Lighten Up Hyperpigmention - Marie Veronique Organics 

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Monday
Dec022013

Gourmet Holiday Gifts

Tired of giving the same food gifts for the holidays? The following suggestions below will make any recipient excited.

San Franciscan chocolate artisan Recchiuti Confections has an irresistible Christmas Stocking Box. Sixteen assorted pieces of their popular chocolate truffle flavors are included, such as the signature Burnt Caramel truffles. $45; www.recchiuti.com.

 

Clifford Bay's Marlborough 2010 Pinot Noir is an affordable selection to bring to any dinner party. Bright and velvety with dark cherry notes, it's also great for cooking. $15.99; www.wine.com.

 

Wild Ophelia chocolate bars make fun party favors or snacks for any upcoming holiday soiree. All featured ingredients are sourced from reputable farmers and artisans from around the nation and there are no preservatives. We recommend the Peanut Butter & Banana and Sweet Cherry Pecan flavors. $4.99; to find retailers: www.wildophelia.com.

 

Aftelier creates the most amazing teas. The tea connoisseur will swoon over Mandy Aftel's Organic Rose Ginger Oolong Tea. Also, don't forget to try her indispensable Chef's Essences. $25; www.aftelier.com.

Wooden Table Baking Co. makes the best alfajores and Buenos Aires native Andrea Ozzuna offers them in traditional, meringue, chocolate and gluten-free options. For a limited time, try her pumpkin spice alfajores. $22-$30 per box; www.buenosairesalfajores.com.

 

One can never have enough chocolate! La Boite of NYC has a stunning trio of Hot Chocolate & More blends that will tantalize any gourmet palate. The 54% cacao set includes Yemen (ginger and cinnamon), Orchidea (orchid root and Szechuan pepper) and Reims (honey, star anise, cinnamon, and ginger). $54; food52.com/provisions.

Credit: James Ransom

For editorial consideration, review samples were provided by the brand's PR representative.

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Thursday
Nov282013

Beauty Gifts For All Budgets

Have a beauty junkie on your gift list? She'll appreciate these gift options below — read on for some great skin care and makeup inspiration for all budgets:

Eminence has two limited edition gift sets for skin care lovers. The Clementine Spice Gift Set ($30) features a silky Clementine Spice Hand & Cuticle Cream and a deluxe size Clementine Spice Body Lotion while the Pear & Fig Gift Set ($34) contains a luscious-smelling Pear & Fig Cleanser and a decadent Pear & Fig Whip Moisturizer. Each gift set also comes with an entry ticket to their holiday contest — the grand prize is a spa getaway to the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa. To find a retailer: www.eminenceorganics.com

 

O&M (Original Mineral) offers a full-size It's In The Bag hair care travel kit to replenish and protect your tresses. It comes with the mild Maintain The Mane Shampoo and Conditioner to moisturize, maintain and detangle hair. It also has the ultra-hydrating No Knott Conditioning Detangler. All formulas are free of sulfates, parabens, propylene glycol, triclosan and phthalates. $65.95; originalmineral.com.

Inspired by ancient botanical recipes from a convent in Provence, the Le Couvent des Minimes Rose Skincare Trio (Soin de la Roseraie) kit features full-size products of the non-greasy Complete Moisturizing Cream, 3 in 1 Micellar Water, and Gentle Cleansing Milk. All formulas are infused with three different rose extracts for extra healing and nourishing benefits. $52.50; usa.lecouventdesminimes.com

Create the perfect complexion with the Dr. Jart+ The Original BB Cream Set. It includes four 0.5 oz tubes of four popular BB Creams. Brighten, protect and hydrate with the Renewalist BB Beauty Cream SPF 40, Black Label Detox BB Beauty Balm SPF 25, Water Fuse BB Beauty Balm SPF 25, and the Premium BB Beauty Balm SPF 45. $34; Sephora.com

Caroline Chu offers a deluxe Anti-Aging Starter Kit that contains travel-friendly versions of her Anti-Aging Serum, Anti-Aging Day & Night Cream, and Anti-Aging Eye Cream. $59.95; www.carolinechu.com.

 

Pacifica's "It's a Beautiful Life" Natural Skincare Collection contains four travel products for naturally flawless skin: Purify Coconut Water Cleansing Wipes, Dreamy Youth Day & Night Face Cream, Alight Multi-Mineral BB Cream, and Natural Color Quench Lip Tint in Blood Orange. $19; www.pacificabeauty.com

Votre Vu Lip Luster lip glosses make fun stocking stuffers. We love the moisturizing Tempting shade, and for every purchase a $1 donation will be made to pediatric cancer research. $22; www.votrevu.com.

For editorial consideration, review samples were provided by the brand's PR representative.

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Wednesday
Nov272013

em michelle phan Shade Play Makeup Palettes

Last week I reviewed em michelle phan's new Arched brow pencils and today we'll look at the Shade Play cheek and eye palettes.

