Craving the Ultimate Reset? 20 Ways to Make the Most of the Final Week of the Year

I’ve heard it referred to as “dead week” or “Feral Week“—those final days of the year, for many, are considered a throwaway. Kids are home from school, and even those working take things at a slower pace. (Said differently: Don’t expect your Slack to get a response until 2024.) The vibes are relaxed and the pace is slow. But often, when things start up again come January 2, we wonder where the time went—and we regret not spending it more intentionally. So, if you’re wondering what to do with the Christmas-New Year’s week, stay with us. We have the inspiration you need.

It’s so easy to take the next few days as an excuse to zone out in front of your screen. And by all means, do what you need to without any guilt or shame. But rather than simply “filling” the time offered to us, take this as our invitation to reflect on what would feel most nourishing and energizing—and do exactly that.

Image by Jenn Rose Smith

How to Spend the Final Week of 2023 With Intention

While of course, I look forward to Christmas and New Year’s days themselves, it’s the days in between that I find myself counting down to. There’s something so sweet about the collective lull and our ability to step away from the busyness of it all. Suddenly, social media feels less important, and I find myself naturally gravitating toward relaxing activities. But… I also recognize this funny, Christmas-New Year’s final week of the year as an opportunity to reset. It’s a moment when I can reconnect with what’s important, and take those intentions with me into the year to come.

So whatever you’re looking for this week—whether it’s a jump-start on your 2024 fitness goals or a moment to realign—consider this your ultimate guide to spending the final week of the year with intention. Ahead, discover all you need to step into 2024 feeling your best.

Linen bedding.
Image by Jenn Rose Smith

If You’re Craving a Factory Reset

That’s right, it’s not just for your phone. Get inspired with these ideas for starting the new year fresh.

  1. Do a closet clean-out. It might just be the most satisfying way to spend a day (or several… ). Do a complete Kondo-style overhaul and sort through what you’ll keep, donate, and give to friends or family. Follow these five steps to curate a wardrobe you love.
  2. Make a vision board. It’s our favorite way to make our goals and intentions for the new year a reality. We share all the inspiration and guidance you need to make a vision board and pick up our Casa Zuma Vision Board Kit for an *aesthetic* helping hand.
  3. Update your skincare routine. Your medicine cabinet needs it. Consult with your aesthetician to discover the in-office treatments that fit your winter skin needs best. (Or, if you don’t already work with a professional, connect with one, stat.) From there, follow all the steps of a skincare reset. Trust us: it’s such a satisfying process.
  4. Sort through your bookshelf. Do you have books from the neighborhood lending library you’re never going to read? Or are there self-help titles just gathering dust? Determine what you’re looking forward to reading this year and get rid of the rest. Bonus: It’ll free up more space for all the new books you can’t wait to plow through. Get inspired with our editors’ favorite reads of 2023.
  5. Clean out your pantry. As soon as I get back from my holiday travels, this is the first to-do on my list. (Yes, even before I unpack my bag.) Donate what won’t get used, sort your spices, and purchase new organizing tools if necessary. Get inspired with Camille’s complete pantry clean-out.
  6. Overhaul your workspace. If you want to start the work year feeling inspired and energized, do this immediately. Get rid of files you don’t need, papers that can be recycled, and all the junk that tends to gather on our desks. The same goes for your digital workspace as well. I recently cleaned out my desktop folders and wow—my work routine has been transformed.
  7. Streamline your phone. This is surprisingly satisfying. Delete old apps you don’t use (or those you don’t want to use), create folders of similar apps, delete contacts and old text messages—all of it! Take this time to also opt out of any subscriptions you no longer use.
  8. Deep-clean your home. While many of these tasks are a part of cleaning your home, setting aside a few days to really overhaul your space is one of the best ways to spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Identify the areas you want to prioritize and make a plan for getting it done. New year, new sparkling-clean home.
  9. Commit to a sleep routine. In 2024, you will be the person who gets 7-8 hours of sleep. It makes such a difference in all areas of your life. Here’s how to start sleeping better tonight.
  10. Find a supportive morning ritual. If you find yourself waking up minutes before your first Zoom meeting, this is the best way to spend the days leading up to New Year’s. Get inspired with these morning routine ideas and dive deep into Camille’s step-by-step AM rituals.
Woman reading.

If You Need True Restorative Rest

Sometimes, the best way to truly experience a refresh is by giving yourself the time you need to rest. I tell everyone, but the most relaxing time of my life was post-freshman finals week, and I spent three days in my bed binge-watching Mad Men. By the time I was on season four, I decided I’d had enough—and I was able to step back into my life feeling completely reinvigorated.

11. Practice breathwork. Barre3 is my favorite fitness program and every workout ends with a few minutes of breathwork. It’s a wonderful way to calm your nervous system. And the beauty of it is that you can spend as much or as little time on it as you’d like—and you’ll still reap the benefits. We tapped a breathwork coach to learn everything about the practice, plus the best way to start.

12. Discover a restorative form of movement. PSA: Low-impact workouts are in for 2024 (and beyond!). Instead of going hard every day—and putting lots of stress on your body—at the gym or in the cycle studio, explore yoga, Pilates, strength conditioning, and more. The start of the year is the perfect time to connect with a workout that supports your individual needs and goals best.

13. Try sauna and cold plunge. Everyone’s doing it, and the benefits speak for themselves. Plenty of gyms offer saunas and cold plunges (for Chicago locals, the Kohler Waters Spa is my favorite). And while a cold plunge is inevitably colder, a cold shower can work in a pinch.

14. Binge-watch your favorite shows. Like my Mad Men story above, it’s unlikely that you’ll have a better time in 2024 to get caught up on your favorite shows. Anything to take your mind off the to-do lists you’ll return to in the new year is perfect.

15. Make crafts. Is there anything more gratifying than making something with your hands? These are our favorite DIY decor projects that range from beginner to seasoned maker. Or, if you’ve wanted to pick up knitting or crocheting, dive deep into YouTube tutorials to get started. It’s my favorite activity to pair with a reality show marathon (see above).

16. Connect with something you loved doing as a kid. Did you write plays in your free time? Scrapbook your heart out? Get creative in the kitchen? Whatever you loved doing as a child, set aside this time for doing that. Prioritizing more time for play can amplify our creativity and get us into a flow state. And if you’ve experienced it before, you know there’s no better feeling.

17. Try ‘parallel play’ with a friend or partner. While the term is traditionally used to describe how infants and toddlers play separately, but together, I like using it for my relationships as well. In practice, it looks like getting together with someone and spending time doing an activity on your own. You can be in the living room together, at a coffee shop—wherever! I love reading together, crafting together, and in truth, just scrolling through funny Reels.

18. Experiment with lymphatic massage. I am a huge proponent of the lymphatic drainage trend. Whether it’s doing facial gua sha, using your favorite tool at home, or doing an in-office treatment, lymphatic massage is a wonderful way to relax while also experiencing plenty of health and aesthetic benefits (i.e., boosted circulation, reduced inflammation, etc.).

19. Practice positive affirmations. The power of positive affirmations is real. And while it may seem awkward to say kind things to yourself out loud, the more you do it, the more you begin not only believing but embodying the truths you’re sharing with yourself. I love doing it in the morning as a part of my daily routine. It’s the ultimate energizing wake-up.

20. Commit to a journaling practice. As a previous journaling skeptic myself, I get it. Sitting down for at least 5-10 minutes with nothing but your thoughts can be boring at best and uncomfortable at worst. But by giving yourself the time to explore what’s going on in your life by putting pen to paper, you begin to see patterns in your thinking and can work out solutions on the page. For inspiration, check out Camille’s journaling practice, and try a guided journal for additional support.

7 Ways to Have an Anti-Hustle Holiday Season

The holidays are in full swing, and many of the conversations I’m having with friends are focused on racing to the end-of-the-year finish line—or the big changes they want to make once the new year hits. The overall tone is stressful and distracted from the present moment. I’ve been there—stretched so thin during the holidays with social and work commitments that I end up on the edge of burnout by January 1. But this year, I’m making a promise to myself: it’s time to have an anti-hustle holiday.

