Trying new skincare products is always a bittersweet experience for me. On one hand, it is exciting to try the latest in skincare technology or the newest product. On the other hand if you are someone like me with a large amount of allergies and sensitivities, it can be nerve-racking to risk a reaction on your face.
I always recommend a patch test when trying a new product before you apply all over your face or skin. If no reaction is visible, then slowly add more. Recently, I tried the Vitamin C Serum from Maple Holistics. An organic company that I reviewed a couple years ago and loved. The products are packed with natural and healthy ingredients that you can feel safe using on your skin.
It has been roughly two months of using the serum. I always apply a few drops to my palms and pat into my damp, clean face. I make sure that my face has some moisture to avoid any unnecessary pulling on my skin, which can create wrinkles over time. Immediately, the serum dries and leaves my skin feeling a bit tight, almost as if I can instantly feel my skin smoothing. I have also noticed a complete brightening of my skin tone, which would be perfect for those with uneven skin or sun/age spots. It is important to add your favorite moisturizer on top of the serum to hydrate skin. Here are some storing tips for your beauty products, which will increase the length of effectiveness.
Keep in mind that Vitamin C should be clear and any yellowing or brown change in color reflects oxidization, rendering the Vitamin C ineffective.
Last month I visited Autograph Brasserie in Wayne Pennsylvania for the first time and enjoyed a fabulous dining experience. As previously mentioned in my review article, today I am featuring the scrumptious menu that Chef Ralph prepared. Keep in mind that if you suffer from multiple dietary restrictions, Autograph is a dining option for you. The entire staff and of course Chef Ralph are willing and happy to create a dish that you can enjoy without the stress and worry of contamination.
I began the night with fingerling potatoes in a balsamic glaze that Chef Ralph served while I was reviewing the menu. The potatoes were cooked perfectly, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside while the glaze was packed with flavor.
Roasted root vegetables followed and all I kept thinking was, “how can I reproduce this dish?” Although, part of the fun of dining out is having someone else create the meal for you, without all the work. This is definitely a dish that I would recommend for plant eaters and carnivore’s alike.
Autograph can accommodate all restrictions, including serving fresh gluten free rolls from a local baker with gourmet dipping olive oil. Most alcohol contains gluten as well and for true Celiacs, try the signature Autograph mocktails. The King Palmer is cool and refreshing and contains lemonade, iced tea, agave, and fresh lime juice.
Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables, versatile and filling. Chef Ralph created an absolutely delicious roasted cauliflower with fresh apple and scallions. This dish was seasoned perfectly and is a satisfying side dish, but could be served as a main.
However, my main included mushroom risotto. This showstopper really needs no description. Suffice it to say by the time the main course arrived I was stuffed, but it was so delish that I just had to take it home to enjoy later!
Please be sure to make a reservation at this lovely restaurant with delectable food options for everyone!
The off the shoulder look, thankfully is here to stay as one of fall’s biggest fashion trends. It is such a flattering, fun, chic way to add a little flair to a plain look. Whether it is a top or a classic lbd, the shoulder detail is sweet and sexy.
I purchased this entire look well within budget, which is always an exciting feat. I paired this Nicole Miller dress with a black and white vegan clutch from Target. I kept the the look simple and added a pair of silver cascade earrings from Charming Charlie.
Since dying my hair red I have avoided the sun like the plague to prevent unnecessary fading. As a result, I am paler than ever. To add a little color to my face, I applied the gorgeous and shimmering eyeshadow, blush, and bronzer from the Bronze Goddess palette by Laini Cosmetics. I added the Liquid Shimmer to the center of my lips to add depth and fullness.
Many people ask me about my favorite products and comment on my skin. Thank you for such humbling and kind compliments, I appreciate it! That said, I wanted to take this opportunity to share what face products I use on a daily basis. I have to credit good genes for my skin- my grandmother and mother look amazing, smooth skin and a clear complexion. Veganism is also a large contributing factor.
I am of the mindset that you must treat your body well from the inside out. Slathering on expensive products is almost like creating the “band-aid effect.” I am a celiac and therefore do not eat any gluten. This limits my intake of packaged/processed foods. My diet largely consists of fresh fruits and veggies with protein alternatives including beans and pumpkin seeds for instance. I drink plenty of water throughout the day. When I crave something with a flavor I add fresh ginger root or cucumber to a purified pitcher of water. Exercise is an important factor, avoiding cigarettes and alcohol will keep skin looking youthful as well.
