Pretty Vulgar Cosmetics

As a long time beauty secret devotee, I am constantly scouring the marketplace to find the next beauty innovation: to not only pursue trends, but to find innovative beauty products that have great price points and also are beautiful pieces to put on a vanity. Enter Pretty Vulgar Cosmetics. This brand’s edgy name and rosy style is exactly what contemporary shabby chic lovers look for… this beauty brand does not encompass one singular beauty style (i.e. only classic makeup looks or only edgy and contemporary looks).

This brand allows you to lean into realizing life’s contradictions and living them out in any way you please (who said you can’t wear a rose print dress with a cat eyeliner?) Pretty Vulgar is a forward thinking brand that also appreciates classic and vintage style. This is a U.S. based company, available at Sephora, and in Europe it’s now available from Douglas Cosmetics. As they say, “Embrace your beautiful contradictions.”

VivaMayr Maria Wörth

Along the shoreline of one of the world’s most beautiful lakes (if not the world’s most beautiful lake), Lake Wörthersee, sits a holistic health clinic, VivaMayr. The clinic, which focuses on four principles to wellness:

  1. Destressing
  2. Cleansing the organs
  3. Training as a factor in healing
  4. Substitution

Prominent physician Dr. F.X. Mayr found that long-term health stems from a healthy gut. Chewing our food between 30-50 times for each mouthful and eating the right food improves our gut health.

Modern Mayr doctors have expanded the principles of Dr. F.X Mayr and the Mayr Cure to create Modern Mayr Medicine. The results can be brighter skin, more energy, better digestive health, a flatter stomach and happiness from within. Prominent clients include Kate Moss, Christian Louboutin, Elizabeth Hurley, and Karlie Kloss. Locations of VivaMayr include Maria Wörth and Altausse for medical centers. Day clinic locations are in Vienna and London.

Treatments include a range of personalized medical treatments, water therapy (hydrotherapy), movement therapy (physical activity), lab infusions (vitamins), massage therapy, oxygen therapy, nutritional consultation, and cryotherapy. All of the treatment programs are bespoke and intended to fit your personal needs.

What are the ways to get there? From Zurich, there are nonstop flights to Ljubljana, Slovenia. VivaMayr is about a 50 minute car ride away in Austria. Alternatively, you can fly to the Klagenfurt, Austria airport from which the resort is a 20 minute ride away. My mother is from Klagenfurt and visiting via the flight to Klagenfurt might be best.

What is the cost? An all inclusive experience is 5,000-7,000 EUR. One week is the minimum recommended time that you should stay at the resort, and also, a calmer, less busy time is recommended for before and after your stay to help you ease into the process of wellbeing at VivaMayr.

Many fans of the treatments say that VivaMayr is more of a lifestyle than a destination. The treatment methods and lifestyle changes are easily integrated into your everyday life to improve your quality of life and health outcomes.

Karlie Kloss at VivaMayr modeling for Vogue

My WFH Beauty Routine

After my everyday skincare routine, there are simply four products that I need for my new revamped work from home beauty routine that I have lived into since the beginning of this crisis (mascara definitely optional these days!)… I use the fantastic Revlon PhotoReady Candid Glow foundation to cover up any imperfections and it works wonderfully under the eyes, it has a moisturizing texture and it doesn’t smudge that easily. I noticed it has great staying power and works well as a concealer. Rather than applying foundation all over my face as I usually do, I have now been using this foundation as a light concealer over my moisturizer which lets my skin breathe a bit more.

Another change that I made which is significant, I stopped religiously putting on lip liner. I love lip liner, but I realized it’s not always the best look for me and with wearing a face mask, it’s not even worth applying that much product to put a face mask over. These days, I apply a pop of color lipstick without any lip liner (my go-to color has been Milani Cosmetics in Rose Hip) which is a lovely pink shade that works well for any season, but especially lovely in summer.

I brush my eyebrows with a spoolie as always, but no gel or eyebrow products anymore, because less is more. If I really want to go the “extra mile” on a certain day, I can apply Burt’s Bees nourishing mascara. Sometimes, I’ll take a light pink lipstick (Clinique’s Watermelon is a good option for my skintone) and put a couple smudges on my cheeks and spread out as a natural looking cream blush!

There you have it! I hope this experience has allowed you to rethink your beauty routine, allowing you to feel at your best, even if it’s for a Zoom call.

xx Bianca

A Common Thread: Support American Fashion with Vogue + CFDA

Tom Ford, Chairman of the CFDA and Anna Wintour

The COVID-19 global pandemic is unlike anything we have seen before. The pandemic has affected everyone’s lives and decimated entire industries. The sheer volume of this crisis is just staggering. For the June/July 2020 issue of Vogue magazine, for the first time in 50 years, there is a still life photo of a rose on the cover with a message: Our Common Thread. Our common thread during this time is creativity, and especially for those who work in the fashion industry, many questions loom overhead of the future of fashion and fashion’s position in society that now looks so different.

