Skip to content

Download This App

2017 July 1

If you’ve had a chance to check out my new essay site, What Would Raluca Do (and thank you in advance if you have!), you may have read my recent post about my not-quite-mid-life crisis. It’s physical, it’s emotional and it’s most definitely hormonal (which offers me some sort of odd relief in remembering that bits and pieces of any particular phase in life is quite simply out of my control, so I should just have a margarita and laugh about it). I stopped taking birth control a few years ago to “clean out my system” after being on and off of it for so many years and the reality is that it’s left me a hormonal nightmare. Bad skin, intense menstrual cycles and so many mood swings, my husband has probably started marking HIS calendar just to keep up.

So when I came across this app that is designed to tune you into your hormones, their swings and the exact impact it can have on your mind, body and general mood on any given day of the month, it felt like a much-needed beacon of light. It’s called Hormone Horoscope and while it won’t be winning any awards for app design or tech ingenuity any time soon, it’s quickly become one of the most used little icons on my phone.

You simply sign up (I have the free one, so I can’t speak to the added benefits of the paid offering), enter the first day of your latest cycle along with some basic info, and every day you can log on to get your “hormonal horoscope” for the day. It will tell you what your hormone levels are doing that day (in general) and how that might impact your mood, your body, your stress levels and more – in detail. And then it will give you tips and tricks to navigate the day in the right direction (i.e. avoid salty foods today, don’t make plans that involve a crowd of people, go and work out because you have a ton of energy today). It’s easy to understand and not filled with medical terms or jargon and sheds a little light on my day that helps me understand why I am suddenly barking at my children every time they look at me or crying over a cookbook.

The reality is, we’re in a phase of life and motherhood and womanhood that isn’t always easy and I believe that our changing hormones play a huge role in that. So being able to understand them a little better, even if you can’t necessarily do anything about it, is really nice. It gives you a sense of sanity, it reminds you to be gentle with yourself and it helps you remember that all of us women are on this crazy journey together. And sometimes we’re just along for the ride, simply a passenger on our own little hormonal road trip. But at least this lets us light the way a little bit to set our minds at ease.

And that’s definitely worth a download.

Five Great Grown Up Exfoliants

2017 June 21

I watched a skincare video with Hollywood facialist Kate Somerville a while back and she made a statement that stuck with me:

“If your pores are enlarged, you are simply not exfoliating enough.” 

I took one glance back at the mirror and vowed then and there to make a regular skin scrubbing part of my regimen (sans actually scrubbing…read for more). And just a few months later, I am happy to say Ms. Somerville was right. I have seen a very noticeable difference in the appearance of my combo skin pores since I started using some sort of exfoliant several times a week. Now that microbeads are officially banned (thank god), your old school St. Ives apricot scrub from high school is finally declared off limits (as it should be) so I thought I would share some more “grown up” exfoliating favorites I have loved of late on my (successful!) quest for smaller pores. No beads within.

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask (pictured above). This Vermont-made all natural skincare brand has taken luxury cosmetics counters across the country by storm and with good reason. Harper’s potent yet pure mix of ingredients gives serious results with no icky chemicals or preservatives. The Resurfacing Mask is known for the instant glow it gives you after 20 minutes of sloughing away your dead skin cells with a beta hydroxy focused formula. The mask feels cool and hydrating when applied so it’s perfect for warm summer nights. Only complaint is that it’s a small container and if you love it as much as I do, it will go fast.

goop Instant Facial. This is officially a desert island must-have for me and by far my favorite product in the goop skincare line. This (almost) all organic instant facial smells faintly like your favorite green juice and goes on in a very thin layer of grainy goodness. After only three minutes of activation from the natural blend of alpha and beta hydroxy acids, you gently massage and rinse your way to a glowing, baby soft complexion. It may be a little red afterwards so I tend to do it at night and follow with a serum to feed my skin while it’s fresh. If you do it during the day, sunscreen and shade are a must for an hour or so.

