Bits and Pieces.

I had a few crazy freakouts this week. Anxiety is an issue I deal with. How about you? I know better, but sometimes I let emotions get the best of me. Soooo I'm trying to take one day at a time! Time is going too fast, however! How can it almost be March?! Holy Moley! Let's slow down, calm down and focus on something new. Bits and Pieces features my latest favorite products from books to movies, skin care to foods. So...deep breath...let's go! 

This vintage (and wonderfully lived-in) KISS shirt

I'm a HUGE t-shirt and jeans gal. I feel most comfortable in this favorite shirt Aaron gave to me. I have been a KISS fan since high-school. Totally in love with this shirt, which has a rare glimpse of them without their stage makeup. Love! 

Boxed water.

Where to begin? Aaron and I were going to see the movie "Lion" (a really good movie, by the way) and needed water that didn't cost an arm and a leg. We grabbed some Boxed water because it looked cool. Well….now this water is my go-to. I take this little guy to the gym and it’s a desk essential. Basically, Boxed water is always in my bag.

Sunday Riley’s Juno Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil and Good Genes

Sunday Riley is a one of my favorite skincare lines. Their products give me unparalleled results. My recent favorite is their Juno Face Oil. These drops make my skin look luminous and deliciously glowy. I only have to use three drops at night. When I wake up my face looks bright and refreshed. Juno Face Oil also lasts forever. 

Another favorite is Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment. This product works great even on my uber sensitive skin. Good Genes exfoliates dead skin cells to help reveal fresher-looking skin. How can anyone resist that? I normally smooth on Good Genes in the morning and let it do its thing for about 15 minutes. Then I rinse it off and I smooth on my Juno face oil. I tend to use Good Genes as a mask, but you can also use it as a serum. I have seen huge results after using this project. Good Genes makes my skin look toned, radiant and baby soft! 

Stranded Dry Shampoo

My dear friend Lauren Scruggs (who is inspiring and amazing - more on her here) just developed this awesome dry shampoo! It not only smells amazing, but it's also free of dyes, sulfates, paraben and even gluten. Three cheers for healthy beauty products! This dry shampoo is a loose powder (similar to baby powder). What’s rad about Stranded is it's formulated for blondes, brunettes, and red heads! You buy the shampoo based on your hair color. This dry shampoo is so light. I take it in my gym bag for when I need extra oomph in the hair. Love it! 

Vintage Books 

I'll do a guide to Upstate New York soon. In this feature, I'll reveal where Aaron and I get our vintage books. The price is always right! I love picking up books about loads of things: from Marilyn Monroe to ice storms! We recently picked up these two. Can’t wait to dive in!

P.S-Aaron and I recently discovered Homeland, a gem of a show. I find I'm thinking about this storyline when I shouldn't be. It’s always in my head! Dang! If you don’t know about Homeland, it's basically an edge-of-your-seat (not kidding!) thriller/drama show. Claire Danes plays a pretty BOSS (with a capital B!) CIA agent who is also bipolar. She is fearless and risks everything for truth. I really love her stamina. I recommend you watch an episode (Best to start with the first one). I promise you'll be hooked. Also, this show is highly binge-appropriate, especially if you have Hulu! 

Vermont Travel Guide

Vermont is one of our favorite weekend escapes. It feels so quaint and earthy. Vermonters focus on all things homemade and healthy.  We adore this, of course!

Outdoor activities are huge. Hiking and camping are easy in Vermont. There's so much open space! Aaron and I have loved getting to know the West Townshend area, which is featured in this Vermont guide.

Watch for more from Vermont as we continue exploring, but, in the mean time, enjoy West Townshend.

 

Where to stay:

We stayed in one the most magical places in the world: The Windham Hill Inn. We've been to the Inn three times because we're simply in love with the place!

The Windham Hill Inn was originally a farmhouse built in 1825. It's been converted to a charming Bed & Breakfast. The owners kept much of the traditional farmhouse decor. You can channel another era with all the modern conveniences. I loved the amazing bathtub.

The Windham Hill Inn sits on 160 acres of beautiful meadows and lush forests. I love the thoughtful touches throughout. Everything from tea time (with home baked cookies) to cheese plates in the lobby keep the "hangries" away!

Visiting the Windham Hill Inn has become a tradition for us. When YOU visit, be sure to sign the guestbook and look for our entries-haha!

 

Where to eat:

The Windham Hill Inn actually serves breakfast, picnic lunches and dinner in the house! It's so wonderful to stay and enjoy a B&B without having to search for meals elsewhere!

