12.16.2013

Homemade & All-Natural Beauty Scrub


I am in love with the following homemade and all-natural beauty scrub. The benefits are endless... I'll even show you a photo of me with no make-up or crafty filters at the end.

What's in it?
-1 TBS "RAW" Honey (must be raw)
-1 TBS Olive Oil (or melted Coconut Oil - solidified doesn't work the best)
-1/2 - 1 whole juiced lemon (depends on how juicy is it)
-1/2 cup brown or white sugar (you may need more)



The Benefits:

The RAW honey has amazing benefits. It acts as an anti-inflammatory, antioxident, and moisturizing substance. It can help fight redness, acne, aging, and dry skin. More on raw honey benefits.

The Olive (or Coconut) Oil is a great moisturizer for the skin, and like the raw honey, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Despite what you might think, I do not break out from the oil. I usually break from bad things I put INTO my body (wheat, sugar, dairy)... not oil on my face. More on oil benefits here and here.

The Lemons are a great source of Vitamin C, which has been known to help dark spots and discoloration in the skin. It also helps to diminish wrinkles and other aging skin conditions. More on vitamin C here.

The Sugar acts as the "scrub" portion of this formula. It is gentle and all-natural, and will scrub out the dead skin cells leaving your skin radiant. A lot of store bought scrubs have sand and/or microfibers which are just not good for the skin. They are too harsh and damaging.

The Recipe:

In a small bowl mix the raw honey, olive oil, and lemon juice. Add the sugar as you stir. You want a thick consistency so you may have to add more sugar depending on your liquids. Once it's all mixed you are ready to scrub away!




How to Scrub:

In your shower or bath, use this scrub all over your body in a rotational pattern: face, neck, chest, knees, elbows, arms, legs, back of thighs, bum... everywhere! I use up the whole bowl full in one shower/bath, and while I use this everywhere I concentrate on my face the most. I even leave it on my face while I take care of all of my other shower routines. This lets the ingredients settle and work their magic. After I'm all rinsed I like to splash my face with VERY cold water to close my pores and lock in all the moisture. Then I dry skin with a soft towel and follow up with moisturizers and creams.

The Results:

For me, this scrub leaves my skin feeling so so smooth, and I get a very natural glow. Make-up glides on so much smoother, and when I use this scrub, I don't have to use powder or foundation. I just use concealer and bronzer/blush where needed. This scrub also helps to keeps my face moisturized all day long. 

Here is photo of my face after using this scrub. No make-up, no filters... I swear to/on whoever/whatever you believe in. I'm not perfect. I have dark circles, the start of what looks to be crows feet, and still some redness around my nose - but I truly believe that this scrub brings out the best with what I've got.  Also, I'm 30 incase you were wondering....




Do you have a homemade scrub recipe?



12.05.2013

i { heart }: Beauty Beauty Beauty

I have a few new beauty favorites lined up for you all for my heart } series. These all make great gifts for the holidays and you can always buy them for yourself too. :o)

I found a skincare line that I absolutely adore. While I love to make natural face scrubs (will blog that later) I have always been in need of a good cleanser, toner, AND moisturizer for face, neck and my eyes. Usually I just use random brands but for the first time ever I've been using just one and it's proved to be spectacular for keeping my face moisturized during the day, the toner has shrunk my pores, and the cleanser takes off my heavy cat eyes without any vigorous scrubbing and eyelash pulling on my part. I bought the Michael Todd "Anti Aging Mature Skin" set. I'm 30 so I think starting now with products like that can't hurt. All of the ingredients are natural in these products, they smell great, and work hand-in-hand with each other. It is pricy for the whole set but... it's been on sale for a while now so grab it while you can. There are promo codes floating around too. 

Following my trend of sticking with same brands, I've been using L'Oreal True Match on my face. Because of the great results I've had with the Michael Todd set I don't use foundation anymore. I just use concealer and mineral powder for cover up. A little birdy (Kim Gravel) told me to only use mineral powder and I can see why. It makes the skin so smooth and you don't "cake" as much. It's a flawless look. When it comes to the concealers I bought two light shades. One warm tone and one cool tone. I use the warm tone under my eyes, around my nose, and on my chin, and between my brows. Then I use the cool tone to highlight my upper brows, above lips, and down the middle of nose. It's proved to be an interesting combo. I might do a tutorial on how I do this because I actually put all of my bronzer on first before the concealer and blend blend blend. The husband says I look like I'm putting on war paint. It's partially true... 

