Month: August 2010

Whistlewood Farm B&B

For our anniversary, we decided to visit the Hudson Valley where we both spent a ton of time as kids. We decided to stay at Whistlewood Farm Bed and Breakfast in Rhinebeck, NY (We chose Rhinebeck as the destination right before Chelsea Clinton coincidentally got married there!). It was our first time at a bed and breakfast and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I’m happy to say it was one of the best experiences we’ve had staying anywhere away from home.

We felt instantly at peace from the second we walked in the door. The owner, Maggie’s warmth and charm combined with the quaintness of the indoor setting and the pure beauty of the outdoors made for the most relaxing time. No pictures could do our stay justice (especially between using an iphone and the cloudy weather – bear with me, we really need a new digital).  After twenty four hours, we were hugging Maggie goodbye already discussing another stay this fall. It was simply perfection.

The main house where our room was (much bigger than it appears).

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Entrance to the main house on a sunny day.

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The cozy sitting room complete with a fireplace and tons of great magazines. :)

Our names on the door of our room – such a cute touch!

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The view from the main house.

They board horses as well so there were horses everywhere! We pet these guys for at least an hour before we left the last morning.

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Where we had afternoon tea and homemade sweets as well as breakfast. The tree providing the peaches for our fruit salad was right outside!

The nearby source of our scrambled eggs… you can’t get any fresher than that!

A gorgeous palomino. I lovvvve horses.

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We also had a delicious dinner in the adorable town of Rhinebeck at Terrapin, which is in a renovated church built in 1825. The cuisine is described as New American, which is “a blend of the classical French approach with the influences of Asia, Italy, and the American South West”.  The menu had an array of classic and unique dishes filled with very fresh and local ingredients. I can’t wait to go back again!

1 Year Anniversary!

I cannot believe that one year ago today Dylan and I were getting married (in the midst of a pending hurricane at a vineyard on Long Island). I think that may have been the quickest year ever.

Happy Anniversary my love! Every day being married to you is such a gift. I couldn’t ask for more.

The location: Palmer Vineyards in Aquebogue, NY
my bouquet :)
Beautiful centerpiece created by one of my closest friends and her mom (They did all of our flowers (minus the bouquets) as a surprise wedding gift! We cannot thank them enough)

Photo Credits: Peconic Photo

Redtree Petite Sirah

I’m a huge fan of red wine, but I haven’t been that excited about one in a while…That was until this week when we picked out this Petite Sirah from Redtree. We found it at our local grocery store (Harris Teeter) for $7.99!

We enjoyed it with our dinner and by itself (always love a wine that is great on its own). It’s medium-bodied and very fruit forward (think strawberries & blackberries) with a smooth finish – just so perfect and delicious, especially for the price!

If you’ve had it before or try it out, I would love to hear what you think!

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Sibu Beauty

In a previous post, I talked about the drinkable form of Sibu Beauty, which is not only an excellent beauty-enhancing product, but it actually tastes good too. Now after trying several of their topical products, I wanted to share my thoughts with you lovely ladies.

Well first off, everything is paraben-free and cruelty-free. In addition, none of their products contain dairy, wheat, gluten, sodium, yeast or preservatives. The main ingredient in this line is the super berry sea buckthorn, which is sourced through fair trade agreements with local harvesters in Tibet (an effort the Dalai Lama has taken notice of).

My favorite product of theirs right now is the Sea Buckthorn Age Defying Eye Cream, which features sea buckthorn and pumpkin seed. This botanical blend is the perfect trifecta – it reduces puffiness, dark circles and fine lines.  Personally, I often find that eye creams seem to irritate that ultra sensitive area, but I’ve been using this one for weeks with no complaints. It’s a perfect consistency, easily absorbs into the skin and as with most eye creams, a little goes a long way. I’m so happy to have found this eye cream because I was getting concerned after so many natural eye creams irritated me!

I also love the Cleanse & Detox Facial Soap (a very sweet, earthy scent and gently exfoliating) and the Body Cream (a bright, citrus scent and a perfectly creamy consistency).

Has anyone tried any of Sibu’s products yet?

Check out their current sweepstakes & gift redemptions (currently, they’re offering a FREE full-sized Sea Buckthorn Oil Treatment Serum at GNC stores after sending in the provided rebate form)

Guest Blogger: Homemade Beauty with Victoria

Today’s post is by the very natural and knowledgeable Victoria of  Homemade Beauty Blog. Make sure you check out her blog to see many more recipes and reviews of natural beauty products. Enjoy!

