More Souvenirs from Paris

~ More beautiful souvenirs from Paris ~

In a previous blog, J’adore Paris, I talked about how I like to shop for one-of-a-kind items while on vacation to commemorate my trip and bring home something special. There’s nothing better than having an item you can continue to use or display that has a unique memory attached to it. That’s why jewelry is one of the first things I look for when traveling.

During our trip to Paris this past summer, we spent a lot of time in the Marais area which is full of fun boutique shops. During one of our shopping escapades, we ran across a cute little store called L’Esprit Parisien, which specializes in hand-made jewelry created right in the Marais district. 

I was immediately drawn to the triangular gold pendant as this is right up my style alley. I love geometric shapes so I knew right away this would be going home with me. Then the woman working the shop showed me the sun pendant necklace which is unlike anything else I have in my collection. She showed me that the chain is long enough to wear traditionally or it can be doubled up as I have it pictured above. I loved the versatility of this so it came home with me as well.

~Takeaway~ When on vacation, always keep your eyes peeled for one-of-a-kind, hand-made, or specialized items that you couldn’t get at home. While a light-up key chain of the Eiffel Tower is fun, I’d much rather walk away with something a little luxe for my daily life that will instantly remind me of the vacation I so much enjoyed. When a friend notices your unique jewelry, you automatically have a fun story to tell them about how you got it.

Laura’s Moscow Mule

~ My tips for a delicious Moscow Mule ~

One of my favorite cocktails is the good old Moscow Mule. Something about the super cold copper mug and ginger/lime flavor makes it on of the most refreshing drink on a super hot day. Although we are heading towards Fall on the calendar, we are still setting some record high temperatures in Colorado right now. Plus, all of my garden items are still going strong, so last weekend I mixed up my favorite rendition of this delicious drink for myself and my husband. Here’s how you do it.

My husband first discovered the Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Lemonade can and instantly thought it would be perfect for a Mule. We’ve tried several Ginger Beers which is the traditional mix used, but a lot of them are just too harsh and can be a little bitter. The Canada Dry has a perfect blend of the crisp ginger flavor with a sweeter lemonade taste. Simply mix that in with your vodka of choice – ours is Tito’s – and voila, you have a pretty good drink.

However, I like to kick it up a notch by first adding a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a lime wedge for garnish. To add a summery, herbaceous quality, I head out to our basil plant and tear off a few leaves to add to the mug. Lastly, I pick one of our home grown jalapeno peppers and cut off a few thin slices. Depending on how hot your pepper, this can add a real kick to the drink. Pro Tip: I like to stir all the components around in the copper mug and let it sit for a few minutes to allow all of the flavors to come out. Add some ice and you are ready to drink!

~ Takeaway ~ If you grow a garden of goodies, think about how you can incorporate them into some of your traditional cocktails to spice up your life! Moscow Mules are a great vehicle for fun added flavors and make for a delicious refreshing beverage on hot days – cheers!

Take A Trip: Colorado Wine Country

~ Come with me to check out the best wineries in Colorado! ~

If you know me at all, then you know wine tasting is one of my biggest passions. My husband and I started taking an annual trip to the Napa/Sonoma area of California back in 2012. At the time, we knew very little about wine or wine tasting, but we were happy to learn, (wink).

In the last three years, we’ve also made it a tradition to visit our local wine region of Colorado, Grand Junction/Palisade every Labor Day Weekend. It’s not as established or developed as California, but they are doing some fun and interesting things. If you know where to go, you can find some pretty great tasting and inexpensive wines. Plus, it’s only a 4 hour drive west of Denver so it is an easy trip to make.

Come along with me as I introduce you to some of my favorite Colorado Wineries in Grand Junction and show you the wines I love from each one. (YouTube video above, or hop over to my channel) Cheers!

Jade Roller – Fountain of Youth?

~ An ice cube a day keeps the wrinkles away ~

We have a delightful family friend that is well into her 90’s who is one of those ladies that you could sit and talk to for hours. Her stories and outlook on life will have you laughing along and feeling the greatest respect for all she’s done throughout her years. She is known in her family for being a style maven and a beautifully elegant woman. One night a few of us were asking about her beauty secrets and what she’s done to stay so gorgeous. “Ice cubes”. That was what she attributed to her long-lasting beauty – ice cubes, lol. We couldn’t believe it. She told us about her routine of wrapping ice cubes in a little thin towel and rubbing it all across her face every evening. So there you have it – the holy grail of beauty is sitting in your freezer right now!

That’s why I wasn’t surprised to see the rise in popularity recently of the Jade Roller. These have come to the forefront of must-have beauty tools in the last year or so, but have actually been used in Chinese culture for hundreds of years. You will commonly see them in green jade or in pink quartz, most often with a larger rolling piece on one end and a smaller version on the other. Either way, the objective is the same – it’s the ice cube massage for your face. 