In keeping with my "same brand" concept yet again, for eyeliner I use L'Oreal as well. For my top "signature" cat eye I use the Super Slim marker. I say "signature" because I literally draw on cat eyes everyday. Even to work. It's just what I do, and this liner is so easy for me. It took years to find one that I could make the cat eyes with ease and precision every single time. And then for upper and lower water lines I like the L'Oreal Smoldering pencil. Glides on nice and pigmented.

I was in the market for some new make-up brushes and read up a lot about Real Techniques. I don't have the dough to buy MAC or Sigma brushes so these were right up my alley. I love how soft they are. Very affordable and a great price. There is a really good pack of the maker's picks at Ulta here, but you can also buy them individually based on your current needs.


That's it for now. I'm sure there is more so I'll save it for a raining day.

11.26.2013

ISAGENIX 9 DAY CLEANSE RESULTS & REVIEW

Well, I am finished with my 9 day cleanse. What a challenge... but a good one. I'll first give you a quick overview of Isagenix and then I will get into what I did for this cleanse and my results and overall review of the experience.

Isagenix is a system that combats the toxins in our environment, improves body composition, and slows the aging process. Their products include yummy shakes, snacks, soups, cleansing drinks and coaches to help you along with the process. Many athletes also use Isagenix to improve performance, build lean muscle, and live a healthier lifestyle. Another aspect of Isagenix that makes it so great for the community is that it is a "sharing" business. You yourself, if you love Isagenix, can go out there and encourage people to buy the system and coach all while earning a living. Many people are making a great living selling these products and coaching individuals to become, and more importantly, STAY healthy.

Now onto the cleanse. The cleanse was 9 Days. The first two days were "shake days" which meant I drank the Isagenix shake for 2 meals and then ate one balanced clean meal. A clean meal means vegetables, whole grains like quinoa and lean protein... preferably all Organic. Snacks were to be eaten here and there in between meal times. Then there were two "cleanse days" which consisted of approved snacks, and the "cleanse" drink to sip all day long. This wasn't a laxative but rather a juice like tea and you sip multiple times during the day. It has nutrients in it so while you are not eating much you are still getting vitamins and minerals. The taste grew on me, but at first it tasted like cough syrup! I had to get used to it. Then I had 3 more "shake days" and two more "cleanse" days to finish out the 9 days.

What made this extra challenging was that I came down with a horrible cold on my second cleanse day. I can't really blame the cleanse on getting sick though because just a few days earlier I was on a work trip so I'm sure the plane, weather changes and OT had something to do with it as well. But my coach Veldene was great in suggesting low sodium chicken broth. That saved my life! On this cleanse you should moderately exercise but with my cold I honestly did not do any. It was just too much.

I really enjoyed the shake days because the IsaLean Shake in chocolate is pretty darn good. For this cleanse I only mixed it with water and it was so creamy. I'm actually shocked at how creamy the consistency was. It also has a good taste. Some meal replacement shakes have that "mealy" protein after taste but this did not at all.

The IsaLean Bars are also awesome. I again was shocked at the flavor. No mealy textures or protein tastes... One tasted like oatmeal raisin cookies, and the other had a fudge layer on top so it tasted like a brownie. I'm not exaggerating. They were good!

If you are ever looking to replace a meal with a shake, or eat a protein bar after a workout I highly recommend the Isagenix versions.

There were also these little chocolate wafer like snacks ( to be had throughout the day to curb hunger.) The taste and texture left little to be desired for me but they do EXACTLY what they say on the label which to is help curb appetite and blood sugar spikes. It's a pretty genius little wafer the way it works. A lifesaver in fact on this plan.


