Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Cheap, Chic, & Cute DIY Gifts for When You're Broke Christmas.

By Laura Medina

Let's face it, the holidays are a pressure cooker of  the year.  A lot of expectations and a lot of perfection based on wishes granted.  That's stressful.

If the thought of going broke to please others is enough to make you go postal, take out your frustrations then channel them at Makerskit's Pop-Up Shop inside Sherman Oaks' Fashion Square Mall.

Waste not, want not, this ingenious, ecological, and economical seasonally temporary pop-up shop popped up when appropriate.  So, get there and make stuff like they're hot before they disappear once the holidays are finished.

If you think you can truly do it all by yourself-wrong.  You fumbling with your handicraft will only build frustration due to the lack of access to materials, equipment, and a proper work-table.

Makerskit's Pop-Up has the the tables, the  chairs, the tools, the materials, and most importantly, real-life, flesh & blood human being experts that can help you tool and mix your handmade gifts and make them look really expensive when they're actually affordable.  The plus is that they have CoolHaus Ice Cream stand that's free.  You can fuel on CoolHaus ice sandwiches while crafting.

True, you'll do break a sweat crafting, especially when you're twisting titsy-bitsy gold twine and wire around a semi-precious gemstone but nothing says nothing like a handmade gift made from the heart...and financially thought-out with your brain.

Hey, if you're gonna break out a sweat learning how to melt, mix, and mold your customize soaps and whip up personalized body cream, at least, you're doing something productive and thrifty because treading on a treadmilll when you have to think about others will only pent-up worries and stress.  Take that stress out and hammer some jewelry.

Think of making handcrafted jewelry, bath, and body care as the new holiday work-out.  Look on the bright side, there ain't no cooking; and if there's cooking, there's a Makerskit expert to help you at every step of the way.

At Makerskit's Pop-Up Shop, not only do you have supplies and tools available, Makerskit also have pre-packaged kits that you can buy as gifts themselves or take them home to mix in your own crafting room (only homes in the Valley have those) or buy them, take out the contents and then ask a shop expert to help you make the gift right inside the store.

Most of the pre-packaged kits are popular gifts: DIY lip balms and glosses, grow your own mini herb gardens in mini mason jars, and portable cocktail kits.

Obviously, Makerskits make adorable gifts for the foodie friends but with the herb gardens kits, they can also be used in conjunction with bath and body scrub and soap kits for your botanical skincare...which you'll need after the holidays or if you really want to kiss-ass for a year full of favors, do botanical skincare gifts for friends with benefits.
Aura Cacia Holiday Essential Oil Starter Kit

If the Makerskit Pop-Up Shop up in Sherman Oaks' Fashion Square Mall is too far and too temporary for you, there are way more Whole Foods locations.

Right now, you can go in and buy Aura Cacia Holiday Essential Oil Starter Kit for $25, take it home and whip up some home-made skincare for you and your love ones...or just gift them kit and have them make their own skincare.

There are more things to love at Sherman Oaks' Fashion Square Mall.  If crafting home-made gifts is too much for you yet you want something more personalized and practical..;and you're traveling.

Nearby Makerskit Pop-Up, there's the Z Palette makeup de-potting station at Westfield Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks.

Makeup lovers will be able to bring their makeup to the Z Palette de-potting station and will organize your makeup in custom Z Palettes!

Instead of damaging and messing up while trying to customize your own personalized makeup kit, bring thee to Z Palette's de-potting station where they can safely and neatly remove, rearranged, and customized your own makeup in their magnetic makeup kits organized and neatly.

They're nifty located across from Sephora.

If all you professional makeup artists prepping for the upcoming Awards Season, take thee to Z Palette de-potting station to organize your kits.

Show some love and practice good buying at Fashion Square Mall in Sherman Oaks.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Stocking Stuffers Make Great Travel Partners at Whole Foods.

By Laura Medina

We're traveling back home for Thanksgiving or "Turkey Day" then Black Friday.  Back home is usually somewhere cold and dry.

