Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday, Sunday, and Sundae!

buona domenica is one of my favorite greetings!  For those who don't know, my life can be boiled down to a handful of words, all starting with the same letter.  My favorite Fs: faith, family, fashion, food, friends, and fun.  Sundays are traditionally a day of rest, but I much prefer to promote the day to be used as desired.  Not everyone worships, not everyone can be off from work, and not everyone has a family to feast with.  Having the ability to choose how you spend your time is the ultimate luxury. 

Sundays are important for me, and typically fine tune my focus for the week, recharge my motivation, and allow me to connect with the people and things I love the most.  A few moments at the local coffee shop with a good book or magazine, or a simple cup of Joe with my headphones while running errands and preparing for a great week ahead are all it takes to set the mood and ensure success.  If you envision a great week, plan for the worst, hope for the best, and keep the faith that all will be well, all really will be well.


I am a skincare junkie.  The other day I discovered a new product from Sunday Riley that I absolutely love.  It's called Luna and I am definitely a fan.  Luna contains an advanced retinol complex unlike any other. Its trans-retinol ester corrects damage caused by the sun, time, pollution, lifestyle, and stress. The essential oil complex soothes the irritation typically associated with retinol. You will enjoy a more youthful, healthier complexion as Luna works to reduce the depth of lines and wrinkles. Simply apply before bed to erase the past and wake up refreshed. A few drops of this sublime serum melted instantly onto my skin and left a fresh, radiant view.  Really impressed!

Why do I love Sunday Riley?  The products work.  The ingredients are potent and proven to deliver real results.  A few of the main ingredients in Luna are:
  • Trans-retinol Ester

    Belonging to a class of chemical compounds called retinoids, it’s the most potent ester of all trans-retinoic acids. Helps fight the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and loss of skin elasticity. Not appropriate for use during pregnancy.
  • Blue Tansy

    Deep blue-green oil, high in azulene. Heals damaged skin and has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Helpful with eczema and dermatitis.
  • German Chamomile

    Deep indigo oil, high in azulene. Wonderful for treating inflamed, irritated skin.
  • Avocado Seed Oil

    Great for plumping fine lines. Rich in Vitamins B, C, D, E, and A. Contains high sterolin content, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Chia Seed Oil

    Richest botanical source of Omega-3. A powerful source of alpha lipoic acid, which helps minimize fine lines.
  • Cape Chamomile

    Thought to help skin irritation, it is believed to encourage a healthy inflammatory response and support the skin’s ability to regulate sebum.
Clinical Results:

Statistically significant improvement in skin radiance and smoothness at both 4 weeks and 8 weeks. At 4 weeks, there was a clinically proven decrease in the number and depth of fine lines and wrinkles. For the women in our tests, the results speak for themselves.
  • 100 felt the product absorbed well into the skin.
  • 96 felt that their skin looked brighter, more radiant, healthier, refreshed, and revitalized.
  • 92 felt that their skin tone looked more even, and their skin felt calmed, smoother, and softer.
  • 90 felt their pores looked smaller.
  • 85 felt their fine lines and wrinkles were visibly improved and the appearance of sun damage spots was visibly reduced.


Sundaes.  I love ice cream, especially gelato.  Unexpected trips to get ice cream might be one of my favorite surprises of any day.  I think so fondly of the many outings for gelato in Italy when I was just a wee little joey, the countless trips to the local ice cream staple with my goddaughter and family, and the sweet surprise of making frozen confections at home to finish off dinner parties and celebrations.  Sundaes on Sundays are an extra treat.

What fuels your motivation and success?  How do you prepare for a great week? 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

don't worry if you tumble

In business and in life, you have to take a certain amount of calculated risks.  With proper planning, forecasting, and a certain amount of safeguarding, you're able to take a leap of faith, try something new, and hopefully lead your business (or life) to increased marketability, profitability, and efficiency.  Those three buzz words are my litmus test.  If a project or idea doesn't serve those three characteristics, we don't do it.  Plain and simple. 

New ideas don't always work out or achieve the results expected.  With constant facilitation, reviewing what went well, opportunities for improvement, and lessons learned, you still gain value in experience.  If things don't work out in the end, it's not the end.  Recalculate.  Reassess.  Redirect.  Retry. 

Don't worry if you tumble.  You won't shatter or break.

And speaking of tumbling and not shattering, I am absolutely in love with Tervis Tumblers.

Maybe I have a special affinity for this brand because I, too, am from Florida and grew up with these cups.

For those who aren't acquainted:

Let’s take a little trip back in time. It’s 1946. Detroit. Engineers Frank Cotter and G. Howlett Davis hit on something big: they harness the natural insulating powers of air to create a permanently sealed, double-walled tumbler. Finally, a way to keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. This outstanding innovation changed the drinkware industry forever. 

Combining the last three letters of each of their last names, Cotter and Davis dubbed their new brand “Tervis.” In the years to follow, they worked hard to refine and improve their designs. The original tall, cylindrical tumbler evolved into additional sizes and products. Today, Tervis offers 10 tumbler sizes, plus hundreds of customizable designs, emblems and accessory combinations.

John C. Winslow purchased the Tervis product rights in the 1940s. The Tervis Tumbler Company was then incorporated in 1967. To this day, all Tervis drinkware is proudly made in America. More than 900 people are employed through this family-owned-and-operated business, headquartered in North Venice, Fla.
Why do I love Tervis?  In short, they're made in America, have a lifetime guarantee, won't chip, crack, or cloud, are BPA free, keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold, and are dishwasher safe.  What's not to love?!

Monday, January 25, 2016

good business in the bible

My faith is very important to me and an integral part of my life.  As with all personal preferences and private details, this aspect of my life is usually hidden from plain site in business relations and activities.  Unless I've built rapport with a client that extends beyond standard business pleasantries, most would have no idea how I vote and how I worship.

I must admit: my mind wandered during yesterday's gospel at mass.  I couldn't stop thinking about the second reading, and how much it applies to my business philosophies.

First, the reading:

1 Cor 12:12-30

Brothers and sisters:
As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, “Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. If they were all one part, where would the body be? But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.”
Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, whereas our more presentable parts do not need this. But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body,
but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it;
if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it. Some people God has designated in the church
to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

David Yurman cross necklace

The very opening is perfect for any business!  "Regardless of your position, we have one mission."

Like the parts of the body referenced above, each department in an organization is unique.  There are specific people completing defined duties, separate and equal from other departments.  Receivers in your warehouse must check-in merchandise, while operations associates focus on putting the right products in the right places at the right time with the right signs at the right prices, while cashiers quickly and accurately record transactions, customer service agents tend to clients' needs, sales associates push merchandise, visual merchandisers guide displays and signage, supervisors and managers guide the business and direct the action executives plan for the future, ensure marketability, profitability, and efficiency.  Without one department, the business picture is incomplete.

