Winter Essentials – Skincare and Relaxation

Having moved from Wisconsin to California last summer, this winter doesn’t really feel like winter. To me winter has always meant piling on as many layers of clothing as humanly possible; slipping on icy sidewalks (always in front of a crowd of people); and spending as much time as possible inside, under a blanket…preferably next to a fireplace…with some hot cocoa. What can I say? I get high maintenance in the winter.

Here in California, I feel like I can already see a hint of spring peeking around the corner, which is absurd to me. But the winter can still be a little gloomy. Tea, hot cocoa with extra marshmallows, and a bit of pampering are all but necessary. Plus, my already dry skin requires some extra care.

Here are the 3 must-have items that my dry skin can’t be without in the winter, and 3 that I rely on when I’m in need of some relaxation. Read on to see my picks, and let me know your winter must-haves in the comments!

The Skincare

1 heartMy lips are dry all year round, but cold, dry winter weather is especially rough. This year my lips got super sensitive too, so I’ve had to be really picky with my lip products. I look for a chapstick/lip balm with a small number of natural, super moisturizing, non-irritating ingredients. I have two favorites at the moment, both of which, oddly enough, are from small companies in New York.


This unscented Vegan Lip Balm is from Meow Meow Tweet. The Organic Cocoa Lip Balm is from S.W. Basics in Brooklyn. They both focus on using high-quality, natural, organic ingredients. I spent a ridiculous amount of time reading reviews and recommendations, and it was surprisingly difficult to find a great lip balm without any potentially irritating ingredients. These two feel amazing and they’re super affordable (even with shipping!).


2 heartThe hand and body moisturizer I recommend to everyone is totally not sexy, but it works. Vanicream was recommended to me by a doctor years ago because it doesn’t irritate sensitive skin, and it’s super moisturizing without leaving you feeling like an oil slick. I buy it in this giant tub, and I don’t get gross, cracked hands anymore.

Vanicream is my everyday absolute must-have, but when I feel like treating myself, I’ll use something with a luxurious scent. The Soap & Glory body butter is incredibly thick and creamy, and it soaks right into your skin. It leaves you with a pretty floral scent (if you’re sensitive to fragrance, try smelling this one at Ulta before you commit).


3 heartYou know you have dry skin when applying face cream is the best feeling ever. I switch to a thicker, more hydrating moisturizer in the winter, particularly for nighttime. I’ve been enjoying the Origins Night-A-Mins. It has exactly the texture and hydration that I was looking for – it’s ultra rich and creamy. But it does have kind of a strong citrus scent. If you prefer using something fragrance free, I highly recommend the brand Paula’s Choice – they have something for every skin type, too.

The Relaxation

Now that we have the essentials covered, let’s get into some relaxation. The days are shorter, the skies are gray and gloomy, and we can get into a slump after the excitement of the holidays passes. Little acts of self-care make such a big difference for me when I’m feeling down or am just worn out from work.


1 heartI’m in favor of having a mug of hot tea on me at all times in the winter. I kind of agree with Sheldon that getting a hot beverage in your hands should be the first step when you’re upset. 🙂



2 heartNothing sets the mood for a relaxing evening like lighting a favorite candle. I’m still burning my Bath and Body Works candles from their fall collection. I think Marshmallow Fireside is the definition of cozy in a scent. (I’m thinking about getting some more wintery scents. If you know of any good ones, let me know!)



3 heartFor my Wisconsin folks: when you’ve been outside in freezing weather, and you feel cold down to your bones, the only way to warm up is with a hot shower or bath. Try turning it into a pampering experience: add a few drops of essential oil into your bath, treat your hair with a conditioning mask, or light a candle to help you unwind while the feeling returns to your toes.

I hope this post inspires you to indulge in some self-care and make the most of your extra time indoors this winter.


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The Art of a Small Wardrobe

When I get ready for work in the morning, I seem to spend a solid 5 minutes standing in the closet staring at my clothes. This can partially be attributed to the fact that I’m not, and never will be, a morning person. Plus I’m in partial darkness, trying not to wake up B. But I am also sifting through so much clothing that’s out of season, that I don’t know what to pair with, or that I just don’t love.

So now I’m attempting to take on my wardrobe and make it smaller, more efficient, and more loved. I want to be able to easily put together an outfit at 7am with minimal thought.

