Cooking with Color: Sweet Potato Lasagne

sweet potato lasagna


One of my favorite ways to unwind after a crazy New York City day is to get into the kitchen and cook something delicious. I love to bring my passion for color and good health together by experimenting...often without a recipe!

The video below was shot for Cooking Minute, a site that " Go[es] inside the lives and homes of busy New Yorkers while they demonstrate their favorite recipes".  A very cool concept as we often don't get to see the intimate spaces of NYC kitchens or share the act of cooking with one another.

My recipe was filmed in my tiny east village kitchen. It dissects the process of making (yet another ad hoc dish) Sweet Potato and Kale Lasagne.

For the full recipe and step by step guide, visit the site.

Image and video credit: AaronFuks

A Diamond in the Rough


Inspired by Catherine's video, I couldn't wait until my next trip to Vancouver to pamper my skin. The ever tempting offers from Lifebooker in my inbox were finally too hard to pass up; facials for $39 at the Skin Spa lured me in.

After careful review (and a mini phone consult with Cath), I decided to go for a microderm treatment followed by a peel. Catherine's advice was to spread out the treatments by about a week. So I went in for the exfoliation part of the process first.

This wasn't my first micro experience so I wasn't surprised by the raspy wand that was waved over my skin. For those that have not had microdermabrasion, it feels like a super-powered cat with an extremely rough tongue licking your face over and over. In other words, not painful but not relaxing. Little diamond crystals work to deeply exfoliate rough patches and can even smooth wrinkles. My skin was a little bit red after the procedure, but quickly calmed with a little bit of aloe lotion. I was able to put makeup on right away to cover any blotchiness. That night, my skin felt really smooth and the ever deepening line on my forehead seemed to have faded just a little bit. The clarity of my skin increased over the coming days.

The next week I went in for the peel. I was really surprised by how quick the procedure was. After application, which felt like any old mask, the peel was on my skin for a total of 4.5 minutes. After that, it was washed off, followed by a cooling lotion. My skin wasn't too red after this treatment but tingled slightly. The esthetician figured my skin would probably start to peel in two to three days. I never experienced any kind of peeling action. I did however break out more than I was anticipating. I wasn't aware of this side effect so I was a little caught off guard when I woke up with a number of eruptions. After an emergency call to Cath, I was informed that this was in fact a normal reaction to a peel - so be fair warned...!

It's been a week since the peel and my skin has finally calmed down. Overall I think my skin looks like it has a more even tone and my hyper pigmentation has been somewhat reduced.

A series of three micro/peel combo treatments is recommended to see the best results.

At home treatments are also becoming popular. If you have problem skin or are looking to smooth those pesky fine lines and wrinkles (who isn't...!) then a mini peel may be a good option. Glycolic acid pads are gaining popularity in the market and are available at medical spas for home use.

Product to try: Dermatologic Cosmetic Laboratories (DCL) Glycolic Acid Pads 20%

DCL Glycolic Acid Pads 20

It's my OCC!


Check out this little feature on yours truly posted on Beautylish. I ran into editor Ning Chao during Fashion's Night Out at Barneys with Linda Rodin. She was really excited about the intensity of my lip color. The hot pink OCC Lip Tar in Anime got a lot of attention that night...definitely a show-stopper for anyone looking to stir things up!

Image Credit: Beautylish

Fragrance Trends at the Elements Showcase

This week I attended the second edition of the Elements Showcase--a fragrance tradeshow in NYC. I was excited to see the expansion from the first show (back in November); from its single floor space, to now spanning two levels. There were lots of new and fantastic vendors ranging from fragrance to skincare. Visiting the booths and speaking to the exhibitors, I started to pick up on some distinct trends.

Wood and Natural Materials: The first trend that I see carries over from last season. The use of wood in packaging has an even stronger presence than we've seen in the past months. Everything from the lids on boxes of candles, soap and perfume to entire wooden bottles (TAY) were on display.











Profumi Del Forte took the natural materials trend to another level, creating marble lids for their fragrances


"Box of Chocolates" Packaging There was a definite thread of inspiration derived from the classic beauty and simplicity of chocolate box packaging.




Fine Art Meets Fragrance Another trend that emerged was the inclusion of fine art in the packaging on fragrance bottles and other products in this category.





Among the artist/fragrance duo's, jewelry collaborations were another strong trend popping up. Both Joya (known for its porcelain bottles) and Sage released solid perfume in beautiful amulet's. Joya teamed up with jewelry design company Vane to launch their "Shades of Dusk" collection.

In general, it seems that the fragrance and skincare industries continue to be concerned with 'natural' elements--whether or not their products are chemical-free or are made with sustainable materials. The key is to come across as being concerned about the process of the product, in the form of an eco-friendly looking package or by including an artisanal touch.

Braid Bar hits Manhattan

Heidi wannabe's rejoice! The John Barrett Salon in Bergdorf Goodman opens up New York's first Braid Bar.

