Hi everyone! Since I’m now fairly limited in what I can eat, I have been searching for new recipes. I found this one on Pinterest from Jessica Gavin’s blog after my long session of playing video games with services from elitist-gaming.com with an Introduction to Gaming Skins included, the elo boosting is probably the best thing that has ever happened to me. I pretty much followed it to a “t,” but I made some substitutions as needed.
Grated vegetables of choice (I used one of each: zucchini, carrot, purple carrots parsnip, and 3 radishes) You can use any of the following: carrots, zucchini, squash, broccoli, radishes, parsnips, eggplant, etc. You can buy shredded versions at the grocery store to save time!
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon cumin
2 pinches kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 handful of green onions, chopped
1/4 cup half and half or 1 egg, whisked
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons avocado oil
Avocado Jalapeno Yogurt Topping:
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 ripe avocado, mashed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
1 jalapeno, chopped and de-seeded
1 teaspoon lime juice (fresh or bottled)
Bring 4-6 cups of water to a boil. Boil shredded/grated veggies for about 3-5 minutes. Strain veggies and let cool. Once cooled, wrap veggies in paper towels and squeeze out excess water.
In a mixing bowl, combine veggies, whole wheat flour, cumin, salt, garlic salt, chili powder, minced garlic, pepper, green onions, half & half (or whisked egg), and 1 tablespoon of avocado oil.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of avocado oil in skillet over medium heat. Wait for skillet to heat up. Your skillet should be properly heated through, but not to the point that the fritters sizzle when they hit the pan. I recommend putting your heat on just under medium.
While your skillet is heating, form your fritter patties. You can make them as thick or thin as you like, but just adjust your heat accordingly — the thicker the patty, the longer it will need to cook on a lower heat to prevent burning.
Cook the fritters until golden brown on each side, approximately 4-6 minutes on each side. Cook about 4 at a time so as not to crowd the pan. Once done, put fritters aside on a paper towel to soak up any excess oil and drizzle some Parmesan on top while hot.
Avocado Jalapeno Yogurt Topping:
Combine all ingredients and whip together. Dollop a teaspoon or so on top of each fritter when serving.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! I know I sure did! Let me know what changes you make!
“Are you still blogging?” I get this question a lot.
It is not an easy question to answer because I feel a bit of shame over it, but I feel like I owe it to you to be vulnerable and honest about my shortcomings in the blogging arena. I love my blog. I love doing it. It brings me such joy to purchase new products, try them out, test them under the harshest Louisiana heat, and report back to you where your money is best served. However, I have not been able to do that lately due to some health issues and my work schedule.
First, I am a full time litigation attorney, which requires a great deal of my brain space. I love my job, and I love advocating for clients, but it wears on you emotionally, mentally, and physically at times. I took a new job in May 2015 that significantly increased the need for my brain space causing increased emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion. When I got home, I just didn’t have the energy to pull out my laptop and work on my blog. It felt like I was working 100+ hour weeks, which left no time to take care of myself and no quality time for me and Justin.
During this transition, I became suddenly ill and was in the hospital for four days with blood pressure that would not come down. (It was 265/165 – surprisingly I wasn’t having strokes or heart attacks.) I was placed on new medications, and sent on my way. On top of that, my physical activity decreased because I was not allowed to work out until the doctor’s cleared me to do so. As a result, I quit eating healthily and managed to put on nearly 30 pounds! (This is crazy to me.) What came next was, and to some extent still is, the most frustrating situation with which I’ve ever dealt. I began having allergic reactions to everything skincare, body care, and hair care. My skin began to break out into dry patches on my face, neck, and lips, then crack and bleed. It itched, it burned, and worst of all it hurt to eat. Any time anything vinegar-based, alcohol-based (even wine), or spicy touched my lips, I wanted to scream out in pain. I stopped wearing makeup and using skincare because everything burned. EVERYTHING was searing my horribly ill skin like a steak on a grill.
So, I set off to the dermatologist to begin our journey to healing this skin issue. We began treatment and after a month, it had not gone away. Eventually we figured out that I was experiencing a staph infection on my face. I had never heard of such a thing, but apparently it is very common in children. I had to throw out all makeup, skincare, makeup brushes (including my Beauty Blender!), makeup/beauty tools, etc. that I had used during the staph infection. I was forced to purchase prescription steroid and antibiotic creams instead of skincare. I didn’t feel like myself, but I thought it would be temporary; that we would treat it for a few weeks and everything would be fine because we finally had an answer. We treated the staph accordingly, and a month later, the dry patches, cracking and bleeding came back. This time, there was no staph present, and therefore, no real answer. I was heartbroken. I felt like screaming “What gives? What is happening to my body? I want my body back! How did all of this happen so quickly? Why can’t we fix it?”
In an effort to find the culprit, my doctor did the T.R.U.E. Patch Testing to determine if I was allergic to the most common ingredients found in skincare, body care, makeup, etc.
It turned out that I was reactive/allergic to fragrance mix (synthetic fragrance to mask other chemical smells) and carba mix (synthetic accelerator in manufacturing rubber and agricultural chemicals) — which are in nearly EVERYTHING! Here’s a quick list of what products contain each component:
Fragrance Mix — perfume, body lotions, face lotions, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo, eye cream, foundation, mascara, detergents, dish soap, candles, cleaning products, soap, bath gel, etc.
Carba Mix — shoes, flip flops, rubber gloves, pesticides, tires, underwear with rubber elastic, swimwear, toys, balloons, condoms, garden hoses, waistbands, slippers, mattresses, earphones, rubber bands, some soaps, shampoos, and adhesives, etc.