Now on to the major results of the cleanse:
1) I lost about 5 pounds in the 9 days
2) While I did not lose any inches I was WAY less bloated after. Clothes were not as tight and my face definitely debloated which was awesome. Yay for cheekbones!
3) I had little to NO gas - amazing
4) I was quite "regular" as well - super amazing
5) I've never had an issue with acne but my skin definitely improved when it came to pores being smaller, and over all clarity and glow. I've stopped wearing foundation and just use concealer and mineral powder to de-shine a bit.
6) Now that I am back to eating I am making better choices
7) I get fuller much faster... my stomach organ maybe shrunk back a bit.

I think for 9 Days those are some very positive and normal results. Nothing too crazy, and what I like most about these changes is that they really gave me the boost to keep going in making better choices moving forward. It doesn't just stop at the 9 Days, this helps clear your mind. I think anyone looking to change up their habits would benefit from this cleanse because it's the jump start you need to get going. It's like lighting a fire under your ass!

Moving forward, I will continue to use the shakes for meal replacement. I've always liked having a shake for breakfast and during the holiday season this will help offset the feasting that will inevitably occur. And I will also adapt keeping snacks on hand (bars, almonds, apples, etc) so as to never be a ravenous cave woman.

A big thank you to Veldene for introducing me to Isagenix. She is an amazing coach. When I had a question she answered immediately, and even if I didn't I always got little notes, tips, and encouragement everyday which was so nice and helpful.

Let me know in the comments if Isagenix sounds like something you'd be interested in, and feel free to ask any other questions about the cleanse!






11.14.2013

Isagenix 9 Day Cleanse

Greetings! You read the title correctly... I am on a 9 Day cleanse courtesy of Isagenix. Isagenix is a system that combats the toxins in our environment, improves body composition, and slows the aging process. Their products include yummy shakes, snacks, cleansing drinks and coaches to help you along with the process. 

I am very excited to take this journey because I am in desperate need of a detox. I am not looking to lose "permanent" weight on this (even though I need to down the road), I am looking to C-L-E-A-N-S-E and jump start a healthier ME. The 9-Day cleanse will consist of 5 shake days where I drink 2 shake meal replacements and eat 1 clean balanced meal. The other 4 days are the hard core cleanse days where I will drink the Isagenix cleansing juices and flush it out. And no, I won't literally "flush" it out. It's not harmful like that. :o)

I am currently on Day 3 (My first Cleanse Day - yikes!) and I will report back next week with my final results of the cleanse and more information on the products. Wish me luck!

To learn a bit more about Isagenix watch this video below. It's also has a very fun and informative introduction to the toxicity in our daily lives... which is one of the main reasons I'm doing this cleanse.

11.13.2013

DivvyDown and Party It Up!

Who doesn't love hosting a get together with family and friends? Well, people who are very busy and don't have the time to shop and stock for the party might not love it so much. And lugging a whole lot of party gear (booze) in NYC can get very stressful. Here's where divvydown.com comes into play: *Purchase your wine, beer, snacks, keg accessories, sodas and more on the website and it is all delivered to your door and in time for your party. It's as simple as that. 

One of the best features is their BYOB system. If all of your guests are contributing to the party, then they can just purchase (aka divvy up) the items from your shopping list that you create on the website, and it all gets delivered to you. How easy (and incredibly cool) is that?

If you are even more pressed for time, there are premade packages available so there is even LESS thinking involved. Are you into imported beer? Classy wine and cheese? Cheap beer (you know who you are)? There is also a package that includes a DJ service if you are that snazzy. Check out the full list of packages here!


Just in time for the holidays, there is a great “Friendsgiving” feature for groups of 8 or more. Do you have Thanksgiving with your friends in your tiny apartment and need a little help? For $45 dollars per person, get DivvyDown to get your party started and deliver the holiday goods.

This “Friendsgiving” feast includes:

-A hand selected assortment of delicious wine and beer
-A Gourmet Thanksgiving feast fit for a king
 -Party essentials - cups, plates, utensils, ice etc

I found the website to be incredibly easy to navigate, organized, and the design is cute and sophisticated.




DivvyDown was created and founded by two best friends, the gorgeous Kendall and Torie. Two woman after my own heart because I know just how hard it is to host a gathering when you do not have the resources in NYC. It's like they read my mind! Just two (maybe three - I blocked it out) years ago I made Thanksgiving dinner in my miniature kitchen… I wish I new these girls then! 



Give DivvyDown a try this holiday season or on any occasion down the road.

