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Sabbatical Beauty

I would like to introduce you to Sabbatical Beauty. I myself only recently discovered this unique skincare line. It is a line of Korean-inspired skincare created by an academic on sabbatical who was tired of "active" ingredients being the smallest component of expensive skincare regimens.

It should come as no surprise that Korean skincare is all the rage at the moment. As such, it has infiltrated every level of the skincare market. But why this sudden deluge of Korean beauty products? Well, Korean women have a long history of spa culture and self-care, and they expect and demand quality beauty products. This tradition has created uniquely formulated products that use innovative, but gentle, and natural ingredients. It also focuses on long term change and solutions, rather than radical overnight results (which don't really exist anyway!).

Inspired by the tradition of Korean Skincare, Dr. Adeline Koh, the founder of Sabbatical Beauty, set out to formulate Korean-inspired skincare products that focused on active ingredients rather than filler. A researcher and academic at heart, she started researching the much-touted ingredients of Korean skincare and actually began making and using her findings. As her colleagues saw her results, they began demanding she share her secrets and Sabbatical Beauty was born.

As with Adeline and her colleagues, Korean skincare has really taken off with female academics. Forever juggling academia's double standards on appearance and complex relationship with femininity, many women in academia have found solace in the complex and intricate rituals of Korean beauty. As Adeline put it in her own blog post on the topic:
I've since changed my mind, especially as I've gotten deeper into reading the works of some amazing feminist women of color. I've started to view beauty as a form of self-care, instead of a patriarchal trap. One of my deepest inspirations, the writer and activist Audre Lorde, famously declared that "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare." For many women, especially women of color, we're often told that we are only useful, only valuable when we devote ourselves to others; that caring for ourselves in the last thing that we should consider. 
I love this - we absolutely should see caring for ourselves not as an act of feminist self-care, not indulgent or vain!

With such an amazing vision driving the company, I had only one answer when Sabbatical Beauty reached out and asked if I wanted to try their skincare... YES!

I received all of my products at the end of last week, just in time for my trip. Based on my skin assessment (I struggle with oily, acne prone skin and want to get ahead of the aging curve), they sent me the Rescue sample set along with their Dorian Gray's Anti Aging Serum. As expected, the system requires a few more intricate steps than I am used to, but I am totally dedicated to my new feminist act of self-care!

The Rescue set starts with the Rose Cleansing Balm and the Rose Foaming Cleanser. The balm takes off makeup and oil-based impurities and helps to diminish the size of your pores. This is followed by the Rose Foaming Cleanser, which takes off everything else. It has aloe vera and colloidal oats -- both very soothing and moisturizing, as well as rose extract, pink kaolin clay (to draw out impurities and deeply cleanse) and hydrolyzed goat milk (builds a protective film around your skin to prevent moisture loss). I have to admit the balm felt weird at first, but once I washed off both the balm and cleanser my skin felt so soft and smooth!

The Rescue set also comes with the Marine and Asian Powerhouse Serums. The Marine Serum is full of nutritious ingredients from the sea, like red algae extract and Japanese seaweed. The Asian Powerhouse serum contains traditional Asian ingredients like turmeric and ginseng extract. Finally, the set contains the Camel Milk and Yeast Mask and the Camel Milk Cream. I discovered that camel milk is more similar to human milk than cow's milk, has lots of natural AHAs to encourage exfoliation, and will make your complexion look brighter!

For aging, they sent me the Dorian Gray serum, which contains gentle forms of Vitamin C to brighten and even skin tone, as well 5% of retinol which is often prescribed by dermatologists to help with anti-aging and acne.

Obviously, it is too soon to see any dramatic changes. But I will say that my skin does feel softer and looks a bit brighter. I can't wait to continue using the line and share my full report in a couple weeks! In the mean time, check out their reviews on their Facebook page. Everyone seems to agree that this stuff is pretty awesome.

The best part is, I didn't just find skin care, I found a community of like-minded, badass women... with great skin!

Have you tried Korean skincare? What are your thoughts on women taking back the concepts of beauty and self-care?
Ashley B
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Biking Through Hyde Park Village

You guys, I have sad news. My endless eyewear (a.k.a. Netflix for your face) is no more. They discontinued the program. How am I going to affordably feed my designer sunglasses addiction now?!!

Thank goodness SmartBuyGlasses stepped in and sent me this fabulous pink and gold Dior pair! I am always looking for sites that offer discount designer sunglasses, becuase I can never get enough sunnies. Especially traveling in Europe! I mean, how perfect are these Dior's going to be in Paris?

Not only does SmartBuyGlasses offer great deals, but they have an amazing selection (even my hard-to-find favorite Celine's) and fast shipping. Originally launched in Australia, SmartBuyGlasses is now an international sensation (they even have an office in Italy) and gives back through eyewear donations and cataract surgeries for those in need around the world.

