Aesop / a luxurious experience

Apr 27, 2016

Aesop is an Australian product-care line of skin, hair, body, home and even pets, of fine quality. The source of their products are plant-based and lab-made ingredients with a proven note of safety and efficacy. I came to know of Aesop through the blogging community a while back and I was attracted to their aesthetic in packaging and well as raving reviews. When I looked into the brand, I was eager to visit a store to try some things for myself. I search and searched, but there was none near me. Back in January, my husband and I took our son to Miami, FL. We were actually there ourselves for the first time together and stayed in Brickell. We went to visit my best friend who married recently and now resides there with her husband. On our quest for breakfast one morning, we were looking to go to a popular diner with the best chicken & waffles in Wynwood. I couldn't believe my eyes when I forced a squint reading AESOP right next door. This would be the closet store to my home- roughly 4 hours away. I had to stop inside.
My experience was nothing less than great with a consultant who was very knowledgable of the products on stand. My first thing breathtaking experience was in an instance at a glance to the industrial design and architect of the narrow, yet spacious store. It was minimal and so creatively focused on a peaceful consumer experience. Every item was in perfect order on the shelf. It's a dream to someone with OCD. I felt shy taking pictures of everything, but I did sneak a few (jk, I asked for permission) shots of some products. I absolutely love the laboratory concept and emphasize throughout the shelves like glass containers with measuring details and labels. I felt like I was in a world of proactive and effective skincare. The number 1 thing I couldn't leave without was the Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm which I've mentioned in a previous posts here and here. It's an essential to hydrate my hands and I wish this came in a travel size! The consultant was kind enough to give me some samples when I told her about my attraction to the brand and my blogging journey with an emphasis on minimalism.

Here are some thoughts:

  • Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm - this balm has a strong tangerine refreshing scent and penetrates the skin quickly leaving no oily residue. It hydrates the skin like no other. I was impressed at first use with this gem and it will be an on-going repurchase for sure.
  • Resurrection Rinse-Free Hand Wash - a hand sanitizer that thoroughly cleanses and refreshes the hands. Perfect for the office or to have in the bag and cleanse before lunch.
  • Parsley Seed Facial Cleanser - this is an effective cleanser for all skin types. My skin is going through an odd transition at the moment... all my life I've had significantly oily skin and it seems now more and more dryness is coming through. I chose to try this out since I'm unsure of my skin type.
  • Remove - I've been loving oil cleansers as of lately and I love this smooth oil-based eye make up remover for most skin types. Clarifies and refreshes.
  • Elemental Facial Barrier Cream - rich and buttery, nourishing and moisturizing cream that provides a barrier of protection for the skin.

I am hoping to try the lip balm with SPF in it as well as their lip cream. I also want to try deep cleansers and some toning products. If I were wealthy, I would give myself the luxury of designing a part of my future home with pulls of inspiration from the Aesop stores around the world. The way I would describe it is minimal meets luxury.

For a glimpse at the (USA) Aesop brand and experience, click here.
This is not a sponsored post.

5 Ways Minimalism Has Bettered Me

Apr 25, 2016

I can't stop talking about it. Some people understand it, others give me an odd face... maybe because they've known me through the years and are aware of the slight hoarding tendencies I've had in the past. I wish I had become one with this concept sooner, but I need to stop wishing that because it stresses me out. Instead, I need to be thankful I'm leading this life now and embracing what I have and more importantly, need.
Over the past few months I have given away countless bags of items and clothes. Either to family, friends, or donation centers. I think I've mentioned this in the blog before, but I just dug out what didn't fit or what wasn't fitting to my style anymore and got rid of it. I'm still purging things- believe it or not. If you follow me on Insta, you know I've updated my furniture a few times over until it was completely complimenting to the minimalist style. The spaces in our place are so clean and clear you can sometimes hear an echo if you speak. We feel AMAZING every morning we awake because our surrounding isn't cluttered with the unnecessary. I am so grateful for our apartment (size and all) and the ability to optimize space and light using different techniques.
My objective is to live more simply, and keep things that are useful and sustainable. I reevaluate everything before bringing something new into my home. An ongoing goal is to continuously declutter until there is no more. To me, decluttering isn't finding a new space or storage for the matter, its literally getting rid of what ever has no intentional use or purpose anymore.

