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Thursday
Jul022015

Goldfinch Tavern at the Four Seasons Seattle

I love the downtown area around the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle and was delighted to check out Goldfinch Tavern, Ethan Stowell's latest culinary venture inside the hotel. Named after Washington's state bird, the restaurant has an approachable menu that highlights their shellfish and raw bar menu.

Credit: Geoffrey Smith

The ultra-buttery Hamachi Crudo ($17) with Taggiasca olives and horseradish is rich and flavorful while the Geoduck Crudo ($19) is fresh and light. I heard the grilled beef options are amazing so I'll need to go back and check it out. If you go with a friend, definitely end the meal with a plate of assorted warm cookies ($11) or sugar-dusted donut holes ($13).

Goldfinch also offers a fun happy hour — $1.50 oysters from 4-6pm daily. That's reason enough to go there every single day!

Check out the rest of the menu at www.goldfinchtavern.com

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Wednesday
Jul012015

Kiehl's Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence 

Finally, we're seeing treatment essences in the American beauty realm! Kiehl's recently launched their Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence, a viable alternative to prestige Asian brands. At $45 for 6.8 ounces, this is a great value.

Iris florentina root extract and sodium hyaluronate provide deeper moisture penetration into the skin surface while lipo hydroxy acid improves the exfoliation process. In other words, the essence will let your serums and moisturizers work more efficiently. It keeps my skin hydrated for most of the day, even in 80-degree weather. I use several drops at a time and I also splash some on my face throughout the day to recover from the intense summer heat wave.

Available at www.kiehls.com.

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

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Thursday
Jun252015

Aftelier Bergamoss Solid Perfume

I am continually inspired by the prolific genius of Aftelier's creations. Whether it's perfume, skincare, culinary essence, or tea, I'm constantly drawn into Mandy Aftel's world of sumptuous, endless imagination.

Her latest oeuvre, the Bergamoss Solid Perfume, is a warm and joyous chypre that seamlessly melds bergamot and oakmoss with rare French flouve, wild sweet orange, coumarin and antique civet. The flouve adds a gorgeous sweet grassiness that balances it out in a newly enchanting way. Effervescent notes of peach flutter within, tantalizing the olfactory senses. 

In other words, it's quite magical yet still down to earth. It literally makes my mouth water. For even more fun you can layer it with her other perfume solids. I did it with the Jasmine Solid and the results are breathtaking.

Available for $240 (1/4 oz) at www.aftelier.com

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

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Monday
Jun222015

Camper S/S 2015 Sale

Camper is having a big summer sale on their S/S 2015 collection. I just snagged a pair of the comfy Right ballerina-style sandals. It's available in black, pastel green, light blue and red for 20%-30% off. These run a size small so be sure to size up!

Camper Right ballerina sandals in red/tan ($89).

I'm also keeping an eye on the following styles:

 

Beth 22106 sandal in Violet ($109).

Diana 22053 T-strap heels ($99).

For more sale items check out www.camper.com.

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Tuesday
Jun162015

Food Gifts to Get in Japan

Omiyage, or Japanese food gift-giving, is something that takes considerable thought and energy. I already knew it's a mega-serious business but I didn't realize just how insane it could be. You could be spending $75 USD on the most perfect-looking cantaloupe!

It literally makes you dizzy when you try to decide what to buy for your friends and family. I could spend hours admiring the beautiful packaging and elaborate presentation. Be sure to check the expiration dates as some confections last for only 6-10 days. Rice crackers will last about 6 weeks to 2 months.

Gouymet Japanese crackers from Akebono and Bankaku.

Given the pedigree of each company listed below, the following gift suggestions are relatively inexpensive and are small and light enough to pack into your luggage or carry-on:

Senbei (Rice Crackers): I won't even get into the hundreds, if not thousands, of varieties available in Japan. You can go with mass-retailer brands or splurge on the artisanal brands. I will say the ingredient list is much shorter and higher quality than the stuff you usually get at the Asian markets within the U.S. 

Credit: Akebono

Ginza-based Akebono offers a vast array of fresh mochi (hello, ichigo daifuku!) and baked confections, but I really adore their senbei selection. You get to choose from the quintessential baked crackers glazed in soy sauce to fried senbei flavored with shrimp or sea urchin. Yes, sea urchin. The limited edition seasonal flavors are definitely worth a taste. Available at most major department stores (depachika) and Narita Terminal 1. www.ginza-akebono.co.jp

Akebono summer edition rice crackers. If you're passing through Tokyo Station be sure to drop by Fujimido. Located inside Gransta Mall, they offer several basic flavors as well as a lovely shichimi togarashi (seven spice) option. Their packaging is very elegant and modern. www.fujimidou.com

Limited edition Fujimido crackers. (Credit: Fujimido)

Matsuzaki, also from Ginza, has been making a unique kawara senbei for over 200 years. Made with wheat, sugar and eggs, these simple decorated tile-shaped cookies are quite addictive and aren't too sweet. They're sold individually and in packages of five (around $1 each), as well as in assorted boxed gift sets. They even have Hello Kitty tile cookies! matsuzaki-senbei.com

Matsuzaki Tile Senbei. (Credit: Matsuzaki)

Shrimp Crackers: Bankaku has been making premium baked shrimp crackers for 125 years. They're a fun indulgence for all shellfish lovers and they even offer a scallop flavor. And, they're not as caloric as potato chips, making it a wise snack option. Available at most department stores (Takashimaya, Isetan, Tokyu Toyoko) and Narita Terminal 1. www.bankaku.co.jp

Credit: Bankaku

Wagashi: Toraya, a venerable wagashi house that has served the imperial family, offers traditional Japanese confections that are packaged to impress anyone. I've never seen anyone wrap omiyage boxes with such precision and speed as the salesladies inside the Isetan Shinjuku outlet. We love the yokan (azuki bean jelly) and Zangetsu, a half moon-shaped ginger pancake filled with azuki paste. Also, their tea rooms serve an excellent iced matcha. www.toraya-group.co.jp

Credit: Toraya GroupDo you have a favorite food gift that you love from Japan? Do share!

