Friday, August 21, 2015

Sonoma Weekend

Dan and I had a fun weekend getaway last week. We've been racking up airline miles (with building those houses and all) so we cashed them in for a Friday night flight to the Bay Area. Our lovely friends AJ and Sheena picked us up and we drove out to wine country to meet up with the rest of our friends. The Wanamaker's rented a an awesome airbnb house and we split it between all of us. 

On Saturday we went to the Roth Estate Winery down the street from our house and played Cambodian jenga while wine tasting...later on we went on a Russian River Float! It was really fun -- a calm cool river, sprinkled with a few "Oh my god" rapids ;) I ended up popping my floatie on the first valiant husband insisted on giving me his. What a guy! After the float we came back to the house, made dinner, drank a bit more wine and explored the land behind the house.

The next day we drove to the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, lounged by the pool, sipped on mudslides and had a private tasting and tour at the winery! Thanks for the hook up Mr. Wanamaker! It was really interesting to learn about the wine making process! I had no clue how complicated it really is...

What a fabulous weekend.
I love these people <3

Now I'm not a wine connoisseur by any means...I have know idea what I'm doing, but I thought it would be fun to put together a little list of my personal favorites that we tried over the weekend! I'm on my way to understanding why people go nuts for wine!


Roth 2012 Alexander Valley Heritage Enticing deep, dark purple color. The wine features smoky, firewood aromas and dark fruit notes such as blackberry, and cherry. The palate draws you in with a good mouth-feel and rich flavors of violet, coffee, clove and vanilla bean.

Roth 2014 Sauvgnon Blanc is crisp and balanced with a nice vibrant acidity. On the nose, it displays notes of tropical fruits, citrus zest and floral aromas that carry through to the palate with lively flavors of melon and grapefruit. This wine finishes strong for a long, juicy finish.

Coppola's 2010 Archimedes is a luxurious Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, delivering immensely concentrated flavors of black cherries and juicy red plums. Opulent and aromatic, opening with an alluring fragrance of cherries, figs, cocoa and lavender. Dark, luscious flavors of cassis, plums and blackberries are accentuated by spicy notes of cloves and allspice. The wine is dense with medium tannins and a long, flavorful fruit finish crowned by the scent of cigar box. 

Coppola's 2012 Reserve Viognier Chardonnay is a real show stopper that bursts from the glass with perfume of pears, honeysuckle and cloves. Its rich, lush palate includes pineapple, peach, and melon flavors that are balanced by zesty citrus fruit, notes of minerals and a beautiful butterscotch finish.
^^^I do believe this award winning beauty is my favorite!!! I’m a bit of a wimp when if comes to big bold wines, so this one is perfect -- smooth, easy and fabulous to drink by the pool or dine al fresco on a warm breezy evening. A complex and creamy Chardonnay, layered with juicy citrus flavors and a buttery finish. Ahhh yes…this is my pick right here people!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Oh Hey There Minted.

I have been crushing on Minted for a long time. When they reached out to see if I would be interested in a sponsored post, I jumped at the chance because their company is one of my favorites and their products are just too gorgeous not to share! Minted is a marketplace of independent artists who create and submit designs for all your paper necessities… everything from wedding invitations to limited edition art prints and paper party decor. Minted has it all! Being an art lover myself, I think it's a fabulous company and a great way to showcase and support artists. The public is welcome to vote and submit for free! <-- LOVE this!

It’s easy to lose track of time while exploring their site – they have so many options! I’m especially fond of Minted's save the date cards. Wedding fever is catching among our friends... every time we open our mailbox it seems that another couple is tying the knot!  I was recently the MOH for my best friend Shan and she decided on these beautiful Minted wedding invitations. They were perfect for her garden wedding! I recommend Minted to any of my bride-to-be friends who are searching for their save-the-dates and wedding invitations. You can’t go wrong!

Yes, Minted is the dream one-stop-shop for all your wedding paper needs, but they are so much bigger than just weddings. I really enjoy Minted's personalized stationery, day planners and journals – helpful items to get your family organized with the new school year fast approaching. And photo calendars are a beautiful way to display some special moments throughout the year.

