quart jar, combine the cream and buttermilk. Partially cover and let stand in a warm spot (about 78°F) until the cream tastes slightly sour and has thickened to a pudding-like consistency, 24 hours to 3 days.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


How To: Start Your Own Cookbook Club!

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GET COOKIN'

Share a meal with your #FoodieFriends

My friend Hannah is such a muse. A few weeks ago she suggested we start our own Cookbook Club amongst our pals that love to cook and eat. I immediately said YES without hesitation or understanding the details, and found myself a part of what is now my new favorite social event. I love the idea so much I've decided to get started on building a Cookbook Club #community - if you're curious, you can sign up here to stay notified on what's happening over there. It's still a work in progress but I'm thinking it would be really cool to share book suggestions, other club's dinner parties through photos and recipes, your original recipes, and more stuff I haven't thought of yet as the idea grows. Feel free to contribute your thoughts.

For the many of you who inquired on my personal Instagram as to what Cookbook Club is and how it works, here's the deal: 


1. Gather your friends that love to cook or are willing to learn. Also gather your friends who don't like to cook but know how to bring wine to dinner.

2. Select a cookbook that you all love. My friends and I picked the "Gjelina" cookbook first from the fab restaurant in Venice, CA.

3. Choose which recipe you want to make from said cookbook. It may be a good idea to divvy up categories to different folks but you can organize however you wish.

4. Bring that dish(es) to your Cookbook Club party, coming with an enormous appetite depending on how many people participate. Everyone eats all the foods, drinks all the drinks, and has so much fun.


- pretty easy, and so fun - right?!


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COOKBOOK CLUB "GJELINA" MENU

My friends and I chose a few selections of dishes across different categories from the "Gjelina"cookbook, and I made the Arugula and Raddichio Salad with Crispy Shallots and the Mushroom Toast y'all went bananas over on my Instagram Story. LDP went with the Braised Fava Beans and Rye Rags with Sausage, Mushroom and Fennel. Hannah chose Grilled Summer Squash, Za'tar & Cherry Tomato Confit along with Roasted Yams with Honey, Espelette, and Lime Yogurt.

We gathered together during Game 7 of the World Series to watch my precious L.A. Dodgers play the Houston Astros. Though we didn't win the game, we did win DINNER. It was so incredibly delicious, and felt like a special gathering as we bonded over the creation of our recipes and the creative time spent together. Everyone I've spoken to about Cookbook Club wants to join or start one of their own. I'm also going to start a chapter in Los Angeles with my pals there.

The fruits of our labor...

The fruits of our labor...

Rye Rags with Sausage, Mushroom, and Fennel made by LDP.

Rye Rags with Sausage, Mushroom, and Fennel made by LDP.

Arugula and Raddicio Salad with Crispy Shallots

Arugula and Raddicio Salad with Crispy Shallots

Grilled Summer Squash, Za'tar & Cherry Tomato Confit

Grilled Summer Squash, Za'tar & Cherry Tomato Confit

Roasted Yams with Honey, Espelette, and Lime Yogurt

Roasted Yams with Honey, Espelette, and Lime Yogurt

A vid of my mushroom toast! So tasty.


Drooling yet? We were too, don't worry. I absolutely LOVED participating in Cookbook Club and I'm so excited to spread it around with more friends and family. Have any thoughts on which cookbook we should cook from next? Let me know in the comments below!


Why I Kissed My Dating Apps Goodbye

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DELETE, DELETE, DELETE.


Historically, I'm the type of woman who bounces back after defeat or a let-down, energized by the blow to make changes for improvement. This though, this moment of alone-ness, has felt different than all the others that came before. I guess true heartbreak does that to you - it changes you to the core, forcing itself through your body like a parasite until you reach a tipping point: you become quiet and sweet and submissive, like a whimpering puppy, until another kind soul lifts you out of your fog, or you spill over into yourself, and make the decision one day to give up on the pain and move forward on your own. I've reached the tipping point, and instead of going quietly into the ease of another relationship, I'm choosing instead to save myself, so that the next time around isn't simply a by-product of my current discomfort.

That's the true lesson here, right? That through great discomfort comes great strength. You feel stuck in glue long enough that it's no longer humanly possible to be stuck in glue. So you make a change. You make a decision. You pull one leg out of the sticky mess and then the other. 

The last stage of grief is acceptance, and I'm warming up to the idea that I've arrived. Finally. And what I've realized more than anything else lately is that I don't need anyone else to save me, help me, love me, or do the work of taking away my pain for me. I need myself. It's like the Russian-doll version of me that sits within my soul has finally been opened up, and I'm seeing myself clearly for the first time in a while.

