The Coolest Summer Essentials

For those of you who know me, perhaps even just in passing, you probably know just how acutely the weather affects my mood. Despite being an island girl and adoring the outdoors, the heat REALLY gets to me. Add to that living in a concrete jungle and I'd say it'd be a bit of a risk to hang out with me in the hot New York months. BUT, thankfully I've found a few ways to beat the summer blues and stay positive, fresh and nourished.
  1. Watermelon juice! Step 1: Buy a watermelon, Step 2: Cut it in chunks, Step 3: Blend it alone (or add min for an extra cooling taste) until it becomes liquid, Step 4 (optional): Strain and drink! After you've let it cool in the refrigerator, you can sip on it for an immediate refreshing effect or you can add any clear spirit of your choice. It makes for a delicious and beautiful summer cocktail - my friends and I add vodka and garnish with mint - and you'll be left feeling hydrated and cool (in all senses). You're welcome. 
  2. Plan ahead and/or manage expectations. This one is both obvious and easier said than done. In the Summer, I plan all my meetings, shoots and to-dos for either the morning or the late afternoon, this way I know I'll be looking as presentable (sweat-free) as I can during the least-hot hours. When this option is out of my control, I simply choose breathable clothing, apply little or no makeup and just let the rest be. I find that if I'm mentally prepared to sweat, then I don't get as frustrated about it as when I tried my hardest NOT to sweat - should've known this bodily function has always been and will continue to be out of my control - thanks healthy sweat glands!
  3. Iced everything: The cooler season brings with it the desire to sip on yummy warm drinks, from coffee to mushroom mixes to hot cocoa. But, let's be honest, drinking a hot beverage in the Summer goes against all logic. So I just don't do it. Instead, I opt for getting creative with new flavors and options. One of my current favorite things to do is simply ICE everything. I brew my favorite teas (Throat Coat, Spicy Chai, Green) and then just add ice to it - sometimes I add either almond or coconut milk to it! Sounds simple, but it's revolutionized my drinking habits.
  4. Go topless everywhere. Just kidding - I wanted to make sure I still had your attention. But seriously - how nice would it be to  forego clothing altogether!? Am I the only one who'd be into this? OK fine, back to actual ideas. 
  5. Treats: I remember when I traveled through Europe after college I found my favorite chocolate bar - Kinder Bueno. As my trip went on, though, it became harder and harder to find it! When we asked the locals why they weren't selling them, they told us it was because "it was too hot for chocolate." I was flabbergasted. Since when is it ever too anything for chocolate?! While I hold firm that chocolate should be consumed year-round, I've gained some understanding of their point of view. Tuning into my body and cravings has led me to more often than not choose fresh foods over heavier, decadent ones when it's hot out. In doing so, I've found new treats that leave me feeling satisfied and light. My favorite hot-summer-day treat are frozen blueberries - not the frozen frozen ones, but fresh ones that you stick in the freezer and then toss in your mouth once they're frozen. One of my friends doesn't like the consistency of them like this, but that's exactly what I love. So give it a try, and see what you think! Another way of indulging in cool foods is blending these with any mix of other frozen foods and making either smoothie bowls or fruity "ice cream." I like smoothie bowls because I love eating with spoons (no one said I was normal) and then I can add fun toppings like chia, coconut flakes and home-made granola when I'm feeling sassy. Just be sure to monitor your fruit consumption as these are foods high in sugar and affect your blood sugar levels. Daily, I eat about one or two servings of fruit - so just listen to your body and make sure you're eating a balanced diet rich in fruits as well as veggies, fats and proteins ;) 
  6. Mint, cucumber, fennel and lemon. All of it. I use ALL of it in the Summer. Mint I use to infuse water and have handy in the fridge when I need a refreshing gulp, and I make sure to add a ton of it to my smoothies and blended foods. Cucumber I also use in infused water, as eye masks, in salads, for dipping, etc. Fennel I shave and toss in salads! It has a licorice-like taste so it's not for everyone but it's a naturally cooling food that easily makes foods burst with flavor. And lemon I use in water, when sauteeing greens, as an added ingredient in DIY face masks when skin is breaking out and I won't be in the sun and as the acid/ citrus base for all my dressings (if you have interest in getting a few dressings, please leave a comment below and I'll share my recipes. I LOVE homemade dressings.
  7. Skin Moisture: About two years ago I took a turn into oil town, meaning I now you use oils for all my skin needs. During winter, I slather coconut oil all over my body to moisturize my skin. It's thick and supremely nourishing during those dry months. The heat of this season would trap the heat sealed with that heavy of an oil though, so instead I use lighter-weight options such as Sweet Almond, Grapeseed or Apricot Kernel oil. I also add a few drops of essential oils when I want to add a specific scent (Geranium, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, Marjoram, etc.). This one by Palermo Body is particularly blissful. 

