Stories by: Grace

Hotels, International, TravelParadise Found: Eden Roc Cap Cana

mainWhen I couldn’t stand the bone-chilling cold any longer, escape for a long weekend to warmer climate was paramount. A very in-the-know little bird recommended the Eden Roc Cap Cana as the perfect getaway, the only Relais & Chateaux property in the Dominican Republic. Nestled minutes from the airport in Punta Cana, the resort’s transport whisked me to paradise faster than I could shed my winter coat. Privacy is the theme at the elegant boutique property, a resort of 34 beautifully designed suites, and more pools than you could swim in. From sharing no walls as each suite is free-standing with its own pool (and not a small plunge pool, at that!) to your personal golf cart to whisk you anywhere on the property, they’ve simply thought of everything. For a few days, I lived the stuff of dreams filled with luxury, sunshine, and lazy breakfasts.

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Bath & Body, Mom & KidsMustela Baby Moisture

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Way too often this winter, I suddenly notice that my baby’s super-voluminous cheeks are red and chapped from the mistral-like winds that have overtaken the city. As a semi-prepared mother, I frantically dig out any moisturizer I can find in the top pockets of the go-bag and smear it on. With that bit of context, you can understand my giddiness when I discovered that the beloved Mustela brand which I have trusted since day 1, has put out an ultra-rich cold cream formula which is safe and hypoallergenic for even newborns. The best part is, it comes either in a nifty pocket-sized Hydra-stick which even cold hands can pull out and apply directly to baby’s lips and cheeks, or a Cold Cream Nutri-protective tube which is compact enough to be tucked into a diaper bag. Happily, this formula carries its signature irresistible sweet scent, which makes me want to linger kisses even longer!

The Hydra-stick is safe enough to be used even on newborns to protect and comfort skin with nourishing natural cold cream, lipid-replenishing ceramides and softening and soothing shea butter. I tried it out on my hand first, and it glides on easily and I can actually feel the protective barrier as it seals in moisture and minimizes the effect of drying wind and cold. It’s so cute watching my almost 2-year old smearing the stick on her own cheeks to the point that I have to trade a toy with her to release her grip! The hypoallergenic formula puts me at ease as it’s been tested by dermatologists for pediatric use.

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Beauty, SkincareYon-ka Hydra No 1 Treatment

yonka

We’re all familiar with and love designer resort lines as a relief from the bundled-up winter, but what I’ve recently come to realize is that skin needs a resort holiday as well! From a change of scenery and climate is born a need for the equivalent in skincare, which I’ve found in the hydrating anti-aging treatment Yon-ka Hydra No 1. On my recent respite from the uber-cold northeast winter, I toted the Parisian line’s Hydra No 1 Serum and Fluide with me and have been in love with the results. Yon-ka’s anti-aging hydrating complex  restores and maintains hydration levels both in the skin’s superficial and deeper skin layers, but is very lightweight and absorbs well. Because hydration is the basis for skin’s softness, tone, smoothness, and brightness, the Hydra line works both instantly and long-term to restore and retain moisture. An innovative formula of imperata cylindrical, aloe vera, and silicon feed my complexion and relax tightness due to dehydration.

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Accessories, Mom & Kids7 A.M. Enfant

 

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Great design has always been an obsession of mine, and since having a little one, my eyes have been opened to a whole new world of fashion, function, and versatility for the younger set. 7 A.M. Enfant’s French designer, Rebecca Campora, understands what a stylish and practical parent needs by anticipating trends and infusing her cutting edge sensibility. When buying baby stuff, I’ve learned that half of it you really don’t need, and the other half (or more like a quarter), you use constantly and thank your lucky stars that it’s there for you when you need it. Our cold-weather accessories from 7 A.M. fall into the beyond-necessary category, and are geniously well-designed to be lightweight, adaptable, and useful. As we ran around ice-covered Manhattan this weekend, I noticed 7 A.M. accessories on so many toasty babies, and they certainly kept us going from museums to dessert dates!