Gawwww I love this personal stationery ^

A few more things Minted offers ^^^

P.S. Is it too early to be thinking about Christmas cards? I am falling for these

***All pictures come from Minted***

My Best Friend's Wedding

My best friend got married to her Navy man a few months back! I've been holding off on the post, because I wanted to share some of their gorgeous wedding pictures too! Thanks for letting Danny and me be a part of your special day! We love you both so much and wish you all the happiness in the world.

A little MOH love to her best friend and groom. 
A small slice of my cheesy speech... 

"It is impossible to not see the love, respect and friendship between you. It is the kind of relationship we should all aspire too…one that pushes you to be your best, to trust in your partner and to live by the motto -- home is where your heart is / or home is wherever I'm with you. 

Love is powerful – it’s the virtue that holds all others together. Whatever plan God may have for your future, you will know with certainty that he gave you each other to get there as a couple
to love each other 
to support each other 
and to make each other stronger 

Cheers to Justin and Shannon and their greatest adventure yet.  May you both grow more in love each day and be surrounded by the support of family, friends and God’s immeasurable love.  Cheers to a lifetime of happiness."

A little wedding clip I put together:
"All I Do Is Dream of You" by Debbie Reynolds and Bobby Van {S and J's 1st Dance Song}


Photography: jmfoto photographic co.  | InvitationsMinted  |  Venue: Twin Oaks Garden Estate  | Catering: Twin Oaks  |  Floral Design: "Petite Bouquet" | Linens & China: Twin Oaks | Wedding Dress:Allure Bridals 9121 | Suit Rentals: Men's Warehouse & Navy Dress Whites  |  Hair & Makeup: Annie Mergenthaler & Camille Smith 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Vegan Vanilla Caramel Slice

The most AMAZING vanilla caramel slices! They taste like caramelly cookie dough heaven! Vegan and refined sugar free. Made from wholesome ingredients with healthy benefits! I like to keep these in the freezer and have one for dessert...or breakfast ;) with a cup of coffee. Awww perfection! 

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 cup soft pitted dates
1 cup almond flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. water

Blend ingredients in a food processor until combined. Press date mixture into a lined (wax paper) 9X9 glass dish.  Place in the freezer.

Middle Layer:
2 cups soft pitted dates
1 tbsp. peanut butter
3 tbsp.  tahini
1/2 cup hemp mylk
1 tbsp. mesquite powder (*see note below)
1 tsp. vanilla

Blend ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Pour on top of the base mixture and use a spatula to spread it evenly into the corners of the dish. Place back in the freezer.

Top Layer:
1/2 cup raw cocoa powder
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 tbsp. pure maple syrup (optional sweetener)
Mix ingredients in a cup. Use a microwave if needed to melt the coconut oil.
Pour on top and spread chocolate sauce evenly over the caramel-date layer.

Sprinkle with topping of your choice or keep plain (I used chopped pistachios and Brazil nuts).
Place in the freezer for 8 hours (or over night). Cut into slices and serve!

*Note on Mesquite Powder

So when I first heard about Mesquite powder, I thought it would taste like smoky BBQ; not so... it has a sweet nutty caramel-like flavor, making it ideal for a natural sweetener in desserts. Mesquite powder is ground from the pods of the mesquite plant and is high in protein, low on the glycemic index and is a good source of soluble fiber, calcium, iron, lysine, manganese, zinc, and potassium. Nice...

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

I'm obsessed with Laura favorite is their chocolate peanut butter bar. At $1.79 a pop things can add up quickly, so I decided to make my own. It looked simple enough, right? It was! My version is refined sugar-free and packed with protein. They are the perfect treat! 


15 soft pitted dates
2 tbsp. smooth peanut butter (raw or regular)
1 tsp. water
1/2 peanuts
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips or cacao nibs

1 cup shredded coconut


Blend pitted dates, peanut butter and water in a food processor until the mixture turns into a coarse paste. You may need to add more water depending on the brand of peanut butter you use (some pb's are drier than others).