Let me tell you, these are the two components to which you DO NOT want to be reactive. Justin and I had no idea what we were doing and how to purge our home of these substances in the most practical way. After the staph diagnosis, we used regular cleaning products to clean up the entire house only to later learn that I was reacting to those products the entire time. So, we spent a great deal of money on replacing all soap, detergent, dryer sheets, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotions, etc.
At this point, we are maintaining. Every time I have tried to get off the antibiotic that keeps the inflammation at bay, it comes right back. So, we are slowly trying to taper off, and more extensive testing will be done soon. Having gone through this whole story with you, I hope you understand my absence. I felt that since I was unable to try new products, I couldn’t bring you valuable worthwhile information. Months of watching my skin crack and bleed became depressing. I didn’t feel like me anymore. I felt unattractive, unworthy, and I even began fat shaming myself with my internal dialogue. I am working through that by eating healthy, working out again, and slowly tapering off medications. I’m finding that the more healthy I become, the better my skin gets. I honestly believe that a great deal of this bodily inflammation is a result of weight gain and unhealthy food choices. If you’re interested in my health, food, and workout journey, let me know in the comments, and I can start working that in as regular posts.
In another light, I now have some insight into what it’s like to have really reactive and sensitive skin. I can help more people than I could before this experience. I have found great products that work and are readily available at drug stores and Sephora. I’ve learned how to read labels better, because manufacturers will try to trick you! Fragrance mix alone has 42 legally usable names. Forty freaking Two!! Carba Mix has 45! Manufacturers are even allowed to advertise a product as “fragrance free” if the fragrance mix added is to mask another scent or chemical smell, but not if it is used to perfume a product. Y’all, that’s insane! My attorney brain gets very angry over the ways our FDA is regulating (or rather not regulating) the labeling of products.
So, as I lay ALL MY MESS before you, I want you to know that I will be blogging again. I will be featuring new products that I have found that I know are safe for ALL skin types. And, as I continue this journey, I will share what I’m learning about labels, the FDA process of approving (or lack thereof) cosmetics and skincare, and how to find the safest products for you. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna go all crazy on you and swear off everything because trust me, I have refused to give up my dry shampoo which contains fragrance mix. I won’t do it. It’s the only one I like that works. (I may be a bit stubborn. lol)
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! I’m happy to talk about this with you. A month ago, I was not in a place to do so, but I have pulled myself up by the bootstraps with the grace of God, Justin, some really amazing friends, family, and my medical team. Thank you for reading this. Please accept my apologies for being absent. I truly love writing this blog, and it has been difficult not having this community of beauty lovers in my life. I will resume regular posts again soon! Stay tuned for some cool new products!
Last week we talked about bodycare empties, so let’s move onto haircare! As you can tell from the photo, I don’t go through many hair products quickly, except dry shampoo. But who doesn’t love dry shampoo?
This may be one of the better dry shampoos I have tried. I learned about it when I covered the Miss USA pageant in 2014, and you can check that post out here. It’s no longer available at ULTA, but you can grab bottles online at Overstock.com. This dry shampoo is lighter than most, and will give you that “white out” look to your hair if you spray too much in a concentrated area. I love the weightlessness of this one! It smells great too! Definitely one I recommend trying if you’re a dry shampoo junkie like myself.
I have ranted and raved about this dry shampoo in every single empties post I have done, so I won’t beat a dead horse here. It comes in different hair colors to avoid the “white out” problem and in different scents. The ones for hair colors are $8.99 and the scented ones are $7.99 It’s cheap and easy to find, and I go through it fairly quickly. This is my primary go-to for dry shampoo. I use it after I blow dry my hair to aid in styling, and nearly every day for the same reason. It’s also great to keep in your gym bag or use post-workout if you have to run errands or be somewhere. Check out my previous posts on it — Empties 1 and How to Use Dry Shampoo Properly.
3. Charles Worthington Moisture Seal Mineral Hair Rescue Masque, available in the UK only, £5.99.
I absolutely love this hair masque, but I haven’t been able to get my hands on it since a friend brought it from England. I have searched high and low on all the international retail sites, but I haven’t had any luck. I thought Amazon carried everything, but alas, I have found the few products they do not carry. Don’t worry, I have made a formal request to Amazon and written to Boots for more information about U.S. availability. 🙂 Nonetheless, it’s a very hydrating, smoothing, and brilliant hair mask that leaves your hair silky smooth and shining like a freaking commercial. The packaging is perfect because you can keep it in the shower without damaging the product. The lid snaps shut tightly, so you can grab it and use it up to 3 times a week. I was so sad when I ran out, as I knew it would be hard to replace. I will update this post as soon as I can find it online or in a store. If anyone knows, PLEASE leave a comment!
4. Charles Worthington Style Setter Dry Shampoo, available in the UK only, £5.99
Obviously, I have the same issue with this one as I do the Mineral Hair Rescue Masque. Oh, the tears….I should mention that this Salon at Home line by Charles Worthington is in UK drugstores and is super affordable at less than £10 for most of the line. Nonetheless, this dry shampoo was on par with Batiste’s, but I would rate Charles Worthington a half-star higher because of its weightlessness, lack of white out, and refreshing scent. It feels like the Batiste and Miss Universe dry shampoos had a perfect little dry shampoo baby in England. That’s such a weird way to put it, but it’s definitely a combination of those two! I’ll update this one as well as soon as I can find it!
