Category Archives: Travel

Safe-ing Face: What’s In My Makeup Bag?

I consider myself a makeup minimalist, who is a little obsessed with organization.  I used to maintain two makeup bags: one containing conventional products for my acting and modeling work, and the other containing green beauty products for my “off-duty” use.  This year, Melissa, owner of Citrine Natural Beauty Bar, introduced me to some ah-mazing non-toxic product lines.  So, I made it my mission to address all of my makeup needs in one green beauty bag.

Looking to “green” your makeup routine?  What you COULD do is toss out the toxic products, and replace them with safer substitutes.

The variety of green beauty options available now makes it easy to do a swap.

IMG_9660After searching for a travel-sized cosmetic bag to hold my brushes and makeup, I chose the Stephanie Johnson Grace Brush Case in Galapagos Grey. This textured faux reptilian case has 5 slots for makeup brushes on one side, with a protective flap to cover them, and an open compartment for makeup. Love. This. Case.

IMG_9664Face

Cheeks

Eyes

Lips

Tools

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The tools listed above stay in my makeup bag, so that I can grab it and go at anytime.  I also have a set of Ecotools brushes for at-home use.  Unless I need it for work or travel purposes, I apply my makeup at home and leave the majority of it there.  In my purse, I usually carry a smaller pouch with my lip color of the day, lip balm, and blotting papers inside.  I tend to change my lip color the most, depending on the time of day, my outfit, or my mood.

Which green beauty brands and products have you tried?  Which ones are your favorites?

Please comment and share!

XOXO

 

 

Juice Ranch

image9Are you in Southern California, and thirsty for 100% organic, locally-sourced, glass-bottled, cold-pressed juice, in bountiful blends?

What you COULD do is mosey on over to Juice Ranch!

image2Recently, I visited the Westlake Village location (twice) and tried some of their “beverages with benefits.” These drinks are green-based, fruit-based, carrot-based, beet-based, or nutmilk-based.  Sooooo many choices…so little bladder capacity…*sigh*

image5Yeah…I did that.  The folks at Juice Ranch support sampling, and are generous to boot!  Notice the number of empty sample bottles in the above pics…*hangs head in shame*

image1I love how they organize their menu!  You can pick your potion based on the blend or the benefits.  This, combined with samples, makes the decision process a little easier.  Greens N’ Ginger, Jalapina, and Strawberry Pearl are just a few of my faves.  YAY and YUM!!!

Juice Ranch also offers a variety of shots and cleanse packages, to help meet your health needs, all served with a smile.  And, when you consider their glass bottle credit offer…

Y’all have to go back now, ya hear?

XOXO

 

 

 

Seek the Unique

Daring enough to decorate differently, and in search of something special?

What you COULD do is bypass the beaten path, and seek other sources for home goods.

Here are 3 places that I turn to for unique pieces to add to my home:

1. Travel: I love finding decorative objects, while exploring other countries, and bringing them home with me. They add interest to my space, and serve as a souvenir from my trip.  Love that!

IMG_8896While vacationing in Greece, I found a ceramics shop in Chania, Crete, where I purchased this little lady…

IMG_8893She currently lives in my master bathroom, along with some other Mediterranean and Moroccan treasures, for an exotic spa feel.

2. Independently-owned import stores:  I love supporting small businesses.  Oftentimes, the owners will personally travel to specific countries to select the ethnic handicrafts that fill their stores.  I can get lost while shopping at these types of places because I feel like I’m treasure-hunting in foreign lands!

IMG_8898I long to return to Morocco.  Until then, I live vicariously through the Van Lith family; and explore their showroom at Tierra del Lagarto.  As I drooled over the contents of their most recent Moroccan container, I was fortunate to find this beautiful plate in a rare teal color.

3. Ethnic restaurants:  On more than one occasion, my husband has taken me out to dinner, and I’ve fallen in love with the decor.  He usually ends up negotiating the sale of an item with the owners, and having them add it to our bill.  Poor Hubby!  Lucky me.

IMG_8331 After dining at a Kurdish restaurant in Agoura Hills, California, I was convinced that I needed one of their beautiful table cloths…

IMG_8409What can I say?  I love ethnic textiles…*sigh*

So, the next time that you’re looking to add some accents to your abode, think outside of the big box stores, and seek the unique!

XOXO

 

Travel Tips: Las Vegas

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Ravenous for a romantic getaway?

Longing to luxuriate in Las Vegas?

Eager for engaging entertainment?

In search of a veg-friendly vacation venue?

What you COULD do is cut the Craps, hit the Strip, and go for the Wynn!

