Recent Beauty Loves - Clean Beauty Edition

This edition of recent beauty loves includes "better" or "clean" beauty finds that I am loving lately. I have been focusing on vegan/cruelty free products that are paraben + sulfate free and don't have other nasty, not-good-for you ingredients. All of these products might not be perfect but they are an improvement over some others. It's been a process to change products. I have been trying to use up old products to buy new. There are great stores and websites now to help changeover all your products. My go-tos are Follain and Credo Beauty. I've noticed that Sephora is carrying some of the "clean" lines.

Oaui Wave Spray: this is my favorite wave spray right now and I am on my second bottle. It shapes my wavy curls well (I scrunch my hair and use a diffuser) without being crunchy - my waves are still very soft. At first I didn't like the smell, but now I don't mind it.

LILY LOLO mascara: I got introduced to this mascara when stopping into the Credo Beauty store in Boston. I love it. It's very buildable, non-irritating (sometimes with my contacts my eyes get dry and irritated) and washes off easily (but not runny)! 

Dickinson's Witch Hazel Oil Controlling TowelettesI use a wipe after working out. They are refreshing, with no smell, + cheap!

Gressa Minimalist Serum FoundationThis serum foundation is another Credo Beauty find when I went in store for a new foundation. I was hesitant when they recommended this foundation serum but was pleasantly surprised. The serum turns to a matte powder when on the skin. It's not cheap (but also comparable price to the Chanel foundation I was using before switching) however, a little goes a long way. The color matches my skin perfectly and it's the perfect medium, matte coverage for me. 

the best Natural Deodorant
Schmidt's Natural Deodorant: I have tried a few natural deodorants and this one is my favorite so far. I like that it's a stick formula, and it's cheap (I buy at Target). It comes in many natural scents, but I just pick up whatever I find at Target when I am there. It's aluminum + paraben free - and free of a lot of other crap!  

What "better" or "clean" beauty products do you use + recommend?

All photos via the linked websites.


2017 in review

2017 had highlights of a great year at work, travels around the US, and fun times with family + friends. Let's take a look back at the posts on this bloggidy blog...

January kicked off the year with a post of how we created my rehearsal dinner dress out of my mom's wedding dress.

In February, I started sharing our Hawaii honeymoon with our time in Honolulu, Oahu. March, I didn't blog - whoopsies!

April had a post about sheet pan dinners (the best for weeknight meals) and in May, I shared my birthday dinner at Porto in Boston.

In June, I continued our Hawaii honeymoon posts sharing what we did in Kauai.

July was a great trip to Breckenridge, Colorado so I posted about our family time there! I also posted about our 5 days in Maui, the final leg of our Hawaii honeymoon. I wrapped up the month and our Hawaii honeymoon posts with all about what to eat in Hawaii.

In August, I shared my love of rose skincare products.

September's first post was about apple picking in New England, and since we celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary, I posted all about our wedding!

October had a fun post about bees popping up in fashion, beauty + home decor.

In November, I shared our girls weekend trip to Portsmouth, New Hampshire and a local gift guide for shopping small in and around Boston.

Ending the year in December, I posted about our October trip to Charleston, South Carolina and our long weekend trip to San Diego, California! Also check out what I wore to a friend's wedding in SD.

Bring on 2018! Happy New Year!

Photo is my #2017bestnine. See all my years in review here.


What I'm Wearing Wednesday: Wedding in San Diego

We went to a friend's wedding in San Diego and since the temperature was going to be in the 60s to low 50s at night, I wanted to find a long sleeve dress. Anthropologie's faux wrap dress was the perfect piece. I love the ruffle details.
Boston blogger Anthropologie wrap dress

I accessorized with my favorite black sandals (have them in 4 colors and wore them in sparkly rose gold to our rehearsal dinner), vintage clutch I found in Vermont this fall, a vintage ring, and gold drop earrings.
Boston blogger Anthropologie wrap dress
Boston blogger vintage accessories

Luckily there was a salon right next to the hotel so I was able to get my hair blown out; we added a braid for something a little extra. :)
Boston blogger

My go-to fall and winter lip color is Palais Royal NARS satin lip pencil - the perfect deep burgundy.

Photo booth fun :)

See more of what we did in San Diego by reading this post and follow on Instagram with the hashtag #covalsincali.


Long weekend in San Diego

San Diego, CA Mission Beach surf boards

We went to San Diego earlier this month for a wedding. We decided to make it a long weekend and explore the area for a few days! We rented an awesome Airbnb with another couple + friend in Mission Beach, steps from the beach. The location was perfect for walking from Mission to Pacific Beach and exploring the restaurants + shops on Mission Blvd. It was also a 15 minute Uber basically to any other San Diego neighborhood.