What exactly is that, you may ask? An anti-hustle holiday is one that goes against the many societal pressures we feel this time of year. The need to have a perfectly-decorated home, attend every party, and have a stream of freshly-baked holiday cookies emerging from the oven at all times. I’m choosing to say “no” to what doesn’t resonate—in turn, creating space for all the holiday magic I want to soak up.

How to Have an Anti-Hustle Holiday

Because IYKYK: when we experience holiday burnout, we quickly lose any momentum we had for our New Year’s goals. Then, before we know it: work and life pick back up, and we’re back on the hamster wheel once again.

So this year, let’s do it different. Rather than overcommitting during the holidays and focusing on everything we need to shift or change in 2024, it’s time to shift the focus. Instead, I’m thinking about how I want to feel in the last couple of weeks of the year: present, calm, and well-rested. I’m stepping into the season with this goal of an anti-hustle holiday guiding my way. To inspire your own merry and bright December, here’s everything I’m NOT going to do before the end of 2023.

1. Not Overcommitting to Dinners

I’m the worst offender here. The second November and December arrive, my festive brain kicks into overdrive. I want to get dressed up and spend all my time with friends and family. But before I know it, I have 3-4 dinners or social events lined up each week and I’m exhausted by mid-December.

This year, I’m committing to one ladies’ night of board games and a potluck in December. That gives everyone the opportunity to gather altogether and not have to plan one-off hangs. 

Brewing chai tea anti-hustle holiday.

2. Not Drinking During the Week

The party invites have been coming in hot since Halloween wrapped. While I won’t be saying yes to every single event, I would like to support my nearest and dearest if even for an hour. And as much as I love a glass of bubbles and a cheese tray while I’m dressed to the 9’s, I’m pumping the breaks and limiting my alcohol intake so I can feel fresh and rested. With the exception of a holiday dinner with my family, I’m cutting alcohol during the week. I always feel so better when I put some guardrails on my intake. (Psst… to still partake in the fun, these are our favorite non-alcoholic drinks.)

3. Not Leaving Myself off the Gift List

Otherwise said: I’m treating myself, because I had a YEAR. (We all did.) I traveled more than ever, experienced loss, health scares, and so many things in between. You know I believe in the importance of self-care, and for me that comes in the form of movement, therapy, rest, and plenty of laughter. But this year, I’m gifting myself a staycation and enjoying time alone to relax, have a great meal, and soak up a full spa day. I’m intentionally scheduling this before family arrives and I go into host-mode. There’s nothing that helps me feel more present and relaxed than an evening to myself.

Cinnamon rolls.

4. Not Going to Earn My Meals

I’m sure our resident nutritionist, Edie, would co-sign on this one. This isn’t so much a new move for me as it as a reminder that I don’t have to. I exercise because it makes me feel good and I want to be nimble, flexible, and strong throughout my lifetime. (Not because I’m going to have pumpkin pie one day of the year.) I hope to start my holidays the same way I enjoy starting every day—with a nice walk around the lake with my partner and or family by my side. 

I’ve been so present to the notion that we will never get the time back that is right in front of us. My family is coming to town and given I only see them given times a year, all my attention is going straight to them—not watching how other families are spending their time on social media. If you need help doing your own holiday social media detox, we share tips for spending time off your phone here.

Christmas decorated living room.

6. Not Scrambling to Have the Perfectly Decorated or Clean Place

Day 1 of hosting guests means my place is absolutely immaculate and clean. But as the week goes on and everyone lives in my place, it gets a bit disheveled. Rather than stress and constantly vacuum, sweep, and scrub, I’m just going to let it be “cleanish.” Or if I’m really stressed, I’ll hire a cleaning crew.

Rather than focus on the perfect tree with the perfect decor, I’m doing the bare minimum. And here’s the truth: I’m more than happy to spend my attention and time elsewhere.

7. Not Finding the Perfect Party Dress or Outfit

Truthfully, this is going to be so hard for me. I love showing up to an event with a brand-new outfit, but all I have to do is walk into my closet for that same feeling. I’m mindful of consumerism, especially during the holidays, and truly feel better when I invest in experiences vs. things. I’d rather not spend hours online finding the perfect one only to wear it twice and never again. A bit of a behavior shift, but the theme this holiday season is ease. (And if you’re looking for inspiration from the pieces you already own, just do a closet clean-out. It’ll completely change how you see your wardrobe.)

7 Ways to Cultivate Slower, More Mindful Mornings—For Parents and Kids

Mornings with kids can be quite challenging. If we’re honest, one of the things many of us (especially me) miss from our pre-parenting days is the peaceful, slow, and scheduled start to our mornings. It’s difficult to let go of our old routines and embrace the unpredictability of children’s sleep schedules and moods.

Featured image by Zachary Gray.

Image by Teal Thomsen

7 Ways to Cultivate Mindful Mornings With Kids

As we approach the holidays, when time seems to fly by even faster and stress seeps in, it’s the perfect moment to share ideas for spending mindful mornings with your kids. Ahead, discover mindfulness activities that can help you and your children begin your day in a more peaceful and meaningful way. Trust me, prioritizing a peaceful start will make everyone’s day better.

Connect With Your Kids in the Morning

The last thing anyone wants first thing in the morning is to start the day with orders or instructions. Thanks to gentle parenting classes, I’ve learned the importance of connecting with my kids before anything else. For us, this means a gentle wake-up hug and a moment in bed asking them about their dreams or how they feel as they wake up.

If your kids wake up before you, consider inviting them to sit on the edge of your bed and share their morning thoughts. It’s a brief 3-5 minute check-in that sets a positive tone for the day and makes it easier to collaborate on the next steps to get out the door.

Form a Morning Practice With Your Kids

Pre-children, I enjoyed a cup of coffee and some journaling to kickstart my day. While those luxuries are less frequent now, I still prioritize my morning practice, and I want to instill a similar routine in my kids. Given their age, we’ve started with a simple breathing technique—inhaling through the nose for four seconds and exhaling through the mouth for four seconds, repeating four times. It not only brings laughter but also infuses peace into our mornings.

Connect With Your Kids in Nature

Living in California allows us to enjoy the outdoors almost year-round. Even if you reside in a colder climate, spending a few minutes outside together can help ground you. This might involve having breakfast in the backyard, walking to school, or simply opening the front door, sitting on the porch barefoot, and saying, “Good morning, world, it’s me [your name].” (My husband came up with that one.)

Start the Day With Affirmations

You’ve probably seen those heartwarming Instagram moments where parents speak affirmations to their children. I’m a huge fan of this practice, especially during routine tasks like brushing hair, applying sunscreen, or washing hands. It not only distracts them from tasks they might not want to do but also pumps them up for the day ahead.

Set a Positive Tone in the Morning

We all have those days when we wake up feeling slightly off, and the same can happen to our kids. When I sense a gloomy morning, I know it’s time to change the energy in the room. My go-to solution is putting on some happy jazz music on Spotify. It’s incredible how a few cheerful tunes can transform the atmosphere and set a more positive tone for the day ahead.

Move Your Body Together

Sometimes, we all need a little backup, and I’m not afraid to use the TV for that. While you can certainly do physical activities without a screen, sometimes I prefer not to be the teacher. So, we turn on a yoga session and do five poses. Currently, our favorite is Paw Patrol yoga, but there are plenty of other calming options available if you need them. Using a mirror to practice with can also be really helpful.

Explore Your Senses as a Family

This activity takes a bit more effort, but it’s a great way to spark conversations and have a mindful morning with your kids. You engage all five senses and encourage your kids to join in. For example, while eating cereal at the table, you might say, “The milk feels cold in my mouth. How does it feel in yours?” Or, “This sunscreen is slimy, isn’t it?” Asking questions like, “What color do you want to eat this morning?” or “How do your pants make you feel?” prompts your child to connect consciously with their senses, helping them become more present in their bodies as they start their day.