Add peanuts, salt and chocolate chips to the food processor. Pulse a few times to incorporate the ingredients and break the peanuts into smaller pieces.

Take spoonfuls of the mixer and roll into 2-inch balls. Roll each ball in finely shredded coconut and place on a plate.

Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until ready to serve.
*I usually keep these in the refrigerator for the whole week and grab one whenever a sweet craving hits.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Peanut Butter Banana Date Nice Cream Bowl with Caramelized Coconut Banana's, Brown Butter Chocolate Drizzle N Berries

I was craving something sweet...sometimes nothing will do, but a big bowl of peanut butter and chocolate! My solution --> a smoothie bowl made with bananas and dates drizzled with organic chocolate and peanut butter and topped with caramelized coconut bananas, brown butter chocolate squares, berries, mint, buckinis, cacao nibs and everything you dream about. 


Nice Cream:
2 frozen bananas
3 soft pitted dates
1 tbsp. organic peanut butter
1/4 cup water

Chocolate Drizzle:
2 squares of chocolate (I used this amazing Brown Butter Organic Chocolate) You can also opt for one of Altereco's vegan chocolates.
1 tsp. coconut oil

Peanut Butter Drizzle:
1 tsp. organic peanut butter
1/2 tsp. coconut oil

Caramelized Coconut Sugar Bananas:
6 banana coins
1 tbsp. coconut sugar
1 tbsp. coconut oil

Extra Toppings:
5 berries
3 sprigs of mint
1 tbsp. buckinis (sprouted buckwheat groats)
1 tbsp. cacao nibs


Nice Cream:
Blend frozen bananas, dates, peanut butter and water together. set in the freezer until ready to serve.

Chocolate Drizzle:
In a small cup melt chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until liquified.

Peanut Butter Drizzle:
In a small cup melt peanut butter and coconut oil in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until liquified.

Caramelized Coconut Sugar Bananas:
Dip each side of the banana coin in coconut sugar and place in a hot pan with 1 tbsp. hot coconut oil. Fry on each side until a crispy shell is formed. *I like to flip them with's easier than a spatula.

Take the nice cream out of the freezer and pour/spoon into a bowl. Drizzle chocolate and peanut butter sauces (if you want to make it look pretty swirl them with a toothpick, move quickly because both or these sauces will harden in 10 seconds or so). Place caramelized banana's on top, followed by berries, mint, buckinis and cacao nibs. And there you have it!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Vegan Chocolate Nut Butter Caramel Cups With Sea Salt

I'm not a vegan (as you can see from many of my other recipes), but lately I've have been experimenting with healthier options. I think I nailed this one! I wouldn't feel right keeping this to myself so I had to should share it with you guys! It will improve your life...or at least put a satisfied smile on your face. I even like these better than Reese's Peanut Butter Cups! Whaaaaat!? It's true. They are super easy to make and taste amazing + you'll feel less guilty indulging in these little treats because they are all natural with no preservative. Without further ado, I give you Vegan Chocolate Nut Butter Caramel Cups With Sea Salt.

Makes about 8 (2 inches round 1 inch thick each)

Chocolate shell:
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
2 tsp. coconut oil

Nut butter caramel:
2 tbsp. nut butter (any kind will do...I like peanut)
8 soft pitted dates
1 tsp. coconut oil
1 tbsp. water
pinch of sea salt


-Place the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwavable cup for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir to incorporate the oil into the chocolate. You'll want the consistency of the chocolate to pour off your spoon in a thick stream (not too runny or it won't set up)

-Spoon a bit of the chocolate into your mini nonstick muffin cups, just enough to cover the bottom of each cup. Then place the tin in the freezer. Any leftover chocolate can be set aside and used later.

-Now start the nut butter caramel! Place the nut butter (cashew, almond, peanut or whatever you like), soft pitted dates, coconut oil, water and sea salt in a blender or food processor. Blend until the the ingredients turn into a fine paste. 

-Take the frozen chocolate tin out of the freezer and distribute the nut butter caramel evenly among the cups. Press the paste firmly into the mold to avoid any gaps between the layers. Make sure to pat the tops so they are level and flat.