Aveda Botanical Kinetics Exfoliant. This is my favorite grab-and-get-it-done exfoliant. All it takes is a cotton pad and a splash or two of this liquid exfoliant and you can quickly (and efficiently) wipe away dead surface cells in a second. It’s the least intense (and least expensive) of the five and the one I probably reach for the most because it feels like my skin can handle it daily with no issues.

Kate Somerville Exfolikate. Where it began. When a client of mine who has skin like porcelain told me she swears by this stuff, I knew I had to try it. Dubbed “Hollywood’s 2-minute facial,” it’s a Somerville signature product packed with lactic acid, silica, papaya and pineapple enzymes, salicylic acid and more. Similar to the goop product, you apply a thin layer and do a quick “scrub” and then let it sit for two minutes and work its magic. And magical, it is. Your skin feels polished, soft and instantly brighter. This one tends to leave me a little less red than the goop, but if I had to choose, the goop leaves my skin a touch smoother. If it’s still too strong for you, there is a Gentle version available as well.

Eminence Yam & Pumpkin Peel. Finally, the best smelling of the bunch. This all natural exfoliating peel from Eminence smells so good you will want to eat it. And you probably can because the brand is known for its clean yet super effective concoctions. This purée-like mix of yam and pumpkin sloughs away dead skin cells, improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and leaves your skin feeling firm and extra glow-y. And that’s a very good thing. PS – I linked this one to because I find they always have 20% sales happening AND you can usually get a free magazine subscription at check-out. How fun is that??

*this post contains affiliate links but is not sponsored by any brand mentioned above; I buy and try them all and only share my favorites. 

**image above via

An Evening with Outstanding in the Field

2017 June 19

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” – James Beard

A few years ago, I wrote a post about how I don’t believe in date night. A lot has changed in the five years since and while the main impetus behind the article remains true to my heart (don’t rely on date nights to keep your marriage healthy and strong; enjoy them by all means, but look to all the moments in between date nights and focus just as much of your effort there), a proper evening out in a beautiful setting with food and drink and my husband by my side is always welcome.

So for my birthday a few months ago, tickets to Outstanding in the Field were the only thing on my wish list. I had been following the farm-to-table dinner series for years online and was always inspired by the vision, not only for the food, but for the evening itself. One filled with community, nature, authenticity and, of course, wine. It did not disappoint. Tickets for their entire season go on sale at once and some dates sell out fast (i.e. Big Sur) while others are easier to nab…sometimes even last minute. We ogled the list and all the beautiful locations but ultimately decided that for our first one, it would be easiest (and most cost effective) to pick one close to home so we chose the spring event at the Temecula Olive Oil Company (tickets for the same event in October are still available here).

We made our way to the little town of Aguanga (practically Palm Springs, if you’re counting) through winding, dust-covered roads and were greeted by a lively cocktail reception where guests mingled and took in the OITF vibe over gin cocktails, tray passed appetizers, the best watermelon and basil popsicle I have ever had, and flowing Riesling. It felt casual and comfortable, a mix of couples young and old, a few groups of friends, and some obvious regulars. OITF hostesses took our coats and sweaters and piled them on bales of hay for access later. Guests are asked to bring a dish to the table (a common gesture of good will at a communal dinner) and those were stacked high as well, some of them custom-made for the occasion. If you missed the plate memo (ahem, like us), there were plenty on-hand as most people leave theirs behind as a donation at the end of the evening. The founders, Jim and Eden, gave a brief overview of their journey and the events’ origin and background and then the founder of the Temecula Olive Oil Company led an informative – albeit, a little lengthy – farm tour and olive oil tasting. The property was stunning, as are all of their destinations for the dinners, taking on just as much importance as the menu, without a doubt. Rows of majestic olive trees, vine-covered pathways, evening sun just peeking through.

