My Ayurveda Journey

My path to Ayurveda as a lifestyle practice began recently with naturally enjoying the benefits of yoga and meditation each morning. However, my practice was not truly rooted in spirituality at its core and I was missing that. It was only when I stumbled onto Sarah Beth Yoga’s beginner friendly YouTube channel, which includes the practice of Savasana (final resting pose) did I realize the intricate connection between yoga and meditation as a spiritual practice.

I knew about Ayurveda and Aveda as a lifestyle brand for living naturally (the founder, Horst Rechelbacher, was from my mother’s hometown in Austria). I recently connected the dots for myself between the benefits of yoga and meditation as one part of a broader Ayurvedic experience I could craft for my everyday life. This began with learning the Chakra system and actively learning how to align my energies. If you are committed to learning about Ayurveda, you must learn the basics of the Chakra energy system. My Chakras are balanced now through a daily Ayurvedic routine that I am living into. This daily routine, or Dinacharya, is my centered lifestyle experience now. I am still in the early phases of this lifestyle shift, but I am committed to living an Ayurvedic life now. Here are some examples below of how I practice Ayurveda.

We all have a Dharma (purpose) and if you are interested in entering an Ayurvedic journey, you can cater your Dosha (you are either Vata, Pitta, or Kapha) to your professional experiences in your life as well. I am learning how to apply my Ayurveda journey to all aspects of my life! Deepak Chopra’s website has been a wonderful resource for me in beginning my studies of Ayurveda. I hope this inspires you to begin your journey!

🕉 Yoga: Vinyasa, Yin, Kundalini

🕉 Meditation: Vipassana

🕉 Aromatherapy: Lavender oil, Rosemary, Mint, Chamomile

🕉 Haircare: Vegan products like Aveda

🕉 Skincare: Homemade face masks with honey

🕉 Chakra Crystal Healing: Labradorite

🕉 Mantra Chant: Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo

🕉 Massages: Abhyanga, Marma, Shirodhara

🕉 Dosha Work: Vata, Pitta, Kapha

The Chakra System

The Enduring Charm of Lilacs

Lilacs, also known as Syringa, are sensational and delightful flowers. Unfortunately, they are lesser known or less mainstream compared to other flowers we love and enjoy today. Perhaps their classic, Victorian-era quality is what makes them seem less contemporary. However, lilacs are incredibly beautiful and meaningful flowers. They symbolize love, especially the first feelings associated with love due to its Greek origin story. The naming origin of the Syringa in Ancient Greek stems from the word “syrinx,” meaning “pipe,” referencing the tubular shape of the flower, where the musical instrument of the flute also originates. Essentially, the lilac (Syrinx) transforms from a woman to a tubular shaped flower (also considered the flute). “Syrinx” is the classical name of the myth associated with lilacs. The common name of “lilac” originates from French.

The Greek myth of Syrinx is a fascinating one:

According to Dave’s Garden,

Syringa was a beautiful wood nymph in Greek mythology. The god Pan spied her one day, lusted for her and took chase. Depending on the version of the story, to get away from him, she either transformed herself into a reed or a lilac bush, both of which make great flutes. Ultimately, Pan won because he made a flute from her disguise and it never left his side from then on.

This is a short summary of a story which appears originally in Ovid’s Metamorphoses poem. The famous musical composer Claude Debussy wrote a song called “Syrinx” which is played on the flute and is about the lost love of Pan and his mourning. Pan also transcends his lost love with attaining the joy of the flute (which he obtains when Syrinx transforms herself). Clearly, the Greek myth of Pan’s lost love represents a bigger story related the beauty of lilacs and how they originate.

Lilacs are the state flower of New Hampshire and there is also a consistent mentioning of lilacs in the 1930 Nancy Drew novel, The Mystery at Lilac Inn. Lilacs are a beautiful and sensational kind of flower that should be more commonly embraced. The painting below depicts Syrinx escaping Pan to become a lilac by French painter Edmund Dulac. When you are considering what flowers to choose for your next bouquet or which flower scent to choose for a new perfume, consider the lilac.

💜 xo Bianca

Reproduction Vintage Fashion Is In

It is undoubtedly clear that fashion’s purpose, when looked at as an art form, is to be a reflection of the state of the world affairs and also an artistic response to it. Fashion can be whimsical, satirical, raunchy, or can push societal boundaries. At the end of the day, the most up to date fashion is not necessarily something that has to resonate with you. I am starting to see that the market for the way in which clothes were made in the 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s is exemplary of how style is subjective and that anything can come back… Enter the industry of reproduction vintage fashion, and how the key word “reproduction” is especially worth noting. Perhaps it’s been unfair to fashion of years past, to ascribe thrift store shopping as something less palatable than to pursue the latest trends. However, I think the reproduction vintage industry is proving just how incredibly palatable vintage style really is! If you want to remake something old as new, then the something old is quite valuable! In my opinion, the art of reproduction vintage clothes, and also the interest of purchasing vintage items in mint condition is worth deep respect.