The Cygnet is  a reversible plush blanket-cover which slips over any stroller, carseat, or carrier in a matter of seconds to keep precious cargo warm and toasty. It even pops out as a blanket wherever and whenever needed. It’s light as a feather and tucks into its own compact carry case so it’s on call when wind, rain (it’s water-repellant!), and chills come knocking. A thoughtfully placed drawstring locks heat in while adjusting to any size, fitting newborns up to four years. The fluffiness comes from faux-down filling for heat retention while being soft and light enough to keep babies warm safely. The shell is silky soft and will never irritate even on bare skin. I’m able to clip it to the stroller with two or four strong velcro hook and loop straps, which frees me from relying on expensive custom sleeping bags that can only be used on one stroller. Side zippers allow either baby or parent’s hands to go in and out to function or adjust without releasing heat. I love the reversible factor too, so the color can change with the mood of the day. If it takes a spill or two, there’s no stress as it is machine washable. The Cygnet is one of those genius inventions that I now can’t imagine life without!

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Food, Mom & Kids3 Treats That’ll Have You Cuddling Up for Valentine’s Day

 

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If there’s one thing I want to do this polar winter more than anything else, it is to cuddle! Not only is cuddling good for stealing a little body heat, but it warms the soul. It’s no wonder that Valentine’s Day falls right amidst the coldest season, when there’s nothing more appealing than finding someone special to get close to. The absolute must-have for cuddling up this winter is the Daydream blanket by aden + anais which is something of an actual dream come true for me.

Since the days when I only trusted aden + anais blankets to swaddle my newborn with, I have been secretly wishing I had my own version of this beautiful baby blanket. As soon as I found out that their ultra-soft signature cotton muslin weave is now available in a generous size at 60″ x 72″, I was counting the minutes until I could curl up and get warm under it. I’m not ashamed to say, it’s almost like an adult security blanket for me since it follows me around the house whether it’s sitting under it with my morning coffee (ok, that only happens on Saturdays), or after a long day of work as I plop on the couch. Some chilly nights it even finds its way to bed, thrown over the comforter for some extra warmth. The Daydream blanket actually contains four layers of muslin, not a bit of filler here! As soon as my skin touches an inch of the fabric, it just can’t get enough of it. I can attest to the amazing quality- not only does it somehow get softer with every wash, but holds up under multiple launderings and tumbles through the dryer.

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Beauty, HairDavines Hair Makeover

DavinesNounouShampooResolutions are so much easier to keep when they involve treating yourself well! My new year, new hair resolution has been so fun to explore, and much needed as my hair was feeling limp and neglected. With the help of Davines’ line of high-quality products, I have a good feeling that this resolution’s going to stick around. I first learned about the brand when I asked an Italian acquaintance what her secret was to effortlessly gorgeous hair. Happily, she didn’t reply that it was chalked up to good genes and I had no hope, but that the eco-friendly Italian line Davines was worth chasing down. Armed with this bit of information, I started exploring their products from shampoo and conditioner to hair oil, with fabulous results.

I admit that I take my hair for granted, and it’s easy to forget that hair can age too–and very quickly if it’s not given some regularly-scheduled TLC. I began using Nounou shampoo, which is specially formulated to nourish and illuminate color-treated hair which typically has a damaged keratin structure. Nounou shampoo is a must-have for preserving color, since the last thing you want after sitting through a long hair appointment is to let it all go down the drain! Even if you wash your hair on a daily basis like I usually do, hair never feels dry after treating it with Nounou. Although there isn’t a huge amount of lather, my hair feels very clean following the shampoo treatment. The clean and sophisticated scent makes me feel like I’m in a salon and instead of harsh chemicals including sodium chloride that can strip color-treated hair, locks are fed with rice proteins, and silicon microemulsions. Nounou shampoo deeply moisturizes with carbohydrates (hair has to eat too!), vitamins, mineral salts, and lipids through nature’s best source, chestnut milk. A welcome side-effect is that it’s moisturizing to my scalp, so even with the cold weather I don’t get flaky.

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Mom & KidsAdventures with Manhattan Toy

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Cabin Fever is a term my husband uses to dramatically announce that he is delirious from being trapped our apartment for too long. With the winter temperatures and all that white stuff on the ground, it’s been used quite frequently as of late. On one hand, I miss being able to lounge around and watch movies and drink wine on the couch on snowy Saturdays, but having a little one in the family means dusting off the ol’ imagination and getting active and creative- even if that means doing so at home. For a little help and magic dust in this department, I turn to the experts in creating fun – Manhattan Toy. Kids and parents alike love the ideas and activities that come wrapped up in little boxes. Here are some of our favorites which will take us on a ride all the way into better weather.