As a manager or director, it's important to make sure your team stays motivated and acts in harmony.  Your receivers don't need to know the detailed actions required for your cashiers.  But they must understand how their positions compliment each other.  I like hosting small departmental meetings, focusing on tasks, priorities, updates, and expectations pertinent to each individual group.  This makes for maximum efficiency and targeted development.  Additionally, regular meetings with the entire team emphasize mission-centric action,  positive attitudes, and allow for group celebration of success and identification of opportunities for growth and development.

Don't just wait for a scheduled meeting to communicate with your team!  Provide regular feedback by coaching in the moment.  If you see behavior that's above and beyond your expectations, praise your employees straightaway.  If you observe tactics that could use additional training or tweaking, discretely and quickly identify the actions in question, facilitate a review, document the conversation for training and development tracking, and move forward without delay.

An informed team, clearly aware of their job description, your expectations, working toward the mission of your organization is the end goal.  When you take good care of your employees, they in turn take good care of your customers.

Talk the talk and walk the walk.  With an added dash of style + class. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

avoid funk on your junk, and other winter tips and tricks

If you live in warm climates, it's always nice to venture out and explore new destinations and climates.  For those of us who're from warm weather zones, there are some tips others may consider common practice but absolutely foreign.  So for those of you reading in the arctic or tundra, enjoy the laugh and feel free to share your favorite winter living tips in the comments section below!

Socks.  In the south, flipflops, sandals, and open-toed shoes are daily footwear.  We wear flipflops everywhere, including for more traditionally formal occasions like weddings, graduation ceremonies, and church.  You may even own "dress" flipflops.  When you consider boat shoes and yachting shoes, which are often worn without socks, it's no surprise that many don't even bother wearing socks, let along owning more than a few pairs.  But when it's cold out, especially in snow, socks are essential.  Be sure to pick something that will breathe - like cotton blend or wool.  If you have particularly sweaty feet, it's important to use powder or special foot sprays to keep dry.  And in case no one ever told you - the first thing you should put on whilst dressing is always your socks.  Think about it - when your feet are trapped in thick socks and warm ski boots, they're sure to sweat, and are more susceptible to developing an array of athlete's foot or other fungi.  If you put your socks on first, you minimize the risk of spreading those undesirables throughout certain unmentionable places...

Hair care.  Your hair and scalp probably aren't acclimated to going from extreme cold outdoors to extreme heat inside.  And the heat manufactured artificially is usually very dry.  When you're outside, chances are you'll have a hat or headband on for extra warmth.  The more  your head the sweats, the more important to maintain your hair and scalp.  I recommend using an exfoliating shampoo at least once a week, and encourage a great conditioner for hair and scalp.
I really love Aveda's invati exfoliating shampoo.  They've naturally derived salicylic acid from wintergreen to cleanse, exfoliate, and refresh the scalp, with results clinically proven to remove the build up of skin-clogging sebum and other pesky product residues.Millet seed and milk thistle extracts nourish dry, tight scalps and equalize the lipid balance, while a proprietary blend of Ayurvedic herbs invigorate the hair, including turmeric and ginseng.  Smells nice, leaves hair and scalp feeling fresh and free, and makes for a really nice treatment throughout the wintertime, especially.

Rich Rewards
I've used Origins' Rich Rewards intensive moisture treatment for years, especially in the middle of summertime, when you're having fun in the sun and surf.  I also fully recommend this tantalizing treat for those winter weather moments.  Once or twice a week, massage a handful of this rich cream into scalp from roots to ends. Just 5 minutes reaps the rewards. Wheat Protein bonds with strands to restore health. And Vitamins E and A help protect. Plus, the succulent scent of William's Pear raises spirits. Just one use brings back bounce, shine and swing. For more intense repair, work into wet or dry hair and let sit while enjoying a hot chocolate (or cocktail) by the fireplace.

And speaking of hair, keep a dry sheet in your pocket.  After you take your ski cap off, you're bound to experience a bit of static cling.  One pass of the dryer sheet will discharge the electricity, calm your mane, and freshen your fragrance, too!

L'Occitane's shea butter

 Hands.  Your cuticles will dry out.  Your hands will probably be very dry.  The cold, wind, and sun are not your friend when exposed to these elements.  Hydration and protection are very important.  I love L'Occitane en Provence's pure Shea butter.  This 100% natural origin, certified organic Shea Butter is extracted from wild kernels of Shea tree fruits. It is produced in a fair trade agreement with cooperatives of women in Burkina Faso (West Africa). Certified organic and attested fair trade from Ecocert, this irreplaceable beauty balm helps to protect, soften and regenerate dry, dehydrated or sensitive skin. Enriched with antioxidant vitamin E for an extra healthy glow.  Shea butter is naturally water resistant as well, so one application will last you all day.  Discover 50 other ways to use Shea butter.

Speaking of hands, you'll need a good pair of gloves.  Make sure they fit comfortable, aren't too loose or too tight, and keep dexterity.  I look for gloves that are water resistant, especially if you're going to a destination with snow.  And one thing you might not pay attention to but absolutely will adore?  Tech gloves.  Your touch screen devices won't work properly with regular gloves.  Many brands feature special technology in the fingertips, allowing for normal use of your favorite gadgets and gizmos without having to risk frost bite.  Invest in a good pair, and you'll stay warm and functionally normal for years to come.

What're  some of your favorite winter tips and tricks?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Not just take-away and dishes

China China China.  And I don't mean the home-goods term describing generic pottery used for eating, either.  I mean that massive country with the world's biggest population.  To understand why retailers and businesses, especially those of the luxury segment, can't get their Manolo's moving fast enough toward the great Asian nation, you have to understand a little background history.

Right now, China is gobbling up luxury products - wine, cars, leather goods, and all things fashion and glamour.  The economic growth rate from China over the last 10 years has been the fastest in history, estimated to account for nearly 25% of luxury purchases worldwide.  This ravenous demand has left many companies scrambling how to, not only provide enough supply to meet demand, but to really understand their new clients' culture, tastes, and buying trends.  Everything is so new.  Everything is so exciting.  Potential beyond imagination.  The Chinese market is so enthusiastic that prices are driving through the roof, even pricing out some traditional customer demographics.  For example, the wine craze has absolutely erupted in China, driving up the prices of Bordeaux wine to record highs.  The current prices are so high, many Europeans can no longer afford the wines they know and love.

Mao Tse Tong's culture revolution literally persecuted external culture and influences.  In the late 1970s, sanctions on private ownership and personal wealth were slowly eased, but this pent up energy of the lively people was quickly replaced with a more capitalistic spirit, and it spread like wildfire.

