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2017 Highlights: Oh the Places We’ve Gone… (and people we’ve met)

2017 was a pretty incredible year for me. I got to be in an Olay campaign with my mom, was profiled in Vanity Fair, danced with the Rockettes, judged Glamour’s Beauty Awards, was on a billboard in Times Square, and meet so many of my idols! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If I’m being honest the whole year was a bit of a blur. Which is why every New Years Eve, I take an hour to go through my Instagram feed, blog posts and just reflect on all the incredible things that have happened. So here we go, my top moments of 2017 (in no particular order)!

  1. Being profiled in Vanity Fair. I mean… #goals.

2. Seeing my face on a billboard in Times Square! I hosted a Facebook Live with Sophia Bush for Sunglass Hut that was streamed on a billboard in Times Square. It was incredible.

3. Getting this Owl necklace from Iris Apfel’s personal jewelry collection. She hosted a trunk show of her one of a kind vintage pieces she’s thrifted throughout the years and I walked away with this incredible piece.

4. Being in Greece with Patricia Field and Debi Mazar, two women I’ve literally admired my whole life. From cruising around Mykonos in an ATV, to epic lunches overlooking the Mediterranean, this vacation was the definition of paradise.

5. Getting to judge Glamour’s Beauty Awards for the 2nd year in a row.

6. Being in an Olay campaign with my mom and being apart of the 28-day clinical study for the famed Regenerist and Total Effects moisturizer.

Also being in Health Magazine for the campaign!

7. Got to workout with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall and learn their moves thanks to Gillette Venus!

8. Getting to hug Joe Biden!

9. Walking in my first fashion show for Livari during fashion week!

Road Tripping with Toyota

Toyota rav4 hybridOutfit details: Tracee Ellis Ross Dress / Ann Taylor Scarf (similar) / Prada sunglasses (similar) / Avon Joyful Beautiful Knit Hat

This past week I spent a lot of time in Boston for the holidays. It was magical. At the 11th hour James and I decided to drive instead of taking the train. We partnered with Toyota and tested out the 2017 Toyota Rav4 SE Hybrid. We loaded up the car with gifts, snacks, and drove through a storm. While the weather outside was frightful, the heated seats, all wheel drive, and spacious interior kept us comfortable and toasty. Plus, we got to enjoy a white Christmas, which made the day extra special.

COAF Honors Patricia Field and Raises $3.6 Million for Villages in Rural Armenia

Patricia Field art fashion coaf lara eurdolianIt was a really special weekend for me. My mom came down for her birthday and to celebrate my dear friend, costume designer Patricia Field, as she received the Humanitarian Award at the 14th annual Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) Holiday Gala. An inspiring evening where $3.6 million was raised for villages in rural Armenia.

Hosted by Emmy & Tony Award-winning actress Andrea Martin (fun fact, my mom used to waitress at her dad’s restaurant), Patricia was presented the award by actress and singer, Vanessa Williams who she worked with on the TV series, Ugly Betty with. There was a lovely tribute to her work, including clips from Sex and the City, Devil Wears Prada, Confessions of a Shopaholic and Ugly Betty, featured above.

5 Super Fan Lady Date Ideas that are Winter Weather Friendly

Baby, it’s cold outside… and minus hitting the bar or picking out a fab new brunch spot I have five fun (depending on your definition) indoor activities that make for the perfect lady date. These are specific to NYC but most cities have comparable options!

1. Hit the Spa – Call it a cliche but it’s so not over-rated!  I recently blew off a Friday afternoon and went to Oasis Spa with my friend Milly (check out her blog!) — that’s us above, don’t we look relaxed? IT WAS THE BEST! She got a Swedish Massage and I got a Deep Tissue and the only thing we couldn’t agree on is who had a better time. Hands down the perfect way to end the week and so relaxing. We both really needed the down time and girl hang. I’ve been to Oasis several time and it’s never disappointed.

Blogger advice Part 1: What it takes to be a full time influencer.

First off thank you for all of your DMs and questions when I announced I was writing this post. I clearly underestimated how many I was going to get so in an attempt to get to everyones questions, this will be a 2 part (or maybe 5 part post if the questions keep coming in).

For most of you that know me well, online and offline, you know starting this blog has been an incredible roller coaster which I started a decade ago. Back then there were only a handful of us and now it feels like you’re a minority if you don’t have a blog, youtube or at the very least Instagram where the goal is free product, being paid to do promotions with the dream of this being your full-time gig.

Like you, I follow a bunch of influencers on Instagram and I have read tons of inspirational captions over the years of how they started a year, two years… blah blah blah years ago and are now full-time and if they can do it so can you.

I think that’s terrible advice.

Pretty Sick The Beauty Guide for Women with Cancer

I beaming with joy! My friend and someone I can’t begin to put into words how much I admire, launched her first book, Pretty Sick The Beauty Guide for Women with Cancer last month. There’s really no way to water it down, cancer is scary, the side effects of chemotherapy… terrifying. Your skins a mess, you get mouth sores, your hair and nails can fall out — OMG. And yet her fixes and her book are anything but depressing, much like her it’s funny, real and filled with expert advice that’s easy to digest and something that anyone who wants to learn from the best should read. Because the advice is from the best of the best in the beauty world.

