BTS: MY NEW OBSESSION

If you’re an email subscriber, you’ve long known the ins and outs of this song, receiving exclusive access in a three-part “behind-the-scenes” series… but for all the rest of you, I want to give you a little more insight into this song. So, here’s a (condensed) version of the making of my latest single, ‘My New Obsession’ - available to stream everywhere.

PART 1:

I spend anywhere from 4-6 hours a day (on average) writing. I don’t always write the same way. Sometimes I’ll come up with a catchy melody, other times I’ll have a lyrics, or a concept in mind. ‘My New Obsession’ started as a concept.  

Those who know me know that I have an addictive personality of sorts, so once I decide to set my sights on a goal, I won’t stop until I achieve it... and I always love a challenge.

This whole idea is what inspired the concept behind ‘My New Obsession’, hence the title. I wanted the song to focus on my relationships, flings, and fascinations. Whether they passing fancies, or year(s) long, I tend to zero in on people I have interest in and subconsciously block anyone else out. It’s not something I am proud of doing, but it’s just the way I have always been.

I was telling my friend about my latest interest at the time, and how I had succeeded in my ‘quest’ (aka there was a guy I had been into, and I had finally captured his attention), and she referred to me as “an assassin”. Like an assassin setting their sights on their victims, and then executing accordingly... and after that conversation, all of the lyrics came into view. 

 “You’re my new obsession baby, one look would drive me crazy. There’s no way that I can shake it - I want you bad. I’ve got a confession baby, I’ve been an assassin lately. Target acquired - my new desire - and I just wont stop.”

PART 2:

Simon Cohen is a gifted producer out of Australia, and is known in the music industry as one of the best vocal producers in the game. His repertoire includes names like Justin Bieber, will.i.am, Wanya Morris (Boyz II Men)... and that's just to name a few. Lucky for me, my manager, Chris Sobonya, has a great working relationship with Simon and his studio down under.

Before we decided which track we were going to work on, I made rough demo versions of three songs - each with very different vibes. After my manager heard the tracks, he knew Simon would be the perfect fit to bring my visions to life. 

Simon and I had our first Skype session the following week where we went over the demo tracks and brainstormed ideas. I had 5 inspiration tracks prepared for each song. One drew inspiration from artists like Lauv, Selena Gomez, Lost Kings, Sigala... more along the Pop/EDM lines and similar to my first two releases, 'Over You' and 'Games'. The other was something new for me, and I was really inspired by artists like Bishop Briggs, BANKS, Nina Nesbitt, Halsey... a little sexier, more raw, and grungy.  

What it came down to was Simon asking me a simple question: "Which one feels more you?" I thought a lot about how I'd want to position "Rachel Shaps" going forward - how I'd want to present her to the music industry as an artist to keep her true to herself and her style. It became oh-so-blindingly clear... and the rebranding was born.

"Rachel Shaps" became, what I like to consider, a badass. 

'My New Obsession' was raunchy, sultry, and sparked a fire inside me every time I heard it. I still wanted heavy electronic bass elements to be a part of it. I wanted it to shake the mirrors in my car and I wanted to feel the bass in my chest from my speakers or my headphones.

Simon sat with the track for a few weeks before sending me the first cut. I saw the email come in first thing in the morning on October 24th and my stomach dropped. I put my headphones in,  listened to it alone in my bed and cried. I was so f*cking obsessed with it (pun intended). From there, all that was left were small tweaks, an official vocal recording session and the song was virtually done.

It's taken me a long time to find "the song" - the one that reminded me how much I love making music, the one that felt the most me, and the one I felt most proud to share.

PART 3:

Once Simon and I started working together and he had a pretty clear idea of what I was looking for, it was a waiting game. I know I mentioned that when he sent me the first cut of what he'd been working on, I cried because I loved it. That was true, but there was still a long way to go before it was complete.

For starters, Simon was working with a very rough demo version I had recorded and produced in my bedroom. I'd recorded my vocals sitting on my bed on a Blu Snowball mic, sung a melody and distorted it to sound like electric guitar, and added some half-ass drums and a grungy bass. I'm no producer, so this was a serious rookie attempt. 

