Thursday, October 23, 2014

Be Cheap While Getting Beautiful, Beauty Masks for Halloween

By Laura Medina

At the other end of the spectrum, if getting for Halloween is too much of a hassle, too expensive, and too time-consuming, take the beauty industry's hottest trend, skin serum-infused paper masks then use them as a Mummy mask or any odd-colored clay/cream mask, certain to scare trick-or-treating kids while beauty-ifying your face.

You can scare the bejesus out of the kids by wearing masque BAR’s Brightening Sheet mask is one that is specially formulated to minimize the appearance of dark spots and pigmentation irregularities, and features ingredients like orange extract, licorice root and vitamin C to help balance skin’s tone and intensify its radiance. Available for under $10 at Target and, the Brightening Sheet Mask provides skin with an instant glow. at the Apple Store in Manhattan.

While wearing your beauty paper mask, you can slip on Anti-Acne illuMask, a LED-Light Therapy Mask that fights bacteria that foster acne and make like Jason. 

Beautifying while scaring the heck out of people, how cheap and easy is that?!

From the Catwalk to the Stage, Los Angeles Opera & Los Angeles Ballet for Halloween

By Laura Medina

From LA Opera Costume Intern to an English Duchess, Power of Hair & Makeup.

What appears to be a penitentiary on the outside, it guards the atelier of the world-class caliber of the Los Angeles Opera Costume Department.

It's not a mere "department" like most costume departments where it's a huge workshop nestled in a maze of an office building, among the other departments and offices.

Nope.  It's a stand-alone fortress guarding the city's best tailors, seamstresses, artisans, milliner/jewelry designer, and fashion historians employing the exact same leather and silk and finishing treatments, directly from the Paris and Milan runways.

For this impending All Hallow's Eve, the Los Angeles Opera Costume Department; and it's equally highly guarded and coveted warehouse of haute couture.  If you keep your eyes peeled, during a blue or blood moon, the Los Angeles Opera will hold a Costume Warehouse sale for dead productions while making room for new, upcoming productions.  Word to the wise.

Taking a very rare and intimate tour of the atelier, the head costume director, the English, Jenny Green, is a fashion historian and couturier which is necessary in dressing period-piece opera productions where historical accuracy is a must.

For starters, Ms. Green started the tour by discussing that today's outerwear was yesterday's underwear.  She stated that today, it is totally acceptable to wear a corset or a camisole with a pair of denim or an hoop-skirt or an under-pinning or a pannier, a woven-hip basket that holds up the draping of the outer skirt.  Before the convenience of the modern toilet and plumping, women stood up to eliminate.  That's why women back then wore hoop skirts.

The tour effortlessly moved onto the true atelier work stations, dotted with mood boards with European catwalk photos pinned all over them.  This is where the true magic begins.  This is where cutting-edge contemporary haute couture meets historical costuming.

For the women opera characters, set in period productions, they are more restrained to a corset, a bustle, and an hoop-skirt.

For the men, they're luckier.  They can afford to be more present-day in regarding to overcoats, jackets, and boots and shoes.  The same surface treatments they use to coat a leather overcoat is exactly the same they do for a menswear collection during Italian Menswear Week, the worn-out but cool patina.  This tip should come in handy for the next time the Los Angeles Opera is holding warehouse sale.

The Los Angeles Opera Costume Department isn't above warehouse sales.  To make it easier on their staff, they, too, shop warehouse sales from other cities' opera warehouse sales or even major studios' warehouses, which are great for contemporary pieces.

If "silly" is your middle name and you have a really good sense of humor, unleash your inner kid but a creature.

The Creature Work Shop is the Los Angeles Opera Costume Department's most fun and most difficult costumes to wear.

According to Jenny Green, just wearing layers upon layers of heavily woven silk brocade upon very constrictive but shapely corsets and panniers are heavy and hot enough for the divas running short on breathe.

But imagine if you're one of the newbie background actors in a huge and heavy headmask with mesh screens for eyeholes and you're stuffed in foam.  Then again, kids during the holidays love these creatures.

