Hitting Reset for 2021

Hitting Reset for 2021

Happy New Year, friends! Although not much has changed this week from what happened in 2020, I am excited for the fresh start that a new year brings. Rather than lumping unrealistic expectations on myself and calling them “resolutions,” I have decided to do a modest reset as I begin the new year.

In many ways, I still can’t believe 2020 is over. It feels like it was the longest year of my life and the shortest at the same time. At the beginning of last year I never would have predicted what was to come. After years of working toward my goal of getting an MBA, I had finally started my program and I really thought I had life figured out. I had a great job, was getting my MBA part-time, had amazing friends, a wonderful husband and a supportive family.

By March my world had completely flipped…my husband and I moved to Austin for his job and as we were unpacking the boxes in our new home, the coronavirus pandemic shut down the world as we knew it. Without a job and confined to my home for quarantine, I decided to start this blog.

The Austin Motel in April 2020.

While 2020 was an incredible year in so many ways, it was also pretty tough. Because of the mental toll moving, leaving my job and friends took on me, I fell into some bad habits that I would like to break in 2021. To start 2021 off differently than 2020, I decided to give my life a metaphorical and literal reset. For the first two weeks of the year, I’m focusing on not drinking, not getting a spray tan, eating well and walking every day. I’m also de-cluttering my life by cleaning out closets and my digital spaces.

I’m not one to throw definitive blanket statements on anything so I don’t want to say that I’m done drinking forever, but throughout this past year I’ve realized I really don’t like who I am or how I feel when I am drinking so for now, I’m taking it out of my life. That might be two weeks, two months or indefinitely…I’m not sure.

It’s very Marie Kondo, but I’m also cleansing phone contacts, unfollowing people who do not bring me joy and deleting apps I don’t use to create a more positive mental space for 2021.

I am hopeful that by making these small changes I will become a better version of myself in 2021 and that the world can become a better place too. There has been a lot of hurt and hardship over the past year, but I really believe that our darkest moments lead us to brighter days than we ever could have imagined.

What are your hopes and goals for 2021?!

XO,

Brit

Bluemercury Semi-Annual Sale!

Bluemercury Semi-Annual Sale!

If you thought Black Friday and Cyber Monday were fun, then prepare yourselves for the Bluemercury Semi-Annual sale! Bluemercury is my favorite destination for skin care because they carry all of the best brands and for the next few days you can get SkinCeuticals, Jo Malone and more for up to 20 percent off!!

I normally shop this sale with my work bestie, but this year, sadly I will be shopping alone. When I lived in Houston, the Rice Village Bluemercury was about a 10 minute drive from our offices in the medical center and we were known to spend our lunches there. Since I haven’t been to a Bluemercury since the pandemic hit, I’m definitely in need of a re-stock and this sale couldn’t come at a better time! Here’s what I’ll be buying…

Skin Ceuticals CE Ferulic, Skin Ceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF, Skin Ceuticals Phloretin CF, Skin Ceuticals Simply Clean Cleanser,
Skin Ceuticals Discoloration Defense, Skin Ceuticals Metacell Renewal B3, Skin Ceuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight, Skin Ceuticals Equalizing Toner,
Skin Ceuticals Clarifying Clay Mask, Beauty Blender Cleanser, Beauty Blender, Caudalie Beauty Elixir, DryBar Prep Rally Spray,
Jo Malone Earl Grey and Cucumber Perfume, Jo Malone Orange Bitters Candle, DryBar Buttercup Blow Dryer, Kiehl’s Crème de Corps, Kiehl’s Blue Astringent

As you can see, my favorite skin care brand is SkinCeuticals. I started using SkinCeuticals about five years ago and it has totally transformed my skin. It is a bit of a splurge if you’ve been using over-the-counter products, but it is totally worth it. I’d recommend starting out with the CE Ferulic because it works for most skin types and it will really make your skin glow. I personally use all of the products I’ve listed on this page and will share a video on Instagram about how I use each item.

