Lavender vanilla bean cookies

I love the smell of lavender. The fragrance is intoxicating, which makes the edible component excellent. I purchased a bag of fresh lavender flowers at Herbiary in the Reading Terminal Market and wanted to do something more than just add to tea. I developed this vegan cookie recipe instead. I have to say they are the perfect, elegant, just the right sweetness cookie. I really needed to restrain myself from eating the entire batch. Here is the recipe, just in case you need a hostess gift or are staying home for a movie marathon.

Dry ingredients:

1 cup Bob’s Red Mill gluten free quick oats

1/2 cup Ancient Grain quinoa flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp fresh lavender flowers

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp flax meal

Wet ingredients:

6 tbsp Olivio coconut vegan spread

2 vanilla beans

2 tbsp warm water

How-to:

Combine oats, flour, baking powder, and lavender flowers in one bowl. Wisk together. In a microwave safe bowl add vegan spread and vanilla bean and melt partially-no more than 15-20 seconds. Remove from the microwave and whip on high speed with beaters until smooth. Add brown sugar, flax meal, and warm water and stir with a wooden spoon. Gently add half the dry ingredients. Stir and then add the second half. Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake on 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes until the edges are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let finish cooking on sheet until cooled.

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The Weekender

Going on a trip? Planning a vacation soon? You need a fashionable carry-on. One that makes a fashion statement and comfortably holds all of your personal items and toiletries. “The Weekender” is a medium sized satchel with gold hardware and a heart quilted exterior. In true Betsey Johnson style, the lining is vibrant and fun in hot pink. The inside contains both a zipper section and two pouches. The straps are durable, making it easy to swing over your shoulders and walk through the terminal. Similar here.

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Lady Gaga- The Sound of Music

Did you watch Lady Gaga last night at the 87th Oscars???? If you did not, she walked the red carpet wearing a custom Azzedine Alaia gown, which took a grand total of 1600 hours of embroidery and 25 people! This was the first time a dress by the legendary designer was worn at the Oscars and what a showstopper. Gaga took the stage, looking like the epitome of elegance, with a Sound of Music medley that brought the audience to their feet and Julie Andrews to the stage. What a marvelous performance! Watch here.

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LadyGaga

As for her makeup for the red carpet. It was created by NARS makeup artist, Sarah Tanno. Here are the products that Sarah used for Gaga’s striking look.

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All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation

Callisto Dual-Intensity Eyeshadow

Jungle Red Lip Liner Pencil

Dragon Girl Velvet Matte Lip Pencil

Here is her look during her performance.

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All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation

Anita Audacious Lipstick

And Finally, her look for the Vanity Fair Oscars Party

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Subra Dual-Intensity Eyeshadow

Bette Audacious Lipstick

 

 

Naeem Khan Fall 2015

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Naeem Khan’s Fall couture line is nothing short of luxurious. Glitter and opulence. Earth tones, golds, and rich mahogany colors walked the 2015 runway.

As for the makeup. Lips were strong and bold in vivid red with neutral brown shadow and sheer cheeks. This look was created by NARS Makeup Artist, James Boehmer.

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Here’s how:

SKIN    
 
COMPLEXION
BROWS
 
EYES   
 
LIPS    
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Tattoo Convention in Philadelphia

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On Valentine’s Day I attended the annual Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention. It was such a wonderful experience. The crowd, the artists, the vendors, the convention was buzzing with energy. The tattoo artists were willing to chat about their designs, others were concentrating on tattooing their clients. Each table displayed their portfolios and offered prints for sale. As I walked through the crowds, I was struck by the atmosphere. Even though it was packed with people, everyone was calm and engaged. Booths were set up with awesome graphic t-shirts, body jewelry, and tattoo related products like Hush. I am thankful that I learned about Hush before I get my next piece of ink. Hush is a cruelty free numbing agent for both the before and aftercare including a gel, spray, and cleaning foam.

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The venue may be different than the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but when it comes to contemporary works of art- these tattoos were no less special. The detail and talent is inspiring. I can only imagine that deciding on which artist to pick for a tattoo can be quite the challenge, as there were many amazing artists. Each specialize in something distinctive, putting there own spin and personality into the design.

I was fortunate to meet some of these incredibly talented people and see some of their work.

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Jay Blondel

Jay Blondel, aka Gentle Jay, was a contestant on season 4 of Ink Master. A passionate artist with years of experience. He offers a variety of tattoo options from custom work to repairs, determined to remain flexible and a master of all styles. As I went to Jay’s site, I could not stop myself from looking through his entire gallery. One of my favorites was a custom design, black and grey of a keyboard wrapped around a microphone- incredible!