Jenny Green said being an opera singer is a lot like being a rugby player but with a lot less air.  In that, there's a lot of huffing and puffing in heavy period outfits but they're gorgeous to wear.

One cannot forget the trans formative magic of hair and makeup.  Los Angeles Opera's head makeup and wig artist, Darren Jinks, took the office/warehouse intern, from being everyday scruffy to an English Duchess who was lifted directly from the set of "Downton Abbey."

One can't be a duchess until she has the right crown or fascinator, mini but elaborate headpieces made hip by Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge... or the right headband, crown, amulet, belt, and jewelry, all handcrafted in Los Angeles Opera Costume Department's very own millinery shop.  If any of these pieces ever fall under the warehouse sale, they'll make great historical, vintage accessories that will stand the test of time.

Period costumes don't have to be cumbersome and awkward.  Whereas opera singers have to stand and stomp and sweat while belting out an aria,  their lithe ballet dancer counterparts have an easier in the costume department-pun intended.

Because these are dancers, first and foremost,  the basis is always tights and an unitard or a leotard, in breathable Lycra.  Far better and best to focus on pointe, leaping, jumping, and catching...and tossing.

For Halloween, you can't go wrong being a demonic, anoxeric "Black Swan" or the male equivalent.

Alright, if wearing tights is too much bare to bear, go the Los Angeles Opera route and being like an Italian police officer wearing a sharp wool gray jacket studded with patch pockets that can wear well with contemporary jeans and boots and a scarf.

Keep your eyes out for the warehouse sales!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Adult Halloween Idea? Sexy & Classy, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.

By Laura Medina

Sick and tired of the slutty cliché of an "Adult Halloween" costume but can't bear the idea of a "kiddie costume?"

Chill and sit back this Friday and watch then study this rare treat from PBS' "Great Performances" “TONY BENNETT & LADY GAGA: CHEEK TO CHEEK LIVE!,” premiering nationally Friday, October 24 at 9:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings.) 

Combined, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga have won a total 21 Grammy Awards. While Gaga is better known for her pop vocals and outrageous outfits, Cheek to Cheek marks a return to her musical roots, as she was trained in jazz when she was younger. In a salute to her duet partner, Lady Gaga recently had a sketch of Miles Davis’ trumpet, sketched by Bennett and including his signature “Benedetto,” tattooed on her arm. 

Can't think of anything more appropriate for their moves, their hair, and the clothes.  Before you know it, you and your partner will be chic for All Hollow's Eve.

Classy and slinky to stand-out among sea of wanna-be sluts and nerds.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights and Party with Zombies.

By Laura Medina

Bored to death by trekking up and down the neighborhood, begging for cheap candy from the same ole neighbors and they know it's you.

It's time to be envious and book that hotel night room next to Universal Studios, whether it be in Hollywood or Orlando, Florida and game up to Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights.

The horror theme changes every year.  This year, due to the popularity, it's "Walking Dead."  Get your zombie freak flag on and wave it with pride.

Celebrities such as Chloe Grace Moretz, Ashley Tisdale, Josh Hutcherson, and Brandy were lucky enough to get the pants scared off them then party down with "Walking Dead" zombies at the thrilling Terror Tram, and The Revenge of the Mummies Ride,

When Hollywood do Halloween, they do it on a huge scale, culling from their film history and current horror cable/television shows, they have the best to offer during All Hallows Eve, culling the best makeup, costumes, and actors to fright everybody's senses.

Mere "haunted houses" can't hold a candle to Universal Studios' Scare Zones, The Maze: The Walking Dead, End of the Line,

Don't worry, there are still tons of candies at Super Silly Stuff at Universal Studios' City Walk to binge on.

When Hollywood does Halloween, they really amped it up.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Heal & Repair for Both Women & Men for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

By Laura Medina

Not as common as women but men do get breast cancer.  Unfortunately, if you have the material, there might be a chance you'll get it.