With these stocking stuffers falling within a reasonable price, you can afford one for you, one as a gift.

Since they're sample-sized, you can squeak them through TSA without any worries.

Trilogy Skincare is an emerging all-natural skincare you should keep your eyes out for.  This rosehip oil-based company uses cutting-edge science to extract and utilize the best properties from rosehip to bring back a natural rosiness and dewiness to your parch lips.

You can also dab and dot the rosehip oil around the eyes or any dry spots on the face and body.

If pure rosehip oil is too strong, especially around the delicate eye areas where your crow's feet are, you can dab on their Everything Balm for soften dry lips and raggedy cuticles.  You can either rub it or melt it into a massage oil.  Their balm contains PawPaw, a mix of papaya and soybean.  A skin nourishing oil from papaya, rich in phytochemicals which provide antibacterial and skin healing benefits. It is also rich in antioxidant vitamins A,C and E which help reduce inflammation.

Another way to impart dewy, rosiness to your pale, dried lips, Acure's Lip Plumping Kit.  In a shimmering, plum gloss that is reminiscent of Lancome's dearly departed plum gloss, Acure's Argan Oil, Echinacea, and Edelweiss Stem Cells help plump and protect lips in a opaque but all-natural plum gloss that really does plump up and adds color to lips.

Another stocking stuffer that's also affordable to buy for two is Pacifica Daydreamer Roll-on Perfume Trio.  

Each roll-on tube is 0.33oz tiny.  You can zip this whole fragrance kit through TSA without a beat.  – Feel free to daydream with these three intoxicating roll-on perfumes! Scents include Indian Coconut Nectar (ambrosial coconut), Tuscan Blood Orange (strawberry, raspberry, blood orange and spicy Italian mandarins) and Tahitian Gardenia (sultry, creamy Gardenia). Pacifica uses natural ingredients and are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Holiday in Hollywood, Hollywood Hotel, Hollywood Christmas Parade, & Honest Beauty at The Grove.

By Laura Medina
Yes, Virginia, Hollywood does celebrate Christmas and other holidays during this time.
Why don't strike a whole flock of birds with one stone and do, not only a "shopping holiday"  but an unique experience.

Macy's New York Thanksgiving Parade isn't the only parade with balloons and floats this time of year.

Consider the Hollywood Hotel's Christmas Parade Package for an one 0f a kind holiday vacation, especially for those emerging hipster tween and teen kids of yours.

For $139 a night, they'll hook up you and your family...or friends  as balloon wranglers in Hollywood's authentic real Christmas Parade.

This special offer will only last until November 29th, the day and night of the parade, so hurry up!

While warming up for the Hollywood Christmas Parade, you and your tweens and/or teens can get ready at an affordable price at wholesome quality at Jessica Alba's pop-up Honest Beauty Shop at The Grove.

Especially for today's tweens and teens, who are a mash-up of all sorts of skin tones and complexions, they look up to elder Jessica Alba (she's their idea of an elder role model, not this scribe's) as a big sister who understands their beauty needs and wallet budget.

Even today's Gen-Xer parent can really the array of skin colors and spectrum that fits every beige, tan, and brown underneath the rainbow.

The color rainbow are classics that will never go out of style.  

The eye shadows have straight-up ingredients. 

The cream blushes that double as subtle flushed cheeks  and muted lip color have Raspberry Fruit Extract‬, Vanilla Fruit Extract‬, Blackberry Fruit Extract‬, and Grape Extract‬, good for the skin.  

The rice bran oil-based Truly Kissable Lip Crayon – Demi-matte contains: Jojoba, Candelilla Wax, Sunflower, Raspberry, Vanilla, Blackberry, Grape, murumuru butter and 
shea butter.

What's even better, especially for the parents, everything in Honest Beauty is reasonable and fair-priced.

Healthy ingredients, wide-arranging skin shades, and fair prices, that doesn't stop there.