Simon took my crazy demo and did some much needed surgery on it. He took my bedroom vocals, my backing melody, and made magic. He turned it into a Soul/Pop electronic power house with a gospel break and so much edge. I don't even know how else to describe it... but it made me feel things I didn't know I could feel about my own music. 

Once the track was "mostly" finished, all we needed to complete it was the final vocals. We were able to get the vocals done in one take, which was amazing. I worked with one of my new favorite sound engineers, Tom Stewart, and producer Ethan Isaac. You know when you're in a room with people you just really vibe with? That's how this was. It was like a big brainstorming session - bouncing ideas off of each other - so much creativity in one room, and it was so inspiring.

After the session, we sent off all the vocal stems to Simon in Australia and again, just a waiting game... and boy, it was worth the wait. When I got the first draft of the final track back, my manager and I only had three notes: to pull the harmonies back slightly, to boost the volume of the ad libs in the bridge and final chorus, and to boost the lead vocal 5% throughout. The next day, we had the final track and it was perfect. Well... as "perfect" as perfect can be. 

Once the song is finalized and approved, all that is left is the mastering. That's where Leon Zervos, Chief Marketing Engineer at Studios 301, came in. Leon has mastered tracks from the likes of Maroon 5, NSYNC, and Troye Sivan, to name some of my favorites. And that was it. It was the final piece to the puzzle, and just like that - with the help of some amazing, creativespectacular people - I'd created what I consider, my real debut single. Not a knock on my previous singles, but this one was special. This one was me.

I couldn't have done it without this awesome team of people. A HUGE thank you to Simon Cohen for bringing this track to life and sending it above and beyond my expectations, my manager, Chris Sobonya, for always being my partner in crime and bringing me back down to Earth when I find myself in space, Ethan Isaac & Tom Stewart for bringing such creative and comforting energy to the studio, and Leon Zervos for giving this track its cherry on top and preparing it for the world to hear.

MY DAILY HEALTH & FITNESS ROUTINE

Hi everyone! I know it’s been a while since I’ve done a blog post. My goal is to start posting more consistently about my music and my life, etc. etc… HOWEVER, I’ve getting a lot of questions recently on Instagram about my health/fitness routine, so I thought I’d share it quickly right now.

I don’t weigh myself, but in the last 2 months, I’ve probably lost about 5lbs. I wasn’t really trying to lose weight, because I care more about how I look and feel than what my scale says, but working with a trainer and getting into a personalized fitness routine + eating well = it just happens. (Side note: When I say I’ve probably lost about 5lbs, remember that MUSCLE weighs > FAT)

OK, SO… My trainer is a CrossFit trainer at OPEX Gold Coast. Her name is Julie Migliaccio, and she’s a BAD ASS. She writes me personalized CrossFit style workouts, and I do those 3x a week. If you’re unfamiliar with CrossFit, it’s defined as “a high-intensity fitness program incorporating elements from several sports and types of exercise,” according to Google. Here’s an example of a workout I did last week:

Warm-Up:

  1. 5 minutes on the bike

  2. 10 wall squats

  3. 90 second wall sit

A) Back Squat

  • Build to a challenging set of 10 @ 3-1-1 tempo (tempo: count to 3 on the way down, hold for 1, count 1 on the way up)

  • Set 1: 35lbs bar (no added weight)

  • Set 2: 45lbs

  • Set 3: 50lbs

  • Set 4: 55lbs

  • Set 5: 60lbs

B) 5 Sets: Pronated Pull Up Negative

  • 5 reps taking 4-5 seconds to lower down to full arm extension

  • Step on 24” box to start every rep with chin over the bar

  • Rest 60-90 seconds

C) 20 Minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible)

  1. 150 jump rope

  2. 8 burpees

  3. 150 meter row

  4. 8 dumbell thrusters - 20lbs/hand

  5. 15 Russian kettlebell swings 35lbs

  6. 8 ring rows

The hardest part about this workout was the Pronated Pull Up Negatives… trust me, they suck. So that’s an example of how my workouts are laid out with my trainer, and on my off days, I’ll do cardio or yoga. Now onto food…