In addition, the commitment you make to curating your own sense of genuine style helps sustainability at scale. “Fast fashion” while at its prolific height right now is nothing close to environmentally sustainable. If you are able to spend time to thoughtfully choose a few pieces in your wardrobe that you take good care of and keep for years, you are making an environmental decision as well.

I have curated a list of stores which provide a range of reproduction vintage fashion from any decade which speaks to you. At the end of the day, investing time in curating your own sense of style is also investing in a deeper sense of self confidence. Perhaps you’ll also spend less time worrying in the morning about picking your outfit, since you love the outfits you are going to choose from already!

TopVintage Retro Boutique

Vixen by Micheline Pitt

Voodoo Vixen

Zoe Vine

Unique Vintage

RetroStage

My Modern Marilyn Monroe Makeup


To quote Marilyn Monroe:

“Beauty and femininity are ageless and can’t be contrived, and glamour, although the manufacturers won’t like this, cannot be manufactured. Not real glamour; it’s based on femininity.”


There may not be a more iconic image of beauty than Marilyn Monroe. Her makeup style is one that appears highly sophisticated in its aesthetic, yet it is more simple to achieve than most of the makeup routines that dominate the world today. Marilyn did not wear layers of different shades of foundation, she applied color to her face in strategic ways. For example, the offset of the creamy white eyeshadow she was known for was dramatically offset by her black winged eyeliner. Much of her makeup aesthetic was based in dramatic offset. The same goes for her signature red lip. The red shade offset her black eyeliner. The 1950’s makeup looks were informed by a Vogue magazine cover which came out in January 1950.

Nowadays, there are ways to achieve this glamorous look in subtler ways. For example, I am not wearing heavy winged eyeliner. I prefer not to combine bright red lipstick and classic winged liner often. The makeup and style you have exists within a context. Achieving your most glamorous, confident look is realizing how you can style yourself best within the context you are in. There are three essential parts to the routine that helped me achieve the look I have done in the image above.

  • Skincare and the right concealer – the lighter your base is, the better. The skincare aesthetic you are working to achieve is a natural, clean shine. Marilyn was known for using Erno Laszlo’s skincare regimen which you can read about it here, Nivea creme, Pond’s cold cream, and Vaseline. She used Vaseline on her cheeks and on top of her eyeshadow sometimes to add additional shine. In the film studio, she also was known for wearing Vaseline under her foundation for adding moisture to her foundation look. This might be a bit too intense for everyday depending on your skin type, so I think opting for a subtle shine on cheeks or eyelids is a great option! Wearing Vaseline to highlight features is essentially the 1950’s version of a sparkly highlighter which I think is a very smart to wear today
  • Finding a light brown eyeshadow to use in the crease of your eyelid for contouring the eyelid and adding dimension to your eyes. Marilyn was known for her dramatic eyeliner which I am not wearing here, but she did have the eyeliner applied over a cream or white eyeshadow base and a light brown eyeshadow or bronzer to contour the eyelid crease. I think the dramatic eyeliner is optional
  • Finding the right shade of red lipstick to compliment your skin tone and applying it well. Finding the right shade of “Parisian red” for you and applying red lipstick can be an art. The texture of the lipstick formula is important, too. I generally prefer creme textured lipsticks compared to matte lipsticks. The creme texture keeps your lips moisturized and maintains natural shine without having lip gloss on over it. Though, Marilyn was known for using lip gloss over her lipstick as well. One of my favorites is an authentic reproduction of the red that Marilyn wore by Besame Cosmetics. Besame Cosmetics is one of my favorite makeup brands.

Whether you are dressing up for a night out or dressing for the day you have ahead of you, you can style yourself glamorously. As Marilyn said, glamour cannot be manufactured.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit: An Emblem of Easter

The Easter Bunny is a symbol of Spring, a symbol of new life and rejuvenation of spirit. For Easter tidings, it’s of particular significance to focus on rejuvenated spirit because Christ’s renewed life by his crucifixion is the central idea of the Christian faith. I think Peter Rabbit is a lovely depiction of the “Easter Bunny” and is symbolic of the season. Peter Rabbit’s story is fascinating. Beatrix Potter was an English writer, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist who lived during the Victorian era. She had numerous pets and loved flora and fauna. Beatrix Potter was an example of the good that it does to a person when they are closer to nature. The landscape that she enjoyed was in Scotland and the Lake District in England. She was born in London in 1866 and was avidly interested in all sciences except astronomy. One could perhaps assume that she felt a particular affinity for being “of the earth.”