The evening was already off to such a memorable start and we hadn’t even been seated yet. That’s where it became magical. A family style table set for 165 people, stretching so far through the lush corridor of olive trees you couldn’t even see the end of it. If you go with a small group of friends, the OITF team will set out reserved plates for your seats but otherwise, it’s come as you are, sit where you can. The mixed assortment of dishes on the table was really pretty, even to my typically OCD eye for aesthetics. Food and drink is served family-style, with a dedicated waiter for each group of 6-8 guests (ours was really great and the service rivaled any fine dining restaurant, from start to finish), and what starts out as a slightly awkward exchange as you knock elbows with strangers and stretch over them to capture a pic or two (the Italian sausage with torn croutons is above) quickly moves into easy banter by the second course. Conversations flowed to the left and right of me. Politics and preconceived notions were left at the door. Ageism didn’t exist as I chatted with a woman in her 60s and a girl in her early 20s about everything we had in common, a span of four very different decades between us. And by the time the sun started to set and votive candles were dotted down the winding table and string lights lit up the trees as dessert was served, quiet conversations had turned into full blown laughter and wine-fueled inside jokes.

Almost five hours after we arrived, we gathered our belongings in the glow of the candles and string lights and said goodbye to our new friends. We would see them again, on social media, the next morning, all sharing similar perspectives on the experience: the table, the food, the canopy of olive trees. But somehow, I am sure it meant something different to all of us. To some, it was about the food. To some, the farm. To some, the time spent with a friend or loved one. To some, the gin cocktails.

But whatever it was, I believe in it. And I can’t wait to do it again. You should, too.

Trying On…Care/Of Vitamins

2017 June 7

I feel like I am in this strange phase of life where anything wellness-related needs to fall into two distinct categories all at once: effective…but easy. I don’t have the time to spend on elaborate rituals like I did in my 20s or hope to in my 70s. I don’t have the desire or means to invest in costly ones because I want to establish healthy practices that will (hopefully) stay with me for many decades to come and my budget is still spread across so many other needs. And I don’t have the patience to try things on just for size or trend factor anymore. I need to find things that work. Effortlessly.

I first heard of Care/Of from a friend who posted about them and was instantly intrigued. I had dabbled in a women’s multivitamin and collagen pills here and a probiotic there, but was fairly certain that something was missing in my vitamin and supplement regimen. Or lack thereof. So I hopped on their web site and took a quick health and wellness quiz and then they pulled together a personalized daily vitamin pack for me based on my results. The products are carefully sourced from around the world, manufactured with clean production practices, and then independently tested for health and safety standards here in the US. Once you finish your quiz, they recommend a mix of vitamins and supplements and you can make tweaks where you need or want to. Add something that sounds interesting, remove something that doesn’t.

You get a really cute box with 30 individual daily packs (each personalized — an extra fun touch!) that actually looks cool on your counter and makes it easy to remember to pop your pills every day. I ended up with a selection of four vitamins: The Harmonious Gut, which is a probiotic blend; The Brainiac, a bacopa supplement said to help relieve occasional stress; The Dream Weaver, a magnesium supplement to help with occasional sleeplessness; and The Coral King, a daily dose of astaxanthin that supports healthy skin. The instructions recommended I take them with my first meal of the day and this is where I had my only hiccup with the program. Trying to take them all at once left me terribly nauseous. I remember having similar issues with pre-natal vitamins. Think I am just sensitive to supplements in that way. So I started breaking up my doses throughout the day to help alleviate the side effect.

The best part? An entire one month supply of four different supplements delivered to your door for $33 (price may vary depending on your personal cocktail). And then auto-delivered again one month later so you never need to think twice about it. The even better part? If you use the code RALUCA at check out, your first month can be 50% off.

Effective, easy, affordable and made just for you. If only everything in life were the same!

*note: this post is not sponsored; I loved my experience with Care/Of and reached out to them to let them know I would be sharing it and asked for a code for you guys which they happily sent over.