5 significant lessons and notes with this change:

  1. Freedom - we live in a time and culture where its better to have more, where there's constant comparison of who has what and does my stuff measure up. I am 100% freed from this assumption and mentality. I am so grateful for what I have and when I see anyone bragging over an excessive amount of anything it really makes me share about this concept with them.
  2. Visual Appeal - I don't know about you, but to me, a home with open space and clarity within every corner speaks volume. I have worked thoughtfully to keep everything with a minimal focus, but visually appealing.
  3. Save More - we have invested in some pieces, but in the end an investment is also a way of saving. For example, not only in furniture, but in clothes. Spending $60 on a plain shirt that'll last you a year regardless of its cycles in the washer, is ultimately less expensive than that $12 one you have to buy again and again because it didn't make it pass the drying process after that first wash. 
  4. Productivity - its incredible how much the things we often consume distract us. With our space having the bare minimum, my productivity levels are at an all time high in other areas. Cleaning is a lot easier to do and maintain as well!
  5. Raising my son - this will probably be one of the best long-term results of this whole experience. To teach my son that less is more and not be driven by the media or market in becoming convinced he needs this or that. To take full advantage of the blessings before him and stand satisfied. To give away instead of hoarding for himself. 

Not to mention, the rise in energy, decrease in stress, and overall appreciative approach we have towards everything in life. Whether it'd be attainable by us or not.

Hair Update: Ash Brown/Blonde

Apr 22, 2016

My hair!!! So last month, I blogged about going blonde. Something I've been wanting to do for years, but was never allowed to test those waters. My stylist and I started out by lifting my dyed-black hair and I was to return within a couple weeks-time to finish, or get to my end goal. I'm not sure what happened between the days of starting my process and going back, but my hair became incredibly dry. It was the driest it had EVER been and it was knotting itself so drastically I could barely comb through it because I would literally feel it breaking. Scary! 
I was in immediate contact with my stylist and asked her what I should do. I knew this was step one of a two or three step process, depending on my hairs reaction. My stylist suggested we didn't proceed with lighteners, but worked with the color already in place; as well as do a protein mask and a very necessary trim! 
So! We reversed our goal (I initially wanted to be blonde all around) and went for an ashier look instead. Eventually, I'll have a more obvious ombré. I'm fine with taking my time because I really don't want to fry my hair! Patience is key... even in the slightest means of our lives. I'll be back in about 3 months to lighten my tips and trim again. I want healthy, long hair, so cutting is imperative. I'm really looking forward to my new goal and am really enjoying this look! It's different and I feel it suits my skin tone better. Black hair is still my first love and know I will have it eventually, but I'm really enjoying the change. Especially when it looks like this! The protein mask she did on my hair was beyond amazing. It literally FIXED my hair; it's as soft and smooth as baby hair. I can't even believe it! We should see a slight change in the summer, hinting at ashier and grayish undertones... So exciting! 

If you want a change in your hair style or color, it's so important to find someone who's truly knowledgable of what they're doing. Along with that, it's essential to have clear communication with your stylist for what you're going for. Exchange ideas, photos for reference, and lots of details. Your stylist should be able to inform you clearly and to the best of their ability, the pros and possible cons of what you're seeking to do. With going lighter, there will be some degree of damage. Good maintenance is of the essence!


The Daily Must

Apr 18, 2016

I'm the type of person who needs a slight routine to their time and day to keep myself in place yet still look forward to something new, otherwise its easy to let the day go by and be unproductive without specific structure. Here are daily tasks I do to keep me aligned...

a cup of coffee - since I could ever remember, I've been a coffee drinker. Its definitely in my culture to have a cup in the morning and also as a treat at noon after a meal. I literally remember being in 3rd grade and going into Tony's the corner store across the street from my elementary school before the bell rang and ordering a latte. Tony, the owner, told me it was mine for $0.50 every morning since I was such a loyal customer. I remember as if it were yesterday the display of gratitude on my face. I would drink my hot coffee with milk in the cool, refreshing autumns, and unbearable winters. To this day, I often have multiple servings a day... but not from Tony's, sadly.

