Even though Halloween just passed, I am already preparing for the holiday season! I find it so much easier to start gift shopping in advance instead of waiting until the last minute. I want to enjoy the season, not feel rushed or burdened. Today, I want to share with you a fabulous holiday gift guide curtesy of The Rittenhouse Spa & Club. The talented senior stylists and estheticians have compiled their favorite gifts for the holiday season sure to please even the most difficult person on your list!
Another amazing holiday gift guide is to treat the special person in your life to the pampering spa experience! The Rittenhouse Spa & Club offers numerous packages to treat the people on your holiday gift list.
Holiday Gift Experiences
Tier One: $150 (aka 14K Spa Experience)
30 minute Back, Neck & Shoulders Massage, manicure and pedicure
Tier Two: $300 (aka 18K Spa Experience)
Holiday Sweet Retreat: 30 minute Hydra Facial, 60 minute Rittenhouse Massage and manicure
Tier Three: $500 (aka 24K Spa Experience)
The Ultimate Gift of Relaxation: Quartet Massage, Diamond White Facial, Blow out and styling
Men’s Ultimate Spa Experience ($300)
Indulgent Shave, Haircut, 60 minute Rittenhouse Massage
Make sure to visit The Rittenhouse Spa & Club to shop for the perfect gifts for everyone on your list!
Recently, I watched a Hallmark movie (obviously), which was call All Things Valentine. In a nutshell, the movie centered around a jilted women who loathed Valentine’s Day and in true Hallmark form it was a happily ever after scenario for our leading lady, but not before the third act twist. Towards the end, she realized that she was surrounded by love in her life. She had a loving family and supportive friends. She already had many “Valentines” in her life with or without a relationship. I found this to be touching and just in time for the holiday. If I am being honest, I was feeling a little sarcastic towards the supposed most romantic day of the year. I needed some perspective.
The original Valentine’s Day had absolutely nothing in common with today’s version. The tradition of chocolates, flowers, and heart shaped cards have taken on a life of their own. The original story is actually tragic, beautiful, and inspiring.
St. Valentine was a Roman Catholic priest during the reign of the emperor Claudius the second, a fierce persecutor of the Christians. He prohibited marriage in an official edict under the impression that unmarried soldiers fought better than those that were married. Valentine did not heed his word and continued to administer marriage licenses. He secretly performed marriages as he truly believed in the sacred sacrament. Sadly, Valentine was imprisoned, tortured, and beheaded for his commitment to love.
While in prison, a jailer named Asterius brought his blind daughter to Valentine for lessons in history, mathematics, nature, and religion. Through their prayers Asterius’ daughter could see. A miracle occurred, which converted Asterius to christianity. On his final day, he wrote to Asterius’ daughter and signed the note, “from your Valentine.”
This past weekend my grandparents had their marriage blessed by Bishop Robert J. Cunningham. They will be married 58 years this May. My parents will be married 34 years this August. This Valentine’s Day, I am thankful for all of my little Valentines from my family to my friends. I love you all. I am inspired by Valentine’s story- his love, selflessness, and dedication to commitment. Even in the face of pain and persecution, he continued to instill love and faith to young lovers.
Have a special Valentine’s Day!
I hope everyone celebrating had a wonderful Christmas! In just a few short days is another holiday, that you all know I dread…New Years. It is usually a frigid day followed by an even chillier night, ungodly crowds, and a time of reflection on all that you have accomplished and sadly, all that you have not.
On a lighter note, however, I do have some tips for a beautiful makeup look no matter how you spend your evening. Last month, I featured products from Sisley-Paris, one of which was the shimmering Phyto-Ombre Glow Eyeshadow in gold. Each one of the four colors would be the perfect choice for the holiday. The shadow applies smoothly and evenly leaving a wake of pearlescent sparkle. In the photo above, I am wearing the gold over my entire eyelid and socket. I lined my top lashes with the liquid liner side of NYX two-timer in black. My bottom lashes are lined with a bronzed copper, Skorpios Shadow pencil from NARS. The focus of this look are the eyes. Keep lips simple in a nude, rose, neutral color. I am wearing the Sophia Loren lipstick by Dolce & Gabbana.
