Spring Denim Update

Spring Denim Update | by The Luxi Look

And we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming! It’s almost the weekend and yet I still feel like I’m still recovering from the last weekend. But now I’m finally back to my routine and on a good schedule again. Currently: lounging, writing, watching Real Housewives and dreaming of warmer weather. I’m so looking forward to spring and mixing up my wardrobe with some new looks. My closet needs a major refresh – there is so much stuff that needs to be cleaned out. In the meantime, I’m exercising extreme restraint with everything I have in my shopping cart right now.

My daily outfits tend to be VERY laid back and casual. I’m just not a dress + stilettos kind of girl on a regular basis. My denim collection has been getting by far the most wear out of everything I own recently. One type of jeans in particular – high-waisted jeans like these. As much wear as my Re/Dones have been getting, it’s time for a denim update in my closet. When it comes to jeans, fit is everything, and you have to recognize when it’s time for a new pair.

Spring Denim Update | by The Luxi Look

Spring Denim Update | by The Luxi Look

Spring Denim Update | by The Luxi Look

 Blue jean baby, LA lady:

I can’t get enough of denim, particularly high-waisted denim. This vintage/worn in look has been one of my go-tos for several years now. It even works for the more casual office setting. I’m all about multi-tasking, even with my clothes. If I can wear it to work and on the weekends, major bonus points. The two dress codes don’t always overlap (although they seem to more and more the older you get), so when you find pieces that work for multiple occasions and settings, splurge on those and get the best, because you’ll wear them literally all the time.

Spring Denim Update | by The Luxi Look

Spring Denim Update | by The Luxi Look

Once you have the essentials in your closet, it’s time have some fun with your wardrobe and add some more unique touches. I’m currently on the hunt for a pair of wide leg denim and a more unconventional denim jacket. I recently added a denim dress to my collection and it’s become another one of those pieces that doubles for office attire as well as off duty. Who ever said shopping can’t be strategic?

Spring Denim Update | by The Luxi Look

Spring Denim Update | by The Luxi Look

Spring Denim Update | by The Luxi Look

 

Both denim looks featured here are from Lucky Brand as part of their recent “Lucky You” campaign, which is all about highlighting makes YOU unique and lucky. I loved the concept because it really forced me to think a lot about myself and what I felt made me unique and different. It also made me think a lot about my life and everything I’m grateful and appreciative of – something that’s worth doing every day.

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One of my favorite things about living in California is how many options there are for weekend getaways. As much as I love flying somewhere new and exciting, there’s something easy and relaxing about exploring your own backyard. That’s why I was so excited about the opportunity to partner with San Diego Tourism to get out of town and share some of the highlights of this SoCal city. San Diego is about a three hour drive from Los Angeles (with gorgeous coastline views for the second half!), but despite how close the two cities are, they feel completely different. San Diego was a perfect and much needed long weekend escape from the city.

To be honest, I could easily spend over 72 hours in San Diego. The city has so much to offer, and truly has something for everyone. My boyfriend and I made the drive down with our pup. San Diego definitely gets bonus points for being a super dog friendly city!). Then we got straight to exploring.

What I really loved about the city was how unique every neighborhood is. We explored the Gaslamp Quarter, La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Sunset Cliffs, Little Italy, and more. We stayed in North Park and it was just so charming. It had the best neighborhood vibes and was about a twenty minute drive to everything we wanted to do.

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

Some of my favorite spots in North Park:

+ Coffee, coffee, coffee. There was no shortage of good coffee and Instagram-able coffee shops in the neighborhood. Naturally, I was extremely well caffeinated for the duration of my trip. Some of the standouts in the neighborhood: Holsem Coffee (the banana bread cold brew is a MUST, trust me), Communal Coffee (best lattes and happens to share a space with The Native Poppy – THE cutest flower shop), Young Hickory (serves Bird Rock coffee!), and Dark Horse (go for the espresso).

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look+ Shopping – if you’re not sure where to begin, start on University Ave and walk around, checking out the various vintage shops. Some of my favorite boutiques: Pigment (quite possibly the most Instagram-able store ever), Sage Sisters, and Artelexia.

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

+ Burritos at Lucha Libre or The Taco Stand – because you can’t come to San Diego without having a California burrito (or two)! Which brings me to my next point… food.