One conversation which has emerged recently due to this pandemic was if Fashion Week should even exist anymore, an event which is the highlight of the fashion industry across many cities around the world each year. With the question of how long social distancing will be a part of our lives (which seems to be for the long haul at the moment), Fashion Week is an event that is as crowded as it gets… When this crisis began, it was the strangest Milan Fashion Week there could be: Giorgio Armani streamed his runway shows online with an empty room and models walking down the catwalk. The fashion industry has had to become extremely agile, more agile than anyone could ever imagine.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) chairman and designer, Tom Ford, is now collaborating with Vogue magazine’s editor in chief, Anna Wintour, in establishing a fund for those working in the fashion industry, A Common Thread, which supports people who are no longer working during this crisis, which includes seamstresses, tailors, embroiderers, and many more. If you have the means, please consider donating to this fund established by the CFDA, which is a 501(c)3. To donate, text THREAD to 44-321 or go to this link.

It’s a shocking time for many and it’s deeply unsettling when you consider the larger picture. Anna Wintour’s son, Charles Shaffer, an ER Doctor, contracted the virus after treating patients with the virus in the ICU. We must all do our best to continue social distancing and following our state and local guidelines.

Anna Wintour’s son, Charles Shaffer, with his wife Elizabeth Cordry.

The Beauty of Mother Earth

A bioluminescent beach in Manasquan, New Jersey

Mother Earth is a beautiful miracle. We must work to protect her and honor her. I do believe that the world is in tatters mostly because we are not living in tune with nature; like listening to our bodies and hearts, we must listen and be in tune with what our nature is telling us. Mother Nature is speaking back now – animal populations are going extinct, humans are experiencing the detrimental impact of climate change, and furthermore, we are on a path of no return sooner than later.

My heart breaks thinking about this reality. I know in my heart that Earth is a place that should be honored and protected. We speak of space travel like going into space is a better alternative. What about caring about Earth? On a more existential plane, perhaps it’s worth considering that Earth was intended to be man’s beginning and end: nothing more and nothing less, because if we want to be honest, Earth is an all-encompassing experience for humans to the delight of our spirits. Whether you are walking through a forest in Austria, exploring the jungle in Brazil, or swimming in a cave in the Bahamas, there is so much to look forward to when humans interact with and are one with nature.

Being part of nature and being on planet Earth is a blessing. There is nothing more and nothing less to expect when we are given the opportunity to be a human on Earth. Please remember that. Please enjoy a few images that show some of the miraculous places that exist on Earth and remember to always be kind to one another: we live once.

Blue marble caves of General Carrera Lake, Chile
Thunderball Grotto, a cave named after a James Bond film in Exuma, Bahamas.
Pink Sand Beach, Harbour Island, Bahamas
Turneffe Island Resort, the resort on Turneffe Atoll, Belize, the private island which is speculated to be the exact geographic location where Peter Pan went on his adventures!
Blue Grotto (Grotto Azzurra) of Capri, Italy
Navagio Beach, Greece
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Trails into a forest in Austria

Books For Your Soul

From top left: The Astrology of You and Me by Gary Goldschneider, The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life Volume 1 by Drunvalo Melchizedek, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, That Churchill Woman by Stephanie Barron, Treasure Yourself by Miranda Kerr, The Spy by Paulo Coelho, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray.

The Spiritual and Physical Benefits of Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini Yoga is a spiritual and physical practice. Kundalini, or Shakti, is a divine feminine energy at the base of the spine in the Muladhara, or base Chakra. I first learned about Kundalini when I was a student in high school and became interested in the different styles of yoga practices as one of the girls who sat next to me in one of my classes was working for a yoga studio. I was interested by Kundalini because it seemed to seamlessly integrate the physical and spiritual into one harmonious practice. I did not delve too much further beyond learning about how Kundalini is the energy that can be unlocked at the base of the spine.

Revisiting the practice of Kundalini as an adult is thrilling – the chant which is often sang in tandem with the yoga practice, “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo” means “I bow to the Universal Creative Wisdom, I bow to the Divine Teacher within.”  There is no doubt in my mind that Kundalini is powerful; you can unleash a powerful energy by practicing this type of yoga, but it’s also important to stay aware of how this energy is changing your consciousness. I think an important facet of delving further into Kundalini is recognizing that it’s part of a spiritual journey. Please be open and thoughtful as you enter onto that journey and how you will change with your practice.

It is very helpful to understand the process and the intention of your own life force as it awakens you so that you may discover wisdom, love and authentic direction in your own life.  Simplicity, contentment, unconditional acceptance and presence are hallmarks of an awakened life. 