There you have it! My humble ways of staying cool when the heat is just too much. If you have any other tricks or fun ways of staying fresh, please leave a comment below and share them with me! I'm all ears when it comes to staying cool ;)

Hoping your Tuesday is fantastically chill.

With love,


Calling on Your First Love

This post is written in collaboration with some of the most stellar and deep-thinking women I've met. It's a series called The Refined Collective, organized by The Refined Woman. Each month, we'll each share our thoughts on an assigned topic. This month is all about Love. Be sure and check out the other women who are a part of this Collective: Katherine Harris and Joanne Encarnacion. Check out the other ladies on Instagram!

Visiting my friend in Italy circa 2010 before I decided to become "a photographer."

Visiting my friend in Italy circa 2010 before I decided to become "a photographer."

When I received the notification from Katherine (from The Refined Woman) that the next topic on queue was love, I immediately dreaded saying yes to this task. Love has always felt so much bigger than me. A topic that I couldn't possibly tackle in real life let alone write a public post about! I felt utterly inept to write about love because the first thing that came to mind was a recent break-up - and then I remembered one of Brené Brown's insightful comments when she said that "When you ask people about love, they tell you about heartbreak." It's a behavior that intrinsically draws us closer together through connection and vulnerability. I knew then that I wanted this to be about something even bigger than THAT type of post, so I want to invite you even deeper into my heart.

Today, I want to call upon your first love - that which first set your soul on fire - which started as a seed and either sprouted into full-on blazing flames or perhaps got nipped in the bud prior to its first spark. Our first love is that place in our hearts where we forgo our egos and opt for something bigger. It's what inspires us to create, what inspires us to be a better fill-in-the-blank, what inspires us to dream, what makes our heart skip a beat, what sends our voice into a higher pitch and our speech cadence into a quicker rhythm because We. Just. Can't. Contain. Ourselves. In her TED Talk about success and failure, Elizabeth Gilbert calls this place our home. "Your home is whatever in this world you love more than yourself. Your home is that thing to which you can dedicate your energies with such singular devotion that the ultimate results become inconsequential." For her, home is writing and storytelling. For me, it's photography and creativity. 

I received a message on Instagram the other day from a lovely gal who essentially asked me how I started my photography career. I enthusiastically sent her an e-mail with as many tips and industry-related tricks as I could rack up in my brain. As corny as it sounds, I felt compelled to let her know that it's never too early (or late) to pursue her dreams - and if photography is what lights her up, what brings her home - then that's exactly where she should expel her energies. How many of you relate to doing something temporarily because "that other thing" just isn't practical at the moment? Or perhaps because it'd be foolish or seen as silly despite that intense feeling deep down begging you to give it a try? It may be writing, or being a great wife, or becoming a SoulCycle instructor, or inventing the next app, or doing community work, it could be anything! What is it? Dig deep. Go there. 

When I was a young girl, I'd beg my parents to buy me disposable cameras at Walgreens so I could document my super exciting tween life. I remember my grandpa giving me one of his old Polaroid cameras because he noticed my affinity for the art. I'd go through old photo albums with my mom, asking her about her memories, helping her rearrange the pictures, mesmerized by the entire process of photography. As time passed, I kept using my hard-earned money from selling limes and banana bread (#IslandLife) to buy cameras and film (translation: my parents bought them for me). I'd be the friend taking pictures at school and at the few parties I was allowed to go to. I'd make albums that I'd then show all my friends. In college, I'd do my friends' hair and make-up so I could photograph them and show them how beautiful they were (and how awesome my photo skills were). Looking back, it all seems so clear to me. From a young age, my home has always been creativity, human connection and capturing emotion through photography. It's what always brought me joy.