My diet focuses on protein, healthy fats, veggies and fiber, which you should have in every meal. I try to avoid refined carbohydrates (breads or processed carbs) and sugar (desserts, artificial sweeteners). I don’t avoid dairy, but I try to limit it just because it causes natural bloating, but don’t be afraid of it because it literally has no sugar, and no carbs - all protein & fat. [IMPORTANT: I do NOT consume any reduced, 2% or 0% fat dairy products. What that means is that the naturally occurring fat in dairy is removed and replaced with chemicals and sugar and is actually proven to cause weight gain. If you don’t believe me, do a little research on your own.]

I have essentially had the same breakfast every morning for the past 3 months with slight alterations, but I truly love it so much and find it so delicious that I could have it for the rest of my life. I do 2 eggs scrambled with spinach (just cooked in a little olive oil) and a side of either turkey bacon (there’s also nothing wrong with regular bacon, I just happen to love turkey bacon) or prosciutto (which is such a delicious healthy snack, by the way) and some avocado. If I’ve just done a high intensity or cardio workout, I might throw in a piece of Ezekiel toast, or a Pagel, because they burn off so quickly and are rich in fiber. Occasionally I’ll do other variations of the eggs as either an omelette (and add roasted tomatoes or whatever other veggies I have around), or served over easy/fried. I’ve also been loving the @bewellbykelly (Kelly LeVeque) FAB 4 smoothie as a breakfast substitute once or twice a week. Fun fact: Jennifer Garner has this smoothie for breakfast every morning.

Next up, lunch! For lunch I have a few more options, but again the main focus is those 4 elements: protein, healthy fat, veggies, and fiber. Here are a few of my go-to’s:

  1. A salad with protein (grilled chicken, shrimp, salmon, or steak) - my favorite is a kale salad with light balsamic base dressing

  2. Sushi with no rice, or white rice (because it burns off faster than brown rice)

  3. Chicken or tuna salad

  4. Buddha bowl (with quinoa, avocado, spinach, soft egg, etc.)

  5. Sweet potato + hard boiled egg + butter mashed

  6. Chicken & veggie kabobs

  7. Turkey wrap with veggies & honey mustard

And finally, dinner… My dinner and lunch options are pretty similar, but there are some things I get for dinner that I never get for lunch. I’ve been really into Thai food lately, and my new favorite low-cal Thai dish is Green Curry with Shrimp! It’s delicious by itself, but if you pour it over coconut sticky rice it’s UNREAL. I also love something simple like a steak or grilled chicken and a side of veggies (carrots, sweet potato, green beans, asparagus, etc.) or salmon cooked with lemon and butter.

By the way, just because this is my typical/ideal diet doesn’t mean that I don’t have cheat meals or snacks once in a while. I’m 23, and work out a lot, so I will still eat pasta, and pizza, and have a bite of dessert or sweets occasionally.

If you only have one take away from this, remember that ultimately LIFE IS ABOUT BALANCE. You shouldn’t deprive yourself OR beat yourself up if you slip up… That slice of pizza, that fried chicken sandwich, that chocolate lava cake… at the end of the day isn’t going to make a difference, and tomorrow is a new day. “So live your live!” - Rihanna

WHITER TEETH IN 10 MINUTES (VIDEO: HiSmile)

Ok, so if you're like me and have super sensitive teeth, you've probably tried every whitening strip under the sun and ended up in searing pain. I ultimately had to cave and splurge for the fancy toothpastes and follow the FDA approved (totally made that up... although mouthwash does have alcohol in it...) guidelines for brushing. Anyway, I was so thrilled when HiSmile got in touch with me because I had seen their product all over Instagram. Obviously, it's important to be weary of products on Instagram, because it can create a false sense of reality, but in any case I was excited to test it out. Their big "tagline" so-to-speak is "Whiter Teeth in 10 Minutes", so I decided to test it out amidst my day-to-day activities I know only take me 10 minutes... for example, doing my hair!