Jessica Alba's Honest Beauty pop-up shop (unfortunately, it's a temporary boutique that started around Halloween, runs through the holidays then through Awards Season then stops when Awards Season ends) gives shoppers and test-try-ers full makeovers and touch-ups.  What a great incentive!  A Hollywood makeover that's healthy.  Glam as Hollywood.  Wholesome as California.

This doesn't stop there.

Be the envy of the neighborhood, the office, and school because, after your makeover or touch-up, Honest Beauty Pop-Up Shop has a Photo Booth Room.

You heard right, a Photo Booth Boudoir in girly creamy and ivory room and couch, bathe in skin-friendly, soft ivory light for your best and multiple selfie photos in all and each of your Honest Beauty makeovers.

Instead of the kitschy post cards, send the folks back home your Honest Beauty Selfie Makeovers, over social media, email, text, or an old-fashion photo for your own souvenir.

As a veteran actress who came up in her teen years and now a mom, Jessica Alba knows the importance of good skincare as the base for the best makeover.

Her three varieties of sunscreen all have Chamomile, calendula, Hyaluronic Acid, Non-nano zinc oxide, and aloe.

For the tweens and teens who only need a just a dew of moisture, they can spray Elevated Hydration Mist with Chamomile and calendula help to calm and soothe. Aloe vera conditions skin while hyaluronic acid attracts moisture, locking in hydration..;

Or, they can slather on their idea of a traditional face lotion, Dependably Clear Oil Free Moisturizer based on oil-free but effective Hyaluronic acid gently hydrating for a light, nourished feel.   Chamomile and calendula help to calm and soothe. Vitamin C rich barbary fig and rosehip provide antioxidant support. Neem and aspen bark help balance oily prone skin.

Thank god, the most expensive items are for the more established who have no problem buying these moisturizers at $34 a pop, a mere bargain compared to similar face moisturizers.

Even Brighter Everyday Moisturizer is for the older folks who damaged their skin and got sun/age spots.  This moisturizer gradually fades away the damage with:
chamomile and calendula to help calm and soothe. Vitamin C rich acerola cherry, barbary fig and green tea provide antioxidant support to help balance skin tone. Licorice extract has been shown to fight and improve the appearance of dark spots. 

For a classic moisturizer that is just as classic as your grandma's lotion but healthier, give Younger Face Deep Hydration Cream. 

This deep hydration face cream contains chamomile and calendula to help calm and soothe. Radish seed oil  enhances skin moisture barrier and deeply hydrates. Baobab fruit, rich in vitamins A and E, replenishes nutrients and nourishes skin. Look honestly good. A Jessica Favorite! Provides a glowing, dewy finish.

Her Magic Balm is great for dabbing on dry spots and obviously, meant to be multi-tasker, from soothing chapped lips to moisturizing crow's feet, whipped with Calendula, Jojoba, Tamanu, and chamomile in a coconut/olive oil base.

Voted Best of Beauty by Allure Magazine, Jessica's Honest Beauty Primer is night-time makeup without the spf.  Hyaluronic acid and a botanical peptide help keep skin looking smooth and pores less noticeable. Peony root, a firming active ingredient, adds plumpness to the skin and aloe vera conditions. Infused with orange flower water and mica this face primer delivers a subtle golden glow. Luminous, flawless looking skin in one simple step. Boom!

As a hyper-ventilating parent, you can breathe deep with relief.

Honest Beauty Pop-Up Shop offers skincare kits according to skin types.  Try before you buy the full-size.  Plus, they make great gifts/souvenirs back home.

Now is the the ideal time to bunk down at the Hollywood Hotel, strut your stuff as balloon wranglers in the Hollywood Christmas Parade then stock up on all your healthy glam makeup and get your Healthy Hollywood look on before it disappears.

The Hollywood Hotel's Hollywood Christmas Parade special will end on November 29th.

Jessica Alba only meant her Honest Beauty Pop-Up Shop to be a trial-run then it'll disappear by mid-March.