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Yovanni Del Rio

Yovanni, traveled from Brooklyn NY, and is a tattoo artist at Asylum Studios. I was impressed with his intricate blackwork and linework tattoos, specifically, a heart with bloomed roses where he utilized stippling technique. His meticulous attention to detail and skill level is worth mentioning. Check out Asylum’s gallery on instagram @asylumtattoo.

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Check out the detail of these pieces! Josh H. Holy Ground Tattoo showcases his designs on instagram @birdthief. I was struck by the fine line work and shading of the portrait ink on a finger. If you are interested in a portrait, you must go to Josh’s instagram page, where he showcases several stunning designs from Albert Einstein and Dwight Schrute.

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Jake Nicholson

Look at these beauties. I was drawn to this table for the colors and even though they are functional I would not mind keeping one as a collectible. I thought each one was more stunning than the next. Jake Nicholson from Painful Irons brought 70 machines and 20 clip cords all CUSTOM made to display at the convention. Follow on instagram @painfulirons

I have to say that remarkable restraint on my part was exhibited at the convention. It was very difficult not to spontaneously get a tattoo from one of these artists. I have an idea of my last tattoo that I want and am just putting on the finishing touches. Now, I cannot wait to complete the design and take it to one of these capable artists.

Ashley

 

 

 

Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention

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I am so looking forward to the Tattoo Arts Convention this upcoming weekend in Philadelphia. Instead of drowning my sorrows alone with a bag of vegan candy on the worst pseudo holiday of the year, I will be mesmerized by the amazing tattoo art. Just exaggerating, by the way about the crying and chocolate eating. It would probably be more like one trickling tear and one serving size of candy. I have been an admirer of tattoos for quite some time. I am amazed at the talent and artistry of the tattoo world. I have only two small ones, but they are significant to me.

This event will be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center from February 13-15th. Check out the sick designs and meet special guests like Amy Nicoletto from “LA Ink,” Shane Marshall from “Ink Master” and someone I am stoked to see, Takashi Matsuba. Takashi is one of the very few artists who practice the Japanese form of tattooing, Tebori. Tebori is an ancient style meaning “hand-carved.” Using a Nomi, sterilized steel needles attached to a bamboo stick, Takashi is able to insert the ink. One of the cool benefits different from machine tattooing is the ability to hand mix original colors instead of industry standards available.

This weekend take your sweetie to the convention for a unique Valentine’s Day date.

Lady Gaga at The Grammy’s 2015

Last May, a good friend took me and my sister to see Lady Gaga in concert for the first time in Philadelphia. It was awesome! The concert was fun and energetic. The fans were sweet and lively. The majority of them dressed in elaborate costumes. Her vocals were incredible and she sang all of her hits from her previous albums. At the risk of embarrassing my younger, much cooler sister, I could not resist dancing a bit at my seat.

Did you see Gaga last night at the Grammy’s? She walked arm in arm with the legendary Tony Bennett, a man I had the privilege of meeting when I was in high school. He looked dapper as usual, but Gaga really did shine wearing a Brandon Maxwell silver gown. The two collaborated on an album called Cheek to Cheek and won the Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocals.

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Now for her makeup. Her gorgeous beauty look was created by celebrity makeup artist, Sarah Tanno.  Here’s how to achieve this look!

Eyes:

Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Color in Tin (SV810) was applied all over her eyelids.

Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Color in Mist (WT901) was added just to the inner corners of her eyes.

Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Color in Caviar (BK912) was applied to the outer corners using a smudge technique and also onto the lash line.

Shiseido Luminizing Satin Eye Color Trio in Lido (GR412) the above products are cream eyeshadow so they were set with the satin color.

Shiseido Smoothing Eyeliner Pencil in Black (BK901) was applied to both the top and bottom lashes.

Shiseido Perfect Mascara Defining Volume in Black (BK901) finished her eyes with two coats.

Face:

Shiseido White Lucent Power Brightening Mask applied to her face, followed by NEW Shiseido Bio-Performance Glow Revival Serum and then applied Shiseido Bio-Performance Advanced Super Restoring Cream

Shiseido Radiant Lifting Foundation SPF 17 was applied to the center of Gaga’s face and then blended outward.

Shiseido Sheer Eye Zone Corrector in Natural (103) applied under her eyes only.

Shiseido Translucent Loose Powder set the entire face makeup.

Using the Shiseido MAQuillAGE Dramatic Mood Veil Blush in RD100, Shiseido Bronzer in Medium (2) was applied to her cheeks to create a contoured look then Sarah used MAQuillAGE Dramatic Mood Veil Blush in RD100 to blend, which is unavailable. Instead try using Shiseido Luminizing Satin Face Color in Starfish (OR308) and Petal (RD103)

Lips:

Shiseido Smoothing Lip Pencil in Hazel (BE701) first outlined her lips.

