Imperfect me.

My head is full of imperfections. My mind says I will screw everything up, so why try? It says you will never be as successful as her, or as beautiful. It screams "YOU SUCK BRYNN!!!”…you just aren’t enough.  But you know what? I say NO to that inner voice inside my head CAUSE IT’S LYING. 

When I have these thoughts of second guessing myself, I feel like everyone is judging me, laughing at me, being mean to me while toasting to my screw-ups over their champagne. But that’s just not the case. People are just as insecure as you, even if they seem like they have it all together. People are thinking “oh, gosh, I hope I don’t have a huge piece of spinach in my teeth”. Guaranteed. 

One thing I can assure you is that every day I feel insecure in one way or another. Will I mess up this project? Am I styling this gal right? Do I have a piece of toilet paper stuck on my shoe?! Doubts seem to clog up my mind so much sometimes I have to make myself rest. It’s just too much for my brain to handle. 

This has been going on for years now. When I was in high school I struggled with horrible acne. It was so painful and made me so fearful and insecure. I was wearing a lot of makeup to cover it up and was on so many topical and internal medicines from my dermatologist. I’m sure you can imagine having massive red spots on your face really didn’t help my teen years. I struggled through these years with a fair load of stress. I also had really bad cystic acne on my back which was so embarrassing when wearing a bathing suit. 

Lately though I have learned to be more kind to myself. I have said so many negative things to myself in my head throughout the years, so I decided to start telling myself “hey lady, you are AWESOME, you can do this thing, you are going to rock the heck out of this.” I was amazed how just giving myself a pat on the back or thinking happy thoughts about myself really made all the difference. I feel more joy—lighter in a way, perhaps. It is a pretty rad feeling to have. 

We could all use just a tad more positivity in our lives. 

This Post is created in conjunction with the ladies of The Refined Collective. Be sure and read the other articles today by:  Jackie Viramontez, Julien Garman, Sarah Shreves, Tutti del Monte, Lauren Scruggs and The Refined Woman.  Also, join us over on instagram today under #therefinedcollective to see what everyone else has to say on this topic.

the most yummy veggie burger.

It’s tough to find food that is fast to prepare and healthy. In fact, this is one of the first times I’ve seen the words fast and healthy in the same sentence! That’s why I was so amazed when I came across Hilary’s Eat Well

Hilary’s Eat Well has literally been a lifesaver. Not only is are the dishes easy to prepare and delicious, but they are certified gluten-free, organic, kosher, non-GMO verified, and vegan! This has been super important to me recently because I’ve gone almost completely vegan. I simply just like the way I feel more when I eat vegetables rather than meat. But, gosh, I miss a good burger! I’m basically constantly on the hunt for a great vegan burger. This is why I gave Hilary’s “World’s Best Veggie Burger” a try. I’m SO glad I did. 

I put together a quick recipe below, but you can have fun and mix up the ingredients in any way to make it your own style. Take my word though, this recipe below satisfied my cravings in a huge way!   

(makes 2)

INGREDIENTS: 

1 box of Hilary’s Eat Well “World’s Best Veggie Burger”

2 organic hamburger buns

1 organic onion 

a handful of organic pickles 

a handful of organic grape tomatoes 

a handful of organic spinach 

4 strips organic vegan bacon

a handful of organic vegan mozzarella cheese 

1 tbs. butter

1 tsp. olive oil 

Your favorite dressing/sauce. I used Hilary's Ranch Chia Dressing.

 

 

DIRECTIONS:

1.  On a stovetop frying pan, cook the burger in the olive oil for 3 minutes on each side.

2.  Once the burger is finished cooking, turn off the heat and add the vegan cheese. Let it settle and melt on the burger before moving to bun.   

