My Tiny Town Hall Wedding

I’m not sure whether town hall weddings are becoming more popular or whether, since I had one myself, folks are happy to relate their own stories.

When Josh and I made the decision to get hitched, we also resolved not to invite anyone. (And by anyone I mean everyone.) It’s a slippery slope. The far reaching tendrils of relations and association can grow a wedding list to suffocating proportions. If aunt Bertha gets an invite, so does cousin Tommy and the Marvin family. But the Marvin family is close with the Strauss family, so … With a bit of debt and just-budding careers, we were long ready for marriage but in no position to feed 250 (albeit beloved) friends and family.

Our “no invite” resolution dissolved quickly though, when some of our immediate family asked if they could come. Of course they could. It was unthinkable for us to even entertain the thought of saying no.

All bets were off when my sister-in-law Daniela mentioned how fun it might be to shop for the dress together. I had a feeling that even though I planned to buy a plain dress for $45 in a bargain basement in some suburb of Boston, Daniela would convince me to go for something that truly made me feel special. And that’s exactly what she did. She and my mother pitched in, and I was able to get a great deal on a dress and shoes that made me feel like a Spanish princess. I don’t wear dresses much, and to be in one that made me feel so wonderful was quite an experience. Looking in the mirror at David’s Bridal, I thought of my late grandmother whose taste for fashion and glamor were plain to see in photos from her younger days.

January 12th fast approached. I became so sick in the weeks leading up to it that in a call to my then boss I joked that I sounded like a man. Really, I did. Thankfully I was well enough just in time. A few jokes about saying “ichoo” instead of “I do” helped keep my nerves about being sick at bay.

Josh and his brother Jon got ready at our apartment while Daniela and my mother (who flew in briefly, just to be at the ceremony) accompanied me to a salon in Cambridge. Hair done, we hopped over to Jon and Daniela’s house to make the transformation from plain Jane to Superbride. Anyone who knows me well will understand how much of a joke that is 🙂 I’m super low maintenance. It took almost no time to slip into the dress, with Daniela’s expert help. I already sported my everyday makeup.

The trek to Newton town hall filled me with a sense of history. I felt a commitment and devotion to Josh long before we officially tied the knot. So in the time before January 12th, I downplayed how important the ceremony itself would be in my head. But while we weaved through traffic, rolling smoothly ever closer to my future husband, I remembered something Daniela said at David’s Bridal. “This is only going to happen once.” She’s right. Even if we decided to have a larger formal wedding with our extended circles, the wedding itself, the first, the original – that only happens once. And it was happening in a matter of an hour or less. The thought made me feel happiness, pride, a sense of gravity, and an inner warmth that I find hard to further describe.

We thought we would be embarrassingly overdressed for a town hall gig, but we were surprised by a marble entryway and staircase, and a gorgeous hall with seating and ample room where the ceremony itself took place. We should have guessed – it’s Newton after all.

It could not have been a more enjoyable experience. After the I dos (no sneezes thank goodness), our family tossed flower petals in the air and popped open some champagne. Looking around the space, I felt thankful for every one of them. My husband Josh, Jon and Daniela, their two children Lili and Benny, Daniela’s mother Mariana, Josh’s father Chuck and step mother Phyllis, and of course my mother Violet.

We ate a delicious dinner at Devlin’s in Brighton, one of our favorite restaurants.

Originally we toyed with the idea of having a larger wedding a couple years down the road, but I’m not sure that’s in the cards for us. Too many married couples have enthusiastically offered advice to the contrary, suggesting that in retrospect they might have rather taken the path we did, and used the extra money to vacation, or even to visit their loved ones in person.

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Warby Parker Home Try-On

The Warby Parker Home Try-On is such a great idea. I was very excited to learn that I could try on 5 pairs of glasses at home for free. And since I don’t wear prescription glasses, I went for a selection of sunglasses in the hopes of finding a pair to replace my old, scratched-up ones. I’d love your help deciding which looked best on me! I’m incredibly and sometimes frustratingly indecisive when it comes to sunglasses, so your opinion would make things so much easier 🙂

Thanks so much for watching and reading. What did you think of that outro image?

