Wednesday, December 5, 2012

HOLIDAY GIFTING GUIDE



In the frenzy of day-to-day goings-on, shopping for gifts might be the last thing you want to squeeze into your already tight to-do list.  Or perhaps by now you’ve succumbed to the pre-Halloween onslaught of “holiday” shopping, and have already completed your shopping, or so you think.  Maybe you’ve completed shopping for some, but there are still last-minute names on your list, including your own.  So, what do you do now?  Hopefully, not panic.  Breathe deeply and strategize!

If you’ve been reading my articles for the past three years, you’ll know that whenever I’ve reviewed a spa, beauty or wellness related product, my reviews have been objective, but more importantly, I’ve presented quality products for your consideration.  This year’s Gift Guide is no different.  With one slight modification, the majority of the products I’m including in the Guide are from companies I’ve dealt with in the past and didn’t find it necessary to actually review the product listed.  Those I have tried and tested will be so noted.  The good news is that most of these products will remain available year round and appropriate for gift giving, regardless of the season, reason or occasion.  Keep that in mind as the Christmas Carols fade, the eggnog vanishes and the tree gets recycled.  Enjoy checking out some of my top gift picks!

 ~ Festive & Sparkly ~

Crabtree & Evelyn ~
The holidays wouldn’t be the same without limited holiday edition items.  They’re always festive, shimmery and sparkly and capture the aromatic essence of that special time that only happens once a year. This year’s collection include delectable Golden Petals and Golden Fig collections that capture the warming essence and glow of these iconic holiday scents.  Golden Petals captures the scent of berries, rhubarb, florals and musk.  Golden Fig captures the scent of figs, citrus, mangosteen, amber and musk.  In the Golden Petal collection, I had the pleasure of trying the Eau de Parfum Fragrance Rollerball, the Bubble Bath Body Wash and Silkening Body Nectar.  In the Golden Fig collection, I had the pleasure of trying the Eau de Parfum Fragrance Rollerball and Shimmering Body Mist.  The aromas of both collections were subtle and layered nicely without creating a clash or off-scent.  I also loved how gentle the Body Wash was and how smooth my skin was after using the Body Nectar.  Adding the Body Mist after applying the Body Nectar left my skin glowing.  The Fragrance Rollerball aromas were also subtle and long lasting.  Lastly, I had the chance to try their Red Sparkle Shimmer Lip Gloss.  This super hydrating Lip Gloss is formulated with shea butter, caster and grapeseed oils; a delicious scent of candy cane and vibrant candy cane red complete this lip treat.  http://www.crabtree-evelyn.com/

Jane Iredale ~ Jane Iredale knows how to add that special sparkle and glow to anyone’s holiday.  The brilliant shimmer of newly fallen snow as the glow of moonlight deflects off of it reminded me of the gorgeous Limited Edition Triple Pearl Powder Finishing Powder, which I tried.  After applying it over makeup, it added a shimmer and radiant luminosity to my face; applied to shoulders and décolleté, it also added a subtle shimmer to those areas.  I enjoyed how my face looked brighter, naturally.  The Triple Pearl Powder comes beautifully packaged in a silver reusable box.  The compact is beautiful and has a natural shell top; the luxuriously silky applicator, generous sized mirror and twist top dispenses just the right amount of powder and is suitable for all skin tones.  https://janeiredale.com

~ Face, Body & Beyond ~

Aveda ~
Packaged in handmade Lokta bark paper from Nepal, the lavender aromatherapy based De-Stress Gift Set comes complete with Body Lotion, Bath Salts and Fragrance Rollerball.  http://www.aveda.com/

Darphin ~
For luxe skincare, Darphin’s Predermine Gift Set includes Predermine Firming Wrinkle Repair Serum and travel sizes of Predermine Anti-Wrinkle Cream and Eye Serum. http://www.darphin.com/

Eminence Organics ~
A special collection of nine travel sizes of Eminence Organics most popular skincare and body care products is their Beyond Organic Gift Box; presented in a special re-usable presentation box.  us.eminenceorganics.com/

Essence Cosmetics ~
Need to get some stocking-stuffer ideas, then look no further.  This popular retail budget brand has everything you could think of to stuff those stockings.  http://www.essence.eu/us/home.html

FragranceNet.com ~
Last minute shopping or just being stumped for making purchasing a gift can easily be taken care of by shopping online at this all-things giftable website.  http://www.fragrancenet.com/

Jurlique ~
This popular Australian brand offers their natural Hand Care Essentials Gift Set with tubes of their most popular hand treatment creams, including Rose, Lavender, Jasmine and Citrus.  http://www.jurlique.com/