5. Charles Worthington Volume & Bounce Texturising Spray, available in the UK only, £6.99
It truly broke my heart to finish this product! I would say that it’s definitely up there in my top 5 products of all time. This is, by far, the best texturizing spray I have used. I have tried others to find a replacement, but nothing works as well. According to other trusted bloggers, it is a dupe for the Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray, (available on Amazon for $42!!) but I haven’t dared to spend the cash on the Oribe because I’m still holding out for the Charles Worthington version to miraculously appear in the US. Until then, I’ll keep trying to locate affordable comps and report back to you!
This little inexpensive blow dryer lasted me ages!! I think I had it for nearly 6 years, which is pretty long for a blow dryer in my opinion. I definitely feel like I got my money’s worth. It came with a diffuser and the concentrator attachment. The Infiniti features three heat settings and two speed settings with a cool shot button. It also had a little dual voltage button that you could slide over for when you travel internationally with proper adaptors. I thought that was a pretty cool feature, especially if you travel often. I loved the folding handle with the retractable cord! That made it great for packing in luggage and storing in the bathroom. Last, it was super easy to clean with the hot pink removable filter — snap off, clean, and you’re done! I would’ve purchased it again, but I wanted to branch out a little. Hair dryers aren’t something you generally buy a lot of; you just have one that works and that’s it. Though, if the one I purchased to replace this one dies or explodes, I’ll definitely go back to the Conair!
This installment was short and sweet! I apologize that it’s several products that aren’t available in the U.S. I will keep searching to try to locate them online. To date, I have not heard back yet on my inquiry with Boots regarding availability to ship to the U.S., so check back for updates! Next week, we will be talking all about skincare empties!
So we all know that the best products are the ones you use until they are completely gone — the ones that force you grab a tool to scrape out the very last drops! I love to read about empties and watch videos about them on YouTube, and I love sharing mine with you. I have so many that I will have to split them into several categories. Let’s start with bodycare!
1. Kneipp Herbal Bath in Lavender
This is one of my all time favorite bubble baths. It doesn’t lather and create luscious bubbles like many others do, but it does give the most concentrated scent. It also makes the bath a beautiful teal blue. The wonderful thing about this product is that it comes in several different scents for aromatherapy effects. Lavender is balancing; Mandarin & Orange is stress reducing; Juniper for muscle soothing, etc. You can order the Kneipp Lavender Herbal Bath for only $5.50 (0.67 oz) or $20.00 (3.38oz), and check out all the other scents here. The smaller bottle gets you approximately 2-3 baths; whereas the larger bottle gets you around 5-6 baths. All you need to do is light a candle, dim the lights, add a little to running water, jump in the bath, and breathe deeply. You may even want to have a glass of wine! This is definitely a product that I will continue to purchase this one over and over again because it feels and smells so luxurious.
The Body Shop scrubs are, by far, some of the best body scrubs I have ever used. They are sufficiently “scrubby” combined with good hydration without being harsh, scratchy, or drying. I love the sweet floral scent of the morenga seed oil. It’s so bright and fresh. If you aren’t a floral person, this scent could convert you since it’s not over powering; it’s gentle and soft and very feminine.
This scrub from The Body Shop is similar to the Morenga Cream Scrub, but far more hydrating because it’s made with 100% wild argan oil. Aside from that distinction, they function the same as exfoliators, but what I REALLY LOVE about this product is that it benefits women in Morocco. If you’re really interested, Fleur, of the YouTube channel Fleur de Force, did a great vlog at the facility where the argan oil is made. Check it out here. I love knowing the backstory on a product, but it’s even better when the product is amazing! Definitely a product I have already repurchased.
From the same Body Shop line, the Wild Argan Oil Bubbling Bath is fantastic! It bubbles and lathers so nicely while still maintaining the bath oil quality for deep moisturizing. This is a great buy through the winter months to just relax in the tub and rehab dry winter skin. Plus, it smells so lovely — slightly nutty but very fresh and lightly sweet. You’ll leave the tub thanking yourself, I promise!!
If you’ve never tried a Body Shop Body Butter, you are missing out! These are the creamiest, most hydrating, non-greasy body moisturizers ever! I particularly love this scent, the Fuji Green Tea, because it’s slightly minty and cool while also being very green (as the green tea might suggest). It’s a scent that’s great for both men and women because it’s neither sweet nor floral. My boyfriend loves this one (and has gone through a few tubs); he loves putting it on his pretty bald head after he showers. It’s got a slight tingle to it, but still something that’s great for sensitive skin because it’s not a burning tingle like some others. I love that you can purchase it in different sizes — travel (1.69 oz) and regular (6.76 oz). Definitely one that will stick around as a staple in our home!
If you’re like me and you either don’t have time or always forget to moisturize your body when you get out of the shower, this is the PERFECT product for you. As your last step in the shower, simply drench your skin in the product as if you were putting on regular moisturizer, let sit for a minute or two, and then rinse off! Super easy! Oh, and you can also use it as a shaving cream if you like! It leaves your skin feeling supple, soft, and smelling so good! Infused with rose oil, goji berries, argan oil, cocoa butter, and cupucau butter, your skin (and others around you) will thank you. Side note: my boyfriend ALWAYS notices when I use this, and comments on how nice I smell when I get out of the shower. This is my second pot of this, and LUSH recycles, so save those black LUSH containers. Five empty clean containers gets you a free fresh facemask!