The majority of my trips to Vegas have been for business purposes.  Recently, I returned for a romantic weekend getaway with my husband.  This was my Mother’s Day gift, and I had a FABULOUS time!  Here is a rundown of recommendations, based on my visit:

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We thoroughly enjoyed our accommodations at the Wynn Hotel.  Spacious suite + vegetarian/vegan menus + spectacular spa = WYNN-ING!

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One of my favorite meals was on the patio at La Cave Wine & Food Hideaway.  Here, I ordered the vegan Mushroom Tortellini with Arugula and Cashew Cream Sauce.  Sooooo good!

Other noteworthy vegan meals included:  Le Cirque at Bellagio (we splurged on their Vegan Menu, with wine pairing); Botero at Encore (we ended one of our evenings here with a vegan dessert); Terrace Pointe Cafe (Wynn) for breakfast; and Tableau (Wynn) for brunch.  It was nice to not have to stress-out over where to eat, or agonize over the menus.

IMG_7842Shows

Ooooo YES I DID!!!  I finally got to see “O” by Cirque du Soleil, and I loved it!  This was the second part of an amazing date night with my husband, after dinner at Le Cirque.

IMG_7869Spa

During our romantic getaway, we treated ourselves to 80-minute Custom Massages, and marinated for more than half of the day at the Wynn Spa.  The facilities were beautiful, and the amenities were plentiful.  As someone who worked in the spa industry, with a passion for all things spa-related, I appreciate that.

Shop

The primary focus of our trip was experiences, versus stuff.  However, I had the opportunity to pick up a couple of items while exploring The Shoppes at The Palazzo and The Shops at Crystals.  I received excellent customer service in both places.

During this romantic getaway, we were inspired to plan a kid-friendly Vegas summer vacation.  Stay tuned for more details in another post.

It’s great to be back on the blog.

Thanks for reading!

XOXO

 

 

 

 

Travel Tips: London

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Are you looking for a more urban, international travel experience?

Are you lousy with languages, yet longing for a taste of Europe?

What you COULD do is visit London!

I have visited this fashion capital and economic epi-center twice; and there is still sooo much more to explore.  Here are some of my recommendations, based on my most recent trip:

Eat

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Flat White – This is a cool little cafe with good coffee in the SOHO area.

Busaba Eathai – Here, they serve tasty Thai in a modern-ethnic setting.

Princi – A Milanese bakery and pizzeria, serving Italian dishes, baked goods, and delicious desserts.

Brown’s Hotel – Choose from a variety of teas, pastries, and sandwiches, for a traditional afternoon tea experience, in an old-meets-new setting.

Pray

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St. Paul’s Cathedral

Westminster Abbey

Look

National Portrait Gallery

National Gallery

Tate Britain

Watch

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Queens Theatre – It was a short walk from my hotel, and Les Miserables was playing.  I HAD to go!!!

Shop (window or otherwise)

Harrod’s

Harvey Nichols

Oxford Street

Bond Street

Stay

Soho Hotel – An urban retreat with cute decor, cozy atmosphere, and a convenient location.

How do you like to experience London?  Please comment and share!

Cheers, and have a great week!

XOXO

 

 
 
 

 

Rainbow Grocery

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*singing*

“Sooome-WHEEERE, o-ver at Rainbow, are greaaat fiiinds…”

From herbs to housewares, there is so much to explore.

 

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And so my anti-Black Friday experience began at this AMAZING, worker-owned co-op in San Francisco.  No crazy hours, no camping-out, no crowds, no ridiculous lines, no pushing or trampling , no BOGOs or desperate discounts, and no commercial hype.  Just good people, with positive energy, offering great products, with smiles.  Sign. Me. Up.

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The spices and teas tho’…

I could [literally] stop there; but I didn’t, and I won’t.

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I live here, in the Bath and Body Department.  And THIS, my friends, is where I nearly lost my mind!  It happens every time.

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Despite my desire to [permanently] move in, I had to keep it moving.  So, I made my final selections and checked-out.  I appreciate the sweet employee, who suggested that I include one of their reusable canvas bags in my purchase.  It’s a souvenir that’s guaranteed to make me smile.

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But wait!  There’s MORE!  Did you know that they recently added a cafe???  Oh yes, they did!!!  I concluded my experience with a custom-blended Pumpkin Spice Latte, from their special Holiday Drinks menu.  YAY and YUM!

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Wanna see what I got???  Here’s a look at some of my loot:

Sjaak’s Almond Butter and Peanut Butter Bites

Matcha Green Tea & Spirulina and Coconut Ash & Banana Super Dark Chocolates by Vosges Haut-Chocolat

The Big Yummy Double Chocolate Brownie by Wholesome Chow

Herb Pharm Calendula Oil

Valentina’s Home-Brewed Magickal Mineral Bath Salts (True Love, Sweet Dreams, and Prosperity)

Propolis Extract by Y.S. Eco Bee Farms

100% Pure Virgin Coconut Hand Buttercream

Evan Healy’s Whipped Shea Butter for Lips

*singing*

“If happy, lil’ ole me can find…great stuff at Rainbow…

…GOOO…EX-PLOOORE…THOOOSE…AIIISLES!!!”

