Happy 2021: Answering Your Questions

iPad (my most used device at home) with The Nue Co Functional Fragrance Room Spray

Happy new year!

So let’s change the pace from the usual skincare dives. I wanted to answer some of the questions I’ve been getting from e-mails, and over instagram. I’ve found that the questions aren’t all necessarily beauty related, and to be honest, it’s been interesting connecting in other ways because we’re all people with full lives and it’s good to explore that together.

  • What was your biggest splurge in 2020?

    My biggest splurge in 2020 was on renovations for an apartment that my partner and I purchased together in 2019. Progress has been slow, especially with COVID-19. We’ve been saving money as we go along to fix up what we can budget. The apartment is a beautiful space in Brooklyn with so much potential, but it hasn’t been updated in decades so everything has to be lovingly brought back to life and up-to-date.

    So many things are almost prohibitively expensive, but I enjoy the couples time in scouring deals from wishlists that we’ve compiled on CB2 and Design Within Reach.

  • Outside of beauty, what category do you spend the most on?

    Probably good food. I find that people who live in NYC get such a thrill on good ingredients at good values. Sometimes when Trader Joes gets a shipment of organic tomatoes, I’ve seen people line up out the door. I’m also not a great cook. I’m lucky that being in proximity to New York City means access to wonderful food whether it’s cheap eats or gourmet dining. There is a wonderful vibe to exploring restaurants in NYC that I’ve missed since quarantine. I loved meeting friends for lunch at new sushi places, and discovering them in a hidden basement of a skyscraper in Midtown with massive 30 ft tall ceilings and rows of rare Japanese sake, or early dinners at hole in the wall places that pack you in shoulder to shoulder with the next table that serve delicious soul food that never fails to hit the spot when the city wears you down. It’s no wonder that my partner and I both have credit cards that give bonus returns on restaurants. On that note..

  • I mentioned in a prior post on holiday sales about additional discounts with beauty brands/retailers by checking out through PayPal with some credit cards and some of you wanted more information..

    American credit card providers have been rolling out the incentives. And as long as you responsibly pay for the charges at the end of the month, there really isn’t a reason you shouldn’t start using them strategically, as they also help to raise your credit score.

    For beginners, I recommend starting with cards that do not have any annual fees, like Chase Freedom. Right now, they’re offering $200 back when you spend the first $500, which is obviously a great deal. But on top of that, the Flex and Unlimited cards both offer 5% cash back on grocery store purchases for the entire first year you use the card. The difference between the two cards is that the Freedom Flex gives you 1% cash back on every purchase, but also has rotating categories each quarter of the year where you get 5% off. During holidays, it was purchases through PayPal, which is what I recommended to help you an extra 5% off holiday sales. Right now for 2021-Q1: they’re offering 5% cash back on streaming services, internet/cable/phone bills, and wholesale clubs — so I’ve moved our home internet, Netflix, Spotify, Hulu, cell phone bills to the Flex card, and ordered some gift cards from Costco.

    The Freedom Unlimited doesn’t do rotating categories, it’s a straight forward 5% cash back on travel (flights/rental cars/hotels), 3% cash back on dining (including takeout), drugstores, and 1.5% on EVERYTHING else. This is what I use for food, and for purchases where I can at least get 1.5% cash back over.. nothing. Neither cards have annual fees, so I think getting one or the other is a no-brainer.

  • What do you use to shoot photos for your blog?

    Honestly, just my iPhone. I don’t think you need to buy top of the line cameras, and to be honest, I’ve tried shooting with those before and the pictures came out worse because there are soooooo many things I have to learn how to adjust.

    What I did invest in was a nice storage drive to organize my photos (because Apple is not very generous with space on their MacBooks). It’s the Samsung SSD in 500GB that I had recommended before. The space is larger than my MacBook’s entire storage size, and it is a solid-state drive which means there are no moving parts so it’s silent, file transfers are immediate almost like it’s native (in fact, I think the Samsung SSD technology is more advanced than the storage technology in the MacBook which is also solid-state drive but an earlier version), and it’s tiny and ultra portable (you just need a USB to connect it to your computer, as it doesn’t require additional power). I’m not a huge tech person, and this is something my partner recommended because he saw that I was having a hard time deleting photos on my computer, and it has been one of my favorite purchases that I use everyday to organize and store my files. Also, it’s like.. $80.. which really isn’t a lot of money for making my MacBook more functional for a few more years.
  • What is your current go-to bag?