The quality of the stone will have a natural coolness to it, but you can also store them in the refrigerator or in the freezer to amp it up a level. Pro Tip: I keep mine in a zip-lock bag so it doesn’t absorb any food smells – nobody wants to roll food stink on their face! Then, you simply roll the jade or quartz over all areas of your face utilizing the smaller end for places like around your eyes. This massaging tool is said to affect our lymphatic drainage – helps remove waste products from the tissue and carries it to the heart. Therefore, we are boosting our blood circulation and reducing swelling/puffiness which is why people love these. The feel of the cold jade rolling across the skin also just feels refreshing and soothing which is nice.

~ Takeaway ~ I personally like to use my frozen jade roller in the morning for a few minutes right when I wake up. I constantly feel like my eyes are swollen and puffy in the morning, so this helps me feel like I’m doing something good for my skin in the a.m. Many people also like to use it at night, especially to help massage their night serums into the skin. However you want to use it, at bare minimum, it feels really great on the face. Maybe if we are lucky, it’s also the modern-day ice cube trick and we will all look gorgeous into our 90’s too (fingers crossed).

Sephora Haul – Beauty Insider Appreciation Sale

~ Sephora Beauty Insider Appreciation Sale ~

Any time I can save some money at Sephora, I get excited. Sephora typically only holds two sales a year, one in November and one in April. However, they are changing up their rewards program and apparently that also means sale time!

As a VIB Rouge Member, aka someone who spends far too much each year, I was eligible for 20% off my entire purchase. Woo hoo! I like to use this opportunity to restock on my favorite items that are running dangerously low as well as grab some pricier items that have been sitting in my wish list.

Check out my YouTube video to see what I purchased during the sale. Don’t forget to “Like” and Subscribe, lol!

Building the Perfect Cheese Plate

~ My ideal dinner ~

This week it was my turn to host our Book Club Group at my house. Book Club…cough, Wine Club, cough… is one of my favorite ways to have some quality girl-only time with some awesome women. You never know what might happen at book club – sometimes we celebrate job changes, weddings, pregnancies, babies – and in this week’s case – engagements. Other times it’s an awesome support group to discuss the tougher, non-glamorous parts of life, but you can always count on great company, food and wine.

I could literally eat cheese plates for every meal for the rest of my life and be happy – not kidding. When they are done right and include all the scrumptious components, there’s just nothing better. (This was just an appetizer, I fed them “real food” for dinner lol). However, there are some key things to pay attention to when preparing your cheese board if you want it to be a real success. Here’s what I included in this particular mix.

So yes, obviously cheese, but what kinds make up a great spread? The key is to have a variety of flavors and textures. You want a range of mild to bold tastes. Just be careful of going all the way to the blue cheese end of the spectrum as those can be too strong for some guests. You can usually attain a variety of flavors if you get cheeses made with different types of milk, ie. goat, cow, sheep etc. And clearly you can feel the hardness or softness of the cheese when you pick it up at the store. Diversity in texture and flavor is the key for a successful spread.

I already had some Brie (top right), which is a nice soft creamy cheese made from cow’s milk with a mild flavor which requires a knife to eat. So when I went shopping, I looked for cheeses that would be good additions to the brie. The cheese in the top left is a salty Manchego which is much firmer in texture. Manchego is a sheep’s milk cheese originating in Spain. This is one of my sister’s favorites, so I knew she’d be happy to see it on the plate. Bottom left is a Young Goat Gouda cheese that has a little softer texture than the Manchego and more of an almost sweet buttery flavor. Not at all like the bold goaty chevre that most people associate goat’s milk with. And lastly on the bottom right is a Whiskey White Cheddar made from cow’s milk. I always pick a cheddar of some variation because it’s the most commonly loved cheese so it makes for an easy crowd-pleaser. This is a little more bold than the Goat Gouda with a slight tang. Pro Tip – Where applicable, pre-cut all of your cheese and arrange them in little piles. It keeps your guest from having to do extra work by cutting off pieces themselves and they can just dive in to the food!

Now that the important part has been selected, it’s on to some meats. I’m more of a cured and “toothier” meat person, I don’t really love squishy terrines or pates. So, I went with a Calabrese Salami (above the center), which is a pork infused with Sangiovese wine, cayenne, and paprika as well as a Genoa Salami (below the center), which is pork seasoned with white pepper and garlic. Delicious accompaniment to the cheese.

Now, I don’t typically include this on most arrangements, but we had just been to our local farmers market a few days prior and ran into the No Double Dipping Company. They sell nearly 50 different flavors of  little spice packets that you add into sour cream and mayonnaise to make delicious dip. We picked up 10 so I was dying to make one for the party. I went with the Vermont Maple Bacon flavor which was a great sweet/savory combo and served it with some crisp pretzel sticks (top of photo).