a daily read - for a few years now I've made it a point to sit with reading material at least once a day. Since becoming a mom, its a little difficult to sneak in the times. While my son naps would be ideal, but I usually catch up with the blog or house chores. Right now I'm finding it best to read either in the early mornings or late nights. My favorite time is during uninterrupted time during the mornings at work. I love words, I love language. It always fuels my love for writing. PS- reading with a latte or green tea in hand is best to enhance the experience!

intentional time with my son - this is one of my highest priorities. My son has started to speak in his own little language and its the dearest thing because in his mind he's really having a conversation with me and expressing things I know he hopes I understand. He's so passionate. During our intentional time we play quiet games, "talk" with one another, nap, or go for a walk. I never thought a one year old could teach me so much about life.

top 3 - because a list of 3 is less daunting to complete and even look at than one of 10. At the end of every day I list my 3 most important tasks to accomplish the next day.

  1. sign and e-mail contract
  2. master bathroom
  3. wardrobe clean out - spring in
I keep the tasks simple and to the point. At the very least I know I have to complete those the next day. So, on a daily basis I focus on my top 3 and never go to bed feeling like I did nothing for the day.

skincare - this has become my favorite (next to reading) forum of me-time. In the morning and during the evening I've been keeping up with a cleansing routine. The morning routine has an emphasis on skin protection and prep, while the night routine has one on cleansing and restoring. 

I've noted how much joy these little tasks add to my life. 

Minimal Dining

Apr 17, 2016

I'm going full force with my minimalism journey and I'm so happy to have my husband on board! When we first moved into our place about 15 months ago, I had an expresso-colored dining table and I really don't know what I was thinking when I purchased it because it threw off everything else in the home. I had never lived on my own before so I really didn't think much about it. Almost a year in,  the fact that our space wasn't cohesive really began to bother me. Especially because I was home more often than not. I sold my dining set and went for something gray. I loved the gray set because it was a spacious rectangular table with 2 chairs on one side and a bench on the other. It was actually an outdoor table I repurposed and used indoors. After a couple months the table top had cup stains which was difficult to clean for some reason and that began to bother me. It also ate up a lot of our dining space. So, again I went to my husband telling him I wanted a change. When we spoke about it initially, he thought I was going crazy, but then we spoke about simplifying and minimizing and it all made sense to the both of us. Of course, Pinterest being my biggest influence, I did endless research. I fell in love with the style of eames chairs and the idea of a tulip table. It took very few pictures during my pinning quest to convince me! I got onto searching and within 2 weeks sold my gray set and got my desired white-minimal dining space. My husband kept smiling putting everything together because he actually likes this more than both of our previous ones. Everything is easier to clean and compliments the space so much more!

In a previous post I mentioned my obsession with tulips. They just scream spring! I'm obsessed with these little copper salt and paper shakers from Target. I'm actually thinking about rearranging my tiny wall gallery because thats the way I had it set up with the gray table... if I decide to switch it up I will update that via Instagram! I'm so happy with this result. The style is very much inspired by the simplicity of Scandinavian homes. I obsess over their decor because it carries the concept of less being more. Even when we move into a house, it'll be the perfect niche to have in the kitchen for a breakfast area.


Glossier Phase 1 Review

Apr 13, 2016

I had very high expectations when I initially looked into Glossier, and they rose even higher when I received the beautifully minimally designed products. The packaging was beyond! I loved every detail! You may have heard about my rave if you read my introductory post upon receiving the products. I am so happy to be report that I am not at all disappointed. I knew if it came from Emily Weiss it had to be good - at the very least - and it was excellent!