Travel Tips: Paris

Recently, some friends of mine traveled to Paris.  Some were newbies, others were “repeat offenders.”  Having visited “The City of Light” on 3 different occasions myself, I sent them a list of things to do and see.  I love receiving and giving personal recommendations, as it takes some of the guesswork out of travel planning.  However, I realize that some folks may enjoy more spontaneity during their vacations, and that’s all good too.  Regardless of how you roll, here are my travel tips for Paris:

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PERFECT TIMING
I love Paris in the…SHOULDER SEASON!  Seriously.  I’m talking April – June, and September – October.  Having visited during Spring, Summer, and Fall, I enjoyed myself more when I avoided the summer crowds.
TALK THE TALK
Yes, many folks speak English.  However, I challenge you to learn some French before you go, so that you can engage in basic conversation with locals.  It goes a long way.
READY. SET. GO!
Go to a tourism office and purchase a L‘Open Tour bus ticket for a ride around the city that can help you to get your bearings and take in some sights.  While you’re there, purchase a museum pass for 2,4,or 6 days of access to museums and monuments, depending on the duration of your stay.
DAY TRIPPIN’
Versailles :  It’s an easy train ride from Paris to see this opulent palace and explore the town.
Loire Valley :  Take a minibus tour to see the chateaux…MAGNIFIQUE!
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EAT
Angelina, an institution with AH-MAZING hot chocolate, has packaged products which you may purchase and take home!
404 serves delicious North African food in a cool setting.
Go to Ile St. Louis and get some Berthillion Ice Cream.
Enjoy Parisian people-watching at Cafe de Flore.
La Varangue is a tiny restaurant, with great food, that is owned by a nice guy named Philippe.
Make reservations in advance, and savor Afternoon Tea at The Ritz-Place Vendome.
Try the famous macaroons at Laduree.
Gentle Gourmet Cafe offers vegan cuisine that is “strong” in presentation and flavor.
A must for any vegetarian, Le Grenier de Notre Dame is Paris’ first vegetarian and macrobiotic spot.
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PRAY (OR SIMPLY ‘PRECIATE THE ARCHITECTURE)
La Mosquee (Psst…they have a hammam and tea room there.)
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LOOK
Louvre:  You could spend hours…days…looking at all of the permanent collections housed in this museum.  However, if you have “been there, done that,” then why not check out their special exhibit and pick up some gifts at the shops?
Musee D’Orsay:  This former railway station is home to art work dating from 1848 to 1914.
Musee de Cluny:  Head to the 5th Arrondissement for a look at the Medieval art housed here.
Musee des Arts Decoratifs:  Check out furniture, interior design, altar pieces, religious paintings, objets d’arts, tapestries, wallpaper, ceramics and glassware, plus toys from the Middle Ages to the present day.
Eiffel Tower:  No explanation needed.  Just. Go.
Tuileries:  Enjoy people-watching and/or promenading in this Parisian public garden.
Seine River cruise:  See Paris at night during a Bateaux Mouches excursion.
SHOP (WINDOW OR OTHERWISE)
Printemps and Galeries Lafayette:  So many departments, so little time.
Champs Elysees:  Stroll. Shop. Sup. Stay.
Marche Aux Puces:  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  And it’s ALL about the hunt…
What are your favorite things to do and see in Paris?  Please comment and share!
Merci et bon weekend!  XOXO
 

 

With Gratitude

During a recent trip to California, I dined at Cafe Gratitude. Previously, I had only patronized their Bay Area locations.  So, I was grateful for the opportunity to enjoy some heart-healthy food at this organic vegan eatery in Los Angeles.

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I AM…sooooo glad that I wore my Madewell Afternoon Dress in bright cobalt.  In doing so, I was *ahem* prepared to enjoy an abundance of vegan creations from their affirmation-filled menu…

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I AM…COMPLETE.  I love fresh juices.  For me, this blend of kale, pineapple, celery, cucumber, lemon, and turmeric, was the perfect “sweet green.”  Aaaaah!!!

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I AM…PRESENT.  How could I refuse the bruschetta when my friend passed the plate?  I must admit that it was hard to eat just one.  However, I felt the need to pace myself during our feast.  There was more to come.  Le sigh…

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I AM…DAZZLING.  I’m still thinking about this simple, savory, and satisfying caesar salad; and plotting to re-create the magic at home.  Yum!!!