*you must be 21 years of age to purchase alcohol

10.23.2013

Dining in Yountville (Napa Valley)

When traveling in Napa Valley the town of Yountville is actually the food mecca of the area, so of course that is where we stayed. My arteries are still recovering but it was worth it. The top restaurants include The French Laundry, Redd, Redd Wood, Ad Hoc, Bistro Jeanty, Bottega, and Bouchon. We were lucky enough to eat at 5 of these wonderful restaurants.

REDD

Redd was one of our favorites. We enjoyed the tasting menu with wine pairings. I highly recommend when getting a tasting menu to go for the added wine pairing. It completely enhances the experience. Two dishes even reminded me of my father's holiday recipes. It was like that scene in Ratatouille when the evil Anton has his flashback...


Anyway... back to reality. 
Here are some of the wonderful dishes we enjoyed.










BISTRO JEANTY

We actually ate at Bistro Jeanty twice. It was the first place we went when we arrived during lunchtime... then as we walked around town we started hearing it was one of the best in town for dinner so we went again! It did not disappoint either time. Authentic French, we had (split over two different meals) lobster bisque, black cod over fava beans, short ribs, sweetbreads, lamb tongue salad (we're adventurous)  and yes, we shared the ratatouille!









AD HOC

Ad Hoc has a different approach to dining... the menu changes every single day and they don't post it until a bit before opening. Very exciting, but not for the picky eater. They have some staple fried chicken nights which they are known for... but we were lucky enough to try their amazing local greens, pork shoulder, and ridiculous sundaes for dessert. Those didn't make it for a photo.









We also ate at Redd Wood and Bouchon but the lighting during these meals was not the best and sometimes we just want to enjoy and not look like total posers. But they were both excellent. The Brussel sprout salad at Redd Wood was the best salad I've ever had, and at Bouchon they had amazing saffron mussels!

If you are traveling in Napa Valley, definitely make Yountville a stop for all your foodie extravaganzas.

10.18.2013

Back From Vacation...

Happy Friday! I've been away for the past week for a wedding in San Francisco and then a mini vacation in Napa Valley. It was a really wonderful time, but I am so tired. I need some vacation time from the vacation. I'll be back soon with pictures and tips on traveling in Napa. Definitely gathered some great information while there that I would have loved to have known before going... lucky you!
Have a great weekend.



10.03.2013

Cardstore.com Review




Usually when I go to buy a card for a birthday, holiday, etc I am stuck staring at all the cards in the aisle and have a hard time deciding on what is right for my occasion. Then came Cardstore.com. While at first I was overwhelmed with the amount of cards they offer, I then realized how amazing it was to have everything at the click of a button. 

The ability to change messages and write your own is another amazing feature because sometimes what is written in a card is just not how you truthfully would say it to the person.

And then, adding your own pictures! How fun! Love personalizing cards but my head also started spinning about how cool it would be to take all of my photos from Africa (especially the big cats) and make greeting cards or thank you cards with them. You could also take all of your favorite pictures from traveling, food, etc and build your own collection and give as gifts to friends and family.

I decided to make a cute little card with a picture of my husband and me on our honeymoon. The quality is great, and I even scaled down my picture when I uploaded it.


The interface itself on Cardstore.com was very easy to use. I found it to be quite intuitive and the design itself is very cute and clean. Need some Halloween cards? Head on over now to get started.

What cards will you make?

9.26.2013

Beautiful Kitchen Inspiration

If there is one thing for certain, living in New York City for over 8 years has made me obsessed with kitchens. In particular, kitchens I will never have if I continue to live in the city. But, a girl can dream... and she can dream big!

Beautiful, warm, open kitchens that bring the sunlight in.... 
Marble counters that would make even the Italian Gods blush... 
And spaces so open one could do a cartwheel with a tray of artisanal cheeses and not drop a wedge.

You know the kitchens I am talking about. You imagine yourself twirling around in a cute apron‐ Sorry feminists, but I am getting old fashioned and whimsical here.




Are you drooling yet? From stainless steel to open cabinets, the list goes on for how many different ways to decorate and build a gorgeous kitchen. Hardwood floors instead of tile? Be still my beating heart. Bowls of lemons and plants also bring such an earthy balance to the room.