Now, you no longer have to travel to massive metropolises like Beijing, Shanghai, or Hong Kong to find luxury brands.  Many small to medium sized cities are also home to those same luxury brands.

I absolutely love watching how brands respond to their new marketplace.  Chateau Lafite capitalized massively on their marketing campaign and prioritizing their relationships.  Focusing on the societal influencers,  Lafite included a simple number "8" on their 2008 vintage directly above the label.  Seems simple.  Until you understand how important the number "8" is in Chinese culture - it represents luck, fortune, and prosperity.  So you can imagine how this culture update paid off massively.  Same wine.  Different bottle.

It's not uncommon for businesses to tweak their assortments.  Global restaurant chains offer regional menus, while designers may offer modified size ranges more in shape with their clients' dimensions.  At Dior, for example, sunglasses come in an "as designed" fit and also "modified for the Asian market", fitting the bridge of the nose and head more comfortably and precisely.  KFC is currently the leader of the quick serve market in Africa, and offers traditional Jollof rice dishes throughout their Nigerian outlets.  Literal catering to local tastes makes for more acceptance and popularity amongst customers. 

French powerhouse Hermes didn't tweak their collections for the Chinese market; they created an entirely new brand, exclusive to their new Asian customers: Shang Xia.

Shang Xia is a brand for art of living that promises a unique encounter with the heritage of Chinese design and craftsmanship.  The renowned designer Jiang Qiong Er established Shang Xia with a mission to create a 21st century lifestyle founded on the finest of Chinese design traditions. The brand's name is simple yet profound. It embodies the concept of "up" and "down" in the continuous flow of energy from past, present and future, transmitting the essence of Chinese culture and its sublime aesthetics.  Building on 5,000 years of unique inheritance, and in the spirit of dialogue between tradition and modernity, Shang Xia integrates the warmth, balance and harmony of Chinese grace into all its products.

Shang Xia's collections are comprised of striking furniture, fine decorative objects, exquisite accessories and luxurious garments. Uniquely, it also creates an annual series of limited edition "cultural objects". These collectibles convey messages of tradition, guardianship and remembrance.  With flair and exacting attention to detail, Shang Xia preserves the historical beauty and craftsmanship born of Chinese ingenuity, to provide a simple, elegant 21st century aesthetic.

What's still even more fascinating to me is that, with all of the money and investment of brands in China, the ultra-high-net-worth and luxury Chinese clients still prefer to buy their luxury goods abroad, not primarily in the mainland.  You see, exclusivity is everything.  Buying the latest Lady Dior bag is one thing.  Buying the latest Lady Dior bag in Paris is another level.  Considering import duties, value added taxes, and consumption taxes, prices of luxury goods in China are nearly 50% more expensive than they are in the United States, and can reach as much as 75% more than their European counterparts.  It sounds a little funny, but shopping for luxury abroad can prove a bargain!

Smart businesses will have one eye looking east and one eye looking west.  they must strike a balance between retaining their identity and heritage, while extending their reach and market share.  The next time you're shopping in a luxury boutique, chances are at least one of the staff will be fluent in Mandarin, and quite possibly Shanghainese, Cantonese, or Taiwanese.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

more than s'mores and not a weenie in sight

I love food. I don't just mean I like to eat. I am borderline obsessed, like a proper love affair. I love talking about food. I love shopping for food, discovering new flavor profiles and techniques, sharing dishes and recipes. I love growing food, visiting farms and gardens. Whilst eating, I'm talking about food, food preparation, and what's next.  Not that I don't enjoy what I'm feasting on at the moment, but I'm always plotting, planning, and preparing for what's to come.

Food and meals are the perfect excuse for a party. Not that you need a good reason in the first place. 

For me, cooking is a way to honor the people and places I love, keeps memories and legacies alive, and takes you on a journey of adventure, excitement, and love. 

When I was younger, my family was involved with Boy Scouts. Most would be surprised to learn that I love camping, being outside, and I'm actually quite handy and proficient in the wild. Spending many weekends camping, you learn to be creative. From pizza and pineapple upside down cakes to piping hot coffee and cobblers, simple stews to exotic rattle snake, it was definitely a culinary adventure. The more we camped, the more daring our culinary exploration. 

As I've grown older, so too have my tastes. My love of camping hasn't changed, but my food expectations have become a little more specific. 

I think the idea of "glamping" or "glamorous camping" might be a little over the top, but the idea of bringing foods you love is absolutely a must.  Your favorite cheeses, charcuterie, dried fruits, olives and other pickled produce, and nuts make for easy antipasti.  Make cooking easy on yourself by preparing as much as possible from the comfort of your kitchen before you leave by washing, peeling, and produce and storing in sealed bags.  Similarly, butcher, trim, and cut your meat products as well.  This will minimize the need to find flat surfaces, cut down on cooking tools you'll need to pack and cart off the beaten path, and make for speedier meals in general.

What's your favorite campfire meal?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

luxe loves and lusts, Spring 2016

Sometimes you need to treat yourself.  I don't mean going shopping just for the sake of shopping, or spending money solely because you have a few extra coins in your purse.  Rewarding yourself for hard work and achieving goals, whether personally or professionally, fuels future successes and even more celebrations.  Work hard to play hard at it's best.

In America, it seems everyone had "powerball fever" - the lottery jackpot was more than US$1 Billion!  So I present to you a list of dreamlike indulgences, in no particular order, of course.

Lips and Boys collection

Lips and Boys.  What else does a fashionista need in her life?  Tom Ford presents the most luxurious collection of lipsticks ever, including 50 shades.  Each one is named after a man he admires—from intimates to collaborators to men he finds inspiring. Each lip color contains rich, specially treated pigments that deliver pure color with just the right balance of luminosity. Presented in an exclusive black lacquered case, this collection makes the perfect gift for yourself or someone dear.

Shades include: Holden, Beau, Collin, Cary, Guillermo, Ian, Flynn, Addison, James, Richard, Julian, Pablo, Xavier, Stavros, Liam, Henry, Alejandro, Luciano, Leonardo, Wes, Patrick, Michael, Justin, Giacomo, Rafael, Ansel, Alex, Rocco, Austin, Kingston, Louis, Jude, Malik, Daniel, Drake, David, Demsey, Jake, Hiro, Eric, Vladimir, Roman, Egon, Eddie, Derek, Roberto, Tony, Joaquin, Theo and Jay.

 Glam girls never kiss and tell.  US$1950 at Tom Ford and Nordstrom.

Goyard.  Everything.  Maison Goyard is highhandedly the most exquisite, exclusive leather goods manufacturer on the planet.  Yes, it's very expensive.  And yes, it's the ultimate luxury.  Especially anything personalized.  Whether monogramming a product already made, or creating something from your dreams, everything Goyard is simply beyond.  If money is no object, or at least in abundance, your first stop should be to a Goyard boutique.  