Regardless of what gender you are, once done, you must learn how to cope.  There's a silver-lining to dealing with hormonal-based cancer, you got the excuse to pamper oneself to make things easier.  Plus, people will be really nice to you.

While dealing with irritated skin from the medications and treatments, you are welcomed to splurge and experiment with some top-of-the-line skincare that also gets Hollywood celebrities red carpet ready.

Dealing and treating ultra-sensitive cancer-treatment skin forces skincare manufacturers to up their game in delivering soothing but effective skincare that tackle the problems immediately to make daily living easier.

In other words, if it reliefs weary treatment skin, imagine what they'll do for normal everyday skin.

Hodgkin’s disease survivor and cancer care-giver, Britta Aragon, knew there must be a better way and better products to tackle chronic dryness and eczema one gets from treatments.

As a former makeup artist and skincare therapist, Britta took matters into her own hands and form CV Skinlabs, a line of practical and resourceful skin care products that most skincare manufacturers never thought of yet most cancer patients dream of, like...

CV Skinlabs' Calming Moisture for Face, Neck and Scalp, an all-over antioxidant-rich moisturizer that a no-fuss yet sensitive skinned man or woman can use in a jiffy.
Rescue + Relief Spray is a simple but rich spritz of a spray that you can spritz on anywhere on the body where it's itching, burning, irritated and inflamed

Restorative Skin Balm is a soothing balm and gloss for the lips while it calms severely dry and chapped skin from eczema, scars, lips and cuticles.  This balm doesn't gloss over the problems.

If you're a stickler for the drugstore classics,  Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula is donating 15 percent of the sales price (with a minimum donation of $100,000) from specially-marked bottles of its core Cocoa Butter Formula products to Susan G. Komen® beginning October 2014 through June 2015.

Giovanni’s D:tox System® intends to ease the brunt while also striving for healthy and energized skin.

Charcoal and volcanic ash from the Mediterranean Sea in the volcanic arc of the Lipari Islands, delve into pores, absorbing the day’s toxins, impurities and excess oils that interfere with skin clarity, on a comforting base of hand – harvested goji and acai, exotic super-antioxidants, nourish and rejuvenate, infusing skin with vitamins and minerals, re-establishing skin to its smoothest state. Skin will be soft to the touch and gently fragranced by essential oils of luscious fig and clean green tea.

The D:tox System® body line includes four products that are designed for systematic usage, giving skin a pure, natural and invigorating detoxification including Body Wash, Bar Soap, Body Scrub and Body Lotion.  The facial line features a Purifying Facial Cleanser and Purifying Facial Scrub with volcanic ash and activated charcoal work to extract impurities and remove makeup without drying skin.  Acai and goji berry help recharge and rejuvenate facial cells;  Replenishing Facial Moisturizer contains maximum antioxidant power from green tea and fig, along with acai and goji berry, combined with high-performance hydrators to make skin feel soft, alive and restored; Purifying Facial Mask contains a higher percentage of charcoal and volcanic ash to extract the deepest impurities.

Select D:tox System® facial care products are available at Target and Wal-Mart stores nationwide. D:tox System® facial and body care products available at Whole Foods and online at Prices are $9.95 each for all products except Purifying Body Bar $4.99.

Now that you discovered comfortable skin and hair care, get some real beauty sleep from JuveRest, The Sleep Wrinkle Pillow.  Simple, less wrinkles. Less stress. You got enough on your mind.  During the entire month of October 2014, JuveRest will donate 20% of all proceeds from sales on to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

Since Breast Cancer Awareness is about empowering cancer patients and survivors, In an effort to empower women across the country, DSTLD has custom washed its popular eco-friendly Tencel Ankle Skinny into an elegant blush shade exclusively for breast cancer prevention organization Bright Pink. DSTLD will donate 25% of proceeds of the jean to Bright Pink so they can continue to spread education on breast cancer prevention and provide support for the young women and families who have so bravely chosen to take preventative surgical measures.  This pink skinny jean are great for Spring!