In addition to the Skinceuticals I’ll be stocking up on, I will also be loading up on my Kiehl’s body lotion…I use this twice a day all over my body and could not live without it. I also love the Kiehl’s Blue Astringent. My signature scent is the Jo Malone Earl Grey and Cucumber and am so happy I will be able to get it on sale. If you’re not familiar with this scent, it is so light and effervescent and makes you smell like you just left the spa.

Lafco Chamomile Lavender Candle, Lafco White Grapefruit Candle, Nars Blush, Nars Afterglow Lip Balm, Nars Eyeshadow, Supergoop! Play Everyday Sunscreen,
Tom Ford Foundation, Tom Ford Soleil Blanc Body Spray, Tom Ford Illuminating Primer

With the holidays coming up, you might want to take this opportunity to stock up on candles as gifts for your friends, because who doesn’t love a candle?! My favorite candles are from Lafco. I think the scents are beautiful, they burn well and I love the fun names they give each candle like Cabana and Penthouse.

I hardly ever wear makeup so I love buying it on sale when I have to. I love NARS for blush, eyeshadow and absolutely love the afterglow lip balm. For primer and foundation, my go-to is Tom Ford. I’ve been wearing it for years and makes me look airbrushed when I wear it.

Whether you’re stocking up on beauty essentials for yourself or buying gifts for friends and family, this sale is the best place you can spend your money this month! I usually stock up on my beauty favorites in December during this sale and again in June when they have their other sale so I don’t have to buy these items full price.

Happy shopping!!

XO,

Brit

Presidential Debate Serves as a Reminder to Register to Vote

Presidential Debate Serves as a Reminder to Register to Vote

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will take the stage tonight for the first presidential debate of 2020. While this debate will give voters more of a glimpse into the two candidates, it also serves as a reminder to register to vote. In Texas, the deadline to register to vote is Monday, October 5th. If you have moved, switched political parties, changed your name or haven’t voted in the past four years, you will need to register or re-register to vote.

If you’re not sure if you are registered, you can check your registration status here and also learn more information about polling locations, mail-in ballots and more. If you’re in Texas, votetexas.gov is a great resource to use for local voting information. According to the Houston Chronicle, 16.6 million Texans have registered to vote so far, an uptick of 1.5 millions voters since the last presidential election.

Graphic from the Ignatian Solidarity Network.

While I don’t intend to share my political beliefs on this blog, I don’t consider the act of voting as political. It has been said time and time again by both parties, that this election, no matter who wins, is going to change the future of our country and it is our civic duty and privilege to vote. Because voting is a privilege that many people around the world do not have, I think it is important to take this responsibility seriously and to inform yourself before the election.

When I was in high school, I was lucky enough to take speech and debate classes taught by a former speech writer for one of the presidents of the United States. Of course, we all wanted to know if she was a republican or democrat and who she worked for, but she wouldn’t tell us. On the first day of class she told us that she would never tell us which party she voted for, but that if you listened to what she said, you would know which party she aligned with. Rather than blindly following a party, I think we should all be able to clearly articulate why we are voting for a person based on their beliefs, agenda and policies. Until you are able to do that, you really aren’t prepared to vote.

To learn more about both candidates, tune into tonight to watch the first of three presidential debates. Tonight’s debate, held in Cleveland, will be the first debate where the presidential candidates will not shake hands because of coronavirus protocol and will give candidates a chance to speak about how the COVID-19 pandemic was handled, the economy and possibly the filling of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Supreme Court seat.

Are you watching the debate tonight? Leave me a comment and let me know!

XO,

Brit

Gyms Reopen as COVID Continues

Gyms Reopen as COVID Continues

Gyms around the country have begun to reopen as coronavirus cases continue to rise. My gym, Equinox Austin reopened on June 1st and although I was skeptical about going back at first, I have to say that I feel incredibly safe when I am there.