Great for getting your mane out of your face while looking chic for those humid summer days (the kind that transition into warm evening cocktail parties without time to go home for a change in between).

A good braid can last anywhere from three to five days--perfect for a weekend away!

Any length, shape or style (french, fish or classic) goes for $45 ($60 including a wash) and can be done in approximately 20 minutes.

Makeup Show NYC

This afternoon I checked out the Makeup Show. I went expecting it to be more of a trade and trends kind of deal but, in fact, it was a free-for-all for every makeup artist in the Tri-State area. All for good reason though as many top cosmetic brands were on hand, offering pretty decent discounts. Among them: Young Blood, MAC Pro, and Nars.

While making the rounds, I came across a new (to me) beauty brand, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics. The brand boasts a vegan/cruelty free line up of products. What really caught my eye was the colorful range of Lip Tars - a gloss meets lipstick combo. Packaged in a juicy-tubes like container, the Lip Tar squirts out like any old gloss and melts on to your lips easily. The consistency stays moist for at least an hour, but sets to a long wearing stain after just a few minutes. The key when applying is to work fairly quickly to avoid any unwanted staining. After application, you're pretty much set for the day or night (or both!). When I say long-wearing, I mean it! I missed wiping a little off at the show and it's still holding strong after a number of hours and countless washes.

In terms of color, I personally think the bright colors such as Reverb (orange-based red) and Anime (florescent magenta) look the best. There is a wide variety of nude and pastel tones but on Caucasian skin, they end up washing you out (or as one girl beside me at the table said " give you that dead look"!). I'm really excited about these new additions to my cosmetics bag. Long wearing and glossy color (with a hint of peppermint) = the perfect evening accoutrement!

Youngblood = Radiant Skin

Our first guest blog from Charm School pal Catherine -- a registered nurse and esthetician. In other words, she knows her stuff!She's turned me on to many great products over the years. Below, she reviews her fave makeup brand, Youngblood...

Mineral make up is quickly becoming the preferred natural alternative to traditional cosmetics. A staple product in my make up bag is the loose natural mineral foundation by Youngblood. The finely milled powder provides a natural, weightless finish on the skin without any glitter or shimmer. The line has a great selection of realistic skin tones for easy color matching. The pink, yellow and neutral hue options are customizable to match any skin undertone.

All powder formulations contain titanium dioxide for long-lasting UVA/UVB protection (SPF 15+). All Youngblood products are talc, paraben, artificial fragrance, dye and cruelty free. The special oil free formula makes it non–comedogenic (won’t clog pores) and an excellent option for oily, acneic, congested, and sensitive skin types. The natural vegan formula is ideal for coverage after an IPL, acid or enzyme treatment because it won’t irritate the skin or affect the results of your professional treatment. The combination of natural and mineral ingredients gives it amazing long wearing, waterproof, and adhering abilities. An added bonus is the clean, modern packaging and good price point.

In order to get the most lightweight, silky coverage simply tap a small amount into the lid and select the appropriate brush size. Dip the tip of the brush into the powder, tap off the excess, and gently buff the powder into the skin using circular movements. Blend evenly over the face and jaw line to ensure gradual coverage to the neck. A small kabuki or powder brush will provide moderate to full coverage. A large kabuki or ultimate foundation brush that is more dense will give you full coverage. The powder foundation is very versatile and can easily be used to spot treat and conceal with a concealer brush, clean sponge or fingertip. Be sure to cleanse your make up brushes every 2 weeks with a mild shampoo or professional brush cleaner to prevent powder, skin and bacteria buildup.

Once you have an even, flawless palette to work with, you can add a splash of color with blush or a light sun-kissed shimmer with bronzer.

TIPS: * Apply a lightweight moisturizer to clean, dry skin prior to application * For the most even coverage make sure all serums, moisturizers and sun protection lotions have absorbed into the skin; blot with a tissue if needed * Mix a small amount of mineral foundation into your moisturizer to create a custom tinted lotion * For Rosacea, acne lesions, pigmentation and vascular issues the powder can be layered for added coverage

I can honestly say that this is a great product having seen the results first hand on Catherine's skin. She continually gets compliments about how fresh and radiant her complexion looks.

Thanks for sharing Cath!!!

RAPIDRY to the Rescue!

There is one product that has really changed my life over the last few months...and by life I mean that in the least dramatic way. More of an enhancement in my nail care regimen really.The product in question was brought home by my roommate Kaitlin (who is a polish addict and changes her color at least twice/week). She had tested it out months before while visiting a friend (a classic Charm School move). Now, this may not be a new brand, or contain a revolutionary ingredient but the OPI RAPIDRY Top Coat is a miracle worker. Forgot to paint your nails just before bed? No problem. You can apply and hit the sheets in mere minutes - and wake up to glossy, crease-less digits! No more interesting textures or dented finishes.