Milk Jelly Cleanser $18
This was love at first use. It has quickly become my absolute favorite cleanser to start and end my day. It is gentle beyond belief! How can I describe it... well, I have a 1 year old, so I've become very familiar with super soft cleansers and this always reminds me of a super soothing baby bathing product. It soothes and purifies the skin just as it claims. I love how its also described as a conditioning face wash because I literally feel it condition my skin. I like to damp my skin and then massage it in.
Priming Moisturizer $25
Hands down my favorite moisturizer at the moment. It's pretty versatile! I apply it before bed and basically wake up with plumped baby-like skin or prior to make up application to coat my skin. It does an incredible job either way. It definitely has prolonged the wear of my tints and foundations. I wish it had SPF so I can wear it alone and go on with my day. After cleansing, I apply this and its become a must-do in my daily routine.
Perfecting Skin Tint (dark) $26
In the beginning, I think I had the wrong idea with this tint. I thought this was going to serve as a true tint on the skin and lightly cover imperfections, but it provides more of a super sheer coverage and leaves your skin feeling breathable and lightweight and as if you have some sort of skin balm on. I find it smooths and very slightly, blurs imperfections. This is definitely my go-to for 'no make-up' light errand days... especially with the upcoming hotter months. I can't be bothered with product slipping off my face. Not this summer!
Balm Dotcom $12
This is an essential. I mean... they're all essentials, but this little guy made it to my on-the go make up bag and goes wherever I go! I need to get an extra one to leave on my vanity and bedside. I apply this before bed and it truly is an incredible feeling to wake up with the softest lips! I also love the versatile uses of this, as it can be applied to the cuticles and any other rough areas we may have- like knees and elbows! You may find its a little thick when you're squeezing it out of the tube, but squeeze gently, because a little goes a very long way.

In all honesty, my skin feels healthy with this routine which is impressive because its so simple and even the ingredients within every product is. As you may note, I have not one negative thing to say. I think the price point is a great one for each product considering the quality. None of these have an overwhelming scent, which is a bonus in my book. I really can't deal with skincare products that are strongly scented. They give me a headache. The priming moisturizer, skin tint, and balm dotcom have no scent at all. I picked up a very light scent from the milk cleanser, but it is nothing bothersome in my opinion. Its actually pretty delicate and soothing.

Ultimately, my overall experience and routine is simply refreshing. I'm obsessed with Glossier's aesthetic and the idea behind the brand. At this point in my life, I'm not obsessed with a caked face. Anything thats too much or overdone just exhausts me. I'm embracing the nature of my skin and as little as that may seem it has made such a significant difference in my appearance and how I feel about myself. Glossier compliments and encourages my minimalist journey. Nothing but wants needed is what's present here!

Learn more about Glossier here. 
This post is not sponsored by Glossier. All products were purchased by me. The Glossier team has no influence in my opinion of the products and brand.


As much as I have wanted to blog and stay on schedule, I can't fight some odd feelings and things that have been present in my life. It's hard to articulate... and I've tried drafting posts on it all week and end up scrambling everything and posting nothing. I'm going to just write it out... and however it goes will be how its to stay documented.

Positive: minimalism. It is truly changing everything. It is changing our (my husband, son, and I) lives. I anticipate blogging about my home and wardrobe and how I'm raising my son with the concept of less being more.

Positive: I recently got real and upfront on instagram about my hardships in marriage during the initial months after tieing the knot. I really don't know how or why, but my husband and I were at our throats. Everything just flipped upside down and it was so obvious in our behavior and how our home looked. My surrounding showcased our unhappiness and it was hard to make sense of everything because in the pits of our hearts we were (and are) madly in love with one another. Next month we will mark 7.5 years together and the love has never once faded in and out... but I guess with so many changes within a year: moving in together, having a baby, loads of bills, rent/responsibility, long hours of work, barely time alone, raising a child, chores, meals, adult stuff, plus serving our marriage... all within 11 months. It was sudden and it was hard. While my life was falling apart (emotionally), I tried my best to keep up with my blog and try new things with my son. It took a lot for my husband and I to come to a common ground and make mutual behavioral adjustments after many miserable months of disrespect and miscommunication... or worse- no communication. Gratefully, we are in an incredibly different place now than we were a few months ago. I guess the waves of the storm have calmed. I'm so much more mindful of my thought process prior to speaking or responding to him about anything. I can't tell you how much the practice of minimalism has impacted our lives (attitude, stress level, environment) positively as well. That's a post of its own!
I know its a long, long road ahead... but I finally understand love is, after all, a choice. Everything begins with a choice. I'm learning to think prior to reacting... which may sound a bit primitive, but I've always been quicker to act or react than to think thoroughly about and through my actions.