Image by Teal Thomsen

Final Thoughts

Contrary to popular belief, mornings with kids don’t have to be chaotic and rushed. In fact, they can become your favorite part of the day! By incorporating these mindful morning activities, you can create a peaceful and positive start to your day, setting the tone for a happier and more harmonious family life.

Embrace the opportunity to connect, practice mindfulness, enjoy nature, boost confidence with affirmations, set a cheerful mood, move your body, and engage your senses. It really only takes about 5-10 minutes to create mindful mornings with kids. And I promise, you’ll be so happy you did so.

Looking for more ways to weave mindfulness into your morning routine? Let Camille’s AM rituals inspire your own.

21 Flavor-Packed Ways to Use Acorn Squash This Fall

One of the best ways to lean into autumn vibes is by savoring the many delicious seasonal ingredients available at the farmer’s market. Apples, pumpkin, squash, pomegranates—you name it, I want it. Today we’re dishing up recipes that feature one of the tastiest (and cutest) fall vegetables: acorn squash. If you haven’t already, it’s high time you added this delectable ingredient to your grocery list so you can enjoy one of these amazing acorn squash recipes before the season’s end.

These beauties are incredibly nutrient-rich, with a ton of vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and magnesium. Not only is acorn squash a healthy, yummy dinner, but it’s also pretty easy to make on a busy weeknight. Whether you roast it, stuff it, or turn it into soup, it’s an elegant ingredient that will elevate any meal. Trust: it will always look impressive.

Featured image by Michelle Nash.

21 Baked Acorn Squash Recipes to Enjoy This Season

I’ve rounded up some seriously tantalizing recipes, from the indulgent to the ultra-healthy. There’s a little something for everyone. Make sure to bookmark your faves so you can pick up all the necessary ingredients on your next grocery run. You won’t regret it.

Rosemary Roasted Acorn Squash with Brown Butter and Hazelnuts

Why We Love It: Brown butter and squash are the best pair to kick off this delicious compilation of our favorite acorn squash recipes. Tieghan Gerard, aka Half Baked Harvest, is practically the expert on Thanksgiving-worthy dishes, and this appetizer is no exception.

Hero Ingredient: Brown butter (and maybe a bit of cinnamon?) is the secret hack to winning the holidays.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Garam Masala and Cilantro Chutney

Why We Love It: This sweet roasted squash is dusted with warm spices and pairs well with just about any protein you could imagine. The cilantro chutney is a herby-savory blend that perfectly contrasts the squash’s natural sweetness.

Hero Ingredient: Greek yogurt adds a kick of protein and a creamy tart taste.

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Why we love it: This is a colorful and hearty meal that doesn’t compromise on flavor. It’s also the easiest thing you can cook up when you want to impress guests at a dinner party. These little delights are sure to be the hero of your menu.

Hero ingredient: Kick things up a notch with crunchy, toasted pumpkin seeds.

Roasted Acorn Squash Soup from Girl Gone Gourmet

Why We Love It: Cozy and nutty, this acorn squash soup is everything I look forward to in the winter months. This vegetarian soup is flavored with onion, garlic, and Herbes de Provence with a little bit of cream for added soupy texture. Store in an airtight container and look forward to your yummy leftovers.

Hero Ingredient: A splash of apple cider vinegar boosts this dish with bright, beautiful flavor.

Pasta with Kale Pesto and Roasted Acorn Squash from Foodie Crush

Why We Love It: The saltiness of pesto always pairs well with a bit of sweetness, and this pasta recipe does the combination justice. The best part? A topping of garlicky breadcrumbs that make for an herby crunch.

Hero Ingredient: Good-quality pesto is always a great pantry staple.

Acorn Squash with Chickpeas and Chimichurri from Love and Lemons

Why We Love It: You can’t tell me these chickpea-stuffed acorn squash halves wouldn’t make the perfect addition to any dinner party table. The zesty chimichurri and lemon yogurt add the best pop of creamy tart flavor that makes this recipe a stunner from all angles.

Hero Ingredient: Pepitas are highly underrated. And in this dish? They absolutely shine.

Parmesan Herb Roasted Acorn Squash from Downshiftology

Why We Love It: Italian herb seasoning never fails me, especially when it complements a subtle base like acorn squash. Parmesan cheese is a no-brainer in highlighting the richness that this recipe brings.

Hero Ingredient: Make your own fresh herb seasoning blend or snag it from the store. Either way, it makes this recipe.

Acorn Squash Breakfast Bowls with Yogurt from Eating Bird Food

Why We Love It: If you thought acorn squash recipes were reserved for apps and entrees only, I’m happy to introduce this delicious breakfast bowl recipe. Sweet yogurt and dried cranberries create a bright and balanced contrast that you’ll love waking up to.

Hero Ingredient: A maple syrup drizzle is all you need.

Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash from Budget Bytes

Why We Love It: Pro tip: prep the wild rice filling ahead of time for the best-stuffed squashes. Save time and still maintain all of the great flavor.

Hero Ingredient: Chopped walnuts are a great crunch.

Roasted Squash Salad with Crispy Shallot & Balsamic Reduction from Minimalist Baker

Why We Love It: Acorn squash and salad is a perfect blend for a healthy and filling side or main dish. Plus, a minimal ingredient list is perfect for busy days that require more time outside of the kitchen.

Hero Ingredient: Balsamic vinegar dressing? I think yes.

Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash from Cookie + Kate

Why We Love It: Sometimes gatherings can prove to be tricky when dietary accommodations come into play. Keeping dishes vegetarian keeps things both inclusive and an extra bit healthy.

Hero Ingredient: This herbed quinoa looks as good as it tastes.

Maple Roasted Squash Salad from The Modern Proper

Why We Love It: This maple-roasted squash salad is the perfect side or light main for assembling ahead of time and serving in a pinch with an incredible creamy goat cheese dressing.

Hero Ingredient: Nothing adds a burst of holiday flavor quite like pomegranate seeds.

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Sausage from Well Plated by Erin

Why We Love It: What’s better than a bit of protein? This golden acorn squash is baked until caramelized and tender and features a lighter chicken sausage to keep things from getting too filling. Mushrooms, apples, warm spices, and herbs are incredibly delicious and so easy to throw together.

Hero Ingredient: I’m a big fan of chicken sausage as an alternative to the traditional.

Baked Squash Mac and Cheese from Half Baked Harvest

Why we love it:  How cute are these little acorn squash cups of baked squash mac and cheese? Bonus: the recipe is also deceptively simple. Stuffing the pasta inside the squash keeps it from drying out while maintaining a hot, melty (and totally delish) bite. Don’t forget to top it off with crispy prosciutto and breadcrumbs!

Hero ingredient: The mix of cheddar, gruyere, and provolone is as divine as it sounds.

Maple Glazed Acorn Squash from Spoon Fork Bacon

Why we love it: It’s easy, filling, and can be eaten as a snack or turned into a meal by dicing it up and adding it to some quinoa, couscous, or protein. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and savory, with a big flavor that doesn’t overpower the senses. Make it on Sunday, then eat it all week for lunch on top of your salad!

Hero ingredient: Maple syrup, of course!

Creamy Fall Soup in Acorn Squash Bowls from Minimalist Baker

Why we love it: You won’t want to wait until Thanksgiving to try these gorgeous acorn squash soup bowls. The recipe is festive, colorful, creamy, and ultra-comforting. Not to mention healthy! It’s basically autumn in a bowl.

Hero ingredient: Fresh sage and a bay leaf infuse the soup with classic fall flavors.

Baked Acorn Squash Slices from Well-Plated by Erin

Why we love it: It doesn’t get much easier than this autumnal dish. The entire recipe asks for only eight ingredients—brown sugar and maple syrup to play up the squash’s natural sweet flavor and a little bit of cayenne for some added heat. And, of course, pecans for some autumnal crunch.

Hero ingredient: Brown sugar makes this dish practically dessert-like.

Acorn Squash Egg in the Hole from The Roasted Root

Why we love it: If you’re an egg lover, then you have to try this twist on the classic egg-in-a-hole recipe. It’s less carby but still makes for a hearty, satisfying meal.