The results pretty much speak for themselves! You can get more information about HiSmile's products on their website

P.S. Yes, I use a straightener to curl & straighten my hair. This one is the Remington 1" Pearl Pro Ceramic Flat Iron.

Χoxo

Rachel

BTS: UNAPOLOGETIC

I'm going to start doing features about the "Behind The Scenes" in making my songs. Something I have prided myself on is being able to write from a real place based on real experiences, and my goal has always been to turn that into something people can relate to. Whether it pertains to relationships, life, professional or personal goals, I wanted people to listen and feel a chord struck.

"Unapologetic", which will be released on April 6th, 2018, is one of my favorites I have ever written. It is probably the only successful song I have written that was not about or inspired by another person - this one I wrote purely for me. The idea behind "Unapologetic" came while riding the bus in Chicago back to my apartment after work. I was so exhausted and fed up with living each unfulfilled day over and over again - never moving forward, and not doing what I loved. All I thought about writing, recording, and performing... traveling, experiencing, and living... and I simply wasn't doing that. I didn't blame my job, or my coworkers - I blamed the fact that when I chose that path, I was in a completely different headspace. I wasn't ready to give up messing around, being a kid... and not that I grew into an adult overnight, because I definitely haven't... but I decided that I was done living the 4 years I lived in college on repeat, and doing a job I wasn't passionate about just to be able to pay my rent and go to happy hours with my buddies. 

I was sitting on the bus in sub-zero degree weather, but my skin was burning and my face was hot. I was seconds away from bursting into tears and feeling sorry for myself, but instead, I took a deep breath, turned up my music, whipped out my Notes app on my phone and just started typing. They weren't lyrics, it wasn't a poem, it wasn't meant to rhyme, and it wasn't even long... but it was everything I was feeling. 

This was the note:

I stared at that note all night... occasionally adding words here and there... until finally I fell asleep, after reading it over and over again, with my phone in my hand.

It was then that I started seriously reconsidering my path, and two weeks later, I quit my job.

I’ll never apologize for chasing all I’ve ever wanted. I’d rather go down in flames than play it safe and end up haunted.

From that note, the idea for "Unapologetic" grew. I wanted to write a song about how it doesn't matter what people think; what's important is to be yourself and stay true to what you believe. It felt very relevant, not only to me, but it mirrored so much of what's been happening in our world - various sociopolitical movements and otherwise. It felt like the perfect time for what I viewed as an anthem to myself and all people. 

It was the first time I've written a song after titling it. Usually what I write as the hook becomes the title naturally, so that was a personal challenge, but it came together beautifully. It's different than the other songs I've released. It's much more of a piano ballad, which is traditionally what I have always written, so it was exciting for me to get back to my roots. However, elements on the electronic-based songs I've released still snuck their way in there. You always run the risk of losing your audience when you change styles, but I'm hoping this song speaks to people in a different way and shows a more raw, emotional side of my songwriting and my person. 

They may call me pathetic but they don’t understand, I’m unapologetic about who I am.

"Unapologetic" will be released as a single on April 6, 2018.

SPRING HEALTH HACKS

Written By Callie Rather

Hey guys, I am so excited to have my first ever featured guest writer do a piece for my blog! She's one of my dearest and most knowledgeable friends, and I've asked her to write about what she knows best - FOOD. Her name is Callie Rather and she is my friend and go-to resource with any health, nutrition, and food questions. She has done so much research to understand how certain foods effect our bodies and why, and has become somewhat of an expert. So, without further ado... 