Last minute shopping? No problem, head over to Wild Lilies Jewelry for fabulous accessories for any holiday occasion. One of my favorite trends is the double sided studs. I even saw Mariah Carey herself wearing them in the recent Hallmark movie, A Christmas Melody. Side note, I love Hallmark movies. I believe I have seen every Christmas one thus far. My one true goal is to star in a Hallmark film, preferably one for Christmas! It is on my bucket list. Mariah graced the audience with her acting presence and soft focus lighting for a truly special night.
Back to studs. The Disco Deco Pave Crystal pair at Wild Lilies is the perfect holiday or everyday pair of earrings. You can dress them up or down. They add sparkle and the finishing touch to any ensemble!
I wish you all a happy, safe, and blessed holiday!
Over the weekend my family and I visited Longwood Gardens, A Longwood Christmas. I only visited once before many years ago and barely remember, which made this weekend all the more special, as if I were seeing it all for the very first time. The entire exhibit was a beautiful feast for the eyes and a truly special attraction.
The crowds were in awe as we walked through the Conservatory filled and decorated with breathtaking displays. The magic of Christmas and the holiday season was palpable. If you are having trouble finding the spirit this year, I recommend seeing this stunning landmark. Collectively the entire group experienced the beauty together, oohing and aahing, smelling the fragrant flowers, snapping photographs, and singing along to a beautiful organist playing Christmas music in the ballroom.
Each room is more picturesque than the next with themes like the gorgeous red including winterberry holly and amaryllis. Perfectly shaped and groomed pine trees adorned with twinkling white lights and poinsettias. The trees appeared as though they were floating on top of a shallow pond of water with mini fountains throughout; a truly spectacular sight.
The winding conservatory showcased one lush garden after the next, each with a different group of species. Draping ferns created a dreamlike tunnel- I almost expected fairies to fly out of the hanging pink poinsettias. The temperatures of the greenhouses varied from crisp to humid depending on the natural environment of the plants and flowers. Roses, pansies, lilies, cacti, orchids, ferns, birds of paradise, the trickling sound of fountains created a sensory overload.
The Longwood grounds were lined with manicured trees garnished with lights. As dusk approached the trees were lit and shining brightly. Blue, red, green, and classic white twinkled, lighting your way.
A Longwood Christmas will be open until January 10th. I strongly suggest purchasing timed tickets at least a week prior to your desired date. You will not want to miss this dazzling exhibit. Also, make sure to check the weather forecast as you will be walking outside quite a bit. Grab a cup of hot chocolate or coffee to keep you warm as you are walking!
I frequently shop at the Philadelphia Premium Outlets. I always find great deals from a variety of designer stores. Each time that I visit the outlets I somehow overlook the Neiman Marcus Last Call store. Last month, I decided to walk in and check it out as I am a huge fan of Neiman’s. The store itself was organized and filled with exciting items at fabulous prices. I honestly did not know which department to look at first! As you all know, I am a fan of the blazer. I could wear one everyday and just change the accessories. I was lucky to find a beautiful double-button blazer by Catherine Malandrino. The shawl with lapels are a detailed touch, which elevates the look.
With the blazer in hand it was time for the accessories. I needed a statement piece of jewelry. I found a jeweled gold plaited necklace in stunning holiday colors. How could I possibly leave without browsing at handbags? Elaine Turner caught my eye with her very tempting gold embroidered clutch. Now all I needed was a plain tee so the necklace really pops without any competition.
Next stop, Calvin Klein for an embossed black tee (similar here). I paired the whole look with my favorite flare jeans from H&M. On this occasion, I gave my feet a break and wore flats, but for an evening out opt for sparkly heels!