Hero ingredient: Don’t skip out on the crumbled bacon, it adds the perfect subtle salty punch.

Parmesan-Crusted Acorn Squash from Real Food Dieticians

Why we love it: All you need is five ingredients for this tasty and healthy acorn squash recipe. It’s a savory delight that won’t let you down. This is the perfect side dish for a warming protein or even pasta. It’s so good that you may never opt for butter and brown sugar on your squash again.

Hero ingredient: The parmesan gives this recipe an earthy, salty, nutty flavor and lovely texture.

Pear Apple Walnut Stuffed Acorn Squash from The Roasted Root

Why we love it: This healthy dish is special enough to make for the holidays but worth enjoying any day this season. It’s rich and flavorful without feeling heavy.

Hero ingredient: Stewed pears are an unexpected delight.

Mexican Roasted Corn and Quinoa Stuffed Squash from Pinch of Yum

Why we love it: The bright Mexican flavors and the smooth, creamy taste and consistency of the acorn squash blend together beautifully. Even the most avowed squash skeptics will be coming back for seconds.

Hero ingredient: It’s topped with crema and queso fresco for a creamy finish.

This post was originally published on October 7th, 2021, and has since been updated.

What to Do With Your Life in October—40 Cozy Ways to Embrace the Month Ahead

I like to think of September as a soft start to fall. When the first of the month hits, our cravings orient toward all things cozy: blankets, socks, warm drinks, and activities to help us make the most of the transition indoors. But October? She’s a full-on embrace of all that’s perfect about the season. The temps have officially cooled and we’re no longer drinking our PSLs iced—everything is about being as warm and as comfy as possible. So when it comes to things to do in October, buckle up. We have plenty of fall fun in store.

You can bet that pumpkins are in abundance—both throughout our homes and in everything we bake—and we’re all getting prepped for the spooky season to come. With the crisp mornings and vibrant leaves, we’re enjoying all that nature has to offer. But with school in full swing and the holidays right around the corner, October tends to fly by all too quickly. That’s why, with this list of things to do in October, our intention is to help you slow down, while still making the most of all the excitement and energy this month brings.

Featured image from our interview with Sophie Collins by Christie Graham.

Image by Michelle Nash

40 Things to Do in October

This year, we want to slow down and relish in this month’s small joys without letting the season slip by. Ahead, we’re sharing our favorite things to do in October to help you live this month to the fullest. Grab your favorite sweater and a mug of something warm—things are about to get cozy.

1. Surprise a neighbor with some baked goods. Sweet treats are one of our favorite ways to let loved ones know we’re thinking of them. These pumpkin spice cookies are the ideal seasonal snack. Or, if you want to really treat someone, this pumpkin loaf cake boasts an out-of-this-world cream cheese frosting. And it couldn’t be easier.

2. Visit your local farmer’s market and cook a seasonal dinner. Is there anything better than letting seasonal produce guide your way in the kitchen? Read up on everything that’s in season this fall and make a weekend morning out of shopping for all the fresh finds. When it’s time to cook, any one of these fall pasta recipes makes for the ultimate comfort meal. We also love this whole-roasted chicken. To make it seasonal, swap out the cherry tomatoes for diced sweet potatoes.

3. Start a book club with your friends. Being cozy doesn’t have to be a solitary activity! Gather your girlfriends, make a fall grazing board, and start plowing through the most anticipated books this fall.

4. Host a chili cook-off. This sweet potato and black bean chili is vegetarian-friendly and always our go-to. Invite friends to come over with their favorite chili recipe and taste-test to determine the best.

5. Make s’mores at home. No campfire necessary! Follow our tips for making gourmet s’mores in the oven.

6. Treat yourself to a cozy fall candle. Is there a better season for candles? We think not. Browse our favorite fall candles—from cedar and sandalwood to, of course, the perfect pumpkin-spiced jar.

7. Do a fall skin reset. Prep your skin for the cooler weather ahead. You’re nine easy, but luxurious steps away from your best-ever fall skin.

8. Transition your breakfast for fall. Ayurveda tells us to gravitate to grounding and warm dishes when the temps start to drop. I love a bowl of kitchari in the morning for a detoxifying boost or my favorite pumpkin spice oatmeal. And if you can’t let go of your smoothie obsession, this pumpkin spice number has your name on it.

9. Go for a fall hike with friends. While I love hiking in the summertime, there’s nothing better than putting on a few light layers and venturing out with friends to look at all the pretty fall leaves. Pick a weekend morning to hit the trail early, and convene at the end for a few fall treats.

10. Go apple picking and whip up a batch of apple cider. Is there anything more fall than going apple picking? Depending on where you live, you’ll want to prioritize this at the start of the month, as apple season usually falls between mid-September and early October. Once you have all your apples gathered, whip up some homemade apple cider in the slow cooker or on the stovetop. Your entire house will smell amazing.

Image by Michelle Nash

11. Deck out your front porch with fall decor. Clearly, we’re fans of piling on the pumpkins when it comes to upping our curb appeal this time of year. But you can add large outdoor hurricane lanterns to round out the seasonal moment.

12. Spend a weekend away at a cabin in the woods. It’s the most magical way to soak up the fall foliage. Find a cabin on Airbnb or book through sites like Getaway, where you can find tiny cabins just a few hours’ drive from most cities in the country.

13. Switch up your phone and computer backgrounds. Browse Pinterest for a background that resonates and reminds you of all you want to cultivate this season. Or, create a vision board on Canva to represent your goals.

14. Go antique shopping. And support some great small businesses in the process. Make a morning out of getting a fall beverage with friends and walking around town to visit the best antique shops in your area. The best part? You always end up with something unexpected, but absolutely perfect.

15. Train for a 5K. Even if you don’t have aspirations of being a marathon runner, you can still get outside and enjoy a faster pace than usual. Train with a friend or your partner and sign up for a local 5K. Apps like Nike Run Club and Couch to 5k are excellent ways to find support throughout the journey.

16. Make the best pumpkin bread ever. We found the winner.

17. Cozy up your house with some new fall throws. Target has plenty of faves and we’re obsessed with this cotton oversized throw from Pom Pom at home.

18. DIY an incredible Halloween costume. We have all the Halloween costume inspiration you could ever need.

19. Shake up your pumpkin decorating skills. Sure, it’s fun to carve pumpkins, but we love adding a creative spin with a little paint, feathers, florals—anything! Try one or more of these no-carve pumpkin decorating ideas.

20. Have a fall movie marathon. From the classics to comedy and everything in between, these are the best movies to stream this fall.

Image by Michelle Nash

21. Invest in a cozy fall wardrobe. When it comes to fall dressing, this season is all about the staples. Sweaters, trench coats, and the perfect boots—our editors share their fall-dressing faves.

22. Plan the perfect fall date. As we’ve said, ’tis the season for getting cozy. And there’s no one we want to do that with more than our S.O. Try one of these cute and cozy fall date ideas to make the most of the season together.

23. Have a fall picnic. PSA: picnic season extends past summer! Put together a moveable feast (we love a good charcuterie board tailored to the season) and pour some hot cocoa or cider into a thermos. Easy and effortless—as all the best meals are.

24. Invite friends over for a bonfire. In addition to a fall picnic, bonfires are one of our favorite ways to gather with friends during the fall. Make it a potluck, supply some warm drinks, and make s’mores together at the end.

25. Decorate your front porch with mums. Alongside pumpkins, mums are the ultimate representation of fall. Gather a few from a nursery or even the supermarket (they’re usually lined up out front this time of year), and let them add a nice colorful touch to your outdoor entryway.

26. Tailgate a football game. Be it high school, college, or a professional game, I’m of the opinion that tailgating is the best part of any football showdown. Coordinate dishes with friends, bundle up in sweaters and blankets, and root for the home team!

27. Take up a knitting or crochet project. Besides reading, knitting and crocheting are my favorite fall activities. Pick up some tips on YouTube or purchase a beginner’s kit complete with everything you need to teach yourself. Alternatively, local yarn shops almost always offer classes and knitting circles so you can learn from the pros.

