Second Floor Flat – An American Expat in London

Second Floor Flat follows an American expat and magazine writer living in London. Expect travel, fashion, design, lifestyle, and photography.

Becoming Minimalist: Skincare Routine

Over the past year I've begun to embrace a more minimalistic lifestyle with an aim to use natural products whenever possible. Even though I started paying attention to the foods I put in my body a few years ago, I didn't think about what I put on my body – skincare products, makeup, and the like. Until I did, and then I became obsessed with it.

Using natural, grocery-bought skincare alternatives started out as an experiment but has now turned into my regular routine. I use raw honey for face masks, various oils for moisturizer, and baking soda for just about everything. 

Once I started using these products, I quickly discovered that not only were they cheaper but they also made my skin feel better. 

To continue my ongoing obsession of cleansing and purging my medicine cabinet, I decided to give "Skin Cleanse" by Adina Grigore of S.W. Basics a read, and I'm happy to report that it was totally legit. Full of solid advice and interesting facts, this book goes into detail about our skin, the foods we eat, the products we use, and finally encourages all of us to go on a "skin cleanse" – meaning, you go 24 hours without using skincare products. Just to try. 

I did. Nothing happened, and I mean that in the best way. I thought my skin would dry up and I would die, but it actually felt pretty much the same the next morning. Maybe even a little softer.

The book talks about the reliance we have on our skincare products and how we've come to feel like we need them now because we've trained our skin to need them. On its own, at least according to the book, our skin can exfoliate and moisturize itself – no plastic beaded face wash needed. 

This makes complete sense when you think about it. From an evolutionary perspective, why would our skin require regular, intense exfoliations and tons of products?

The best part about the book is that it's not preachy at all. Rather than telling you not to use a certain product, or not to eat wheat, the book advocates a plan of trying things out, seeing if they work, and if not then trying something else.

It's not about following a new, pre-planed skincare routine. Instead it's about doing what works for you. No preachiness whatsoever. 

Though I've finished the book, I've decided that I'm not going to stop buying skincare products all together.  I enjoy the process of buying products, and I think this whole thing is about figuring out what makes you happy, what works for you and your skin, and what you like.

But I will be sticking to a mix of grocery store products and items from natural retailers like delicious smelling, spa-like Ursa Major, S.W. Basics, and Earth Tu Face – a few of my favorites right now. I'm also really eager to try soul sunday, Herbivore Botanicals, and Meow Meow Tweet.

But what about you guys? Would love to hear your take on skincare and natural products. Do swear by them, find them too crunchy, or what? Let me know!


I received product from both S.W. Basics and Ursa Major as gifts, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support Second Floor Flat! 

Good Reads: 27 March 2015

Guys, I'm in need of some serious inspiration. I was in a rut most of the week so I want to do something to get myself out of it. 

What's something attainable and affordable that I can do to help shake things up? I'm looking for quick and easy inspiration. Day trip? Museum visit? Paint my nails? Buy some new mags? All of the above? We'll see.

Either way, I hope you have a great weekend! I'm daydreaming about this time last year when we were in the tulip fields of Holland. If you ever get the chance, this is something you have to do. Tulip season only lasts mid-March through May so while the crowds are pretty unavoidable, it's definitely worth doing if you get the chance.

Oh – and thanks to everyone who shopped my move! The shop is almost sold out, but there are still a few good finds (including pieces from Madewell and Cynthia Steffe). So, If you see anything you'd like, just email me and we'll talk details. 

A few things to see before you head out for the weekend –

why you should change the way you speak to yourself. (via woodie)

because any human is too much human.

love me a good striped pouch

the price of shame.  (good for her!)

10 words every girl and woman should know. 