7 Easy Steps for a More Restful Sleep

To say sleep does a body good is the understatement of the century. It’s like this magic elixir that makes your skin better, fixes ailments, makes you happier and less stressed, and all you have to do is get enough of it. When Arianna Huffington said we were in a “sleep-derivation crisis”, I understood it, but I didn’t try to rectify it. I acknowledged that culturally we work crazy hours, especially in NYC – isn’t that how you get ahead? I’ve even heard people brag about how busy they are and that they barely get any sleep. I used to be one of those so busy people, in many ways I still am, but not when it comes to my well-being. Since reading Arianna Huffington’s book, The Sleep Revolution and using the Beautyrest® Sleeptracker® monitor, I have a new lease on life, with getting enough sleep being on the top of that list. I have big plans for myself and if getting my ZZZ’s is key to being successful, consider me all in.

If you have trouble sleeping, here are 8 easy things you could be doing to fix it!

1. Invest in a Beautyrest Sleeptracker Monitor

This device has changed my life. You put it under your mattress and connect to the mobile app to track your sleep. It shows you your breathing rate, heart rate, total sleep time, how long you took to fall asleep, how many times you woke up (and for how long)… and then breaks down your Light sleep, REM sleep and Deep sleep time and what that means. REM sleep is crucial for brain performance and organizing memory. Deep sleep is for the regeneration of the body. It even gives you advice on how to improve your sleep. Best part is you don’t have to charge it (it plugs into the wall). You can read my full review HERE and learn more at beautyrest.com/Sleeptracker. It retails for $199 and a very worthy investment.

2. Create a Bedroom Oasis

Since making over my bedroom, my life has changed. I used to live in papers, with my laptop somewhere in my bed and piles of clothes on the floor. Beauty products everywhere, I lived in clutter. Since painting the floors white, ordering beautiful bedding – we literally used to have red and black bedding and everything was so dark I think it depressed me. So with my new theme of white furniture and serene calmness, I literally saw my dream bed on Croscill Natural’s website, it’s called “First Light Bed” and ordered everything. I’m not the best at DIY interior designing so I bought everything in a stock photo and kept the rest white and it worked! Having a light and airy room now, with no clutter makes going to bed such a peaceful and enjoyable experience. I don’t care what the state of the rest of my apartment is, I’m committed to my room staying completely pristine and serene.

3. Lose the Electronics

Take electronic devices out of the bedroom and try to not look at your phone or computer for at least an hour before bed. Reading emails or watching movies on your tablets will keep your brain active when it should be relaxing. The blue light from our screens mimics that of daylight, which also stimulates you. Try reading, cleaning or playing cards, or just meditating. Just try to resist looking at a screen (I know it’s tough).

Your Secret Weapon for Sleep

Growing up I was always told sleep is the most important medicine. And unlike my sister who was a complete night owl, when I was done for the day, I was done. Meaning, as soon as I was worn out, my head would hit that pillow and I was out within seconds.

That part hasn’t changed, but my relationship with sleep over the years certainly has. My stress level has been through the roof, my schedule has been all over the place, and it occurred to me that while I understood the importance of sleep, I wasn’t prioritizing it. And my attitude was changing for the worse because of it.

The week before I left for Paris, I had a wake-up call. Beautyrest® sent me the Beautyrest® Sleeptracker® monitor to try, which is a device you put under your mattress; it connects to the accompanying mobile app to track your sleep. It shows your breathing rate, heart rate, total sleep time, how long you took to fall asleep, how many times you woke up (and for how long) … and then breaks down your Light sleep, REM sleep and Deep sleep time.

As I learned from the app’s Smart Coach tips, REM sleep is crucial for brain performance and organizing memory. Deep sleep is for the regeneration of the body – that’s when muscles are restored and the immune system is strengthened.

Unlike wearable sleep monitors (that require being worn and needing to be charged regularly), the Beautyrest Sleeptracker monitor is completely non-invasive and plugs directly into a wall outlet. It basically looks like a defibrillator, two paddles so it can track you and your partner’s sleep (or you can just use one side).

The Beautyrest Sleeptracker monitor gave me a closer look at the things keeping me up at night (monitoring everything from my caffeine intake to how much TV or other devices I was using before bed) and offers personalized, easy-to-implement insights to help me make the most of my time asleep.

Back to my wake-up call. The first week I used it (right before the trip), I was mortified to see I was averaging 6-6.5 hours of sleep. The app actually recommended I try exercising before bed. I went to a talk by sleep guru, Arianna Huffington a few months prior where she reaffirmed that I’m someone who needs 7-8 hours a sleep a night to be a functional human being. In my head I assumed that’s what I was getting. I have a busy but flexible schedule so it wasn’t my alarm clock that was keeping me up, it was my stress level. And, I wasn’t paying attention to the time I was going to bed and waking up. My brain was on overdrive with my to-do list and deadlines. The next month was a whirlwind. I was in four time zones in less than 30 days. I went from NY –> Paris –> NY –> LA –> Vegas –> NY –> Mykonos. The New York trips were for 1-2 days just to change suitcases and make sure my dog and boyfriend still remembered me. By the time I was back, my stomach and my sleep was a mess, and I was exhausted. Of all the trips, Vegas was the worst — I was cranky non-stop. While it was so fun, the conference I attended had us scheduled from 8am to midnight. That means that by the time I got my work done after returning to my hotel room and woke up early to get ready for the conference each day, I felt the burn out and it severely impacted my mood. The only cure: sleep.