28. Visit a winery. Spend a Saturday afternoon winery hopping with friends. It’s a perfect way to take in the scenery and get caught up over a couple of glasses.

29. Spend an entire morning reading. While I love reading, it seems that the only time I have for it during the week is before bed. And even then, I make it a few pages in and my eyes begin shutting on themselves. Dedicated a Saturday or Sunday morning entirely to reading. Cozy up on the couch with a blanket and a cup of tea and prepare to get lost in a new read.

30. Make a fall playlist. There are some songs that perfectly evoke the fall. For me, that’s anything Gregory Alan Isakov, Andrew Bird, and Fleet Foxes. Pick your favorite fall songs and create a playlist complete with all of them. Press play whenever you want to immediately feel cozy.

Image by Michelle Nash

31. Re-watch Gilmore Girls, from start to finish. Gilmore Girls, undeniably, is the perfect fall show. Start from the very beginning and enjoy it season-to-season, all the way through.

32. Find the best apple cider doughnuts in town. More and more, apple cider doughnuts seem to be making their way out of New England and all across the country. Pick up a bag of these delicious doughnuts from your town’s market, or if you’re lucky, you’ll find someone making them fresh at a local orchard or farm stand.

33. Celebrate soup Sunday. If you haven’t heard, we’re hosting Soup Sunday over on Instagram. Join us every weekend to make our favorite Camille Styles soup recipes and to get cozy as a community.

34. Have a weekly walking date. One of my girlfriends and I meet up every week to walk around our neighborhood. It’s the perfect way to get caught up on each other’s lives and to share the goings-on of our weeks. Plus, is walking not the most perfect form of exercise?

35. Buy or DIY a fall wreath for your front door. We love this minimalist fall wreath DIY that completely refreshes your front door. Or, browse online for the perfect topper to your front porch fall decor.

36. Carve a pumpkin and toast the seeds. Make a night out of pumpkin carving and save the seeds to toast in the oven. We love these easy recipes for toasted pumpkin seeds, three ways to satisfy every fall craving.

37. Make a fall-scented simmer pot. It’s the easiest way to naturally scent your home. Gather cinnamon sticks, sliced apples, cloves—anything you want to waft through your home. Browse these 11 simmer pot ideas for inspiration.

38. Do a puzzle with your partner, family, or roommates. Gather everyone in the house for an evening of puzzling. Could this autumn puzzle be any more perfect for the occasion? Break out the fall snacks (courtesy of Trader Joe’s, of course) and enjoy a cozy Octobernight with a few mugs of something warm.

39. Start planning your holiday cards. While we love being in the moment and soaking up all the things to do in October, this is the perfect time to start planning your holiday cards. Find a date for taking pictures, purchase your stationary, and make a note of everyone’s address you’ll be sending cards to this year.

40. Make caramel apples. While October is full of sweet treats, I have to say: caramel apples reign supreme. And luckily, it couldn’t be easier to make them. Try this three-ingredient “recipe” for caramel apples and spend an afternoon with the kiddos decorating to your heart’s content.

This post was originally published on October 2, 2020, and has since been updated.

5 Ways to Boost Your Energy After Getting Zero Sleep

First off, I am a major advocate of making sure that you get enough sleep. Sleep is the way our body restores itself from sickness, enhances cognition and focus, and even helps our bodies maintain a healthy weight. Consistently getting good sleep is probably the single most important step we can take toward health and vitality.

And as much as I attempt to practice good sleep habits and get a full eight hours every night, let’s be honest: sometimes it just doesn’t happen. Especially amidst running a small business and the collective uncertainty that keeps many of us up at night.

Featured image from our interview with Riley Reed by Jenn Rose Smith.

Image by Michelle Nash

Tips to Ensure You Get Enough Sleep

But this feeling is unfortunately not new for me, either. Whether I stayed up too late ticking off my to-do list, took an overnight flight for work, or experienced one of my occasional bouts of insomnia, I’m all too familiar with that foggy feeling of my alarm going off and realizing that I’m headed into a busy workday on far too little sleep.

I used to get anxious when this happened. (What if my brain can’t function on that conference call? Am I going to be cranky with the kids all day?) But over time, I’ve learned a few hacks that help me get through the occasional restless night’s sleep without missing a beat.

Ahead, I’m sharing five things I always do to help me feel energized when I’m sleep-deprived.

P.S. Here are some great tips on how to fall asleep faster.

Image by Teal Thomsen

1. Drink a Ton of Water and a Moderate Amount of Coffee

Dehydration equals major fatigue, so I try to keep a huge water bottle within arm’s reach when I’m running on a lack of sleep and refill it throughout the day. It will rehydrate and wake up your organs and generally just make you feel more refreshed.

And people: now is not the time to stick to your no-caffeine goals unless you’re one of those people who truly doesn’t react well to it. Studies have shown moderate amounts of caffeine to be mood-lifting, stress-reducing, and obviously a quick way to put a pep in your step.

If you’re not into coffee, try black tea, matcha, or yerba maté for smaller yet still potent doses of caffeine. Have a cup in the morning and maybe one around midday. Just be sure you don’t overdo it! Cut yourself off by 2 p.m. so you don’t have trouble falling asleep that night.

Image by Michelle Nash

2. Eat a Meal That Includes Greens, Protein, and Healthy Fat

On a recent work trip, I had to take the redeye flight from San Francisco that arrived in New York City at 7 a.m. the next day. Just enough time to check into my hotel, take a shower, eat breakfast, and then head into a high-pressure client meeting! I barely slept on the plane and was a bit panicky when I arrived at my hotel feeling awful and so sleepy.

Thankfully, my breakfast changed all that. I ordered a combo of a kale salad with hazelnuts topped with two soft boiled eggs and avocado. Good fats, especially avocados, have been shown to repair cognitive function, which we could all use a little help with when we’re sleep-poor. Leafy greens flood your body with hydration and minerals, and protein provides energy and makes you feel satisfied. I headed out into my day feeling like a new woman!

3. Get Some Exercise, Preferably Outside

Getting your blood pumping first thing will increase circulation, oxygen, and energy levels. Even a 10-minute walk will go a long way toward helping you feel more energetic. Sunlight increases your vitamin D levels, and even more importantly, it boosts your mood, helps you focus, and reminds your body that it’s daytime so WAKE THE F UP.

Image by Belathée Photography

4. Fake It Until You Make It

A couple years ago, I had a tough bout with insomnia that left me feeling anxious and for the first time ever, a little depressed. The experience made me realize in an entirely new way the importance of solid sleep for total well-being. As I was navigating all this, I realized something: the more I talked about how tired and sleep-deprived I was to the people around me throughout the day, the worse I felt. My talking about it served as a constant reminder that I wasn’t on my A-game, which became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I decided to do a little experiment, and even on those nights when I’d slept terribly, I would just show up to work acting like everything was normal and not mention my sleepless night. And you know what? Even though I didn’t feel great necessarily, I found that I’d mostly forget how sleep-deprived I was and just get on with the rest of my day!

5. Simplify Your Schedule

Today is not the day to try and be superwoman. Take a look at your schedule, cross out the things that aren’t essential, and cut yourself some slack. When you’re running on suboptimal sleep, you’re not going to be your most productive.

Don’t try to give a suboptimal version of yourself to activities that could wait for another day.

I’ve found that making an extra effort to ditch multitasking and focus on a single task at a time goes a long way when I’m feeling tired. Keep it simple and go to bed early tonight!

This post was originally published on March 27, 2020, and has since been updated.

Burrata Is the Most Delicious Food Ever—See Our 15 Favorite Ways to Use It

Burrata might just be the world’s best cheese. A bold claim, I know, but there’s something extra delicious and luxurious about its creamy decadence. To give it all the love it deserves, I wanted to dedicate some space to some of my favorite burrata recipes. And while I adore a burrata appetizer or a classic cheeseboard, there are so many unexpected ways to incorporate it into meals.

