True Botanicals - Pure Radiance Oil




Give Thanks with Plymouth Gin's Pumpkin Martini

With a decadent Thanksgiving feast weighing down the dinner table, there is no better way to give thanks (at least for lushies like us, heh heh) than with a holiday cocktail. Plymouth Gin took the liberty to create the Pumpkin Martini just for this special occasion, and the smooth taste doesn't disappoint the discerning drinkers.


Pumpkin Martini
1 oz. Pumpkin Puree
1 oz. Plymouth Gin
1.5 oz. Fresh lemon juice
1.5 oz. Simple syrup

Shake all ingredients (except Champagne) with ice and strain into a flute – then top with chilled Champagne! Yum....should pair well with a slice of pumpkin pie...

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Colleen Quen Shows Her 'Compassion' in 2007 Collection

All you fashion divas need to check out Colleen Quen's 2007 'Compassion' collection. Premiered at San Francisco Fashion Week, Quen's latest creations feature a graceful marriage of modern pop art and traditional French couture.


"Garden of Peace" Hand-Painted Silk Gown

With iconic themes of flowers and hearts, each versatile piece successfully merges urban art with deliberate functionality. Two-piece evening suits, mini dresses and evening gowns are fashioned with contrasting neutral hues of linens and silks, along with vibrant accents of reds, fuchsias and oranges. Artisan couture methods such as quilting, patch work and embroidery are elevated to a modern level, resonating elements inherent in Quen’s design philosophy.


"Three Hundred Papillons" Origami Gown

One of my favorites is the "Three Hundred Papillons" (Three Hundred Butterflies), a magenta and red silk organza Origami gown. The intricate 'butterflies' are painstakingly hand-stitched around the entire gown, a true represention of Quen's artistry and vision.

Symbolizing the pure act of creating art, the handwork captures the conscious act of being in the present moment. It also reflects Quen’s wish to inspire compassion, love and peace for the global community.

See you on the catwalk,

The Sweet Life

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Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie Delivers International Cuisine to Your Kitchen

International foodies unite! Public television's edgy foray into the international culinary landscape will culminate in the highly-anticipated "Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie" series. A collaboration between Gourmet Magazine, WGBH, and Zero Point Zero Productions, it showcases in-depth coverage of each country's cuisine and culture, featuring topics such as the Australian slow food movement, the latest food trends in Brazil, or an insider look at 'real' Italian home cooking techniques.


Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie visits China.
(Image Credit: Tom Vitale for WGBH)

The first episode, "One Billion Foodies," focuses on China's question on balancing the history and traditions of this ancient cuisine with modern Western sensibilities. From the streets of Beijing to Shanghai, the show takes you through humble family kitchens to trendy upscale restaurants. Along with salivating images of the famous Beijing Roast Duck, viewers are encouraged to try their hand at creating their very own Drunken Chicken (See recipe below - yum!) or choosing the right ingredients for the perfect Chinese stir-fry.

Premieres on October 7, 2006 - check local TV listings for more info. For a sneak peek or recipes, check out

See you in the kitchen!


(Credit:Romulo Yanes, Gourmet)

Adapted from chef Jereme Leung of Whampoa Club, Shanghai


12 cups water
4 Turkish or 2 California bay leaves
2 whole star anise
2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
10 scallions, trimmed
1 (4-inch) piece fresh ginger, cut into 10 (1/3-inch-thick) slices
1 tablespoon white Chinese rice wine
1 1/4 cups plus 5 tablespoons fine-quality Shaoxing (amber-colored Chinese
rice wine) or medium-dry Sherry
1 (3- to 3 1/2-lb) chicken

GARNISH: fresh chives

MAKE MARINADE AND GRANITA: Combine 4 cups water with bay
leaves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, salt, sugar, 5 scallions, and 5 slices of
ginger in a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce
heat to low and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely,
about 1 hour.

Add white rice wine and 1 1/4 cups Shaoxing to cooled liquid, then pour
through a sieve, discarding solids. Reserve half of marinade (about 2 1/2 cups)
for chicken.

Pour remaining marinade into an 8- to 9-inch square metal baking pan (not
nonstick) and freeze, uncovered, 1 1/2 hours. Scrape with a fork, stirring and
crushing any lumps, and continue to freeze, scraping every hour, until evenly
frozen, about 4 hours more. Scrape granita again to lighten texture, crushing
any lumps. Cover and keep frozen until ready to use.