Dior Homme RTW

Dior.  Everything.  Just like Goyard's leather goods, everything Dior is simply sublime.  Every detail is paid an unlimited amount of attention and care.  Each stitch is made with purpose, both for design, function, and fabulosity.  From fine jewelry to furs, coats to clutches, sunglasses to stilettos, Team Dior does proper luxury.  If you are the Powerball winner, independently wealthy, or have an incredible generous benefactor, go for couture.  All.  The. Way.

For the suit jacket above from Dior Homme Spring 2016 collection:

This two-button jacket in black wool serge is brought up to date in a contemporary version with a navy blue and crimson red ribbon detail on the breast pocket for a guaranteed elegant and modern look.

Length of back: 73 cm
Ribbon detail on the breast pocket
Horn buttons
100% Virgin wool, Super 120's
Made in Italy

Live the luxe life, even for a few days when you enjoy A Taste of Waldorf Astoria.  There's nothing wrong with theme parks, obligatory visits to the House of Mouse, and shopping centers packed full of eager bargain hunters.  If you love food like I do, Waldorf Astoria Orlando has the most heavenly getaway in store.

To commemorate Waldorf Astoria as the birthplace of iconic culinary inventions such as Eggs Benedict, Red Velvet Cake and the Waldorf Salad, they've teamed up with the illustrious James Beard Foundation for a second year to find the next Taste of Waldorf Astoria.

Five emerging chefs - James Beard Rising Star Semi-Finalists – will be dispatched to five Waldorf Astoria properties around the globe to apprentice with a Waldorf Astoria Master Chef. Drawing on the heritage of the brand as a culinary innovator, the chef duos have been tasked to create the next "iconic" dish.

Bernard Fiemeyer - Educated at College Louis Armand in France and with experience in the kitchens of Japan, Thailand, France and the US, Chef Bernard Fiemeyer brings his passion for international cuisine to his current position as executive chef at Waldorf Astoria Orlando. As Executive Chef since the hotel opened in 2009, he plays a pivotal role in the property's renowned culinary program, earning the Waldorf Astoria Orlando top honors in food and beverage excellence.

Jamilka Borges, James Beard Foundation Chef - Jamilka Borges moved to Pittsburgh from Puerto Rico to attend The Art Institute's Culinary Arts Program, beginning her career with five years at Legume, working with Chef Trevett Hooper. She then joined the Bar Marco team, honing her commitment to local, simple, and honest food. In 2013, the restaurant was named to Bon Appétit's Best New Restaurant list.

  HEINZ BECK & DAVID POSEY  Celery Risotto alla Waldorf  CELERY ROOT 'RISOTTO' WITH APPLE, HAZELNUT AND BLACK TRUFFLE  Congratulations to James Beard Foundation Rising Star Semi-Finalist Chef David Posey and Master Chef Heinz Beck on the Year One winning Taste of Waldorf Astoria dish, Celery Risotto Alla Waldorf. Their modern take on a celery root ‘risotto' with apple, hazelnut and black truffle became part of an illustrious heritage of iconic dishes, featured on restaurant menus at Waldorf Astoria properties worldwide.

Celery Risotto alla Waldorf

Congratulations to James Beard Foundation Rising Star Semi-Finalist Chef David Posey and Master Chef Heinz Beck on the Year One winning Taste of Waldorf Astoria dish, Celery Risotto Alla Waldorf. Their modern take on a celery root ‘risotto' with apple, hazelnut and black truffle became part of an illustrious heritage of iconic dishes, featured on restaurant menus at Waldorf Astoria properties worldwide.

Emirates Airlines: the ultimate in luxury and safety in the skies.  Go somewhere fabulous.  Discover something new, something special, something beyond ordinary.  And do so with style + class.

Speaking of adventures, for the ultimate travel experience, go around the world.  Literally.  If you'd prefer to fly, SkyTeam offers a Round the World ticket, allowing for 3-15 destinations in as little as 10 days and as much as one year's timeframe.  Choose your destinations from west-to-east or east-to-west, and enjoy flexibility with more than 1,000 destinations in 177 countries.  Craving sushi in Tokyo?  Start eating. Dreaming of Dubai? Start exploring.  Stargazing in South Africa?  Just a flight away.

Not to be outdone, competitor air group Star Alliance offer a similar ticket.  Join Air Canada and its Star Alliance partners when you build and book your ideal Round the World itinerary – right from your own computer – simply by accessing the Star Alliance Book and Fly tool at  (Please note that the tool is currently only available in English.)  With 27 Star Alliance member airlines operating over 21,000 flights every day, Book and Fly can take you to 1,160 destinations in 181 countries spanning the globe. You can customize your itinerary with your preferred cities, dates, flights, and cabin class of service. Thinking of a long stopover in Lisbon, followed a quick connection in Cape Town on your way to Wellington? The possibilities are endless...

Want even more exclusivity and the expertise of travel professionals at your fingertips, scoot your Manolos to Wings Over the World with Abercrombie & Kent. Wings Over the World is a new series of luxury journeys that feature privately chartered flights that let you get the most from every day of exploration. Whether you are visiting the Great Wall or the Taj Mahal, every minute you save by flying is better spent experiencing your destination alongside an A&K Resident Tour Director®, relaxing in your incomparable, five-star accommodations or experiencing the incomparable insider access made possible by our 52 local offices. Enjoy nearly hassle-free flight departure and arrivals, flying from one destination to the next with a dedicated flight crew and no more than 16 guests.

Bliss.  If you're treating yourself or the ones you love the most, and you're able to be super generous - give a year of Bliss.  I absolutely love Bliss - their products and spas.  Membership includes a massage or facial each month, exclusive discounts on additional services, upgrades and products. US$99 per month.

Build your own car.  Of course it's exciting to visit a showroom and drive away in the car of your dreams.  But is it exactly what you were driving in your slumber?  Step it up a notch and customize your car, catering to your every hope, desire, and whim.  From Peugeot to Porsche, Ferrari to Fiat, building your own car is like having a couture gown created - everything is tailored to you.  If you can afford the luxury, bring an added dash of style + class to the road.

Splurge.  Find something you love and use constantly.  Upgrade to the best you are able.  Maybe you finally treat yourself to All-Clad's collaboration with chef Thomas Keller and add those incredible pots and pans to your kitchen arsenal.   Or you jazz up your ensemble with a Zenith watch and customized John Lobb shoes. 

What do all of these luxe loves and lusts have in common?  They're all either products you'd use everyday or an adventure to create memories of a lifetime, all on an elevated level.  You don't have to spend thousands to treat yourself.  Find something special, something with meaning, and treat yourself.  Maybe it's a babysitter to watch the kids and a movie date with your best friend, or a late morning cappuccino and that book you've been meaning to read at your local coffee shop.