Hope you’re enjoying the beginnings of autumn. The leaves are starting to turn here in Boston, and there is a distinct chill in the air. I think this might be one of the only years of my life I’ve been excited for winter. I guess I’ve morphed into a real East Coaster after all. 😛

Take care, and until soon!

Yours,
Aruna

Trying Proactiv+, No Frizz Shampoo, & Raw Food Diet

Hey,

I’m back! Here’s a video apologizing for my absence, and telling you what’s new in my life: the Proactiv+ system for my acne, Living Proof’s No Frizz Shampoo and Conditioner (which is sulfate-free!), and the Raw Food Diet.

Please excuse my hair – I basically just rolled out of bed late in the day and recorded this.

Lots of love,

Aruna

6 Tips to Choose and Apply Makeup Well

Mac 217 Brush  Mac pro longwear paint pot in constructivist  Mac eye liner

I am by no means a beauty guru. In fact, I was a late makeup bloomer. I grew up a tomboy, with my father and brother. Anyway, whatever the reason, I did not get into makeup until the age of 22 or 23 and honestly it’s been something of a humbling experience. Makeup isn’t easy to apply well. And it is incredibly difficult to choose among the hundreds of beautiful products available today. As an admittedly unseasoned makeuper, I still have a few top tips to share. I think the value for those new to makeup is that these tips come from the perspective of someone who’s recently struggled with the experience of learning how to apply makeup!

  1. Be patient and brave. Makeup takes a lot of experimentation. Even foundation takes a while to figure out, based on your skin type, skin color, and skin problems. (For example, the only coverup/foundation I can use is the RMS Beauty un-coverup. That took a while to figure out!)
  2. I would suggest building your beauty arsenal in the following order: mascara, primer (if needed), coverup/touchup product, foundation, lip products/colors, eye shadow. Those are the “basics” in my opinion. Once you have those, you can move on to: eye liner, brow pencil, bronzer, blush, luminizer, finishing spray, etc.
  3. Save up for better products instead of buying many cheap firsts. I think that statement doesn’t need much justification, but what I will say is, I regret buying cheap eye shadow after cheap eye shadow. They seem to work like fake sugar – which is made of molecules that are bigger than our body’s receptors can accept. So sweetening your tea with Stevia, like Lydia from Breaking Bad, will just make you crave sugar even more. “So close, get more,” your body says. And that’s exactly how I felt about cheap eye shadow.
  4. Pick colors according to your skin tone. It’s fun to experiment with pinks and blues. I remember watching tv shows growing up, in which girls with hot pink lip gloss and light blue eye shadow seemed so cool. Cool enough to imitate. But when I started experimenting with makeup I quickly realized that I couldn’t wear those colors, unless I wanted to go for the clown look. I have a medium skin tone. Until recently magazines featured light skin colors almost exclusively. In fact, because of that inertia, many make up lines are dominated by colors that suit lighter skin better. But that’s okay! Just experiment and find the colors that complement your skin, not someone else’s, even if it’s someone you admire! My skin looks great with darker, berry-colored lips and rich brown eye shadow with golden tones.
  5. As if it weren’t difficult enough, the application of makeup is rather tricky in its own right. My advice: Apply all of your makeup in light layers. You can build up the color to get fuller coverage or richer colors. I don’t know why, but there’s some more-than-slight magic in using light layers instead of piling it on in one application. I promise,  your makeup will look leagues better. Buff and blend a lot, but not too much. There’s a balance between warming up and smoothing our your makeup with that buffing motion – and over-buffing to the point of scraping at the makeup and irritating your skin. Breathe well! This makes the whole experience better, and again I’m not sure why, but it always makes my makeup look its best.
  6. Make your morning routine short and manageable, if possible. It’s not fun to rush through your makeup and mess it up several frantic times. Do as much as you can the night before (water the plants, take a shower, prepare your lunch, etc.) so that you can free up some time in the morning. Also, make your skincare routine as manageable and low maintenance as you can. You will love every bit of the experience if you take your time doing it.