POACH CHICKEN WHILE MARINADE COOLS: Bring remaining 8 cups water,
5 scallions, 5 slices of ginger, and 5 tablespoons Shaoxing to a boil in a wide 4- to 5-
quart heavy pot over moderate heat. Add chicken, then reduce heat to low and simmer,
covered, until cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer chicken with poaching
liquid to a large heatproof bowl, then set bowl into a larger bowl of ice and cold water
and cool chicken completely (in poaching liquid), about 1 hour, replenishing ice as

to a cutting board (discard poaching liquid or reserve for another use) and cut into 6
pieces (2 breasts with wings, 2 drumsticks, and 2 thighs). Keeping skin intact and
pieces of chicken whole or in large pieces, carefully remove bones from meat, discarding
bones. Put chicken in a bowl and pour reserved marinade over it. Marinate, covered
and chilled, at least 5 hours.

TO SERVE: Remove chicken from marinade (discard marinade) and cut into 1/2-inch-
thick slices. Divide among 6 stemmed glasses or shallow bowls and top with granita.
(Scrape granita again to lighten texture if necessary.)

COOK'S NOTES: Rice wines are available at Chinese markets.
Chicken can be marinated up to 2 days.
Granita can be frozen, covered after about 5 hours, up to 3 days.

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FHI Platform Iron Heat Things Up

Beauty addicts in the know will agree that the latest FHI Heat Platform iron series is rockin'. With 3 layers of ceramic coating (made with advanced tourmaline technology) and the ability to heat up to 450 degrees within mere minutes, it is one of the best irons I've used. The high quantity of crushed tourmaline gemstones results in producing more far-infrared heat, causing less damage to the hair shaft and conditions the hair from the inside out. Unless you wash your hair, the hair style will last all day, which is real nice for a change (instead of having your curls droop or frizz out).


At $165, this is a great value as far as high-end hair irons are concerned. Other lines that are $200+ aren't this powerful. To buy online or locate retailers, check out or call 877-FHI-HEAT.

See you at the beauty stores...

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Get Pearfect Skin with Eminence!

If you haven't heard of Eminence Organic Skin Care, now's the time to check it out. A venerable skin care line from Hungary, they only make each product in small batches, without any preservatives. This is the real deal, as the shelf life is only one year or less. Plus, each organic ingredient is derived from the best sources, making it super potent and very effective. How many other skin care lines can boast that awesome quality?

I took the liberty to test out their latest offerings and the new Pear & Apple collection doesn't disappoint. The Pear & Poppy Seed Microderm Polisher totally rocks, with fine walnut and poppy seeds gently buffing your dull complexion to a positively glowing visage. The yummy pear and green apple pulp will boost your skin with antioxidants and bioflavonoids, meaning more fruity goodness for your lovely face. A small amount is enough, so don't go overboard with the product. For the sensitive types, try using less product and massage very gently.


The Pear & Green Apple Masque is very lovely, replenishing the moisture back to your dry skin (great for over-exposed summer skin). The pear and green apple purees infuse the skin layers with nourishing vitamins while active powerhouses such as Ginseng and Burdock Root act as healing agents, toning and purifying your skin.

One of my new favorites from their body care line is the Pear & Green Apple Yogurt Body Wash. Very gentle for everyday use, it doesn't contain any Sodium Lauryl Sulfates, which can really dry out and irritate the skin. Like all their products, it smells like the actual fruit is being blended into the wash. I felt like I was literally washing myself with fruit juices.


Last but not least - the Pear & Green Apple Sugar Scrub is a luxurious skin polishing treatment. The natural AHA in sugar cane gently exfoliates the entire body to perfection while pear and apple extracts drench your skin with much needed vitamins and bioflavonoids. Comfrey provides calming and antiseptic properties while Butcher's Broom firms the skin. I use this sparingly, since you don't want to waste the product. It's so moisturizing I don't even bother with a moisturizer afterwards.

Available only in exclusive spas - call 1-888-747-6342 for a listing of retailer spas or visit

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Love! Passion! and much more at SF International Film Festival

I love movies. And being a huge fan of foreign films, I naturally had to check out this year's San Francisco International Film Festival selections. With over 100 entries, I really had to narrow it down and choose a couple great entries from Asia that are worth a gander (in my humble opinion of course).

The opening night film, "Perhaps Love," was one of the most highly anticipated musicals from Hong Kong director Peter Chan (My favorite cinematographer Christopher Doyle also worked on this ambitious project, so that's always a BIG plus). With Bollywood choreography, it's sure to entertain even the most skeptical moviegoer. Frankly, I'm just proud of the fact that this is the first HK film to be chosen for this year's festival opening night.


Set in Shanghai and Beijing, the story is your basic doomed love triangle plot, but with the stellar international cast (Takeshi Kaneshiro (so cute), Zhou Xun, Jacky Cheung and Ji Jin-Hee) and the strong vocals of HK pop megastar Jacky Cheung, you can't help but be enthralled by the whole performance.


Already garnering a few awards, this will attract every hopeless romantic out there, and then some. Be forewarned - while many folks will compare this to "Moulin Rouge," this is more of a realistic portrayal of the many facets and emotions of love, especially the complicated, bittersweet and nasty parts (y'all know what I'm talking about).