Imagine jumping in a hot bath RIGHT after dinner…or breakfast…or maybe lunch! That's what I’m talking about!

It also helps to have dinner at the B&B in case you get snowed in. That's what happened to us!

Seriously, the food Windham Hill Inn serves is all farm-to-table and delicious. Even if you don’t stay at the Inn, you can eat breakfast or dinner there and enjoy the gorgeous scenery. Their breakfast is delicious with everything from oatmeal, to pancakes, to delicious Vermont cheese omelets and Eggs Benedict. For dinner, I loved the ravioli. Aaron loved the chicken.

If you want something more casual for breakfast or lunch, we really enjoyed the Townshend Dam Diner. It’s definitely not fancy, but there's so much character and charm in the decorations. It's also a great spot to people watch.

If you’re looking for something that's casual, but possibly less diner-direct, go to the West Townshend Country Store. It’s actually at the bottom of Windham Hill Road. They have some basic breakfast food options which are all very tasty and fresh.

While you’re waiting for your food, take a stroll around the vintage shop upstairs! Also, every Friday night in warmer months the Country Store serves wood-fired pizza outside! This is fantastic! I’d highly recommend the experience. Pizza night outside provides such a local small town atmosphere. We love it! 

There's one more food option we loved: a burger joint called Honeypie. This restaurant looks like they totally renovated an old gas station and turned it into a hip little burger stop.

There are many obscure burger options. Aaron got a burger called “Bring It" which even included organic kimchi as a garnish. It also included bacon. How can you go wrong? You can even request to get your burger wrapped in lettuce if you're on a gluten-free diet. Oh, and their fries are gluten free. Yay!

Along with their burgers, Honeypie Is also known for sausages. They have everything from lamb to pork to beef sausages. Just like the burgers, they also offer plenty of obscure toppings.

 

What to do:

Vermont is a great place for outdoor activities, even in the middle of winter. One of our favorite activities was dog sledding at Vermont Husky Works. This adventure is run by a young husband and wife. Their family has over 200 acres of land transformed into dog sledding trails.

Aaron and I didn’t know what to expect at all, so we just went with the flow! We arrived, literally, in the middle of a snow storm. We brought our ski goggles and bundled up. Once we arrived, they introduced us to all of their huskies (over 30 of them) and told us about how they care for their dogs and a bit of history of their property and business. It was great getting to see how much they care for their dogs.

After teaching us about their business, they bundled us into sleds and we were off! The sledding explores about five miles of pathways throughout their property. There were so many snowy gorgeous sites to see!

Half way through, the leaders made a quick stop at a small cabin they built in the woods. The view was breathtaking! They even treated us to hot chocolate and homemade chocolate chip cookies. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience! We can’t wait to go back next year!

If you want to hike instead of sled, Vermont is also a great place for snow-shoeing. Last year I surprised Aaron with snow shoes. This was our first time to take them out and put them to the test. They worked great! We were able to traverse through rough snow with ease.

We meandered around the Windham Hill property (primarily because we were snowed in). You can find many trails and nature preserves all over Vermont, however.  If you’ve never been snow-shoeing, be sure to try it out!

If you’re in town during the summer, a good old fashioned hike is always a good idea. We explored Hamilton Falls, but, beware, this hike can be dangerous! There is a very large waterfall that weaves throughout the rocks. The rocks are extra smooth and slippery. Towards the top of the waterfall, there's a large swimming hole. It even has a ladder to help you easily enter the swimming hole. What an exhilarating experience!

Tired of hiking? How about riding a horse? Aaron and I love horses. In the summertime, we took horses on a trail at Adam’s Farm. In the winter, they also provide sleigh rides with their horses through the snow. They also give out hot chocolate for the ride :) I'd definitely recommend horseback riding anytime.

Finally, Vermont is wonderful for skiing. Windham Hill Inn is surrounded by a couple of ski villages. We didn’t actually go skiing in the area, but everyone we talked to seemed to love the skiing.

Vermont can be so fun whether you have an adventurous spirit or just need to relax for a few days. It’s amazing to know something so beautiful and unique is so close to NYC.

I hope this guide helps you have a great time. Good luck exploring!

Valentine's Day Q&A

It’s that time of year, folks!

Yes: It’s a question and answer game all about LOVE (and yada yada yada!)

Let’s get this awkward ball rolling. To be fair, love and personal relationships are never easy to talk about. You've sent me some questions about my relationship with Aaron. Some questions are light. Some are heavy.