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo

Shakti, the embodiment of Kundalini

Moon Calendar 2020 + New Moon Rituals

New Age phenomena is something that I have recently come to appreciate more than I have in the past. For example, I always knew the moon is a powerful force in our lives for how it waxes and wanes and that a full moon, more specifically, is entrancing. I did not, however, think much further past that; I recently stumbled across the Greek Goddess, Selene, and how widely portrayed she has been in art for centuries and how feminine the moon is compared to the masculine sun. You can find my blog post about her here.

With my newfound appreciation for the goddess, Selene, I learned that there is significance in stopping to make time to ritualize a new moon. It’s a cleansing ritual intended to improve your spirit. I am no expert and I am still learning about the different phases of the moon, but I have found that there is meaning in recognizing and appreciating the patterns of nature and how we are part of that pattern.

If you would like to try a new moon ritual, you can set the scene with a few items in the form of an offering to the new moon: I’d recommend starting your offering with some crystals; my favorite crystal is rose quartz. Ideally, you want to declutter your space to help set the intention for this ritual with no distractions. You can lay the crystals on a flat surface, have a candle lit (not necessary), and a sprig of lavender or sage. These items help to set your intention for that evening of the new moon. During your ritual, you can set your intention to be one of a cleansing nature – recognizing the opportunities that this new moon’s cycle brings to you.

You can start to meditate after setting this intention. I like to focus a lot of my meditation practice on focusing on the present moment. For example, focusing on my breathing patterns helps free my mind from any distraction and clears it from any worry. Meditation is a tool for the mind. I’ve also found that listening to your body in that exact moment is also a great way to be more present during your meditation. You can speak to the moon in the form of a message about your hopes for that new moon’s cycle. After you meditate, you can reflect again on the opportunities for growth in which this new moon presents us. I hope you enjoy a peaceful evening for all that the new moon can bring. 🙂

Rosy Conversation with Dr. Tim Avery

Dr. Timothy Avery is a Clinical Psychologist working for the National Center for PTSD at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Menlo Park, California. Dr. Avery is a U.S. Navy veteran, having been enlisted for 16 years and having served in Iraq. Dr. Avery’s specialty in his clinical psychology work includes PTSD and co-occurring mental and physical conditions, such as chronic pain, insomnia, depression, and anxiety. His work at the VA is centered around the adoption of mobile mental health apps into care for veterans and family members, which are available in the App Store or Google Play.

Dr. Avery is the Director of Program Evaluation and teaches yoga for the Veterans Yoga Project, a 501c3 which offers yoga classes to veterans. His yoga teachings emphasize a deeper connection with the body and being fully present, translating yoga practices to everyday life. Dr. Avery’s work is critical for ensuring veteran care. Thank you for all that you do!

The Interview

Bianca: You are a former Naval officer. Where are you from originally and what drove you to the Navy?  

Dr. Avery: I am from Upstate NY–born and raised.  The Navy provided a job opportunity and engineering training, and means to move out of my parents’ house.  My second semester of community college was not going as well as the first semester and I felt a strong need to change direction.

Bianca: How long did you serve in the Navy and what did that tenure entail?

Dr. Avery: My service was not contiguous.  The total time from enlistment to resigning my commission was 16 years.  However, in between I served on active, reserve, and inactive reserve statuses for a total service of less than half that time.  Most of my years were spent learning and training, a common experience in the military.  The military culture and mission require one to learn new skills, practice those skills, apply them, then move on to the next job.  It is a rhythm that many veterans maintain after service.  My formal jobs were varied: night janitor, financial management IT policy analyst, logistics watch where I tracked world-wide Navy assets, insurgency and foreign military capability analyst, and combat support for ground forces in Iraq.

Bianca: From what you have seen and experienced firsthand as a Naval officer, what aspect of your experiences has been most defining?

Dr. Avery: The most defining aspect of my military experience was the leadership and teamwork I had the privilege of witnessing.  The military is as diverse as citizens of the world.  There are different personalities, priorities, stages of life, skill sets, and shortcomings.  These people are asked to perform extremely difficult tasks under tight deadlines and uncontrollable circumstances.  It takes passionate and adaptable people to make all these factors move together towards mission achievement.  It’s not always done gracefully or faultlessly, but these teams achieve extraordinary feats.

Bianca: You went on to pursue your Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and currently work for the National Center for PTSD in Menlo Park. Your role at the VA sounds quite multifaceted. Can you provide an overview of it?

Dr. Avery: My team aids VA providers and clinics in the adoption of mobile mental health apps into care for veterans and family members.  The VA has produced a suite of these apps that are evidence-informed and have high privacy standards.  The apps are portable, discreet, and can support people before, during, and after an episode of care (check them out, you can find VA apps in your Google Play or Apple App Stores).  This innovation, like any innovation, requires additional support as people learn ways to incorporate the tools into their jobs.  This is where my team comes in.  We reach more veterans with the apps by informing VA providers how to use the apps.