If you are like me, I’m happy just eating cheese straight-up, but most people like some sort of delivery system to the mouth in the form of a cracker or fruit. Plus, if you are going to include a spreadable cheese, you are going to need something to accompany it. I added pear and apple slices around the plate and included a side dish of two types of crackers – a standard thin water cracker and a stiffer sea salt cracker. I like my selection to have neutral flavors so it doesn’t compete with the cheese unless I’ve picked a super mild cheese that could really benefit from a flavored cracker.

For some extra visual and taste appeal, I sprinkled some red grapes and cherry infused Crasins around the plate. Lastly, a ramekin of Castelvetrano Olives – my favorite! Pro Tip – Buy olives without pits if you can. If you cannot, make sure your spread includes an empty ramekin that your guests can use to easily dispose of them. 

Other items I like to use depending on the selections are honey, jams, balsamic glaze and nuts. You can always include bread in place of or in addition to crackers, and of course you could include a multitude of different fruits – think about what might compliment the wine you will be drinking.

~ Takeaway ~ If I spot a cheese/charcuterie board on a restaurant menu, I almost always order it just to see what they include. I’ve definitely found that some are far more spectacular than others. Building a delicious cheese plate is an art, but it can be easily done. If you really take the time to search out a diverse variety of flavors and textures, your cheese spread can look just like a pro’s. And don’t forget the wine!

Power of the Lipstick

~ Petal Pout Lip Colors from Flower Beauty ~

Let’s face it – there are just some days when you don’t feel like (or don’t have the time to) do a full face of glam. In fact, for most of us, that’s probably most days. Realistically on the day-to-day, most of us are concerned with doing a little complexion rescue, looking like we actually have eyes with the help of some mascara, and that’s about it. 

If that’s your look, or some variation thereof, I can tell you there’s a great way to add one thing and fool people in to thinking you actually tried hard and are the ultimate style maven – lipstick. 

I once picked up a friend from the airport verrrry early in the morning. I was expecting to see a tired mess of a buddy, which she probably was, but she surprised the heck out of me looking chic and put together with just some bright red lipstick. No one should look that good coming off a red-eye flight, no one. I’d always been a fan of bold lip color, but she really sold me on the true power and magic of it that day. 

For this reason, I think it’s key to have a type and brand of lip color that you can build a collection of and have on hand to instantly amp up your look when desired. For me, it’s the Petal Pout Lip Color by Flower Beauty. Flower Beauty is a drugstore priced line created by Drew Berrymore. Truly, there are a lot of products in this brand that I adore, but these bullet lipsticks are true love. They have a mix of 24 matte and creme shades – I currently own half of them and it still isn’t enough lol. The color selections are just so perfect, they wear comfortably and for a pretty good length of time, and they are at such a great price you don’t feel bad for buying 12 of them.

~ Takeaway ~ Feeling drab? Add some lipstick. Want to instantly feel more stylish? Add some lipstick. Want to trick people into thinking you tried harder than you did? Add some lipstick. Seriously, try it. Find what type of formulas you prefer and from which brands. Once you find your go-to, stock up on a variety of colors to curate a fast easy collection that can suit any look. 

Seating for Two Please

 ~ The Sunday Drinking Room ~

Raise your hand if there are parts of your home that you truly haven’t used in days, weeks, months…. I think it’s more of us than we might like to admit. At my house, it is just my husband and I and our three kitties, so there’s a lot of space that could potentially go unused around here. Even the cats have their certain go-to hangout spots. As comfortable as we might be in a couple rooms of the house, it’s a crime to have space that you don’t use. 

This is why we’ve deemed our front living room “The Sunday Drinking Room”. I did a little renovation and redecoration to this area of our home a while back after which my husband commented sarcastically: “Wow, maybe we should actually sit in here now”. But in a way he was right. We really didn’t use this room very often – usually only for entertaining as it is adjacent our dining room. But when it was just the two of us, we always defaulted to other parts of our home. 

As we were sitting in these chairs, enjoying the completed renovation of this space (and a cocktail), we decided it should forever be our cozy new part of the house to sit and enjoy some time and a beverage together. So on any given Sunday, take a peek through the front window and this is where we might be – wine glass in hand and a kitty on the lap!

~ Takeaway ~ It’s your house, so use it! Don’t let any areas of your home go to waste. If there’s a room you never go in, ask yourself why. Change up your space to give that spot a purpose – something that is going to make you excited to enjoy it. Cheers!

Truth, Transform & Nurture

~ My absolute favorite skincare products from Ole Henriksen ~

Taking good care of your skin is an absolute must, I think we all know this. But what is the best skincare out there? When should you splurge and what actually works? Which brands make the best products? Of course that all depends on your skin type and what you are looking for, but here are some products from the Ole Henriksen line that hit the top of my list.