Kate Somerville ~
Innovative skincare guru Kate Somerville offers their Get Gorgeous Kate Gift Set that includes ExfoliKate, Somerville360° Self Tanning Body Towelletes and Face Pads, DermalQuench Liquid Lift Advanced Anti-Wrinkle Treatment and Daily Deflector Moisturizer Anti-Aging Sunscreen.  http://www.katesomerville.com/

Kerstin Florian ~
Just in time for sweet dreams is the Kerstin Florian Lavender Dreams Kit complete with their new Turkish Body Scrub With Eucalyptus, Lavender Eye Pillow, Lavender Body Oil, Lavender Body Spray and Soothing Mineral Bath.  http://www.kerstinflorianusa.com/

Liz Earle ~
The popular Holiday Limited Edition of Cleanse & Polish will naturally and gently dissolve even the most stubborn makeup and mascara without irritating or stripping delicate tissue.  http://us.lizearle.com/

MyBody ~
Luxuriate with this MyBody Pamper Me Gift set of Probiotic Shower Gel and Probiotic Body Lotion; choice of Rose Chamomile, Revitalizing Citrus Coconut or Energizing Bergamot Lime.  http://www.lovemybody.com/

SpaFinder Wellness ~
The Essential Beauty Gift Box comes with six indulgent spa products plus a $50 SpaFinder Wellness Gift Card, or get The Deluxe Beauty Gift Box, which comes with six products plus a $100 Gift Card.   http://www.spafinder.com/

Votre Vu ~
Your holiday feet will thank you with Votre Vu’s Trés Magni-Feet Gift Set complete with Exfoliant Pour Les Pieds and Crème Pour Les Pieds.  http://votrevu.com/

 ~ Destinations ~


International SPA Association (ISPA) ~
ISPA is the largest and most prestigious of any global professional spa organization and its various member properties are offering special holiday promotions and incentives at their properties.  They include Hiatus Spa+Retreat (Austin and Dallas, TX); Kelly’s Spa at the Mission Inn (Riverside, CA); Spa Réveil (Austin, TX); Glen Ivy Hot Springs (Corona, CA); Ponte Vedra Inn & Club (Ponte Vedra Beach, FL); Four Seasons Hotel George V (Paris, France); Silverado Resort and Spa (Napa, CA); AWAY Spa (Austin, TX); Bloom Spa Toya (Abutagun, Hokkaido, Japan); Mirabeau Inn & Spa (Skaneateles, NY); Sundara Inn & Spa (Wisconsin Dells, WI); Solace Spa at Boyne Mountain (Boyne Falls, MI); Four Seasons Hotel Toronto (Ontario, Canada); and, The Umstead Hotel and Spa (Cary, NC).  Be sure to check other favorite destinations for special holiday pricing between now and the New Year.

~ Budget Buys & Beyond ~

For quick, last-minute stocking stuffer items that won’t break your holiday bank, don’t overlook the brick and mortar stores or their online equivalents; even specialty food stores or local grocery stores have gift possibilities.  These might include Target, Kohl’s, Sears, Penney’s, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS and Osco Drug.  Then there are the biggies like Amazon, eBay, Zappos, etc.   

Lastly, remember that while a tangible gift can be a sign of love, friendship or gratitude, the giving of oneself to others is the greatest gift anyone can give.  The gift-giver and not the price tag is the most important thing! 

May the blessings, peace, hope, joy and promise of Christmas be with you and your loved ones throughout the coming New Year.


That’s it for this edition.  Until the next one, remember to take care of yourself and those you love.

By Terry Herman

Terry Herman is a recognized expert in the industry, and regularly covers issues that include business, management, operations, customer care, treatments, products, and trends. In addition to writing and reviewing, she is also a management consultant and motivational speaker.  She also serves on EXPERIENCE | PREMCHIT Journeys In Retreat To Wellness Advisory Board, which is comprised of ten international experts in various fields of wellness and spa.  She also serves as a Group Manager for the popular LinkedIn group, The Spa Buzz.  You can email her at terrysspabeautywellness@gmail.com.

ALL MATERIALS COPYRIGHT PROTECTED

(Opening photo credit, Christmas at my childhood home c1960s; all other photo credits as represented by the specific brand.)

N.B.  Google’s blog platform is incompatible with my Mac OS X and Firefox browser latest software versions, which is why some web links appear in different colors and why when attempting to have embedded images their sizing is consistent and/or can’t be sized. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

HEALTHY EATING





Over the past year, I’ve written a number of articles on eating and cooking as it related to health and wellness.  These articles included objective reviews of organic and natural food products, cookbooks, restaurants and cooking prep tools, as well as interviews with chefs and wellness experts. 