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People say I’m the biggest contradiction. I am obsessed with health and the body yet would eat a hotdog and fries any chance I got. The key as always is moderation and for me, taking the time to do the little things to care for my body and my gut so it is better equipped for when I do eat that hotdog and fries. I wanted to write today about some fairly simple hacks as I like to call them to start improving your body’s ability to function from the inside out. For starters studies have shown significant benefits when following an intermittent fasting schedule. Try eating for 8 or 9 hours a day and fasting the other 16 or 17. This includes sugars or creamers in your coffee. So if you can’t drink black coffee and even if you can, I would recommend bulletproof coffee to start your morning. This doesn’t start your “eating” hours as sugar or cream would. It has no sugars or carbs and in fact dumps more ketones into your system adding to those already produced from your fasting period. Talk about focus! Outside of that some basic rules to live by are avoid sugar as much as you can and eat more FAT. The easiest things to cut out are sugars you may not even know are in drinks or meal bars that present themselves as healthy. This includes juices. When you juice a fruit you take away all the fibers that are meant to fill you up and you’re left with the sugar of more fruits than you could comfortably normally consume whole. Another thing people are less aware of is how good fats are for you. They fill your belly (in a good way), they feed your brain, and they’re good for your heart. “Fat burns fat, sugar makes you fat” easy way to remember what snack to turn to when your afternoon hunger strikes. Below I list some of the best nutrients to add to your everyday routine. But lastly on rules to live by don’t stress about that not so great meal you ate. The stress will only hurt your body more. Just move forward, go for a walk, break a sweat, and eat something that makes you feel good about yourself next. 

Whole Foods. Sleep. Water. Gut Health.

Chia Seeds - great source of omega 3, protein, potassium, iron, fiber, antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium. 

Add to water along with something as simple as just lemon or you can add mint, a few frozen fruit, let sit for a few minutes or a few hours and you will be pleasantly surprised with what a delicious and nutritious difference it makes.  

ACV - Apple Cider Vinegar (Braggs with the mother)- ACV has so many benefits I couldn’t begin to list them all. Aides in weight loss, detoxing your liver, help balancing blood sugar, and promoting healthy bacteria in your gut to name a few (I highly encourage you to look them all up). 

You can add it to so many recipes along with just consuming it in a drink every morning. I know “shots” of ACV has become a trend, me myself once falling into that trap. But by not diluting it you could be doing as much harm as good especially to your enamel. So just add it to about a cup of water you can do warm or cold, add lemon or lime, add ginger or turmeric, you can experiment and find which flavors you enjoy most. I often sweeten mine with a few drops of liquid stevia. It makes it much more palatable. 

BPC - Bulletproof Coffee - this is my must have, powerhouse of a coffee. Filled with clean coffee, fats, and ketones you get all the fats and energy you need to feed your body and brain for the first half of your day. I’m not going to write anything more about this because it is so great you all need to read about it first hand over on bulletproof.com.

Bone Broth - bone broth is filled with collagen and other nutrients and minerals that are incredibly healing for the body, in particular the gut. Whether you make your own or do some quick research on the best you can buy at your local grocery store, it is an easy delicious way to upgrade your body every day. 

I warm a cup on the stove, add grass fed butter or ghee, pink Himalayan salt, and blend it. Again, this is something you can have fun with adding different spices and making it your own.

Collagen - collagen is a great source of protein and essential amino acids. It helps support healthy bones, joints, gut and something we all love to hear, it supports healthier hair, skin and nails.

You can buy many kinds of collagen, the one I have dissolves in hot and cold liquids. I do so many things with it since it is flavorless. You can add to your coffee, teas, greens drink, the options are endless. Again such an easy way to show your body a little love.

Greens Powder - this one is easy - I personally use Amazing Grass, but find any green supplement in powder or pill form with whole ingredients and no sugars. We all could use more greens everyday :). 

Dandelion Root Tea - this is a great tea for cleaning and detoxing your insides which allows your body to run as it was intended to, it really is like a machine. I drink this in the morning, at night, warm and cold and usually add lemon. It’s a harsh taste that could be compared to coffee. I have grown to love it and it is a staple in my life to help me de-bloat and clean up my body. 