Negative: copy cats. I don't like imitation. There's a quote that reads, "Imitation is the greatest form of flattery" but I argue against this. I think its an absolute diss to someone who puts their time and energy into a project. Regardless of how big or small, it truly aggravates me when someone mistakes inspiration and decides to straight up steal someone else's idea, routine, method, etc. It is probably the biggest turn off for me in a person and makes me want zero association with them. Sometimes I wish I wasn't like that and I wish it didn't phase me. I guess it bothers me that for myself and other creators  I know, they put they're all into something for someone else to just come and try to make it look their own... no. You have a mind, you have capability. Think for yourself. Create. Do. Think. Try. Mess up. Try again. Scratch out and off... try and retry... over and over again until you're satisfied with something that came out of your soul. Don't take whats not yours. Don't take what you didn't create. Its rude, impolite, inconsiderate. Allow the exhaustion of the original creator to be worth the while and not a waste lost in time.

Positive: I'm redoing my dining space... again... for the last time while I'm in the apartment I'm currently in and can't WAIT to reveal it to my readers.

Bittersweet: I really don't know how I feel about social media. Well I think I can say its a little exhausting. Back in February I blogged about a social media rut I found myself in... and not much has changed. I have considered and reconsidered over and over again deleting my Instagram, starting new and staying private...

Bittersweet: the blonde. Its almost been a month I think since I went for the drastic change. I haven't even seen my hair at the goal I set for myself. I have to go back for one more session to finish it off, but I miss my black hair so so so so sooooo much.

Positive: I'm obsessed with tulips. White tulips.

Must Have Beauty Tool

Apr 6, 2016

It's a very bittersweet thing when Spring rolls my way because I am severely allergic to pollen. For the past few days the pollen has been so high and I end up with super swollen and irritated eyes, dry skin, running or stuffed nose, and sneezing 20 times an hour. Its not the most comfortable thing. In the past I would avoid being outdoors due to the severity of my allergies, but now since have a toddler he has to get his play fix in the sun! For these reasons, I really can't bother with much make up at all and particularly not in the eye area. My beauty routine may have gotten a little boring, but to me its noticeable and makes the simplest difference. It consists of a lot of moisture, protection from the sun, and lash curling!
I purchased the Tarte Lash Curler (which I mentioned in last months favorites) while roaming Ulta. I was attracted to how the handle was so different than most and how it came with a complimentary travel size mascara! I have to say I'm pretty addicted to curling my lashes. I curl them in the morning after my cleansing routine, mid-day (whether I'm going out or not), and before bed after cleansing as well!

For a number of reasons this is my go-to beauty tool:

  1. Adds Volume - after 2-3 pumps and releasing the handle, I instantly have voluminous lashes. 
  2. Separates Lashes - the opening is wide enough to fit my lash lid, and it being so my lashes separate evenly with no hassle.
  3. Doesn't Pinch - because the opening is wide, theres enough space to properly align your lash line and not hurt yourself. 
  4. Comfortable Handle - its so easy to maneuver and pump! Grips and clips easily, isn't flimsy.
  5. Holds Curl - now this is the point, isn't it? It does an amazing job at holding the curl on its own and upon mascara application afterwards. 
The mascara that comes with the curler is Tarte's best selling Lights Camera Lashes and I'm so glad it did because I have a new favorite in my collection. This mascara actually has olive esters which conditions, treats and helps protect the lashes. It does an incredible job at lengthening, volumizing, and seperating which is exactly what I look for when I'm judging whether or not a mascara is for me. It's so lightweight and keeps the lashes looking fluttery all day. The curl really holds up to its potential when the lash is prepped with the lash curler prior to the mascara application. They're seriously an amazing duo. Set at $18, I think its a great price considering the mascara alone is $21 and most lash curler competitors are in the $20-$25 range. 