I'll answer a few now.

Let me start with a little disclaimer: I am not perfect. Aaron is not perfect. Our relationship and marriage are far from perfect. There. I just wanted to get all that jazz out there before hand.

Now, let’s get on with the love-n-stuff:

 

1. How did you and Aaron meet?

Technically, we met at a rooftop barbecue in Brooklyn. I know, right: cue the hipster card. I was at a very funny time in my life when I wasn't looking for anything serious. Ok...so, I was in a bit of a crazy phase.

We met and Aaron gave me his number. He didn't hear from me for a month. What was going on for that month? I was busy working at two jobs and juggling NYC night life. On one of those wild nights, I accidentally left my phone in a taxi.

Phone-less and a bit upset, I suddenly recalled the man I met on the rooftop. He had said he could show me some cool record stores in Brooklyn. Facebook messaging was my only option. I asked him if he wanted to hang.

When I was with Aaron, adventures felt different in a crazy way...a good way...a forever way. Two years later we were engaged. The rest is history.

2. What made you guys want to have your wedding in Iceland?

Goodness. That was a rather last minute decision. Honestly, the whole kitten caboodle of planning a wedding really got to me. We got engaged in Paris. I put off wedding planning for a long time because it scared the heck out of me.

Sure, I wanted to marry Aaron, but I wasn't so keen on all the extra jazz. I started planning something that didn't feel much like me. One day, we just decided to throw the idea of a traditional wedding out.

We loved Iceland. Why not get married there? For the first time we felt truly content and joyful about wedding planning. The spontaneity felt like us.

3. How do you resolve conflicts after fighting?

Apologizing to the party you hurt is always a must. I love to write a note to Aaron when I’ve done something wrong. Notes and letters are truly a lost art in marriage.

When there's conflict or disagreement, I find you often just have to step back and say: It’s not all about me. It’s about us. We need to get centered again. It's not always about winning or being right.

I say do anything to get your relationship back on track: write a special note, give an extra kiss right on the smakaroo or maybe even dance a sexy dance (haha!). It’s all worth it in the end and (did I mention?) all this can lead to laughter and fun?! Laughter is important to a relationship.

4. What’s your favorite attribute of each other:

Aaron’s for Brynn: I love how Brynn loves her family. It’s been great getting to see how she interacts with her mom, dad, sisters, grandparents, and everyone else. I know that if she loves me even half as much as she loves them, then I’m in good hands.

Brynn’s for Aaron: Aaron has the greatest optimism and coolness under pressure. Sometimes, when I feel like things are falling apart, Aaron analyzes the situation and can almost always fix it! I tend to sometimes freeze under pressure, but I know Aaron always has everything under control. I don’t know what I would do without his optimism and wisdom!

5. Did you guys have a song? And, if so, what is it?

Yes, we do! "All The Way" by Frank Sinatra. This song really speaks about depths in our relationship. The first time I heard it, I cried. It made me think of us. I love the lyrics:

“Who knows where the road will lead us?

Only a fool would say

But if you'll let me love you

It's for sure I'm gonna love you

All the way”

What does rocking a red lip mean to me?

Verily Magazine approached me a few weeks ago with the question: "What does rocking a red lip really mean to you?".

I love how red lips add extra sparkle to any outfit. When I'm dressing down for casual comfort, bold red lips add an unexpected pop to my look.

It's so easy to toss a red lipstick in my gym bag. You never know when an unexpected meeting might pop up after exercising. Even in sweats I can look stylish with the help of my ruby red!

My Grandma Beth always loved to rock a red lip. When I was little, I'd go through her makeup (including her lipsticks!) and try them out.  I admired how she wore red lipstick, bold golden earrings and, of course, Chanel N°5.

Grandma Beth was the inspiration for my work in fashion. Every time I wear red lipstick I think of Grandma. I'm so grateful to have her precious memory.

I have Grandma Beth to thank for my love of color, fashion and styling. She inspired me to help others find their own bold, beautiful and unique looks.

Grandma displayed her own colorful style with pride. Not a day goes by I don't miss her laugh, witty banter or famous mashed potatoes. (Believe me, her meals were legendary!)

Every time I pick up my red lipstick, grandma memories come back to me. I remember shopping together and listening to classical music in her cruising Cadillac. I can still picture her visits. When she walked into any room she just seemed to radiate a special brightness.

Grandma Beth is still here with me in many ways, especially when I wear red lipstick. 