I have read many articles and books and listen to podcast often on many things related to the body. I’ve tried numerous “hacks” and diets the hardest being quitting sugar for 6 month. I would suggest if this interest you to go to Dave Asprey's podcast as a beginning step. I started with his knowledge and drinking bulletproof coffee about 4 years ago so it’s my obvious starting point for others interested in learning more. His guest, many doctors, speak on everything from how sleep, thoughts, foods and fasting effect your body and mind. It is hard to fit everything into one or two conversations, it is an ever evolving learning process. I encourage anyone reading this to go out and do a little research on anything I talked about yourself and find what works best for your body and lifestyle. Everything is connected. Our bodies and minds are too valuable to blindly follow what we’ve heard or read once or what works for a friend or even what works for me. Research for yourself. Invest in your body and mind. It will be worth your time, I promise.

REVIEW: VEGI

Last week, I was gifted these two products from Vegi, a new skincare and beauty brand that uses all natural and edible ingredients. I can't say I took a taste, but there is something comforting about knowing that what I put on my body is safe for me to ingest. Why would we want to put anything toxic or full of chemicals on if it's dangerous for them to go in? I don't know, maybe it's just me.

So the two products I tried out were the To A Tea Face & Body Scrub, and the Pit Deep Conditioning Treatment.

I'll start by talking about the Pit Deep Conditioner. The ingredients are simply just avocado, soybean oil, agave nectar, and corn flour, and its goal is to repair and moisturize. I got in the shower, got my hair wet and then put this mask in starting from my scalp to my ends. I focused more on my ends than anything, since that's where the majority of damage is for me (split ends, dryness, etc.)  I kept the mask in while I washed my face & body... sang a few songs... etc. altogether for about 15 minutes. I rinsed it out and used my normal shampoo and conditioner. What I liked is that when I rinsed it out, my hair didn't feel super heavy, which is the problem I have with a lot of other masks. My hair is pretty thin and fine, so I typically like to use products that add volume or texture, so using masks or deep conditioners can sometimes weigh it down and take those away. This product, because of its all natural base, just rejuvenated the natural oils in my hair. [Reminder: This product must be kept refrigerated]

While I waited for my mask to soak in, I used the To A Tea Face & Body Scrub. It's only ingredients are sugar, coconut oil, and green tea leaves, which gave a subtle, but calming scent. It was a little messy, but my skin felt like a little baby's butt after. It did a great job of getting rid of any dead and dry skin, and leaving it radiant and glowy. This would be the perfect product to use before using a self tanner or getting a spray tan. Alternatively, it can be used like a bath treatment if you add a few teaspoons to your bath water. 

I'd definitely recommend trying these products out if you have sensitive skin that is easily irritated by chemicals in a lot of other skincare products. A little can go a long way, and that's how I felt about how the ingredients in these products... simple, yet producing great results. 

INTRODUCTION

I'll try and make this quick, but I'm not usually good at that... For those of you who don't know me, my name is Rachel. I'm from the NY/CT area (those of you from there get it), and I moved to Chicago after college in the Summer of 2017. I accepted a job working in an industry I knew nothing about in a city I thought I was meant to live in. I don't have any regrets in taking that job, or moving to that city, but both turned out not to be meant for me. 

Our priorities change as we grow up because our lives change - for better or for worse. And with those changes, we can start to feel like something that used to be insignificant is now our top concern. Our careers, our families, our significant others, even our own happiness... the order of importance can change depending on what is going on in our lives.

For me, my priority when I graduated was my friends. I didn't necessarily care what my job was, or what my apartment looked like, but I knew I wanted to be in Chicago because that is where my friends would be. I wanted it to feel like college wasn't completely over, and I was successful. I was seeing the same people I saw everyday for four years every weekend, doing the same dumb, college-kid stuff we did. The only difference was that now, it was in a new place, and on less weekdays. None of us loved (or even liked) our jobs, it was just a means to an end so we could pay our rent and buy drinks at the bar. 

One new thing I did do was start releasing my music (with some help). I've been writing and recording songs since I was in middle school. Creating music had always been my greatest passion and favorite hobby, and like every little kid, I dreamed about being a Pop Star when I grew up. But, as my Dad always said, I had to be realistic and practical so that I had a plan B to fall back on if things didn't work out. After all, the entertainment industry is so competitive, and while social media makes it easier to be heard, it also makes it harder to stand out. For the first time in my life, though, I felt like I had some momentum. I was getting great feedback on my music and thoroughly exceeding my expectations for performance on streaming platforms, Spotify and Apple Music. Without noticing, my priorities shifted coming off the high of releasing my first two singles. Music quickly became my new #1. 

