Keeping it Simple

April 20, 2015

Have you heard the acronym K.I.S.S.? It stands for "keep it simple, stupid," and I feel like it should be my daily mantra. I've always been a fan of "working smarter, not harder" but K.I.S.S. is more applicable to every day life situations. Like my make-up routine...it's pretty simple. A little bit off base makeup with SPF, a little bronzer and blush for color, and curled lashes. When it comes to my skincare I definitely put in more effort but still attempt to keep things easy. My process starts with a "double wash" of my face each night. The first wash takes off all my makeup and leaves the skin clean in preparation for the second wash which really lets my facial cleanser sink in. Doing two washes doesn't sound like I'm keeping things simple, and I'll be honest that sometimes it feels like a total pain. But I know that this nightly cleaning is what keeps my skin looking its best and I've found a nice, simplistic way to do my two-time cleaning without sacrificing the process...Simple Skincare's Cleansing Facial Wipes are what I now use for my first "wash" and now my nightly routine feels a lot faster.

 

Simple Skincare has a philosophy that less is more when it comes to ingredients and believes that being kind to your skin means saying no to harsh chemicals, artificial perfumes and dyes that can upset your skin. It only made sense to incorporate Simple Skincare’s Cleansing Wipes into my routine because they remove makeup while instantly hydrating my skin, being formulated with triple-purified water formula and other skin-loving ingredients. So even if I get lazy (this happens…a lot) and skip the second wash, I’m still good to go till morning. With all the traveling I’ve been doing lately, the wipes have been a godsend to toss in my travel bag. There’s no mess (the packaging is re-sealable) and it’s kind of grossly satisfying to see all the makeup they take off.

If you’re looking for a great way to quickly get it all off, these are probably a good fit for you. Being the bossy sister I am, I’ve already made Sally become a fan of Simple’s Cleansing Wipes and I’m also testing out the Moisturizing Facial Wash and Protecting Light Moisturizer—so far, so good! See more Simple Skincare action here

Images: taken by Mary Summers for A Piece of Toast

Compensation for this post was provided by Simple Skincare via AOL Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Simple Skincare or AOL.

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@APIECEOFTOAST

Toast Talk

April 16, 2015

Back. Sally's wedding last Saturday was just...everything. We arrived at the beach on Monday April 6th (with three pups in tow) and the rest of the week - leading up to the ceremony and reception on April 11th - was a total sprint of activity. As the Maid of Honor, I made it my mission to absorb as much of Sally's bridal stress as possible. I learned a lot. Some things I did perfectly but hindsight is 20/20 and there are parts I wish I had done differently. I thought I'd pass along my MOH findings today because, why not?

 

 

What I did well:

.Say Yes. I’m not typically a “yes” person (it was one of my huge downfalls in the corporate world). I am stubborn, I question everything, and I’m a slave to my own needs and schedule. But whenever my mom or Sally called and asked me to do something wedding related my answer was always, “Yes.” Even though this wasn’t my wedding, I knew the stress of planning everything from states away and it was easy for me to want to help. I ran errands, mailed invitations, took care of the bridesmaid dresses, and was always available when my mom or Sally needed to vent or get an opinion about something. The week of the wedding was an “all hands on deck” situation…as much as I wanted to sneak away to the beach, I never could have done it when I knew how much stuff needed to get done.

.Be The Fixer. In the final days leading to the big day, lots of things can go wrong. Sally was unpacking her bag and realized that her wedding shoes – a pale blue suede version of these – somehow got stained by something that leaked in her bag. No problem, I immediately ordered her a new pair. The thank you notes that are suppose to go with the programs are slipping out and there’s no way to make them stay. No problem, let’s get some gold paperclips. What I’ve learned from being in a big family and working in several high stress environments is that when there’s a problem, the worst thing you can do is waste time complaining or playing the blame game…it’s so much easier to offer a solution and then be the one to execute it.

.Put The Bride First. This was easy for me. Because Sally is my sister and best friend, I wanted to make sure she was 100% take care of. Whether that meant me telling the manicurist that her nails needed to look the best they ever had, always making sure she was fed and drinking lots of water (a hydrated bride is a happy bride?), or forgoing putting on my own makeup so that I could get her out the door and where she needed to be – it was my main priority that she feel absolutely incredible for all the wedding-related events.

.Get Bossy. Someone has to be the bossy one and I figured it was better that I be the “Psychotic Maid of Honor” than Sally be a “Bridezilla.” I gave orders, delegated tasks, got Type-A on just about every situation, and was a general control freak. The result was exactly what I planned: I became the no-nonsense police and Sally was a very relaxed and happy bride.