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I AM…BLISS.  You didn’t think I’d leave without having dessert, did you?!?!  I’m convinced that this dreamy raw chocolate cream pie is one of the best I’ve ever had.  In fact, my son and I stopped short of licking the plate.  More, please, and thank you!!!

Cafe Gratitude is located at 639 N. Larchmont Blvd in Los Angeles.

Try it.  I AM…sure that you will like it.

Have a wonderful week, with an attitude of gratitude!

XOXO

 

5 Green Things I Did During Earth Week 2014

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1. Livin’ la vida local:  I love supporting “mom and pop” establishments in my area. My car, body, and garden thanked me for it too!

2. Drink my greens:  I enjoyed a Skin Rejuvenator juice, along with a vegan strawberry scone, at the inimitable Pomegranate Cafe.  This mother-daughter-owned vegetarian eatery is one of my faves!  And dining al fresco was the perfect way to spend the day.

3. Say “gracias” with green: Why not honor the Earth by showing some love to those with whom we share it?  I made a deliberate effort to give cash tips to all of the service providers who worked hard to make my life a little easier.

4. Grow some greens: I’m really excited about my Spring garden, and spent some quality time planting, seeding, pruning, and nurturing. Best. Therapy. Ever. *sigh*

5.  Grab and go:  When I purchased this cute top and scarf from Anthropologie for my Spring/Summer wardrobe, I declined a shopping bag and hand-carried my items.  Every little bit helps…

Truth be told, every week should be Earth Week.  However you choose to celebrate it, be creative and have fun!

Take care and have a great weekend!

 

My Moroccan-Themed Birthday

So, what does a world traveler with a baaaaad case of wanderlust do to celebrate her birthday?  She picks a destination that’s high on her bucket list, and lives it up locally until her desire manifests.

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A day trip to Tangier, years ago, has me longing to return to Morocco; and I have yet to do so.  My birthday theme was driven by my desire to check out Joya Spa at the Omni International Hotel Montelucia Resort in Paradise Valley, AZ.  Joya Spa is the only Arizona spa to offer a hammam-inspired treatment.  So, I booked their “Hammam Experience,” and added 50-minutes of massage to it.  BAM!!!

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Before entering the spa, I had fun setting my intentions by placing three stones in the blessing bowl.  Unable to settle on just one, I chose rhodonite (work), rose quartz (love), and hematite (health).  What can I say?  I have a lot going on…

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Then, I placed my hand on the crystal just outside of the spa entrance and said, “Buh-bye” to any and all negative energy, as I made my way closer to bliss…

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Here, I was slathered with a soap that felt like melted butter, then scrubbed with a Kassa glove and black soap.  Afterwards, I was doused with 3 buckets of warm water.  My skin felt sooooo smoooooth…

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After doing a circuit from the steam room, to the cold deluge, then the sauna, I entered this room.  Here, my massage therapist worked her magic with a flower essence-infused oil that helped me to put things into perspective.  Zzzzz…

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Shhhhhh…this is the Whisper Room, where I luxuriated on one of these beds, underneath a cozy throw.  I need some of these linens in my life…

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“Cheers!”  The staff at Joya Spa offered me a complimentary glass of champagne, in honor of my special day.  How could I refuse?!?!  I graciously accepted, retreated to the spa terrace in my swimsuit, and “marinated” poolside.  I was able to soak up some much-needed vitamin D, while chatting with other patrons, and enjoying this view.  Ahhhhh…

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There…that’s MUCH better!  If you are in the Phoenix area, and looking for an exotic spa experience, with lots of amenities, then jump for Joya!

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After an awesome experience at Joya Spa, I drove over to this Phoenix gem for lunch. Don’t let the humble exterior fool you!  Owner, Zhor Saad, of Alzohour Market & Restaurant offers authentic Moroccan fare that will transport you to Marrakesh in a matter of minutes.

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For my birthday lunch, I ordered the Kashkbadem (roasted eggplant sauteed with garlic and mint), Harira (traditional hearty soup with tomatoes, lentils, garbanzos, and cilantro), homemade Moroccan bread, and pita.  LOVED IT!

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Of course, I had to order dessert, riiiiight?!?!  I splurged and chose the Kunafa, which was rich, sweet, and creamy, with tons of texture.  Mmmmm…

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And here I am with my lovely hostess, Zhor.  She works hard (often by herself) to serve home-style cooking that is fit for a king.  Just like my day trip to Morocco, I enjoyed my visit to her restaurant, and I look forward to returning.

Shokran to Joya Spa and Alzohour Market & Restaurant for making my birthday special!

 

 

 

 

 

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