It's not that there isn't a music scene in Chicago, or that plenty of successful talent hasn't come out of this city, but I had a gut feeling it wasn't for me. What I was looking to do and to make wasn't here. It was then that I started resenting my job, because all I wanted to do was spend 100% of my time making music, recording, networking, performing... and resenting Chicago, because I felt like I was trapped, and like I wasn't growing at all. I felt unfulfilled, and I realized that there was something so important that I was missing - something that I neglected to make a priority - my happiness

Ok I promise, I'm almost done. so, I quit my job. It was completely spontaneous, and while I knew I didn't see myself working there long-term, I definitely didn't see it coming. Another priority shift, yes. Tied for first place alongside music, as of last week, became family. Not that my family hasn't been a priority, but I realized all of the things I was missing. Good and bad, big and small, and that is officially when I realized that nothing was holding me here - to Chicago, to my job - i needed to be home. I needed to focus on what made me happy. 

I have had the pleasure of meeting some amazing people - people I will be friends with for the rest of my life, people who have taught me things about myself I never knew, and people who supported me, and inspired me to follow my dreams. I am so excited to officially begin my next chapter - focusing on following my heart, chasing my dreams, and being with family. 

I know I'm not an expert, but I encourage everyone with a dream to take the leap. The worst thing that can happen is that it doesn't work out. worse than that would be to look back and ask yourself what could have been if you had at least tried. Taking risks is the one of the most important things we can do in life. Without taking them, we cannot grow, and we may miss out on amazing experiences. 

xo,

Rachel

TODAY'S AMAZON DELIVERY

I am absolutely addicted to shopping on Amazon. Every week, I'll have one day where a bunch of random Amazon boxes arrive at my door and its always the most eclectic mix of things. I thought I'd share my most recent purchases and the benefits behind each of these products.  

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I'll start in order from left to right... First up, is the Hairgenics Lavish Lash – Eyelash Growth Enhancer & Brow Serum. I don't have thin, light, or short lashes, but there's nothing wrong with a little boost anyway. I did some research about the best lash/brow growth and boosting serums, and saw rave reviews across the board about this one. I am So excited to give it a try (before and after pics to come)! Next up is my favorite concealer that I've used for about 3 years now. It's the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla. Like I said, I've used this product for a while, and I just haven't found another concealer that has as good of coverage without looking cakey or coming off throughout the day. The natural oils in our skin along with our everyday activities can make our makeup slide off, crease, or fade, and I really never have that problem with this product. The vanilla tone is lighter than my face/foundation, so it adds a nice highlight to offset any darkness underneath my eyes. I also use it lightly over any blemishes, redness, or dark spots if necessary. Next is the product I am most excited about... the Mario Badescu Cleansing Milk with Carnation & Rice Oil. I love Mario Badescu's products. I've being using the floral spray and collagen mask religiously, so I figured I would give this cleansing milk a try. Cleansing milk's are so much gentler and less stripping than other cleansers or exfoliants. I have really sensitive skin, so the gentler the better. for young skin especially, it's so important not to strip our skin of the oils it naturally produces, because it's harder for our skin to regenerate them later in life. (Non-Pro Tip: It's also best to use alcohol-free toners for the same reason)! Side note: I'll be posting a review of this cleanser vs. the Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser that I've been using for the past month soon, too. The next product is one I probably should have bought a long time ago, but better late than never! It's the URPOWER Essential Oil Diffuser/Cool Mist Humidifier and the Aromatherapy Oils 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade Basic Essential Oils Set. I have combination skin, not overly oily or dry, but when it's 7ºF (feels like -10ºF with windchill) and you're traveling, (planes are super drying for your skin, which is why its so important to drink plenty of water while traveling!) my skin can get really dry and flaky. Even with the heat on and with as many moisturizers as I can get my hands on, the air is still so drying even inside my apartment. I read amazing reviews about this product helping to add some much-needed moisture back into the air, so really excited to see how my skin, hair, breathing, etc. improves with it. Last up isn't super exciting, but I felt like it was worth talking about. It's L-Lysine which I try to take pretty regularly, but especially when I feel like I'm getting sick or under the weather. Any brand will do, I just happened to purchase the Pure Encapsulations one this time. Lysine has so many health benefits, but to make it short and sweet, It's a natural, essential amino acid that's just really great for your immune system. 

