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Wednesday
Apr222015

The 58th SF International Film Festival

The 58th San Francisco International Film Festival (April 23 - May 7, 2015) is starting tomorrow, so plan ahead for this annual star-studded event. 181 films will be screened over the next two weeks, representing recent cinematic work from 46 countries.

Winona Ryder and Peter Sarsgaard in "Experimenter." (Photo credit: Jason Robinette. Courtesy of the SF Film Society.)

Opening with Alex Gibney’s documentary Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, SFIFF will also showcase The End of the Tour, James Ponsoldt’s portrait of David Foster Wallace. Acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro will receive the Irving M. Levin Directing Award and the festival will close with Michael Almereyda’s Experimenter, starring Peter Sarsgaard and Winona Ryder.

Here are a few festival picks:

Bota - Iris Elezi and Thomas Logoreci's intimate look at modern Albania is haunted by the legacy of its Communist regime. Juli, Ben and Nora work together in a cafe located in a remote village. The quirky regulars add color and drama to an otherwise stagnant environment, which is already suffocating under the weight of the former dictatorship. The protagonists desire a better life, but each must deal with individual problems as they face an inscrutable future.  

"Bota," playing at the 58th San Francisco International Film Festival. (Courtesy of the SF Film Society.)

Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere (Dap cánh giua không trung) - Diep Hoang Nguyen’s provocative debut is an unflinchingly honest look at life in the slums of Hanoi. 17-year-old Huyen, a pregnant college student, struggles against a multitude of obstacles to obtain an abortion. Her irresponsible boyfriend tries to raise funds with illegal cockfighting but soon leaves town to evade debtors. Huyen's desperation quickly results in escort work and she falls for her client, further complicating her increasingly troubling situation.

A scene from "Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere." (Courtesy of the SF Film Society.)

Fidelio: Alice's Odyssey (Fidelio, l'odyssée d'Alice) - Set in a gritty backdrop of cargo ships, Lucie Borleteau's feature brings us the story of a female naval engineer as she navigates a love triangle. Alice is in love with her artist boyfriend but is having a tough time resisting her captain, all the while juggling a grueling career at sea. Independent and sexually confident, she firmly establishes her place in a macho, male-dominated world while examining her emotional and physical desires.

A scene from "Fidelio: Alice's Odyssey." (Courtesy of SF Film Society)

For more info and tickets: www.sffs.org/sfiff58

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Thursday
Apr162015

Amala Body Care

Amala is a coveted brand of organic luxury skincare that I can't resist. In fact, I splurged on two of their body care items and love them.

Their Rejuvenating Hand Cream ($34; 1.7 fl oz) is a decadent treatment that eases fine lines and discoloration. Licorice helps brighten the appearance of age spots while inca inchi seed and cocoa bean provide essential fatty acids and a rich veil of moisture to dehydrated hands. It absorbs instantly, leaving no greasy residue whatsoever. The light cocoa scent makes me want to inhale a chocolate bar.

The Detoxifying Body Polish ($26; 1.7 fl oz) has a very gentle exfoliating texture (from olive seed) for those who don't like rough body scrubs. Myrtle, hyssop, cardamom, Mediterranean juniper, cypress and bladderwrack are added to help remove impurities from the skin. The tube is not large at all, but you don't need that much and I only use it whenever I need something extra special for my cleansing ritual.

To learn more: www.amalabeauty.com.

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Wednesday
Apr082015

Clarins Everlasting Foundation+ SPF 15

Clarins is back with a new Everlasting Foundation+ SPF 15. The mineral-based formula lasts up to 18 hrs and offers a non-oily, matte coverage. Organic quinoa is added to nourish the skin throughout the day while bamboo powder extends the wear of the foundation. White tea and succory dock-cress are also included to fight pollution.

The light-as-air foundation wears beautifully on the skin, making it luminous without screaming full coverage. You can also use less product to make it medium coverage. Shade 105 Nude seems to be the best match for me, but I'm sure 107 Beige would be a better one when I get a tan. 

Available for $40 at all Clarins counters and www.clarinsusa.com

For editorial consideration, review product was provided by the brand.

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Wednesday
Apr012015

Purity of Elements Skincare

Santa Fe skincare company Purity of Elements just relaunched a brand new collection that features their proprietary Copper 5 Complex. All five products contain the potent anti-aging complex, which features copper, green tea, white tea, grapeseed extract and vitamin E. 

The Radiance Face Serum ($60) provides a soothing layer of nutrients and hydration. It's also packed with tons of plant extracts like sweet almond seed, pomegranate, goji berry and watermelon. If you have normal skin this might be enough for warm weather but I'd I find it perfect under a light moisturizer.

The Renewing Eye Cream ($45) is a very good value for a 1 ounce jar. The light texture makes it easy to apply and there is barely any scent. The formula includes rose hip, honey, wild cherry bark, wild pansy, fennel seed and mugwort extracts to help revive the eye area and soften fine lines.  

Available at Nordstrom and www.purityofelements.com

For editorial consideration, review product was provided by the brand.