Stop and smell the roses.  And coffee.  Are you living to work or working to live?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Brand Yourself

One of the lessons I've learned throughout both my educational and professional life so far has been far more valuable than I could have imagined: the art of branding yourself.

No matter the goods or services you're selling, the industry you're working, or the people you're serving, the most important tool you have is to brand yourself.  Focus on establishing your character, your mission, and your approach, and you'll continue to be successful from job to job, industry to industry, and business to business.

Crate and Barrel artworks

Your character.  You always want to be memorable, especially for the right reasons.  Pay attention to your appearance, including wardrobe and grooming.  How do your clients view you?  How do your coworkers view you?  It's been said one should dress like their boss's boss, or for the position you wish to have.  Making your appearance appropriate, professional, and slightly more elevated than your competition will allow for positive associations.  Is your office / business space well appointed, minimally distracting, and maximizing business creativity and transactions?  And more emotionally and internally, do you demonstrate solid values, ethics, and morale?  Plain and simple, you should always look and act the part.

Porsche Pencil

Your mission. Successful organizations have a clearly defined mission statement.  Why not make one for yourself?  Imagine a marvelous marriage of your personal interests and professional goals.  It can be a few words, an inspirational quote, or an action statement.  For example, experiencing and understanding different cultures, religions, and ethnicities has always interested me, so a mission statement for my professional business consulting may include "Bringing style + class to the marketplace through compassion, understanding, and authentic investment in our clients."  When you decide on your mission statement, place it in a prominent position, use it to guide your professional activities, and reflect on it before making any massive decisions.  This will ultimately fuel your "work ethos" and add value to your resume.

Your approach.  Define and refine your interactions.  Pay attention to word choice; if your company or organization has a marketing department, try and incorporate as much jargon as possible.  Presenting messages and communication with uniform wording will intensify your brand's mission, customers' awareness of your company or organization's purpose, and help leverage loyalty.  How do you communicate with your customers?  Do you use special stationary to write notes of thanks and praise?  Do you always arm yourself with business cards, safely kept in a handy holder?


It doesn't matter what goods or services you're selling, where you're conducting business, or who you're working for.  What matters most is how you sell those goods and services.  In business, building rapport with your clients, identifying and practicing best practices, and leading with passion and integrity will always pay off.  And no matter what you do, remember to sprinkle a dash of style + class.  Walk with purpose.  Speak with competence.  Pay attention to your presentation and reception.  Those little details mean the most. Tutto é possibile.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

make better arrangements

For nearly a decade, I have ordered flowers and arrangements from one place: b brooks fine flowers.  I am absolutely obsessed.  Imagine a splash of luxury over your favorite florist.  Now make them available virtually everywhere.  And demand the most superior quality flowers with the most elegant design and perfect presentation.  Want pink tulips delivered to Seattle tomorrow?  No problem.  Your Nana's favorite colors are pink, black, and white?  They'll be glad to tie a bow in the beloved hues.  Not sure what you want?  Leave it up to the designers, and trust you'll get the most beautiful bouquet.  b brooks is a nationwide consortium of florists, who specialize in the freshest, most fragrant, simply fabulous flowers.  Your favorite local florist might even be on team b brooks!

 Once you create an account with b brooks,  they securely and discretely keep your details on file.  When you send flowers, the lovely agents notate your account, highlighting recipients' details, the occasion, and any preferences indicated.  One call to the toll-free number, and you're warmly greeted by name.  Want to chat about floral trends and ideas?  Done.  Need inspiration for what to notate on the card?  Gladly.  The "can-do" attitude, personal approach, and flawless service are spot-on.  Once you send flowers to someone, they remember all the details. Say the word, and your order is complete.

b brooks fine flowers is simply beyond.  Beyond expectations.  Beyond quality.  Beyond excellence.  One thing they're not beyond?  Price.  As with everything, you get what you pay for; but the pricing at b brooks is very reasonable, especially compared to other national services who offer sub-par service, terrible quality, and the most inhumane service.

Step up your flower game.  Next time you need to order/send flowers, or want to treat yourself, consider b brooks fine flowers.  Even their ethos has an added dash of style + class.

post script: I do not work for b brooks.  I am not paid by b brooks.  My love affair is genuine and uninitiated from their perspective.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Saint Pantone

The separation of church and state is a beautiful concept.  Not everyone needs to believe or not believe in the same religions, let alone same thoughts and life decisions.  Over the last few weeks, it seems like the separation of "church" and "fashion" is more of a blurred line.  Dolce & Gabbana have released an array of hijabs and abayas conjoined to their 2016 spring/summer collection.  This trend isn't new, especially seen in religious-inspired jewelry, especially from designers where religion and life go hand-and-hand, like Giorgio Armani's rosary inspired necklaces or Bvlgari's cross bracelets and rings.

Several years ago, a friend saw my rosary-inspired necklace, and asked a few questions about the rosary.  I explained the symbolism of the beads, their spacing, and the order and purpose of the prayers. She mentioned that it seemed kind of boring and repetitive.  To her surprise, I agreed.  You see, I believe that the prayer I offer while praying the rosary isn't primarily comprised of the prayers I'm reciting.  The bigger prayer at hand are the people, special intentions, and concerns that flood my mind and heart whilst praying.  Like the rosary was designed to be trance-inducing on purpose, allowing you to tune out the world and tune in to your prayers.

Cathedral of the Incarnation

This idea isn't just limited to praying the rosary.  Tonight while at mass, my mind started to wander a bit.  And of course, the "retail" in my heart went right to my mind.  That's when I realized - the ceiling at my Cathedral is a perfect display of the 2016 Pantone Colors of the Year - Rose Quartz and Serenity.  The design could very easily be an Hermes scarf, the pool at one of Gianni or Donatella Versace's mansions, or one of many architectural pieces of the Medici family palazzi in Firenze.  Not only do I love the colors, but I love the mix of geometric patterns, lighting, and proportions.

Where have you found unexpected inspiration?  Do you have a favorite city or place that jump starts your creative juices?  What shapes your fashion foundationf?  Who is your muse?

Friday, January 8, 2016

Haute Hijab and Awesome Abayas

I am in love.  Global glamour has taken a respectful turn, sprinkling a dash of style + class to religious freedom.  Previously we've seen Scandinavian based H&M feature a model wearing a hijab, along with a handful of collections specially designed for and featured during the holy month of Ramadan.  This time we're seeing a whole new level of options for the devout.  Italian design duo Dolce & Gabbana have designed a capsule collection of super chic hijabs and abayas. 