My holiday makeup is shimmering and bronzed using Independent palette and ballerina blush by Laini Cosmetics. Brows are defined using The Brows Have It by Laini Cosmetics. During this season it is perfectly appropriate to wear red lipstick with almost any eyeshadow- smokey or subtle. The berry family is also a wonderful option over the holidays especially with a glittery eye! My nails are painted an emerald green Deborah Lippmann polish, Laughing to the bank an incredible chip resistant lacquer that lasted for a solid week- great alternative to red.
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I have been a Tim Burton fan since I very first saw Edward Scissorhands and Batman. His style and costume choices for his characters are mesmerizing; the attention to detail, the black and white, and moody sets really create a spooky film. Carving pumpkins and scooping the seeds, trick-or-treating, my Mom’s handmade costumes are some of my fondest memories from childhood. Throughout the years some traditions have remained. Baking and watching a scary movie marathon. In fact, I have friends that have told me they are traumatize from some of the movies I made them watch on this one ghoulish night a year. I can’t say I am particularly proud that I scarred my friends, but they secretly wouldn’t have it any other way. Well maybe they would prefer to have watched a comedy, but that just won’t do on all hallows eve. Sadly, I have lost some of my edge and fearlessness that I had when I was just a little girl. One of the first movies I remember watching was the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Now, I stick to tamer films. If you are staying in this year and no plans for a Halloween party then here is a list of my favorite Halloween flicks.
Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker star as sisters and witches hung by townspeople for stealing children and taking their souls. Right before they die, Midler casts one last spell that the sisters can be resurrected on All Hallows Eve. I won’t give away how or any other details in case you have not seen the movie. The cast is magical, pun intended. This is a lighthearted, fun, and entertaining family film wrought with innuendo for the adults and tame enough for the scaredy cats.
I first saw this movie in the theater with my aunt who is also a fan of scary movies. The legendary tale of Ichabod Crane is told with a demonic twist. Johnny Depp plays Ichabod perfectly. Tim Burton is the director and stays true to form with intricate costumes, creepy set, and eerie cinematography. Surprises, moments of gore, and thrilling moments ensue throughout the movie.
Rocky Horror Picture Show
A cult classic horror rock musical with surprisingly morbid moments. Tim Curry leads a cast including a young Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick. A couple finds themselves lost and stumble upon a castle. Looking for a phone they soon discover the nightmare inside the walls. Highlights include the amazing soundtrack, dance numbers, and overall quirky dialogue.
One of my favorite Wes Craven films (R.I.P.). The entire franchise is worth seeing, including four films in total. It’s the original that is arguably the best. Teens are terrorized by a ghost masked killer with a large knife. At the time this slasher film epitomized the 90’s featuring hip dialogue by a-list actors. The audience is left guessing as to who is the killer. Craven does not take himself too seriously and incorporates and pokes fun of other horror classics within the film.
Jamie Lee Curtis, one of the original scream queens stars as the sweet babysitter. Background- a mentally unstable murderous boy is placed in a mental institution and escapes as an adult on the creepiest night of the year. On Halloween he wreaks havoc on a sleepy town. John Carpenter’s score is just as iconic as the film itself and adds to the extreme scare factor.
The Wolf Man
Lon Chaney Jr. is perfect as the distraught man who realizes that he has become a monster. A classic black and white film with more allusion that actual gore. Pure entertainment and one of the original versions of one of the most iconic Halloween creatures- the werewolf. Lon’s facial features are still transparent through the addition of makeup and hair, which makes it truly effective. His expressions are what keeps the audience transfixed- his humanity is not totally lost.
Honorable mentions for those who are diehard horror movie fans- Salem’s Lot, Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining, Psycho, and The Mothman Prophecies.
“What’s your favorite scary movie?”