Five Links

2017 June 6

We just got back from a really incredible trip to Mexico (more details to come). It was a beautiful, relaxing, restorative type of trip that has me looking at life through a softer lens…preferably one that is mezcal-tainted. Here are five recent finds that are feeding that feeling right now:

13 things you need to give up if you want to be successful. So many good things here, I honestly can’t pick a favorite. Implement them all.

This podcast round up from Homesong. I often complain that I don’t have time to listen to podcasts. I am either working at my desk (and can’t handle the distraction) or have my kids with me or don’t have a quiet time and place to focus on one. This list makes me want to find the time and place.

How not to end up hating your partner. Ties back to our recent vacation. It was kid-free. And much-needed. Marriage isn’t easy, no matter what stage of it you are in. This article offers some good perspective that you may want to keep in mind. This was another great read on the topic, from a men’s point of view.

Finally, a beautifully made mini movie on Erin French and The Lost Kitchen. You may have read about her off the beaten path culinary gem in the outer lands of Maine. Now you can learn more about the journey that took her there. Soft lens very much in focus.

Have a great Tuesday. xx

*image above via Death to the Stock Photo 

Father’s Day Gift Guide

2017 May 24

Father’s Day is around the corner and I thought you’d appreciate some suggestions on what to get for the guy in your life. My husband always feels guilty about buying himself…anything. So I like to take the opportunity to spoil him with some things he wouldn’t typically get for himself. Here are some of the best:

A subscription to his favorite magazine. In our case, that means the Surfer’s Journal. For your guy, it might mean Monocle. Or European Car. Or National Geographic. It’s such a simple gift but it pops up every month to put a smile on his face.



Reigning Champ slim sweatpants. My husband has a hard time investing in his own comfort so when I did it for him, it went a very long way. These are the best sweatpants — they have a slim but not too slim cut that doesn’t stretch out or lose shape, amazing cotton quality and colors that don’t fade in the wash. And they get washed a lot. 


The perfect tee. My man is a t-shirt and jeans kind of guy and finding the right one took his daily uniform to a new level. He likes the ones from Everlane but he LOVES the ones from Lone Flag, a local San Diego-based brand. The cut is perfect, the cotton is soft and again, no fading or stretching. It fits like the first time, every time.


Some fancy face stuff. A few years ago I bought my husband some Kiehl’s men’s products for Christmas. He sort of snubbed them because he’s not a “fancy” face stuff kind of guy. Until he tried them. Now he can’t go back. He is addicted to his little regimen and his (ahem, aging) skin is thankful, too. This Kiehl’s beard grooming oil is a great way to dip your guy’s toe into a men’s grooming routine. It smells heavenly, it will look good on his side of the counter and it’s one little step that will go a long way. If he is not a beard guy (lucky you, ha ha!), this starter kit is a perfect pick.


Books, books, books. And some time to actually sit down and read them. With a cold beer in hand. Here are my husband’s favorites: Born Standing Up by Steve Martin, Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis, Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, Life by Keith Richards, Barbarian Days by William Finnegan and Hosoi: My Life as a Skateboarder Junkie Inmate Pastor by Christian Hosoi. Skaters, surfers, rock ‘n’ rollers and a sneakerhead. Yep, sounds about right.

Happy dad’s day to you and yours!

PS – Father’s Day is apparently June 18th and NOT June 11th, as I thought…hence this ridiculously early post. Just a heads up in case you thought the same 😉

*this post contains affiliate links

What to buy from goop

2017 May 15

To celebrate the launch of goop’s pop-in at Nordstrom this month (more details and a list of participating stores here), I thought I would take a minute to share my personal favorites from Gwyneth Paltrow’s rapidly growing retail empire. I don’t necessarily believe that everything Gwyneth touches turns to gold (see my not-so-favorites mentioned below), but a lot of it definitely has a shiny allure that can’t be denied. Expensive, yes. But also rooted in quality, beauty and longevity, which are three things I find myself seeking out in everything I buy these days, whether it’s for me, my home or my family. Here are the things I have loved from Gwyneth’s goop:

The signature candles. These candles are beautiful to look at and display with a chic, (almost) all-black vessel and subtle, tonal branding. It is simply stunning, no matter where you perch it in your home. I had mine next to my kitchen sink for a month, just to add a little beauty to my mundane dish-washing time. Add to that an all-natural composition (most scented candles make me physically ill from their chemicals and nauseous fumes) and seasonally-inspired fragrance stories that feel subtle and specific at the same time. Easily one of my favorites for the home.