For those who don't know, a brief religious lesson: the حجاب or hijab is a veil or scarf.  Muslim women choose to wear the hijab or other coverings for a variety of reasons. Some women wear the hijab because they believe that God has instructed women to wear it as a means of fulfilling His commandment for modesty. For these women, wearing hijab is a personal choice that is made after puberty and is intended to reflect one’s personal devotion to God. In many cases, the wearing of a headscarf is often accompanied by the wearing of loose-fitting, non-revealing clothing, also referred to as hijab. Others choose to wear the hijab as a symbol of their religious affiliation or in pride of their country and ethnic origin.

The عباية or abaya is a long, cloak-like garment meant to cover the body from the neck to the ankles and is traditionally loose fitting.  This is of massive religious significance, citing often the Quranic quote, "O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters, and the believing women, to cover themselves with a loose garment. They will thus be recognized and no harm will come to them" Qur'an 33:59

This special collection is available at Dolce & Gabbana stores throughout the Middle East, as well as shops in London, Paris, Munich, and Milano.

I love that the collection uses fabrics seen from other mainstream designs in the same spring/summer collection, including fabulous florals and perfect polka dots.  

I'm only slightly amused that some of the designs feature sheer panels and revealing slits, but I won't be surprised if the not-so-strict believers and more modern interpreters of the religion snatch up a few of the not-so-modest options. 

All in all, I'm thrilled.  If Louis Vuitton can put Jaden Smith in their spring/summer dresses, at least Dolce & Gabbana can bring a bit of style + class to the fabulous Muslim women throughout the world.

الحمد لله

Thursday, January 7, 2016

face forward

The weather has definitely been wacky in North America lately.  Mother Earth must be confused, blasting the summer heat in Florida, torrential rain and historic flooding in the midwest, and buckets of snow in the plains.  Regardless of where you're living or traveling, follow these steps for perfect pores and supple skin.

Step One: Exfoliate.

When you're deep cleaning your home, you always sweep before you mop the floor.  Same goes for your skin.  Exfoliating is key for fresh faces, allows for maximum efficacy of your skincare products, and makes for a healthy, radiant look.  There are a few different types of exfoliants: physical, chemical, and professional.  Physical exfoliants literally scrub away the dead skin cells and other damaging debris.  There are a number of exfoliating tools on the market, like sonic brushes.  You can also use products with texture, like ground seeds and crushed shells.  Chemical exfoliants can be naturally sourced or made in a laboratory, and unlock the glue that holds dead skin cells to the face, help soften the skin, and promote healthy skin in general.  And finally, professional exfoliating is done in a dermatologist's office or Medical Spa, and usually consists of high potency products and treatments, like laser resurfacing. 

In the winter time, I recommend exfoliating once or twice a week.  Any more than that and you'll run the risk of leaving your skin raw and chapped.  Concentrate especially on the face and hands, as these are the areas most often exposed to harsh winter weather. It's also important to exfoliate the rest of your body. With so many layers of clothes, your body will be more prone to sweating, chafing, and less breathing than normal.  Exfoliating will give your skin a chance to breathe a sigh of relief, removing those pesky pimple-causing oils and pore cloggers, revealing fresh, youthful skin.

Step Two: Cleanse.

Cleansing the skin is very important, and isn't a "one size fits all" type of product.  You may be dry, combination, or oily.  You may have special skin concerns, like acne, redness or other discoloration, sensitivities, or advanced aging.  I recommend using a face wash geared towards your skin concerns, with as many natural ingredients as possible.  I wash my face in the shower every morning, allowing the steam to also open my pores and help for even deeper cleaning.  (And guys, shaving after you shower allows for a closer, smoother shave!)

Step Three: Protect.

Now that you've cleaned the skin, it's important to protect the skin from the elements, nourish it, and address any skin concerns.  This is when you may apply specialty serums, balancing tonics, specialty serums, moisturizers, and most importantly, sun protection. There are endless options for all of these, so choose products that address your concerns and desires, that fit both your budget and your lifestyle. 

Even in the winter time, you must use sunscreen.  Many indoor lights give off UVA (ultra violet aging) or UVB (ultra violet burning) rays, causing damage and even cancer, so don't forget a final layer of sunscreen on the face, hands, arms, and neck.  

If you're planning on hitting the slopes, don't forget to moisturize and protect any skin that may be exposed to the elements - especially your lips.  Keep eyes protected as well with ski goggles, or at least polarized sunglasses.  And while driving a car or snow machine, remember to apply a layer of sunscreen to your hands, or wear sun screening gloves.

You don't have to break the bank to find good skincare.  Like food in the grocery store, read the ingredients, ask questions, and do your homework.  Here are a few skincare products from every pricepoint:

Yes to Carrots

Say Yes To Tomatoes, for regular use with oily skin, or infrequent use with combination skin.  Let this natural, detoxifying cleanser pick you right up and get you on track to beautiful, clear skin.  It is formulated with active charcoal to draw out impurities and other pore clogging offenders, tomato extract for a daily dose of antioxidants and revitalizing vitamins, jojoba spheres for oh-so-gentle exfoliation, and salicylic acid to deep clean pores and prevent future breakouts. Together, these purifying ingredients clear you up without drying you out.
  • 97% Natural
  • Paraben, SLS, and Silicone Free
  • Cruelty-free
  • US$ 9,99
Origins Scrub

Scrub away the "ick" to have the most youthful, soft, radiant skin.  Sugar softens; salt purifies.  I love Origins' Salt Scrub.  Skin-scouring Dead Sea Salts and warming Ginger Zest cushioned in emollient-rich Macadamia, Soybean, Kukui Nut and Sweet Almond Oils removes all traces of roughness to buff every bit of you. Use it once a week in the shower from the neck down, and more often on the hands, elbows, knees, and feet as needed.  US$38.

Boots Cream
For dry and very dry skin, I recommend a super hydrating moisturizer. Boots Derma Care Daily Moisturising Cream is a rich moisturising cream for the management of very dry skin. The cream is quickly and easily absorbed and starts to soothe the skin immediately. The skin feels smooth, hydrated and is less dry in just three days.
  • Skin-lipid technology
  • Non-greasy; Non-staining
  • Non-perfumed; Hypoallergenic; Dermatologically tested
  • £1,69
Burts Bees
I love facial wipes, especially for your gym back or travel case.  If you have particularly oily skin, keeping a bag handy in your office drawer or purse will allow for midday freshening and keep skin looking flawless all day long.  Specially crafted for normal to dry skin, Burts Bees soothing cucumber and sage towelettes remove makeup, cleanse, and tone in one easy step, leaving skin naturally clean without the need for rinsing. 30 pack. AU$9,95.
 For all skins, nourish the skin with this incredible mask from Peter Thomas Roth. Deeply hydrating and nourishing intensive gel mask. Take a deep dive into refreshing hydration as glacial lake blue marine algae helps deliver nutrients and maximum anti-aging moisture to help defend against the effects of damaging dehydration. Rich tea, sourced from Korea's Jeju Island, helps deliver replenishing nourishment to depleted skin. Antarcticine, sourced from Arctic glacial ice, helps create an eco-bubble over skin to help defend against varying environmental attacks that can increase the signs of skin aging, dehydration lines and the development of visible wrinkles. Helps smooth and revitalize skin leaving it feeling soft and instantly hydrated with a dewy, radiant glow. US$52.