Before the pandemic, I would work out four to five times a week and not having the option to go to the gym during lockdown was challenging for me. The classes at Equinox are taught by some of the most talented and inspiring people who not only motivate you to take your workout to another level, but they also make you leave feeling better mentally and physically.

The entrance of Equinox Austin.

I have been a member at Equinox since 2015 and I have always been impressed with their level of cleanliness and small class sizes, but now in the time of COVID, they have taken their standards to another level. In May, ahead of the gym’s post-lockdown re-opening, I had to read and sign what seemed like dozens of pages of new guidelines. Before each visit I make now, I have to read and sign a shortened health declaration before I am allowed inside.

Explanation of the Equinox Health Declaration.

The new rules at Equinox require members to make appointments to visit the gym–whether you’re going for a group fitness class, a personal training session or just to use an elliptical, you must schedule your visit in advance. Once in the gym, members and staff are required to wear face masks until they are working out. A member of the Equinox staff also checks everyone’s temperature at the door…anyone with over a 100 degree temperature will not be allowed in the gym.

All guests entering the gym are stopped at the door to get their temperature checked. Anyone with over 100 degrees will not be admitted.

Since going back to the gym, I have only attended group fitness classes and I have loved how much Equinox is respecting spacing, safety and cleanliness. In rooms that can fit up to 40, classes have been limited to under 15 people. All of the spots in the classes are spaced at least six feet apart and cleaned equipment is set out for each guest. Equinox has also shortened class times to allow more time in between classes for a deep cleaning of the studios. During class, instructors do not walk around the class, they stay at the front of the room to maintain social distancing standards.

Since June, I have not seen crowds of people and the equipment looks very clean in the main parts of the gym. There are also sanitizing stations in several locations around Equinox. To maintain cleanliness standards, Equinox is not providing their iconic chilled eucalyptus towels, which I kind of live for, but they do offer clean towels in plastic bags upon arrival.

One of the many sanitizing stations at Equinox.

One other heartbreaking change at the gym is that the steam room has been closed since the reopening. I used to use the steam room two or three times a week before coronavirus because of the many benefits steam can offer for skin and health, but it was also just so relaxing. Social distancing is a top priority in the bathroom as well. Sinks, bathroom stalls and showers are being rotated to maximize spacing and to make sure they aren’t being over-used.

The bathroom sinks at Equinox Austin.

Have you gone back to the gym yet? I hope these insights help with your decision making on whether to go back into the gym or not. If you have any questions I have not answered in this post, please leave me a comment and let me know!

XO,

Brit

Summer Reading: All About the Gilded Age

Summer Reading: All About the Gilded Age

This summer I made a few small goals for myself…one of them was to read a new book each month. In June, I started with Empty Mansions: the Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune, and because I’m a sucker for themes, I decided to make my July and August selections about the Gilded Age as well. And with all of the unpleasantness of 2020, I couldn’t think of a better time to take a literary vacation to a time of luxury and opulence.

The Gilded Age–a phrase coined by Mark Twain (renowned writer and outspoken critic of Huguette Clark’s father) in his novel, The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, was a time of unprecedented economic growth in the United States roughly from 1870-1900. At the time, industries in the U.S. were booming, the transcontinental railroad was being built and as a result, the notorious Fifth Avenue mansions were being built by the Vanderbilts, Astors and Clarks and the stunning palaces built by these families dotted the shores of Newport, Rhode Island. Unimaginable fortunes were being made in oil, copper and gold and the United States was coming into its own as a world power.

Written by Pulitzer Prize winner, Bill Dedman and Clark’s cousin, Paul Clark Newell Jr., Empty Mansions was a fabulous book to start my summer reading with. Huguette Clark–the daughter of copper magnate W.A. Clark, spent the last 20 years of her life living in a hospital room in New York City even though she had three luxury apartments on Fifth Avenue, a mansion in New Canaan, Connecticut, and a palatial compound in Santa Barbara.

