Stories for the year: 2013

BooksParisienne French

parisienne frenchThe first thing I packed for my trip to Paris is possibly the chicest little book I own: Parisienne French. It’s a girl’s guide to conversing in French, complete with phrases, conversations, and neighborhood tips. This definitely does not fall in the textbook genre, but rather a fun and witty insiders’ guide to getting around Paris, perfect even for someone who’s been there multiple times. Ever since I finished (and forgot) most of my grade school French, I’ve wanted to relearn it but in a useful way. I’d love to actually know what vernacular is used to, say, chat with the bartender. Although it’s possible to get around Paris knowing very little French, it’s more fun to venture off the beaten path to the cozy bistros and little boutiques, where the real treasures are found. For those situations, Parisienne French comes into play with tips on how to talk to Parisians and blend in a little with some charm. Parisienne French is authored by Rhianna Jones, a Chicago-native with a degree in French Literature who adores all things French. She spent time living in Paris and working in the fashion industry, and shares her intimate knowledge of the vogue city of lights with her readers.  READ MORE

Accessories, JewelryNik Stone Jewelry

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If you’re looking for unique, artisan jewelry with an industrial twist this holiday season, look no further than Los Angeles native Jelena Nik’s collection, Nik Stone. I’ve been racking up compliments with her Nailed It Rings this season (pictured), which layer well for a delicate-yet-dangerous rocker vibe.

The unisex collection of sterling silver pieces are definitely eye-catching, featuring rings, bracelets, earrings and necklaces themed around nails, wrenches, hammers and nuts. Embedded within each piece are small signature black diamonds, a symbol of strength. READ MORE

Beauty, MakeupSmashbox Wondervision

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Ever dream of having a celebrity makeup artist coach you on colors, combinations, and application? I always need some pointers and encouragement when I get the itch for creativity and try to reproduce the latest looks in magazines or on the red carpet. I’ve found my own personal tutor in Smashbox’s new (and ingenious, I might add) Wondervision Mega Palette. Wrapped up in a eye-catching silver box, the palette hosts 34 piercing hues for eyes and cheeks. Every color combination is included, from matte to metallic. A look for any conceivable occasion, mood, and time of day whether it’s for work or an evening out is covered in this palette. At first, I was intimidated by the exponential possibilities, as the sheer number of new colors spans the rainbow. My doubts disappeared as I pulled out the “Get the Look” cards and realized how fun and easy it would be. The cards reference a specific look to go for: soft cat eye, smoldering eye, drop shadow, or the signature Wondervision color look. After picking a card, next step is to slide the guide up and down the palette until you find the color scheme to try, then the card will automatically outline and number each of the colors with instructions on where and how to apply. Personalized professional makeup has never been made more accessible or easy, and creativity is encouraged!

READ MORE

SponsoredThe Science Behind Younger Looking Skin

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As us beauty obsessed folks know, there’s an art to looking younger. Whether it’s how to mask a sallow complexion, hide dark circles, or contour my cheeks to look plumper—I’ve learned a few tips and tricks through the years. But, wouldn’t it be better if you didn’t have to fake it? What if your skin didn’t just have to look younger, it actually acted younger? Thanks to Olay Regenerist, I’ve also recently learned a few things about the science behind better skin—get ready for some beauty biology!

As our skin is our body’s first layer of defense, it gets put through a lot. No wonder it might be looking—and feeling—a little fatigued. The scientists at Olay have discovered that on a cellular level, as we age, our skin’s energy levels decrease—that is it gets tired and stops doing its job as well. “Easy,” you say. “I’ll just load it up with some products!” Well, as it turns out, tired skin also becomes less responsive to anti-aging ingredients, so your products may not actually produce visible results as quickly as you would like. That’s why the team at Olay discovered that a key step to anti-aging is first reawakening and boosting the skin’s natural bio-energy production so that skin is then ready to absorb anti-aging ingredients. READ MORE

Beauty, MakeupAdd Some Ambient Lighting

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Hourglass has quietly snuck up on me to become one of my favorite brands; I just love everything I’ve tried from them. Right now, I’m obsessed with their new Ambient Lighting Palette.  It’s a limited-edition palette that has three shades of their fabulous Ambient Lighting Powder in it – Dim Light and Radiant Light, which were already available, and a brand new one, Incandescent Light, which was made just for this palette.  The powders are used as a finishing touch to create an extra flattering glow.  They capture, diffuse and soften the way light reflects on your skin so it gives it a flawless appearance and just makes it look overall… better. (I know, that’s very vague, but really, that’s the perfect word.  It just looks better). I especially like to sweep one of them on for a night out because they almost make my skin look like it was lit from within–perfect for a candlelit dinner or a dark bar. The palette also comes with a deluxe mini sample of their fantastic Veil Mineral Primer, so if you haven’t tried that out and would like to before you commit to buying the full-sized version, here’s your chance. The palette’s skinny too, so even though it has three powders in it, you can still tuck it into your bag easily for a weekend away.  At $58, it’s a little bit of a splurge, but you’ll definitely get a lot of use out of it, so I say go for it!