When people ask me what I do to my skin my honest response is “clean living.” A smoke free, alcohol free lifestyle filled with plenty of nutritious food. But I realize that is not enough. There are many who enjoy a glass of wine and red burger from time to time. In this case, here are some of my favorite products. Some of which that I have been using for years and have actually experienced wonderful results.
I love the Orange Cleansing Soap from Mario Badescu as my daily cleanser. It leaves my skin feeling completely clean, silky smooth, and brightened. Of course it does not hurt that it smells like fresh oranges.
I follow this cleanser with Lush Eau Roma Water- a gentle rose and lavender toner that instantly revitalizes my skin. The simple ingredients are perfect for sensitive skin, cooling, and acting as a disinfectant.
One to two times a week, I like to exfoliate my face using The Microdelivery Peel from Philosophy. This two step peel is packed with vitamin C, which effectively brightens the skin and diminishes fine lines and wrinkles. A peel can also bring skin imperfections to the surface. I recommend applying this peel a few days before an event.
I avoid makeup remover wipes on a regular basis. I do however, really like the wipes from No.7 which remove even stubborn waterproof mascara. In a pinch for convenience these are gentle and worth keeping on hand. I tend to rub my face too hard, which is not recommended. Instead, the product that I love for everyday gentle makeup remover is Purity Made Simple by Philosophy. This is another product that I have been using for years that removes makeup completely and leaves skin feeling soft as opposed to dry and immoveable.
As for anti-aging products, I use Rosa Arctica Lightweight Cream by Kiehl’s daily. This creamy product leaves my skin looking radiant and luminous. I love applying right before my makeup.
Nighttime, I apply the Black Rose Precious Face Oil from Sisley. This oil immediately fills in my fine lines and by the time I awake, my face looks fresh and youthful.
Do not forget to moisturize your lips! Make sure to exfoliate your lips frequently. You can simply use a drop of water or vaseline with sugar to create a scrub. I love the Rose Salve from C.O. Bigelow and apply multiple times in the day.
During the winter months when my face is exceptionally dry my go to face product is the Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion from Clinique. This scent free lotion can be applied multiple times throughout the day, absorbs fully into skin, and relieves any redness from overly dry skin. Aquaphor is another multi-purpose product that I always have on hand for face and lips. I recommend applying this thick, glycerin based product before bed, which will allow the ointment to absorb into skin thoroughly.
As you begin your shopping process, keep in mind that it is always better to try a particular product before purchasing. Fragrance and texture are just as important as effectiveness. If you have sensitive skin or allergies, be sure to test a small amount of the product on the side of your face to make sure it does not aggravate your skin. Avoid contaminating moisturizers in jars by using an applicator spatula.
Please share your favorite products!
Very shortly I will be posting part 2 of my hotel series, which will feature the fabulous Rittenhouse Hotel. These are the before pictures as I focused my review on the Spa & Club- Hair by Paul Labrecque. I am so excited to show you the process and share with you my wonderful experience and hair transformation that I had while reviewing the hotel. Stay tuned for my video as well!
In the meantime, I want to focus on the outfit I wore that day. This entire look is something of a bargain. I was fortunate to find exceptional sale prices for the look that are now staple pieces in my closet.
I found this laceup bodycon dress in “gleaming pink” at New York & Company online, which is always incredibly convenient. The fit is true to size, comfortable, and versatile. It can be worn at night with a bomber jacket and heels or casually with sandals as I have done.
I decided to wear a beige colored pair of sandals with this season’s popular block heels. I chose a laceup sandal to complement the detail on the dress. Here is a similar pair at Lulu’s. The entire look was completed with a large stack of Alex and Ani bracelets.
Video and Photo credits: Aubrey Basla
As promised here is the detailed description of my most delicious meal, prepared by Chef Luke Rogers at the Liberté Urban Lounge Sofitel Philadelphia.
My special menu included five delectable courses, but Chef Luke added a bonus course.