I have super sensitive skin, whether it’s on my face or my legs, so I have to be careful with razors and shaving creams. Anything too soapy or foamy just gives me the worst razor burn. This shaving gel is super cheap and, honestly, is the best one I’ve used. I’ve been using it for over 10 years, and always go back to it. It’s a gel to foam formula that foams nicely, moisturizes the skin to help prevent razor burn, and doesn’t leave a gooey residue. Definitely a winner!
Yes, let’s chat about deodorant. I have used this brand since I was in high school. Sure, I dabbled in other brands along the way, but the clear gel is where it’s at. No white streaks. Quick drying. Works properly….until you hit your 30’s! I don’t know what happened, so I blame the mid-30s hormone shift, but it just didn’t do the job anymore. So, I finished off my last tube and walked into my new era of deodorant (see No. 9). But, if you’re in the market to try a new one, this one is great! It may work for you. It treated me well for many years.
Holy Mother of Keeping Us Ladies Dry and Smelling Sweet! I may have fallen in love with an antiperspirant. This is the BEST thing I have ever used, and I doubt I will ever return to a solid or gel formula for antiperspirant or deodorant. This dry spray smells incredibly fresh and clean, but if you don’t like cucumber, there are several other scents. As soon as you spray it on, it’s dry and doesn’t leave white marks on clothing. It’s so much faster to apply than solid deodorant/antiperspirant because you need a quick spray, and BOOM!, you’re done. It’s great for a quick refresh throughout the day as well. Whether you endure intense sweaty workouts or glisten when cleaning the house, this antiperspirant keeps you smelling like the beautiful delicate lady you are. Seriously, GO BUY THIS! Also, I bought the men’s version for boyfriend, and he loves it too. We have both totally converted to dry spray.
In past empties, I have ranted and raved about the Bath & Body Works Pillow Mist! (To check that out, click here.) But, the last time I went, they were sold out of the pillow mist, so I used this as an alternate option for the same use. They work the same, but the Pillow Mist is actually $5 cheaper for more product (1.3 oz more!). So, go for the Pillow Mist, even if you have to order it; you’ll still get more for your money.
This is the perfect bubble bath for the day after a hard workout to soothe sore muscles and relax the body. I’m sure you’ve sensed that I have a lavender problem by now, but I just love how soothing it is in bath and body products. This works just like any other bubble bath, but with the added bonus of the epsom salt muscle relief. Hard day in the yard? Long day on the train? Whatever you do that makes you feel sore or stiff is certainly helped by a long hot bath with this goodie! Plus, it’s cheap and you get can get it at Wal Mart. So, there’s that — budget friendly and easily accessible.
That’s all the bodycare items I have for this time! Check back soon for Haircare Empties! They are up next!
Since the holidays are now in full swing, I wanted to share some basic cocktail recipes with you. I mean, until now, I don’t believe I ever really knew how to properly prepare either of these. Maybe I’m behind in my mixology and cocktail knowledge, but c’est la vie. So, I went into the kitchen trying to figure out the best recipes for two of the most classic cocktails — the Dirty Martini and the Cosmopolitan. I rarely drink hard liquor because I’m ALWAYS drinking wine, so this was a fun exercise for me. I should forewarn you, though, cocktail trial and error can be both fun and intoxicating. I’m glad my boyfriend was there to “supervise” my foray into mixology because by the end of “Dirty Martini Night No.1” experiment, I was spilling olive brine everywhere and chasing rolling olives to prevent the dogs from grabbing them. 😉
Here’s what I learned:
Start with quality ingredients
Savory cocktails need “rest” time just like sauces and meats
Shaken vs. Stirred does matter in the overall mouth feel of the drink, depending on the ingredients (i.e. sweet v. savory) Stir the savory, shake the sweet.
Serve it “up” (without ice) in a martini or stemmed glass to keep your hands away from heating it as you sip it
We should all get dressed up like it’s the 1950’s, sip martinis, and chat with friends
I shall leave you with two of my favorite martini recipes. I promise I tried and tested proportions for a week to the point that I have no more Vodka left. 🙁
With the dirty martini, I added blue cheese stuffed olives for a little extra flair. You can purchase them at the store or simply mix blue cheese, a little cream cheese, salt and pepper in a Ziploc bag. Mix ingredients by kneading them around in the bag, and then smush all the cheese down into one corner of the bag. Cut of the tip of the corner and fill your olives with the mixture as if you were frosting a cake.
I used Triple Sec here. You can also use Cointreau. Grand Marnier is another option, but I’d avoid it in a Cosmo because it’s heavier than the other two, and this cocktail is meant to be light and airy. Also, the absolute key to this cocktail is the freshly squeezed lime juice. You can use the bottled kind, but it doesn’t taste nearly as nice. All in all, having this Cosmopolitan made me feel like Carrie Bradshaw for just one minute. It’s like a pillow of sweet fresh joy. It barely tastes like there’s alcohol in it, so be careful!!
If you like these recipes, please leave a comment below so I can do more if you’re interested. Hope you all have a very happy and safe holiday season! Don’t drink and drive. Get an Uber, a Taxi, or a sober friend!
“Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!” -Dom Perignon
I had the opportunity to spend a week in the Champagne region of France this spring for the International Wine and Tourism Conference. I have been to France before, but never to the Champagne region, and can I tell you how magically beautiful this area of the world is? If you haven’t been and are planning to travel abroad soon, please try to work Champagne into your itinerary. If you have any questions to that end, please leave me a comment!