Potter wrote The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1902. It is a quintessentially Victorian book, and its appeal has lasted through the decades. Peter Rabbit is a mischievous and disobedient rabbit who gets chased around the garden by Mr. McGregor, a horticulturist who is trying to keep rabbits out of his vegetable garden. The character has been used in toys, dishes, clothing etc., because Beatrix Potter patented a Peter Rabbit doll and board game in 1903. The characters are Peter Rabbit, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-Tail, and Mr. McGregor. They are a family of rabbits with different personalities… it’s all very adorable.

Walt Disney had attempted to turn the tale of Peter Rabbit into a Disney film, but Beatrix Potter refused. Disney had likely seen a correlation between the charm of the woodland creatures in his wildly successful adaptation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). In any event, Bambi was likely the successor of a woodland creature story, which was released in 1942. Numerous films have been made about Peter Rabbit, though. He may not have become a Disney icon, but interestingly, has maintained a type of icon status in his own right!

I am most intrigued about how Beatrix wrote a tale about rabbits which humanized an animal to some degree. I believe Beatrix meant this to be charming, memorable, and teaches early on how we are part of nature just as much as our fellow animals are. Having an appreciation for nature and respecting the earth early on is essential. Now, when climate change threatens our fundamental conception of survival, it may be more than fitting to re-introduce Peter Rabbit. From being a friendly reminder of the joys of nature, to a symbol of the Easter season… take a leap down the rabbit role this Easter and appreciate Peter Rabbit’s tales for all of its charms and seasonal joys.

Mary Magdalene: An Example of Easter Devotion

Mary Magdalene represents a devotion to Christ which is deeply inspiring and represents the Easter season to me. She has been depicted in art throughout the centuries. In 1640, she was painted by Georges de la Tour, a Catholic Baroque painter, his piece part of a series depicting her. The most famous painting of the series is entitled “Magdalene with the Smoking Flame.” Today, the painting is housed at the Louvre. In 1989, Disney’s The Little Mermaid included the painting in Ariel’s grotto.

The glimpse of the painting in the film is likely intended to represent a devotion to becoming human (which Ariel’s grotto is a religious temple of sorts to becoming human), a congruent allegory to Mary Magdalene’s deep devotion to Christ. The devotion Ariel has to the spiritual transformation of becoming human is similar to the transfiguration of Christ.

According to the Musée du Louvre, “During the 17th century, great devotion was shown to Mary Magdalene in all Catholic countries. She was the perfect lover of Christ, her beauty was made more appealing because of her repentance, which had a special attraction for a period so passionately interested in problems of mysticism, quietism and asceticism. The theme of the repentance of sinners and trials sent by God is illustrated in subjects such as the Repentance of St. Peter, Mary Magdalene, and Job. The number of written works give evidence to the cult of Magdalene and this cult became widespread since Provence contained two great sanctuaries dedicated to her: the grotto of La Sainte-Baume, and the Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.”

Mary Magdalene represents the spiritual devotion that I seek this Easter.

American Classics Across Lifestyle Categories

On March 24, 2022, the epic American film, The Godfather, will turn 50 years old. The film written in collaboration between Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo is likely the most recognizable film of our time. In recognition of how The Godfather became an immediate classic, I am interested in considering how “classics” in American culture have shaped the entire consumer market. Personally, I prefer most classics (in all aspects of life), and especially the idea of nostalgia in some form will never lose its appeal. The impact of a 1972 film on Hollywood is remarkable.

To me, The Godfather is situated between Casablanca (1942) and Titanic (1997) in terms of “epic films,” which is an interesting way of understanding how Hollywood has peaked in many ways. I was five years old when Titanic was released and I distinctly remember watching the Oscars and thinking how amazing all of that was, including the amount of Academy Awards it was nominated for (14 nominations and 11 wins) and its general mass market appeal. This fervor of an epic film had to have been the same for The Godfather in the 70’s (11 Academy Award nominations and 9 wins). I do not think there will be films in the future that will reach the same level of epic status. Perhaps, but likely not.

Let’s explore my take on “American classics” across all lifestyle categories and why they still carry their weight in appeal! If you are in a pinch trying to decide which film to watch sometime this month, watching The Godfather again is a great idea. Perhaps this is also a good reminder to pick up a classic American novel, listen to some classic music, or play a classic board game! We may not be in “lockdown mode” anymore, but we can certainly still live into classic lifestyles. You can’t go wrong with a classic of any kind!

Classic Films

Classic Music

Classic Books

Classic Board Games

Classic Toys

Original Barbie (1959); Hot Wheels (1968); “Molly McIntire” by American Girl (1986)

Classic Candy

Classic Office Supplies

Classic Casual Women’s Clothes

Classic Cosmetics

Maybelline New York Red Lipstick (1915); Revlon Red Nail Polish (1932); Airspun Loose Face Powder (1935)

Dorothy Draper: American Visionary

In honor of Women’s History Month, I am highlighting Dorothy Draper, the first interior designer in the United States. The aesthetic she developed as a designer has defined perceptions of “classic Americana” and you can still find her designs at hotels such as The Beverly Hills Hotel, The Fairmont San Francisco, The Grand Hotel in Michigan (Mackinac Island), and The Greenbrier in West Virginia. Her interior design company Dorothy Draper & Co. is still in business to this day, led by Carleton Varney, Draper’s mentee.