Continue reading “The Art of a Small Wardrobe”

On Blogging

When I go to a blog and see several posts in a row apologizing for the writer’s long absence, I tend to close the tab. I like the bloggers that I follow to upload content regularly. I know, what a hypocrite, right? It’s easy for me to say that I don’t need to be consistent when my only readers are family members (hey Lindy!). They tend to be pretty forgiving. But if I’m going to come back to this blog in a real way, I want to do it right. And that means making a few changes around here.

So here are some ideas/thoughts I have for my little corner of the internet. I might as well post them here instead of on a personal Google Doc, in the interest of holding myself accountable:

  1. I need to hold myself to a regular (but achievable) posting schedule.
  2. I want to have a broader scope, so even when I’m not baking every weekend, I can still blog.
  3. I never really figured out how blogging would fit into my life after undergrad. Deciding to have a broader scope helps, but I need to do some real exploration to figure out what my point of view is going to be.
  4. I’m toying with the idea of incorporating some video content. I’ve recently become obsessed inspired by several YouTube beauty/lifestyle vloggers, and I’ve gone back and forth on the idea of creating some videos of my own.
  5. I might need to accept a bit more vulnerability. Being on the internet, especially if I’m talking about more than just baking, means putting myself out there. It means trusting myself and being comfortable with family, friends, and strangers learning things about me, making their own assumptions, and passing judgement. It means being secure in who I am and what I decide to make public about my life.

I guess that’s all for now. Let me know what you think (that means you, Lindy 😉). I’ll let you know what I come up with as I try to figure out what the future of Recipes On My Nightstand looks like.

With love,


Letting go

[Disclaimer: I wrote this a couple months ago. I don’t know if it’s still relevant to me, but maybe it will be relevant to someone. I apologize for posting a summer recipe in the first days of fall. But this recipe is a keeper – if you find yourself with some juicy berries or ripe stone fruits, give it a whirl.]


I noticed that when I’m knitting, I make a lot of unnecessary movements with my hands – holding the yarn in place, trying to ensure that it doesn’t slip off the needle. I’m trying to be aware when I can let a little something go. It’s amazing what a difference these tiny adjustments can make.

I’m thinking a lot about letting go these days. Lots of changes in my life means working hard to remember that change doesn’t have to mean losing something. Every experience remains a part of your story. I don’t need to clench my fists tight around the past in order to keep it with me.

Sometimes in a yoga class, Continue reading “Letting go”

Pear Day!

To round out a series of family posts, I have to share the story of pear day. My family from California was in town for one extra day past the Bar Mitzvah, and we had ourselves an adventure.

News got out about a house near my grandpa’s with a seemingly abandoned pear tree bursting with fruit….well, that could not go ignored. My Aunt Ellen Kay, who has 50 fruit trees of her own in her backyard in California, does not do things in moderation. And she does not allow good (free) food to go to waste. We schemed, we planned, and the Sunday after my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah was designated “Pear Day.”

Now look at this tree – how could we resist?


Don’t worry – we were good law-abiding citizens, and we asked the woman for permission. Luckily she said yes, and we came back with a bushel and a picking crew.


Was I embarrassed, parked outside a suburban home with my aunt, uncle, cousin, and mother, holding a plastic bag and picking for salvageable pears off the ground, getting rotten pear gunk all over my shoes? Not one bit.

Continue reading “Pear Day!”

Tossing and Turning

Sometimes when I can’t fall asleep I plan baking projects. I fantasize about combinations of cupcakes and frostings and fillings; I create fruity tarts and crisps in my mind; I plan what I’d like to have on the counter or in the freezer for breakfast this week. Yes, it’s a little dorky, okay? I’m putting myself out there, you guys. I could also tell you that I spent far too long happily browsing an online store of baking/kitchen supplies the other day, like, for fun. Is that too much information? I hope you still like me….

Well, tonight that is not what I’m thinking about. Tonight I’m thinking about moving. Not fun at all. Especially if you live in Madison, where the entire city has to move out on the 14th of August, and can’t move into new apartments until the 15th. As you’d expect, it causes some problems. There’s still a week before move-in day, and it already feels exhausting.

Although I’m pretty settled at a temporary place until the big moving weekend, everything feels transitional right now. Friends are still out of town or in the process of moving, my sister’s moving out of her much beloved apartment and planning a huge trip, and I have been trying to figure out how I’ll manage all the logistics of move-out and in. It all just makes me feel very unsettled. Which is why I am up blogging in the middle of the night, after laying awake in bed for hours.

Continue reading “Tossing and Turning”