Can You Eat Your Deodorant?

I swear I can eat my deodorant, but can you eat yours? Yes, it may not be too tasty, but at least I can be sure that I won’t be sent directly to the hospital with chemical poisoning, which I can’t say about commercial deodorants that often contain ingredients that sound like a science project.

Most over-the-counter deodorants and antiperspirants contain a cocktail of chemical ingredients, like parabens, propylene glycol, TEA, DEA, fragrances, and other toxic chemicals, which are potentially harmful not only to your skin but to your general health. While deodorant works to remove a bad smell, antiperspirants work by clogging, closing, or blocking the pores with powerful astringents. This effect is based on the presence of zinc salts and aluminum, which can obviously be dangerous when blocking the sweat glands. After all, sweat has an important function of excreting toxins, and blocked glands obviously cannot release them. In addition, blocking sweat glands will also cause your body to overheat.

Since deodorant antiperspirants are applied to areas that are subject to frequent shaving, they absorb into the skin much faster than other products. Hence, this has a strong effect on the body as a whole. The skin – our largest organ – works to absorb any ingredients that are applied topically. Still, there is no reason to worry that you have to stink to stay healthy since there are some powerful natural alternatives!

What are the alternatives to commercial deodorant?

I was recently excited to find out that there are many inexpensive but highly effective methods to make you smell like a beautiful human being. Here they are:

  • Tea tree essential oil has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties so that it works well as a natural deodorant. It neutralizes odor while also inhibiting odor causing bacteria. I first tried this by applying a few drops of the essential oil on my underarms, and it kept me fresh for almost the entire day.
  • Another great alternative is baking soda. It works wonders because it neutralizes the odor of sweat. I just sprinkle a light covering of baking soda on a damp washcloth or my palms, and pat on without rinsing it off.
  • The other thing that I recently discovered is that you can use coconut oil directly under your arms as a deodorant. It attacks the bacteria found in sweats that causes odors. I also apply this to my underarms and don’t rinse off.

I was using the methods mentioned above with a great success for about six months. However, I am interested in making homemade beauty products so I decided to make something more similar to conventional stick deodorant. I also wanted something that smelled heavenly. So I started to experiment, and my experiments led to the following recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon beeswax
  • 2 teaspoons coconut butter
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch: In this recipe, cornstarch works as a thickener, and it will also soften the skin. You can substitute potato starch, but in this case, it will only work as a thickener.
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 5 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil

Melt beeswax and coconut butter in a double boiler. When they melt, add cornstarch and baking soda. Remove from heat. The medley should form a thick paste so that you can add the essential oils. Transfer this mixture to a jar or special container to create a deodorant stick.

If you want liquid deodorant, you can use the following formula:

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon shea butter (You can substitute any other butter coconut, cocoa etc.)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 5 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil

Follow the steps mentioned above, and pour into a container for a deodorant roll-on.

I have to say that I love this deodorant, and I encourage you to try it! It has my favorite scent of lavender (you can include your own favorite essential oil in the deodorant) and I am free from unpleasant odor all day long.

I have a long list of my favorite recipes, and this recipe was proudly included on my list amongst other beauty recipes. I also compiled all of my best recipes and tips in my Natural Skin Care Handbook e-book. This guide includes a number of homemade remedies and tricks and was written especially for those who want to give up on commercial products and start to naturally care for their skin without the use of chemicals. All of the information about the Natural Skin Care Handbook can be found here.

So getting back to deodorant, have you ever tried to make your own homemade deodorant, or maybe you already have your own perfect formula?

Victoria Lewy loves to experiment with different natural homemade beauty recipes. Her passion has inspired her to share and discuss them with others at her Homemade Beauty Blog: MyHomemadeBeauty.com.

Some of the Healthiest Chips in Existence!

I just mentioned kale in Monday’s post and it seemed like a lot of people were interested in finding out more ways to enjoy it… Well here is one easy way – try snacking on these delicious kale chips made by New York Naturals. Yes, I said “kale” before “chips” and “delicious” before “kale”. They are actually really good! They’re also 100% raw and vegan. How do they get cripsy you might ask? They are air-dried at 115 degrees for up to fifteen hours.