    I don’t currently have a go-to because I haven’t been going out that much. I do love a gorgeous handbag, but I believe in quality over quantity, so I only have a handful, purchased on trips to Europe (way cheaper) and often to celebrate an occasion like a college graduation. However since Mansur Gavriel, I’ve been researching these new direct-to-consumer handbag brands including Senreve, and Wandler. They have really beautiful designs, fresh point of views, high quality materials, and most of the time, come in under $1,000. I just haven’t decided which one I want to get first. If you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments!

I’ll end this here. If you enjoyed this type of Q & A, please let me know. It’s obviously new, but I’m open to doing a couple of non-beauty focused posts here and there going forward.



  1. Helen
    January 13, 2021 / 2:58 pm

    I really like this a lot! It’s so right that talking about beauty is just one small part of our lives, and I have always loved your advice, even your non-beauty related advice on things like credit cards is so helpful. I’m in my 20s and have only been on debit cards, I know that it’s smarter to go on credit cards but there is just so much fine print that it’s a bit intimidating. I appreciate the recommendations so much!

    Also, may I ask if that is the Nue Co Functional Fragrance? My bottle looks a little different.

    • January 13, 2021 / 3:15 pm

      Yes! I was the same way about finances, but it feels very empowering to be literate in these aspects. I’ve accrued enough points to fly to South America or Europe roundtrip on business class, using what would come out to $800, on tickets that would otherwise cost $5,000-$6,000. So it’s pretty wonderful once you take the time to learn.

      The product is indeed The Nue Co’s Functional Fragrance, but the home version which is the room spray. It’s a bit bigger given that it is a home spray so you’re absolutely right!

  2. Katie
    January 13, 2021 / 3:08 pm

    Hi Fabiana, long time reader. I personally love the Senreve Maestra Bag as a weekday work bag. Mine is the Midi size and it fits my iPad, can fit a 13″ MacBook if I’m packing lighter, fits in documents, and extras. It is really functional and I love it. I think it is perfect for working in the city (I’m a consultant based in New York).

    • January 13, 2021 / 3:17 pm

      Thank you for dropping a comment. So wonderful to hear some real world feedback. Senreve seems to have really hit a good note with influencers and professional women! I love the functionality of the bag too.

  3. Arli
    January 13, 2021 / 3:09 pm

    Okay I have to know what is the sushi place you’re mentioning? Sounds wonderful!

    • January 13, 2021 / 3:18 pm

      Sakagura, it’s a few blocks down from Grand Central Station. You go inside an office building first and take the stairs into the basement level. Once you go in, it’s pretty open and expansive. It feels like a hidden treat.

  4. Marissa
    January 13, 2021 / 10:55 pm

    I so agree that women should talk more about these other products that make our lives easier. I have been coming to your site for a few years, because your reviews are always so spot on, and your suggestions always work so well for me. I can’t tell you how important having an SSD is for me as a translator where I travel most of the year, it is so prized and treasured.

    • January 14, 2021 / 10:09 am

      It is ridiculous how excited I am to travel again, and bring the SSD lol

  5. Jess
    January 14, 2021 / 12:00 am

    Oh I love my Chase cards (have a trifecta now). Freedom is how I entered too, even when I wasn’t really strategizing it and wasted those 1x spends! I love that they’re covering groceries for a full year now with 5%, that’s a sweet deal. I know everyone thinks American Express is where it’s at, but Chase is way easier to use in everyday life to me.

    • January 14, 2021 / 10:10 am

      Yes, my partner was explaining to me about “ecosystem” with the cards, and apparently Chase works with more places to redeem points for a higher value too.

  6. Bernice
    January 14, 2021 / 3:45 pm

    I have the Mansur Gavriel bucket bag in two colors, I was obsessed I guess you could say. Have you seen their new collection that has the creamy cloud clutch?

    • January 14, 2021 / 6:08 pm

      Ugh. Don’t get me started, the leathers look so sumptuous.

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