The Imagine I Can series encourages make-believe and wonderment, and for a variety of ages, provides a springboard for adventures and story-telling. The Imagine I Can Enchanted Fairy Kit comes in cute metal lunchbox (perfect for toting to grandma’s house) and includes a pair of wings ready to add flight to a little girl’s back, transforming her into a pastel flurry of motion. As every good fairy knows, the fairy dust bottle is indispensable, and I can’t help smiling as my newly transformed fairy sprinkles imaginary glitter all over the living room. When it came time for Miss Fairy to sprinkle flower seeds, I asked what she was trying to grow, and the answer was, “cheese!” I guess we know who will grow up to be a Dairy Queen. The magical kit also includes an adorable felt flower crown and sweet felt flower cut outs plus a magic wand, all the must-haves for a fantastical time. Beware, the fairy transformation can result in infinite twirling, as it did in our case. Voila! Cabin fever has disappeared like fairy dust!

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Fitness & Health, Mom & KidsErica Ziel’s Knocked-Up Fitness

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Sometimes after a big dinner (or many, as the holidays go), I lament the bygone days where I could eat a wheel of brie then lie on the beach in a bikini with no evidence of having indulged. After a few years have gone by, and oh, having a baby, things are a bit different. For moms and moms-to-be, fitting in that workout is beyond tricky and frankly, not that appealing. Luckily, I have a new little secret up my sleeve for a new start in the new year. Certified Personal Trainer Erica Ziel, a sun-kissed Californian with a degree in Kinesiology & Health, has culled all her knowledge and experience into a new workout program. Knocked-Up Fitness is an effective pilates-based workout designed for all trimesters of pregnancy and post-pregnancy where Erica is your personal coach and inspiration. The Prenatal + After Baby 4-DVD set starts from the first trimester and goes all the way through staying in shape from diaper changing to first steps. An exercise band is included, so you’re all set to get in the best shape possible while being safe. During pregnancy, core muscles are more important than ever for labor and delivery, then of course comes the rebuilding of the body post-pregnancy. Erica’s philosophy is that the stronger your deeper muscles are, the stronger the rest of your entire body is.

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Fitness & Health, Home, ObsessionsA Natural Wake-Up

light

If you’re an anti-morning person like me, there’s nothing worse than the piercing sound of an alarm, followed by groaning and tears. Since retiring and sleeping in is not even close to being on the horizon, I’ve discovered the next best thing: a more natural way to wake up inspired by nature’s sunrise. The Philips Wake-up Light is a clock that, instead of an alarm, uses light to simulate a gradual sunrise, gently lulling you out of sleep to wakefulness. Not only do I avoid getting jolted from REM, but the faux-sunlight stimulates the body’s natural rhythms to transition to wakefulness, even before I even open my eyes. The whole day feels different for me, as I feel relaxed and ready to take on the world as opposed to groggy and counting cups of coffee. To my surprise, it even helps if it was a late night and I didn’t get quite enough beauty rest! If you’re worried that light won’t be enough to wake you from dreamland, there is a simple alarm at the end of the gradual “sunrise” which will ensure that you don’t miss that morning meeting.

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Beauty, SkincareWinter Wonderland Skin Remedies

Brrrr… the cold is here, and between the wind and snow, it is sinking in deep! Luckily, I’ve discovered some new goodies for keeping skin cozy and moisturized.

ultrarepaircream1) I struggle with annoying patches of dry skin, bordering on eczema and have finally found an answer to my seemingly endless (and frustrating!) search: First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream. As soon as I opened up the jar and sunk my finger into the fluffy but creamy concoction, I knew I was onto something different. Not only did it beat out my old misconceptions that an “eczema treatment” had to be dense as a brick to be effective and take forever to absorb, but it actually changed the feeling of my dry skin instantly. The non-greasy formula is easy to put on, and the cloud-like texture makes it a pleasure to massage in. The cream is formulated to penetrate quickly to relieve severely dry, scaly skin, and can even work to alleviate atopic dermatitis, eczema, and keratosis pilaris. Colloidal oatmeal is something I’ve used on my baby’s skin when she gets dry patches, which is one of the main ingredients in the Ultra Repair Cream. Together with shea butter, eucalyptus oil, and ceramides, the colloidal oatmeal relieves skin on the body and  face. READ MORE

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