Monday, November 30, 2015

L'Occitane Holiday Gifts With Recipes, Please Give Your Hosts What They Really Want.

By Laura Medina,82,1,72694,785580.htm,82,1,39195,337175.htm

Since we're camping out back home or crashing on somebody's couch for the holidays, make nice and give them stuffs they need before they do or too afraid to ask for.

This scribe like diffusers because they smell just like candles without burning down the house and they can do double-duty as perfume.  Plus, those fancy glass bottles look gorgeous on a table.

L'Occitane Diffuser Set for $36 is an affordable way to ease everybody's nerves with relaxing Lavender, refreshing Verbena, and the sweets-inspired Candied Fruits warm up the spirit during blustery cold weather. 

 French Advent Calendar

If you're really thoughtful, give them want they want and help out in the gift-giving.

Easy on the hip and thighs, instead of spoiling them rotten with calories-laden treats, give them an assortment of lotions and potions to try before they decide to plunge right in and buy the full-blown sizes with L'Occitane's French Advent Calendar, a bounty of stocking stuffers that allow anyone to use and try.

      L’Occitane Welcome Home Sparkling Hand Soap & Lotion Set

You know, with this chopping, dicing, stuffing, stirring, mixing, rolling, and roasting, cooking a feast and baking treats is a dirty business born from the heart.

As an "holiday camper," be a dear and be considerate to bring  L’Occitane Welcome Home Sparkling Hand Soap & Lotion Set to scrub the cooking grub out of your host's finger nails then moisturizer to soothe and heal those chapped hands.

Your host will like you better which brings bigger tidings during the holidays.  Return the love. 

 Savons De Provence,82,1,39195,337175.htm

Since your host is understanding enough to know your budgetary needs during this gifting holiday to let you crash,  the bathroom is a great place to dress up while showing your gratitude.

With L'Occitane's 4-piece soap Savons De Provence set, consisting of 2 milk soaps, one verbena soap, and one lavender soap, there is a enough to split for the kitchen, one for yourself and the host in the bathroom, and one more for the road when you travel.  Not bad for $25.

Winter Forest Scented Candle,82,1,29345,781978.htm
Sans office paper clutter and far away from the stove...and hopefully, only adult kids, the bathroom is a perfect place to pleasantly surprise your host with L'Occitane's Winter Forest Candle, wafting of winter pine.  Your host will like this.

Jasmin-Immortelle Neroli Eau de Toilette,82,1,74986,806173.htm

The gift-giving doesn't have to stop at Christmas.  Concocted in collaboration by pastry/macaron chef, Pierre Hermé,  these holiday fragrances are sweet enough to be saved for Valentine's Day and for Spring for yourself.  Pierre Hermé, the "Picasso of Pastry," whipped up two fragrances, one to warm up the holidays and another one to brighten up your senses for spring.

Jasmin-Immortelle Neroli Eau de Toilette's softness of Orange Blossom with the wild, honeyed and aromatic scents represents the sugary-warmth of winter pastry.  Lemon and Petit grain tantalize the palate as they come into contact with Pink Pepper and the floral note of Jasmine balances everything out.  It's a macaroon in a bottle.

 Grapefruit Rhubarb,82,1,74985,0.htm

When Pierre Hermé places Grapefruit at the heart of a creation, he means to celebrate all its facets. And that includes the slightly bitter, white inner skin – its character underlined by the green and crisp aromas of Rhubarb. This beautifully balanced note is soon ruffled at its heart by sensual, piquant spices. In this original composition, woody notes of Cedar conjure up the sensation of mischievous Grapefruit cutting through the tartness of Rhubarb stalks.

Simply once spritzed, it's a Spring/Summer dessert in a bottle without the calories.

What's really giving during the holidays,  purchase a L’Occitane gift set this season and they’ll donate $10 to Dress for Success to help prepare women for their job interviews. 

L'Occitane has the stuff to make your host to like you better for next year's holidays. 

Still not enough?  After beautify-ing and making your host's home look and smell better, help out in the kitchen...especially if they're too tired or can't cook period...and whip up center-piece meal.  Go to L'Occitane's main site and go to "Recipes,",82,1,t63.htm

 Stuffed guinea fowl with a medley of heirloom vegetables by René Bérard,82,1,a1174.htm

In the glamour industry, they say there is a difference between fashion girls and beauty girls.