The exfoliating instant facial. This has quickly become one of my all-time favorite skincare essentials. It’s an all organic exfoliating scrub (“instant facial” and it feels like one) that works like a dream. It only takes three minutes for serious results that leave your face feeling soft, smooth and new. It can be intense so ease into it a few times per week and adjust accordingly from there. I have also heard great things about the melting facial cleanser which is next on my wish list. I wish I had better things to say about the day time moisturizer. It’s the one thing that gP actually sent to me direct to try out but I didn’t love it. It felt too heavy for my skin and just didn’t seem to do much for my hydration issues. I would highly recommend the discovery set if you’re interested in testing out the line to see what works. You can’t deny the quality of the ingredients and the simple beauty of it all but given the price point, a mini test run is definitely a good idea.

My Father’s Daughter. This is a pre-goop favorite of mine. I have bought all her cookbooks and this is the only one I turn to consistently. The other ones (here and here) are pretty and enlightening but just not conducive to my life and the way I like to cook for it. The recipes in My Father’s Daughter are fairly simple, just nutritious enough without being overbearingly clean and family favorites. It’s a nice read filled with really lovely pictures (two very important factors when it comes to cookbooks, in my opinion) and I find myself reaching for it time and again…even after five years.

Have any goop favorites I need to know about? Share in the comments!

*this post contains affiliate links

Buy Yourself Flowers

2017 May 13

Buying yourself flowers is always a good idea in my book so even though this may look like another Mother’s Day post let’s make it a “Buy Yourself Flowers” post instead. There is something really nice about buying yourself something simple and pretty, just because. Yes, it’s always lovely when someone else does it for you, of course, but I like to buy myself flowers every week as a little indulgence that goes a long way. A little “I love you” to myself, if you will. If my husband happens to pick some up for me as well…hey, even better. I’ve never seen a home that had too many flowers in it.

I came across these wreaths via Food52 ages ago and immediately loved their earthy, organic aesthetic. They are handmade by Creekside Farms, a family-owned operation in the Central Coast region, that specializes in creating natural, aromatic wreaths with care using materials such as herbs, branches, berries and more. Each one is built on a wire frame and pieced together with a meticulous eye for the natural, wild beauty of its ingredients.

You can buy them individually or Food52 offers a seasonal subscription (pictured above) which is my idea of one amazing gift. It features four unique wreaths, each inspired by the season: the Spring Branch Wreath features myrtle branches, moss, statice, and artemisia; the Fragrant Pod Wreath for Fall has eucalyptus, salal, bear grass, nigella, lotus pods and tallow berries; the Winter Citrus Wreath has a gorgeous mix of eucalyptus, lemon and orange slices, slit oranges and white statice; and the French Herb Wreath for summer (my personal favorite) is a blend of lavender, bay, marjoram, sage, oregano. Dreamy, I tell you.

Happy Mother’s Day, friends. Buy yourself something nice.

A New Chapter

2017 May 10


Sometimes in life, more is more.

As you know (and no doubt, have sensed), I have been struggling with the focus of this blog for a long time now. It always felt like I needed to cut back, re-focus, do less, in order to bring it to life again…for me and for you.

It turns out, I was wrong.

Welcome to the next chapter of What Would Gwyneth Do. One focused on the people, places and things that inspire my everyday. Moving forward, this space will be a carefully curated diary of my favorite things in beauty, design, travel, food and the like. Things I just have to share. Places I think you will love. People that will hopefully bring a little inspiration to your day. And yes, things that Gwyneth would probably like, too. I love this space, the concept behind it and the bits and pieces of inspiration I share here and I am excited to do more of that, with a new eye for quality, everyday inspiration and beauty. I hope you will continue to love it, too.