TF Eyes
The skin around your eyes is some of the most delicate skin on the entire body.  Moisturize and protect it accordingly.  Say goodbye to puffy lids, raccoon eyes, and those bothersome bags with Tom Ford's Antifatigue Eye Treatment for Men.  From Mr. Ford himself, "I believe an eye treatment is an essential, not a luxury. The eyes are the first place people look when they meet you. They are also the first part of your face to show signs of aging and fatigue. I developed this multi-beneficial, restorative eye treatment, infused with the Tom Ford Skin Calming and Infusing Complexes, to lift and firm the look of the skin around the eyes, helping to diminish the look of lines and wrinkles. The silver-tip applicator helps to cool your skin to help reduce visible puffiness, leaving your eyes looking refreshed and awake."   €68.
Body Shop Satsuma
 I love how energizing and fresh citrus smells.  The Body Shop Satsuma Soap 100g is made with made completely certified and sustainable palm oil and satsuma oil. A completely veggie-based soap bar for the gentlest clean.  Leaves skin feeling fabulous and fresh, without over drying or over hydrating. R45. 

Alpha Fit

Alpha Fit by Clarisonic is a sonic cleansing device engineered specifically for men's skin to give a closer shave, cleaner beard and healthier-looking skin. It features two different settings to suit your style, whether you're going with the beard look or rocking clean, shaved skin. The powerful system is specifically made to clean thicker, oiler skin thanks to its patented sonic cleansing technology, which oscillates at a frequency of 300 movements per second. Its flexing action works to loosen dirt and oil, removing impurities from pores and prepping skin for a closer, smoother shave. US$189.

What skin care products, tools, tips, and tricks are you loving?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

dude looks like a lady, but I just want a travel trunk

You know you're about to be controversial when you feel compelled to issue a disclaimer.  So buckle your safety belts, my fellow fashionistas.  I by no means intend to offend anyone.  I love equality and freedom of speech and creativity and self expression and all things beautiful. 

Now that we've established where I'm coming from... I want to slap some fashion sense into the people at Louis Vuitton.  Jaden Smith, infamous son of celebrity power couple Jada and Will, is at the center of the storied French Fashion House's spring/summer 2016 Women's Ready-to-Wear campaign. 

What?  The? F....

I get that fashion is about fantasy, a means to escape reality, put your best foot forward, and allows for self expression.  What happened to the Vuitton that was elegant and exciting, encouraging for an adventurous and awesome life, with attention to detail and quality.  I look at this advert and am so distracted, so turned off by the madness.  If the point of this campaign is to allow Jaden to make a statement for gender equality and self expression, they've accomplished their goals.  When I think of the target demographic, the people who can afford the hefty price tags associated with luxury ready-to-wear, let alone the exorbitant amount of resources, time, talent, and cost of true couture design, it is not anyone shown in the advert, let alone many who would identify with the picture.  I could see incorporating a few elements from above into a wardrobe, but this is definitely shocking, and for all the wrong reasons. 

Sometimes we need to cut away the excess, the craziness, and focus on the basics.  Where are the codes of the House of LV?  I'm not saying they shouldn't be edgy, creative, or think outside the box.  I am saying this is such a departure from everything I know and love about the brand.  And it's too bad, because I loved watching the runway show.  I love the industrial chunkiness  mixed with sleek elegance.  Black leathers, metallic studs, and bulky shoes, with soft leathers, rose quartz, and elegant blouses. 

All in all, not a fan of this campaign. 

What do you think?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

goodbye wine, hello minerals and peace

 A new year has come!  Rejoice!  As we pack up our Christmas/Hanukkah Decor and prepare for a new year of opportunities, excitement, and adventures, we also look forward to what may be.  And one of the biggest things that may be is a new color!  Pantone, the international authority on all things color, has a color of the year.  One would think that a color authority wouldn't have much impact on the retail marketplace and consumer trends, but it's the exact opposite. For the last many moons, Pantone sets the trend on all things pigmented, influencing everything from lipstick and nail polish shades to the color of our sheets, shoes, and sunglasses.  Last year's Marsala instantly was a hit.  And just because it's a new year, doesn't mean we have to throw away our beloved red/brown hued Persol sunglasses and butter LONDON nail polishes.  The new year, the new color, means one more shade to throw in our rotation of fabulousness.

And for the first time ever, the 2016 Pantone Color of the Year is actually two colors!  And symbolically, the color choice couldn't be more indicative of our society.  The lines are blurred. 

PANTONE 13-1520 & PANTONE 15-3919

A softer take on color for 2016: For the first time, the blending of two shades – Rose Quartz and Serenity are chosen as the PANTONE Color of the Year.
As consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to modern day stresses, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill our yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent. Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.

The prevalent combination of Rose Quartz and Serenity also challenges traditional perceptions of color association.

In many parts of the world we are experiencing a gender blur as it relates to fashion, which has in turn impacted color trends throughout all other areas of design. This more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumer's increased comfort with using color as a form of expression, a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to different approaches to color usage.
A symbolic color selection; a color snapshot of what we see taking place in our culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude.

For the first time Pantone introduces two shades, Rose Quartz and Serenity as the Pantone Color of the Year 2016. Rose Quartz is a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure. Serenity is weightless and airy, like the expanse of the blue sky above us, bringing feelings of respite and relaxation even in turbulent times.

 To jump start your color relevance for 2016, here are a few goodies to easily incorporate into your wardrobe without breaking the bank:

Sephora + Pantone Universe eye shadow palette

Sephora + Pantone Universe Modern Watercolors Eye Palette.  US$39.

What it is:
An exclusive palette of 24 deliciously enticing shimmer and matte eyshadow shades, including the two Color of the Year shades: Rose Quartz and Serenity.

What it is formulated to do:
From pastels to brights, this palette has everything you need to create an impactful look. The set of 24 matte and shimmer shades come in a sleek, sophisticated palette. Inspired by the Pantone Colors of the Year, but open to your own interpretation, this mix of pastel shades invites you to transform this timeless pastel duo from sweetly conventional into 2016’s most modern color story.