One of the most enjoyable parts of her aesthetic is a direct and loud I am here and look at me aesthetic that embodies what being American is all about. Her aesthetic is both complicated and uncomplicated all at once, there are distinct patterns and colors she leaned into as a constant in all of her rooms: (pink!), thick stripes, distinct florals, blue ceilings etc. I don’t think there could be a more fitting national style to embody America. You simply cannot ignore Draper’s design, just like you cannot ignore America. Something uniquely American about this particular style is that it’s replicable at home for some rooms and Dorothy Draper wrote books about decorating, she was sharing her vision for you to adapt as your own!

Dorothy Draper was an anti-minimalist and the elements of her design are now considered definitive of Hollywood Regency interior design. She was born in New York in 1889 to an upper class family in one of the first gated communities in the country. Her family owned three homes at the time, one in Manhattan, one in Tuxedo Park (upstate New York), and another in Newport, Rhode Island. Her great-grandfather, Oliver Wolcott, signed the United States Declaration of Independence. Her upbringing enabled her to shape her interior vision because she was exposed to both history and design, as well as the upper class contacts that would become her client list. Draper’s designs have been a major influence on several modern interior designers, including Jonathan Adler. It is wonderful to learn about how American interior design has evolved through the years, but it’s evident that Draper played a major role in shaping it. Dorothy Draper set a standard for American style which has stayed contemporary despite all of the years in between. Dorothy Draper will always be America’s designer.

Carleton Varney, the leader of Dorothy Draper & Co., a mentee of Ms. Draper.

Villa Rosa & Villa Virginia, Positano

Every so often we hear of or see places that we know are just incredibly special. For myself (and like many others), I think Italy is a very special place. Because of the Amalfi Coast’s tourism popularity, there are definitely “hidden gems” among the places that you can choose to visit. Positano is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Italy. When you go, you can certainly find hidden gems to enjoy it to the fullest and make the most of your stay. The Villa Rosa and Villa Virginia in Positano are two of those hidden-in-the-sea-cliffs gems. The views are breathtaking and these properties are at the heart of Positano.

Both properties provide stunning views of the Amalfi Coast. In my personal opinion, they are the ultimate views of Positano, the true “postcard” view. If you are planning a glamorous getaway or even a wedding, both of these destinations are ready to serve you. There truly may not be many places on the planet that are as stunning as these two properties, and that is saying a lot. While the hype of Positano’s popularity is real, these destinations are the true gems of the Amalfi Coast, combining the stunning seaside imagery and true Italian charm. As the world starts to re-open more broadly and it is becoming more normal again and you may be thinking about planning some summer travels, consider giving Italy some extra love… XOXO

Esther Howland: The Origins of American Valentine’s Day Cards

Esther Howland is considered the “Mother of the American Valentine.” Her company, started at the ripe age of 19, was conceived when she “received a fancy English valentine from an admirer in 1847, and she was inspired to start the first American valentine company. She hired friends to help make the valentines around her parents’ dining room table. Esther designed the cards… Soon, Esther’s New England Valentine Company was making thousands of dollars a year.” (Samantha’s Friendship Fun, 2002). Born in Worcester, Massachusetts and daughter of Esther Howland Allen, author of The New England Economical Housekeeper, a cookbook including original recipes of New England clam chowder, salt cod, and Boston pudding. Her mother adopted a famous phrase from Thomas Jefferson, “Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap.” This philosophy of living likely inspired Esther Howland to focus on what was truly special to her, which was designing beautiful Valentine’s Day cards.

The house that Esther lived at in Worcester, MA.

Since Valentine’s Day cards were not considered affordable to Americans yet, Esther was determined to create economical and beautiful designs to democratize access to Valentines! This was a highly innovative concept for the time and Esther’s commitment and passion to seeing her company thrive has made her the “mother” of American valentines. She made a dozen samples of her cards and her brother, who was a salesman, took them with him on his sales trip. Expecting $200 in orders, she received $5,000 in orders. She knew this would be a success. A guest bedroom in her family home was used for the operations and she hired women where she spread the work to be “light and pleasant,” as all of the cards were handmade. She was the first to create the commercialization process for Valentine’s Day cards. She imported materials for her cards from Germany and she also thought of using silk and embossing cards. Eventually, she sparked competition! The original New England Valentine Company is America’s first ever valentine’s card producer. Thank you, Esther!