 

These tips work for me, and I hope they will be helpful for you too! What are your top makeup tips?

Yours,

Aruna

What is the best shampoo and conditioner for long hair?

What is the Best Shampoo for Long Hair

It turns out caring for long hair is a balancing act. The top of your hair gets oily faster, while the bottom tends to remain dry. If you wash it every day, the ends get frizzy. If you don’t wash it every day, the scalp turns into oil central. The trick is to have 2 types of shampoo and 2 types of conditioner – one harsher and one gentler. You can adjust your use of each shampoo and conditioner depending on your hair’s needs!

Brush Before Washing & Use an Oil Pretreatment

Before stepping into the shower, I brush my hair. I basically never brush at any other time, because brushing wet hair is damaging and brushing dry hair breaks apart my curls and makes my hair triple in size. (Lord knows I don’t need more volume.) Also, brushing before washing makes it easy for me to distribute the shampoo and conditioner in the shower.

I then apply an oil pretreatment that I make at home. It is a blend of castor oil and black seed oil – which a friend of mine calls “black gold!” Black seed oil is amazing for hair.

Castor oil and Black Seed oil for hair

Two full dropper heads does nicely. I use this pretreatment daily, just before showering. Do not apply this above the ears. It’s meant to moisturize the driest parts of your hair and will cause lots of oiliness if applied to the scalp too often. You shouldn’t drench your hair with it either! I did that once, and definitely regretted it. It won’t seem like you’ve put enough on, but don’t worry about that. This one step will strengthen your hair greatly with time.

Rotate Between Nourishing and Harsher Shampoo & Conditioner

Choose a mostly natural, repairing shampoo that smells great, cleans gently, and softens hair. The idea is not to strip the hair of all natural oils!

Best gentle Shampoo for Long Hair - L'Occitane and Lush

Use only when you can tell that your hair is a little dry at least (for me it’s about 3-4 times a week). Apply all over (from head to tips). I use L’Occitane’s Repairing Shampoo and Lush’s Cynthia Sylvia Stout, which smells heavenly and actually has stout in it (among other things). Stout is apparently ‘extremely conditioning.’ Of course, you don’t have to have 2 gentle shampoos, but I love both of these so much that I’ve decided to use both. (And actually, I use the Cynthia Sylvia Stout every day because I’m addicted to the full-bodied smell!)

The harsher, possibly more chemically based shampoo does strip the hair of oils. A “clarifying” shampoo removes buildup and gives your hair a fresh start when it is getting too oily.

Clarifying shampoo for long hair - PanteneI love Pantene Pro-v, but the fact of the matter is – if I use it every day I do not end up with “luxuriously soft, smooth hair.” For some reason I used to, when I lived in California. Maybe it’s the humidity, or maybe in the 6 years I’ve been living in Boston, MA my body chemistry has changed. Whatever the reason, Pantene been demoted from everyday shampoo to clarifying shampoo, which I use 2-3 times a week.

Apply the clarifying shampoo to the scalp area only! (By now you get the idea :P) Applying it to the ends of your hair will dry it out too much. As I mentioned before, I use the Cynthia Sylvia Stout everyday. When I use Pantene shampoo I apply the Stout one afterward.

Phew! On to conditioners!

On days when you need emergency moisture, you should use a hair mask of some kind.

Conditioners for long hair - Ojon and PanteneI’ve been using a deluxe sample of Ojon’s color sustain PRO for emergency moisture lately, 2-3 times a week. I got it in a Birchbox a few months ago. I know it’s for color treated and damaged hair, but that’s just all the more reason for me to use it! I apply it all over my hair, count to 60 twice, and rinse.

Most days, though, I use any Pantene conditioner. In my experience, all of Pantene’s shampoos and conditioners do the same things to my hair, so I don’t pay attention to the labels that promise “sleekness!” “volume!” “rainbows!” or whatever. I also once heard from a friend that there is no difference – and he heard on good word from a friend of his, who worked in the shampoo industry or something. We’re talking science and fact here folks. (I’m starting to sound like Colbert..)