Grip lash curler handle and gently squeeze clean, dry lashes comfortably
Pump 2-3 times to allow pressure and release lashes - do not pull away - to curl lashes naturally
Apply mascara if desired for a much more emphasized look


Toddler: Communication Age 1

Apr 4, 2016

When my son turned 8 months I saw a world of a difference in the human being I was called to raise. He would mimic any nose he heard and literally tried to copy gestures we made. I remember realizing then - "wow! he's only 8 months... this is a serious deal". For the first time in my life I feel like I'm literally a walking example. My husband and I often have serious discussions about our conduct, manners, vocabulary, and actions before him. Rather than seeing him as a "little baby" who plays and forgets about the world, we communicate with him as a rational, growing being who could learn in any way and at quite a rapid pace. We have learned every action counts in the face of raising a child and that is something thats not to be taken lightly.
He communicates his feelings to us, obviously this requires a lot of attention from our parts, but now at 14 months he definitely expresses when he's in discomfort, unhappy, extremely happy, sleepy, hungry, or simply when he wants something he cannot have or do something he isn't allowed to do... like climb into the pot I have with a 5 ft. palm plant. He has learned to express his emotions in a way other than crying (which is what we see in infancy for the most part). He definitely pouts, says a bunch of words in his own language with his little fists in the air until he turns a little red (he's a little passionate), and often times has 30 sec-1min episodes of throwing himself on the ground and sobbing.
He spends a lot more time with me than with his father because his father works very long hours. When Noah and I are alone, he is extremely observant of me (especially), and the things that surround him. I'm happy about this because he's not one to necessarily space out. He is very attentive and picks at details; which contributes to his intelligence. I try my very best to do the "right" thing with every chance I get to teach him something. This requires endless energy, endless patience. My entire life I've prayed for patience... and boy did God put me to the test by granting me a child.

Modeling good manners is a key thing and so is staying true to your word. For me, its significant that if I decide on something I stand with it. This is beneficial long-term because it teaches him to obey and most importantly respect. In our communication, I am as clear as I can be. I give direct eye contact, and I always speak with a firm voice. I talk to him A LOT. By now, he knows when mommy's voice is playful and when she is serious and something has to stop or be put down. He definitely is one to test the waters, and sometimes its hard for me not to laugh because at the end of the day he's so tiny and he does certain things that he thinks he can get away with or I won't catch... we're talking about a 14 month old here, guys. Maybe this won't be cute when he's a teenager, but right now its pretty amazing to me because it just shows how aware he is of me and how I may react.

When we speak I always say please and thank you! He still doesn't really know how to say please, but he LOVES giving us things to hear us say, "thank you!". Sometimes, he'll give us an item, say thank you himself, and walk away with a smile.
My parenting approach revolves around real-life settings, not a fantasy world. In real life, being polite goes a long way and makes relationships and communication a lot smoother. Mutual respect is of the essence here and in every encounter we come across in our lives. It is a priority as parents to begin this in our home.

Photos were taken while out for breakfast on an early spring, sunny morning.

GLOSSIER Phase 1 Set

Apr 1, 2016

This is by far my most anticipated buy of the year! I was thrilled to receive the Glossier Phase 1 Set which includes a cleanser, priming moisturizer, lip balm, and skin tint. The genius behind the brand is Emily Weiss, Founder of Into The Gloss, a super popular and successful beauty blog. Emily started out by interviewing models, make-up artists, and women she admired about the products they used and loved. She is a huge inspiration to me and is living proof that anything is possible when you work your ass off, live passionately and creatively! Its amazing how a blogger (who started simply with a computer and notebook in her apt) could evolve in such a way and create something so beautiful. I'm obsessed with the entire idea behind the brand of enhancing what we already have and focusing on good skin before anything.

If you've read a recent post of mine, why less is more in beauty, you would know I've been on this minimalist kick - and yes, I've brought make-up and skincare into the mix. Because it is a lifestyle, I want to be minimal and intentional in every aspect of my life. I thought deeply about what products to invest in to encourage this change in my life. I went with Glossier because I want to experience the simplicity and playfulness of the brand. I want to use what I have until its last drop and not jump around from product to product. I'm excited to bring you a full review of each of these gems within the next week!

I was immediately obsessed with the packaging upon receiving it. The pink zip pouch will be in all my bags as an "on the go" holding my essentials! And I love the fun stickers that came with everything as well. They're intended to decorate the products! How cute! But I'm going to use it a little differently... I've never placed any stickers on my MacBook Pro, but thats about to change! I'm showing off #Glossier everywhere I go!

This post is not sponsored by Glossier. All products were purchased by me. The Glossier team has no influence in my opinion of the products and brand.
© Gentle Maven.