3.  In a separate pan, butter the face of each bun and lightly grill until lightly browned. 

4.  Move buns to a separate plate and add the burger patties to the bun. 

5.  Add all of your favorite toppings! Mine are listed above, but you can do whatever you like. Be creative!

6.  Eat the deliciously healthy veggie burger from Hilary’s Eat Well

7.  ENJOY!

Kasbah Bab Ourika

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As the weather here in New York City starts to get a little more chilly, I’m finding myself daydreaming more and more about going back to the heat of Morocco. We were primarily staying around the city of Marrakech, but decided to venture out of the city to get away from the hustle and bustle to relax in the shadows of the Atlas Mountains. This is how we found our way to the Kasbah Bab Ourika.

Kasbah Bab Ourika is probably the furthest away from a tourist area within the Marrakech vicinity that you can get. To get there you are led onto a dirt road and through winding village streets. We had the Kasbah set up a car service to navigate us throughout the streets. It was nice to have someone drive us that knew the area by heart. It was a beautiful experience though—getting to see Morocco in its natural state without people pandering to tourists.

Once you are finished meandering up the path to the Kasbah, you are led up to the hill and at the top of the hill is the Kasbah. What a beautiful sight it is! The scene surrounding the Kasbah is entirely different than Marrakech. It is complete tranquility. You are led on to the grounds and immediately feel at home.

While all the rooms are amazing there, we opted for a room with its own private pool. Best. Decision. Ever. Aaron and I loved to just relax here all day in the Moroccan sun. They have a pool in their gardens for guests to use, but there was something extra special about being able to soak up the rays at any moment just by stepping outside of our living room door.

Without a doubt, though, one of the best experiences Aaron and I had in Morocco was riding camels through the towns that surround the Kasbah. We truly felt like we were one with our surroundings. The Kasbah arranged the camels/guide for us and our guide was wonderful. All of the people in the neighborhoods knew him. One thing that was kind of fun was that he let Aaron try on his local “Berber” outfit. It was so unique and definitely a first! There’s also a tradition of eating a snack down by the riverbed, so we all feasted on a watermelon and watched as all the kids in the community played together. Everyone was simply so joyful. They also loved Aaron’s long hair and thought it was very funny-haha.

Another activity we enjoyed was exploring the local markets. I literally had my arms full of wicker baskets by the time we left the Kasbah. Our local guide took us around the markets which were full of everything you could imagine. They even had a section for guys to get their beards trimmed! There were spices galore and so many hand made pottery items. We actually bought a mug from a vendor for around 15 cents. The prices were ridiculously inexpensive since we were away from the tourist area! While in downtown Marrakech, I got the sense much of the market was designed for tourists to buy gifts, but out near the Kasbah, it was completely about the community supplying goods for the rest of the community.

Another memory we made on our day trek was that we visited a Saffron farm. It was incredible to see how the delicate and rare plant is produced. At the farm, they also had a very fun barefoot trail. Basically, every step you take is a new element—sand, rocks, wood, grass, water, etc. You spend about 15 minutes going from element to element barefoot so that you can feel connected to the earth. I, personally, loved the rose petal soak for my feet. Never experienced anything like it!

Side note—the donkey’s on the farm were soooooo cute!

After a long day of camel trekking or shopping at one of the markets, we would go back to the hotel. Aaron would relax in the pool while I would get a massage. The massage at the Kasbah was so relaxing! They used local Moroccan Argan Oil and it smelled like a total dream. I actually ended up falling alseep-haha. I love taking the time to get a massage when I can and this one was so worth it! 

If you want a great view of the sunset, Kasbah Bab Ourika has you covered. Aaron and I would make our way to the edge of the property and sit on chairs overlooking the countryside. It was picture perfect. We loved looking into the distance at other rooftops. On them would be local families gathered around watching the sunset as well. It was such a great feeling of unity with the community. It was just beautiful to see everyone connecting by watching the same sunset.

And what would an article about Morocco be without talking about the food? The food at the Kasbah Bab Ourika was without a doubt 100% Moroccan Cuisine! Almost all of the main dishes were served in tagines and had unbelievable flavors. The setting of every meal we ate at the Kasbah was outside on their patio. As with almost all locations at the Kasbah, it looked out onto the Atlas Mountains and was a sight to behold. Watching the sunrise and set while eating breakfast and dinner was something I’ll never forget. 