Like Grandma Beth before me, I'll keep rockin' the red!

LUX* South Ari Atoll

Aerial video of LUX* South Ari Atoll, created by Aaron Craig

Do you have a place in your mind where you go to escape it all? For me, that place is LUX* South Ari Atoll Resort in The Maldives. Aaron and I experienced a little slice of heaven when we stayed at LUX last November.

LUX* South Ari Atoll is located on the Island of Dhidhoofinolhu, just south of India. You land on the capitol island of Malé in The Maldives and take a seaplane to your private resort island.

We've never taken a seaplane before, so I was a bit nervous. No problem! LUX*’s chic waiting area gave me time to relax a little bit after 23 hours of travel. Our seaplane arrived and off we went!

The seaplane experience was great! I loved seeing the beautiful colors of the ocean from the air - the most wonderful shades of blue in the world!

I could hardly contain my excitement when I saw the island for the first time. From the moment we got off the plane the staff welcomed us with open arms.

The first thing I noticed about LUX* was how laid back everything is. The whole resort gave off a very relaxing, beachy vibe. Natural driftwood and white furniture seamlessly blended with the topical setting.

LUX* has 193 private villas that sit right on a crystal clear lagoon along two miles of soft sandy beach. We stayed in the Romantic Pool Water Villa. Beyond dreamy!

The villa rested atop the sparkling Indian Ocean. Steps took us right into the water from our patio! The villa also had a private infinity pool, which melted into the ocean view. It was great for a late night dip.

The interior of our room was bright and super functional. Our huge shower seemed like the size of many NYC apartments! Haha! We loved coming back, rinsing off and relaxing after days full of adventure.

LUX* has a vast array of fun activities you can do during your stay. Diving, snorkeling, and boating of all kinds are offered. In fact, LUX* even has a 5-Star PADI Dive Centre. It's a diver’s dream on the gorgeous blue ocean!

We had the opportunity to swim with whale sharks and sea turtles. Swimming with these magnificent creatures was an experience we'll never forget. We also loved snorkeling and exploring the vibrant coral reefs around the island.

One day Aaron took me on a wave runner. What a thrill ride! I loved having the wind and water splash my face! Exhilarating!

We loved to chill by LUX*’s many beautiful infinity pools throughout the island (Often with a fresh piña colada in hand!).  Speaking of relaxing, we also took advantage of LUX*’s serene LUX* Me Spa where we had the best massages of our lives. The spa floor was open so we could see all the beautiful topical fish swimming by. What a unique experience!

I loved all the oils and essences they used so much, I couldn’t help but buy almost all of them. I use them as much as I can stateside. The scents bring back such beautiful memories.

Now - on to my favorite part of every vacation: the food!! LUX* South Ari Atoll has seven restaurants and five bars. We loved getting the distinctive taste of each place.

East Market was our favorite spot for breakfast. Just imagine having every breakfast item you crave available in one spot: the delicious buffet at East Market. They have everything from eggs to donuts to Dim Sum, to fresh smoothies, and everything in between. I'm still dreaming about their passion fruit donuts!!!

Our lunch spot, which soon became our favorite restaurant on the island, was Beach Rouge, a bright and airy restaurant right on the beach. We loved sipping piña coladas while watching the waves crash. Our favorite dish was, hands down, the daily fresh catch. I loved getting to try native fish from the Indian Ocean.

After a nice lunch, we'd walk for hours exploring the island. One of our favorite discoveries was THE ICE-CREAM BIKE. The rider on this cute little bike peruses the island passing out free ice-cream to people with a sweet tooth! Needless to say, I loved crossing paths with the ice cream bicycle. There’s nothing like exploring a private island with an ice-cream cone in your hand.

When we were in the mood for sushi, we headed over to the restaurant Umami, which offered all the sushi and sashimi you could want. Plus, The Maldives' largest selection of sakes and Japanese whiskeys. Let’s just say -- we had many a great night there.

LUX* had all cuisines covered. If you know anything about me, you know I have a soft spot for Italian food. The Allegria Restaurant was wonderful. I loved watching the chefs cook our pasta in the open format kitchen. One time, they prepared Aaron an entire fish which looked like it could feed an entire family! They had to cart it out! That was a moment we won’t soon forget. And since we opted for the all-inclusive option during our stay... Aaron added a pepperoni pizza to go with our fish. I mean, why not? 