"migration involves loss. even when you’re privileged, as I am, and move of your own free will, as I did, you feel it." 

loving the comfy, sunday-ready stripes from the alas spring collection

the minimalist pixie dream girl. (via feifei)

what's so great about kimmy schmidt.

on brainstorming sessions.

cannot get enough of the new sufjan stevens. (and really enjoying a good, open sob to "fourth of july". those lyrics – are you kidding me?!)

ss15 collections that were released this week + require your time: elizabeth suzann + tradlands 


new finds this week: osei-duro / szeki / evens (SCAD grad!) / melissa sonico / Obsessive Compulsive cosmetics (via @jodielayne) / blackbird & the owl / kari breitigam (via almost makes perfect) / mr larkin / sandwich shop 

me elsewhere: on breaking up with a city / fieldtested / what's on my nightstand 

Shop My Move!

In case you've been under a rock or have just found a way to successfully drown out my whining, here's the news: We're moving soon!

International moves are expensive (like, very expensive) and so because of my ongoing pursuit to live a more minimalistic, simple life, I'm cleaning out my wardrobe in a giant way.

I've already donated a lot but there are a few items I was hesitant to give up. I want to make sure these guys go to a good home SO I've put them up for sale.

Want to check out the goods? Maybe make a purchase?

Head here to shop my move.

And stay tuned - I may be adding more soon. Happy shopping!


I started crying on Saturday morning when I was getting dressed.

Not in the heartbreaking way, so don't feel bad for me. It was a whiny cry – not so different from that of a toddler who's stayed too long at the supermarket.

I was frustrated with the feeling of having it "up to here" for so many months. I'm tired of it being 50 degrees and slightly grey, tired of wearing my same clothes and coats, tired of waiting to start on the next phase of my life. Tired of waiting on our move. 

People talk about how difficult February can be, and it makes sense. After all, there is a cruelness in the fact that one of the worst winter months happens towards the end of winter, after you've already put up with three or four months of cold weather.

But March has always frustrated me far more. It's a difficult month because everything is so close – sunshine, warm weather, holidays – but also so far away. You get a taste of a nice day, and then the clouds roll in a few hours later. It's neverending.

For us, it feels our move has been coming up forever. Friends ask how long it will be before we go, and why is it taking so long? 

But there's no satisfying answer. We're playing the same waiting game with our move as everyone else is with the weather. Something will happen, and the end begins to feel nigh, and then you're back to waiting, trying to be patient amongst the grey.

It'll all be over soon – both the waiting and greyness. The layers and paperwork. 

March will be over soon.

In the meantime, I just put my head down and work, clean up and organize, read good books, try to relax.

There's a book kicking around right now called "Essentialism" which seems to be very worth reading. Anyway, I heard a quote from the book that encourages the reader to live in the present by asking themselves the following question:

What's important now?

Maybe for you, what's important now is planning and acting on your plans. Maybe it's organizing, or maybe it's letting the plans play out themselves.

Or maybe it's just enjoying your present company; focusing on finding some sunshine and getting through the grey days. 

Reminding yourself that it has to be March for it to be May or – can you even imagine? –June. Sundresses, warmth, fresh air. Flowers, open windows, and optimism.

Blue skies. Surely they'll come at some point, won't they?

But they will – they have to. 

We're almost there. After all, March is almost over.


Photo by D Watterson III

Good Reads: 20 March 2015

Getting a little bit of a slow start this morning. 

London was spoiled with some sunshine last week, so to make up for lost time it's been dark, grey, and chilly all week. Even though we haven't had daylight saving time yet, the days have definitely gotten longer – now, if we could only catch up with some sunshine and warmer weather!

We'll be doing a lot of cleaning and donating this weekend – that's the order of the day until we move. And on that note, I'm thinking of creating a little sale section on the blog that will include some of the better items I'm getting rid of. Would you guys be into that? They'll be super cheap – promise.

Whatever you're up to, I hope you have a great weekend!

"I’ve found my senses are most finely tuned when I’m forced to let things be — and in times of transition, there’s so much to be lost (or missed) in the rush to get to whatever’s next." 

gearing up for clog season.

best idea for a nightstand ever.

marcus mumford and bob dylan make for a lovely duo

very into the idea of berry lips lately. this and this are on my list. 

officially started + finished kimmy schmidt this week. wasn't into it at first, but the 30 rock-pace + jon hamm = perfection. (not to mention the theme song!)

two of my fave biz ladies.