I am a fan of the Shade Play Artistic Cheek Color Palette. The Rosy Baby palette features a bright raspberry blush, which has great color payoff and staying power. There is a minute amount of shimmer but it's barely noticeable once it's on your skin. The bronzer, however, is a surprise favorite. It's not that dark so you won't be screwing up if you accidentally add an extra layer or two. And, it's super natural-looking. Both shades blend beautifully and the no-nonsense palette design also comes with a tiny brush for on-the-go applications. At $28, this is a great everyday blush set to consider.

If you like purple as much as I do, then the Shade Play Artistic Eye Color Palette ($38) in Shanghai Lavenders will make you smile. From day to evening, you'll end up with a myriad of pretty combinations to suit every occasion. Some light purple eyeshadows can look washed out on my skin, but this palette manages to nail the formula so it's actually very flattering. 

Available at www.emcosmetics.com.

For editorial consideration, review samples were provided by the brand's PR representative.

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Tuesday
Nov262013

Home Design Gift Ideas

Need a hostess or housewarming gift for the holiday season? Our suggestions below should bring plenty of smiles. Read on to peruse our shopping ideas:

Simple yet utterly festive, this handmade two-piece burlap banner from Yellow House Company will bring plenty of holiday cheer. $38; food52.com/provisions.

Credit: James Ransom

Riess has an adorable pale blue enamel measuring jug that can be used for many things. Use it for cooking, storing milk, or set a bouquet of wildflowers in it. Made in Austria, this high-quality piece will last for a long time. $42; ancientindustries.com.

Nell & Mary has some neat upcycled tea towels — this one with a group of umbrellas will jazz up any kitchen. Handmade and designed in Portland, OR. $20; www.butterhomeseattle.com.

Too busy to get the perfect holiday wreath or tree? Green Valley Christmas Trees will carefully select, cut and ship your gift selections within a day. There is a 20% sale through 11/28 and free shipping is offered on all orders. $49.99-$209.99; www.greenvalleychristmastrees.com.

These laser engraved birch doily coasters from Uncommon are super cute and functional. They're awesome as hostess gifts, but don't forget to get some for yourself to dress up the coffee table. $20 for five; www.etsy.com/shop/uncommon.  

Bee's Wrap created an ingenious way to wrap your food. Fragrant beeswax-coated muslin sheets are malleable for just about anything (except raw meat). Start with a packet of three different sizes, or get the large bread wrap size for your freshly baked loaves. $15-19; www.beeswrap.com

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Monday
Nov252013

Laura Mercier White Magic Collection

Laura Mercier's White Magic Collection has a few workhorse products to ensure a flawless holiday look. I really like the Orange Blossom Second Skin Cheek Colour. The warm apricot has a slight shimmer but it's not too noticeable once it's on. Perfect for medium skin tones, you also don't need much to get a festive glow. And, it lasts over 6 hours without much fading.

The Caviar Stick Eye Colour is just amazing. The Twilight (shimmery pewter) shade stays put for over 12 hours. Really, it just won't budge until you clean it off. I use it as a cream eye liner but you can swipe the lids if you blend quickly. 

Alas, the Illuminating Eye Colour didn't last nearly as long as the Caviar Stick, at least for me. The Pearl Fantasy shade (shimmery silver with a touch of lavender) faded significantly after 3-4 hours but perhaps a wet application is better for this formula. 

Available at www.lauramercier.com.

For editorial consideration, review samples were provided by the brand's PR representative.

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Monday
Nov252013

New 479° Popcorn Flavors

The wait is over. Popcorn artisan 479° has been introducing new flavors across the nation recently and I can't get enough of them. Packaged in a new snack bag sizes, they're awesome for parties and last-minute get-togethers. Made with organic non-GMO heirloom corn, each serving is quite low in calories (58-110 per serving).

The sweet tooth will inhale the Toasted Coconut Caramel. It's rich and buttery enough to satisfy yet you'll want to finish the entire bag. I was surprised to learn that it's only 110 calories (3g fat) per serving — another guilt-free reason to induldge in a second helping! If you like warm spices the Chipotle Caramel + Pumpkin Seeds will delight the palate, as well as the seasonal Pumpkin Pecan Caramel. All three gourmet blends are not too sweet, layered with just the right amount of crunchy caramelized brown sugar and butter. 

Purists will find joy in Creamery Butter and Sea Salt. There's great corn flavor and you can tell that it's not the generic flavorless stuff you see everywhere. However, if you want something different, Toasted Sesame + Seaweed is going to become an instant hit. I could eat it all the time and never get bored. The blend of sweet, salty and chili strike the perfect umami balance, like a furikake condiment. The Farmers Market Herbs is also quite good — it's sorta like an upscale herbal version of sour cream and onion.

The new 479° Popcorn flavors are available nationwide. For a full retailer list go to 479degrees.com.