I’m a huge vegetable lover, especially of leafy greens like kale, so I was expecting to like them, but I wasn’t expecting that from everyone else… I’m happy to say that my husband and several friends are also now fans. My point: you don’t have to be a crazy vegetable lover to think these taste good. I definitely like the “cheese” (they’re vegan) the best, then the ranch and then the spicy miso while my husband says the exact opposite.  Decide for yourself – either order them online or visit a store currently keeping them in stock (the most options are not surprisingly in New York). Here’s a cute story about the creation of this kale centric company:  slashfood.com .

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Quick Natural Facts: Vegetables

  • Broccoli, Cauliflower and Kale help the body break down harmful forms of estrogen.

  • Onions, Leeks, Chives, Garlic, and Shallots help detoxify the liver.

  • Chili Peppers reduce the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. They also curb food cravings, especially for sweets.


Quote of the Day

Whenever your mind starts going around and around trying too hard to figure something out, try to remember…

You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.” ~Albert Einstein

Instead, don’t stress, relax and know …

“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.” ~William S. Burroughs

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Skincando

I think Skincando might be one of the most unique and altruistic natural lines in existence right now. Founder, Sara Damelio’s search for answers to her own skin ailments led her to the formation of her first and most acclaimed product - Combat-Ready Balm.  This balm not only graces the pages of women’s fashion magazines, but has also been regularly donated to troops in Iraq for years now.

Founder, Sara Damelio

One soldier wrote, “Send more of that magic balm!” after he and fellow soldiers found it worked for sand flea bites, sunburn and chapping from sandstorms and 140-degree days. When Sara was telling me about the feedback and the requests she receives on a daily basis, I realized that her product and her efforts are truly miracles to our troops.  Can you even imagine trying to serve while covered in skin ailments on a daily basis? Unbearable. Sara’s efforts are making such an impact on the quality of life for our troops and the awesome thing is that anyone can help this worthy cause by donating a product(s) of choice to a service member (specific or non-specific). Last year, Sara and Skincando.com customers donated 5,000 jars!

I was so curious to see what a “miracle balm” like this one consisted of and it turns out there is a pretty special ingredient – exotic fish oils! But please don’t be scared – there is not even the faintest scent of anything aquatic. The scent is light, refreshing and equally enjoyable for men and women.  Some of the other nourishing ingredients in the Combat-Ready Balm include apricot kernel oil, coconut oil, shea butter, black tea, and beeswax. I can see why this balm is great for so many things. I even put it on my face and it doesn’t clog my pores. It really is such a versatile product.

Also, let me not forget to mention the lipbalm! I love it so much.  I would equate using it to rubbing a perfectly moisturizing candy cane on your lips (if a candy cane was moisturizing).  I gave one to my husband recently – I thought he would definitely be a fan of it (no super girly packaging or flavors), but somehow it keeps wondering back into my bag… every day. I just keep taking it and giving it back, taking it and…I just need to buy a second already! This is definitely another one for my favorite list.

{Photo Credits: Gunnar Larson}

Yams with Ginger & Cinnamon

How timely – just came across this recipe!

Prep and Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

6 cups yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
½ medium onion, cut in half and sliced thin
4 medium cloves garlic, chopped
1-½ TBS finely minced fresh ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
½ TBS honey
1 TBS + 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
salt and white pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Slice onions and chop garlic and let sit for 5 minutes to enhance their health-promoting properties.
  2. Cut yams into 1″ cubes.
  3. Heat 1 TBS broth in a 12-inch or larger stainless steel skillet.
  4. Sauté onion over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add garlic and ginger and continue to sauté for another minute, stirring constantly.
  6. Add yams, cinnamon, honey, and 1 cup broth.
  7. Mix and simmer over low heat covered for about 15 minutes, or until yams are tender.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Enjoy!

Serves 4

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Quick Natural Fact: Ginger

Ginger helps relieve:

  • motion sickness
  • migraines
  • high cholesterol
  • arthritis
  • high blood pressure
  • lethal blood clots

Two easy ways to incorporate it into your diet – start  including freshly grated ginger in stir-fries and drinking ginger tea regularly.

Naturopathica

I love a lot of natural companies out there, but Naturopathica really brings it all together for me – a holistic approach to skin care, artisanal sourcing of ingredients, incredible natural scents, and visible as well as therapeutic benefits.

I added a few natural beauty products to my regime recently and Naturopathica’s Sweet Cherry Brightening Enyzme Peel was one of them. Let me just say that ever since I tried a peel, I’ve been in love.  Reason number one being that it’s so much easier to get off than a mask.  And number two being that a good peel, like this one, just seems to make your skin effortlessly refined and glowing almost immediately.  Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to cleaning pores, I swear by masks that are usually green, hard, and positively enraging at times to remove (example: Aztec Indian Healing Clay). But masks like that really feel like work. Not this one.

