This is the first year that I haven’t moved apartments since 2013, so naturally most of my life-changing purchases have centered around making my Los Angeles rental feel more like my home. When I'm not home, I’m putting my money toward purchases that prioritize travel and shared experiences with my fiancé. Here are all the products, for both home and abroad, that have changed my life dramatically:
1. A Consistent Skincare Routine: Since my skin has never had any major issues, I've spent years doing the bare minimum to it. These days, I'm actively trying to treat my skin better so that it continues to not have issues in the longterm. Although I'm product-obsessed and am always willing to try something new, I try to stick with this exact combination of skincare products before bed since it consistently gives me a glowy, dewy complexion, regardless of weather or season.
First, I remove my makeup with Garnier Micellar Water or Glossier Milky Oil then wash my face with Glossier Milky Jelly. Twice a week, I alternate exfoliating with the Joanna Vargas Exfoliating Mask (it has such an amazing citrus smell, I know I'll be using it all summer) and the Caudalie Glycolic Peel. Next, I soak a cotton round in Mario Badescu's Glycolic Acid Toner, apply it all over my face, and allow it to dry before putting on The Ordinary's Hyaluronic Acid. I apply my Avene Extremely Rich Cream over this, top with Tatcha's Violet-C Serum, and apply Homeoplasmine to my lips. As someone with dry/normal skin, this routine only takes around eight minutes to complete and improves everything from my makeup application to under-eye darkness.
2. Moccamaster: Before I met my fiancé, I knew relatively little about coffee. I knew I liked it when I was tired, but that's about it. When we moved to L.A., we gifted ourselves this coffee maker (after thorough research by Rob). It felt so extravagant at the time, but we knew that we'd use it every single day. The design is very Scandanavian-minimalist, and the coffee is unbelievably good even with our Trader Joe's grounds.
3. Saint Laurent Bag: I've always lusted after bags, and, for years, I was the victim of fast fashion—purchasing cheap bags that fit the current trends. The costs added up quickly. After receiving my first work bonus, I decided to treat myself to this Saint Laurent Wallet Bag. Honestly, I felt so guilty about it—it was hard for me to justify the price tag at the time. Fast-forward a year, and this is the only bag I use to go out. I haven't indulged in any "cheap fix" bags, and I look back at my purchase incredibly proud of what it represents.
4. Le Creuset Dutch Oven and Braiser: I cook constantly, to the point that the theme song to The Barefoot Contessa should probably be the first dance at my wedding. Most of the recipes I make are one-pot recipes that evoke the French country charm I've chased since living in Paris years ago. To buy these pots at a price I could stomach, I found a Le Creuset Outlet (yes, they have those) and settled on Marseille blue—the perfect color for my bohemian/French/Angeleno kitchen.
5. Heys Marble Carry-On: Traveling is one of my greatest passions in life. I've been fortunate enough to travel to almost 30 countries by the age of 23, and a lot of my frequent travel has been due to my saving hacks. I'll fly at inconvenient, ungodly hours, and I never check a bag. That's where this killer carry-on fits in. It's marble-patterned and can easily hold enough clothes for two weeks. I'm an over-packer and still always have room for everything I buy while on the trip. I'm currently eyeing an Away suitcase, but this one is just too good to update.
6. AMC Movie Membership: I've loved movies since I was a kid and being with someone who's in film school has only augmented this. For Valentine's Day, I decided to give Rob the AMC movie membership. Now, we can see up to three movies a week for just 18 dollars a month. It was a game changer during awards season.
7. KitchenAid Stand Mixer: Over the years, I've gotten more and more into baking, and this item felt like an essential for some of the complicated recipes in my favorite cookbooks (Bestia, A Kitchen in France, Baking at Republique, Dining In). Whether I'm making bread or desserts for a dinner party, it's been such a reliable, trusty device that cuts down on mixing time and looks chic on my kitchen counter.
8. My Travel Shortcuts: The best thing I ever did for myself in terms of traveling was signing up for flight newsletters and actually learning how airline points work. With my go-to newsletter, I can carefully plan future travel. If a really good deal comes up, I quickly book it and figure out the Airbnb details later. Being more organized, and actually gathering airline points, has allowed me to travel much more frequently than before. My other amazing travel investment was TSA PreCheck, and I'm currently considering Clear and Global Entry. If I can make the travel process as streamlined as possible, I will max out every vacation day I have with trips.
9. Statement Art: Since I can remember, I've been collecting art from auctions and flea markets. Some of my pieces are even $5 vintage art exhibit posters I found on eBay then reframed for my apartment. My art has gone with me across the country and lived in three different states before finally becoming a part of my California home. It seems crazy to some, but having my art collection makes any new rental feel like my home, even when it's three-thousand miles away from family.
10. A Film Camera: Usually when I travel, I'm exclusively an iPhone photographer and VSCO editor. I liked the immediate satisfaction of deleting photos I didn't feel I looked good in and posting the ones I loved. On vacations as a couple, though, I've learned to love shooting on film. When we get back and have the photos developed, it's so special to see how they turned out, relive the day, and then put them in an album. It may be outdated, but I'm incredibly sentimental so it's absolutely my new favorite tradition.