This post is to rectify the fact that I probably sounded like a real curmudgeon about New Year’s Eve celebrations. First off, I hope that you all had a safe and fun holiday! I tried something a little different this year. Yes, I planned to stay home and chill, but I ended up going out in the early evening. I visited the Reading Terminal Market for recipe inspirations. The Market is one of the first places that I can remember exploring when my family moved to Philadelphia, 16 years ago. It is one of the best ways to gain a sense of the city. It has an interesting flavor, a melting pot of cultures, and traditional foods. Walking through the usually crowded market is exciting, full of people all making unique purchases from seafood to homemade candles. The vendors are ready to share tips and suggestions, making the whole experience a sensory overload.
Herbiary, a small, holistic shop, carries essential oils, homemade soaps, and a variety of herbs. I purchased a bag of fragrant lavender buds, which I have earmarked for a vegan dessert…more to come.
Four Seasons Juice Bar is the fastest service juicer I have ever seen. There is no hemming and hawing, mulling over all of the different concoction possibilities. Regulars stroll up to the counter and order their favorite recipe. Go ready with your juice in mind. The result is a fresh and delicious, perfectly blended drink of healthy ingredients. I ordered a carrot, apple, lemon, ginger. And then decided I needed another- apple, beet, and carrot. Why not? It was New Year’s Eve…TreatYoSelf!
Market Blooms is a difficult vendor to walk by without sniffing absolutely everything in a shameless way. The sweet fragrances of all the flowers, eucalyptus, and plants are sure to brighten any day. Purchase a bouquet as a gift or just a beautiful centerpiece for your home!
As of today, I really do not have any New Year’s Eve plans. I think I just want to be a couch potato and eat and watch the ball drop from the comfort of my own home, warm and happy. I might even for good measure play the Auld Lang Syne version by Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis from Sex and the City the movie. Maybe I will warm a cup of apple cider, wear a boa, who knows? Anyway, I have gone out each year on New Year’s unsuccessfully it usually is a frigid cold night, with crazy drunk people, drama, and overall a lot of work to achieve the look for the evening. With all of that said, if you are planing a night out on the town, here is an Audrey Hepburn, 60’s inspired makeup look. It really is very simple to achieve, but it does require the proper tools. Santa bought me the 10 piece limited edition Sonia Kashuk brush kit, which I desperately needed.
To achieve this look I used NARS black Eyeliner Pencil for both the lower and upper lash lines as well as the sockets. The liner should be drawn out slightly to create a wide eye. Make sure you do not draw a winged lash line, keep the line parallel to the lower lashes. The bottom line should appear as if it is smudged and can be applied thickly. Do not be afraid to make a definitive line on the socket. With the eyeshadow brush blend completely to smooth the harshness of the line.
Using the Luminous White from Clarins vibrant light eye quartet mineral palette (which I have mentioned before) apply carefully on the eye lid. Avoid covering the liner.
Mascara should be applied at least twice, two coats will really make your eyes pop. I used Maybelline Volum’ Express Colossal Mascara in classic black.
Cheeks need some contour with this look. Apply Laura Mercier Shimmer Bloc in pink mosaic.
Keep lips simple, preferable nude or pale pink. Hourglass offers a gorgeous collection of nude shades. Try the Femme Nude Lip Stylo for the perfect 60’s lip.
Red is such a cheerful color, is it not? I feel happy when I wear red. My Mom saved her wool, double breasted and belted coat for me and after all these years it still looks brand new. A good, statement coat elevates any outfit. It is the best way to dress up an otherwise casual ensemble or create an elegant finish. Even though the wind was harsh and the temperature low, I pulled out the Spanx tights and opted for a black and blue skater dress from Topshop. Similar here. I wore an older pair of over the knee boots with a mid sized heel. Similar here. The skater dress has 3/4 sleeves so I was able to wear my long black gloves to cover the exposed skin for extra warmth. Check out Asos for a variety of statement red coats this season.