This peel by Naturopathica smells and looks like they just mashed up the cherries yesterday – it’s simply amazing (if you like cherries, you’ll really be in heaven). There are sweet benefits to go with that sweet scent – cherries’ are high in Vitamin C and Beta Carotene and when applied topically they refine skin, decrease inflammation, as well as prevent skin discoloration.  After just 3-5 minutes (1-2 times/week), you can remove the fruity blend to reveal a fresher faced version of yourself. That’s only 10 minutes tops per week!

Originally being from Long Island, I love that this company is based in East Hampton. It’s always nice to see a great company come out of your neck of the woods.  I also love the packaging – blue glass is my fav, not only because it’s so pretty, but also because it’s excellent for maintaining the integrity of products containing essential oils.

Now there’s only two things I want to do after trying this mask: (1) Try every single product made my Naturopathica; (2) Take a trip to East Hampton asap to experience their spa, which includes an Apothecary Bar (the “destination for custom blended beauty products and remedies”) I can barely describe  how incredible that sounds to me… like heaven, especially if I could have the chance to get behind that bar!


Forks Over Knives

Scheduled for release in early spring, Forks Over Knives traces the personal journeys of a pair of pioneering researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, as they examine the profound claim that most, if not all, degenerative diseases can be controlled, or even reversed, by changing our diets (mainly by taking away animal-based and processed foods from our daily menus). The studies portrayed in the film are such a testament to the power of food and how crucial it is for everyone to examine their diet first and foremost when it comes to disease of any kind. We truly are what we eat!

This makes me think of one of my all time favorite quotes: “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.” {Hippocrates}

Beginning this September, there will be advance screenings in many locations, but the official release is now set for Friday, March 11, 2011.In the meantime, you can support the film by joining their Facebook fan page.

Lulu Organics

We all have that day (or days ) that we would rather not take the time and effort to wash and dry our hair, right? Well lucky for us ladies, we now actually have a good amount of products out there specifically created to assist us in our hair washing delay and no one would ever know we haven’t washed our hair for __ number of days! The only thing is that the ingredients in a lot of these powders and sprays are questionable and since we’re putting this stuff directly onto our scalp it would definitely be a good idea to use a natural product.  If anyone is looking for a hair powder that is talc free and made entirely of natural ingredients then definitely check out Lulu Organics Hair Powder. There aren’t a ton of natural options in this category so I was really excited to find Lulu’s. I have it now in the travel size, which (surprise, surprise) makes it very easy to bring on trips, to the office, etc. It works just as you would hope by absorbing excess oil and refreshing hair with a subtle scent of lavender and clary sage.  Just imagine those hours saved…

While I’m talking about Lulu Organics, I also have to mention another product I’m loving by them right now – their Cardamom Lip Balm. It’s a mix of five organic oils and beeswax, which makes for a perfect consistency and a really nice shine when you put it on your lips. The flavor is also very unique - turns out its a mix of cardamom, mint, and tangerine. I didn’t guess those flavors right off the bat, but now that I know, it’s like “yes, that is what it smells/tastes like!”  The cardamom definitely adds a very earthy flavor, most likely one you’ve never experienced before (there aren’t a ton of cardamom lip products floating around out there). To me, it was a bit unsettling at first, but it’s really grown on me and now I put it on constantly. I should do a post of my favorite natural lip balms soon… this one will definitely make the list!

Tested on Actresses…

Never on Animals. That’s the cute catchphrase of Hamadi Organics , a hair care line made with 100% organic plant extracts and essential oils, which translates into incredible scents and results via the natural route, or should I say root. I’m so happy I discovered them because so far every product (including their hair wash, conditioner, and healing serum) I’ve tried has given me great results, especially their Ginger Soymilk Hair Wash.  This shampoo is definitely one of my favorites now because I love how it’s both cleansing and nourishing (my 2 favorite qualities in a shampoo). It also smells simply delicious in a very clean and tropical way with essential oils of ginger, sweet orange, and rosewood. Now I’m dying to try their other two hair washes now – Honey Soymilk & Lemon Mint (yum & yum!)

I love that they offer free gift packaging AND free exchanges within 30 days. With those two pieces of info, you should definitely test them out soon! Has anyone tried already?