Monday, May 30, 2016

fabulous french fragrance

"I’ve always loved the duality of rhubarb. A double duality: visual and olfactory. The green color metamorphoses into red. Starting acidic and crisp, its smell becomes smooth and velvety."
—Christine Nagel, Parfumeur
Perfume has been a part of Hermès history since the 1930s. In the library of Hermès perfumes, each perfume is a story and opens up an imaginary world. Acting as both craftsman and artist, Hermès invests its unparalleled savoir-faire and creative freedom in all its perfumed creations.
With Eau De Rhubarbe Ecarlate, Christine Nagel has created her first Cologne for Hermès .  Unprecedented and bold, more vegetal than citrus, it gives us the crisp, acidic freshness of rhubarb made velvety smooth with white musks. 

I've always loved fabulous fragrances, especially the more unique varieties.  My longtime favorites have been from the private blend collection by Tom Ford.  They're simply beyond.  But this time, something is different.  In a good way!  Maybe it's because my childhood was fueled by my Mother's special rhubarb cake and rhubarb pies.  Or because I've always loved the elegance and heritage associated with Hermès.  Regardless, I couldn't have been more excited getting a sneak "sniff" of this incredible indulgence at Nordstrom today.

Great gift suggestion for Father's Day, graduation, or simply just because...

To learn more about Eau De Rhubarbe Ecarlate, phone my tried and true for all things awesome on +1.615.850.6700. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

fashion + function on the road or trail

I am a people watcher.  I'm constantly watching people's interactions, looking at what people are wearing, observing styles and trends, looking for new products and presentations, and generally checking out what's happening.  When I'm out and about, I'm always snapping photos as reminders, making notes of brands or trends to study and research later.  As a businessman, this provides great insight into the competition and often leads to practice improvements and greater efficiency.  As a private shopper, this also leads to incredible entertainment.

In the late 1990s, I kept seeing the coolest backpacks abroad with the funkiest shape.  They looked super durable, lightweight, and generally weatherproof.  Come to find out, these futuristic bags were from a Swedish design firm called Boblbee.  And my first impressions were spot-on; the bags were made of carbon fiber, aluminum, and crazy durable ABS plastics.  Their special shape protects the spine and secures the contents from inclement weather.

A few years later, we ordered one for our Dad for Father's Day.  Our family has always been into biking and outdoor recreation, and it's definitely gotten its use.  From hundreds of miles on bicycles to random city hikes, I definitely recommend the bag.

Other than online, the bags are pretty tricky to find in the United States.  Apparently in 2014 or 2015 they joined forces with another Swedish company called Point 65. If you're looking for a rugged bag that looks cool and feels comfortable, check it out.  I hope to be buying one of my own, soon. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

comfort food

If you haven't yet noticed - I'm super nostalgic. I'm not one of those people who hoards every single item and refuses to throw anything away.  I'm more of a selective hoarder, instead keeping "edited collections" instead of "piles of junk."  I may happen to have boxes of kitchen tools, an overabundance of clothing options, and enough greeting cards and skincare to start my own Hallmark and Sephora.  What can I say?  I like options and to be prepared.

I don't know if "obsessive" is the right term to describing my cooking, but it's much more than a love affair.  Food was always been much more than sustenance - it's been a centerpiece of my life.  From cooking with family and friends, to food shopping, farming and gardening, and managing upscale cooking stores, food is always the focus.

Close your eyes for a moment and think about your favorite holiday.  You may recall a general feeling, a few special memories.  If you were to cook something from that holiday, you'd instantly be transported back in time to the exact places and feelings you experienced.  This is one of the many joys I get from cooking every day - the opportunity to relive great memories and create new ones, as well! 

Here are a few kitchen goodies I'm loving:

garlic peeler
I absolutely love garlic.  There aren't many recipes I make that don't have at least a clove or two (or ten!).  Speed up your prep time with this handy plastic tube.  Break apart the head of garlic, place a clove inside the tube, firmly pressing and rolling.  The skin instantly falls off, revealing the "naked" clove.  I can peel a few heads of garlic in just a couple minutes. And to save even more time when cooking, each week I'll prepare both minced and sliced garlic and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  The garlic peeler rinses very easily and is also dishwasher safe.  US$9 at Williams-Sonoma.

Splatter Screen

This All-Clad splatter screen is a constant in my kitchen.  In short, it's super durable, dishwasher safe, and makes cooking both safer and much cleaner.  It's available in two different sizes, and I chose the larger version, which fits on almost all of my pans and ovens.  Anytime I'm searing, sauteing, braising, or cooking something on higher heats, I use the splatter screen.  From bacon to beef roast and sauces to soups, this kitchen essential prevents painful splatters and pesky messes.  (Side note: a few months ago I was trying out a new recipe for bourbon cheesecake ice cream and needed a fine sieve - a tool I surprisingly don't have.   But with a large mixing bowl, a silicon spatula, and my trusty splatter screen, all was well!)  About US$60 at Williams-Sonoma.