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

I love eating my way through a city when I travel – I can’t leave without getting to know the food scene intimately! We couldn’t eat our way through the entire city over the course of a weekend, but we did our best. My favorite brunch spot? The Little Lion Cafe in Point Loma – you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Everything is seasonal, local, and fresh!

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

My favorite dinner we had was at Juniper & Ivy – former Top Chef winner Richard Blais’ restaurant in Little Italy (next door is his famous Crack Shack, which we did not have a chance to try, but bookmarked for next time!). Other Little Italy joints that came highly recommended to us – Craft & Commerce, Kettner Exchange, Herb & Wood, and Cloak & Petal.

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

And of course, you can’t visit San Diego without mentioning all of the different craft breweries – admittedly one of the most popular weekend activities we saw. We saved the brewery visits for our next trip down since we had our dog with us, and opted instead for outdoor activities that allowed us to bring him along (I know, total dog parents over here). This visit, we opted to spend as much time as possible outside, particularly by the beach.

Dog friendly beaches are hard to come by in LA, so we were excited to bring our favorite boy along with us to Ocean Beach, which happens to be dog friendly and centrally located in the city. Needless to say, he had a blast.

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

We also brought him along with us to Balboa Park – usually I try to avoid overly touristy spots, but I could spend all day at Balboa Park. I love visiting all of the different museums and just walking through the grounds, people watching and admiring the architecture. It’s a must visit, especially if you love museums and are looking to add a more cultural aspect to your trip.

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

Walking tends to be my go-to form of exercise when I go on vacation. To compromise for all of the food we eat! Luckily, San Diego is home to some breathtaking hiking trails. This trip, we spent half a day hiking the different trails at Torrey Pines. It gets busy, particularly on the weekends, but the views are well worth it.

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

We also headed to Sunset Cliffs to watch the sunset – this is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Every night, people come out to watch the sunset along the road or further down the rocky cliffs, and for good reason – the views are stunning. It was the perfect way to end each beautiful day.

Travel Diary: 72 Hours in San Diego | by The Luxi Look

* Funded in part with City of San Diego Tourism Marketing District Assessment Funds.

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Gong xi fa cai! Happy Chinese New Year! Wishing you a happy and prosperous new year! It’s the Year of the Dog, and although I won’t be with my family in Minnesota or China to celebrate in person, you can bet I will still be celebrating in spirit. In Asian countries, Lunar New Year is a VERY big deal – arguably even bigger than the calendar new year. In China, the Lunar New Year is known as the “Spring Festival” and it is a national holiday.

Everyone is off work for days if not weeks (or the entire month) to celebrate with their families. Growing up, this was one of the important holidays of the year for my family. I have such fond memories tied to this annual event and it makes me so proud of my heritage. Cultural traditions are so special and unique – I really wanted to take the time to share some of mine around celebrating Chinese New Year.

Happy Chinese New Year! Celebrating the Year of the Dog | by The Luxi LookHappy Chinese New Year! Celebrating the Year of the Dog | by The Luxi Look

Happy Chinese New Year! Celebrating the Year of the Dog | by The Luxi Look

Chinese New Year Traditions

Lunar New Year isn’t only celebrated in China. It’s one of the biggest holidays in the entire world and is celebrated all across Asia. In fact, Chinatowns across the US will be having parades and celebrating the occasion this weekend. If you live near a Chinatown and have never experienced it during the Lunar Festival, you have to see it for yourself! In China, this holiday is also referred to as the Spring Festival – marking the end of winter and beginning of spring.

People celebrate this occasion by cleaning their houses from top to bottom to get rid of bad fortune and decorating for the festivities. As you may have noticed, red is the most popular and symbolic color. Red signifies happiness, wealth, and good fortune. Many cities will hold lion and dragon dances, parades, and other celebratory festivities. It’s an incredibly exciting time! In many ways it is similar to Christmas in western cultures.

Happy Chinese New Year! Celebrating the Year of the Dog | by The Luxi Look

Happy Chinese New Year! Celebrating the Year of the Dog | by The Luxi Look

Happy Chinese New Year! Celebrating the Year of the Dog | by The Luxi Look

There is a gift-giving component as well!

typically in the form of “red envelopes” that as are given from older to younger. Parents and grandparents will give children these red envelopes and fill them with cash. The money inside the envelopes is said to be “lucky” and will bring good fortune to the younger generation.