.Be Prepared. Easier said than done. I wish I could take credit for having everything on hand that the bridal party could have needed but it was really Pinch Provisions and their amazing kits that saved us in many situations. I had my Skinny Minimergency kit with me all week and was able to offer ponytail holders, chapstick, and a nail file on the fly. But it was really the Bridetasktic kit with 101 wedding essentials that killed it in the preparedness department. Just a few examples of what came in handy: nailpolish remover pads so Flower Girl Grace could get a mani touchup, bobby pins for attaching Sally’s flower crown at the reception, bandaids for the obvious blisters, deodorant towelettes for perspiring bridesmaids (you know it happens), and stain remover for a groom that got a little something on his white dinner jacket. My mom and I constantly looked over at each other and said, “what would we do without this thing,” in reference to the silver tote we brought with us everywhere during the day-of. If you’re in a wedding party or a bride-to-be, I really, really suggest investing in one of these things and keeping it glued to you during the big day!

.Lashes. I talked Sally into having lash extensions put on before we left for Florida and I’m so glad she got them. Not only did Shelby at Lashing Out do an amazing job, but after getting about a 75% volume coverage of extensions, Sally didn’t have to worry about wearing mascara the whole week and she legit looked like an angel. I didn’t feel like I needed extensions (because I’m a slave to using these products!) but I got my lashes tinted and it was the best tint job I’ve ever had done in my life…Shelby uses an all-organic formula and for the first time ever I didn’t have a ton of black dye all over my face and around my eyes. We almost scratched our plan to treat our lashes due to time but I’m really happy we gave them some attention because it made for less worry when it came to wedding time!

.Write The Toast. I had planned on writing my toast/speech for the rehearsal dinner weeks in advance. Haha – my procrastinating personality would never have let that happen! I briefly thought about winging it and just getting up without anything written down but after eating quickly, I took about ten minutes with a pen and pad of paper at the rehearsal dinner to write down what I had outlined in my brain for weeks. I’m sooo glad I did this…not only did I get to say everything I wanted to, but having it planned out meant I didn’t ramble. I’d also think that an audience listens better when they know the speaker has something prepared (:

 

What I wish I had done:

.Test the Bustle. I wasn’t at Sally’s final dress fitting where they explained and demonstrated how her bridal gown was suppose to bustle. I guess I figured my mom could walk me through it at the reception…but mama doesn’t have the best eyes (bless her heart) and her explanation of, “you hook the loops to the buttons,” was less than helpful when I didn’t know where said loops and buttons were located. Basically, I bustled the dress incorrectly and I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself for not figuring out how to do it properly ahead of time.

.Stay on Time. Keeping a wedding party with eight bridesmaids and ten groomsmen on task is not easy. Because I was so hyper focused on taking care of Sally, I totally neglected making sure that the rest of the crew knew where they needed to be and when. Whoops! Everyone got down the aisle on schedule (which is what really matters) but I def let angry Maid of Honor out of the bag in the process of getting everyone on the bus that took us to the chapel, and for that I am sad. I wish that my mom and I had made really detailed itineraries (with maps) to prevent a lot of miscommunication…but maybe we can do that for my wedding someday.

.Take Phone Photos. Being the paparazzi I am, I’m ashamed by the lack of photos I took on my phone of the Bridesmaid Luncheon, Rehearsal Dinner, and Wedding Day stuffs. I felt pretty overwhelmed most of the time and forgot to snap pics of all the prettiness happening…not ideal when you’re wanting to reflect back on everything and get some Instagrams up. At least we had Leslee capturing everything with her cameras! Can’t wait to see what magic she has in store for us…

 

I’m sure there are more things that I’m forgetting but the above are definitely my biggest Maid of Honor take aways. Maybe they’ll be helpful? Either way, Sal and I are looking forward to sharing more details from the wedding as we get photos back!

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You can read more about Anne Marie – a former accessory designer for Ralph Lauren and Kenneth Cole – and PARK here, but I think the quality of the pieces speak pretty well through the site and some of the photos I was able to snap of my Sudbury the other day. I was so inspired by the designer and her background, I reached out to ask Anne Marie a few questions about the bag I now love to use and carry and what makes it so special…I also snuck in a few questions about the PARK line and how it all came to be. Hope you enjoy the Q+A as much as I do!