On your next journey to Marrakech, try thinking outside the box just a little bit. Venture to the outskirts and get another perspective for the Moroccan way of life. We loved our time at Kasbah Bab Ourika and know a trek there would be well worth it! 

Bits and Pieces.

It has been such a joy-filled week! Just yesterday I got the opportunity to walk a runway show for Anthropologie with some gorgeous inspiring women. Also, I didn't fall on my face. Always a plus, right? Anyway, I wanted to share with you guys some of my favirite new things I have been loving lately. I cover everything from rugs to face masks in this post. So without further ado, let's get going! 

This shirt and these jeans from Madewell... and my new pet, Cuddles, my bulldog pillow. 

I love how Madewell makes clothes you can just throw on a be comfy in without even thinking about it. I love this shirt because it is so vintage inspired plus the color is such a stunning shade of pink. These jeans I am wearing are also very awesome. They have several different types of denim sewn on them so they have a very unique and hip vibe to them. 

Now you might have seen my bulldog friend Cuddles in my bedroom makeover post, but I love him so. I found him in a little shop in Amagansett, New York. But you can actually buy him here. P.S-he gives great cuddles! 

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Sunday Riley's Luna Sleeping Night OilSaturn Sulfur Acne Mask and C.E.O. Moisturizer

I love Sunday Riley so much. I trust their products over almost all other for ingredient quality and results. These three products have proven to be my skin heros over the last couple of months. When I got some unsightly acne I used the Saturn Sulfur Acne Mask and I swear it clears my problem spots within days. Not to mention, right after I use it I feel like it gives me a bit of glow! 

The Luna Sleeping Night Oil I keep right by the bedside table for night application. Don't let the blue color scare you! That colors fades away when it is absorbed into your skin. When I wake up after having applied this oil to my face my skin feels so soft and plump. It's just nothing sort of awesome. Try it out!

Lastly one of my favorites ever has been the C.E.O. Moisturizer! The smell is delightful first off. The perfect blend of intoxicating citrus and freshness. I love to massage this into my skin right after cleansing in the mornings. Not only does the scent energize me, but my skin is so moist and glowy using this every time. Love it! 

This rug, basket, and pillow are from The Citizenry.

If you guys haven't heard of The Citizenry I am happy to introduce you now! The Citizenry is an amazing company that collaborates with local artisans in countries around the world to sell their gorgeous handcrafted items to us. One of the main things I love is that they pay the artisans fair wages, happy working environments, and sustaining grants, so they are able to take their crafts and their businesses to new places. Love this!

The Sierra Rug proved to be the perfect addition for this cosy corner of my dining room. Not only is this rug so visually beautiful to look at (and the perfect combo of my favorite colors ever!) but it was handwoven in Mexico by the women of Oaxaca. I like to think that every time I look at this rug I imagine all the hard work that went into creating such a beautiful add-on to my space. 

I love a good catch-all basket. It is one of my huge organizational secrets, actually. Just throw all your stuff into cute baskets, done! This Mercado Storage Basket fits the bill perfectly. It is so serviceable and wonderful (it's actually made out of Mexican palm leaves). I also think a plant would look really cute in here... a project for another day perhaps. 

A lady can never have enough pillows! The La Brista Pillow is the perfect pillow to throw on a couch, chair or bed. The colors in this pillow go with everything and add an interesting accent to whatever you pair it with. This pillow was handmade in Peru and you can definitly see all the stunning detail that was put in the stitching. A great go-to piece for decorating almost any space! 

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Anything Yellow + More jeans from Madewell I love.

Cue the Coldplay song guys-haha! I have been loving all things yellow, perhaps its because the sun seems to be making its exit officially now, but I digress...

