My Go-To (Affordable) Beauty Staples


I was looking for a new eye cream, and was surprised at how expensive all of the top-rated eye creams are! Thinking about it, I realized that the products I reach for over and over are typically pretty affordable. So I thought I’d do a roundup of my favorites in hopes that someone will share their affordable eye cream secret with me!

I’ve tried a few similar products but nothing stands up to these after a flight to New York, early wake up call, and day full of meetings ahead. 

I read about these in a beauty round up on The Cut and decided to give them a try. The little patches are thin and barely noticeable. They breakdown whatever’s irritating your skin and causing the pimple, and even help flatten acne, but don’t dry your skin out. This product seriously works wonders overnight.

I have a pretty deep side part and am trying to be a hat person, but have realized I need to also be better about protecting my scalp. This leave-in conditioner helps detangle my baby fine hair, smells like vacation, and has SPF which protects my scalp from being burnt and my color from fading. 

I’ve been reading about how good Vitamin C serum is for your skin but finally took note when my dermatologist recommended it. This affordable serum features Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid Acid. Vitamin C is an antioxidant which blocks and then helps to repair the damage to our cells, caused by free radicals, while hyaluronic acid is essential to healing and repairing our tissues, as well as in moisture retention. That’s a lot of science but I can say my skin looks brighter and feels smoother.

This has been my go-to face wash for over a decade. It’s gentle but still removes my makeup and is really inexpensive (yet recommended by my dermatologist).

This has been such a lifesaver that I keep one at home and a travel one in my suitcase so I never travel without it. It detangles my hair in mere minutes.

San Francisco Staycation


As I mentioned in this post, I took two weeks off before starting my new job. I knew it would be busy ramping up (I was right - thus the lack of posts lately!) and I’m so happy I took time off (something I’ve never done between jobs). 

My first thought was to plan a trip somewhere, but then I realized that we had Labor Day plans in Napa smack dab in the middle of my time off, and also realized that two weeks of no work also means two weeks of no paycheck (ha!). So it became the perfect excuse to stay put and enjoy a two week San Francisco staycation. Here’s what I did with my time off, in case you’re curious.
Eating + Drinking
Of course, I had to try to some new-to-me restaurants and coffee shops during my time off. 

Andytown Coffee Roasters: One day before work (for Ian) we made the trek to Andydown in the Outer Sunset. I tried the Snowy Plover, which is a delicious combination of iced Pellegrino with two shots of Andytown’s home-roasted espresso and a tiny small amount of brown-sugar-based syrup. Oh, and it’s topped off homemade whipped cream. 

I’ve been wanting to have breakfast at Plow since we moved to San Francisco, but the rumored long lines always scared me. Thinking about waiting in line before I’ve had my coffee? No thank you. My girlfriend Megan and I braved the wait on Labor Day and it was a solid hour and a half (we picked up coffee down the block). The verdict? It’s totally worth the hype. We both got the plow, which is two eggs (I had some of the best scrambled eggs of my life, and I’m an over easy gal) with house made pork sausage or Nuke’s bacon (Megan and I each got one and shared, obviously), two lemon ricotta pancakes (Plow’s famous for them) and Plow potatoes (simple but amazing). 

I finally made it to Tartine Manufactory, to have lunch - and champagne - with Alexa. The space is beautiful, the food is delicious, and there’s even an old school newsstand and Heath Ceramics on site. What more could you want? Pastries for the next day. Done.

Tackling the line at Swan Oyster Depot was right up there with Plow. It’s a San Francisco institution that has no website (the ones you’ll find online are fakes), has been around for 105 years, and seats just 20 at a counter. Ian took a half day so we could go for an early lunch. We showed up at 11am and had a dozen oysters, the Sicilian Sashimi and smoked salmon (we wanted to try to infamous crab back but just missed crab season). It was one of the best meals of my life - washed down with an Anchor Steam to make it truly San Francisco. Also, for such a famous spot that gets its fair share of tourists, the staff couldn’t be friendlier. Warning: It’s cash only. 

At some point I’ll write about the mindfulness and meditation course I just finished in detail, but for now I want to mention My Father’s Kitchen. The tiny spot serves up Vietnamese comfort food and was right near my class. Since it closes at 7pm it’s been hard to make it there after work, but my early class time (and time off) were the perfect opportunity. It was too hot for pho but we loved the marinated grilled pork and meatballs and chicken satay.

Honorable mentions for some old favorites I visited during my time off: Coffee at Sight Glass (the new space near our place on Divisadero is gorgeous) and Wrecking Ball; breakfast at Brenda’s and As Quoted; and lunch at Angelina’s.