[If you want to find out more information about any of these products, or purchase them yourself, just click on the product tags!]

HASH IT OUT

So I have recently discovered my new favorite sweet potato hash recipe (through trial and major error), that is so unbelievably delicious, I had to share. It's the perfect, healthy winter breakfast (or dinner, if you're like me). I am by no means a good cook - I'm probably intermediate at best - so if I can make this dish this delicious, then I promise it's super easy. 

Ingredients: 

  1. 1 Sweet Potato (cut into 1"-ish chunks)
  2. 5 strips of cooked Bacon (cut into bits however big or small ya like)
  3. Carrots (diced)
  4. Bell peppers (I used red and yellow - no measurements, just eye balled how much I wanted, and diced up)
  5. 2 Eggs 
  6. 1 Tsp (probably) of minced Garlic
  7. 1 Tbsp (or to taste) Onion Power (or real onions if you're a bad ass)
  8. 1/2 Cado (Avocado)
  9. Salt & Peppa (to taste, I guess)
  10. Fresh chopped Parsley
  11. Grass-fed Butter OR Ghee Butter (Clarified butter - Paleo compliant)

Steps:

  1. Set Oven to Broil (or 400ºF).
  2. Start by boiling half a medium-sized pot of water. Salt the water, and add the chunks of sweet potato. Once water is at a rapid boil, bring it down to a simmer and cook covered for 10-12 minutes (until tender, but not squishy). Once tender, drain all the water from the sweet potato and set aside. 
  3. While your sweet potatoes are cooking, cook the bacon in a pan until crisped on both sides. Discard excess bacon grease, but keep the pan... it'll add some flavor to the veggies. Once bacon cools, chop it up into little bits (not too small).
  4. Chop up your veggies, and cook them in the bacon pan. Add the garlic and onion powder, and a little salt & pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes (or until veggies get soft). Set aside. 
  5. In a large oven-safe pan, melt butter (or ghee). Once the butter is melted and spread evenly, add the sweet potato and form one layer (so all pieces get cooked evenly). Cook for 3 minutes, and try to flip sweet potato pieces without smashing them. I use a spatula to flip, but whatever you find easiest. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Do that flip again one or two more times (until all pieces have been cooked on each side).
  6. Add veggies and bacon to your sweet potato pan. Mix around so everything is pretty evenly distributed. Cook for 2-3 more minutes. 
  7. Form two holes for the eggs. Add eggs in the holes, transfer to oven and let broil for 3-5 minutes (depending on how runny you want your eggs, and how hot your oven gets). I usually stay closer to 3 minutes, because my oven gets hot and I like my eggs oooozy. Remove pan, and salt & pepper to taste. 
  8. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and some avocado slices, and you're ready to SERVE!

I hope you guys try this recipe out, and let me know how it is!

 Bon Appetit! 

ENDLESS SUMMER

I hate looking in the mirror in the dead of winter feeling so gross and pale, but not as much as I hate paying for spray tans that stain your sheets and make you smell. There's plenty of self-tanning products out there that can help combat your winter ghost, and I thought I'd share my favorites.

MY GO-TO SKINCARE PRODUCTS

I've been really in to trying out new skincare products lately. I have very fair and sensitive skin, so I've done my fair share of research to find brands and products without harsh chemicals and have found myself most drawn to the following products. 

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MY EVERYDAY MAKEUP

I've been asked many times about my everyday makeup routine, and it's honestly really simple. I have been doing the same basic routine (with the exception of a few minor product changes) for the past 4 years, and have tried many different products since, but I always find myself reverting back to the same iconic favorites.