If you like her stuff, she has her own version of Birchbox.  You can subscribe to her beauty delivery system, directly to your door.

Now is a magical time in Hollywood.







Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cocktail Food for Fashionistas, Salt Air for Michael Kors' Cocktail Party at The Grove LA.

By Laura Medina

Yes, fashionistas do eat, especially the East Coast fashionistas a.k.a. "The Right Coast."

Having Tasting Table throwing a cocktail party for Michael Kors at The Grove Los Angeles, with Salt Air Venice proves the point which drove handbag sales like nobody else.  Yes, cocktails and fashion do mix.

With portion-control, each hors d' oeuvres is packed with flavor and collagen (the skin and hair protein) and low on calories.

What's even better, these seafood hors d'oeuvres are easy to make.

What's way more awesome, they're timeless and season-less.  You can very easily make them anywhere and any time.

Other than the cocktail hors d'oeuvres stand-by, prawn/shrimp cocktail, everybody was gulping down Vichyssoise (cold potato soup) with poached lobster.

After you're done poaching the lobster, chop them up then toss them into:

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Makes about 10 cups, serves 6 to 8.


  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4-5 cups sliced leeks, white and pale green parts only (from about 4 large leeks)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped or sliced
  • 2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 6 cups water (vegetarian option), or chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt (more to taste)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Chopped fresh chives for garnish


1 In a large (6-quart) pot, heat the butter on medium high heat until it melts and foams up. Continue to heat until the foam subsides a little and the butter just begins to brown.
2 Immediately toss in the sliced leeks and onions. Stir to coat with the butter. Cook for several minutes, reducing the heat to medium if necessary, until the leeks and onions are translucent and wilted.
3 Add the chopped potatoes, salt, and water or stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Cook, partially covered for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are completely cooked through. Remove from heat.
4 Purée using an immersion blender or working in batches, blend in a blender. (Careful! With hot liquids only fill the blender 1/3 of the way full, and hold the blender top on with your hand while blending.) Purée until completely smooth. If you want an even smoother soup, you can take the extra step of pressing the purée through a sieve with a rubber spatula.
5 Allow to cool a bit before stirring in the sour cream and whipped cream. Allow to cool completely and chill in the refrigerator. The soup should be served just below room temperature (maybe 65°F or 18°C). If it is too cold, it won't taste as good.
Add more salt to taste. Serve garnished with chopped fresh chives.

Everybody generally is aware of grape varietal wine but most folks forgotten that our ancestors have been fermenting other types of fruit wine or cordials a.k.a. liqueur.

After becoming the predictable standard, cultured foodies are re-discovering the fruit cordials and are flavoring champagne, adding flavor and color to the pale bubbly.

This scribe really loved the Strawberry Champagne cocktail.  The Blackberry Champagne was fun to guzzle.  The Peach Champagne should be saved and savored for Summer.

Since the origin of using alcohol is to preserve fruit juice well past it's expiration date, if you just want the cordial buzz and nothing else, they'll do well with mineral water or soda for that extra kick.

Here's a recipe specifically used at the Michael Kors' cocktail at The Grove LA, courtesy of Tasting Table.

Scallop Ceviche with Coriander and Furikake

1/4 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1/2 cup and 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 pound large diver scallops, halved and each half quartered
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 mildly spicy fresh red chile, thinly sliced crosswise
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Japanese Furikake Seasoning

  1. In a medium bowl, add 1/2 cup lime juice and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Whisk to combine, then add the scallops and gently stir. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 45 minutes.
  2. In a small skillet set over medium heat, add the coriander seeds.  Cook, shaking the pan often, until the coriander seeds are golden-brown and toasted, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a small plate to cool and use a mortar and pestle to lightly crush the seeds (you can also place the coriander seeds in a resealable plastic bag and crush them with the bottom of a heavy pot or a rolling pin).
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 teaspoons lime juice, lime zest, 1 teaspoon sugar and salt.  Add the sliced chile.  Place the grated ginger in your palm and squeeze the ginger into the bowl to extract the juice; discard the pulp.  Remove the scallops from the lime juice and add the juice from the initial marinade).  Divide the scallop mixture between 12 small plates and sprinkle with the toasted coriander and the furikake.  Serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Boots for El Nino & Booties for Sunny Spring & Summer

By Laura Medina

Since Californians are praying for El Nino to end the drought, Cali folks are stocking up on Sorel's best and hottest seller, their Women's Slimpack Riding™ Tall Boot,

Why Sorel's Slimpack Riding Tall Boot?