Recognizing that at times you must choose yourself over everything and everyone else so that you can get back to a place of opening your arms up wide to embrace the world is a powerful thing. After 8 months of seemingly constant sorrow, I've made the choice for myself to put my pain behind me. What a relief it is.

And with that decision comes more decisions. Exciting ones, ones that feel uplifting, and empowering, and confidence-building. What shall I dare to decide upon next?!

Surprisingly enough, one of those decisions has been to put dating on hold for the time being. I'm freezing my proverbial subscription to love til 2018. I even deleted my dating apps, you guys. That is some serious cord-cutting right there. And can I tell you something - I'm excited about it. Happy even, with my decision. Fuck, I feel like I'm coming into my twenties again, the first time in my life I made real decisions without being fearful of the consequences. I don't feel afraid anymore - to be alone, or put myself first, or say NO to that upcoming first-date on Thursday that already feels exhausting in every way.

Turns out that there's a difference between loneliness and being alone. You control your loneliness, and you're only lonely if you don't consider yourself to be very good company. Trust me, it's taken ages to reach this point of enlightenment, where I alone am simply good enough to be around.

So, if you've texted me or called and I haven't hit you back yet, I apologize. I hope you read my blog, lols. It's just that I've figured out finally what it is that I'm supposed to be doing right now: making me my own priority.

XO/LB


Confidence in a Bottle? My Latest Skincare Haul Tests That Theory.

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FEEL GOOD

and look good too...

The fall season has proven to be a time of great self-reflection for me so far. I've shaken off the sting of summer flings and endless wedding parties, and have time to sit and breathe again for a minute. This past summer was certainly not the season for self-care and love, at least not for me. As things have quieted down in my mind and I've returned to the city (and the spa at the Greenwich Hotel twice for some meditative massages), I'm making decompression a priority through the end of the year. My heart simply can't take any more aches and pains and my goal for what's left of 2017 is to rebuild some of the confidence I've lost during the past few years; becoming a fully-formed adult certainly isn't easy. I'm sure you can relate.

I celebrate my birthday every September 29th, a yearly milestone that helps to bring me into a place of reflection. While I exercise, and eat clean, and meditate, and talk with my therapist every week to work on getting my groove back (hey, Stella), it's also safe to say that sometimes, for a product junkie such as myself, a little retail therapy can go a long way to aid in the journey of feeling good about oneself. Call me shallow or crazy, but my most successful, enduring relationship in my life has been with lotions, potions, scents, and serums.

Clear skin and perfectly shiny hair has a genuine effect on how I feel when I look in the mirror. Inner beauty trumps outer beauty, always, but my god does it feel good when I wake up with a perfectly even skin tone.

So, because they always love me back, I look to beauty products for a quick dose of confidence my soul desperately needs at the moment. And as luck would have it, the fall season DOES require an updated skincare regime, so my power to purchase doesn't feel indulgent or needy. I NEED these products just as much as my skin does, okay?

From redness reducers to a rose-oil serum, check out the newness I'm surrounding myself with to help me get from my bed, to the fitness studio, to work, and beyond. I'm feeling looking, smelling good, and looking good - all for myself, for now.


SKINCARE HAUL PRODUCTS

Colorscience All Calm Clinical Redness Corrector: https://goo.gl/PH4d3c

**Click the link above to order Colorscience online or to search for a retail partner in your area. Use coupon code ALLCALMLB to receive a FREE Mini Brush-on Sunscreen SPF 50 with purchase of All Calm Clinical Redness Corrector!

Love Wellness Good Girl Probiotics: https://goo.gl/Gx8ypk

Grown Alchemist Deep Cleansing Facial Masque: http://bit.ly/2yaZl8b

Palermo Regenerative Serum: https://goo.gl/3C1K5N

Fig+Yarrow Cardamom and Coffee Scrub: http://bit.ly/2yaZSa3

Dr. Bronner's Rose Soap: http://bit.ly/2ybRtTD

Adventures in Botox in New York City

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So you want to shoot some Clostridium botulinum into your face? Great, me too. Join me today as I take you on an Adventure in Botox in New York City, arguably the best place in the world to have a stranger stick a thin needle in your forehead with fabulous results. Like most women and some men in this city I tend to FAN GIRL out over fancy doctors with recognizable names and their own lines of products at Sephora (shout out to Dr. Gross and your Alpha-Beta Peel). There are many that fit the bill, most with practices in glowing offices lining Park Avenue, Lex, and 5th. But any good New Yorker knows that when you really, REALLY want the best - from botox to technology far beyond - you make an appointment at the practice of one Dr. Patricia Wexler - dermatological surgeon to the stars, royalty, and the very, very wealthy.