Beet Tartare- orange, chili avocado oil, avocado, chickpea served with taro chips
Tomato Discovery- grilled cherry peppers, frisée, strawberry
Roasted Carrot Salad- pickled carrots, artichoke, watermelon radish
Watermelon Gazpacho- spicy ice
Eggplant Cannelloni- cauliflower, tomato, romesco, basil puree
Strawberry Popsicles- watermelon, strawberry pearls
Each course was more scrumptious than the next. I was impressed with the complexity of flavors in each dish. Bitter, sweet, salty, spicy all perfectly working in harmony to create a truly unique experience.
At The Sofitel Philadelphia, 240, 000 bees reside, providing honey for the guests. There is a beautiful rooftop garden with over 3,000 pounds of soil that produces most of the herbs provided for the meals. Chef Luke Rogers curates this fabulous garden and many of the items on my menu were picked fresh for my meal!
It could be sweltering hot outside and I still crave soup. There is something comforting and filling about this type of meal. I like to make this vegan recipe for lunch time. I usually make a large pot and nibble all day long. I developed this healthy recipe after craving ramen noodle soup for months on end. It was time to take action. If you are suffering from celiac disease or simply on a gluten free diet this is the perfect option.
Here’s how to make this delectable vegan soup recipe!
2-4 oz of Thai rice noodles- depending how hungry you are
1/2 san marzano tomatoes
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon of turmeric
pinch of basil
1 container of veggie broth
2 medium carrots
1 medium yukon gold potato
1 teaspoon olive oil
Begin by adding the olive oil to a pan. Add the potato and carrots on low heat until slightly caramelized. Pour in veggie broth with coconut milk and tomatoes. Add seasoning and let simmer until carrots and potato are fork tender. Begin boiling water and cook rice noodles. Add the noodles to the pot to finish cooking. Serve and enjoy!
I was more than a little nervous to travel to Miami with all of my dietary restrictions. I prepared myself to buy food and store snacks and fruit in the hotel room if it was a challenge to dine out. I had no idea that Miami was so inclusive and understanding when it comes to food particulars. Miami is already known for innovative culinary experiences, a melting pot in cultural feasts, but now I recognize this unique city as being vegan and gluten free friendly.
In case you are traveling to Miami or thinking about taking a trip, here are some delicious restaurants serving more than just french fries and salads as a vegan options.
Let’s begin with The Marseille Hotel directly across the street from The Catalina on Collins Ave. Mostly, I enjoyed breakfast and the pool menu for a snack. The tables are outdoors like so many restaurants in South Beach, great for people watching. For breakfast I ate a fresh fruit bowl and roasted potatoes with cilantro and spices. The potatoes were crisp and delicious without any excess oil. The service was fast and all servers were friendly. Guacamole was my go-to snack with mango and salsa served with tortilla chips.
On beach days, the sun can really zap your energy and make you hungry. On these days I ordered delivery from Carrot Express which offers a full range of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options. I tried the Teeka Salad with cilantro dressing, which was so fresh and tasty that I had to order twice! The salad was made with kale, avocado, carrots, bean sprouts, cucumber, tomatoes, sunflower sprouts, and quinoa.
Full Bloom was quite the sensory experience. Located on the mezzanine level overlooking the water; perfect for a sunset dinner. The decor was serene and beautiful with fountains, rose petals, and candles. Full Bloom is completely vegan and zagat restaurant with soy, nut, and gluten free options. Aunt Sharon and I had quite the challenge picking from the extensive and delectable menu. Our server was all too happy to make recommendations and the choices were mouthwatering. We started with the South West roasted asparagus and corn and the smashed roasted cauliflower parsnip. Both absolutely scrumptious. For our main meals, my Aunt ordered the gnocchi and I had the fajita platter with roasted veggies, which I gobbled in under 10 minutes.
The Cleo is a restaurant that specializes in sharable meals with mediterranean and middle eastern cuisine and was named one of the top 50 hottest restaurants in the U.S. by OpenTable. Cleo is located within The Redbury and is a pretty special place. The restaurant manager, Rima was sweet and inviting. She made sure that our server was aware of my allergies and diet. Anything that was not specifically nut free for instance was modified so I did not have to be deprived of any meal option. We ate at this restaurant the most during our vacation and were treated like VIP’s. Our favorite starters were brought to the table as soon as we sat down. The atmosphere was lively and warm. The servers were knowledgeable and fun, the food was amazing! So many complex flavors and fusion bites. The curry hummus with veggies was a staple and my Aunt ordered the lebenah with feta. We shared the brussels sprout hearts that were made delicately and uniquely by separating each one of the leaves. We also tried the artichokes with nicoise olives, which was lemon and garlic infused. Each time I could not resist ordering the quinoa salad with roasted veggies and frisee, without the almonds. My Aunt ventured to try something new including the garlic shrimp and the wagyu kebab. You can not go wrong with anything on the menu!