Beauty girls know the importance of good nutrition, protein for collagen for skin and hair, and oils and good fat to plump and moisturize the skin and keeping the hair glossy...and beauty comes from the inside as well as the outside.  In other words, beauty girls eat.  Some love to cook too.

Contributed by René Bérard, this is a great alternative to turkey and roast beef,..

Stuffed guinea fowl with a medley of heirloom vegetables, by René Bérard

 Serves: 4

Preparation time: 40 min
Cooking time: 1 hour 20 min
Cost: €€

Equipment: casserole dish • blender • chinois sieve
1. Guinea fowl and vegetables
Ingredients: 1 guinea fowl (approximately 1.6kg) • 30g butter • 
30g grape seed oil • 
250g fine stuffing •
 guinea fowl/calf/chicken liver • 
1 whole egg • 2 tablespoons brandy
 • 30g raw breadcrumbs 
• 50g brousse de vache or ricotta
 • 50g toasted pine nuts • 250g parsnips • 250g chervil root • 250g carrots • 1⁄2l chicken stock • 250g salsify, salt, pepper • 4 épices spice mix to taste

1. Remove the offal from the guinea fowl, putting the liver and heart to one side. Next cut off the neck, wings, gizzards and fat, which will be used in the preparation of the sauce.
2. Make the stuffing by mixing the liver and heart of the guinea fowl in a food processor, adding the meat, brandy, egg, seasoning, breadcrumbs, brousse (or ricotta) and pine nuts.
3. Roll this mixture into a cylinder 6cm in diameter. Use it to stuff the guinea fowl before closing the opening with a cooking string and trussing needle.
4. Brown the guinea fowl in a casserole dish with the butter and grape seed oil, then hermetically seal and cook on a medium heat (150°C). Top up the sauce base if necessary and pour over the meat every 15 minutes until tender.   
5. Peel and rinse the vegetables before chopping them as you wish. Next, poach them in the chicken stock, removing them when adequately cooked to maintain a crunchy texture.

 2. The sauce
Ingredients: 30g grape seed oil • fat, neck and wings from the guinea fowl  • 300g chicken wings • aromatic garnish • 2 onions • 2 carrots • 100g celery • 1 bouquet garni • 1 tablespoon acacia honey • 1 white calf's foot or 30g gelatin • 1⁄4l white wine
1. Heat the oil and butter in a casserole dish. Add the fat and brown the aromatic garnish, guinea fowl giblets and chicken wings.
Pour in the white wine and let the alcohol evaporate.
3. Add the bouquet garni, chicken stock and calf's foot (or gelatin).
Cover and leave to simmer for 40 minutes, then strain using the chinois and put to one side.
4. Heat the honey in a small pan and moisten with the sauce. Adjust the seasoning, then slowly let it reduce until you obtain a shiny and very tasty sauce.
5. When ready to serve, divide the guinea fowl into 8 portions. Put the heirloom vegetables into the casserole dish while you are doing this, to obtain a flavoursome medley. Put your portions on their plates and arrange the heirloom vegetables around them, then pour over the sauce and serve.
> Here you will find a portrait of chef René Bérard.
If you really want to kiss butt this holiday, try whipping this up as a foodie thank-you gift when your host is too pooped to make dessert.  Since it's a frozen dessert, you can also do this for Summer...

 Provencal Iced Nougat Recipe by Armand Arnal,82,1,a1028.htm

The chef of the La Chassagnette restaurant in Arles revisits for L’Occitane the Thirteen Desserts of Provence with an original iced nougat recipe accompanied by a brioche bun, and served with seasonal fruit. A recipe to test for the holiday season!  