Since it's my FACE we're talking here and because I undergo wellness treatments not just for your reading pleasure on TheLoDown, I made the decision that for a piece on botox, Wexler Dermatology was really my only option. So, I made an appointment and sat on my hands until the day finally arrived last week for my special moment in the sun with the botox needle. Having not been the first time to get injected with this miracle toxin (this round would be my second go), I had an idea of what to expect ahead of time, but my nerves were not entirely quelled by experience.

First and foremost I was running late to my appointment. The traffic on 3rd Avenue was ridiculous and my Uber driver wasn't tuned into Waze in the way I was from the back seat. I get seriously freaked out when Irving Place is totally open and instead we're in gridlock one block over. I hate being late, so my anxiety was building solely from being branded as the naughty patient whose tardiness would hold up the schedule at the practice for the rest of the day.

Next, needles. I like to pretend they don't bother me at all from my experience with Accutane and the required monthly blood draw that comes with taking the skin clearing medication. And they don't bother me THAT much, but still, I do have to look away when the sharp end plunges through my flesh to do my doctor's bidding. Add in the fact that the needle is not being directed into the arm but instead above the eyebrow and nervous energy tends to experience a minor uptick in severity.

Happily, when I arrived at the practice nobody gave me the death stare and instead I was happily guided into a room to wait for Dr. Francesca Fusco, a fabulous medical and cosmetic dermatologist who is a master in her own right with the needle. Even happier still, when she walked in she was a breath of dermatological fresh-air: warm, lovable, and quite soothing with her friendly and approachable tone. Safe to say she calmed whatever remaining pre-treatment worries I was still harboring.

curious about Botox and other things you may want to shoot into your face some day? I was lucky enough to get some "baby" Botox done (KEEP MY SECRETS, y'all) at the legendary NYC practice @wexlerdermatology and you can read all about it about my adventure on the blog today ---> link in bio! 💉💉💉

A post shared by Lo Bosworth (@lobosworth) on Jul 24, 2017 at 9:47am PDT

 

As a 30 year old, I've made the decision to include botox in my skincare routine as a way to prevent existing wrinkles from settling in deeper, and to help quiet wrinkles and signs of age that are beginning to form as we speak. I'm less interested in the pulled "look" of botox that you see with many women, though it does refresh the entire face nicely. I'm using botox in the same way I'm using sunscreen: not to fix existing issues so much as prevent new ones from occurring. And I think that most practitioners would agree with me - at my age, botox is much more preventative than anything else.

So, Dr. Fusco asks me which areas of my face are troublesome and I don't hesitate to zero in on the Glabullar Region, better known as the "elevens" in between the eyebrows. I've always had a serious case of resting bitch face and it causes me to furrow my brow at absolutely nothing more often than not. Strangers often stop me on the street to ask me what's wrong or to make the very kind recommendation that I smile more.  I suppose, despite my intention in these moments to send icicles  of death from my eyeballs to their necks, I'd like to not look quite so serious for the rest of my days so I ask her to please shoot the good stuff into this area right here. We also discuss crows feet as she makes delicate marks on my face with a white pencil, dancing around my skin with precision and dexterity.

And then finally the moment is upon me - the needles removed from their disposable, plastic cages - as Dr. Fusco hands me stress balls to squeeze in case the pain is too much to bear. Mind you, I've declined the offer of a numbing cream because I'm just so bad-ass, and thoughts of regret immediately race through my mind as she approaches my face with her steady hand, needle in tow. Despite silent pleas, PRICK goes the first injection, directly into the middle of my brow line.

The feeling of pressure! The slight pinch! The lingering of the needle in the skin! And then, the relief of the first poke being over as Dr. Fusco withdraws the thin device of pain and pleasure and carefully asks me if I'm alright. And, yes actually, I'm quite alright. It truly doesn't hurt very much at all. It's simply a nervous situation to have a stranger push a needle with muscle-freezing material into ones face. After another prick or two, I'm riding high on the experience, the stress balls an unnecessary comfort.

10 touches in total, the experience is quick and relatively painless. I can feel the botox taking effect rather quickly as it becomes more difficult to move some of my go-to R.B.F. muscles. They feel as though they're wading through thick mud in an effort to look displeased. And I'm absolutely thrilled by it. Who wouldn't be?

I leave the office 15 minutes later after Dr. Fusco artfully applies cooling gel pads to my skin instead of ice packs. By then, I've fully recovered and we've moved on to discuss epilators and the best way to remove dark spots from the skin (she recommends Lytera 2.0 from SkinMedica). I leave with some free product because she is a baller and I'm on my way to my next appointment, refreshed and looking just friendly enough to keep strangers-with-opinions at bay as I cruise towards Lex to hail a cab.

Want the goods from Wexler Dermatology? Make an appointment with one of the physicians by calling 212.684.2626. Pricing for Botox begins at $500-$1000.