But, let’s get into it! I know how wine is made, and I’ve had the pleasure of touring many wineries throughout the U.S. and Europe, but I had never focused on champagne-making. This was so much fun to see, and the process quite surprised me with its delicate yet complex nature.
Each champagne house has its own special recipe and process, but the steps which one takes to achieve champagne is essentially the same. First, I should point out a few minor overarching bits of information:
It is only called champagne when it comes from the Champagne region of France, everything else is sparkling wine or something different (i.e. Prosecco in Italy, Cava in Spain, etc.).
In France, champagne is comprised of any of the following varietals, and only these varietals: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. It can be a single varietal, but mostly, you will find blends.
Grape growth and location is governed by a strict set of laws and regulations.
Fun fact: When drinking champagne, a glass that is too clean will not show bubbles!
The Champenoise process begins at harvest, which is generally 100 days after the first bloom on the vine. The grapes are gathered and pressed, where the juice is run into large oak barrels, stainless steel vats, or even ceramic for the winter.
After the winter has passed, the juice has fermented into a young wine. The young wine is blended by the winemaker to achieve the optimal champagne flavor. My personal favorite is a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This is called the first fermentation and creates the base wine. The result produces regular wine, it is simply not yet aged.
After the first fermentation, the blended wine is bottled. Yeast and sugar is added to aid in producing carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a natural product of the chemical reaction that occurs when yeast turns sugar into alcohol. When this chemical reaction occurs in a closed container, the carbon dioxide cannot escape, thus creating the luxurious bubbles! The amount of sugar added to the base wine, also called the dosage, is what determines whether a champagne is sweet or more dry, for example, dry, brut, extra brut, etc. Here’s a little cheat sheet for you the next time you go shopping for champagne!
Once bottled with a metal cap, the wine begins the process of the second fermentation. French law requires that it ferment on lees (with yeast) for at least 15 months before it is available for sale.
During this second fermentation process, the bottles must undergo remuage or riddling. Riddling is the process by which the bottles are turned 1/4 turn every eight hours in order to move the yeast from the side of the bottle down into the neck to prepare for disgorgement. In some places, this is still done by hand with a remeur; however, the introduction of the gyropallet has transformed the riddling process. The gyropallet is a mechanical box that fits anywhere from 300 to 500 bottles for riddling mechanically. Currently, most wineries reserve manual riddling for their higher-end couture blends selected by the winemaker.
After the riddling process is complete, it is time for disgorgement. Disgorgement is where the remaining yeast and lees are removed from the bottle. This is generally done by placing the neck of the bottle in a freezing solution so that yeast and lees form a slush for easy removal. The pressure of the gas pops out the yeast and lees, leaving open space in the bottle. Once the solution is removed, a small amount of the original blended wine and sugar is placed back in the bottle and corked. The bottle may then continue to age or it is ready for retail sale. This is the portion of the process that really changes the price, and sometimes, quality of the champagne. More expensive champagnes are aged longer on the lees, whereas less expensive champagnes are aged at the minimum 15 months. In those instances, the base wine (the original blended grape juice) is almost always the exact same blend. It is the aging, riddling, and ultimate care that produces a cost differential.
It is after disgorgement and continued aging (should the winemaker choose to do so) that the bottles are then labeled and shipped to the open market for consumption.
And that is how champagne gets from the vine to your table!
In my previous post, we talked about how my friend, Jay, is a contestant on the current season of Food Network Star. We are now heading into week 4, and Jay is still going strong!
For the premiere episode entitled, “Food Star Festival,” Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar hosted everyone with signature drink specials and a bloody mary bar while broadcasting the episode throughout the restaurant. Downtown Baton Rouge also set up the episode on the big screen in North Boulevard Town Square, just outside Jolie Pearl.
If you live in Baton Rouge, or are planning on traveling to Baton Rouge soon, Jolie Pearl is a great place to try. Nestled in downtown Baton Rouge on the North Boulevard Town Square, the restaurant boasts oysters galore done whatever way you like — from Pacific, Gulf, or Atlantic raw oysters to Brie and Bacon Baked Oysters, the signature mollusk shines on the menu.
Not a fan of oysters? They have some delicious sandwiches too! I had the turkey, bacon, and brie sandwich and it was divine!
Jolie Pearl has a lovely ambiance with both indoor and outdoor seating. The restaurant is split into two sides, each including tables and a bar. And there’s a television live feed to the kitchen so you can watch the chef prepare the oysters on the grill! I thought that was a nice touch. Its a great restaurant for happy hour, date night, or dinner with friends, and it’s extremely affordable! Thank you to Jolie Pearl and Downtown Baton Rouge for hosting the Food Network Premiere party!
On this season of Food Network Star, Jay continues to excel in every challenge thrown at him, so keep watching and rooting every Sunday night at 9/8 central on the Food Network! If you haven’t been watching and need to be caught up, here’s the episode recaps of what you missed —
Episode 1: Food Star Festival
Contestants were required to perform in an introductory video where each would serve a signature dish. Jay made grilled shrimp over a savory corn maque choux, and nailed it. The judges adored his sincerity and loved his dish!
Episode 2: Savory Baking
Contestants were tasked with creating a gourmet dish out of leftovers in just 30 minutes, where Jay excelled in creating a salmon barbecue hash. The next challenge was to create a savory dish inspired by dessert. Jay created the “Pillow of Decadence,” little savory beignets made of a buttery biscuits stuffed with an Italian sausage meatball. While both dishes were hits with the judges, Jay’s presentation was less than their favorite. But, Jay was safe from elimination and sailed into the next week!