Another festival favorite, "House of Himiko," is a dramedy by Isshin Inudo. A young Saori (Kou Shibasaki) is forced to come to terms with her past after a handsome Haruhiko (Joe Odagiri) offers her a high-paying job at a seaside gay retirement home.


Run by her dying estranged gay father (Min Tanaka), a former Ginza transvetite bar owner, she quickly falls into the zany lifestyles of the aging queens. Struggling to resolve her abandoment issues with her stoic father and overcoming her homophobia, Saori soon learns to accept and love each resident's eccentric personalities.


With Ruby the pink-haired queen leading the pack, the residents are the gems that shine throughout the entire film. Presented with a quirky comedic touch, it's an interesting look at Japan's aging gay community and how this resilient culture deals with this societal reality.


See you at the theatres!

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The Skin Care Wonderland of Boscia

*My beauty partner-in-crime Amy Yu took the daunting task of testing the lovely boscia skin care line (with my assistance, of course). Read on to find out more about the fabulous natural botanical products!

The Skin Care Wonderland of Boscia

By Amy Yu

Much like Alice in “skin care wonderland”, “the boscia bottle seemed to say "USE ME! You don’t want me to expire!” The idea of an expiration date on my skincare product was daunting at first. Then, it became a reassuring reinforcement of just how fresh the boscia skincare line is: free of preservatives; made with botanicals. It truly aids in maintenance of your skin’s natural beauty.

Created by Fancl Corporation, boscia’s focus on simplicity and freshness is executed through the use of two main ingredients: organically grown jojoba leaf that fights free radical damage and willow-herb, an anti-inflammatory to soothe and calm skin troubled by harsh chemicals, stress and other irritants.


For those with oily skin (like me!), a definite “must” includes the Purifying Cleansing Gel. Within two weeks of using this soap-free makeup remover and cleanser, my face seemed lighter and more even in tone. Further enhancing this effect was the Balancing Facial Tonic. Gentle and light, this refreshing tonic doesn’t leech the moisture out of your skin unlike most toners. The essential lavender water in it has a calming effect in both smell and feel.

A favorite in the boscia line, the Oil-free Daily Hydration SPF 15 has become indispensable in my skincare regimen. Protection against UV rays is essential, but SPF usually equals an oily sheen on the face, particularly in the T-Zone. Silica powder in this moisturizer controls the excess oil, while still leaving my skin feeling supple.


It’s inevitable that oil will surface as the day goes by try the Rose Blotting Linens for touch-ups. I’ve used tons of blotting sheets for absorbing excess facial oil, but these sheets have an amazing quality. Made from finely-woven fibers of the Abaca tree plant, the sheets are infused with a delicate rose scent. An extra plus for philanthropists, a portion of the proceeds from the sales of Rose Blotting Linens are donated to support breast cancer research.

Those hot summer days are imminent and protection from the sun is increasingly important. Your hands will ultimately thank you for using boscia’s Daily Hand Revival Therapy SPF 15. Mulberry acts to lighten sun spot pigmentation caused by UV damage and this hand cream isn’t greasy or sticky.

As a makeup remover, the Makeup Breakup Cleansing Oil does the trick. It has a nice cool sensation as you scrub your makeup off. The nice thing is that it doesn't strip your moisture barrier. That's what I like about the entire line - it adds hydration back to the skin, instead of taking it away.

I love the Willow Bark Breakout Treatment. It doesn't dry out your skin like most acne products, and if you apply it early enough, the pimples will be gone by the end of the day. Perfect timing for that hot date you have that night!

The Jujube Salve Stick is the perfect lip balm. Perfect for preventing the lipstick feathering problem, it also helps refresh cakey concealer or eliminate eye makeup boo-boos.

Finally, for all you beauty junkies out there, try the Brilliant Kisses lip glosses. The two neutral shades are great for almost all skin tones.

Check out for more ways to enhance your summer and your skin!

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DIY Bridal Beauty!

Your wedding is the start of a beautiful life with your special partner. It's also one of the most stressful ones as well. As if brides-to-be don't have enough to worry about, we also have to think about our makeup game plan. In reality, it's not as hard as you might think. With the proper products and some practice, you can easily create the magazine-perfect look yourself. The following suggestions will give you a basic idea to obtaining that dewy, fresh visage.


Prep - Begin by prepping your skin with a toner (such as Kiehl's Rosewater Facial Freshener-Toner), then moisturize with a light lotion - we used Estee Lauder Future Perfect Anti-Wrinkle Radiance Lotion SPF 15. Follow with your favorite eye cream and lip balm.