Provencal Iced Nougat Recipe by Armand Arnal

 Serves 6

1 - Caramelize the almonds, hazelnuts and sugar
  • 22.5g sugar
  • 16.25g roasted almonds
  • 16.25g roasted hazelnuts
2 – Whip the cream with glucose and add Grand Marnier at the end
  • 3.75g glucose
  • 225g cream (whipped)
  • 22.5g Grand Marnier
3 – The meringue; beat the egg whites and add the honey
  • 37g egg white
  •  107g honey
4 - Mix the whipped cream and the meringue together and place in individual moulds
5 - Place the nougat on a plate and place the macerated fruit on top.
Macerated fruit
  • 3 dried figs
  • 50g dark and golden raisins
  • 3 apricots
  • Cover with Grand Marnier & orange zest
Refrigerate before eating or prepare just prior to serving

 Want to help your host beat out the jealous neighbor?  Bake this instead of the boring old apple pie...

 Swiss Chard Pie, A Dessert of Provence,82,1,a1016.htm

Serves 6-8
• 500g flour
• 200g butter, melted
• 150g sugar
• 2 eggs, well beaten
• Salt
• Water
• 1 bunch Swiss chard
• 6 Reinette apples
• 50g currants
• 50g Malaga raisins
• Figs
• 2 eggs, well beaten
• 150g brown sugar
• 100g pine nuts
• 50g Parmesan, grated
• 50ml brandy or flower water
• Juice of half a lemon
• 1 tsp. olive oil
• Pepper

Prepare the dough:
  • Place the flour in a pyramid on a counter top.
  • Make a well in center and pour in the beaten eggs, butter, sugar and salt.
  • Work the dough with your fingers until you have a smooth dough - add a few drops of water if necessary. Work the dough as little as possible to keep it light.
  • Leave to sit for 1 hour.
Prepare the filling:
  • Soak the raisins and currants in brandy for at least 1 hour.
  • Clean and wash the Swiss chard leaves, pat dry with paper towels or dry them in a salad spinner.
  • Roll up the leaves together then slice into thin strips.
  • In a large bowl, combine the Swiss chard, the brown sugar, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, raisins and currants, olive oil, lemon juice, and beaten eggs.
  • Wash and peel the apples, core them, and cut into thin wedges.
  • Coarsely chop the figs.
Assemble the pie:
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C (390F).
  • Divide the dough in half and roll out to make two thin rounds.
  • Line a 40cm pie dish side with one of the rounds.
  • Add the filling then place the apple wedges in a ring around the edge.
  • Cover with the second pastry round.
  • Pinch edges together to seal the pie.
  • Place in the oven.
  • When the crust is brown, check if the filling is set by inserting a knife. If it comes out clean, the pie is cooked.
  • If not, reduce the oven temperature to 180°C (350F) and leave to cook a few more minutes. 

Navette Biscuits,82,1,a1065.htm

Navette Biscuits

  Makes approx. 15 biscuits
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Resting time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Cost €
Ingredients: 50g butter • 80g sugar • 1 beaten egg with 3 cl milk • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water • 250g flour • A pinch of salt • Zest of ½ bio or untreated lemon
Material: whisk, plastic wrap, parchment paper
1. Whisk together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk in the beaten egg and orange flower water, then add the flour, salt and finely grated lemon zest. Knead the dough and form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and leave to rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
2. Preheat oven to 180°C (gas mark 6). Divide the dough into small portions of 20g. Roll each portion into sticks of about 8cm long and 1cm wide. Using a sharp knife, split them down the middle, stopping 1 cm from each end. Pry open the slit to create the Navette’s characteristic shape.
3. Bake for 15 minutes on a baking tray lined with parchment paper: the Navettes should be rather pale and soft; they will harden as they dry.

Note: the Navettes will keep for two weeks in a closed metal tin.

  Almond paste, the recipe,82,1,a748.htm

Alternative to plain sugar cookies or a way to jazz up sugar cookies or just plain straight-up candy and filler, Almond Paste goes a long way.  What's really cool, no cook or baking necessary!

150g almond flour
1 egg white beaten until stiff
150g icing sugar
Rose petals, dates, prunes
The marzipan recipe in 4 steps
1 – The almonds: With a mortar and pestle reduce the blanched almonds 
to a powder to obtain about 150g of almond flour.
2 – The egg: Beat the egg white until stiff then delicately mix it in with the almond flour.
3 – The paste: Add 150g of icing sugar to the blend to finish the paste.
4 – The presentation: Make little candies by stuffing dried fruits 
like dates or prunes, or rose petal





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.