For the male breast cancer patients and survivors,  there is nothing more sly than wearing your Breast Cancer Awareness bowtie, cuff links, and ties to flash your tenacity in pink.

This reproductive cancer survivor felt amiss for not mentioning Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  As always, this plucky survivor wants to show the way in how to cope and how to deal-stylishly. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fall Travel Deals with a Plus One.

By Laura Medina

Sure the under-aged kids are at school now but wait until they hit college or the real world.  That's when the real fun begins, you take advantage of Fall's travel deals and steals and finally see the world sans kid drama.  Make this another notch on your bucket list.

Been there, done that with Halloween.  Want to really escape and experience Fall and have a real adult treat?

Los Angeles Travel Magazine recently announced that they will be giving away a romantic destination package to the Aruba Marriott and Stellaris Casino. One lucky couple will have the opportunity of a lifetime to enjoy the beauty of Aruba while celebrating their love at the luxurious oceanfront resort.
Editor-In-Chief, Jennifer McLaughlin and Executive Editor, Michael Dunn were married on August 31st and wanted to share their excitement and love for traveling together with their readers. "We were so lucky to have the wedding and honeymoon of our dreams that we really wanted to extend that on to our readers.  Not everyone is as fortunate as us to be able to travel and it is the one thing that keeps our bond strong. Traveling together as a couple is really special and we hope this trip will provide the winning couple with a lifetime of happy memories." McLaughlin said.
To enter this giveaway, readers simply “like” LA Travel Magazine on Facebook ( or “follow” them on Twitter (@LATravelMag). Then email win@latravelmagazine and submit their story along with a photo by October 31, 2014.
The luxurious package includes 5 nights, six days accommodations in a Junior Suite, breakfast buffet at La Vista daily for two, a welcome bottle of champagne and a $500 American Express gift card to put towards airfare. The winning couple will be responsible for airfare transfers as well as any extra food and beverages, gratuities and any expenses not specified as part of the prize.
For more details, rules and regulations

Want to impress a potential soul mate or are you still taking care of your late teen/early college-aged kid?  If that's the case, getting the kid properly cultured, take advantage of Celebrity Cruises' "Plus One" Deal.

As Southern Californians plan their 2015 getaways, Celebrity Cruises is excited to announce two exclusive promotions for travelers to Alaska or Europe -- see details below. They include free airfare for two to Alaska for SoCal residents only, free companion air to Europe for suite guests, and 123Go! Perks saving more than $1800 per stateroom. Travelers must act soon – these promotions are only available now through early November.

For vacationers planning a 2015 cruise to Alaska – a leading favorite of first time cruisers – Celebrity Cruises is offering an unbeatable bonus for Southern California residents of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties: FREE Airfare, including transfers, for up to two guests departing from Los Angeles (LAX), Orange County (SNA) and Palm Springs (PSP) airports on Celebrity’s Solstice Alaska 2015 Sailings.  Guests will fly to Seattle for departures to Alaska for exciting 7-night sailings that stop in a new port almost every day, offering shore excursions for every age and interest.  This special offer is only available for bookings made from now through November 9th, 2014.

For those planning a 2015/2016 European cruise, award-winning cruise line Celebrity Cruises is proud offer its 123Go! promotion where travelers to Europe can choose from any two of the following three offers:  

Classic Beverage Package for Two Guests – beverage gratuities included - value of up to $1,350 per stateroom ($49 per day, per stateroom plus gratuities).
Free Gratuities for Two Guests – value up to $460 per stateroom (up to $30 per day, per stateroom)
Onboard Credit - based on number of sail nights – value up to $300 per stateroom.

And, as a special thank you from Celebrity Cruises, guests booking suites for their 2015/2016 European cruises will receive free companion (2nd guest) airfare from top US and Canadian getaways.

This special 123Go! offer is only available now through November 5th, 2014. If vacationers are thinking about traveling to any of the seven continents offered by Celebrity Cruises, they can also take advantage of ONE of the 123Go! amenities on most sailings across the globe.