These glasses are my go-to accessory now. I'm trying to use them as much as I can before winter hits. I love how when I put them on they make the world seem like a much more sunny place (hey, it makes me happy!). They add a fun color pop to any outfit and are just plan cool which I'm generally into.

This top by Madewell has also been on repeat lately. It is the ideal light weight top you don't have to think about. Just throw it on and go! Unfortunately, it's sold out now or else I would tell you guys all to run out and buy it asap. 

Next up these jeans!!!! I love them. They are straight out of the movie Dazed and Confused (one my favorite films, btw). They give just the right amount of stretch but are sure flattering on pretty much any body type because they are high-waisted. Plus they are on sale! 

the layers we live in.

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Have you ever had a time when someone asks, "How's your day going"? You say, "It's going great,"  but in reality, your day is a long way from great. That, my friend,  is called creating a layer. We New Yorkers, in particular, seem to apply a lot of layers to our lives. For example: Layers of being busy, layers of having it all together, layers of self-importance or "can-do-it-all" performance can create unrealistic images. Maybe it's time to peel back some layers. Of course, every waiter or retail worker doesn't want to hear our tale of inadequacy, but good friends or family might benefit from a glimpse at our vulnerability.

I try to be real with you. I sure don't have it all together. Quite truthfully, sometimes I need help...advice...insight...or even a good shaking! Sometimes taking away the layers of "I'm fine" and "it's all good" can be just what we need. Being vulnerable, letting the layers of exoskeleton fall off, can be quite freeing.  As a matter of fact, this has become the foundation of some of my dearest friendships. After all, people who share embarrassing info with each other typically have each other's back. Plus - what can beat laughing together about those stupid things we've done? Laughter can be the best medicine out there, right?!

As I'm writing this, I realize I accidentally missed a whole section of rogue hair on my leg while I was shaving. Haha - real life confessions of Brynn! So - go ahead and laugh at me. That's OK - I'm laughing at myself! Let's let the layers fall away and relax. We can talk about unwashed hair or stinky socks. Then, sometimes, we can share the more serious stuff, like hurts and pains and heartbreak.

I'd love for you to share with me. We could drop a few layers and maybe lose a bit of the weight we carry on our shoulders. I feel ya. I've been there too. So let's try this out together. Next time we're talking to a friend, family member or buddy, let's open up. We may be surprised to find out they're struggling with something they've wanted to talk about, also.

If you want to talk to me... just drop me a line.

This Post is created in conjunction with the ladies of The Refined Collective. Be sure and read the other articles today by: Yvette JainJackie Viramontez, Julien Garman and The Refined Woman.  Also, join us over on instagram today under #therefinedcollective to see what everyone else has to say on this topic.

//  Top: Madewell Jeans: Madewell Jacket: Madewell

27.

I'm 27 years old today. This seems crazy. This year has flown by. My twenties have been fun, but also full of some not so fun insecurities. As I head into my 27th year, I want to throw all my baggage of insecurities and all my "do I look fat in this dress?" nonsense out the window.

I want this year to be full of unplanned adventures, bad karaoke ballads and maybe, just maybe, an occasional super size fries from McDonald's (OK, I admit it...they are GOOD).

I want this to be a year of gratefulness. I have so much to be thankful for. Also, I want this to be a year of giving. All the negativity, hate and devastating disaster in the world makes my heart cry out. I want this 27th year of my life to be about helping others. Whether it be donating more to amazing causes or giving my time and energy to make the world a little better. Hey, if we all did this, I think the change would be palpable.

I also want this to be the year of doing crazy things, a year of firsts. I want to face my fears and achieve goals I've been on the fence about. This may be the year I jump out of a plane,  do a zip line, or face my fear of gorillas (I have dreams of one chasing me).

Sometimes we put things off until it's too late. It seems I'm always pushing the to do list to the next day, next week, or next month. This year, I want to break that habit. I know this is easier said than done. By just putting one foot in front of the other... I think I can do it!