Other than it's bi-costal friendly and classy East Coast Equestrian style (it goes everywhere while jet-setting during the holidays), Slimpack Riding Tall Boot waterproof, insulated PAC boots keep feet dry and warm in inclement weather. Ideal for everyday wear, the full-grain leather upper and iconic rubber shell create a protective foot environment while the molded EVA footbed and integrated arch support provide lasting comfort, i.e. "East Coast Style" where form has to meet function.

If booties are more your thing, you'll be glad to know that Sorel's Women’s Slimboot™ Pull On Glow Rain Boot is on sale for $90,

Relieved that the Slimboot Pull On Glow Rain Boot is simple pull on and slip off as it is on sale.  Can't think of anything better during inclement weather, like mud slides on the Hollywood Hills. 

If style is still your thing and you want performance in one package, go after this scribe's namesake, The Medina III,, the third edition, achieved the impossible, an high-heel boot specifically made for the rain with thick, tough vulcanized rubber with tire-traction grooves molded into the sole of the boot, gripped for traction on the ice, snow, and sleet so you wouldn't slip.  Plus, the insole and the EVA molded rubber midsole on a platform outsole with comfortable high heel is the ideal high heel for blizzard-trapped New York Fashion Week in February. 

The Construction

  • UPPER: Waterproof vulcanized rubber with neoprene bootie.
  • FOOTBED: Molded EVA footbed with arch support. Pigskin leather topcover.
  • MIDSOLE: Vulcanized rubber.
  • OUTSOLE: Handcrafted rubber outsole with herringbone design.

  • Heel Height: 3 3/4 in.
  • Shaft Height: 6 in.
  • Platform Height: 1 1/4 in.
  • Calf Circumference: 10 1/2 in.
  • Weight: 22 oz / 624 g
  • Measurements based on size 8.5.
Get ready, runway. Here comes Medina III, a rain heel with so much attitude you’ll want to wear it all the time. Waterproof vulcanized rubber upper with neoprene stretch bootie, EVA molded rubber midsole on a platform outsole with comfortable high heel. Bring on the deluge, while impressing the heck out of people.

Whenever this scribe wears her namesake Medina high-heel boots, women always stop her in her tracks, asking "Where did you get those boots? Sorel Medina Boots are show-stoppers.

As for any Carrie Bradshaw/"Sex & the City" shoe freak, you all have noticed that the real haute couture designers have been putting out open-toe, high-heel boots and booties on the runways for the past two years.

These designers and shoe freaks call this trend, "Peep Toe" because the toes "peek-a-boo" out in the open.

Yes, ironies of ironies but they're hot sellers.  Hot enough to trickle down to the masses who yearn to wear booties well into the sunny and warm Spring and Summer.  Why?  Spring and Summer people are stylistas too.  The stereotypical high heel sandals are getting boring as Carrie Bradshaw's late ninities/early aughts baby pink tutu skirt.

Fashionistas want to something wear beyond the flip-flops, the stanky sandals, the stale sling-backs, and the boring basic ballet flats.  They still love the empowerment of a boot.  They still love the self-esteem that an high heel endues but they want something with "ump" and "amp."  This is where open-toe booties arrives, pushing fashion forward and onward.  Plus, boot lovers love that there's ventilation for their feet during sweaty Spring and Summer.

Plus, the boot construction technology of open-toe boots and mesh over-lay booties and ankle-wrapped, open-toe booties reflect the progress of time and innovation which is the function of fashion, the reflection of time.  Ask "Mad Men" costume designer, Janie Bryant.