And of course, you cannot forget the food.

Growing up, my favorite tradition was making dumplings (jiaozi) by hands with my family. The process would often take hours and was a time we could spend together, laughing and sharing stories. Of course, an entire feast is prepared with all sorts of dishes, but my favorite was always dumplings. When I was only 5 years old, I ate 20 dumplings in a sitting and my mom thought I was going to be sick.

It just so happens that this red oriental print is trending this season. Although I was initially a little surprised, I couldn’t help but fall in love with several of the pieces. This skirt from Revolve is super on point for CNY from the print to the cut, to the color. RED is the color of Chinese New Year and it’s fun to see contemporary interpretations of this popular print in the US. I’ve linked some of my other favorite Chinese New Year inspired pieces below.

Happy Chinese New Year! Celebrating the Year of the Dog | by The Luxi Look

Happy Chinese New Year! Celebrating the Year of the Dog | by The Luxi Look

Happy Chinese New Year! Celebrating the Year of the Dog | by The Luxi Look

What does the year of the dog mean?

The Lunar Cycle is divided into 12 years, each year represented by a different animal in the Chinese Zodiac. You may have noticed this zodiac with the 12 animals on placemats at Chinese restaurants. So if you aren’t sure what zodiac animal you are, read this. This year is the year of the dog.

According to the Chinese zodiac, the dog is loyal, honest, and intelligent. Very much like dogs in life – they are loving companions. What does this mean for you? Although it varies by person (much like in astrology, your specific zodiac sign makes a difference), the overall theme of the year should tie back to kindness and giving back. The dog is associated with the EARTH element, much more level-headed and grounded than FIRE. Finally, dogs are very compassionate and kind animals, which bodes well for the lunar year ahead of us.

bodysuit: h.ours | skirt: privacy please | shoes: tamara mellon

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What’s the deal with retinol? Not sure what it is or how to incorporate it into your skincare routine? Then you want to read this post. You’ll get ALL your retinol questions answered here. The thing with retinol is it’s all about PREVENTION. Yes, we’re trying to prevent wrinkles and aging by being proactive with our skincare routine. Every year I get more and more obsessed with skincare, prevention, trying new products, and perfecting my routine. It comes with the territory of getting older, I guess.

A few years ago I started hearing about retinol everywhere. I did tons of research on the ingredient and found a lot of conflicting advice, but a general consensus seemed to be that your mid to late twenties was the best time to start incorporating it into your nighttime routine. Fast forward to now and here we are – I’ve started to incorporate products with retinol into my routine and I felt like I HAD to share more about what retinol is, what it does, and how to add it to your routine.

So, what is retinol?

Retinol is a form of Vitamin A that is used to treat signs of aging on your skin. It’s widely known as the gold standard when it comes to ingredients in your skincare products that work to combat wrinkles and other signs of aging (and is much less invasive than botox or elective surgery). Bonus – it’s used to treat acne as well.

Retinols are actually a weaker form of retinoids, which often require a prescription (think: Retin-A) and can be harsher on your skin (but with better results). However, retinol is more mild on your skin and can be bought without a prescription. So if you’re a little freaked out about the thought of using something as intense as Retin-A, you can ease into it first with retinol, which can be found over-the-counter and at varying prices.

Should I be using retinol?

If you’re in your mid to late twenties, now is a good time to start using a product with retinol. Retinol works by turning over skin cells, boosting collagen, and smoothing out in your skin. Everyone’s skin reacts differently, but in general, you can expect results after about 12 weeks of consistent use, which include reduction of fine lines and wrinkles, dark spots, and smoother skin. It also has been proven to help with cystic acne and help fade acne scars.

Not sure how much you need? There are products with varying levels of retinol in them on the market. If you’re new to the product, start with something that has very low levels of retinol. The reason for this is retinol can cause dryness, sensitivity, redness, or peeling of the skin, so you definitely want to ease into using the ingredient.

Should I use retinol every night?

If you’re just starting to use retinol, you can try using it every other night to see how your skin reacts. I was recommended to start using a retinol serum every other night and build up to using it every night. This is the serum I’ve been using for the past year without any skin issues.

What’s the deal with retinol and sun exposure?