I believe in supporting brands and companies with a solid mission. A company and brand that is focused and aware of the world and its struggles. Ideally, I want to one day live in a society where a company does not have to claim “sweat shop free” or “not tested on animals.” Hopefully, one day that will just be a given. Veganism has changed the way that I look at all of my passions within the lifestyle industry from fashion to beauty- not just food. Making conscious, ethical decisions about where I buy is just as important as what I buy. I have discontinued making any purchases that are not vegan, only keeping the articles of clothing purchased prior to conversion, as I believe that would be just as wasteful. Throughout my vegan journey, I try to educate myself about the environmental issues attached to certain products as well. For instance, palm oil is technically a vegan food, but it is not ethical. Palm oil plantations cause large scale deforestation, which leads to greenhouse gas emissions, habitat destruction, and reduced biodiversity to name a few.
“Luxurious” fabrics including furs and leather as many of you know are vastly procured through painful and torturous injustices towards animals and cause heavy pollution to the environment through the tanning process.
Other fabrics including wool, silk, and cashmere are also not vegan friendly.
These are my personal beliefs and in no way am I trying to pressure you into converting to a vegan. I am simply sharing my thoughts on the matter. The point I am trying to make is that you do not have to compromise your personal beliefs for fashion and beauty. Companies such as H&M for instance base their H&M Conscious selection on a basic principle, to supply customers with plenty of fashionable, trendy clothing and accessory options that are good for people, the planet and your wallet! As CEO, Karl- Johan Persson states, “ we have set ourselves the challenge of ultimately making fashion sustainable and sustainability fashionable.” I tend to shop at H&M often and recently purchased many exciting items for amazing prices, making sure that all items that I purchase are vegan. H&M places the highest emphasis on animal welfare, having teamed with the Humane Society to see that best practices are enforced if you so choose to purchase leather.
Jimani Collections, a beautiful jewelry, accessory, and home goods company has created a sustainable solution to poverty. Jimani partners with impoverished Kenyan women, providing employment, a safe workplace, and education within the product design and product creation. Jimani links consumers and artisans to promote equitable trade while alleviating poverty. More to come on this company and products in future post.
These are just a couple of examples of companies that stand for more than just the superficial. Their story, concept, and mission stems from an awareness larger than just the trends or demands in fashion and beauty. For a shopaholic like myself, retail is my cardio. Shopping releasing endorphins just as powerful as an hour in the gym. The experience is even more impactful knowing that the items in my bags did not harm the environment, animals, or people! The simple truth is there is a way to remain fashionable with very little and convenient changes and it begins with knowledge. I continue to learn everyday and make mistakes regularly, but I will never stop striving.
As an upstate New York native, I have grown up with Wegmans. I feel about Wegmans the same way I feel about Wawa now living in the Philadelphia area. Something about the store is comforting and the selection is always expansive. I know that I can always find the specialty items that I require with all of my dietary restrictions. It can be challenging to eat at a restaurant when you have as many restrictions as myself and so many others do. I never even stopped to consider eating at The Pub in the Wegmans in the Providence Town Center in Collegeville, PA. On a night out with a friend we tried the Pub and had a wonderful experience. There were plenty of vegan, nut and gluten free options. My server was also more than willing to make any special requests to make sure that I could eat my dinner without worry. The attention to detail and cleanliness as well as the friendly laid back atmosphere made this a enjoyable dining experience. Check out The Pub menu here.
I ordered the white bean hummus with truffles and veggies. If you are gluten free kindly request that the rosemary bread is left off and replaced with extra veggies. This dish was absolutely delicious. The hummus was flavorful, smooth, and creamy; perfectly paired with the fresh cucumber and roasted sweet red peppers.
I also ordered the portabella mushroom entree served with artichoke hearts, red peppers, and an arugula salad lightly tossed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil without the mozzarella. Satisfying and scrumptious!
Try the Tuscan Fries, deliciously fried potatoes perfectly seasoned with rosemary, sage, Italian parsley, and garlic.