Stories by: Grace

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

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

Beauty, MakeupSmashbox Wondervision

Smashbox-Wondervision-Mega-Palette

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!

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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

Beauty, SkincareJenu Ultrasound Facial

jenu

After being inspired by my recent experience with an amazing high-tech facial, I re-evaluated my skincare routine to see where I could take advantage of scientific advances on a daily basis. The ultrasound delivery of serum and moisturizer intrigued me, and I eventually discovered the Jenu ‘Active-Youth’ Skincare System. The system utilizes a professional-grade ultrasound system to infuse twelve times the amount of anti-aging ingredients into facial skin around the eyes and lips as opposed to traditional creams. When I stopped to think about it, it makes total sense that the depth of penetration makes so much difference in effectiveness of the serum. How can my quick fingertip application compete with hundreds of thousands of safe, gentle, ultrasound waves infusing treatments? The Jenu system updates skincare to today’s standards by utilizing modern technology coupled with advanced compounds to feed the skin. READ MORE

Beauty, SkincareCaviar for the Eyes: Erno Laszlo

Erno-Laszlo-Phormula-3-9-Eye-RepairSometimes a lady just needs to be pampered with the absolute best. When it comes to the eyes, I feel like this statement applies more than ever, and here’s why: I was told many years ago by a facial guru (when I thought I was too young to have even heard of eye cream) that it was necessary to start even then to preserve what I had. The thin skin around our eyes is the first thing to show age. I took that advice to heart, and have always taken special care to research eye creams for high quality ingredients and superb formulations. I’m currently obsessed with Erno Laszlo’s Phormula 3-9 Eye Repair, a gel-cream  which is the “caviar” of eye treatments. Erno Laszlo founded the eponymous skincare line in 1927, incorporating his expertise on skin pathology to develop a treatments used on Hungarian royalty. Ever since, it has remained the gold standard for skin treatments and is a favorite among Hollywood’s elite. The emollient Phormula 3-9 preserves the skin’s texture and appearance (best to start while you’re young, but it’s never too late to catch up!) while providing defense against environmental stressors. My little beauty secret is putting the jar in the fridge, so when I apply, it feels cool and refreshing and tightens my under-eye bags right up (a necessity after a long night!). The gel component is non-irritating and absorbs quickly, and I can barely feel any weight at all. READ MORE

Accessories, Fashion, Mom & Kids, ShoppingRo.Sham.Bo

roshambo

What baby can be without a pair of cool shades? I love hearing about parents who notice that they can’t find those perfect baby products- and go out and create them! Ro Sham Bo, which is the Japanese name for the classic rock-paper-scissors game, is the brainchild of Scott + Julia, a couple from California. They were at a loss trying to find cute high-quality kid sunglasses, so instead of settling, figured they’d go to work and benefit autism research in the process! I couldn’t resist a pair of the lavender Roshambo shades for my little one, called Punky Brewster (what a blast from the past!). As soon as I pulled the sunglasses out from their clear carry case, I was impressed by their lightweight flexibility. My mind always runs to safety, and fortunately, the arms of the glasses are made of strong but soft bendable plastic to prevent any freak accidents with running toddlers. The lenses are shatter proof and small parts have been tested for safety. Considering another view of safety, pediatric optometrists warn that most of the lifetime ultraviolet damage done to a person’s eyes occurs during childhood and the risk for retinal damage from the sun’s rays is greatest in children less than 10 years old. Damage doesn’t necessarily appear until later stages in life- but why risk it? Roshambo shades aren’t just cool, they have 100% UVA and UVB protection.

So the glasses are great in theory, but the big question is- will kids actually wear them (without a screaming fit)? I am a big believer in comfort in conjunction with fashion, whether for me or my daughter. Roshambo is designed to be fun and feel great, too. All I had to do was show the munchkin how cute she looked in the mirror with sunglasses on and now she wants to wear them, sun or rain! Roshambo has the best full damage replacement guarantee for their shades, if your frames break or get damaged in the first year of their use. If one lens pops out and is lost, no problem- they’ll replace it. Little people deserve big shades!

Hair, Skincare5 Products For a Complete Fall Skin & Hair Makeover

As we usher in the lovely crisp autumn air and humid hot air out, my skin is begging for a change, and that’s one thing I’ve learned not to ignore! I’ve revamped my beauty regimen for the cooler, drier air but don’t want to bring in the heavy-hitting rich creams for the winter season yet. The theme of the fall facelift? Pampering skin with the absolute highest quality ingredients sourced in nature if possible.

sjal_rose_aura1. To start out, a gentle but potent cleanser which rebalances and infuses energy into skin is vital to the success of everything that comes after! The luxurious Sjal Skincare line is completely different from anything I’ve ever come across; it utilizes eastern medicine in conjuction with biotechnology of today to create gemstone-infused products. The Rose Aura Cleansing Set actually contains gold, silver, and rose quartz (talk about precious metals!) to balance skin and encourage healthy cellular activity. I love the incredibly soft 100% natural Konjac sponge for application, which when wet is so soothing on your skin that it can be used daily of the most gentle exfoliation and makeup removal. Not only is skin detoxified, but my visage appears brighter and healthier, sans that oily feeling. Since fall brings brisker air, I recommend immediately using toner and a medium-weight moisturizer to follow cleansing in order to avoid dryness.

2. loccitanelotiondivineL’Occitane’s Divine Lotion is part of a new line of anti-aging products which take advantage of the legendary Immortelle flowers from Corsica. The flower never fades, even after it’s been picked! So wisely using nature as the ultimate guide, L’Occitane has coaxed out the essential oils from this sprightly yellow flower, and boosted its effectiveness with 7 plant-derived active ingredients. The Divine lotion is actually a super-toner, designed to maintain a balanced complexion and help accelerate exfoliation while leaving skin feeling smoother and more supple. I prefer the Divine Lotion to traditional toners because it’s milky and pleasantly absorbed, and it multi-tasks anti-aging with rebalancing skin. The light scent of the Immortelle flower is preserved, and my skin feels deliciously soft after application.

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