Episode 3: Trendy Dinner
The first challenge was to create a dish that would kill on social media! (You know how we all photograph our food…you do it too, don’t lie.) The Judges chose the top performers and winner of the challenge based on the photos of each dish. Jay did great in preparing a perfectly cooked steak over a purple potato with a chimichurri sauce. (I wanted that bite!) The big challenge was a boys v. girls trendy dinner, where contestants had to create dishes based on what’s trending in culinary experiences — great flavor with new textures like raw, slimy, burnt, incendiary, and stinky. Jay had the slimy dish and only 45 minutes to create his dish. He chose to create his “momma’s momma’s gumbo” with pickled okra. Jay admitted it wasn’t his best gumbo due to time constraints, but his presentation was flawless! Jay was safe again, and is cruising into week 4!
Keep watching, keep rooting, and tweeting with the hashtag #GeauxJay!
Jay Ducote is an expert hugger and a big teddy bear, but don’t underestimate his culinary chops. As a Baton Rouge local, Jay has been eating, drinking, and cooking with some of Louisiana’s finest ingredients for years. This Sunday, however, Jay will be competing on a stage far larger than he’s been on in the past. Jay is a contestant on Season 11 of Food Network Star on the Food Network.
If you’ve never seen the show, it’s a media-based culinary competition where contestants will be forced to undergo rigorous challenges; they are judged on their creativity, cooking abilities, as well as their on-camera charisma. The judges include the likes of Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, Duff Goldman, Sunny Anderson, and Richard Blais, and the ultimate winner of Food Network Star will receive his or her own cooking show on the Food Network. Past winners are now household names, such as, Guy Fieri, Aaron McCargo, Jr., Jeff Mauro, Melissa d’Arabian, and Justin Warner to name a few. So, basically, this is a big stage for Jay. I’ve watched Food Network Star for years, and am very excited to see a familiar face on screen.
Jay is rapidly taking over culinary media. He is currently the owner of the site BiteandBooze, a food and drink blog that highlights Louisiana food, wine, and spirits. He also does a radio show called Bite and Booze Radio Show where he discusses local food, bars, and events in the Baton Rouge area. If that weren’t enough to keep him busy, Jay is also coming up on the first anniversary of his barbecue sauce launch, called Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue Sauce and has recently released a vintage of wine in connection with Landry Vineyards, a Blanc du Bois. I asked Jay how he has time to date with his busy schedule. He explained, “I find that these days it’s perhaps difficult to find time.” He’s been to several restaurants multiple times, so when he finds the time to date, he explains that he would rather help a lady choose a restaurant than to simply choose one he’s been to a dozen times. Jay says, “I’d rather help her pick somewhere unique for her.” And they say this breed of gentleman no longer exists? Pfffffttt. Jay is certainly keeping southern gentlemen proud.
In the past, Jay has appeared on Cutthroat Kitchen (also on the FoodNetwork) and Master Chef (which aired on Fox). We discussed how Food Network Star compared to his experience on Cutthroat Kitchen. He explained, “Cutthroat kitchen was definitely a different experience but I knew exactly what I was getting into in that there would be those kind of sabotages…With Food Network Star, I had no idea what to expect…But just being there and being in the moment and having to react so quickly on your feet to whatever the challenge might be was certainly intense and very challenging.”
Jay’s journey to becoming a contestant on Food Network Star began back when the show was casting for Season 10 in New Orleans. It didn’t work out at that time, so Jay wanted to try again for Season 11. However, he was unable to make it to the nearest casting session in Dallas. You can imagine with that infectious personality and radiating southern charm, The Food Network was still thinking about Jay after his Season 10 audition. When casting began for Season 11, Jay got a call from the Network, and he was able to audition via Skype interviews with producers. Ultimately, Jay landed his spot.
This season Jay will be serving up dishes to some of the world’s most visible chefs. Seeing as how Jay’s background is hunting, fishing, and tailgating, I cannot imagine how daunting it must have been to serve Grillmaster Bobby Flay something from the grill. Jay tells me, “I certainly felt some pressure to make sure that I delivered my food to Bobby specifically…and I make [my food] pretty spicy sometimes and so grilling and layers of flavor and levels of spice are certainly right up Bobby’s alley, so that’s good in that he likes those things, but it could be bad if I don’t do those right.” When I asked Jay if Bobby Flay liked what he was served, he said, “I guess you’ll have to tune in and find out.” Well, that’s exactly what we will be doing!
At the end of the day, Jay is a Louisiana Food Ambassador. It’s a title I think many would quickly bestow upon him as he represents the state well. Go watch him on Food Network Star with me! It premieres this Sunday, June 7 at 9/8C on the Food Network. If you want to get interactive with us, we will be at the viewing party at Jolie Pearl in downtown Baton Rouge watching it with Jay in the Town Square. Come join! If you can’t make it, we will be live tweeting, so make sure to use the hashtag #GeauxJay so we can see your tweets!
For my recent trip abroad, I challenged myself to see if I could pack for nearly two weeks in one carry-on and one personal item (aka my huge beach bag purse). I’ve never tried anything like this before for such an extended period of time. I have successfully done a week here or a 9 days there, but never 12 full days. Ultimately, I packed 27 pieces (not including socks, pajamas, unmentionables, and jewelry), and I was able to get 13+ outfits out of those 27 pieces. I believe the key is packing neutral, versatile, and comfortable pieces and adding in color with accessories.