Our first day, we fueled up at Better Buzz, bright and early (#jetlag) then went to the San Diego Zoo and spent 3+ hours checking out the exhibits + animals. 
Better Buzz coffee shop Mission Beach San Diego CA
blogger in Mission Beach San Diego CA

The zoo is huge and you could definitely spend more time there but just the morning was perfect for us.
Visiting the San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo gondola

10,000 steps and a gondola ride over the zoo later, we headed to Ocean Beach, a hippie surfer town, for lunch. We ate at OB Brewery's roof deck then walked the main drag, window shopping, having some shave ice(!), and checking out the holiday decorations.
OB Brewery roof deck Ocean Beach San Diego CA
Ocean Beach main street - San Diego, CA
Wailua Shave Ice in Ocean Beach San Diego CA

Friday night was dinner with a bunch of friends and bar hopping in the Gaslamp District, a downtown area with tons of bars + restaurants.

Saturday we had breakfast at The Olive Cafe in the Mission Beach neighborhood, a really cute spot.
Breakfast in Mission Beach San Diego, CA - The Olive Cafe

We then went to Torrey Pines for a hike. The views from above + below were gorgeous; I especially loved when we got down to the water. 
Views from above hiking Torrey Pines Natural State Reserve San Diego CA
Hiking Torrey Pines Natural State Reserve San Diego CA
Torrey Pines Natural State Reserve San Diego CA
Torrey Pines Natural State Reserve Beach San Diego CA
Torrey Pines State Beach San Diego CA
Torrey Pines State Beach San Diego CA
Torrey Pines State Beach San Diego CA

On the way back to the house, we stopped in La Jolla to visit the sea lions, walk around, and grab tacos. I wish we had had more time to explore + shop; the neighborhood is so vibrant and beautiful. 
Sea lions in La Jolla Cove, San Diego CA
La Jolla Cove, San Diego CA
Millennial pink hotel - La Valencia Hotel La Jolla San Diego CA
Taco lunch at Puesto, La Jolla San Diego CA

Saturday night we got dinner in the Mission Beach neighborhood at Miss B's Coconut Club. It was an impulse spot nearby the Airbnb and ended up being one of my favorite meals. Such fun coconut drinks and these appetizer fries topped with pulled pork, beer cheese, and sofrito were maybe the best thing I ate on the trip!
Coconut drinks and dinner at Miss B's Coconut Club, Mission Beach San Diego CA
Loaded pulled pork fries appetizer at Miss B's Coconut Club, Mission Beach San Diego CA

Sunday morning before we checked out of the Airbnb to head to the hotel where everyone was staying for the wedding, I got a delicious açaí bowl at Juice Wave down the street from our Airbnb.
açaí bowl breakfast, Juice Wave Mission Beach San Diego CA

Then I went on a 2 mile walk from Mission Beach to Pacific Beach, down the pier and back. It was a gorgeous day to take in the sights and sounds.
Pacific Beach San Diego California
Pacific Beach San Diego California
Pacific Beach pier San Diego California
Pacific Beach pier ocean and surfers, San Diego California

Thanks, San Diego, for the quick visit and we hope to be back soon!
Mission Beach sunset, San Diego California

See more on Instagram with the hashtag #covalsincali.

All photos by me.


Four Days in Charleston in the Fall

Four days in Charleston, SC in the fall - Rainbow Row
In October, we took a 1 year anniversary trip to Charleston, SC. I am such a foodie so after Top Chef Charleston, I have been wanting to go this southern city. Off we went...

We stayed at a boutique art hotel in the French Quarter, The Vendue. The hotel has rotating art exhibitions. I love these dogs we were greeted with when checking in- with a glass of bubbly! We were off to a great start. The hotel has a small bar for cocktails (as part of The Drawing Room restaurant) and roof deck bar + restaurant which we went to a couple a nights for the sunset. The service was amazing from before we checked in (earlier the week we left, the concierge called to see if needed anything for our stay, which has never happened before!) to throughout our 3.5 day stay. From the location, the service, and the ambiance, I can't recommend the hotel enough!
Charleston SC Hotel Downtown The Vendue
The Rooftop at the Vendue sunset Charleston SC

One afternoon we used the hotel's free bikes to explore down The Battery and the historic streets. We stopped many times to gaze at the beautiful homes and take pictures.
Bike riding in Charleston SC
Charleston SC dock
Charleston SC The Battery
Riding bikes in Charleston SC

After I took this doorstep picture and we were heading to continue biking around, a man stopped to help us with our bikes and he ended up being the owner of this house! He said he would've invited us in for a drink but he had somewhere to be. Ahh what could have been!
The Battery fall decorated house Charleston SC