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Tuesday
Jun092015

Intraceuticals Opulence Daily Serum

Summer is in full swing here in the PNW and I often fret over the blotchiness and hyperpigmention that will inevitably pop up over the next three months. Intraceuticals anticipated this seasonal skincare conundrum by introducing their new Opulence Daily Serum ($149).

A welcome addition to their reformulated Opulence Collection, the Daily Serum addresses sun damaged and hyperpigmented skin with skin brightening peptides and plant extracts (ginger root and rumex occidentalis). I layer it with the Opulence Hydration Gel ($89), which contains an intense dose of medium-weight hyaluronic acid. Using these two products together, you'll definitely have a brighter, beautifully hydrated complexion.

If you're traveling, the Opulence Brightening Wand ($49) is a great spot treatment to tuck into your purse or cosmetic bag. In need of a new cleanser or cream? The sulfate-free Opulence Cleanser ($49) and Opulence Moisture Brightening Cream ($69) also contain brightening ingredients to combat sun damage. I can't promise the results will be as dramatic as doing their famous Oxygen Facial but you'll still end up looking gorgeous. 

For more information: www.intraceuticals.com

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

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Tuesday
Jun022015

Darphin Exquisage Beauty Revealing Serum

Darphin's latest skincare launch, the Exquisage collection, includes the Exquisage Beauty Revealing Serum. Featuring their CelluVie Complex, their new anti-aging potion is designed to firm and smooth the skin's texture.

The complex contains laminaria digitata, a brown algae harvested off the coast of France, and acetyl hexylpeptide; both ingredients help increase collagen production, which is key in any worthwhile skincare regimen. Artemia and artichoke leaf extracts are added to soothe the effects of environmental stress and 94% of the ingredients are from natural origin.

There is a noticeable floral scent but it will fade away after about 5 minutes. Those sensitive to fragrances should try it out at the Darphin counter before splurging on it. That said, it layers nicely with other skincare products. I love how soft my skin becomes and the fine lines around the forehead area are vastly diminished. Even the dry stubborn patch near my cheek area softened up after a week. Depending on how dry my skin is, I use about 1-2 pumps.

Available for $155 (1 fl oz/30 ml) at Darphin.com, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. 

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

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Wednesday
May132015

True Nature Botanicals Pacific Night Serum with Retinol for Sensitive Skin

True Nature Botanicals already has a great night serum with retinol, but they just launched a new Pacific Night Serum with Retinol for Sensitive Skin ($150). Tailored for the most delicate complexions, you can now use retinol without enduring the irritation that's often associated with retinol-based skincare.

My skin works very well with the new formula. Whenever I use the serum I always wake up with unbelievably petal-soft skin. I don't get red blotches (finally!) and it's keeping my complexion super healthy and smooth. I'm also quite relieved as I don't have to worry about sensitized skin during the upcoming summer months.

Available at tnbotanicals.com

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

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Thursday
May072015

Eminence Rice Milk 3 in 1 Cleansing Water

Eminence has a new multi-purpose cleanser that works well for the warmer months. Their refreshing Rice Milk 3 in 1 Cleansing Water is an all-in-one facial cleanser, toner and makeup remover. The formula is light and gentle, making it suitable for all skin types.

 

Rice milk adds moisture and refines pores while pomelo supplies antioxidants and improves collagen production. Use it as a regular cleanser or wipe off with a cotton pad if you're in a rush. It can remove light makeup, but I'd use something heavy duty for waterproof makeup. I also love the delicate fruity scent — it makes me feel like I'm in Hawaii, sipping on a tropical drink. 

Available for $42 (4.2 fl oz) at all Eminence spa retailers. 

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

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Wednesday
Apr292015

Gift Ideas for Mother's Day

Mother's Day is zooming around the corner! Don't just give Mom a card and the same old bouquet of flowers. If you're having a tricky time choosing the right gift, the following ideas will keep things fresh and original.

Designed for the radiant, confident woman, STELLA Eau De Toilette is a light floral scent that features top notes of mandarin, lemon and freesia. Elegant heart notes of Bulgarian rose, violet, peony are grounded with sensual tones of ambergris. Available in 1-3.3 oz ($48-$87) at Sephora.com.

 

These gorgeous Moss Aquamarine Acid Rain Drop Gold Earrings from Twig & Thorn will make Mom feel extra special. The hammered gold adds great texture and dimension to the briolette earrings. $218; twigthorn.com.

 

How precious is this Whitney Smith Art Deco Rose Mini Ceramic Dish? The Northern California-based artist makes each one by hand and it's available in red, yellow, pink and black. $38.00; www.etsy.com/shop/whitneysmith.

 

Bee Raw offers exquisite raw single-floral varietal honey and their Molto Mediterranean set includes one jar each of the Honey Fig Conserve, Mount Olympus Herbal Tea and the amazing Florida Orange Blossom Honey. $42; beeraw.com.

 

The Tovi Sorga Leather iPad Mini/Tablet/Kindle Cases are a great choice for tech mamas. Each one is handmade and the Bird on Branch with Butterflies design is especially lovely. $77-$100 (£50-£65); www.tovisorga.com.

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

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