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.

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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

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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

 

 
 
 

 

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
 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Healing Hands

As a massage therapy student, I was taught that energy follows intention.  I have found this to be true during my time as a practicing massage therapist, and in my daily life.

During my last trip to St. Louis, I visited The Center For Mind, Body & Spirit, to explore different healing modalities.  The owner, Deborah Zorensky, booked it up; and Massage Therapist, Marty Wolins, hooked it up…

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There are sooooo many cool things here:  jewelry, candles, books, aromatherapy products, clothing items, and more!  I had to refrain from indulging in retail therapy, despite my love for aromatherapy, bath products, and candles…*sigh*

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My Energy Therapy session with Marty began with a detailed intake.   During this time, we discussed the areas of my body where I hold the most tension, which is customary before a massage session.  In addition, I informed her of every injury, illness, and ailment that I’ve ever had in my life.  Then things got interesting, when I revealed ALL of my thoughts (real time, as they popped into my mind), conflicts, fears, disappointments, hopes, and dreams, before and during my session.  Oh, yes I did!!!

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At this point, I felt totally exposed, even though I was fully clothed on the table.  Marty performed a series of “holds” and light massage, based on the information that I gave her; and the results were P-O-W-E-R-F-U-L.  I had several big releases: I felt the tension leave various areas of my body, I cried, fell asleep, and shared even more of my innermost thoughts, during  the time that I was with her.  What a cathartic experience!  I felt amazing afterwards, ready to take on my daily tasks and the challenges in my life.

If you’re in St. Louis, and are looking for an alternative to a regular massage or spa treatment, check out The Center For Mind, Body & Spirit.

Open your heart and mind, and let the healing begin!

 

 

 

 

Turkish Delight

No, I am not referring to the starch and sugar-based, cube-shaped confections.  I am describing my long lunch filled with awesome culinary creations and great conversation with Chef Sureyya Gokeri at Cafe Turko, in Seattle’s Queen Anne District…

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The menu has lots of gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options.  YAHTZEE!!!  I was in the mood for mezzes, so Sureyya customized an Orient Express platter just for me.  *happy dance*

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Kisir from Eastern Turkiye, Wholesome Aegean Musakka, Beet Hummus, Spinach Hummus, My Mom’s Dolmas, and (my fave) Yam Hummus.  That’s right, I said Yam Hummus!  Some pita for dipping and Sureyya’s pickles completed this savory sampler…*drooling*

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I mentioned in a previous post that I no longer drink coffee on a regular basis.  However, I couldn’t pass up the Turkish Coffee here.  Don’t judge me…

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I should have called for back-up because there was no one to save me from indulging in all of these Turkish treats.  I was in mezzes heaven!

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Part restaurant, part bazaar, Cafe Turko is filled with Turkish handicrafts and food products, which are available for purchase.  The open kitchen is no exception.  You can, literally, shop and sup at the same time!

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Here is my hostess, the inimitable Chef Sureyya!  Her hospitality and passion for her craft are second to none.  The food, atmosphere, and her stories provide a rich cultural experience.  And did I mention that Sureyya offers Turkish cooking classes, as well as traveling Turkish lessons?  I love one-stop shopping!  If you’re in Seattle, check out Cafe Turko.  You’ll be transported to Istanbul in an instant!

Afiyet olsun!

 

The Herbalist

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

Sooo…how does someone who chooses to live life off the beaten path navigate one of the most commercialized days of the year?

Well, I can’t speak for everyone; but I started my quest to “enhance the romance” early this year with a trip to The Herbalist.

Located just a few minutes away from U-Village in Seattle, I found this holistic slice of heaven…

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When you walk in, the aromatherapy welcomes you. The interior is clean, contemporary, bright, and organized. I could have set up a cot in the back and moved in…

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Oils, flower essences, and herbs…OH MY!!!

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They always have a “tea of the day” for customers to try. I tried the Aphrodi-Tea.  Delicious!

So many goodies, so little time. *sigh*

They had a special display in the front of the store, specifically geared towards Valentine’s Day. And this, my friends, is where I went in for the kill…

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BAM!!!  Unrepentant Rose Soap, a box of the Aphrodi-Tea, the Sacred Union flower essence, and Rose Hydrosol came home with me. I could have acted a fool in there, but I managed to control myself.

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The owner, Tierney Salter, and her employees are so helpful and knowledgeable about their products. I will definitely return. Until then, I am glad that they take orders and ship.

If you’re in Seattle, check out The Herbalist. Or place an order and have them ship it to you. However you choose to do it, just do it!

Here’s to your holistic health, and have a great weekend!

The Proposal

On August 16, 1997, my best friend and soul mate asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.  The thought of that alone was overwhelming to me (Miss Independent here!).  But the way that he did it left me completely speechless (which is quite an accomplishment).  It was like a fairytale, and I felt very much like a princess.

Jerel had scheduled a double date with our close friends.  I was told to dress up because we were going out to a nice dinner.  My girlfriend and I were getting ready at my Oakland apartment, when the intercom buzzed and we were called downstairs.  When we reached the lobby, a red carpet was rolled out from the front door to a white limousine parked in front of my building (I could have passed out right then and there, but I didn’t).  The driver greeted us at the door, handed me a tulip, and read me an original poem by Jerel about a “tulip parade.”  When he escorted us to the car and opened the door, there was a HUGE teddy bear sitting in the backseat.  My girlfriend and I maneuvered around him, settled in, and headed to San Francisco to meet the guys.  Having anticipated an engagement for weeks prior to this, I could tell that it was going to be a special evening.  Still, I didn’t want to get my hopes up, in case it didn’t happen (Yeah, I’m guarded like that).

On our way to the Bay Bridge, the driver pulled up to the toll booth.  The attendant greeted me and handed me another tulip (What?!?!).  We crossed the  Bridge, made our way into San Francisco, and stopped at the St. Francis Yacht Club (Um, okay…what are we doing here???)  The driver parked in front of the building, kicked me out let me out of the car, and he and my girlfriend made me instructed me to walk down the path until I reached the water.  LONGEST. WALK. EVER.  It was windy and overcast too (Gotta love San Francisco in the summertime!).  I thought to myself, “This is so surreal!…What’s at the end of the path?…Where’s Jerel?!?…Does my hair look okay???”

When I finally reached the end of the path, my man was standing there waiting for me and smiling.  Jerel had placed two chairs on top of a blanket, and had soft music playing in the background.  He greeted me, then seated me in one of the chairs, and read another original poem entitled “May I.”  The poem chronicles our relationship, and culminates in the marriage proposal.

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I responded, “Yes,” and some of our closest friends emerged from behind the rocks, where they had been hiding and snapping pictures of us the entire time (Sooo sneaky!).

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Afterwards, the limo driver picked all of us up and drove us to dinner.  At my seat, there was a framed copy of the poem that Jerel wrote and read to me, along with more tulips.  After our meal, we climbed back into the limo and rode across the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was a magical evening that I’ll never forget!

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For your viewing pleasure, here is the AMAZING poem that changed my life:

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16 years later, I am humbled, grateful, and honored to be married to the man of my dreams!

 

 

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