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Friday
Mar272015

NARS Last Resort Collection

As part of the NARS Last Resort Collection, the limited edition Tahiti Bronzer ($59) features the cult classic Laguna shade with a mini Ita brush. This is a beauty combo that can't be beat — you get an amazing iconic bronzer with an equally fabulous makeup brush. I wish all their bronzers came with the soft Ita contouring brush! It's the perfect tool for sculpting the face. 


Need some tropical inspiration? The summery capsule collection also features a set of Temporary Tattoos ($35). You get to play with four sheets of Tahiti-inspired designs, which you can apply on your arms, hands, ankles, or anywhere you desire.  

The Last Resort Collection is now available at all NARS boutiques and www.narscosmetics.com. It will be available at all NARS counters by April 1. 

For editorial consideration, review product was provided by the brand.

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Thursday
Mar262015

Sweet Treats for Easter

I'm such a sweet tooth. I could never resist the confections and pastries that are offered around this time of the year. If you're planning an Easter party, these these lovely cakes and candies will bring a smile to each guest:

The Lavender Rose Cake ($59.95) from Williams-Sonoma is a showstopper. Sourced from a family cake boutique in Florida, this stunning centerpiece dessert also comes in shades of pastel blue, pastel green, pink (chocolate cake), yellow (raspberry/lemon) and white (strawberry). Available at www.williams-sonoma.com.

 

These cute marshmallow Skipper Bunnies ($3.49) from Sweet & Sara are vegan-friendly. Pair it with the Sunny Chick marshie and you've got the most adorable Easter duo. sweetandsara.com.

Recchiuti Confections always has something elegant with a fun twist. This year they're offering the Hopster Bunnies ($20; 8 pcs.) chocolate truffles in the signature burnt caramel flavor. Four hipster rabbit illustrations are featured in their seasonal truffle collection. www.recchiuti.com.

If you're a vegan living in Seattle, you're in luck. Violet Sweet Shoppe offers all kinds of vegan candies and cakes for Easter, so I'd order in advance before they sell out of their fabulous chocolates, caramels, Easter bunnies and cupcakes. Even if you're not vegan, everything is excellent. Trust us — you won't miss the dairy! violetsweetshoppe.com.

Portland-based Quin makes the best candy and their seasonal Gummy Eggs ($8) are a great addition to any Easter basket. They often use local fruit in their gummies and they're available in strawberry, lemon and cherry flavors. quincandy.com.

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Friday
Mar202015

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence - Eye

SK-II fans have a new eye cream to try. The Facial Treatment Essence - Eye ($95) contains the prestige brand's signature Pitera essence along with the Eye Albus Complex, which is composed of white lupine and alfalfa extracts. The eye complex is designed to reduce dark circles and fine lines in the delicate eye area, giving it a healthier and more supple appearance.

I find that a half pump is enough to provide adequate hydration. It feels creamy but absorbs quickly, making it easy to layer under makeup. Another great aspect is that it's scentless, which is perfect for those who are sensitive to fragrance. 

Available at all SK-II counters and www.sk-ii.com.

For editorial consideration, review product was provided by the brand.

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Thursday
Mar192015

Bayco Turkish Delight

Ever since I tried the Turkish delight I had stumbled upon at a confectionery store in San Francisco, I've been obsessed with this candy. After a long search I found that Bayco Confectionery makes the best version I've tasted thus far.

Soft and not too chewy, Bayco offers the traditional flavors or rose and lemon as well as pistachio. You can also get a package of assorted fruit flavors (strawberry, lime, orange, pear, etc.). I love the rose flavored ones — they're not cloyingly sweet and the aroma is just perfect, not perfumey at all. One piece is usually enough to satisy a sweet tooth, but I find myself eating more!

Prices range $5.75-$9.50 (minimum $20). To order, go to www.turkish-delight.com.

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Tuesday
Mar172015

HyJewelry

I first discovered HyJewelry on Etsy. Jewelry artist Hyun Yu's geometric chain necklaces and dainty earrings were too pretty to resist. In fact, I wear her gold chain tassel earrings all the time. I was very happy to learn that her new designs are now sold exclusively on Food52. 

Images by James Ransom for Food52.These lightweight brass and wood necklaces ($55) are available in two color schemes (natural and walnut stain). They're elegant enough to wear on its own, or you can layer both designs together for a bolder statement. 

I'm also coveting this gold honeycomb necklace ($45). I've been eyeing this for many months so I might just break down and get it!

Available at food52.com.

 

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Monday
Mar092015

Clarins UV Plus Anti-Pollution SPF 50

The Clarins UV Plus Anti-Pollution Broad Spectrum SPF 50 ($42, 1.7 fl oz) is the latest incarnation of their popular UV Plus HP sunscreen. The SPF level is higher (previously SPF 40) and the refreshingly lightweight formula includes a matrix of plant extracts (organic sanicle, organic blackcurrant, cantaloupe, white tea and lampsana) to fight free radicals and environmental stress.

It looks like regular sunscreen when you squeeze it out of the bottle, but amazing enough it sheers out instantly. And, there's no white streaks at all. For those who don't like the thick texture of conventional sunscreens, this oil-free formula is excellent under makeup. I don't wear sun protection diligently but this product will encourage me to do so. 

Available at www.clarinsusa.com

For editorial consideration, review product was provided by the brand.

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