Vegan Easter Candy

Happy Easter to all who celebrate! I hope everyone had a beautiful and joyous Sunday. I was very thankful that the Easter bunny brought me a delectable assortment of chocolates. I have mentioned Amore Di Mona before, but I could not resist sharing the adorable bunny shaped treats and gourmet box of chocolates.

The entire brand is dedicated and committed to producing quality chocolate that is completely allergen free- nut, gluten, soy, and dairy; safe for all those who have restrictions and allergies. Amore Di Mona can be purchased through amazon, vegancuts.com, and Nordstrom cafes. This is the perfect hostess gift, treat for a friend with dietary intolerances, or as a low calorie indulgence for yourself!

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Holiday Gift Guide

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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!

Ettore Mastroddi:

1. The Cortex Professional four-in-one ceramic curling set ($176). This curling set is perfect for traveling and offers different sized wands (1/2, 1, 1.5 and 2 inch) to create gorgeous waves and curls.
2. Paul Labrecque gift set for the ultimate at-home blowout, especially great for fine hair.
Hair Tip: Combine Paul Labrecque root lifting spray, Volume Style ($22) and work his fade protection foam Color Style ($24) into the ends before drying, once dry finish with Paul Labrecque Volume Finish ($26) mist. – $72 total
Irina Kravchenko:
1. The Regenerating Collection from ESPA. This collection provides natural, core essentials for distressed skin with a huge added value. For $145, the set includes ESPA’s signature Nourishing Cleansing Balm (60g), Hydrating Floral SpaFresh (100ml), and the Regenerating Moisture Complex (55ml). Gift givers will save $82 purchasing this as a set instead of buying each item individually.
2. Irina also recommends the “Diamond White Holiday” set from Natura Bisse ($250). These luxurious products will allow guests to experience the same benefits from our signature Diamond White Facial treatment in the comfort of their own home. This gift includes our Diamond White Cleanser ($74), Diamond White Mist ($74) and their Diamond White Oil-Free Brilliant Protection ($102).
Click here for more info on the Diamond White line

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!

Happy Valentine’s Day

Recently, I watched a Hallmark movie (obviously), which was call All Things ValentineIn 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!

Valentines Day from Wendy Buiter

Gorgeous illustration by the exceptionally talented, Wendy Buiter

Gilded eyes

Ashley in Sisley

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.

Holiday jewelry

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!

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Wild Lilies Jewelry

A Longwood Christmas

Longwood Gardens

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.

Longwood Gardens

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.

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens

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.

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens

Ashley

Longwood Gardens

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.

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens

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.

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens

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!

Neiman Marcus Last Call

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.

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Elaine Turner

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!

Ashley

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.

Ashley

Favorite Halloween movies

Halloween

Halloween display at Bountiful Acres in Holicong, PA

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.

Hocus Pocus

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.

Sleepy Hollow

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.

Scream 

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.

Halloween

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?”

 

 

 

Happy New Year

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.

FourSeasonsJuice Bar

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.

LavenderfromHerbiary

Ashley

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!

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CarrotJuice

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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!

MarketBlooms

Ashley2

 

1960’s holiday makeup

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.

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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.

Ashley