Staub @ Sur La Table

I absolutely love cooking in fabulous French cookware.  In my opinion, Staub's range is the best.  Their enamel-coated cast iron handles heat to 500ºF and is the high-tech version of traditional cast iron.  The interior of all Staub pots are enameled with a matte black finish, which allows for improved resistence to thermal shocks and scratching, making care easier and keeping maximum beauty.  The enamel also has anti-adhesive properties and requires no seasoning before first use, and is incredibly safe - made free of Cadmium, lead, PFOA, and PTFE. Best of all Staub makes for juicier, more succulent food - their lids are covered with little nubs, literally self-braising while cooking.  Staub is made in France, has a lifetime warranty, and compatible with gas, electric, and induction cooking devices.  (Side note: Staub is technically dishwasher safe, but I've always hand washed with Barkeeper's friend and a scrub brush.)  US$319,95 at Sur La Table. 

My favorite knife is all is the Santoku, Japanese for three virtues" or "three uses".  Its blade is typically between 13 and 20 centimetres (5.1 and 7.9 in) long, and has a flat edge and a sheepsfoot blade that curves in an angle approaching 60 degrees at the point. The top of the Santoku's handle is in line with the top of the blade. The word refers to the three cutting tasks which the knife performs well: slicing, chopping, and mincing. The Santoku's blade and handle are designed to work in harmony by matching the blade's width and weight to the those of the tang and handle. 

In short: other than peeling produce or slicing breads, I'm constantly using a Santoku.  My favorite is from a brand called Shun.  Knives must be comfortable in your hand, fitting and weighing perfectly.  When shopping for a new knife, be sure to hold as many as possible to the best fit.  US$225 at Bloomingdale's

 These are just a few of my everyday essentials.  What are some of your go-to goodies that you can't cook without? 

Monday, May 23, 2016

farm fresh faces

I love mission based retail: brands, companies, stores, and designers, who all have a special purpose and motivation behind their business.  I don't just mean having a mission statement; there has to be a greater cause.  For example, (product) RED is a movement to provide really cool products that are no more expensive than the regular versions, but a portion of the proceeds supports AIDS research and provides lifesaving medicine and treatment to pregnant women with HIV and their young children.  Or the Navy Exchange - a semi-governmental agency that sells quality goods and services to active duty, retired, family members, and Department of Defense civilians at a more affordable price, and ultimately donate a large portion of the proceeds to the morale, welfare, and recreation at military installations worldwide. 

Now, imagine a company going "above and beyond" a standard mission and addressing multiple needs simultaneously.  Imagine a company that employed local, small farmers to produce ingredients naturally, with as minimal negative impact on the environment as possible.  Now also prioritize hiring young people, who traditionally avoid the agricultural and farming industries for work.  And then sprinkle in the fact that those fresh, locally farmed ingredients are transported just two hours to the laboratories, where they're cold pressed for maximum efficacy and strength (much like the farm-to-table restaurant movements).  All these incredible aspects only begin to scratch the surface of the ethos at Farmacy Beauty.

Farm fresh ingredients + scientific engineering and formulation = gorgeous skin naturally.  Skincare doesn't have to be fussy, full of fillers and lackluster ingredients, and definitely isn't just for women.  Here are some Farmacy Beauty products I'm loving:

Sleep Tight

Sleep tight!  Literally.  Reinforcing the skin’s natural moisture content, this balm aids firmness and tone while helping to restore elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The texture is super lightweight, which I really appreciate in the warmer weather.   I rubbed a pea-sized amount on the palms of my hands to "warm up" the product, turning the gel into a luxurious oil-like consistency, which quickly melted onto my face, neck, and left just enough to treat my hands as well.  Farmacy Beauty's star ingredient is Echinacea GreenEnvy, a unique patent-protected variant of Echinacea Purpurea.  GreenEnvy contains the highest known concentration of the phytochemical Cichoric Acid, a potent natural antioxidant which helps protect and firm the skin by inhibiting the enzymes that break down collagen.  Cichoric Acid is more than just a powerful anti-aging booster - it also normalizes the skin pigmentation process to promote a more evenly toned, smoother complexion.  In short, Sleep Tight packs a powerful punch with vegetable-derived “Retinoid-like” ingredients to help prevent early wrinkles, smooth deep wrinkles, improve skin radiance and texture while restoring firmness.

A New Day has come!
It would be so easy to recommend a cleanser, exfoliant, and toner.  Or you could put your best face forward with New Day.  If you're in a hurry in the mornings, travel frequently and have limited space in your cosmetics bag, dopp kit, or gym bag, or are on a budget, this is definitely for you.  This powdered product is a three-in-one, gently cleaning the skin, sloughing away dead skin cells and pesky pore-clogging debris, then clarifies and tones, leaving skin silky smooth and radiant.  

I tried this out in the shower and can't say enough good things. I poured about a quarter sized amount into the palm of my hand and mixed a few drops of water into a frothy paste.  I then massaged it all over my face, neck, and hands, allowing it to sit for a few minutes (while I conditioned my hair), and rinsed clean.  