Bookings must be made through Celebrity Cruises via:
Phone: 1-888-283-6879
Online: (for 123Go! bookings only, free air promotions can be booked by calling Celebrity Cruises or travel agent)
Or with your Local Travel Agent

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Steak and Yeast Rolls for the "Sex and the City" and "Mad Men" Sets, STK

By Laura Medina

Chef Robert Liberato, the head chef at STK, was kind enough to sit down with this steak-loving scribe and chat.

For a man who mastered the art of steak, we casually chatted about what he can do with the yummy and satisfying stuffed twice-baked potatoes.

Being the creative guy that he is, Chef Robert was brainstorming about what he can do to revamp those creamy stuffed twice-baked potatoes.  He was thinking scooping out the baked potatoes, stuffing them with scrambled eggs then topping them with the same toppings: cheese and bacon then serving them for brunch.

This scribe joked, if he did, this scribe wondered if he can named them "Laura's Stuffed Potatoes."  Sounds scrumptious.

This scribe casually mentioned this scribe covered Jay-Z's "Made In America" Music Festival in Downtown Los Angeles.   He really impressed this scribe when he said STK was the hidden but official VIP on-site restaurant for the headliners at the festival While the general public had to make do with fleets of food trucks, the headliners pop in, discreetly, into STK pop-up restaurant.  It wasn't underground.  It was nestled among the palatial government where Chef Robert can watch the concert and the crowd in a safe distance.

Even though the STK pop-up restaurant was protected within the walls of Los Angeles' City Hall, we both commented how frustrating it was for vendors, food truckers and STK's suppliers, to get in and out transporting ingredients and supplies but he enjoyed watching how the city's first major music festival unfolded over the weekend.

Okay, we're done with the potatoes.  Let's get on to the meat, the 10 oz. Filet topped with Crab "Louie."

The Crab "Louie" was one of the nine toppings for your choice of steak cut from the list of eleven steak cuts.

Chef Robert and this scribe semi-joked that the Filet topped with Crab "Louie" is "surf & turf" for people, such as this scribe, who can't make up their minds and want the best of both worlds.

For this scribe, it was a "two-in-one" meal.  The lumps of crab drenched in creamy sauce was enough to savor as one dish but the iron-rich filet was classically mouth-watering in its own right but dunking hunky bits of filet into the rich peppercorn sauce was satisfying too.

This scribe is more of a classical Joan Hollaway from "Mad Men" than "Sex and the City," in that, this scribe cherishes the classics...the 1950's classics that this scribe was raised on by this scribe's chef dad.

This is why this scribe was so thrilled to see a "Mad Men" classic, Cherry Jubliee, on STK's dessert menu, gotta order it.

Good deal this scribe did because Chef Robert said he's planning to revamp the dessert menu; and he might remove it soon, grab it while you can.

STK's Cherry Jubliee was more of a cake sandwich with cherry ice cream and a cherry jam sandwiched between two slices of moist cake, can't complain.

There is one classic that is easily forgotten and taken for granted at STK, the puffy, buttery yeast rolls.

This scribe literally spoiled her appetite when the server mentioned, "yeast rolls."

The rolls they used to serve in proper steakhouses in years gone by but are now on the nearly-extinct food list.

Thank god for STK for saving it and serving it.

The crunchy crust glisten in garlic butter glaze but the interior was so puffy, the yeast rolls were more like popovers...another bread on the food extinction list...that this scribe had to gobble them up before they disappear into the forgotten food grave.

Sure the interior decor, the soundtrack, and the mature but sexy clientele speaks "Sex and the City," specifically it caters to powerful, established but sexy and trendy career women like Sam Jones, but the dishes yearn back to the sexy career women who paved the way for Sam Jones, the Joan Hollaways from the 1950's "Mad Men" era.  The professional women who drank and ate like men because it's grown-up food for adults,  nourishing, protein and iron-enriched dishes satisfying adult palates.

For this Joan Hollaway making it in a "Sex and the City" environ over-run with grains and green tea where women want to be girls, STK is a refueling station and escape for women with appetites, who want to be fed like adult women.