There's so much sacrifice in life. Inherently, to live is to experience a range of emotions that far exceed the limitations of human understanding. So why not make it a joyful life? I'm not saying life is perfect when you choose to do that which your heart craves, but I do believe there's a lot more room for joy when we do something we love. It's our way of communicating to the Universe that we're receptive to its call. 

What I want for you, my darling friend, is a life full of inspiration, joy, excitement, satisfaction, fulfillment, self-exploration, outward focus and LOVE. I want you to find your home. I want you to be blessed with a rich life because you've given yourself the gift of going through it with open communication with your heart. I want there to be more joy in the world by starting with you. If you've been strayed from your soul's path, as Gilbert says," your job is to fight your way back to that home the only way its ever been done... by putting your head down and performing with diligence and devotion and respect and reverence whatever the task is that love is calling forth from you next."

Do it. 

With love always,



// S O U R C E S //

Elizabeth Gilbert, TED Talk, Success, Failure and the drive to keep creating

Brené Brown, TED Talk, The Power of Vulnerability

Seduction in the City


It was a chilly New York evening, but the air held a certain sexiness that flushed my cheeks and lips with color. Looking back, it was probably the color of passion red.

He immediately noticed.

His piercing eyes followed me all night. A gaze that equally adored my curves and my smile. I noticed he'd find ways to cut the physical distance between us, making excuses to swoosh past me more often as the night progressed, teasing me with his perfect smell and disarming smile. Oh how I'd like to swim in the wrinkles of his smile! I made sure to match his intensity with my own desire and playfulness. If there's something I can do well (and take great pleasure in), it's smiling, especially faced with a steamy encounter. I danced the dance of seduction and mystery, making him wonder, not doubt, what his next move should be. Every time we held each other's gaze, we invited each other into our respective world of intimacy, refusing to let anyone else in or, even worse, break the spell we put on each other. We were entranced. 

Conversations over drinks evolved organically, laughs pierced the cool evening air and just like that, I began writing this in my head. That's the thing about romance: it's one of the only defying mysteries in life that seems to suspend time. One word hangs off the other, one small caress steals my breath and the thought that there will be more where that came from sends shivers down my spine. His occasional boyish demeanor lets me know I have the same effect on him. 

We are looking at each other, no, we are staring at each other, and in the first doubtful thought of the night, I wonder what he's thinking. Will he kiss me? Is he thinking of my lips? When will I get to kiss him? And just like that, in one impressively quick motion, as if to protectively banish the questions in my head, he interlaces his fingers through my neck and hair and pulls me into his lips like it's all he's been thinking about since he first saw me. No need to wonder, his lips whisper over mine telling me so. We are locked in a desperate kiss that pleads for more. As his lips and hands travel through the rest of my body, it feels as I don't have enough skin for him to kiss, to wander through. I wish I had more. To feel more of his breath over me, more of his whispers against my skin... I want all of him and he wants all of me. 

Pairings of intense making out, touching, breathing hard and then holding each other close, hugging, talking and looking at each other unfolded through the night, allowing for prolonged pleasure and freedom of physical expression. To be matched on such a sensual level must be one of the most liberating and gratifying gifts to experience as a human being. We take turns taking control, giving into one another with complete abandon. My lips wander and taste his body - not all of it, yet, but enough to keep my taste buds wanting more. His mouth grazes over me and I find stillness in his curiosity and exploration of me. At one point he even finds my elbow amusing to kiss. We lay side by side, me taking note of the city lights catch in his eyes and wanting to freeze time once again, him playing out what a full evening with me would look like, feel like; and just like that, in one clear decision that my entire body disagrees with, I decide it's not the night. I want to delay it, to extract every single ounce of pleasure over the sweet musings of time.


Calling all self-loving sexy ladies! If you have a particularly memorable sexy tale to share, we're all ears. Seduction in the City is all about celebrating our womanhood, our desires, our pleasures, our loveliest and steamiest encounters, and everything in between. As a woman, I want to offer up this space for candor and freedom of expression. By sharing and embracing our innermost dialogues and anecdotes, we affirm a message of complete self-love to the world (and you can remain anonymous if you so wish).  Follow along our sultry journey as we seduce our way through the city by subscribing to the mailing list. We promise to keep it sexy ;)