-Reheat the leftover chocolate and pour it over the cups. Give the tin a few taps on the counter to level the chocolate. Sprinkle with a sea salt flakes.

-Place in the fridge or freezer until the chocolate has set. * To release the treats from the mini muffin tin, hold the bottom of the tin over a flame for 5 seconds on each cup. Take a thin knife and run it along the edge of each circle. They should pop right out. Serve at room temp

Sunday, June 7, 2015

40 of My Favorite Beauty & Makeup Products

I find it fascinating and fun to learn about the beauty regimens of other women... I'm always on the look out for quality/affordable products that ladies swear by. So I thought it would be fun to share with you everything I use from lipsticks, face masks and makeup to quick fixes and my go-to products. Here's the list in no particular order. Oh and please feel free to tell me about any products that you use too! I would love to know your fav's and try them out!

1. Arbonne Lip Polish in Hazel This stuff is amazing. It's my everyday go-to for a little lip color. It's the perfect lip shine without the sticky mess. Plant extracts and peptides leave lips feeling moisturized and smooth.

2. Burberry Lipstick Kisses in Union Red This is the lipstick I wear when I feel like getting fancy. It lasts long and looks velvety. I read somewhere that if you have blonde hair and fair skin, then a cool blue-hued red lipstick will look best on you. If you have darker skin with brown or black hair, red lipstick with warm orange-hues will suit you best.

3. Coconut Oil is so versatile. I use it for oil pulling -- swish a spoonful in your mouth every morning for 3 minutes. Then spit it out (in the trash). It's supposedly good for your gums + skin and helps keep your teeth pearly white. Follow up with brushing. My friend Dany swears by it, so I've adopted the practice this past year. So far so good. I also use coconut oil as a hair treatment once a month --> massage a tablespoon of coconut oil into your hair and let sit for 30 min. Wash out with shampoo. And lastly I use this oil as a body moisturizer for my arms, knees etc. basically anywhere I have dry skin. It smells so yummy!

4. Nubian Goats Milk and Chai with Rose Extract all natural and organic lotion. It's the thickest lotion I've ever used...and it's divine. I can't wait to get more of it! The smell is out of this world fantastic - creamy, vanilla rose with woodsy spices. Awww I love this stuff. And the fact that it's all natural makes me love it even more. Nubian has ton's of different ones too, like Indian Hemp & Haitian Vetiver, Honey and Blackseed, Coconut & Papaya and Mango Butter etc. I want to buy all of them! It's so luxurious and affordable, oh yeah!

5. 6. & 7. Lavender oil, Neroli oil (orange oil) and Peppermint oil. My BF Shan and I went to a day spa last year and they had these amazing herbal towels that they kept in a mini fridge. We would spend 20 min the Eucalyptus steam room and then come out and place a cool herbal towel on our face. Ooooh my lordy...this combo of lavender, neroli and peppermint is fabulous! First of all, it smells wonderful and secondly the cooling sensation from the peppermint oil is so relaxing. So I decided to bring my spa experience home...mix 1 cup of water with 1 drop lavender, 3 drops neroli and 1 drop peppermint. Soak a small face towel in the herbal water and then place in the fridge. After you take a hot shower, ring-out the herbal towel and place it on your face/neck and shoulders. Instant spa day!

8. Seche nail polish Hands down the best fast dry top-coat nail polish. Glossy, smooth and easy to paint.

9. Butter London Nail Lacquer Vernis - Tea with the Queen. A Great nail polish brand that is formulated without formaldehyde, toluene, DBP or parabens and it's safe and gentle on your nails. This color is classic and goes with any outfit. I'm a neutral nail kind of gal :) I usually stick to nude or pink colors...sometimes I'll get crazy and do a dark red in the fall or winter.

10.Goody elastic hair tie  Clear ties for braids and up-dos. 