"serial" as a teaching tool. 

the only piece of furniture that's coming with us on our move.

did the name test everyone is talking about and it was ridiculously accurate for me. have you tried it?

beautiful essay on gaining confidence by putting your bod to work, in light of yesterday's post on body image

dream tee.


new finds this week: KERTIS / Sonadora / Rachel Sees Snail Shoes / Olive (found via calivintage)

Let's Talk About Body Image

Let's talk about body image for a second.

Last week, I posted some images from a collaboration I did with yoga + undie line Dear Kate and mentioned that I was hesitant at first to participate. Granted, I wore yoga pants in most of the photos, but if I'm honest I think what scared me the most was not that other people would see me in non-clothing, but that I would have to look at photos of myself. On a camera screen, wearing underwear, in natural light. 

I did it anyway, and as I said, I'm glad that I did. Of course I looked at the photos, but I didn't dwell on them. And that's one of the things I wanted to bring up in this little talk about body image – knowing your comfort level when it comes to your insecurities, and particularly those insecurities surrounding body image.

Maybe you're one of the 7 women out there who are completely comfortable with their bodies and weight in all aspects. I really hope you are.

But if you aren't, there may be certain things that make you feel better about your body than others. Whether it's a dress to avoid because it doesn't make you feel good, or a behavior that makes you self conscious, knowing yourself and knowing what makes you "tick" is a hugely important part of dealing with any insecurity. 

It's probably my age (old) but I'm far more confident about my body than I used to be. At this point, I've also come to the realization that my weight tends to stay within the same 5-7 pound range. I eat right, exercise, and focus on that rather than some of the things I used to focus on. Health = wealth, right?

I've learned that I genuinely feel better when I take care of my body, but still partake in a little treat yo'self action. Because otherwise, what's the point of it all?

Part of this improvement I've experienced in my self image is due to the fact that I've learned what my trigger points are. Trigger points, meaning the things that turn my thoughts about my body from fine to not great. I've learned to avoid things that make me overthink my weight, or that cause me to ask myself questions like: Are my cheeks fuller or is it my haircut? Did I gain fat, or muscle in my legs? How old is that picture of me?

My trigger points all relate to fixation. (Sorry, but not in the psychosexual Freud way.) If I spend too long looking at old photos of myself where I may look thin, or too long looking at new photos of myself that I don't like, or even too long getting ready, a dark cloud starts to settle.

And once settled, the dark cloud tends to stick around, fogging up everything in its wake.

So I actively avoid those activities, and instead focus on the the positives and the things that make me feel good, like pushing myself in yoga and trying new, healthy foods. When I do that, I find the dark clouds clear, and everything falls back into perspective. I avoid dwelling on my hair length, avoid fixating on how full my cheeks are or aren't.

Anyway, it's a topic I've never brought up here before so I figured I'd do it.

How are you guys doing? Are you tired of talking about body image, or is it en evergreen insecurity? If you're ok with sharing, I'd love to hear.


(p.s. – excuse the blurry photos.)

Sleeper SS15

One of the great things about working from home is being able to wear whatever you want. While I'm a big advocate of getting ready every day (not to mention making that bed), it's a true luxury to be able to grab a pair of yoga pants, a snuggly cardigan, throw on some sneakers, and just do the damn thing.

Other freelancers prefer the pajama route, which is something I could be convinced to get behind. Especially – especially – if the PJs looked anything like the pieces from Sleeper's SS15 collection.

Based in Ukraine, Sleeper makes "walking sleepwear" – which is an idea that I love. Think of it as elevating the clothing that you wear to bed, or giving your daywear a chill pill. It's that special sweet spot somewhere between pajamas and real clothing.

Whatever it is, it's gorgeous. Here are a few favorite looks from their latest collection:

Oh, and by the way – these are so lovely that I don't think I could even bring myself to sleep in them.

Instead, I'd pair this top with these jeans and call it a day out – of the house, that is. A big deal for a work-at-home freelancer like myself.

What's your favorite piece?