LUX* understands we sometimes need to make a little phone call to family. They have set up a British-style phone booth in the middle of the island which allows you to call anywhere in the world for FREE. Whenever I felt like talking to my parents, I'd just pick up the phone and call Illinois. It was such a comforting feeling to know family was just a phone call away!

Aaron and I are huge HUGE coffee fans. We were pleasantly surprised to find LUX* roasts their own coffee! The process was truly fascinating to watch. I had never personally seen how much precision and craftsmanship goes into handcrafting each batch. The most beautiful part of the process was the smile on each person’s face as they worked. We were happy to take a bag of coffee home. Unfortunately, it went quickly. It looks like we'll have to plan another trip!

The thing I love most about LUX* South Ari Atoll is their spirit of giving back to the Maldives community.  They understand there is a rich history in The Maldives which must be protected, both culturally and ecologically. LUX* is constantly striving to make sure their presence helps make The Maldives and the world a better place.

-- What a pleasure to discover this oasis!  I can’t think of a location I could more highly recommend than a tropical stay at LUX* South Ari Atoll in The Maldives!

Weekend Inspirations no.4

A recipe. Can't wait to revisit this healthy pizza recipe again REAL SOON. Three cheers for healthy indulgences!

A destination. Really want to hit this destination in 2017. We will see!

A article. Saw Martin Scorsese's Silence and can't get it out of my mind. Best movie I have seen in years. More in this article.

A hairstyle. Because we all need some extra Zzz's + pretty hair to boot! Bam: Overnight hair tutorials. 

A house. In love with this chic and cozy barn house. 

A quote. A quote from an amazing women I had a lot of respect for who passed away this week. 

A video. This video gives me major high school reminiscing vibes. Death Cab for Cutie is still so good. 

A cute something. This bulldog puppy video! Oh my gosh! 

tropical feels...

Rain rain...go away already! This week in NYC has been a rainy ole' bugger. Of course this really puts quite a damper on the walk to the gym in the morning....but I pushed on. Haha...even though I wasn't always the most chipper bunny in gym class. This week has me dreaming of salty air, late night swims in the Gulf of Mexico and all kinds of BBQ. Beach life is a good life. Am I right, bro?!

A lot of people think I came from California to the East Coast. Maybe my long blonde locks or easy going ways confuse me for a Cali gal, but, alas, I am a Midwestern farmer's daughter through and through. Hmmm...reminds me of a popular Beach Boys song. Listen here if you need a reference. 

I saw a glimmer of hope today when a ray of sunshine finally decided to peek itself from behind the clouds. Hooray sun! You were missed by New Yorkers of all kinds. Hopefully when you decide to come out for real during summer my pizza-fied body will be more bikini-worthy (not that it really matters to me, I'm always ready for a bikini-haha). Pizza body or not, sweet sunshine is always a great idea. Hope you guys had a great week! 

Around Our Apartment No.3

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I just ate a few donuts and now I fully understand why donuts don't qualify as a lunch item-haha. Even though my stomach may be bothering me, I wanted to share a few shots around our little Brooklyn apartment on this dreary New York City Friday. 

This week overall has been a chill one. I'm thankful for these kinds of weeks. The kind for catching up with coffee, extra snuggles and maybe-just maybe-one more episode of America's Next Top Model (my fave guilty pleasure show). You have to admit, Tyra Banks is fierrrrrce!!!!

I have enjoyed developing new rituals this year as well as bringing back old ones (cough* working out...*cough). This year is a year for appreciating your neighbor, smiling at strangers, and for remembering we are all in this together. Through sorrow, anger, joy and heartaches. We need each other. I hope you guys all had a beautiful week. Enjoy your weekend--maybe even with a donut...or two.

Ceri Hoover Fashion Film

Since starting Being Elliott and my styling career, I've always tried to be an advocate for local designers. When I purchase locally, I imagine all the care which went into each stitch. 

Ceri Hoover is one of the designers I really admire. She hails out of Nashville, Tennessee. Ceri truly puts so much thought into each one of her unique and beautiful leather handbags. Her designs stand out from the crowd.

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to direct a fashion film showcasing Ceri's Fall/Winter Handbag collection.

I had a lot of fun making this video. I couldn't have done it without an amazing team. Joy, Jaleeca and Jessica:  Thanks so much for helping make this video look beyond what I expected and bringing it into totally dreamy territory.

Also, thanks, Aaron Craig, for capturing my vision with the excellence and beautiful cinematography you apply to everything.

Now...here's to a finished project! I hope you enjoy this video as much as I enjoyed making it.