How Nicole Does Things

My Beauty Obsessions

I’ll be honest: I’m really bad at beauty. I’m just not an expert. I literally would buy everything from Target and the thought of Sephora gave me anxiety. Well, now I have grown to love Sephora like I never imagined possible. That said we all have beauty obsessions. Just those things we can’t wait to tell everyone about or maybe even just keep to ourselves. They may come and go or change over time, but there are things that make us happy and feel beautiful. They are also pretty useful in maintaining our health, wellness, and self-esteem.

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Brunch So Hard: Café ZuZu

The Hotel Valley Ho has always been one of my favorite places in Scottsdale. It has been open since 1956 and designed by a Frank Lloyd Wright student, Edward L. Varney. It quickly became known as a fashionable hot spot of the valley and a favorite of celebrities and sports stars. In 1973 it was purchased by the Ramada hotel chain and its vintage design was deemed “out of date” and covered. In the early 2000’s it was purchased again and restored to its chic, mid-century modern look where it has remained ever since. Throughout its years it has expanded to include a high-rise with new guest rooms and condos and the American restaurant, Cafe ZuZu. It has even been called one of the “best preserved mid-century modern hotels in the country.”

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Denim Shorts 2 Ways

Fact: the last time I genuinely chose to wear normal shorts was in 8th grade. Yes, 10+ years ago and really because I was obsessed with my Abercrombie & Fitch collection of possibly too short shorts. Eventually as an angsty teen I decided to wear the most unflattering longer shorts and I truly wish I could forget this time of my life.

Cut to now where I have rekindled my love of denim shorts. This is quite possibly due to one of two things. Either my self confidence has grown (along with my ability to give no f*cks about imperfect thighs) OR I’m just tired of overheating during the summertime while wearing jeans. Doesn’t really matter either way because now denim shorts are my go-to whether I’m running errands or just hanging around all day. Embracing shorts has made my life 35,000 times easier and I regret having ever given them up. No offense, teen angst stage. You were pretty pointless style wise.

Of course it’s really easy to have denim shorts go south fast. If they are too short or distressed it’s simple to head into “no one wants to see that” territory. I have 2 formulas for rocking denim shorts right now, and both are equally simple but stylish. A tank top when it’s warm out and a sweater when I’ve had a bit too much sun or will be hanging out in the air conditioning.

Shop this Post: Frame Denim shortsH&M sweaterAdidas sneakersZara crossbody bagClean UP Dodgers hatTopshop tank topMichael Kors duffleQuay sunglassesAncient Greek sandalsMadewell rings

Spring Beauty Must-Haves

Warmer temperatures means a change in my beauty must-haves. Really anything that keeps me from melting is entirely welcome. A must have in my book is anything that enables survival but keeps me feeling confident.

  • Blush (NARS ‘Sex Appeal’) – This soft peach blush is a change from the rosy pink I usually use because it is much softer and subdued.
  • Sea Salt Spray (Bumble and Bumble) – This is my go-to sea salt spray, but I use it minimally during the warmer months. It can be incredibly drying and lead to a frizzy look when used too much. But when used every once in a while it gives a really great beach fresh texture.
  • Sunscreen (Aveeno) – duh.
  • Bronzer (Hourglass Ambient Bronzer) – The perfect sun-kissed look with a radiant finish and minimal effort. Just for those days where I need a little dimension without baking in the sun (never advised).
  • Nail Color (Essie ‘Excuse Me, Sur’) – This is my favorite nail color from Essie’s spring collection inspired by a California road trip. It’s a peachy pink that fits really well with my tan.
  • Waterproof Mascara (Better Than Sex) – Because no one likes having mascara run down their face when sweating or crying. Full disclosure it takes quite a bit of remover to get off depending on how many coats are applied.
  • Hair Mask (Neutrogena Recovery Mask) – I use this once a week to restore the health of my hair. Within the span of a shower it can minimize the product and heat damage and leave my hair looking healthy (and soft).
  • Self Tanner (Nivea Sun Kissed Radiance lotion) – I am very wary of self tanner and I prefer to use Nivea’s gradual lotion. It adds a nice even color over time and Nivea makes the best lotions for my skin so double whammy.

What I Always Buy At the Grocery Store

Sharing what I buy at the grocery store feels a little strange, but I try to curate this blog as more of a magazine. There are tons of articles and pieces from celebrity nutritionists and dietitians sharing what they make sure they feed their famous clients. But alas I’m a normal person so what does anyone really care about what I purchase on a daily basis?

