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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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Friday
Nov152013

Laura Mercier Colour-To-Go Palette in Smoky Violet

Looking for a complete makeup set? Laura Mercier has a fantastic limited-edition Colour-To-Go Portable Palette for Eyes, Cheeks & Lips. The Smoky Violet color scheme is extremely flattering for brown eyes. It includes three gorgeous eyeshadows along with their smudge-proof Tightline Cake Eye Liner to create an easy purple smoky eye. I was very pleased to see them last over 8 hours without any creasing and fading was minimal. I also didn't use any primer so I can only imagine how much longer it would last.

The double-decker palette also has a warm Bronzing Pressed Powder and a light pink Second Skin Cheek Colour. The long-wearing blush and bronzer are finely milled — the silky texture is very easy to blend. The bronzer can be rather dark for fair skin so use sparingly and blend it out completely. A light peachy-pink Lip Glacé is included to finish the look. If you want something more neutral, the brand also offers the palette in a Natural Nudes option. 

This Colour-To-Go Portable Palette ($50) has sold out on LauraMercier.com, but you can still get it online at Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Macy's. 

For editorial consideration, a review sample was provided by the brand's PR representative.

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Wednesday
Nov132013

Dior Diorific Lipstick in 045 Royale

The holidays just aren't festive enough without a lipstick from Dior's Golden Winter Collection. Their Diorific Long-Wearing True Colour Lipstick in 045 Royale is a great alternative if you don't want to do a bright holiday red. Infused with a light rose scent, the full coverage neutral pink will last through several hours of normal wear. The gold glitter adds a shimmery glint, but it's not too obvious unless you get real close up.  

Available at all Dior counters and Dior.com

For editorial consideration, a review sample was provided by the brand's PR representative.

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Monday
Nov112013

Dior Diorific Vernis for Holiday 2013

As part of the Dior Golden Winter holiday 2013 collection, the long-wearing Diorific Vernis nail polishes will please everyone. 995 Minuit is an elegant deep plum with gold sparkles. Shown in brighter lighting, it almost has burgundy tones. Two thick coats are needed but it dries pretty quickly. 

Need something more toned down? 128 Winter is a clear polish with pink and white sparkles. You can use it on top of Minuit for amplified shimmer but it's suitable for the understated gals. Pretty on its own, you can layer it on top of any other polish for a glistening holiday effect. These are also chip resistant and the formulas do not contain dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, nor camphor. 

Available for $26 at all Dior counters and www.dior.com

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

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