I don’t know about you but when I am at a party, I usually plant myself in the kitchen. Sharing stories, nibbles, sips, and good times! The kitchen is truly the heart of the home. 

Share your kitchen inspiration in the comments below.

9.19.2013

NYC Bachelorette Venues

Greetings to anyone still reading! It's been a while since I've posted. I'm sorry. Between gearing up for a new show launch at work (more on that later), organizing my friend's bachelorette weekend, prepping for her wedding and our upcoming vacation, I've had little time to write and create post ideas. It's hard for me to come up with blog concepts because I don't want to just tell you "what I did today". I want to give you some sort of advice, recipe, inspiration, tips, reviews etc... At least something!

What I can offer you today is a review on the two places we went went for my friend's bachelorette dinner and drinks evening. Our first stop was at Casa la Femme. It's a beautiful Egyptian restaurant with excellent food, delicious cocktails (they make their own tequila) and a belly dancing show at the end. The belly dancer was so good. At one point she came out with a tray of candles on her end. Power to her! I wish I had pictures but it is dark in there and flashes from cameras while you eat are a bit annoying and it doesn't do the beauty in there justice. You'll just have to experience it for yourself! Pictures below are from their website so you can get the idea. Isn't it gorgeous?






After dinner, we headed to Amelie Wine Bar, a very European wine bar with hilarious staff. I loved them. French, Catalonian, etc. They were so much fun and made sure the Bride was happy and not thirsty. They had a great dry sherry that I adored. It was my little celebratory drink after all that planning. I just sat back, relaxed, and looked at everyone's smiling faces. A good time was had.

That's what's new. I hope to have more for you all soon!


8.27.2013

Food Prep: Saves Time, Money and Burns Calories

I must admit that not eating gluten is incredibly hard when I'm not the one in charge in the kitchen or when I do not take the time to plan ahead. Luckily some gluten (rye) and dairy (light cottage cheese/cheese) are NOT bothering me at the moment. Anyway... It is so easy to make bad decisions when we don't plan ahead and weigh all options prior. 

Last week, and now this week, I've made a conscious effort to not buy my breakfast and lunch. Meaning it must come from my kitchen, prepared by myself in some way. I'm trying to save money and this was one of the first ideas I had. Next item will be to stop buying clothes, shoes and make-up! I usually perform 1 good kicker of a spree per month. That needs to stop!

I looked to my bank statement to see how much money I usually spend on food. That's the good thing about always using a debit card. You know! I was saddened by how much I relied on buying my food on the spot and prepared by someone else. It adds up like crazy, especially in NYC where a cup of fruit from the salad bar rings in at over 6 dollars (wtf?). In addition, I never know what I want for dinner, so I always end up shopping after work. I'm usually starving at this time, so after I figure out what I want to make, I then buy randomness to tide me over. 

If you are pressed for time, here are some food items/tips that can save you some time and hopefully money, especially when you shop the sales:

Rotisserie Chicken
These set me back about 6 dollars which is around the same price for my favorite brand of raw chicken. Great for salad, dinners, soups, and sandwiches. I usually get 3 light meals out of just 1, and a whole lot of time.

Rotisserie Chicken with cottage cheese, avocado and tomato:


Frozen Fruit and Veggies
No cleaning, no chopping, just throwing in a blender, atop yogurt, or in a stir fry... etc. And you can also freeze fresh fruit yourself. Whenever strawberries are on sale, I buy an extra box and chop/freeze them. Now I'm never out of strawberries and don't find myself in the shop just for them yet still walk out with other nonsense.

Freeze your bananas. I always let bananas go bad. What a waste of good dough. I don't know why. But, you can chop them up and freeze. They actually still stay a little soft, and have the consistency of ice cream. So you can make ice cream is what I'm trying to tell you... just blend bananas with a little coco powder, honey and top with fruit.


Freeze your grapes. If your teeth are not too sensitive this is a great way to eat grapes slower. I don't know about you but I eat these like they are candy and a whole bag is gone in one sitting. But when frozen, it takes longer for me to eat them, and in turn the whole package lasts longer and I'm not buying them as often. Sweet! You can also bring them to the beach for a cold crisp snack... but note, once they thaw they are really mushy.