While we need food to survive, the quality and choices of food has an impact on our nutritional health and well being.  I sometimes recall some of my earlier food choices, often cringing at what I used to put on my plate, including portion sizes.  Maturity offers the luxury of reflective assessment and learning from it; and while I’m by no means an expert on nutrition or dietary, I’m at least making a more concerted effort to stay informed, ask questions, read labels and cultivate the discipline to take passes on food choices that aren’t necessarily the healthiest.  So, this has been my experience and yours may be different.

A few important things I’ve learned along the way about healthy eating and food choices ~
·       Have a strategy and focus on it, but never beat yourself up if you meander from it.
·       Be steady and consistent.
·       Portion control is key.
·       Less is more.
·       Quality always trumps quantity.
·       Consume moderately and modestly.
·       Have a varied and diverse diet.
·       Avoid diets that are a fad or trend.
·       Never jeopardize your health for the sake of a food fad or trend.
·       When in doubt, ask your doctor, especially if you’re taking medications, have a compromised immune system.
·       Go for better food choices that are fresh, seasonal, natural, organic and unprocessed.
·       Eating involves engaging all of the senses; they’re the key indicators.  
·       Your health is a work in progress and a process. 

Following are some recent healthy food-related discoveries I wanted to share with you. 

~ Food to Enjoy ~

Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt ~
According to the Dannon website “…what makes Greek yogurt different from regular yogurt? We make our authentic Greek yogurt with a centuries-old straining method that removes the whey (liquid) from the yogurt. Called "yiaourti" in Greece, Greek yogurt is thick and creamy, and its production requires about three times the amount of milk used to make regular yogurt…” I’ve actually tried making my own Greek yogurt a few times; it’s a good substitute in a pinch, but can’t compare to authentically prepared Greek yogurt.  Greek yogurt is THE yogurt right now and depending on which brand selected, the tastes will vary, as will the price.  Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt has found a way to authentically prepare its varieties with all of the healthy bacteria in it, and also without the fat content, often found in other brands.  The consistency is extremely rich and creamy.  While the Fruit At The Bottom varieties are delicious, I especially enjoyed the versatility of the Plain variety.  Using the Plain variety as a substitution in recipes that traditionally call for mayonnaise, sour cream or cream cheese, was a no-brainer.  Any recipe I used the Oikos Greek Yogurt in tasted delicious, making them healthier versions.  Dannon has also teamed up with Chef Richard Blais, an esteemed restaurateur, chef, author, television personality and winner of Bravo’s Top Chef All-Stars.  He has created a number of recipes of holiday favorites using the Dannon Oikos Fat-Free Greek Yogurt that are healthier versions of traditional food-fare. http://www.oikosyogurt.com/greek-yogurt/

Ikaati Tea ~
Ikaati is a celebration of time, taste and tradition.  Its foundational philosophy, “…that our well-being is enriched by health, pleasure and beauty….”, is the basis of their three collections, Nourish, Savor and Heritage.  These artisanal white, green and black teas are harvested from tea regions in Asia, including the Himalayas and Fujian China.  Nourish is an herbal tisane collection for promoting health; Savor combines subtle infusions of fruit and flowers; and, Heritage offers single note estate teas.  No matter which variety I tried, I found them to be refreshing, pure and clean; the flavors were never over-powering and retained a consistent depth of flavor throughout the entire cup.  These varieties can stand on their own, without adding any lemon or sweetener and were perfectly balanced each and every time brewed.  I also liked each artisan-crafted silken tea pouch that was hand tied.  As I grasped my cup of tea and inhaled the warmth of its sweet and soothing vapors, I was reminded of how much I needed to step back, breathe deeply and relax. http://www.ikaati.com/

One Degree Organic Foods ~

This company makes a variety of USDA Certified Organic, including high-fiber whole grain breads. I had the pleasure of trying their USDA Certified Organic Veganic Organic Breads in Lentil Grain, Ancient Whole Wheat, Flax and Spelt, and Sesame Sunflower.  What is also innovative about these products is that the company prints out on each wrapper an OCR (optical character recognition) code and a tracking number; the OCR is for smartphone scans and the tracking number for online queries.  This information can be then be used by the consumer to obtain further information on the specific bread that is unique to its manufacturer.  Consumers are directed to a web page that not only lists the ingredients and nutritional content of their bread, but it will also identified which of their farms the grain came from to make their bread.  I enjoyed all four varieties and found each one quite delicious, with a moist chewiness, versus a cardboard consistency like so many other “comparable” whole grain high-fiber breads.  Toasting brought out the individual sweetness of the whole grain ingredients and each variety made a hearty and tasty French toast.  http://www.onedegreeorganics.com/product_categories