For those who love it as much as I do, you might be surprised to learn that there are wrong ways to use burrata. In my extensive recipe searches, I came across a salmon and burrata sandwich (no, thank you) and way too many recipes that combined burrata and eggs. But beyond those missteps, it’s nearly impossible to mess up this creamy, delightful cheese from the gods.

Featured image by Kristen Kilpatrick.

Image by Michelle Nash

25 Mouthwatering Burrata Recipes

Burrata starts out as fresh mozzarella and then gets stuffed with curd and topped off with fresh cream. The whole yummy thing is then sealed up into a ball that’s ready to ooze its deliciousness all over whatever dish you serve it up in. I’m partial to a peach burrata salad or even a burrata pasta, but I’m itching to try each and every single one of the scrumptious recipes listed below. Keep scrolling for all the burrata recipe inspo you need. I guarantee you’ll have more than a few of these on repeat.

Sausage Burrata Pizza

Why We Love It: Pizza night is an evening I always look forward to, especially when the pizza in question is one you can’t find at just any pizza shop. This homemade pizza made with sausage and burrata is the perfect blend of savory and sweet. Trust us: you’ll want to add burrata to every pizza after this.

Hero Ingredient: While we adore the burrata, homemade pizza dough is the real star of this show.

Heirloom Tomato & Burrata Galette

Why We Love It: If you’re looking for burrata recipes that can hold their own at an elegant dinner party, this should be at the top of your list. It couldn’t be simpler or more stunning! This spin on the traditional galette is all the more streamlined thanks to the use of store-bought pie dough for the crust. It’s rustic but gorgeous, as all the best things in life seem to be.

Hero Ingredient: Fresh, in-season heirloom tomatoes are the standout, juicy beauties in this stunner of a main dish. By salting them first and letting them sit before proceeding with the recipe, you’re highlighting their irresistible sweetness. Nature’s candy, indeed.

Strawberry Caprese Salad

Why We Love It: Sweet burrata recipes have my heart. While I love using this cheese in savory dishes, it’s kind of like ricotta in the sense that its creaminess can be enjoyed in several different flavor combinations. Drizzle with honey to tie together all of the sweet and indulgent flavors of this summery salad.

Hero Ingredient: Fresh basil is the perfect herbacious addition.

Summer Spaghetti With Tomatoes, Burrata, & Basil

Why We Love It: Mix up your Sunday pasta dinner with this light and refreshing take on traditional Sunday spaghetti. Few things are as compatible as tomatoes, burrata, and basil—with these in hand, it’s hard to go wrong.

Hero Ingredient: As the tomatoes cook down, pouring in just a splash of balsamic gives them a slightly smoky, sweet complexity that deepens the flavor of this entire dish.

Burrata with Pesto & Figs

Why We Love It: Burrata recipes vary—some lean savory, others are sweet, and then there are those that use a few too many ingredients than I have patience for. That’s why I’m including this four-ingredient appetizer in my summer gathering rotation. Because of its few ingredients and minimal prep time, you’ll be able to whip it up with absolute ease. And when it hits the table, I guarantee your guests will let out an audible sigh of admiration. The combo of burrata, pesto, figs, and ciabatta (and a sprinkling of salt) just does something to you.

Hero Ingredient: If you’ve had summer-ripened fresh figs before, then you know: there’s nothing more heavenly.

Burrata Toast With Caramelized Walnuts & Mint-Pomegranate Pesto

Why We Love It: We love toasts of every kind, so you know we can’t pass up the opportunity to whip up a burrata toast with some seriously delicious homemade pesto. The crunch of the walnuts, bite from the pomegranate, and smooth burrata texture all combine effortlessly for an exciting and flavorful experience.

Hero Ingredient: Pomegranate seeds bring a pop of color and a punch of flavor that’s fruity, vibrant, crunchy, and just a little bit sweet.

Green Sauce Pasta

Why We Love It: Looking for a creative and tasty way to get your daily dose of greens without, you know, eating pounds of salad? I feel you, that’s why I lean heavily on this green sauce pasta to cover the bases. It requires just five ingredients and is so vibrant and verdant that you can’t help but go back for seconds. Two bags of spinach in just one batch? This pasta sauce packs it all in.

Hero Ingredient: This is one of my favorite burrata recipes in the game. And because this pasta leans more on the healthier side of things, recipe creator Suruchi Avasthi thought it important to add a little indulgence factor. The grated parmesan was her delicious answer.

Burrata, Fig, & Arugula Salad

Why We Love It: Treat yourself to this delightfully summery salad. It’s one of my favorite burrata recipes because it’s easy to make, convenient, quick, and absolutely beautiful. (Not to mention the fact that it tastes like a dream!)

Hero Ingredient: I always appreciate a little sweetness in my vinaigrette. Here, the honey makes it happen.

Peach, Pesto, and Balsamic Pizza

Why We Love It: There’s something about peaches and burrata that gets me excited to cook during the summer. This pizza has every flavor I could envision in the perfect summer meal. It’s a little bit rich, a little bit tangy, and a little bit sweet.

Hero Ingredient: Peaches on a pizza are a highly underrated topping.

Warm Lentil Salad with Burrata & Basil Oil

Why We Love It: If you’re looking for a comfort dish with burrata, this bowl is for you. Australian restauranteur and food writer Bill Granger shared with us this flavorful recipe that’s derived from locally sourced ingredients and traditional flavors straight from Sydney.

Hero Ingredient: Cooking with lentils will change your life.

Burrata with Caramelized Squash, Pine Nuts, and Golden Raisins

Why We Love It: To me, this dish screams fall with the perfect balance of creaminess and nuttiness. It’s easy to throw this bowl together as a simple, but standout appetizer or side dish on any occasion.

Hero Ingredient: Pine nuts are the perfect crunch.

Burrata Pasta with Tomato Basil Sauce From A Couple Cooks

Why We Love It: I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this rich and delicious pasta in my list of the best burrata recipes. All the sweet and creamy summer flavors you know and love in a single dish. It simply can’t be topped.

Hero Ingredient: Full disclosure: I’m prepared to name burrata the hero ingredient in all of these recipes. But because that would take away the fun, I’ll branch out. Here, the bucatini is key. It’s essentially a thicker spaghetti that’s hollow in the center—in other words, the perfect vehicle for this silky, delicious sauce.

Braised Tomatoes With Burrata from The Modern Proper

Why We Love It: The juxtaposition of these warm, braised tomatoes with burrata’s creamy coolness makes for a delicious appetizer for any meal. Save it to impress your loved ones at your next gathering or treat yourself to a truly tasty and special treat. You deserve it!

Hero Ingredient: A loaf of crusty bread is the perfect vehicle for scooping up these heavenly tomatoes and sopping up all their delicious juices.

Snap Pea Salad With Burrata from Bon Appétit 

Why We Love It: Throw together this light and refreshing salad next time you’re trying to decide what to make for a delicious weekend lunch. It’s a little peppery, a little crunchy, a little tart, and extremely delish.

Hero Ingredient: I love arugula’s bitter, peppery bite. Consider using it as the base for all your summer salads and even topping your pizzas with it for an extra pop of green. Start there, and trust me, you’ll come up with plenty of excuses to add it to… everything.

Caprese Salad Platter from Foodie Crush

Why We Love It: Can’t go wrong with a deconstructed platter, especially when it contains multiple cheese sources that include burrata. It’s a feast for the senses.

Hero Ingredient: There’s a lot going on in this salad/platter hybrid. And while it contains both burrata and marinated mozzarella balls, I have to say: when it comes to flavor, the latter wins out.

Spring Pea Pasta With Burrata from What’s Gaby Cooking

Why We Love It: Looking for another fresh, veggie-heavy pasta recipe? Then look no further than this pea-filled dish. It’ll satisfy that wild burrata craving while also serving as a filling, comforting meal that’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Hero Ingredient: Nothing delivers fresh flavor like mint. I love that it’s a little lemony and gives a bit of brightness to this pasta, too.