When I got home I decided I needed to cut down on work, refocus and prioritize. My only concerns were my relationship, my dog, my sleep and the actual projects that excited and motivated me and ignored the rest.

I also redid my bedroom and was committed to creating my oasis. We painted the floors white, took out unnecessary furniture and clutter. I got new bedding from Croscil – I literally saw a picture on their website of my dream bedding and ordered the whole collection. I also got the most luxurious bed, a new Beautyrest Black® mattress and created a new rule: the rest of my apartment can be a mess but not my bedroom sanctuary.

Within a week of being back, my stomach was no longer in knots and my sleep was back to averaging 7.5 hours/night (I even hit 9 hours and 22 minutes one of the nights!). Best of all, I felt like an all-around more centered and happier human being. The coaching feature in the app even told me “So far this week, on average, 28% of your sleep has been deep sleep. That’s great – keep doing what you are doing!” I love my virtual sleep coach.

Ever since I started using the Beautyrest Sleeptracker monitor, I have a stronger understanding of my daily habits and how they affect my sleep. By implementing simple changes and paying attention to what is and what isn’t working for me I’m in such better shape every day to work more productively and feel more energized. And for the days I’m not, I’m now hyper aware of it and my limits.

The Beautyrest Sleeptracker monitor is a complete game changer and $199. Learn more at http://www.beautyrest.com/Sleeptracker

Thank you Beautyrest for partnering with me on this post!

Ask Dr. Nadia: 5 Supplements [Nearly] Everyone Should Take

The answer to the above question is #3 on our list below! Just one of the many things I’ve learned from Dr. Nadia Musavvir Instagram page (instagram.com/_drnadia_). Whenever I’m in LA, I’m usually in between trips, exhausted, depleted, and have Dr. Nadia Musavvir on speed dial. She gets me the vitamin shots I need and literally puts me back together. But seriously for my list trip she saw me dead after a 24 hours whirlwind where I went from Paris –> NYC –> LA (3 time zones in 1 day!) and had only a few days in Los Angeles before having to be at a conference in Vegas. I wanted to curl up in a ball and die of exhaustion. Ten minudtes with Dr. Nadia and I’m a new person.  During our last visit it occurred to me I’m always reading trendy stories about must have supplements from people I don’t know and sources I don’t always trust so I asked for her top 5 supplements (nearly) everyone should take, here’s what made her count:

1. Trace minerals

I typically recommend a multi mineral rather than a multivitamin because the soil is so deficient in minerals; we would need 7x the recommended amount of vegetables to get adequate minerals (provided not all mineral content gets destroyed in the cooking process AND that digestion is functioning optimally to absorb).

2. Probiotic

Stress, foods, medications can all change the microbiome; because a balanced and healthy assortment of good bacteria is necessary for digestion, absorption, a healthy immune system, neurotransmitter formation (which affects mood), I always recommend a good probiotic.

Muddy feet and showerheads

I’ve always considered myself outdoorsy but I didn’t really prioritize going to the park, doing weekend trips to the beach and hiking as much until I rescued Charlie last year. Now we’re out as much as possible since exercise, especially for senior pups is so important. And we encourage him to go off leash and run around play in the grass but it’s all fun and games until it’s muddy feet — and we have white floors and light bedding so the foot washing scene is real in our home.

For Charlie this is just another day in Central Park, playing in the grass (post rain is the worst!). It brings a whole new meaning to dog days of summer. Embarrassingly enough I usually bathe Charlie at my office apartment since it’s only a few blocks away and has a full tub in it and James and my real apartment only has a shower in it.

So if we do bathe Charlie at our place it’s usually in the kitchen sink, which is not ideal. The most amazing solution (and only $59) is the Propel Spot Resist Handheld Shower! It’s available in 3 finishes, Chrome, Mediterranean Bronze, and Spot Resist Brushed Nickel and super easy to assemble and a total game changer.

Additional features include five spray options and a 4.5-inch spray face for enhanced water coverage. And what that all boils down to is this shower head has changed my life. Especially since it’s so much easier washing his feet with it than running a full bath. The long hose makes it so easy for me to wash him standing up or at the foot of the shower — our old shower head obviously didn’t reach, which made that entire shower next to impossible to bathe him in. It also makes for a more productive bath for Charlie since it’s a more targeted wash with the handheld to wash off his shampoo and conditioner. Otherwise trying to accomplish taking off the soap later with a faucet requires using a bowl to wash it off. Plus James and I are enjoying it so much more than the showerhead our apartment came with.