~ For Healthy Food Prep & Beyond ~

Knork Flatware ~
Eating implements are one of those things that people don’t pay too much attention too and treat as a mundane, albeit necessary component to dining.  However, Knork Flatware has found a way to elevate the eating implement to an art form.  Knork is ergonomically designed with sleek durability and proper balance to its shaft, making it intuitively natural to the eating process.  The curved head of the fork is designed for ease of cutting, where the edge functions like a knife, yet without any sharp angles; the inner tines are slightly scooped, making for effortless spearing, but also lifting.  Conventionally designed eating implements make eating clumsy, which also adds to putting stress to the wrist area in maneuverability.  The sleek design works well with formal and informal dining.  I found the big plus in its ergonomic design and ease of balancing the shaft of the implement while holding it; whether it was fork, knife or spoon, the mundane eating implement became the exceptional.  http://www.knork.net/

Microplane Kitchen Tools ~
Precision crafted Microplaning and Grating implements make healthy food preparation economical, efficient and effortless.  Use the whole food item with virtually no waste by making sure to use the proper plane and grater head to suit the task.  The tasks of ribbon planing and zesting/grating require two different heads to achieve the results.  Using a Ribbon planer is suitable for planing chocolate, carrot and soft cheeses.  Using a Zester/Grater (Premium Classic) planer is suitable for ginger, citrus, garlic, coconut and hard cheeses.  The tasks of coarse, fine and shaped grating also require different grates to achieve these results.  Using an Extra Coarse Grater is suitable for grating onion, potato, soft cheese, zucchini, carrots and cabbage.  Using a Star Grater (Gourmet Series), with its star-shaped grate heads, will yield fine and fluffy grates of hard cheeses such as Parmesan.  These lightweight implements have protective poly sleeves and non-skid easy grip handles.  The overall ergonomic design offers balance and stability; the Graters also have a non-skid end stabilizer strip.  No foodie should be without these implements.  http://us.microplane.com/microplanekitchentools.aspx

~ Healthy Dining Options ~

Fresco 21 A Mediterranean Kitchen ~
Fresco 21 A Mediterranean Kitchen opened its doors a few months ago with a mission to offer the freshest food fare that embraced the healthy profile of the Mediterranean diet, the concept of farm to table and sea to table, local and sustainable.  Fresco 21 is located in the InterContinental O’Hare Hotel (Rosemont, IL), in close proximity to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.  What many love about Mediterranean cuisine is that it’s fresh, pure and healthy.  It uses the freshest of ingredients in their natural state whether its from land and sea, and doesn’t require any additives, preservatives or processing, thereby maintaining food at its most natural and healthy state.  The Mediterranean cuisine is also one of the healthiest known cuisines around.  Fresco 21 is an authentic and upscale Mediterranean restaurant, which continues the tradition of offering healthy cuisine, while catering to all dietary needs.  Fresco 21’s culinary wizard Chef de Cuisine Cameron Grant created a delicious menu that includes cold and hot tapas, wood-fire pizzas, whole grain artisanal breads, seasonal vegetables, fresh seafood, aged meats, free-range poultry, artisanal cheeses, and tantalizing sweets.  I recently had the pleasure of dining at this restaurant and enjoyed a sampling of menu items.  Each plate was distinctive and delicious and beautifully plated and visually attractive.  A few of the tastings included Seared Diver Scallop on Butternut Squash Puree, with Maple Syrup Gastrique, Brussels Sprout Leaves, Fried Artichoke and Black Pepper Accents, the Butternut Squash Ravioli with Wild Mushroom, Corn and Grape Tomatoes, Parmesan Cream; and, Lasagna Bolognese in a Red Wine, Veal Stock, Cream.  The flavors were fresh, vibrant, flavorful and delicious.  http://www.fresco21.com/

That’s it for this edition.  Until the next one, remember to take care of yourself and those you love.

By Terry Herman

Terry Herman is a recognized expert in the industry, and regularly covers issues that include business, management, operations, customer care, treatments, products, and trends. In addition to writing and reviewing, she is also a management consultant and motivational speaker.  She also serves on EXPERIENCE | PREMCHIT Journeys In Retreat To Wellness Advisory Board, which is comprised of ten international experts in various fields of wellness and spa.  She also serves as a Group Manager for the popular LinkedIn group, The Spa Buzz.  You can email her at terrysspabeautywellness@gmail.com.

ALL MATERIALS COPYRIGHT PROTECTED

(Opening photo credit by weightlossdietwatch.com; all other photo creditss as represented by the specific brand.)

N.B.  Google’s blog platform is incompatible with my Mac OS X and Firefox browser latest software versions, which is why some web links appear in different colors and why when attempting to have embedded images their sizing is consistent and/or can’t be sized.