Well the truth is, I eat like a bird. I eat tiny amounts all day long rather than set meals. Yeah, it’s a little weird for someone who loves to cook like I do but it’s what works best for me. Plus as an Italian my family values meals together so quite often that is the best meal I eat, but I do cook sometimes.

My approach to the grocery is simple: stay on the perimeter. The perimeter of most groceries contain the freshest of foods and usually the healthiest, but it really depends on the layout of the store. I know my most visited store has completely tried to undo this concept by moving things all over the place. When this happens avoid the middle rows of product. It’s where the most marketed products end up and where we make the quick decisions based on identifiable brand name rather than other factors.

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My Weekday Morning Routine

I have a little nerdy interest in the morning routines of successful people. There’s even an entire website dedicated to sharing the morning routines of successful people in all areas of life and different career fields. It’s interesting to me the things successful people do whether they are or are not morning people. I am a morning person. I love getting everything out-of-the-way and I make better decisions. It’s a fact morning people make better decisions in the morning rather than the afternoon or early evening. This is likely why going shopping at night is my absolute downfall.

That said, I am a normal every day person. I’m not running my own business (well not really) nor am I some executive or lifestyle expert. I am a student (a bit older than most I’ll admit) and I freelance off and on so I work from home a lot. I’ve carefully crafted a weekday morning routine that gets the most out of my day and allows me to not feel guilty if I can sneak in a midday nap. #blessed

There are 5 specific things I never skip in the morning during the week. Of course I shower, get dressed, put on makeup, etc just like everyone else but that’s a given so I left it out.

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  1. Set Daily Intentions – Right when I wake up, before even looking at my phone (difficult I know), I take a second to set my intention for the day. What do I intend to accomplish and be the most mindful of? Is there a particular task I need to accomplish that will require more energy or am I in a bad moon I shouldn’t spread? It takes only a bit of time to get into a habit of being mindful.
  2. Go to the Gym – Going to the gym early in the morning is hard. If I’ve had a rough night of sleep or just don’t feel motivated it’s difficult to get up and go work out. Sometimes I’ll supplement a trip to the gym with an at home work out, but it just doesn’t feel the same. One perk of heading to the gym early in the AM? It’s mostly elderly people! So when I don’t feel my best, I don’t have to pretend I do. Heading to the gym early also creates a surge of energy for the day.
  3. Have a Cup of Coffee – Okay, cup of coffee is used loosely. Many…cups of coffee surely is more accurate. I typically brew coffee at home and sit quietly while consuming it. That’s not always possible and I’ll find myself checking my email or Twitter feed, and that’s okay. I’m also an advocate of shower coffee when I’m running low on time.
  4. “Breakfast” – I don’t actually eat a regular breakfast and most breakfast foods actually make me want to take a nap. They are too hearty (waffles are just that delicious). Instead, the Nicole Breakfast is eating cereal whilst staring into the closet to find something to wear or packing my bag for the day. #reallife
  5. Prioritize Tasks In My Planner – Sunday night I usually create my schedule for the week, so daily I take a second to look at what I have ahead of me for the day. One thing I learned from successful women is how to prioritize my to-do list for the day. It is often easier to answer emails or begin with easier tasks, but I learned to start with the difficult or time-consuming ones. Unless the email or task has a deadline, working on harder tasks earlier allows for more time and effort rather than rushing or having to work on it again tomorrow.

How to Get My Topknot

Are topknots even cool anymore? I don’t know. What I do know is I love them quite a bit when I’m feeling way too lazy to wash and style my hair. The topknot is chic and classic. It can be worn for a variety of occasions. I usually wear it to work or when it’s incredibly hot outside to keep the hair from getting sticky. I like how versatile it can be. I can make it really messy and relaxed or really crisp and tight.

Topknot

  1. Use Pret-A-Powder (adds volume) to create a messy, high ponytail.
  2. Using the Tangle Teezer (or brush), tease hair out to create tons of volume. This works better if you’re using day old, curled hair. It will look crazy, messy, and full of knots. This is good.
  3. Separate hair into two sections. Wrap one around the base of the ponytail in one direction. Secure with a bobby pin. Repeat with the other section in the opposite direction.
  4. Pull sections to make hair messier and pin into shape desired.
  5. Finish with hairspray.

Tips:

  • Pin as many times as you need to get your desired shape. I end up using about 6 to get a more messy knot.
  • Press down on the top for a flatter knot, pull sections outwards for a wider knot, or wrap sections tighter for a smaller knot.

Products Used: Pret A PowderSpray De Mode hairsprayTangle TeezerBobby Pins

Forgive the pictures