Bianca: Did you always seek to become a Clinical Psychologist? How did you decide you’d pursue this line of work?

Dr. Avery: A career in clinical psychology was not an option I’d considered growing up.  I knew no one who studied psychology or who went to therapy.  I didn’t know what such a career would look like.  After a period of military orders and management consulting, I had a desire to dig deeper in some field of study.  The book What Color is Your Parachute? provided structure to self-exploration to help identify which field.  Clinical psychology involves the skills and impact I want to make on the world.

Bianca: Your talents are multi-faceted since you have been able to pursue many different lines of work, which has included your time in the military, management consulting, as well as your doctoral work. It is remarkable that you have pursued work in clinical psychology coming out of all of those experiences; is PTSD your primary focus area as a psychologist?

Dr. Avery: I focus on PTSD and co-occurring mental and physical conditions, such as chronic pain, insomnia, depression, and anxiety.  PTSD is a logical reaction to extremely stressful experiences and everyone has a unique reaction.  Both a feature and common reaction to trauma is the belief that one cannot have a full life.  It is meaningful to me to leverage research, clinical skills, and our relationship to help someone live fully after traumatic experiences. 

Bianca: When you achieve results in your research, what does that prove to you?

Dr. Avery: The social sciences are different than the physical sciences because nothing is ever “proven,” findings support or do not support a hypothesis.  I enjoy research because it is a structured ongoing conversation about a topic amongst colleagues, many of whom never meet each other.  In terms of application, significant research findings help me narrow the selection of potentially useful therapeutic interventions thus making therapy more effective. 

Bianca: In addition, you teach yoga to veterans through the VA and through the Veterans Yoga Project, a 501c3. I can imagine a deeper sense of connection to the body and listening to your body is essential to your teachings. Is that your main focus while teaching yoga? 

Dr. Avery: Listening to one’s body certainly is an important part of yoga practice.  There are multiple foci in my yoga classes.  If I had to pick one, however, it’s integrating one’s thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations to permit the student to be fully present on the mat and in daily life.

Bianca: Can you give some background on the Veterans Yoga Project and how this organization came to be?

Dr. Avery: The Founder and Director, Dan Libby, PhD, observed yoga in clinical programs on his path to psychology licensure and became a yoga teacher himself.  He observed drastic benefits from yoga reported by some veterans.  Based on those experiences, he decided to leverage his knowledge of trauma to help more veterans gain access to yoga.  A lack of adequately trained yoga teachers was one of the main barriers to the inclusion of yoga in more VA trauma programs at that time.  He therefore created a workshop on trauma-informed yoga, titled Mindful Resilience, for yoga teachers, clinicians, and veterans.  Thousands of classes per year are now taught to veterans, families, and communities by VYP-trained teachers.  Now VYP also offers large community yoga events, a Compassion Satisfaction online course, our first 200-hour Mindful Resilience Yoga Teacher for 20 veterans, and many other great services.  Check out for more info (yes, I snuck in a pitch at the end).

Bianca: As we all continue to live through a global pandemic, how has social distancing most significantly impacted your work or a specific work stream?

Dr. Avery: Our Mobile Mental Health Apps Project Team had planned to deliver training and implementation support in-person to VA’s all across the country.  People appreciate the benefits of meeting face-to-face, especially when adopting an innovation.  The travel restrictions prevented that, delayed some sites, and now we have only half a year to provide virtual training we planned to provide across the whole year and in-person.  Our team has been dynamic, collaborative, and even more innovative than originally to put all the necessary pieces in place to make the project a success.  

Thank you, Dr. Avery, for your service and all that you do!

Eaton House Studio, Essex

Amy Griffith spent ten years refurbishing and decorating the Barbie house of a little girl’s dreams, Eaton House Studio in Essex, England. She purchased the property in 2009 after moving to Essex from London. Amy, originally a California native, brought her vision to life with commitment and a lot of hard work. Every detail is meticulously thought out in the house… and then there are there the unicorn statues in the garden!

Most of the purchases are second hand and lovingly selected for the house. The house has become popular to film music videos – pop singer Dagny recently filmed her music video, “Come Over,” at Eaton House. Paris Hilton and Iggy Azalea are other high profile fans of the house.

You can rent the house on Airbnb for $3,040 per night. The listing to rent the house is available here. The home has 6 bedrooms with 15 beds and 6.5 baths. It can be rented for a number of purposes, from a photoshoot to a Bachelorette party (or as they call it in the UK, a “hen party”) with a firefighter themed bar room and all, but one thing is for sure: Eaton House is intended to delight. Make sure to go follow Eaton House on Instagram @eatonhousestudio.

The Secret Garden Guest Room
The backyard facade has an impressive mural painted on it.