Frozen strawberry, grape, chia seed, and coconut water smoothie:



Packing Your Lunch
Go for a tupperware with sections so that you are not wasting ziplocks, tinfoils, etc!  I'm always looking for like tops to match like containers and have a hell of a time. But these sectioned containers are easy to store, and they keep your lunch fresh and organized if you are bringing to school or work.

Turkey and avocado spread on rye (the only bread I can eat), cottage cheese and veggies:




And finally a real time saver option... make your breakfast at night! Yes, it's another thing to do at night but then you have much more precious time in the am to have a good breakfast and start the day right. That's where chia seed pudding comes in for me. Throw your fruit on top and you are done, and it feels more special than a yogurt: Recipe Here


I also wrote a post on prepping lunches ahead over the weekend with different salads.

Hope you can use these tips.
Please share your own.
Have a great day.
Is it Friday yet?


8.20.2013

Fall Boot Trends

In late August I usually start to think about how I can spruce up my Fall wardrobe with pieces that won't break the bank and that are versatile. The last thing I want to do is add more to my tiny NYC closet when I already have a modest amount to chose from. Shoes are a great way to take your outfits from Summer to Fall, especially beautiful boots. Knee length to ankle, heel to flat, leather to suede, and embellishments to studs, there are so many options when it comes to boots. Do you want practical weather boots or are you just making a statement?

ANKLE BOOTS

Ankle boots look adorable with skinny jeans. They are also very comfortable, giving your legs/calves freedom and breathing room. They also look great with long or short skirts, and come in heels, wedges and flats.

SPORTY BOOTS

If you are a sporty gal who usually wears sneakers, why not invest in some sneaker boots? Comfortable, fashionable, and the perfect addition to a look if you are going to a rock concert or talking a long walk in a popular city.

WONDER WOMAN & BIKER GIRL BOOTS

Men aren't the only ones who want to feel like superheroes or badasses. Putting on a long pair of leather boots or a chunky studded pair would make any woman feel like Wonder Woman... or a cool chick from Sons of Anarchy.

RAIN/WINTER BOOTS

Just because it's raining/snowing/freezing, that doesn't mean you can't look fab jumping in puddles. Neons, metallics and fur make these options great for looking hot on cold/bad weather days.

What are your favorite boots for the Fall season?

8.19.2013

Simple Clothing Paired with Standout Shoes

Sometimes I just don't know what to wear to work. What's too fancy? What's too casual? How do I "make it work" as Tim Gunn says? Not to mention the fact that by the end of the week the laundry has piled up and all I have left is a white t-shirt and jeans. However, one can make just a simple leftover outfit of a white t-shirt and jeans stand out with a statement shoe. That's really all it takes... if the shoe fits of course!

PRINTS & PATTERNS

From animal prints to florals, you really can't go wrong with spicing up a simple solid color outfit with a fun printed shoe. Prints even make sneakers look fashion forward and chic. I'm a sucker for leopard print and geometric shapes.

JEWELS & STUDS

Are you a  Glamour Gal or a Tough Chick? For me, it all depends on the day. Embellishments really stylize your outfit, and you can also mimic your jewelry to match the gems/studs on your shoes to accessorize and complete the look.

BOLD COLORS & NEONS

So you have your white t-shirt and jeans on. Kind of boring, not a lot of color... why not really brighten things up with a major pop of color on your feet? Especially with neons, everyone will notice your shoes if they are bright, bold, and screaming, "I'm fabulous!" I love the hot pinks and teals. So girly. So Sassy.



Now don’t go and drop a pretty penny on a whole new shoe collection. 
You never know what might be hiding in your closet.


8.09.2013

Shabby Apple Skirt Giveaway!

Time for a giveaway to help you get started on your fall wardrobe. Alongside Shabby Apple, I am giving away this lovely Andes Pencil Skirt. Perfect colors for fall, and it's 100% cotton.



Shabby Apple is a great source for vintage clothing. A girl can get lost in this online shop. So many pretty choices. Here is how to enter the giveaway. ONLY US RESIDENTS MAY ENTER... You have until August 31st. Good luck! Many way to enter EVERYDAY!




a Rafflecopter giveaway