Face - Bridal makeup should never be heavy. You want it to enhance your features, not hide it under cakey layers. Makeup artist Maggie Kerr applied Aveda's Inner Light Tinted Moisture SPF 15 to even out the skin tone. She then used Burt's Bees Concealing Creme to eliminate dark circles and blemishes. Everything was set with Stila Sheer Pressed Powder. A light wash of blush (Estee Lauder BlushLights) was then gently blended on the apple part of the cheeks.


Eyes - Start with a MAC eyeliner pencil to define the upper lash line. Kerr then used NARS Decameron on the base of the lid, then blended Estee Lauder's Pure Color eye shadow (Bronze Cube) on top. Blend, blend, blend! The dark brown shade from Tarte's Social Butterfly Palette is then gently swept along the crease and to lightly line the lower lash line. Finally, curl lashes and brush with Estee Lauder Illusionist Waterproof Maximum Curling Mascara.


Lips - Get the sexy pout with Tarte's Sexy-Lexy double lip liner, nude shades that will work on most skin tones. Glide on Tarte's supergloss in J.R. and you will be all set!

Hair - 2006 marks a resurgence in soft styles, with mild sculpting for a romantic look.

"If you have thicker hair that has length, try leaving your hair down as wearing it all the way up might be too heavy and give you a headache," Steve Elias advises. "For thin hair, use pre-styling and blow-drying with volumizing products to get more texture and hold, as thin hair tends to lose style quickly."


Elias started by applying Aveda's Light Elements Reviving Mist, then blow-drying the locks to remove excess build-up. He then sectioned the hair in 1-inch sections, starting in the back. Using a 1-inch ceramic curling iron, Aveda's Brilliant Hairspray (helps guard against humidity) was sprayed as the hair was curled in different directions for a natural, tousled look. To set it in place, he then gently finger-styled the locks to loosen the tight curls.

Voila! Bridal perfection is now at your fingertips!

*** Special thanks to the following talented folks who created this bridal look:***

Photography: Will Taylor,

Makeup: Maggie Kerr,

Hair: Steve Elias,

Wardrobe: Verrières & Sako,

Model: Amber Lunsford of Look Model Agency (San Francisco)

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Leather Artisan Maintains Timeless Appeal at April in Paris

Photos are courtesy of April in Paris

Beatrice Amblard has always loved creating something with her hands. The French-born master leather artisan had a natural inclination for making wooden toys from a very young age.

"I used to build puppet theatres and make wooden boxes. I also liked to take bicycles apart and fix them," Amblard says. "I made my first skateboard before I even knew what it a skateboard was."


Her early talents quickly translated into a career choice. At 16, Amblard visited the famous Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Paris. She initially chose to enroll in the carpentry program, but at the last second she switched to the leather training program.


"It was love at first sight. The smell of the leather, the glue and the wax went right to my nostrils. I decided right there on the spot that I would become a master artisan in leather," Amblard says.

Amblard studied for two years and was immediately hired by Hermes in Paris. In 1987 she was appointed as the "Ambassador" to their San Francisco boutique. With fourteen years of experience in custom designing small leather goods, Amblard eventually opened April in Paris, where she built a strong and loyal following.


With popular styles like the Scarlett or Bea handbag, it's very easy to see why Amblard's work is in such high demand. Her 'contemporary-classic' designs are hand-finished with the traditional saddle stitch - the same exact way it was crafted 200 years ago. Marked with her signature logo of an 18-karat gold or sterling silver bee, every item is one-of-a-kind. Working with a few select French tanners, Amblard only uses fine skins for her products, including French calf, alligator, ostrich, and stingray. Dye lots can be requested, so one can order shocking pink alligator or persimmon ostrich skins.


Due to the intensive design process, it's no surprise that one might have to wait as long as four months for a custom-tailored handbag to be completed. It's worth the wait, as eachclient plays an interactive role in designing their own leather product, including the color selection and size of the finished product.

"Beatrice has a wonderful sense of perceiving a client's desires and enabling their vision to come to life," Jim Hogan, a senior merchandiser for Wilkes Bashford, says. "Her work essentially reflects the unique, personal style of each client."


In a fast-paced fashion world where nearly everything is mass-produced by machine, custom handcrafted leather accessories are indeed a rarity.

"The term 'hand-made' is bastardized these days," Amblard says. "If one person touches the fabric in the manufacturing process, it's considered 'hand-made.' Here, every step of the process, from start to finish, fits the true definition of hand-made."


Hogan concurs with Amblard's craftsmanship philosophy. "Dollar for dollar, her work is not a store-bought taste. It truly speaks of your love of luxurious, beautifully hand-crafted leather goods."

"I don't follow fashion trends," Amblard says. "I design what I like, and my work is made to last. My heart really goes into my work. Twenty years later I love it more than ever."

April in Paris is located at 55 Clement Street, San Francisco, CA 94118, (415) 750-9910,

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