This palette contains:
- 24 x 0.03 oz Eye shadows in Bright White, Antique White, Oyster Mushroom, Fruit Dove, Rose Quartz, Mushroom, Coral Haze, Honeydew, Pelican, Pale Mauve, Cascade, Café Crème, Chinois Green, Café au Lait, Lantana, Mellow Yellow, Cedar Wood, Boa, Linden Green, Ash, Citadel, Serenity, Marina

What it is formulated WITHOUT:
- Parabens
- Sulfates
- Phthalates

Sheila Bridges' Harlem Toile

Sheila Bridges' Harlem Toile wallpapers.   When a color is too monochromatic, you lose the effect of the color's richness and power.  I like to mix things up and focus on a neutral color as the primary focus, and pepper in the complimenting colors through accessories and accents.  Sheila Bridges' Harlem Toile wallpaper in this delightful Dove is the perfect base for the Pantone 2016 Colors of the Year.  Gray has always been my favorite color, and was Christian Dior's favorite as well. 
Minkoff at Nordstrom

Rebecca Minkoff's Love crossbody purse. A sweet pink paired with an opalescent finish ups the wow factor for this standout crossbody bag. The optional chain strap lets you turn it into a clutch in a cinch.  It's the perfect pairing of Rose Quartz and Serenity and adds some serious splash of color. 
  • Turnlock-flap closure.
  • Optional crossbody strap.
  • Exterior snap-button pocket.
  • Interior zip pocket.
  • Jacquard lining.
  • Leather.
  • By Rebecca Minkoff; imported.
  • Handbags.
  • US$395.
  • Available at Rebecca Minkoff and Nordstrom.  
 Tom Ford Austin
Tom Ford Beauty.  TFord makes the creamiest, dreamiest beauty products, and his Austin shade doesn't disappoint.  It's absolutely perfect for all skin tones.  Lipstick is the easiest way to add a splash of trendy color, and this Austin is perfect for both daytime and nighttime looks.  US$35.

butter LONDON
butter LONDON's 2016 Colors of the Year Duo.  I love, love, love butter LONDON.  While this may look like just another run-of-the-mill paint for your nails, it's way more than that.

10-In-1 Formula, It's Lacquer Brilliance! 
Sophisticated, long-wearing shades loaded with ingredients proven to promote brighter, stronger, healthier nails.
  • Long-wear - up to 10 days
  • shock absorbing, chip resistance
  • salon colour coverage, fade resistant
  • gel-like cushion and superior shine
  • strengths nails, prevents breakage and peeling
  • visibly brighter, more radiant nails
  • formulated without formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, DBP, toluene, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, or xylene.
  • US$22.

Be On Park
 Heather Moore's rose quartz pendant.  This absolutely stunning rose quartz pendant necklace is accented with 14kw.  US$450.  Available at Be On Park.  Perfect for day.  Perfect for night.  Simply perfect.

Friday, January 1, 2016

sailing into 2016

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to rush the time along.  I try to enjoy each moment, whether good or not-so-much, making the most of each day and experience.  I must say, I am definitely looking forward to spring.  Growing up in warm climates, I love being outside, working in the garden, enjoying the sunshine.

I'm definitely a nostalgic person.  I love handwriting greeting cards.  I prepare family recipes.  Once I establish a system for doing something, I do it the same way, every time, without fail.  I'm a creature of habit, and I'm ok with that.

At this time of year, I always find myself gravitating towards all things water related - sailing, swimming, and all that is associated with the categories.  Nautical inspired fashion.  Seafood dishes.  Decor with a splash of sailing.  Yacht-chic.  I love it all.

Maybe it's because my father is a retired Naval Officer, and I always think so fondly of sailors and the Armed Forces.  Or maybe because I grew up around the water, and associate the smell of the sea with childhood, family, and all things holy.  And maybe because I love warm climates and traveling, so just the thought of boating transforms my mind to an adventure, an exploration, and good times.  Regardless of motivation and nostalgia, here are a few sailing inspired looks and brands I'm loving:

-- Saint James has been making wonderful woven clothing and accessories in France since the mid-1800s.  Their Minquiers 10 unisex top is one of the most iconic sailing shirts imaginable.  Available in more than a dozen color combinations, the long sleeved tshirt features a round neck, straight shape, and the most breathable combed cotton, perfect for a crisp day on the water and warm days in the sun.  My favorite is the blue/white combination.  US$75.

-- Whether spending the day on the water, playing urban hiker and exploring a new city, or biking over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house, a backpack to keep your treasures dry is definitely essential.  Since 1897, Filson have been making quality goods with both design and function in mind, and are particularly geared towards the great outdoors.   I'm particularly loving the Dry Day Backpack.  A lightweight, vinyl-coated polyester backpack with sonic-welded seams, padded ergonomic shoulder straps and rolling hook-and-loop closure.  US$125.

Filson dry day backpack
 -- I love bracelets, for both men and women, and think they look best when stacked with three or four different fabrics, metals, and designs.  Really love the maritime rope bracelets with silver plated anchor from Miansai.  Available in several color combinations, fabric and metal options.  US$60.

Miansai bracelet

-- We all know our bodies are composed predominately by water, and how important daily hydration is for normal system function and optimal health.  Water is also incredibly important for our skin.  Biotherm Homme has an entire range called Aquapower, packing the equivalent of 5,000 liters of thermal spa water into their face care.  I really love their Aquapower cleanser - leaving the skin feeling squeaky clean and super soft.  US$29.

Biotherm Homme

-- I love the warm, natural glow candles add to a room's ambiance, and particularly the light fragrance they bring.  What better way to spring into 2016 and set the mood for successfully navigating the year ahead than with Nest's Ocean Mist & Sea Salt classic collection?  The refreshing essence of a gentle ocean mist is combined with hints of sea salt, white tea and coconut. What's not to love?  From US$16.

Ocean Mist + Sea Salt

 -- Sheila Bridges is one of the coolest interior decorators on the planet.  She holds a special place in my heart, because Mom and I used to watch her show on the Fine Living Network together.  On the show, she always had an undeniable authenticity, encouraging her viewers to live their best life, finding what makes you happy, and creating a space that reflects where you've been, where you are, and where you're going.  And she's studied in Polimoda in my beloved Florence.  Sheila offers an extraordinary collection of hand-screened wallpapers.  My favorite are any of her toile collection, but the sailor in me adores her nautical stripes.  In my dream home, Sheila will do all the wall designs.

Sheila Bridges

-- Whether cruising through Norwegian Fjords, enjoying a day cruise on the sea, or sailing through the Arctic, Norway's Helly/Hansen keeps you protected from all the elements with a dash of style + class.  I'm particularly loving their Salt Jacket, packed full of functional details like hand warmer pockets, fleece collar, adjustable hood, water and wind repellent, and super handy hanger hook.

What trends are you loving?  Regardless of where we go in life, I wish you all the best health, happiness, and harmony in 2016.  And of course, all with an added dash of style + class.