On the more is more note, I also want to introduce you to What Would Raluca Do. It’s a whole new blog. A whole new Instagram. A whole new space that will be filled with essays, musings and advice on modern-day motherhood and the moments that lie beyond it. It’s where my writing will live. My stories. My observations and thoughts. It will be no Gwyneth, all me, and hopefully some of you as well, who may be looking for a more thoughtful read once in a while and a place to sink into at the end of a long day or week. It will be simple in its design and it will feature some of my favorite essays from this space alongside all my new ones. It will be the big sister to WWGD, just a little bit younger in internet years. I hope you will pop in once in a while.

I think this new chapter will be a good one. It’s more work, more time, more effort. But somehow feels so much lighter in my mind.

Thank you, as always, for taking the time to stop by.


The Amazing Race

2017 May 3

Every day after school pick up, my kids and I play the same game. I drive to the mailbox at the end of our street, my daughter hops out to grab the mail for me and then she dumps it back through my open car window and she and her brother race me home. We live about five houses away; it’s a short race. But every day, they run like the wind to beat me and my big, heavy SUV. Their little legs pump furiously in the sun, despite already having seven or so hours of busy activity under their belts. Their hair flies behind them in the wind as they run into the afternoon sun’s rays. The smiles on their faces are big. Determined to win. Delighted to be racing. He is always trailing just a few steps behind her, but somehow it feels like they are running in tandem. Eyes moving quickly from the road ahead to their running feet and back up again. I always let them win. I hit the gas a little bit around house three just to keep them motivated and then I ease off the pedal as they cruise the corner into our driveway, always declaring their victory with arms above their heads and a “YES!” erupting from their little lungs. They collapse into victory laughter, teasing me for my slow driving, high-fiving each other for another winning race. 10 and 6 and always in first place.

My parents are both 70 now. They walk together every day. My dad goes twice, once in the morning by himself and then again with my mom in the afternoon. They walk the hills by their home, some of the most beautiful suburban streets in the country, I am sure of it. They religiously climb them and descend them day after day (except on Sundays, when my mom prefers to lounge in bed and read magazines…it’s her version of church), marveling at the blooming bougainvillea, huffing and puffing a little on the sharp inclines. Pausing to take in the vistas along the way, to remark on something that happened that day with me or my sister or my kids or Trump. Finding their way back home along the familiar streets, sometimes hand in hand, sometimes with my dad just a few steps ahead of my mom. I read a thing the other day about how the decades between 50 and 80 go the fastest. How they feel like seconds, not decades. Time just moves so quickly in that chapter of your life and you need to hold on like never before. I was telling my mom about the article and she concurred. Racing the clock. Racing those seconds. Always in first place, even at your own pace.

I turn 39 today. It’s one of those odd birthdays: not a milestone, not particularly young and not particularly old. Just 39. I look at all the things I’ve accomplished and done in 39 years and I feel proud. My marriage, my children, our home and day-to-day life. I want to celebrate it. Get a facial. Go and read on the beach. Eat my favorite pizza with my kids. Drink a glass or two of rosé. A new chapter will begin, as it always does on this day each year. I sense the next one will not be about accomplishments as much as it will be about living. About seeing places I want to see and doing things I want to do. About being with the people that fill me up and finding the things that do the same. About striving for a little less and enjoying a little more. I know, it sounds cliché for every woman in her late 30s. We all want to do a little less. Slow down. Come in last place some days. Not racing anyone or anywhere or anything. Just take it all in for a couple of years, declaring victory in our own way, readying ourselves for the next lap that lies ahead. It’s an amazing race, after all. Every step of the way. I will pick up my kids later. Take them for ice cream. Come home and stop at the mailbox. But maybe, just maybe, today I will let myself win.

*image via Death to Stock photo