The method to packing here is to lay each piece both within the suitcase and outside of it, leaving a little hanging over the edge. Alternate each of the four sides with each piece, creating a “+” with all your clothes. Then, when you are done, begin folding one garment at a time to the center. This will create an envelope-style packing method and prevent wrinkles. You’ll get more in this way!
Here’s what I packed in my carry-on (with corresponding links where available):
Black leather motorcycle jacket (Belk not sure on brand, close match here)
Khaki fitted casual jacket (GAP)
4 pairs of socks:
Cream knee socks (Daily Look)
3 pairs of regular socks
Truth be told, I actually packed just enough, but not quite the right pieces for the weather changes. I never wore the skirt or the Versona black dress. Granted, I could have worn the black dress, but I picked up this blue number from Zara in Paris. I also picked up the purple wrap sweater/jacket on a side street in Montmartre. That purple wrap sweater came in handy as it was very cold for most of the trip. However, at the end of the trip, it became very hot, and we purchased some t-shirts from Zara to get us through the heat.
So, here are all the outfits I was able to put together. Forgive some of the photos as we were running ourselves ragged for 10 days straight seeing wineries, meeting with winemakers, touring caves, etc.
Day 1 (Paris): Linen tunic over long sleeve white tee, black leggings, black boots, motorcycle jacket, plaid blanket scarf
Night 1: Black Turtleneck under BCBG tunic dress, black boots, black leggings
Day 2 (Paris): Black turtleneck, jeans, black boots, motorcycle jacket, camel scarf
Day 3 (Paris): Black/White stripe tunic over white bra top tank, black leggings, brown boots, motorcycle jacket, plaid blanket scarf
Night 3: Same as above, but add purple sweater wrap and changed scarf to camel scarf + earrings
Day 4 (Paris to Reims): Black long sleeve tee, khaki cords, black boots, purple wrap, black/red/tan scarf
Day 5 (Conference in Champagne): strappy black dress, black leggings, cream knee socks, oatmeal cardigan, brown boots + necklace
Day 6 (Conference in Champagne): jeans, Breton shirt, casual khaki jacket, black booties
Day 7 (Conference Touring in Champagne): jeans, cream blouse over V-neck white tank, motorcycle jacket, black booties, gingham headband
Day 8 (Conference Touring in Champagne): BCBG tunic dress over long sleeved black tee, black leggings, cream knee socks, black boots, purple wrap, plaid blanket scarf
Day 9 (Conference Touring in Champagne): red turtleneck, khaki cords, black boots, red/black/tan scarf
Day 10 (Conference Touring in Champagne & back to Paris): linen tunic over white bra top tank, black leggings, black boots, red/black/tan scarf
Day 11 (Pre Zara) (Paris): jeans, grey long sleeve tee, black boots, motorcycle jacket
Day 11 (Post Zara) (Paris): Zara striped tee, jeans, black booties
Night 11: Zara dress, black booties
Truth be told, I could’ve done a lot better. I should’ve eliminated the black skirt and LBD from Versona, and added in a few more casual t-shirts. Also, hindsight being 20/20, I really really wish I had packed a pair of flats in addition to the boots and booties. Overall, I think I did pretty well considering the challenge. Have you ever packed for a long vacation in a single carry-on? If so, how did you do it?
I hope this gives you some, if any, insight for packing on your next long vacation! It was nice to only have two bags to handle when on the Metro, trains, and in the airport — not to mention the lack of worry with a checked bag making it to the destination!
In tandem with yesterday’s post on my TSA Approved Liquids Bag, I wanted to also give you what’s in my makeup bag for France. This bag is a little cheap one from Wal Mart that I purchased for about $5. I just wanted to use a small-mid sized bag and one that I don’t mind losing if it gets too beat up. This bag is roughly 9 inches long by 6.5 inches tall. It’s small enough to fit into carry on luggage, and large enough to give me two weeks worth of makeup options. Granted, I probably packed more makeup than I really need, but a girl needs options, am I right? 🙂
So, let’s get started! I tried to narrow things down (as much as possible) to use products that can pull double duty and give me as many options as my mood allows. I took out all liquids (foundations, concealers, and glosses) to place in my TSA Approved Liquids bag.
Since there’s no rhyme or reason to my composite photo, I’m going to go through these by category. If you have any questions about a particular product, let me know in the comments!
Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder in Transparent — This is a staple in my collection. It sets foundation and concealer flawlessly without getting cakey. It does come in skin-tone shades, but I definitely prefer the transparent one. Available at any drug store $4.99.
NYX Powder Blush in “Mauve” — I love this blush so much! It’s my favorite every day matte blush. It’s super natural and gives a nice light glow. Plus, it’s super super cheap at $5 (available at Ulta, CVS, Target).
Benefit Bella Bamba Blush — I enjoy this blush as a more dramatic blush. It has a slight shimmer to it, and is a bit more on the coral side. It’s like a watermelon and a cantaloupe had a baby blush. This is the travel size that came in one of the Benefit kits. These are great to pick up and store away for traveling. (Full size $28, available at Sephora and Ulta)
Soap & Glory Glow All Out — A fabulous powder highlight that isn’t super white shimmer. It has a hint of peach, so it looks so natural. ($19.25 on Amazon)
Benefit Hoola Bronzer — This is my all time favorite bronzer. It’s matte and applies so naturally. It’s great for most skin tones, though I wouldn’t recommend it for darker skin tones.