11.Delorme Boar Bristle Brush So no...I don't own the Mason Pearson Brush -- in my dreams, right? But I did get one that is very similar while in Paris. The hub and I found Delorme, a beauty shop on Passage de l'Industrie during a morning walk. I was drooling over the English made Mason Pearson behind the counter and the girl working there pulled out a Delorme Boar Bristle Brush just like it. She said it was basically the same thing and much more reasonably priced. My brush and I have been inseparable ever since. Unfortunately it's only sold in Paris or you'll need to speak French and have a beautician's code to access their online order form, so I found you a similar one here and here.

12.Tangle Teezer Hair Brush I keep this tiny hand brush in my purse. It does a good job + doubles as scalp massager. Mmmm yes.

13. Ojon Damage Reverse Resorative Hair Treatment So I'm not the biggest fan of how this product smells, but who cares because this treatment will work miracles on your hair. Every  time I use it, I'll get compliments on how soft and shiny my hair looks. And plus you only have to smell it for 20 minutes while you let it work its magic and then you wash it out. So worth it! Soft, fluffy, shiny hair!

14. Dr Bronner's Peppermint Liquid Soap I first was introduced to this soap at the tender age of 10. My best friend and I would go to this far out hippie camp each summer and this soap was used in every bathroom. I originally bought it because the smell reminded me of fun summers, but I've become quite attached to it. It's all natural eco friendly stuff. I personally like the peppermint to use as body soap in the shower. It leaves a cool refreshing feeling on your skin. 

15.Nexxus Youth Renewal Elixir A few drops will do ya. I put this in my hair after I shower. The hub loves the smell of it. Honestly I can't tell a difference if it "renews" my hair, but the smell is fabulous. Worth it.

16. & 17. Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay and Apple Cider Vinegar My friend gave me a jar of this a few years ago. Wow this stuff is good. I mix a spoonful or two with a dash of apple cider vinegar and then paint the clay on my face. Leave on until dry and then wash off with a warm wash cloth. I usually do this routine once a week. The next morning my skin feels super smooth. I also us 100% pure Dead Sea clay. I managed to bring home a mason jar of this liquid gold from Israel. If you can get your hands on this stuff, I HIGHLY recommend it. But the Aztec Clay is the next best thing and easier to find.

18.Eos Lip Balm OK so I bought it because it was cute...but it turned out to be an awesome product as well! + you can recycle them like this!

19. Burt's Bees Lime Cuticle Cream Love it! I wash my hands a lot and sometimes my cuticles tend to dry out, so this little tin is quite handy ;)

20.Exfoliating Cotton Rounds A staple amung my nightly routine. I use a cotton round and a bit of Bio Oil to take off my makeup.

21.Rose Petal Witch Hazel Witch Hazel can help tighten pores and to smooth skin. Moisturizes and cleanses. I apply it with a cotton round after I've washed my face. It feels wonderful and smells amazing!

22.Bio Oil this stuff is a miracle oil! Helps heal scars, stretch marks, uneven skin tone, aging skin and dehydrated skin. I use it every night as my makeup remover. I also use it on my arms when they're dry.

23. Clarisonic The shizzz. This brush is a must. Pricey but worth it! I've seen a visible reduction in my pore size and smoother skin!

24.Cetaphil Face Cleanser I use this along with my Clarisonic. It's a gentle formula for sensitive skin.

25.Embryolisse Concentrated Lait Cream I bought a tube of this when we were in Paris. It's a nice light cream. I like to put it on at night before I go to bed and after I wash my face in the morning. A great moiserizer that works well under your daily makeup routine. 

26. Kai Body Glow A dry oil mist that smells like gardenias, jasmine and some yummy exotic flowers. Paradise! I love wearing this in the spring/summer or on vacation in the BVI.  I REALLY REALLY dig this scent. Every time I wear it, someone will ask me about it + it's affordable too! ~ $28! Spray away!

27.Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Eyeliner or Inglot 77 (not pictured) both of these eyeliners are A+ products! The Stila is easy to apply with a inky fine tipped felt pen and the Inglot is a waterproof pot cream that needs to be applied with a fine brush. Both are great and last long, but I personally love the Inglot. It takes a bit more time to apply, but once it's on it stays on! My friend Camille (and talented makeup artist!) used this on me for a wedding I was in....woooza! This stuff stays on forever!