Hate it or not but a "shoe whore" like Carrie Bradshaw would be wearing these open-toe, mesh-overlay, ankle-wrapped booties today.

Chinese Laundry's Kristin Cavallari Laurel Peep Toe Bootie and her Chinese Laundry collection are utilizing the latest in shoe and boot construction to make boots warm weather-friendly.

Kristin Cavallari Liam and Laurel are the hottest booties for Chinese Laundry right now and Spring is a good five to six months away.  We stylistas think ahead.

The next open-toe boot development is the mesh over-lay.  You still get the feel and confidence of a boot but you get the airiness and ventilation through the mesh and lace.

Chinese Laundry's jaiden mesh peep toe bootie,, is also already their best seller too.

These peep toe booties feature a mesh upper, front collar detail and a back zipper for easy wear. Looks amazing paired with cropped pants or your favorite dress.  

Kristin Cavallari is pushing what it means to be a boot or a bootie,  Her Largo Heeled Sandal upgraded the sandal by transforming into a high heel bootie.  This woven leather open back sandal is a gorgeous woven leather straps styled on an open-back bootie on a stacked woodgrain heel. An adjustable ankle strap ensures a great fit. The Largo will be your go-to style this season. 

What Kristian Cavallari is doing to boots is what Carrie Bradshaw had done to hand-sculptured heels but Kristian is the reflection of today's fashionistas.  They don't merely report on and wear it.   They put their concepts into action and make them happen and tangible in the real world, which returns money to them.  More power to them!

This is why open-toe/peep toe booties are already hot for the upcoming Spring/Summer 2016.  They're the best of both worlds, sandals meets boot.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Beauty & the Brunch, BeGlammed Boozy Brunch at The Hudson, "Sex & the City" Brunch 2.0.

By Laura Medina

Remember the still beloved and deeply yearned for "Sex and the City"?  Remember how the "girls" will get together for brunch, regardless if they're single in the tv series or married in the movie sequels?

In today's day and age, it's transported from the West Village, Manhattan to West Hollywood, Los Angeles at The Hudson.

At the first-ever "Boozy Brunch & BeGlammed Makeover" a.k.a. "Beauty Brunch" at The Hudson,  BeGlammed the makeup & hair-styling app did a pop-up beauty station inside The Hudson restaurant during brunch, the week before Halloween.

A good decade ago, way before apps and smartphones exist, the "Sex & the City" ladies would probably be chatting how nice and convenient it would be if a salon will magically appear at a cafe or a restaurant where they're brunching then have beauty professionals fix their hair and makeup while fueling on brunch, so they can get ready for the rest of the day and night.

Well, that day has arrived ladies.

At the "Boozy Brunch with BeGlammed,"  the BeGlammed pros can put your hair in an updo or a down-do then get your face ready with a full-blown makeover.

Either before the makeover or after completing the makeover, you can have brunch at The Hudson.

Since this scribe is getting ready for the day, after getting her makeover-her full face and updo-she fueled on Short Rib Benedict, a braised short rib resting on a bed of white cheddar grit cakes, poached eggs, and roasted potatoes with red wine reduction sauce slathered on.

Instead of the usual Mimosa, Deep Eddy Vodka provided their spin on the Mojito, of course, mixing their Deep Eddy Sweet Vodka with lime juice, clear soda, and crushed mint leaves, for the boozy brunch.

This style-loving, sweet-tooth scribe finished off the brunch with The Hudson's rare Layered Italian Caramel Pudding.  It's Kahlua cookie crust filled with Budino custard, topped with whipped cream, drizzled with salted caramel sauce then dusted with shaved chocolate and almonds.

The "Sex & the City" ladies of yore, can only dream of what today's "Sex & the City" girls can and are having right now.

Let them eat cupcakes sans makeover.  Today's "ladies who brunch" can have their makeovers and brunch together. 

"Sex & the City" 2.0.