I took this opportunity to make a customized palette using my Makeup Geek Z Palette. If you aren’t familiar with the Makeup Geek empty palettes, you can find them here. They come in three sizes, each holding 9 (small), 28 (large), or 35 (extra large) standard round shadow pans. The back of the palette is magnetic so you can switch your colors in and out as necessary.
I wanted to make sure I had a good mixture of mattes and shimmers with me, so I packed Tarte’s Tartelette matte palette, which I’ve done a full review of here. It’s got a great mirror in it, so that will serve as my on-the-go mirror, if I need it.
So, here’s what I included in my Z Palette:
Top Row (L to R) Peach Smoothie (MakeupGeek), Unexpected (MakeupGeek), Prom Night (MakeupGeek)
I can’t leave home without my Maybelline Color Tattoo cream eye shadows. So, I grabbed Bad to the Bronze, which is my all time favorite. (My quick go-to red lip look pairs Bad to the Bronze, layered with Woodwinked, and two coats of mascara, so this was a must for me.) I also included Creamy Beige because it’s a very neutral matte brown, similar to Wedge, and doubles as an eye shadow primer.
Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal in Brown — I can’t rave about this liner enough. It goes on so smoothly, without pulling on the eyelid, smudges really well for a smokey eye, and stays put all day. And it’s only $3.50 at drug stores. Seriously, it’s the best.
Pacifica Natural Waterproof Eye Pencil in Fringe (brown) — I’ve used this one off and on for a while, it’s more matte than the Rimmel, which has a slight sheen to it, so it’s a good contrast in that way. It’s not anything to write home about, but it’s travel size and it gets the job done. (available at Whole Foods, Ulta, Target.)
Lord & Berry Silk Kohl Kajal Eye Pencil in Black — This is a great semi-matte black liner that smudges well if needed, and stays put all day. Plus, it’s tiny. ($16, available on their website here.)
Xtreme Lashes Glideliner Eye Pencil in Black Pearl — This is my go-to liner for a smokey eye. I smudge it all over my lid before I even begin the smokey eye process. It’s black with a hint of purple in it, and it deepens the color of any shadow you put over it making it more dynamic. Blend quickly though as it sets very fast! (available at the Xtreme Lashes Website for $29)
Brows and Lashes:
More Brows by ModelCo — I haven’t tried this yet, so I thought now was a good a time as any. It’s billed as a natural looking brow gel that fills in sparse areas and holds brows in place. We shall see! ($18, available here.)
Tarte Lights Camera Lashes (travel size) — I had several travel sized mascaras, so I chose the one I thought I would like the best. I haven’t tried this one yet, but I love Tarte’s Lights Camera Flashes (in the gold packaging, my review here), so if this one is anything like that one, I know I will love it.
Yes, I went overboard here. I know. Don’t judge me, I have a lipstick problem. Again, since there’s no rhyme or reason to the composite photo, I’m just going to list them from left to right as best as I can. If you have questions let me know!
Rimmel Show Off Matte in Meteoric Matte — I’ve been raving about this color and this liquid lipstick for a while. (I love the whole range.) But this is a beautiful bold plum-berry that stays put and adds a little drama to any night time look. ($4.99 Available at drug stores)
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Icy Violet — I love this lipstick for a natural tinted lip. It’s not very violet, but is more on the pink side of purple, so it goes very well with my skin tone when I want a more natural look. (Limited edition, no longer available in store, but is available on Amazon)
Cover Girl Colorlicious Lipstick in Bombshell Pink — This is a super fun bright fuchsia. It’s a fun color for a bold daytime lip. These lipsticks have some serious staying power without drying out your lips. ($6.99-$7.99 Available at drug stores)
NYX Slim Lip Pencil in Hot Red — I use lip liner only when I wear red lipstick. It keeps it from bleeding all day long. (Available $3.50, Ulta, CVS, Target)
Bite Beauty BB for Lips in Tawny — This is just a very high quality balm, in my opinion. It’s reminiscent of the Clinique Almost Lipstick (remember black honey??), and has just a hint of dusty pink color for lips. I wanted to include a balm just to keep my lips hydrated under lipstick. (Available at Sephora, $24)
MAC Modesty — My go-to nude when I do a smoky eye. It looks pink, but my lips are very pink naturally, so what appears to be nude in-store always makes me look like a zombie. So, this has a nice hint of rose to it, which works really well for me. (MAC, $16)
Clinique Chubby Stick Intense in Roomiest Rose — This is a great moisturizing natural to bright rosy pink. Love these for keeping my lips moisturized all day. ($17)
MAC RiRi Woo — retro matte red lipstick that I cannot live without. I’m super upset it’s limited edition, but I’ve been told that the Ruby Woo is a near match. (Ruby Woo, MAC $16)
Fresh Sugar Lip Polish — I had this travel size in my collection, so I thought I would pack it for exfoliation. I have so many issues with my lips drying out that I exfoliate often and make sure to use a good balm or lip mask while I sleep. (full size $22.50, Available at Sephora)
NYX pencil dual sized sharpener
10 spoolis/mascara wands for brows (in case I hate the More Brows Gel) and taming small hair frizzies/baby hairs. (you know which ones I’m talking about!)
So, that’s all my makeup! I’ll have plenty of options to create as many looks as necessary. When I travel, I’m definitely that person that needs options. I’d much rather pack pieces than actual planned outfits, and the same applies with makeup. I never know what each day’s inspiration, occasion, time constraint, or weather will be, so I like to plan those things on the go! But, I managed to fit enough makeup, and I am happy about that! What do you take in your travel makeup bag?
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