Grilled Beets With Burrata & Poppyseed Vinaigrette from Bon Appétit

Why We Love It: Is there anything better than a beet salad on a hot summer day? If you’re looking for burrata recipes that pair indulgence with nutrient-dense ingredients, this is it. Grilled beets and burrata complement each other beautifully, and the poppyseed vinaigrette is an unexpected addition to this lovely dish.

Hero Ingredient: While I enjoy poppyseeds most in a citrusy-sweet muffin or quick bread, this vinaigrette takes a close second. Scratch that—paired with this sweet, earthy trio of beets, the vinaigrette wins out.

Springtime Mushroom & Asparagus White Burrata Cheese Pizza from Half Baked Harvest

Why We Love It: This burrata pizza recipe is an absolute dream. Seriously, I couldn’t have conjured something better if I tried. It’s a hearty, veggie-forward pizza that aims to please. You can’t go wrong with this one.

Hero Ingredient: The feta’s salty-briny flavor pairing makes for a delicious bite.

Broccoli Rabe, Burrata, & Prosciutto Crostini from Honestly Yum

Why We Love It: Fancy up your toasts with these delicious crostini. Snack on them as an appetizer, or load up a larger piece of your favorite yummy bread and make it a meal.

Hero Ingredient: Broccoli rabe is the broccoli-adjacent veggie you need to start including in all your weekly grocery hauls. It’s a bit more bitter and herby than its shorter-stemmed cousin and is incredibly versatile. Chopped and sautéed with garlic, this recipe makes the most of one of my favorite greens.

Margherita Pizza Dip from Half Baked Harvest

Why We Love It: Sorry, what’s that? A pizza in DIP FORM? You had me at hello. Everything you could want from a classic Margherita pizza in a can’t-stopping-dippin’ dip format. It’s the ultimate recipe hybrid that earns this dish its spot in this best-ever burrata recipes round-up.

Hero Ingredient: *Moment of appreciation for that cheese pull* While there’s plenty of cheese in this recipe that makes it happen, the cream cheese is responsible for that ooey, gooey, creamy texture.

Burrata Berry Salad Recipe From Reluctant Entertainer

Why We Love It: This beautiful dish draws on the gorgeous flavor profiles of all its ingredients to combine and make an inspiring, satisfying, and fanciful meal. It’s positively heavenly. What’s more, burrata’s magic can be found in the fact that it works beautifully as either a savory or sweet confection. So if you’re a fan of a cheesy dish that leans slightly toward the latter, be sure to serve this one up.

Hero Ingredient: With so much to choose from, selecting a hero ingredient for this dish is a tall order. But then you take a bite of the croutons and the crunch just hits.

Peach Panzanella Salad With Burrata and Bacon from Foodie Crush

Why We Love It: The next time you get the itch for a Panzanella, check out this bacon-y, burrata-y option. It’s salty, sweet, creamy, and ultra-satisfying.

Hero Ingredient: The trick is in the golden balsamic vinegar. While the flavor is largely the same as the more commonly-used darker pick, this one lends a sweet, complex flavor that has a nice little crisp bite thrown in.

Artichoke Burrata Pizza With Lemon Basil Pesto from How Sweet Eats

Why We Love It: The smooth flavor of an artichoke combined with the brightness of burrata and tart lemon basil pesto makes for a unique and delectable pizza.

Hero Ingredient: Without fail, I will always sprinkle a healthy amount of red pepper flakes on my pizza. When you’re enjoying something this creamy and decadent, a little spice never hurts.

Fried Burrata Over Romesco Sauce from Spoon Fork Bacon

Why We Love It: This mouthwatering dish is so good, you might just think you’ve been transported to the Italian countryside. (Not the worst scenario.) It’s rustic and homey while still feeling *and tasting* like an elevated eating experience.

Hero Ingredient: When it comes to the best burrata recipes, coating your burrata in a crust of panko breadcrumbs is the ultimate power move. It probably goes without saying but frying your burrata is too.

Zaalouk Toasts with Burrata from Pinch of Yum

Why We Love It: If you’re not familiar with Zaalouk, this recipe will change that. The traditional form is a Moroccan salad made from cooked eggplants and tomatoes along with a variety of spices and garlic. As you could imagine, creamy burrata pairs incredibly well with the smokey tomato flavor that the Zaalouk brings. And the best part? It’s all enjoyed in toast form.

Hero Ingredient: Eggplant recipes might just surprise you.

This post was originally published on May 2, 2018, and has since been updated.

The Surprising Ways Summer is Damaging Your Skin—and What to Do About It

Summer used to feel so pure. Picnic dinners, ice cream every night, and campfires by the beach. But in 2023, things look a little different. Sorry to bring (back) up the bad news, but climate change isn’t just the catalyst for our apocalyptic Instagram posts. Thanks to the early summer’s troubling AQI (Air Quality Index), we’re all scrambling for our masks once again. And our skin doesn’t like it either. Apologies to be the bearer of bad news, but as things worsen, many of us are seeking anti-pollution skincare to help combat side effects like premature signs of wrinkles, dark spots, and yes—so much more.

With these distressing details, it’s no wonder anti-pollution skincare is having a moment. As more brands declare themselves “anti-pollutant” and many buzzy beauty products claim to protect the skin from “chemical stressors,” you may wonder: what does any of that mean? Our skin gets exposed to many potentially harmful chemicals, toxins, and irritants every time we step outside. From the sun’s ultraviolet rays to man-made chemicals, our skin is faced with an onslaught of harmful agents all the time. For answers on the best anti-pollution skincare, we went to the experts.

Featured image from by Riley Reed.

Anti-Pollution Skincare: What an Esthetician Wants You to Know

Now that it’s summer, most of us are spending as much time as we can outdoors. Though it comes with benefits (vitamin D! serotonin!), our outside time can bring on hidden side effects as well. Just as we slather on our sunscreen before stepping outside, we need to become more mindful of our anti-pollution skincare rituals.

Anti-pollution skincare addresses oxidative stress with antioxidants and other free-radical fighting ingredients. Ingredients that target pollution can come with a range of abilities. Some actively fight pollutants, some reverse current signs of damage, and some help strengthen your skin barrier to prevent further damage. An ideal anti-pollution skincare routine would accomplish all of these functions.

To determine what to look for in anti-pollution skincare, I spoke to Erica Choi, Superegg founder and Licensed Esthetician. Below, she breaks down how pollution can affect the skin and shares the best anti-pollution skincare tips available. Read on for your ultimate anti-pollution skincare kit.

Image by Belathée Photography

What is pollution?

Pollution refers to harmful substances entering the environment. While higher pollution levels are often found in big cities due to their population densities and industrial activities, pollution exists in various environments. It is not limited to urban areas and can be influenced by factors such as industrial emissions, vehicle traffic, agricultural practices, and natural phenomena. Therefore, pollution is a concern that can affect different regions and is not just confined to big cities.

How does pollution affect your skin?

Pollution affects the skin in multiple ways. It contains free radicals that harm skin cells and accelerate the breakdown of collagen and elastin, leading to premature aging signs like wrinkles, skin discoloration, and loss of elasticity. Some pollutants stimulate melanin production, causing dark spots and uneven skin tone. Pollution can also clog pores and contribute to the development of skin imperfections.

Additionally, pollution weakens the skin’s protective barrier, making it easier for harmful substances to enter. This penetration causes irritation, redness, and increased sensitivity. Over time, chronic inflammation disrupts the skin barrier, resulting in dryness, eczema, and acne.

How to Protect Your Skin From Pollution

Wear SPF every day. UV rays from the sun can intensify the harmful effects of pollution on the skin. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 daily to shield your skin from UV radiation and pollution. Reapply often.

Cleanse effectively. It’s crucial to cleanse your skin at the end of the day to remove pollutants, dirt, and impurities that accumulate on the skin. Choose a gentle cleanser like our Gentle Elements Cleansing Foam, which effectively removes debris without stripping the skin of its natural oils.

Use antioxidant-rich skincare. Antioxidants play a crucial role in defending the skin against the harmful effects of pollution. Incorporate skincare products with antioxidants into your routine.