Natural cranberry seeds and rice bran powder sweep away dead skin cells and debris and absorb excess oils, while the brand's stellar GreenEnvy protects against anti-oxidants and free radicals.  Plus a natural cocktail of White Willow Bark, Carrot, Green Tea and Marshmallow soothe, protect and calm the skin.

I love face masks.  They're quick, effective, and convenient.  If you travel frequently or are always on-the-go, I recommend getting one of the assortment packs.  This way if you have a sudden breakout or unexpected dry patch, you have a quick and easy solution without having to buy an entirely new skincare regime.  During the summer months, you're more likely to have increased sun exposure as well - so a trip to the "farmacy" may be just what the doctor (or farmer!) ordered.  Natural coconut gel provides natural moisture to help skin look fresher and more radiant.  Kale extract offers a complex blend of minerals, antioxidants, vitamins and amino acids that helps re-balance vulnerable, stressed skin. Vitamin A strengthens the skin while active minerals help restore the skin’s ideal oil and water balance.  All in one easy mask.
Lip Bloom lip balm
Smooth, soft, full lips are always en vogue.  And that's exactly what you'll get with this soothing herb-infused balm.  In addition to the anti-aging GreenEnvy, Caster Seed Oil provides a plant-based protective film that helps preserve natural hydration levels, while Sunflower Seed Oil helps maintain the skin’s barrier function with high levels of emollients derived from natural essential fatty acids.  And the best part - it's not glossy, so it's perfect for men and women.  

With Farmacy Beauty, you don't just have to eat your fruits and vegetables - you can wear them, too!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

a few faves

All of my favorite things in life start with the same letter: faith, family, fashion, food, friends, fun.  Everything revolves around these categories, and are always a priority in life.  They fuel me, bring encouragement and entertainment, keep me grounded and guided, and supported and safe. 

A few things I'm loving lately:|staub%2Bwhite|8|best|0|1|24||7&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH
I absolutely love cooking.  Whether I'm in the kitchen, shopping for food, eating at a restaurant, gardening, or simply exploring new places, I can't stop thinking about cooking.  I love everything about cooking - especially the conversations in kitchens, the memories made, and the entire experience.  I've had the true pleasure of cooking with a myriad of fabulous people, and in a simple way, cook to honor those I love.

I'm really loving this new white collection from Staub.  It's made from enamel coated cast iron with layers of quartz, so you get incredible heat conductivity, durability, and super easy cleanup.  Not to mention, it's beyond beautiful, made in France, has a self-braising lid, is dishwasher safe, and can stand heat up to 500°F/260°C.  

For a limited time, save 20% on your Staub cookwear from Williams-Sonoma with promo code "COOK" - or for more detail, phone Summer at +1 (615) 292.5066.
You don't have to spend a lot of money to look good.  But if you are able to spend a little more - get the most out of your suiting by mixing it up a bit.  I love this casually chic look from Lanvin.  Mixing a cool t-shirt and designer kicks adds character and confidence to any suit, especially this incredible tuxedo.

Lustrous, pickstitched peak lapels front an elegant wool-and-mohair tuxedo jacket paired with crisply creased flat-front trousers to form a timeless, dashing look.
  • Jacket has single-button closure; front flap pockets; besom chest pocket; side vents.
  • Trousers have zip fly with button-tab closure; slant pockets; back welt pockets.
  • Unhemmed. (And don't forget - when you buy any full-price suit at Nordstrom, basic alterations are always complimentary.)  
  • Jacket is lined; trousers are partially lined.
  • 90% wool, 10% mohair.
  • Dry clean.
  • Made in Italy

There's "little girl glitter" and then there's "big girl glam"'s time to up your game for summer and try this incredible shimmering body oil from Tom Ford Beauty.  Soleil Blanc is the perfect blend of summer white florals with spicy, aromatic sandalwood and amber.  It's lightweight, provides a sultry, sun-kissed glow, and feels amazing.  Phone Tonya at Nashville Norstrom's Tom Ford shop for more details: +1 (615) 850.6700.

Spring has finally spring!  Thank the Lord!  And summer is soon on its way!  Nourish and protect your lips with this awesome lip balm from Farmacy.

What it is formulated to do:
This soothing herb-infused balm forms a protective barrier on the lips, leaving them smoother, softer, and fuller. The formula contains Echinacea GreenEnvy™, a unique, patent-protected variant of echinacea purpurea that contains the highest known concentration of cichoric acid, which helps protect the skin. Castor seed oil provides a plant-based protective film that helps preserve natural hydration levels. Sunflower seed oil helps maintain the skin’s barrier function with high levels of emollients derived from natural essential fatty acids. Super shout out to Nashville Sephora's Jessica who introduced me to this must-have summer secret.  

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

What else you need to know:
This product is formulated with naturally derived ingredients and is free of formaldehyde, and artificial coloring. It is not tested on animals.

No matter what your agenda or budget - find things you love.  Make the most of each day, find the beauty in each moment and person you interact with, and remember we're all in this together.