27: I'm very thankful to be here. I'd like to thank God, my family, my husband, my friends, (and all the french fries, donuts and pizza in the world) for supporting me in my journey through life.

I'm ready to get started! Let's do this crazy year!

3 years.

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Aaron and I were recently reading the paper together and saw a picture celebrating a couple who had been married for 75 years. We both were in a happy kind of shock. For a couple to stay together for 75 years is such a stellar accomplishment. Hearing stories of couples like this brings tears to my eyes. I can only hope that one day we will be one of these couples. What an incredible journey those 75 years must have been for them. How many crazy stories they must have, how many roadblocks have they hit, graduations, tears and joys. I want to interview them! 

Aaron and I are celebrating our three year wedding anniversary this week. In the last three years we have had our far share of problems. There has been a bit of a learning curve for sure. One of my favorite (and very thrilling, lol) moments this year happened on our trip to Morocco. 

We were out in the Sahara Desert…and it was HOT (captain obvious-lol). We were about to go on a two hour camel ride. I was rearing to go. After all, I had ridden camels about three times before, so I was basically the "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman" of camels. What could go wrong, right?! Well, just as I was getting on my camel, it reared back its head and proceeded to try to, literally, bite my head off. Then stood up abruptly and tried to swing me off. Taken quite by surprise, I kinda leaped off said camel (which was very high off the ground by the way) and I landed on the sand, but was I safe? Nope. The camel then decided to roll itself on top of me. Needless to say, I thought I was a goner when I saw the large mass literally landing on me. I somehow managed to roll away, but was shaking with fear. Aaron grabbed me and held me so tight. I finally felt safe. Aaron felt like my knight in shiny (shining lol) armor, and those of you who know me personally know I don’t say stuff like that-haha. I was able to come out of this crazy experience with only a few large scraps and bruises. But, man, I will never forget that experience. 

Feeling safe is so important in a relationship. I loved the feeling that day in the Sahara Desert with my husband. But you know what the best part of the story is? I got back on another camel and still rode for two hours! #GIRLPOWER

Below are a few tips we have learned over the years that help keep our relationship alive and kicking. We are not a perfect or normal (haha) couple by any means, but these tips really help us keep connected/always on some sort of adventure. I hope you guys are having a great week. If you are planning to ride a camel anytime soon, proceed with caution-haha. 

1. Try not to go to bed angry. 

People fight. Relationships are not perfect. We are still learning and will most likely still be learning till we are married for 75 years-haha. We have found through the 6 years together - 3 married - that going to bed angry is no bueno. Just try to forgive, forget and move on. I promise it will make the next morning a thousand times better.

2. Read together instead of watching tv. 

Don’t get me wrong, we love tv. Also, I am a bit of a movie freak (I mean, I know every word to The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly as well as The Lord of the Rings Trilogy)-haha, I am a nerd...I know. However, this year we have discovered the joy that comes from reading with each other. We read everything from cookbooks, to novels, to my little hometown paper. I find this time brings up conversations that wouldn't happen while watching a movie. Plus it’s just super duper soothing to be read too, am I right? Try it out!

3. Take time to have dates. 

One of the most important tips I have learned from friends who are much older and wiser is to "take the time to get out of your apartment/house to do pretty much anything." Have a picnic in the park. Take a drive just to watch the stars. Grab your laptop and popcorn to watch a movie outside (or maybe just in your backyard). Dates don't need to cost a lot of money to be fun. It’s just so essential to have time to reconnect and unwind together. 

4. Surprise each other with the unexpected. 

Aaron and I love surprises almost to a fault. For instance, sometimes we will take a trip and I will have no idea where we are going, Aaron will just tell me what kind of clothes to pack. This makes trips so much more of an adventure, which we both love. I just love the feeling of something unexpectedly brilliant coming my way. I find this keeps things spicy…if you know what I mean. 