Shiseido Lacquer Rouge in Carnelian (RD309) completed the look.

 

 

Blue neoprene dress

The other night I attended the chic Trunk Show celebrating, Entrepreneur, Chloe Johnston and Fashion Designer, Amy Devan. As it was a Parisian themed event, I knew for certain that red lipstick was my shade of choice. I wore Red Amour Creme Smooth Lip Colour by Laura Mercier. The rest of my makeup look was very uncomplicated. I only accentuated my eye sockets with a light brown from the Maybelline nude palette collection, which I have featured previously, and Shimmer Bloc in Pink Mosaic also from Laura Mercier.

As for the ensemble. I resurrected my blue neoprene blend long sleeved dress from Zara. I wore this dress two Christmases ago to my cousin’s wedding. Cerulean is one of my favorite shades of blue and is flattering on so many skin tones. Actually, I was more inclined to wear the dress again after I found a fun and bedazzled pair of french navy tights from Kate Spade. Unfortunately, they were a sale item and are now sold out. Similar pair here. I just love the way the rhinestones catch the light and spice up an otherwise simple look.

I decided to leave my heels at home and opted for a pair of comfortable Aldo black flats, which I have also worn this winter. As the winter starts to fade away, moving towards the warmer season, think about recycling your existing clothing. Instead of purchasing new pieces mix and match to get more use out of your favorite pieces.

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Atelier et Aperitif

CJ & Naveda Trunk Show

Last night I attended a very fashionable event featuring Naveda Couture and Chloe Johnston. The trunk show was held at the Naveda showroom in the Sterling building in Philadelphia. As members of the press and special guests arrived we entered into a chic space and a breathtaking view overlooking the city, filled with one of kind apparel and drool worthy vintage accessories.

Chloe Johnston, a Parisian lifestyle aficionado, developed a unique company, specializing in customized tours to Paris. As the Founder and President of Chloe Johnson Tours, she creates a tailored and full service experience for each and every person or group. Initially, Chloe’s tours were solely to Paris, but she has since expanded to New York City and is in the process of including London and Milan. Her tours consist of half days or extended experiences and range from flea market trips to mother-daughter excursions. You will be paired with a guide that will chauffeur you and your group around the city, stopping along the way at places catered to your experience. Chloe is also flexible and willing to create your own experience if you do not see an existing package that is of interest. I find this to be a truly special business. Traveling can be overwhelming and tedious. There are only so many hours in the day to cram in all of the sights. With this type of excursion, a guest can achieve all of their shopping goals.

Chloe is a genuine and personable individual. I was delighted to meet her. She is passionate about her business and her clients, more than happy to make all accommodations for the best getaway! I was also able to feast my eyes on her curated vintage pieces that she brought to the trunk show, and let me tell you they were fabulous. I had my eye on an art deco Chanel bangle that was stunning and a lime green Celine purse that would be perfect for the upcoming Spring season.

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Chloe Johnston

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Amy Devan is a sweet, talented, and skilled fashion designer, graduate of Parsons- The New School for Design and the founder of Naveda Couture and Design. Her luxury womenswear brand is whimsical and bohemian with high attention to texture. The fabrics were flowing and intricate with a women’s shape in mind, to accentuate and flatter the body. I was thoroughly impressed with her technique and taste. A hand crafted, beaded collar or cropped vest can be added to spice up a casual top. Amy has integrated these special details, knowing that they complete the look without taking away from the apparel’s  design. Naveda Couture also offers bespoke couture and bridal wear. Her Spring/Summer 2015 collection is filled with pale colors, delicate and lightweight fabrics, and mix and match pieces. My favorites from her new collection, although it is a bit of a challenge to narrow it down, include a ballerina pink tea length skirt that Amy, refers to as the “Sex and the City” skirt. As soon as I eyeballed that skirt, I could picture myself wearing it, which is the true testament. I also loved her pale mint green sleeveless dress with beaded shoulder detail. You must check out her site and view the new look book, especially with Spring fast approaching!

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Ashley Basla and Amy Devan

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Excited for the Philadelphia Flower Show

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The 187th Philadelphia Flower Show is just around the corner and even though I have attended in the past, I am beyond excited for this year’s theme! Lights, Camera, Bloom! The show will celebrate Hollywood and feature Disney and Disney Pixar movies. Ornate chandeliers and the piece de resistance, a marque designed in an art deco style to commemorate the original studio houses. There will be an impressive amount of floral attractions and various plant types including a whopping 1,400 ferns and 1,800 Calla Lilies.

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This year I will be attending as a member of the press and will be sure to check out the 200 merchants from the marketplace. I am looking forward to this event tremendously and cannot wait to see all of the spectacular exhibits.

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Make sure to purchase your tickets to experience this incredible event.