music

Currently Listening To . . .

A few days ago, I was on YouTube listening to 90s and early 2000s RnB. I find myself missing the smooth ballads sung by talented vocalists. I was listening to Eric Benet’s “Femininity” when I came across this classic. I remember when it was released and how much I loved it, so I could’t resist listening to it again:

I remember hearing that there were actually two previous versions of the song “Georgy Porgy”, so I looked for those. As always, YouTube didn’t disappoint. The original version was sung by Toto, and then remade a few years later by Side Effect. Eric Benet’s version was released nearly two decades later.

After comparing all three, I’m pretty sure I love the Side Effect arrangement best, though I think Eric was the strongest lead vocalist out of all of the versions. However, there’s a softer, more romantic feel to the the male vocalist in Toto’s version; he sounds more authentically lovesick than the other lead vocalists. As far as the female backing vocal, Mikki Howard (in Side Effect’s version) was by far my favorite.

Do you have a favorite version? Let me know in the comments below!

luxury · wine

Adventures in Enology: Wine School, Round 2

A few months ago, I mentioned an awesome FREE Wine Tasting class on Coursera. If you missed out on the course previously, I have good news for you: the course reopened this week! I’m re-registering for it, since I only completed about 50% of it during the last session. This time, I’m determined to complete it!

all free download

(photo courtesy of All Free Downloads)

Though the course is free, it requires the purchase of wine, glasses and food for the exercises. I’m so committed to completing the course this time that I’ve already ordered some of the items that will be needed in the upcoming weeks. I hope you all join me in taking this free Wine Tasting course. Of course, if you aren’t interested in learning more about wine, you can always check out the many other free courses available on Coursera.

beauty

Winterproof Your Skin

Friends, if you start on a routine TODAY, you will be buttery-soft by Christmas – I promise!

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If you start taking care of your skin, you’ll be softer than these munchkins (courtesy of Daily Monitor)

With the air steadily getting colder and drier, I’ve been getting back into my winter skin routine, which involves shielding myself from the elements, heavier moisture and more intense exfoliation. It’s funny – the skin on my face is combination/oily, so I tend to stick with water-based, oil free facial moisturizers. But the skin below my chin is so dry: I could rub down in vegetable oil and it would be just fine LOL!

This time of year, I’m focused on exfoliation and hydration because these are a surefire way to get soft skin. The trick to exfoliation is to *carefully* double up, using both mechanical (body scrubs, body brushes and exfoliating mitts) and chemical (acids that remove dull, dry skin) products. I use a body scrub once a day, and a mild chemical exfoliant twice a day. I like both Shea Moisture’s body scrubs as well as St. Ives. I find that Shea Moisture’s products have finer, grainier scrubs that really buff away dull skin, but St. Ives is less expensive and not as grainy.


In place of the scrubs, I occasionally use my Korean bath mitts (I’ve written about them previously). But if I use the mitts, I  avoid using the scrubs for at least 3 days afterward. The mitts do a great job of getting rid of dry skin.

As far as chemical exfoliants go, I rely heavily on AmLactin. The lotion is gentle enough for daily use but extremely effective. I use it twice a day on all of the skin below my chin, and it has every inch of me feeling soft and supple. This one is a two-for-one: it exfoliates and moisturizes simultaneously.

I pay careful attention to my skin when using exfoliants. If I feel a bit sensitive (that sometimes occurs with the skin on my chest and upper arms), I’ll either skip my scrub or my AmLactin. I also apply an additional layer of AmLactin to my feet right before bed, because the skin on my feet isn’t as sensitive as the rest of my body. I recommend that you pay careful attention to how your skin reacts and adjust accordingly.

Those are the products I use for soft skin all winter long! Do you have any product recommendations? Please let me know in the comments below!

luxury · style

Affordable Cashmere? Yes Please!

Happy Monday, friends! It’s feeling more and more like winter with each passing day. As much as I hate to let summer go, I realized that I needed to put away my lightweight blouses and bring out my cozy sweaters and scarves. I must admit, I was excited to bring out my cashmere sweaters: I love the colors (deep raspberry and lime green) and feel of my sweaters. Not to mention, using Dryel has kept them looking incredible.

 (This is great for keeping your cashmere in tiptop shape)

I’ve had these sweaters since last year, when I decided it was time to invest in some nicer wardrobe pieces. I found a great place for getting cashmere for less than $50 a sweater (feel free to double check the prices: I was hard pressed to find cashmere sweaters in the $70 range). I purchased my sweaters from Stein Mart, which had lots of different colors and cuts, starting at less than $40 per sweater. If you have an eBates account, you can even get cashback on your purchase, bringing your cost down even more.

(Boatneck and v-neck are just two of the necklines offered in Stein Mart’s cashmere sweaters)

This season has different shades from last year, but there is still a good variety to choose from. If I wasn’t saving my coins, I’d definitely buy a couple more sweaters: the prices are spectacular! You can check out the sweaters here. If you know any other places that have affordable cashmere, let me know in the comments below!

luxury · style

Dreaming of Jewelry

I wanted a light and fun post because I’m still enjoying the remnants of snow from yesterday. Here are some of my favorite Instagram accounts that feature all sorts of glamorous jewelry:

Champagne Gem: All manner of gorgeous jewelry, especially diamonds. Check out this 110-ct. diamond featured on their Instagram page:

Christie’s Jewels: Heirloom quality jewelry offered by Christie’s, the famous auction house. Here’s a link to one of my favorite pieces that was recently featured on their Instagram page:

Frank Everett: SVP of Sotheby’s Luxury Division, connoisseur of all things expensive and swoonworthy. The sapphire bracelet recently shown on Frank’s page is the kind of thing art deco dreams are made of:

Josh Levkoff Jewelry: Custom made jewelry with flawless stones and timeless settings. What more could you want?

Uncategorized

Let It Snow!

Happy Saturday, snow angels!

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A Snowy Evening (cue Robert Frost)

I can’t remember the last time that snow fell this early in central Virginia, but I must admit, I’m loving it. If we keep getting this authentic winter weather, maybe we’ll have a white Christmas (a true rarity in this area)!

I had planned on meeting up with a friend and going out to dinner today, but as soon as the snow began falling yesterday, I decided to stay in and relax instead.

Sometimes, nature nudges us to slow down and take it easy. Snow is a perfect excuse for staying inside.

Did it snow where you are? Let me know in the comments below!

words of wisdom

Words of Wisdom from Michelle L.

I think it’s time for a word of wisdom. This time, however, I’m not sharing a celebrity or historical figure.

This time, the words of wisdom comes from my dear sisterfriend, Michelle. She mentioned this poem during a particularly painful time in my life, and I found the words encouraging. She told me that this poem was her favorite of all time. Once you read it, I’m sure you’ll understand why.

According to Patrick Wanis, the title of the poem is “Comes the Dawn”, and it was discovered in a craft store by advice columnist Ann Landers who went on to quote it. It has been credited to Veronica Shoftstall, but this is likely erroneous, as it was originally a part of a poem attributed by Jorge Luis Borges. But even that may be inaccurate: it has also been credited to Colombian poet Yamira Hernandez.

I loved the words and felt like sharing it with you all (many thanks to Nermeena for posting this lovely poem for all of us to enjoy).

Comes the Dawn by an Unknown Author

After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn
that love doesn’t mean leaning
and company doesn’t always mean security.
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of woman, not the grief of a child
and you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is
too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down
in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every goodbye, you learn…

 

Happy Friday, my friends. I’ll talk to you all soon.