I selected this pink and gold combo because it was so unique and I thought it would look so chic in Paris. While still home in Tampa, I decided to take them for a spin around the neighborhood. My friend Jess was visiting from New York and I wanted to show her my hood. The Hyde Park Village and the Epicurean Hotel have these adorable beach cruisers for guests of the hotel to borrow. Fortunately, the Village let us borrow them for the day, and what a perfect day in Florida it was -- blue skies, mind temps, and flowers in full bloom.

I wore this adorable cropped polkadot jacket over this blue and yellow floral print dress. Being a full-blown hat lady now, I completed the look with my favorite navy hat.


Ashley B
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Hey Sailor

You know spring has arrived when the nautical details debut! I know, I know, nautical details for spring and summer... groundbreaking.

Nautical may not be groundbreaking, but you can rest assured that it will be on trend year after year. For that reason, I don't mind investing in nautical inspired pieces. Also, because I live in Florida where it never goes out of style.

I loved this navy Tory Burch dress from the moment I saw it. The buttons down the front give it the perfect nautical touch, which takes it from a boring navy shift to a playful, vintage-feeling frock. To give it even more interest, I added this red stripe Zara top. Because navy and red are always a good idea! While I love all sailor-inspired designs my favorite details are anything navy and red, stripes, sailor button pants/skirts/shorts, and gold buttons.

You can rely on Tory Burch to create fabulous nautical pieces every year. And this year is no exception. They are currently having their big Spring Event sale, so I also picked up this adorable dress with a green and navy rope motif.

dress // top // wedges // sunnies // hat // bag (similar)

Shop my favorite nautical pieces below!

Ashley B
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The Ultimate Italy Bucket List

I hate when people ask me what they should see and where they should go if they only have 10 days in Italy. There is just so much to see and do in Italy, narrowing it down feels impossible! I have been going back and fourth for over a decade now and there are still so many places that I still want to see. So, I thought it would be fun to put together the ultimate Italy bucket list. The idea behind this list was to create a comprehensive list that highlights the best of Italy as well as covers Italy's diverse regions and cultures. Here is what I came up with. The ones marked with an asterisk are the items still on my Italian to-do list.

  1. Climb the Cathedral in Milan
  2. Take Gondola Ride in Venice
  3. Explore the Colosseum and Roman Forum
  4. Take a Boat Ride Around the Island of Capri
  5. Sip a Cocktail Overlooking Positano
  6. Splash in Sardinia's Pink Beach*
  7. Eat Seafood in Burano
  8. Gaze at Michelangelo's David
  9. Explore a Lesser-Known Region like Umbria or Puglia*
  10. Eat Pesto in Vernazza
  11. Hike the Cinque Terre
  12. See the Ruins of Pompeii
  13. Eat Pizza in Naples
  14. Visit the Anatomy Theatre in Bologna
  15. Marvel at Giotto in Assisi
  16. Take a Silly Photo at the Leaning Tower of Pisa
  17. Explore Etruscan Tombs in Orvieto
  18. Re-Live the Renaissance in the Uffizi
  19. Climb Mount Vesuvio
  20. Experience the Palio in Siena
  21. Stay at an Agriturismo 
  22. Taste Cheese in Pienza
  23. Strain Your Neck in the Sistine Chapel
  24. Make a Wish at the Trevi Fountain
  25. Enjoy an Unspoiled Sea-Side Town Like Sperlonga
  26. Ride the Chair Lift to the Top of Capri
  27. Climb the Duomo in Florence
  28. Take a Boat Tour of Lake Como
  29. Drive a Vespa (or a Vintage Cinquecento)
  30. Sunbathe in Sicily*
  31. Stay on the Pristine Islands Ischia and Procida
  32. Savor Chocolate in Perugia*
  33. Watch an Opera in an Ancient Roman Theater in Verona
  34. Step Back in Time Inside the Pantheon
  35. Wander Through Trastevere
  36. Hike the Path of the Gods*
  37. Do a Wine Tasting in a Vineyard
How many have you done? What's on your Italy bucket list?

Ashley B
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Little White Dress // LWD

Nothing says "hello spring" like an adorable little white dress, or LWD as I like to call it. While everyone emphasizes finding the perfect little black dress for your wardrobe, I think the perfect LWD is equally important.

I love the shape and sweet details of this Rebecca Minkoff LWD. It is that perfect combination of easy to wear and stylish. In order to keep a basic white dress interesting, it needs to have a special special detail. Whether it is a ruffle, interesting texture, or exaggerated shape, it is all about an unique design element that will take it from basic to stylish.