Around every corner - color and unique architecture... especially the famous Rainbow Row! #instagramhusband, thank you. ;)
Rainbow Row Charleston SC
Rainbow Row window box florals, Charleston SC
Charleston SC architecture

We did a few typical tourist activities. We visited the old Angel Oak about 25 minutes outside the city on John's Island. The Oak is 400-500 years old and just amazing to stand under.
Angel Oak tree Charleston, SC John's Island
Angel Oak tree Charleston, SC John's Island

We went to the Boone Hall Plantation for a tour of the house and the grounds. The Notebook was filmed here and Blake Likely + Ryan Reynolds were married here so clearly had to check it out. I couldn't get over the beautiful mile long, oak-lined driveway and the many flowers in the gardens - with butterflies everywhere!
Boone Plantation Charleston SC
Boone Plantation garden Charleston SC
Boone Plantation garden with butterfly Charleston SC

We also took a horse-drawn carriage ride around the city one afternoon. While we had biked the area, we learned so much more about the history of the city from our guide. I recommend doing a tour despite it being the most touristy activity, ever, haha.
Charleston SC horse drawn carriage ride tour

We then explored the historic area some more, and I couldn't get enough of the beautiful doors, windows, and architecture!
Charleston, SC architecture, window boxes, and doors

Saturday was our last full day and we spent most of it at Folly Beach. Going to the beach in October when its in the high 70s and sunny? I will take it!  It was easy to take an Uber and rent chairs + umbrella. We explored the pier - from above and below!
Folly Beach Charleston SC 
Folly Beach Pier Charleston SC
Then we grabbed a quick bite at Jack of Cups. It was a unique spot where we had lo mein and curry mac + cheese (Yelp reviews were raves for that dish, so had to try it). Center Street is the main drag off the beach and had so many fun bars + restaurants, which I am sure would be a blast to hop around for a more "party" experience.
Jack of Cups Folly Beach green curry mac and cheese

Speaking of food, we ate WELL. All the meals were absolutely delicious. Let's just say I planned this trip around breakfast, lunch, and dinner then we filled in the activities, lol. Some stand outs:

Sausage, egg, and pimento cheese biscuit breakfast sandwich at Callie's Hot Little Biscuit (Doug has this twice!!). Omg so good.
Callie's Hot Little Biscuit Charleston SC sausage pimento egg breakfast sandwich

"Tapas-style" seafood lunch at Leon's Oyster Shop. We shared peel + eat shrimp, local oysters, smoked mahi dip and fried clam lettuce wraps. All washed down with frosé for me. The vibe of this spot is so cool- highly recommend.
Leon's Oyster Shop Charleston SC

Afternoon treat at Jeni's Ice Cream. I had their 2 seasonal flavors: sweet potato with torched marshmallow and sweet cream biscuit with peach jam. YUM. Come to Boston, Jeni's?
Jeni's Ice Cream Charleston SC

Our three dinners were amazing and each very different.
My favorite dish at Husk (and maybe the whole trip) was the grits with pork belly appetizer. I am still thinking about it.
Dinner at Husk Charleston, SC

Hominy Grill served up southern classics and I loved my meal of brisket, tomato pudding (who knew so delicious), and fried grits. Actually still thinking about this meal, as well! DC got their shrimp and grits which were also yummy.
dinner at Hominy Grill Charleston SC

Fig was our final dinner and we may have saved the best for last. We got the ricotta gnocchi and lamb bolognese to start. I don't think I've had such melt in your mouth gnocchi, ever. For my meal, I had the fish stew with mussels, shrimp, squid, rice, delicious broth and grilled bread for dipping. Another meal I am thinking about still.
Dinner Fig Charleston SC

We also had lunch at Pawpaw (fried chicken!), coffee at Black Tap near the college, and brunch at Poogan's Porch (pimento cheese fritters!).
Poogan's Porch Charleston SC pimento cheese fritters

Some restaurants we didn't get to but heard good things were 167 Raw, McGrady's, Xiao Bao Biscuit, Butcher and Bee, and Lewis BBQ. My restaurant list was even longer - so many great spots.

Our last night we took in the city from the roof at the Market Pavilion Hotel. Highly recommend going up there. The views and ambiance are even better than The Rooftop at The Vendue.
Market Pavilion Hotel roof deck sunset Charleston SC

From a shopping perspective, I loved the Maris DeHart boutique which was across the street from our hotel - how convenient! - and walking down King Street (below) with many boutiques + stores.
King Street Charleston SC

In hindsight, I would recommend renting a car but using Uber/Lyft was very easy too - just what you prefer!

Thanks, Charleston! Check out more photos on Instagram using the hashtag #CovalsYear1.
Exploring Charleston SC in the fall

All photos by me.