The Face the Truth Gel Cleanser lives in my shower. As soon as I’m done with a workout, I can jump in and use this baby with my Clairsonic to make sure I get any sweat blocked pores cleared out. Pro Tip: Just remember to always turn down the water temp when washing your face in the shower – hot hot water can dry out your skin! This has a great energizing citrus scent and contains grape seed oil which helps cleanse and soften the skin.

On days when I want a little extra face fun, I’ll start with either the Transforming Walnut Scrub or the Transforming Almond Facial Polish (looks like maybe the almond one is now only sold as part of their 3-step Power Peel set.) These both have a pretty gritty consistency and work as a physical exfoliators to work off some of the dry texture and dead skin cells on the face.

After rinsing, I slather on a layer of the Instant Transformation Lemon Facial Peel. This is literally one of my favorite skincare items from any brand. It contains glycolic and lactic acids which go to work on any skin discoloration. As a person who has quite a bit of melasma, this product is a life changer. I’ve gotten my skin pretty used to acids, so I leave the Lemon Peel on for longer than the 10 min. recommended time. After rinsing off, I can see a noticeable brightness and reduction of the dark spots. My skin instantly looks better and that is why I love this product!

Then I’ll apply their best selling Truth Serum which has vitamin C which helps brighten as well as firms and supposedly fights wrinkles. I’m not sure I can speak to any change in wrinkles from any product I use – if you ask me Botox is the only thing that truly helps in that department (wink) – but I do think this helps with evening out the skin tone.

Lastly, the Nurture Me Moisturizing Creme….(sigh). If you haven’t smelled this product, I don’t know what you are doing with your life! It is the scent of the best fruit smoothie in the world. It is literally the most delicious smelling lotion and is a delight to put on your face. Besides smelling wonderful, it is the perfect medium weight creme where it actually moisturizes all day but does absorb into the skin and isn’t greasy. It has a variety of vitamins designed to nourish and soothe the skin. 

~ Takeaway ~ If you are looking for a line of great skincare products, I definitely recommend checking out Ole Henriksen. They have so many products available to help you with whatever your specific needs are. These are just the ones I like best for my dry and age-spotty skin. It is important to take the time and really pamper your skin. Not only is it fun, but you’ll thank yourself when you start to see results and in my opinion, these products truly do the trick!

Capri Blue Candle Haul

~ Finishing out the season with some delightful Summer fragrances ~

If you’ve ever shopped in an Anthropology store, then you’ve definitely had the pleasure of experiencing the power of Capri Blue Candles. Part of the Anthro experience is the pleasant aroma that hits you as soon as you enter the shop and envelops you all the way back to the sale rack. They are almost always burning the infamous Volcano candle by Capri Blue. Definitely one of my favorite store environments and I think this is why! It is so cozy and inviting – it feels more like your are in someone’s home as opposed to a mall.

Capri Blue have been making candles for 20 years with the intention of: “where fashion meets fragrance”.  They sell all of their candle fragrances in a wide variety of sizes and in a multitude of designer containers so you can match your candle to the style of your space – genius! The containers are so beautiful and they are intended to be reused – a planter, makeup brush holder, snack dish, whatever you can imagine. The candles are made of mostly soy wax with the addition of some paraffin to achieve a longer burn time and more fragrant quality.

Volcano is definitely their most beloved and most used scents. You’ve most likely smelled this somewhere even if you weren’t aware of it. “With its familiar feel and cult following, Volcano is the perfect blend of citrus and sugar notes. Like the excitement and energy of a summer night rendezvous, this fragrance is simply unforgettable.” I had just happened to come across a Volcano jar in my home the other day and it inspired me to hop online and order some of their other scents so I could enjoy some of their Summery aromas through the tail end of the season before everything switches over to Fall vibes.

Here’s what I purchased and their fragrance notes according to Capri Blue:
Paris – White tea, ginger, violets, vanilla
Lola Blossom – Sweet orange, lemon mist, gardenia
Cactus Flower – Peonies, peach, cactus flower
Volcano (couldn’t resist picking up another) – Tropical fruits, sugared citrus
Pomegranate Citrus – Grapefruit, pomegranate, rose
Coconut Santal – Flowering hibiscus, lime, coconut, amber

~ Takeaway ~ If I’m spending any considerable amount of time in a room, I need it to have an actively burning candle in it. It is just so important for a space to not only appeal to your eyes, but to your nose as well. Candles provide an added level of personality to a space when their aroma fills the air. Double bonus with Capri Blue – you also get a stunning looking candle that fits seamlessly into your decor because of their multitude of jar options. And if you love the Anthropology feel, do yourself a favor and pick up a Volcano candle – guaranteed you will love it!