You may have heard retinol leads to skin being more sensitive to sun exposure. As with any proper skincare routine, you should be wearing SPF daily to prevent any additional sun damage. If you notice your skin gets burned more easily when you’re using retinol, try to avoid the sun if you can.

Shop products with retinol to add to your routine:

The 411 on Retinol - All Your Retinol Questions Answered | by The Luxi Look

1. Roc Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Facial Night Cream

2. Kate Somerville Retasphere 2-in-1 Retinol Night Cream

3. Verso Night Cream

4. Eve Lom Time Retreat Face Treatment

5. SENTÉ Bio Complete Serum

6. Peter Thomas Roth Professional 3% Retinoid Plus

7. Skinceuticals Retinol 1.0

8. Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream

9. The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid (less than $10!)

10. Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Serum

What are your thoughts on retinol? Any experiences, good or bad? I’d love to hear!

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Love is in the air this week – my love for pancakes, breakfast, and my boyfriend have come together in the form of this heart shaped, healthy banana oatmeal pancake recipe. This week’s pancakes are heart shaped in honor of Valentine’s Day, but the recipe is good for any time of year. It’s easy, practically fool-proof, and easily customized to whatever your tastes may be. They also happen to be grain and dairy free, yet still happen to taste like pancakes. You won’t even miss the flour, butter, and all of the other delicious (but not so good for you) ingredients.

If you’re familiar with healthy pancake recipes, you may remember the extremely popular two ingredient protein pancake recipe that made its way around the internet a few years ago. These were one of my go-to healthy breakfasts for a while. I love a good simple recipe! This one is as easy as they come– you only need two ingredients (banana and eggs) – and they’re filled with protein and so good for you! They also taste surprisingly good, despite my initial thoughts that they would taste like a weird sweetened egg mixture. I wouldn’t say they taste like pancakes (missing that gluten factor, in my opinion), but they are a great healthy substitute and taste amazing with fresh berries and a little maple syrup.

If you’re looking for a healthy pancake recipe that more closely resembles a traditional pancake, try out this banana oatmeal recipe I adapted from Modern Honey (love this food blog!). The reason why I ended up testing this recipe? I went grocery shopping over the weekend and initially bought bananas and eggs for the 2-ingredient protein pancakes I typically make. However, I had difficulties using the heart-shaped mold I had in mind because the batter ended up being too runny for my liking.

Pancake batter typically includes some type of mixture of dry and wet ingredients, and this variation was missing milk and flour. I had to think quickly on my feet – I had oats and flour in my pantry, but I didn’t have any milk in my fridge! Almond milk is a staple at home, but we very rarely buy cow’s milk. I try to avoid too much dairy, so we typically only buy it if we’re baking or making cauliflower gratin for special occasions. I was also feeling lazy and didn’t feel like running out to the store again. SO, I had to find a dairy free pancake recipe ASAP. This one worked in a pinch, and I will definitely be using it again in the future!

Healthy Pancake Recipe {Grain & Dairy Free} | by The Luxi Look

Healthy Banana Oatmeal Pancake Recipe

Adapted from Modern Honey. Serves 2-4 (makes 12 pancakes).

Ingredients:
  • 1 banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 cup oats (I used steel cut oats and had no issues)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
Optional Add-Ins:
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon nut butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • Cinnamon
How To Make This Healthy Banana Oatmeal Pancake Recipe:

Blend ingredients together until smooth. Add more oats or almond milk to adjust consistency if needed. Heat a non-stick skillet on low to medium low (if the skillet is too hot the pancakes will burn) and add butter, oil, or cooking spray. I like Trader Joe’s coconut cooking spray, but whatever you have on hand should be fine. To make the heart-shaped pancakes, I used this mold. I used about 2 tablespoons of batter for each pancake. Cook on one side for one to two minutes before flipping over and cooking for another minute. Serve immediately with your favorite toppings (suggestions: maple syrup, agave nectar, berries, coconut flakes, slivered nuts, whipped cream).

I loved these pancakes for weekdays or when I’m craving pancakes but want something a little healthier. They’re fluffy and have the texture of regular pancakes, but are so much lighter and better for you. If you prefer a sweeter batter, just add in a couple tablespoons of maple syrup or agave into the batter before mixing. I promise these will be your new go-to healthy pancake recipe!

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