For editorial consideration, review samples were provided by the brand's PR representative.

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Friday
Nov222013

Dolce & Gabbana Sicilian Jewels Intense Nail Lacquers

Sicilian Jewels, the 2013 holiday makeup collection from Dolce & Gabbana, offers four gemstone-inspired nail polishes for your pretty little hands and feet. Available in Ruby (Rubino), Amethyst (Ametista), Emerald (Smeraldo), and Topaz (Topazio), these jeweled shades will add enough festive accents for any party.  

You should get away with only one coat with the holiday-ready Ruby (deep red), but both Topaz (golden amber) and Emerald (cool luminous green) will require two coats for proper opacity. The light metallic sheen is very elegant, but there is minor streaking with Topaz. As with their other colors in the regular collection, these nail lacquers have great staying power. Two coats should last a week, maybe even over ten days with a good top coat. 

 

All four Sicilian Jewels Intense Nail Lacquers ($24 each) are now available at all Dolce & Gabbana counters. 

For editorial consideration, review samples were provided by the brand's PR representative.

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Wednesday
Nov202013

Darphin Aromatic Care Essential Oil Elixirs

If you're battling dry skin from sitting near a space heater all day long, Darphin has the perfect remedy. Their Organic Aromatic Care essential oil elixirs will soothe, comfort and hydrate your parched dermal layers within minutes. 

Designed for severely dehydrated skin, the non-greasy Organic Myrhh Aromatic Care facial oil is a fragrant blend of myrrh, cistus, coriander, sandalwood, and myrtle essential oils. Fine lines are softened and a radiant complexion is restored. The ingredients are also certified by Ecocert. To maximize efficacy I use 5 drops after spritzing my toner. I use it day and night and the results are lovely. I now see a healthy, nourished face each morning. The scent is also very uplifting.

For sensitive skin, the über calming Organic Chamomile Aromatic Care will repel visible signs of distress. Chamomile, sandalwood, sage and lavender essential oils work together to strengthen delicate skin and reduce irritation and blotchiness. I imagine it could even be useful for sunburns and wind exposure, along with other minor skin irritations. 

Sample program: On the 8th day of each month, Darphin will give samples of one oil elixir. Their Oil of the Month sampling program is available at any Darphin retailer or you can get it online with any purchase. Learn more details here

Aromatic Care oil elixirs ($70-$150) are available at www.darphin.com.

For editorial consideration, review samples were provided by the brand's PR representative.

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Tuesday
Nov192013

em michelle phan Arched Defining Brow Liner

Launched only three months ago with L'Oréal, the highly anticipated em michelle phan makeup line has received glowing reviews from the beauty world. I just tried the new Arched Defining Brow Liner and based on its solid quality, I'm looking forward to testing the other products in Phan's cosmetic line.

The brow liner is the thinnest I've seen, making your grooming experience very easy and precise. Gals with thicker brows will spend a bit more time filling theirs in but it's not bad. I can use both Brunette and Medium Brown shades, but the Brunette is quite dark if I don't blend it out with the attached spoolie brush. At $19, it is spendy but worth it if you really care about perfectly defined brows. Also, be sure not to press too hard or the product might chip off. 

I'll be reviewing the blush and eyeshadow palettes soon. Stay tuned!

Available at www.emcosmetics.com

For editorial consideration, review samples were provided by the brand's PR representative.

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Monday
Nov182013

TCHOPairings Chocolate Bars

San Francisco chocolate artisan TCHO recently launched three new TCHOPairings organic chocolate bars and needless to say, I was excited to try them. Truly, it was hard to pick a favorite. 

Wrapped in colorful funky packaging, it was hard to resist them. The TCHunky TCHOtella bar is an extremely addictive blend of ultra-smooth gianduja and roasted Piedmontese hazelnuts. It's quite amazing — the aroma and silkiness rivaled the Amedei gianduja bar, and that's saying a lot. To balance things out a tiny smattering of sea salt is sprinkled throughout the bar. I have a feeling these will be very popular as holiday stocking stuffers. 

The Strawberry Rhubarb Pie didn't quite taste like summer fruit pie, but I really liked it anyway. The tart rhubarb puree and pulverized dried strawberries are intriguing for those who crave different textures in their chocolate. I didn't quite detect pie crust and would have liked to see actual chunks of crust, but that's not a deal breaker. 

If you like mint, you'll enjoy Galactic Gelato. Yes, there are many brands that make mint chocolate, but this one has a clean, pure flavor — nothing artificial about it. Local gelato masters Gelateria Naia supplied the mint astronaut gelato that's blended into a dark chocolate base, giving it a subtle crunch. Again, if you prefer texture over smoothness, you'll choose this bar. 

Available for $15.95 (2 x 60g bars) at www.tcho.com

For editorial consideration, review samples were provided by the brand's PR representative.

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