Hotels, TravelThe Viceroy Anguilla

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When I mentioned to my friends that I was planning a trip to Anguilla, the recommendation was the same across the board: “You must stay at The Viceroy!” Whether they had gone with family, friends, or on their honeymoon, it seemed like everyone had nothing but great things to say about the sprawling Kelly Wearstler-designed resort–and it only took about a minute on property to see why. If there ever was a case where a space could be at once jaw-dropping and impressive yet casual and relaxing, this would be it–the perfect cocktail for a luxurious vacation. READ MORE

Fitness & Health, Los Angeles, TravelPost-Thanksgiving Fitness at the Ranch 4.0

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As the leftover turkey wanes and your waistline waxes, remember this: There’s still hope — and discounted gym memberships — come New Year’s Day. But if you can’t wait until then, consider dipping into your savings and booking a quickie at The Ranch at Live Oak/Malibu‘s Ranch 4.0 (aka R4.0) program. According to the founders, it’s “life-changing.”

A shortened version of the Ranch’s original 7-day program, the R4.0 program is held Thursday through Monday for those who can’t get away from their lives for a full week but still want a “jump start” to their fitness, weight loss and wellness goals. It features up to 10 hours a day of rigorous activity, including four hours of morning mountain hiking, an afternoon of exercise classes, daily group yoga sessions, a daily massage, a diagnostic fitness test and a VO2 metabolic test. (Whew! I got a workout just typing that.)

While it may seem intense, this mind-body retreat/boot camp is far from rustic. Held at the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village with the California Health & Longevity Institute (CHLI), it includes a daily 1400-calorie diet of gourmet vegetarian fare, a healthy nutrition class and cooking demo led by a registered dietitian/chef in what they call the “Wellness Kitchen,” plus lodging at the Four Seasons and access to The Spa at Four Seasons.

And, unlike the 7-day program, you can stay plugged in (meaning you can actually get Wi-Fi). The catch? It’s $3,800 per person. (I know, I know … but think of it this way: It’s a steal compared to the 7-day $6,200 price tag!)

We had a chance to interview Ranch founders Alex and Sue Glasscock about the 4.0 concept, and here’s what they had to say: READ MORE

Hotels, Spas & Salons, TravelUmstead Spa Organic Facial

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Revisiting my hometown is like spending time with an old friend- it brings back memories and creates new ones, all the while marveling at the latest changes. I grew up in North Carolina, which is now one of my favorite places to visit in part due to the burst of new restaurants, bars, museums and of course, southern charm. The pace is slow and friendly, and the air is clean- relaxation is paramount to my visits. This past trip included an experience I would gladly travel for again: an organic facial at the breathtaking Umstead Hotel and Spa. The spa itself has just undergone a comprehensive three month renovation, and I was amazed by the transformation. The 16,000 square feet of sprawling space spans two floors and takes its cue from nature, encouraging contemplation and relaxation. Natural elements of river rock, granite, bamboo, and glass have been incorporated into the updated design, which is fitting given the close proximity of the resort to the William B. Umstead State Park. During my spa experience, I fell in love with the textiles, locally sourced pottery and artwork which create the unique ambiance of the spa. The spa’s whirlpool is perfect for settling the mind and soul before or after a treatment. If the weather is warm, the quiet outdoor pool area is ideal for lounging and taking in the serene tree canopy and Carolina blue sky, which spa guests are privy to! READ MORE

Books, Hotels, International, Mom & Kids, TravelLittle Luxe Guides

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Traveling with the whole family doesn’t mean sticking to Disney and eating at McDonald’s! For the chic and adventurous set, having the little ones in tow opens up a whole new world of discovery. While researching for upcoming voyages, I’m always searching for a balance of fun, luxury, culinary adventure, and cultural knowledge. The hardest thing is knowing who to trust for well-curated recommendations–until now. The new Little Luxe City Guides are a godsend of valuable gems of information, and draw from the expertise of the original Luxe City Guides which have been popular with jetsetters for years. Hong Kong, Singapore, and Bali are the exotic destinations in the Little Luxe family, and provide a trusted source of concise information, easily tucked into a carry-on bag! The accordion style guides are protected by a plastic cover and can function as a quick reference when abroad, or even a jumping-off point for doing research in preparation. It’s a time-saver shortcut to the best kid-friendly hotels and villas, interesting activities, and even cute kid stores, so you have a savvy insider’s point of view from the start. READ MORE

Food, Gift Guides, Los AngelesThe Sweetest Gift: Sugarfina Beverly Hills

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I don’t know about you but I seem to have outgrown the candy emporiums of my youth — where color-coded M&Ms graced the walls, waiting to be dispensed into a plastic bag for my movie-snacking pleasure. But what I haven’t outgrown is really good candy. And that’s where gourmet candy curators and founders of Sugarfina, Rosie O’Neill and Josh Resnick, found their sweet spot.

Recently engaged, Rosie and Josh met on Match.com four years ago and dreamed up the idea for Sugarfina, a gourmet candy haven for grown-ups, after watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on their third date. A combination of marketing savvy (she used to be a marketing director for Barbie) and entrepreneurial success (Josh sold the now-defunct Pandemic Studios, a video-game design firm, to Electronic Arts in a deal valued at $860 million), they had great potential for success.

Sugarfina launched in August 2012 online, and just this weekend, these lovebirds opened the first-ever Sugarfina candy boutique for grown-ups in Beverly Hills. I stopped by during their fourth hour of operation, got a tour from Rosie and sampled as much candy as I could. (Tough job, I know.) Here are the highlights: READ MORE

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