Q: What inspired you as you designed the Sudbury gym bag?
A: Yoga Mats specifically. Everywhere I looked yoga mats were sticking out of ill-fitting bags or simply being carried under arms and just looked awkward. Not chic at all. I wanted to to design something that was  completely functional, effortless and looked designed specifically for the task but didn’t alienate people who don’t do yoga. The barrel shape of the bag mirrors the shape of a yoga mat but always looks great on its own. I remember seeing a beautiful barrel shape bag in the Men’s YSL collection years ago and always thought it looked very sophisticated.

Q: What makes a PARK gym bag stand out from the crowd?
A: The Italian coated canvas – hands down. We use the same mill as Louis Vuitton. However, the details are what really bring it all together and make it luxury. The vachetta leather trim, plaid lined pockets, leather luggage tag, extra thick ribbed detachable carrying strap with leather shoulder pad and our crest shaped rivets are all signature to PARK and set it apart from other brands.

Q: Any cool features in the bag?
A: Yes, there is an interior detachable nylon pouch in our signature plaid with crest shape rivet snaps that you can use for sundries, keys, cell, etc and take it with you if you don’t want to bring your whole bag. Also, the leather exterior straps  for the yoga mat are completely removable and the way they are designed to attach to the bag becomes almost invisible so you would never know that they were there.

Q: How do you, the designer, use the bag? What sports/activities is it most useful for?
A: I personally use it as my ‘swim’ bag. I am an avid  swimmer and I use the interior nylon pouch to put my wet suit in afterwards. It is really great for all sports and just as a chic duffel in general.

Q: What do you carry in your Sudbury Gym bag?
A: A towel (of course) which I receive every year I participate in the Swim Across America for cancer race, TYR goggles, speedo crossback bathing suit and  swim cap, shampoo, cream, etc…

Q: Which color Sudbury gym bag do you have?
A: Black with tan trim.

Q: When did you have the urge to start designing your own line and what inspired you?
A: Twelve  years ago I was packing for a ski trip to Banff in Canada and my ski boot bag was completely finished. I began looking for a replacement when I all I could ever find was over logo-ed cheap ballistic nylon bags. Being an fashion accessory designer I wanted something much more elevated and aesthetically pleasing.

Q: How was the experience of designing your own line different than designing for a big brand?
A: The freedom and authority to get things done. I can make decisions and  get projects accomplished in at least an eighth of the time. There are not all of these channels of approval I have to go through  which more often than not would end a project completely as we would miss the window.

Q: What is your favorite PARK accessory?
A: The Remi Lake Backpack. I use it every single day working in New York. It holds my laptop, portfolio, wallet, street shoes and tons of room for impromptu purchases which is often the case walking down Madison Avenue. It looks polished even with my Prada suits. I own one in every color depending on what I am wearing that day.

Thanks for being so amazing and awesome, Anne Marie! For anyone wondering the Sudbury is a fab weekend bag, has made two trips to the gym with me (I try) and did great all hooked up with my yoga mat.
.

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I'd like to think that if the title of this post doesn't already exist as a Ryan Gossling meme, that something along similar "yoga pants" lines does. Yoga pants, leggings, stretch pants - what ever you call them in your household - they are a main staple of mine and I find them acceptable to wear at all times. Even (or especially?) when I'm not doing yoga...which is a rare occurrence. Most of my pants are neutral dark colors (because those are most slimming and hide the cottage cheese butt - duh) but my trips to the grocery store and errands about town had me taking note of women in what I can only describe as "psychedelic" printed yoga pants. They were bold. They looked like Lisa Frank and the old Mac galaxy screen saver had a baby. They were awesome. And I wanted some.

 

Little did I know, getting my hands on a pair of so-tacky-and-wild-they-are-beautiful pants would be easier than I thought. I found just the selection I was needing at Nordstrom. And after careful deliberation that involved debating the merits of tie dye versus structured pattern, I walked away from the yoga section with these bad boys. My favorite part (aside from the fact that if I stare at them too long my eyes start vibrating) is that they do an even better job of masking my not so toned buns!

If my pant choice isn’t quite your style don’t worry – I want you to find the wild yoga pants of your unicorn dreamz and selected some other bold and badass options that might suit your color and or printed needs. No matter which way you sway, I think know Ryan Gossling will totally approve.

P.S. If you’re like, “there’s NO way those kind of pants will ever be on my body,” maybe you’d be open to putting a wild pattern on if it were in the form of a yoga tank. Here are my fave options: this, this, this, and this. Namaste.

P.P.S. Check back tomorrow for a full post with this yogalicious outfit!

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