28. Because every girl needs a good affordable Brush Set.

29. Urban Decay Naked Pallet Eyeshadows. I use this pallet every single day! Sometimes I'll even use the black shadow as an eyeliner when I don't have enough time to use the Stila or Inglot. It's a perfect neutral pallet.

30. M·A·C Studio Face & Body Foundation. I really like these three M.A.C. products (#30, 31 and 32) on my list. I use this face foundation's water based and the coverage is minimal. It's basically a great product for evening out your skin tone. My nose a cheeks tend to be more red than the rest of my face so this does a good job of making my color even.

31. M·A·C Studio Sculpt SPF 15. This stuff is heavy duty and WONDERFUL! I wouldn't recommend using it as an all over foundation, but more as a spot corrector. It's great for hiding blemishes or tiny red patches. I usually use less than a pea size each day, just to cover any red spots or under my eyes.

32. M·A·C Studio Fix Powder (C3) Lastly I use this powder to set any shiny areas. Ever since I've been using these three products (together) I have had a lots of comments on how nice my skin looks. I couldn't be happier with these 3 products! Good job M.A.C.! It's sounds like a lot of make up, but it's not... a small dab/pat of each will do ya! 

33.Borghese Artista Exact Match Concealer. A perfect trio pack for taking with you when you're out and about. I throw this in my purse when I don't have time for the M.A.C. products above. You can mix and blend the three cream colors to create your exact match. The coverage is great for red spots or under eye circles. It's a convenient product to carry in your purse and do a quick touch up in the bathroom at work or wherever!

34. Colloidal Silver I use this stuff for everything. It's a natural antibiotic and antiviral. I use it whenever I feel a bug coming on (sniffles and what not). I also use it on blemishes and cuts and as an anti inflammatory for achey joints. Use with caution and only buy from a reputable source. As always, ask you doctor before using topically and or consuming. 

35.Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit So I don't actually own this one, but my best friend Melissa does! I borrowed it for a wedding we were in and I really liked it! It makes contouring so easy! I don't do contouring makeup everyday, but this pallet is fabulous for fancy occasions. I think I'll save up for this and get one soon!

36. Bahama Mama Bronzer This is a great bronzer to brush on under your cheek bones.

37. Shiseido Eyelash Curler A+ curler right here!

38. Full Soft Thick Healthy Waterproof Mascara Great product for those of you who use waterproof mascara...I love swimming in the summer time and I hate worrying about raccoon eyes, so this mascara will be your best friend.

39. L 'Occitaine Foot Cream I wear sandals almost everyday so my feet get dry. I try to use this cream at least once a week. I'll rub a dollop on my feet and then cover them with socks while I sleep at night. It the morning my feet are silky smooth! It's a rich cream with shea butter and  lavender oil! Mmmm.

40. Tiger Balm Tiger Balm tins (no bigger than a coat button). I have a white and red balm set that I keep in the car. My nanny kids love to put it on their temples when I pick them up from school. Z says it calms him down. Ha-ha. I just like to use them when I have a headache or stuffy nose. They are awesome. 

Bonus Product: Avibon...(not pictured) this vitamin pommade is spectacular. I only have a title left! So sad. It's hard to find in the states. I bought mine at a pharmacy in Paris. G Paltrow uses it on her skin  "Avibon is hard to find outside of France, but it’s one of my very favorites. It’s full of Vitamin A, which is wonderful for the skin, getting rid of blemishes, tough dry spots and preventing wrinkles (they say). I know an older movie star who uses this every night and she has the most amazing skin!"  If G uses it, it must be good stuff right? I agree. It's a tad goopy, but I like using it under my eyes and anywhere that I might develop wrinkles. It's a vitamin A pommade with other goodies added in. I've seen it on Amazon once but they were asking way too much money for it. I think I paid around 10 Euros for it in Paris. I saw it selling for $100 US on Amazon. Crazy. So if you happen to be on vacation or have a friend in France...pick it up!

That's about it! What products do you guys use? I would love to hear about them!