I love to cook, but Ian’s typically home before me and is an amazing cook, so he usually comes up with dinner. I used the time off to make a favorite recipe to freeze for a later date (Ina Garten’s vegetable lasagna ftw) and try a few new recipes: favorites were Smitten Kitchen’s Classic Cobb Salad and Chicken Palau from my fav cookbook Small Victories.

Getting Active
I can get into a bit of a rut when it comes to workouts, running the same route and taking the same classes. During my time off, I went out of my comfort zone with a few classes at SALT (I’ve since become a regular at the Barre Fight and 7x7 classes; barre meets kickboxing and HIIT, respectively) and by finally trying Yoga at Grace Cathedral, which I so enjoyed. I also walked e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.

Getting Sh*t Done
I was pretty productive during my time off, crossing a few things off my list to make for an easier transition into fall and a new workload. I picked up birthday cards + gifts for the next few months so I’m not left scrambling, which actually meant also getting ahead of a few Christmas gifts; I set price alerts and actually purchased holiday flights ahead of time; I cleaned out our closets and donated a bunch of items; I did a full bar cart cleaning and refrigerator overhaul and actually paid for professional carpet cleaning. I also did a few design-y projects like finding art for a big wall in our bedroom (will share more later!).

Solo Touristy Stuff
I had been wanting to check out the Degas exhibit at the Legion of Honor so one day during my staycation I purchased a ticket and checked it out for myself! September is our best weather, so I was also able to enjoy a few bona fide beach days at China Cove and Baker Beach and took our boxer to his favorite beaches - Chrissy Field and Ocean Beach - as few times as well.

Queen of Hearts


It all started when a girlfriend tried on this heart print button down at a boutique in the Mission. From then on, I’ve been drawn to heart print items and am noticing that it’s a micro trend for fall. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite items adorned with hearts, from the cutest Comme des Garçons sneakers to a tee and sweatshirt from my new favorite line, THE GREAT (which is the ready-to-wear line by Emily Current and Meritt Elliott of Current/Elliott).

Clockwise from top left:

My All-Time Favorite Work Bag


When it was time to find a new work bag I realized I just wanted to replace my favorite one, which had started to show some wear and tear after nearly three years. My work bag of choice: The Cuyana Classic Leather Tote in Stone.

Why I love it: The pebbled leather feels luxurious but is also more durable (in my opinion) than smooth leather, and the Stone color goes with everything. Plus, you can get it monogrammed for $10!

I think next I may need to snag the laptop sleeve and the leather tassel keychain. Cuyana has a gorgeous website but their showroom in downtown San Francisco is so fun to visit.

The Imperfect Apartment Tour


We moved into our third floor apartment, in a 1920s Edwardian in an up-and-coming neighborhood called Nopa (North of the Panhandle), when we moved to San Francisco a little over three years ago … and haven’t done much to it since. As I mentioned in this post, I had been itching to make some apartment updates and I’m happy to say that save for a few things stuck in the mail, our apartment finally feels DONE. 

I was initially hesitant to share photos not because I don’t love how it turned out, but because I see so many glossy, perfect home tours online and this isn’t that. Our apartment is tiny and I shot these photos with an iPhone. BUT we re-did the apartment for under $2,000 and I do love it, so perfect apartment tour or not, here it is! I think the blogging world could use a dose of reality, how about you?
Dining Room
We replaced another IKEA purchase, our tall bar table, with another IKEA dining set! After spending an entire day strolling West Elm and the usual suspects, and ended up loving the Fanbyn bar table and chairs. The table is very trendy but because of the low price tag I’m okay with it. Plus, we have two fold up stools so we can actually seat six for dinner! With the exception of our kitchen and bathroom, our entire apartment is carpeted. I dream of wood floors, but for now decided to buy a bright rug to break up the space and make the dining area more distinct. 

Living Room
We got rid of our hand-me-down Pottery Barn TV stand and IKEA Billy bookcase to make room for this mid-century modern TV stand. It was tricky to pair down our book collection and agree on which knick knacks to showcase (that deserves a whole other post), but I’m happy with how it turned out. 

Sadly, framing this Rebecca Atwood wallpaper didn’t work out. I ordered this Ferns print from Jenny’s Print Shop and sent the high-res rile to Framebridge to be matted and framed. The print was just $15 and the printing, matting, framing and shipping was just under $150. I can’t wait to see how it turns out. 

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Bar Cart (pictured after the jump)
Rug: Sold out but similar here and here 
Fern Print (not pictured)