5. Congratulate each other on even the small stuff. 

The past few years I really haven't been as good at this as I think I should. As a couple, we are learning how important it really is to sometimes throw a party (with maybe some streamers-haha) for the smallest victories. These little victories can really help pave the way for big ones so they need to be not overlooked. So go ahead and party when you don’t get a parking ticket. Celebrate the small stuff! 

Bonus tip from Aaron:

6. If it makes a good story, you should probably do it. 

There have been so many times when we are trying to choose between two options and we just can't make up our minds. Sometimes, the best thing to do is just to pick the option that will make the best story or possibly even leave the best legacy. I want to be able to sit down in my living room with my grandkids (A loonnngggg way from now) and be able to tell stories for hours on end. For instance, "You'll never believe what happened while riding camels through the Sahara Desert" or "We just tossed all our plans aside and got married in Iceland!". You know what I mean. Be the kind of couple you want to be remembered as for years and years to come. You'll definitely have a fun time in the process. 

+ photos above by out talented friend Chad Davis.

Villa des Orangers

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Our recent trip to Morocco was nothing short of surreal. I loved exploring all the sights and smells this marvelous country had to offer. We found ourselves getting lost in the medinas and markets, eating all the different delicious tagines. We marveled at the wondrous architecture (major design inspiration for me). 

While in the city of Marrakesh we had the opportunity to stay at the beautiful Villa Des Orangers hotel, just steps away from the main market in Marrakesh. Villa Des Orangers started out as a personal home to a prominent business man. It was built in the 1930s. The home was converted to a beautiful hotel by the talented new owners. I loved the craftsmanship in every detail. I found myself marveling at arched doors, intimate courtyards, lovely fountains, and glorious tile designs. 

Villa des Orangers is without a doubt one of the most luxurious places I've ever stayed! The staff was available and ready to assist in any way. I especially loved the option of having breakfast brought directly to the room in the morning. It was such a beautiful experience eating breakfast on our private roof deck and watching the Moroccan sunrise. This is definitely something I will never forget. On top of this, the food was simply delicious. It was always extremely fresh and innovative. They mixed up the menu a lot so that it wasn't exclusively Moroccan. The chef added a French flare to many of the dishes, which was actually a welcome treat when you just want to switch things up a little.. Another thing that made the experience so delightful was that they provided free non-alcoholic drinks for all guests. This may not sound like a huge deal, but when it's over 100 degrees outside, you find yourself drinking much more water than normal. Those bottles of water can really start to add up when staying at a resort, so it was nice that we didn't have to think about that here. 

Aaron and I also had one of the greatest massages of our lives at Villa Des Orangers! They have a beautiful spa on premise and a very sweet staff. Aaron was so relaxed that he actually fell asleep in the middle of the massage, which was really cute! I definitely recommend the experience.

Another thing I loved about Villa Des Orangers was its location. It's right in the heart of old Marrakesh, within the old city walls. We were able to walk directly to the local souk/market with ease. The first time we went with a guide (which Orangers helped us set up). The second time we went on our own. 

A word of advice if you're trying to navigate the markets on your own: Bring a map! Getting to the market is very easy, but once you are inside, shops may wind around in every direction and break off into multiple forks in the road. 

It's extremely easy to lose track of where you are in the markets, so beware! One more piece of advice for the markets: if you are purchasing a large item such as a rug or a large lamp, they will help set up shipping to the States. So don't be worried about having to take the rug with you as a carry-on. Venders make it very simple to ship large items. 

Back to Villa Des Orangers! After a long day of shopping in the souks, Orangers was like paradise. Walking into the front entrance felt like walking into a kingdom. Aaron and I would immediately change into our bathing suits and relax by one of their three pools. There was even a rooftop pool which overlooked the city. All pools offered poolside drink service, which totally hit the spot after a long day of walking around in the heat. 

I can't say enough good things about Villa Des Orangers! It is a fantastic spot in Marrakesh. I can't wait to return in my future travels to Morocco! Thanks again to the entire staff!