I paired my perfect LWD with my favorite wicker bag, a colorful scarf, and the perfect boater hat. Thank goodness the boater hat trend is not going anywhere any time soon. It is my personal favorite and I wear mine all summer long (I know have three!). When traveling, hats are both stylish and functional. They protect you from the sun while covering a bad or lazy hair day.

hat (similar) // sunnies // dress // c/o scarf // bag (similar) // wedges

Since I believe everyone needs a perfect LWD to complete their spring and summer wardrobe, I have rounded up my current favorites below.

Little White Dresses to Love:

Ashley B
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You Are What You Carry

You can tell a lot about a women from her handbag. Is it a statement piece or a classic? Bright and bold or neutral? Large or micro? Organized or a mess?

Personally, I hate a messy and disorganized handbag. It makes me feel like my entire life is in disarray. And there is nothing worse that being in a hurry or having your hands full while searching a bottomless abyss for your keys.

My love for organization led me to Dagne Dover a couple of years ago. If you have been reading here for a while, then my love of this amazing company will come as no surprise. But honestly, their bags just keep getting better! Not only have they completely re-designed their original signature line, but they have also introduced a neoprene collection and several new leather styles - like the Simone Satchel.

While I love my signature tote (nothing schleps books, papers, and my laptop across campus better), I wanted something sleeker for my last conference in Chicago. Not that the tote isn't sleek, but it is large and designed to carry everything. For a conference, I needed something that could still carry my laptop and some work essentials, but that could also double as a chic purse.

It was love at first sight with my Simone (c/o). Not only does it have Dagne's signature organizational system, it has a streamlined shape that sits comfortably under the shoulder -- not to mention that gorgeous blue color! It worked perfectly for the conference and I was constantly stopped and asked about it.

What is your favorite Dagne Dover bag?


Ashley B
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How to Rock a Professional Conference

Ah, the professional conference. Love them or hate them, they are the key to networking and keeping current with your field. I know lots of academics who dread national and international conferences. I find them exhausting, but I don't mind them. I can see, however, if you are not extraverted (ahem, a lot of academics) or experienced in these types of things, conferences can be intimidating and the opposite of fun.

But, as I mentioned, professional conferences are essential in almost every field. They help you make vital connections on a national or international level. Conferences are also key to keeping current with your field or discipline, and allow you to show off your work and/or skills. If you want to get ahead, you need to learn how to rock a professional conference.

Having just returned from a major international conference in Chicago, I thought it was a good time to reflect on conference best practices and the secrets to making the most out of them. So here we go!

Dress the Part
I think the age-old advice, "dress for the job you want," is great. You obviously want to look professional and polished. But you also want to be mindful of dress code norms within your field. For instance, historians are not known for their fashion risks, so it is probably not the venue to try a bold new trend.

Research Before You Go
It is always helpful to do your research before attending a conference. Knowing who will be there and what will be presented and/or discussed will help you use your conference time wisely. Plus if the conference is highlighting a field or topic you are unfamiliar with, it will give you time to prep.

Bring Business Cards 
This one still feels awkward for me as an academic. But once I finally printed some and started handing them out, I realized it made exchanging information easier and ensured important people could contact me if need be. Make sure you are also collecting cards. I like to make a note on the back after they walk away to remind me of who they were and what we discussed.

Show Interest and Curiosity in Others
You want to demonstrate interest and curiosity when having conversations in order to connect with people. But it is important you do not lie in an attempt to connect. This is especially true for academics. Don't pretend you know something or have experience with a topic/field when you don't. It is a recipe for a future disaster or embarrassment.

Network Outside Your Comfort Zone
Sure, it is easier to stick close to and interact with people you already know. But, this defeats the purpose of traveling across the country to connect with colleagues you would not normally get to interact/connect with. As hard as it is to introduce yourself or strike up a conversation with a stranger, it is the reason you are there.

Be Outgoing, But not Aggressive
While it is important to put yourself out there and introduce yourself to the right people, you don't want to come off as aggressive. Someone actually walked up to me at my last conference and without saying a word, grabbed my laniard, read my name and who I was, decided I was not worth their time, and without a word, walked away. You don't want people to feel like you are just using them. You never know who might be a major connection in the future!

Be Genuine
Being genuine will help you connect with people and not come off as an aggressive networker. Forced conversation will always come off as forced!

Don't Drink Too Much
This one should be obvious, but you might be surprised. Alcohol can alleviate fears and help with networking anxiety, but it can also cause embarrassment or derail your career forever!

Have Your Elevator Pitch Ready
Be ready to introduce yourself and what you do with a clear and concise pitch. Make sure it is interesting/engaging and hopefully even lead to follow up questions/conversation.

Follow Up!
Finally, make sure you follow up once you return home. All of those new connections will be worthless if you don't follow up and maintain them!

Do you have any tips for rocking a professional conference to share? Please do!