This book intrigued me for a few reasons….first and foremost, Huguette’s mother, Anna, was born in Butte, Montana, a small mining town where Huguette’s father made his fortune. Butte is just a short 30-minute drive from Anaconda–an even smaller mining town where all of my family is from. Huguette was also married in Santa Barbara about two minutes from where I was married, at the Four Seasons, so I had all of these parallels with her that were just so interesting to me.

The book itself is incredibly well written and so fascinating. Huguette’s father almost seems like he was a character from a Wild West film–fighting native Americans for land and tricking his way into the senate. His political background was particularly interesting to me because of how it intertwined with my family’s stories. For years, I have heard my grandmother talk about how Anaconda, Montana (the town both of my parents grew up in and where most of my extended family lives) should have been the capital of the state, but that someone (I now assume that someone is W.A.) stashed ballots to make the town lose the vote. After reading Empty Mansions, I now understand the bitter rivalry between W.A. Clark and the “Copper King” Marcus Daly–who was pushing for Anaconda to become the capital.

A far cry from her boisterous father, Huguette lived the majority of her life as a recluse. She spent a large portion of her fortune on her beloved dolls and a stunning collection of impressionist paintings that museums could only dream of having today. In a time when most would be relishing their fine surroundings and hopping between compounds in Manhattan and Santa Barbara, Huguette lived out the last two decades of her life in hospitals, arguably being manipulated by the doctors and nurses around her. If you are looking for a bizarre and intriguing summer read, I would highly recommend Empty Mansions.

This summer, I am taking a deep-dive into the Gilded Age by reading Empty Mansions, A Season of Splendor and To Marry an English Lord.

For the month of July, I am reading A Season of Splendor: the Court of Mrs. Astor in Gilded Age New York by Greg King. Caroline Schermerhorn Astorthe Mrs. Astor, reigned as the queen of New York society for nearly half a century and single-handedly decided who was in and who was out of the upper crust of society through a social register known as “The 400” …a list W.A. Clark could never gain access to.

In August, I plan to read To Marry an English Lord: Tales of Wealth and Marriage, Sex and Snobbery in the Gilded Age by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace. As fans of Downton Abbey know, during the Gilded Age, it became commonplace for American oil and textile heiresses to raise their social status by marrying English aristocrats who had titles and estates, but no money to run them.

Come back next month for my review of A season of Splendor! I hope you’re all enjoying your summer. Leave me a comment and let me know what you’re reading!

XO,

Brit

Static Nails: A Review

Static Nails: A Review

Manicures and pedicures were a part of my bi-weekly routine before the coronavirus closures and to say my nail situation has been rough during quarantine has been rough might be an understatement.

To avoid more chipping and breaking, I recently ordered a set of Static Nails glue-on nails…rounded and in the color Sugar Floss. It took about a week for the set of nails to get in and it comes with a double set of nails, glue and a file for shaping.

I was really impressed with the color, its kind of a blend of two of my favorite OPI colors, Mod About You and Bubble Bath and the shape was beautiful. Because I’m a bit clumsy and I cook a lot, I did trim down the nails, but they were easy to cut and I just filed them a bit to get the square-round shape I like.

After a week, two of the nails popped off, but they are easy to glue right back on or you can use a new nail from the set.

Thinking back to when I went to the nail salon on a regular basis, I’m not sure if I actually enjoyed going or if it was just so engrained in my routine. Taking two hours out of your day when you have to work and run errands and do all of the other things that normal life requires, can be a lot. I’ve also been skeptical about the cleanliness of nail salons for many years and I imagine when life resumes after all of this, those concerns will still be valid.

At $14 for a set, Static Nails look as good as a professional manicure and don’t even take 20 minutes to apply. I think in the future, if I’m short on time for a vacation or having a busy week, I will gladly use these again.

Have you tried press-on nails or Static Nails lately? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

XO,

Brit