My only warning: don’t over-condition. If you do, expect fly away hairs en masse.

Use a Leave-In Moisturizer to Reduce Frizz

After showering I wait for my hair to dry partially. Then I apply the R&B cream from Lush as a leave-in, overnight moisturizer. I lurveeee the R&B cream.

Leave in Moisturizer for Long Hair

It smells great, and really does tame frizz, but it takes some fiddling to figure out the right amount to use for your hair. I never, ever apply it to the hair above my ears. It flattens the top of my hair as it dries and looks odd. I also apply a small amount when I wake up to calm the little bit of frizz that appears after moving around in my sleep. It makes a HUGE difference for my hair throughout the day.

Never Sleep on Your Hair

I try not to sleep on my hair. I make a long, loose twist and let it trail above my shoulders on the bed. Tossing and turning on your long hair causes breakage and frizz. I’ve been doing this for years. Once you get into the habit of it, it doesn’t feel unnatural anymore 😛

Happy Frizz Fighting,

Aruna

 

On Focus in Photography

I was  bummed at first that this past weekend was rainy and dull. One of my goals for the weekend was to go on a fun outing to take photos and explore. But as I sat on my couch moping, I happened to be looking out the window, and it struck me. The window has a secret brilliance in rainy weather, and at different distances of focus you see very different images.

At the glass (closest to inside) you can see the bokeh effect on the water droplets (see the pentagons?) :

photo of window

At the screen just past the window’s glass, you can see the mesh and the droplets themselves:

photo of screen

But if you focus at a place in between the street outside and the screen of the window, everything turns into some kind of van Gogh painting:

photo out a window

And of course, there’s the view of the street itself:

photo of view outside

So much in such a confined space!

Yours,

Aruna

Dermablend Profesional’s Camo Confessions Campaign

Hey guys! Today I’m excited to do my viti-Friday post on a video I made for Dermablend Professional’s Camo Confessions Campaign. The campaign went live this Monday, March 10th and my humble video (with poor lighting and zoomed in way too close to my face) appears on the second page of their “Get Involved” tab on the Camo Confessions YouTube page.

A few months ago, two lovely Dermablend reps contacted me asking me to create a short video that followed these guidelines:

  • talk about my skin story (vitiligo, etc.)
  • have a “reveal moment”
  • film where and how I usually do (yup – bad lighting and awkward space to boot!)
  • be myself!

I was thrilled to oblige, especially since they’re donating $1 to the Look Good Feel Better Foundation for every video that’s submitted. If you have a chance, I would be forever grateful if you watched it, liked it via YouTube, and left a comment telling me what you think. I plan to post a “bear makeup tutorial” video sometime soon 😛

Submit your own video!

  • Go to the campaign’s YouTube page. (You’ll only be able to see the page on a computer or laptop.)
  • Click on the “get involved” tab and click “submit your confession now.”
  • It’ll take you to facebook, where you can upload your video!
  • You can add your video to your YouTube channel too, but by posting it to the Camo Confessions page, it’ll give them a chance to donate the $ mentioned in the campaign and to post it on their “get involved” tab!

Let me know if you upload a video!! I would love to watch it 🙂

Here’s some other useful info if you plan to make a contribution to the campaign …

Brand: Dermablend® Professional
Campaign name: Camo Confessions
Campaign URL: http://www.youtube.com/user/dermablendpro/camoconfessions
Campaign Hashtags: #CamoConfessions #MyCamo #DermablendPro #BlendInToStandOut
Campaign Purpose: Reveal how you “Blend in to stand out” to inspire others and to help woman battling appearance related side effects from Cancer treatments. Each confession submitted, Dermablend will donate $1 to the Look Good Feel Better Foundation® http://lookgoodfeelbetter.org/

The brands handles for tagging purposes:
·         Instagram: @Dermablendpro
·         Twitter: @Dermablendpro
·         Facebook: Dermablend professional
·         Youtube: Dermanlendpro

Yours post-confession,

Aruna