Moisturize and strengthen the skin barrier. Keeping the skin hydrated and maintaining a healthy skin barrier is essential for resilience against pollutants. Use a moisturizer to nourish and strengthen your barrier, which will help defend itself against harmful substances.

Image by Michelle Nash

The Best Anti-Pollution Ingredients

I wholeheartedly embrace the potency of antioxidants! These ingredients are essential for counteracting free radicals and diminishing oxidative stress, resulting in a radiant and resilient complexion. I particularly adore the benefits of vitamins C, B, and E, as well as green tea extract (with a special mention to EGCG), astaxanthin, snow mushroom, and various ferments. These ingredients work together to defend against environmental damage, ensuring skin remains nourished and protected.

Potent antioxidants to look for in anti-pollution skin care include:

  • Vitamin C
  • Retinol (vitamin A)
  • Vitamin E
  • Niacinamide
  • Resveratrol
  • CoenzymeQ10 (CoQ10)
  • Polyphenols
  • Flavonoids
  • Ferulic Acid
  • Astaxanthin
  • Glutathione

Every product is curated with care by our editors and we’ll always give an honest opinion, whether gifted or purchased ourselves. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Image by Michelle Nash

At a glance: A pre-, pro-, and post-biotic cleanser that gently lifts away impurities and pollution to protect and repair your skin barrier.

Key Ingredients: Apple Amino Acids, Hyaluronic Acid, Lactic Acid, Prebiotics, Probiotics, Postbiotics

At a glance: A barrier-protecting cleanser to balance skin and soothe irritation or breakouts.

Key Ingredients: Lecithin, MicroSilver BG™

At a glance: A do-it-all facial spray that soothes irritated skin and has the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance.

Key Ingredients: Hypochlorous Acid

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Image by Belathée Photography

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17 Ways to Style the Table for Your Next Dinner Party

Growing up, we gathered with family over dinners served on paper plates with plastic utensils. Parties were casual and relaxed (plus, no one wanted to do the dishes). But on holidays, our dinner party table settings were complete with seasonal plates, napkins, and cutlery—and my grandmother always insisted on eating at the formal dining table. It felt special—and it was.

Now, when I host a small group of friends or family, I love to pull out the good plates. I’m one of those old-fashioned gals who actually registered for wedding china, but mine isn’t gathering dust in a cabinet. It’s right there next to our everyday dinner plates. Now, whenever I set the table with those cherished pieces, the whole experience feels elevated—and just as special as my grandma’s table.

Featured image of Brian and Jessie De Lowe’s magic hour dinner party by Michelle Nash.

Image of Rebekah Peller’s Parisian dinner party by Joann Pai

And sure, the menu is where a dinner party begins—but the table setting is where it shines. A table is a blank slate. It’s an opportunity to get creative, bring in elements to complement the food, and truly delight your guests. Right about now you’re either feeling inspired or stressed, but I’ve got good news either way: we’re no strangers to dinner party table settings around here.

From Camille’s own hosting expertise to the tips we’ve collected from tastemakers along the way, you’re in the right place for a huge dose of dinner party inspiration. Gather ’round to spark your creativity (or just outright steal your favorite looks)—our best ideas are just ahead.

How do I set the table for a dinner party?

When it comes to dinner party table settings, you’ll likely want to opt for either a basic table setting or a casual table setting, depending on the scope of the meal. The biggest difference between the two is that a casual table often calls for more dishes than basic to account for the menu (a soup bowl or salad plate, for example). If you need a refresher, here’s exactly how to set the table, from basic gatherings all the way to formal affairs. But if you’ve got plates, flatware, and glasses, you’ve got a solid foundation for any dinner party. Now, let’s head into the inspiration.

1. Use a Linen Table Throw

Keep it casual by opting for a square throw over a more traditional tablecloth. Linen is naturally a bit wrinkly (so skip the ironing) and you can even ruffle it up a bit for a table that’s both rustic and stylish.

2. Put Out Place Cards

You don’t have to be a world-class caligrapher to create a worthy place card. Even the simplest place cards can make guests feel special and considered. I’ve used the backside of an index card or even cut-up cardstock envelopes in a pinch

More inspiration: A Barcelona dinner party with Devon Liedtke

3. Light Candles

It doesn’t get any simpler than this. Lighting candles is truly the easiest way to add instant ambiance. Dot the table runner with tea lights sitting in glasses or make a statement with tall candlesticks—you truly can’t go wrong.

More inspiration: A Greek-inspired bridal shower

4. Knot Oversized Napkins

When in doubt, grab a large square napkin and knot it loosely at the center. Place the napkin either directly on the plate or arrange it around the upper edge if there’s room on the table.

5. Choose Recycled Glassware

There’s something so perfect about recycled glassware for a less formal event. Perfect for water or even as wine glasses. Recycled glasses are unique and special—and decidedly unfussy.

6. Forage for a Seasonal Centerpiece

If you’ve got a yard, you’ve got a centerpiece waiting for you. Snip wildflowers for a group of small vases or grab some branches for a centerpiece that’s more elaborate. It’s an easy way to ground your dinner party in the season and bring in those natural elements that pair so well with a lovely meal.

More inspiration: A backyard brunch with Chef Camilla Marcus

7. Take it Outside

When the weather is right, a dinner party al fresco is a near-perfect option. And take it from us, it doesn’t have to be hard. Camille laid out all her tips to plan a stress-free outdoor party—décor included.

More inspiration: A Santa Barbara dinner party

8. Let Food Be the Décor

If you’re stuck on centerpiece ideas, let the food do the talking. No one will complain about a beautiful cheese board smack dab in the center of the table (and nothing to block their line of sight, at that).

More inspiration: A Beginner’s Guide to Building a Charcuterie Board

9. Use Fruit as a Centerpiece

Persimmons as a table runner? There’s something genuinely striking when an item is repeated over and over again—it just works. Opt for seasonal fruit and either line it down the table, dot them throughout or fill a bowl or two.

More inspiration: Brunch with the co-founder and CEO of Sweet Laurel Bakery

10. Add Cozy Throws or Blankets to the Chairs

Whether you suspect a draft or just want to up the cozy factor, drop some throws along the back of your guests’ chairs or add a wool rug to the bench.

More inspiration: A cozy girls’ gathering at home

11. Make it a Chic Buffet

Truth be told, you don’t always need a dinner party table setting to make it special. Stack the plates and lay out a drool-worthy buffet—it’s décor in and of itself.

More inspiration: This delightful Italian dinner party

12. Decorate with Complementary Colors

It’s a classic tip in the styling world for a reason. For a dinner party, we love choosing a main color and throwing in accents that complement from natural elements. Try it with oranges and limes on a blue linen throw or a pale green table topped with ripe strawberries or red peonies.

More inspiration: A Spain-inspired summer dinner party

13. Match the Flowers to the Food

Delight your guests with an understated color theme. Choose foliage that pairs with the menu and get ready to snap all the photos.

More inspiration: An outdoor afternoon lunch with cookbook author, Aran Goyoaga

14. Mix and Match the Tablecloths

There really are no rules when it comes to styling the table for a dinner party. Grab more than one tablecloth if the length of the table is too long—you can even use sheets or light blankets.

More inspiration: A magic hour gathering in Santa Barbara

15. Embrace Your Surroundings

The first step in planning a dinner party is the where. Maybe there’s a rooftop available or a patio, backyard, or cute tucked-away alley. Think outside the dining room!

More inspiration: An NYC rooftop dinner party

16. Play With Color

We’re known neutral lovers around here, but even we know that a little color can be downright fun. Up the playful vibes with mismatched furniture and bright tabletop pieces.

More inspiration: An Italian-themed dinner party, at a farm in Malibu

17. Use a Picnic Table

The humble picnic table can do a lot of things if styled well. Pop in a few pillows or blankets for texture and fill vessels with fresh blooms for the perfect mix of rustic and modern.

Now that the table is styled, time to plan the menu. Here are some recipes to feed a crowd for your next dinner party. Happy hosting!