Ashley B
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Conscientious Consumerism + Veerah

Sustainable fashion and conscientious consumerism are two movements that I would personally like to engage with more -- both thinking about how we produce fabrics and textiles, and how clothing is manufactured and consumed.

If you are anything like me, you love a deal and a new trend. We live in a world of fast fashion. Historically speaking, we consume clothing at unprecedented rates, especially here in the U.S. I will never forget the first time I noticed an Italian friend wearing the same article of clothing three times in one week. I was actually shocked by this, but as I noticed it abroad more and more, I began to question the rate in which I consumed and wore clothing.

I am a product of my fast-fashion and consumer based society. I love buying and wearing new clothes. I do not consume a new trend every year, or every couple of years. I consume new trends, and discard the old, every season (and I am sure that having a blog only encourages this). This rate of consumption means that, like most Americans, I want to spend less on more clothing. Reciprocally, fast rates of consumption are reinforced and encouraged by increased production.

If there is one thing that I learned from sewing, it is the expense and time needed to produce a quality garment. But a society based on fast-fashion demands a constant stream of cheap, readily available, and trendy items instead of quality pieces at higher price points. The worst part is that the demands of fast-fashion can only be met with the exploitation of labor and dangerous environmental practices.

Like so many problems facing the world today, I feel pretty powerless to make any real changes to a billion-dollar industry. How can I even tell if my favorite retailers exploit factory workers or use materials that are not sustainably made and sourced (unless of course they make the news)?

A great place to start is by readjusting our expectations when it comes to price point. Basically there is no way you can have a $15 blouse without human and/or environmental exploitation (this obviously brings up other issues in our society in terms of income inequality and what people can or should be able to afford). In a perfect world, we have to start spending more on fewer items. I already have the spending more part down, I am naturally drawn to expensive items. Of course, while a low price point is definitely an indicator of production practices, a high price point is not.

In addition to readjusting my expectations on price and steering clear of discount retailers known for their poor practices, like H&M and Walmart, I can also support companies who are attempting to address these issues -- companies like Veerah that are committed to conscientious production practices.

Emily is really the person who has challenged me the most to think about and confront these issues. She is also the one who introduced me to Veerah. As a sustainable fashion major, Emily is very knowledgeable on the ethical issues facing the fashion industry and she has been a wealth of information on the topic. You can read more one her blog here.

The good news is that conscientious and sustainable fashion can also be stylish. Case in point, Veerah heels are designed for women who want to be conscientious consumers and still be fashionable. Veerah heels come in fun patterns in colors with various interchangeable accessories. Not to mention they are insanely padded and comfortable. I had a little fun with my orchid print heels and paired them with this Ann Taylor reed print dress for a little out-of-the-box pattern play.

And if you are curious, Ann Taylor does state that they encourage the use of sustainable fabrics and promote positive factory conditions. This company statement, however, has not been verified independently for all their factories and suppliers. That's the issue with trying to be more contentious. Like in life, it is never black and white. But, at least I can attempt to educate myself and make changes on how I consume clothing.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue and sustainable/contentious companies you love!
Ashley B
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Chicago has bean on my travel list for a while now (lol, see what I did there). Sadly, a professional conference is not the best way to see a new city, since you spend all day, every day, in panel sessions and net working events. So, for my first four days in Chicago, I basically saw the Palmer hotel and surrounding block.

Fortunately, my friend Sophia was also presenting at the conference and we decided to book an extra day and a half to explore the city. While a day and a half is not nearly enough time for a city like Chicago, we managed to pack in most of the major highlights.

Per usual, starting early is the key to maximizing your time. We opted for the early bird entrance to the famous Sears/Willis tower. And it was completely worth it. Not only did we not have to wait in a line, we had the entire sky deck to ourselves before it opened to the public! We made the most of it and had too much fun taking ridiculous pictures. If you don't know what the sky deck is, it is a collection of four clear glass boxes that hang off the side of the western hemisphere's tallest building (well, tallest until 2014 when One World Trade Center was completed). Let me tell you, these boxes make for some crazy views! They say on a clear day you can see four states. But, don't worry, it is not as scary as you think.

In addition to the Sky Deck, we visited the famous Bean sculpture in Millennium Park, the Chicago Art Institute, brunched at The Hampton Social, went on an architectural river tour, strolled the Magnificent Mile, and had dinner at the famed Siena Tavern (although as part-time Florentines, we were not supper impressed with their take on Tuscan cuisine). On my extra half day, I was able to meet up with a friend and fellow Italian scholar and explore Wicker Park and grab the famed Negroni slush at Parson's.

Overall, I think it was a nice highlight tour of Chicago, although I would love to return and see more!

Any suggestions on what to see for my next visit?


Ashley B
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