Beyond the Blue

In honor of Father’s Day, I’d like to first give a “shout out” to the best father I know – my amazing husband Craig, who, with two grown children of his own, two children-in-law, a stepson he loves as his own…is about to start all over and “daddy up” again, at the tender young age of 54! 
Due to a medical condition, Craig can’t wear much in the way of cologne or scent, so when I was sent Nautica’s new “Blue” cologne for review, I got to be the Guinea pig. 
Strong and overpowering is the best I can say. With a strong citrusy scent, that vaguely reminded me of something one would use to clean their kitchen floor, the notes of grassy field, hospital disinfectant and a slightly oriental base note would NOT go away once I applied it – which I guess is good news for men who like spending 10Xs the amount of a can of Axe and still smelling just as douchy. 
Granted, everyone is different and it could smell perfectly fabulous on someone else. However, I certainly wouldn’t recommend spending $62.50 for 3.4oz at Macy’s or even $12.34 at Amazon , who describes tropical fruits, sandalwood and jasmine, musk, cedar and water lily as other components of this disastrous fragrance combination. 
I guess sometimes you can have too many good things. 
As a woman who enjoys a bit of cologne on a man from time to time, as long as it’s subtle and suited to his body chemistry (I enjoy my husband’s deodorant and the way it blends with his “natural scent”, just fine!), I can’t imagine this smelling attractive on any dude…especially not one taking me any place nicer than Taco Bell for a first date (because this stuff is so strong, it could make even those bathrooms smell worse). 
Craig took a slight whiff of the odoriferous offender and agrees. In fact, he’s resorted to referring to it as “the shit spray”. 
I think what it really comes down to is its simply too strong. It really is overwhelmingly strong and with a sensitive nose (like I have), it’s nothing more than a headache in a bottle to me. In my opinion, it smells cheap, poorly blended and as if expensive essences have been watered down and stronger, cheaper scents (like the aforementioned kitchen floor cleaner) were subbed to distract the buyer from noticing. 
In my opinion, a can of Axe…or Glade…or even one of those little pine trees for your vehicle…will accomplish the same stink factor, at a fraction of the cost. 

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Travel Safe This Summer (and always)! 

After having a discussion with my husband about air travel (I’ve traveled my entire 36 years – learned some things), I feel there’s a few “tips” I should share for you summer travelers! 

1. Stretch often. Car, train or plane, get up (or out) and move some. Even a few hours being stationary in/on a vehicle, can contribute to PE (pulmonary embolism) or DVT (deep vein thrombosis). As a BPE (bilateral pulmonary emboli survivor, this is a big deal!). 
2. When flying, don’t panic! Turbulence happens. Unless you see the flight attendants start to panic, stay calm. It’s normal. 
3. Check FTA advisories daily. They change often. As of my recent knowledge, <3oz liquid, nothing sharp (tweezers, scissors, etc.) can be carry on and random tickets can get you a full body search. Ditch bras with metal, avoid belts and wear shoes you can get in and out of in less than 30 seconds. 
4. Get the travel insurance! Not only does it cover loss of property, but most cover medical and if a flight is overbooked/re-scheduled, you get first priority. It’s an extra $50 well spent. 
5. Rent a car early! We use Enterprise Rent-A-Car and have had fabulous luck. But, the longer you wait, the less likely to get the vehicle you desire. 

6. Invest in a real, paper atlas. It can help you avoid tolls and come in handy when phones are out of service. 
7. Pack snacks! I travel (alone) often – and usually with Monster Energy and a prayer. But, things like a cooler, ice, chips, healthy alternatives (remember, different locals may have better produce and unique treats), and water! Not only for drinking, but if a radiator overheats. 
8. Look into AAA services or roadside services provided by the rental company. 
9. Don’t eat what you can have at home. As the saying goes, “When in Rome…”.
10. Pack emergency supplies. Basics. Band aids, topical ointments, things like nail files (in a pinch, a matchbook will work as a file and vise versa), maxi pads (not only for “lady issues”, but large wounds), etc. 

11. Make a list. Start as soon as you plan to travel. I keep mine on my phone – I check off what I’ve packed and can add as needed. 
12. Tell 2-3 family or friends your itinerary. And, if you’re like me and keep your GPS and privacy settings off, turn them on. Worst case, it may help find you in a terrible event. Example, I have an iPhone. I know those who know I’m traveling can call iPhone and have me “tracked”. 
13. Take sample size makeup and skin care. Hotel products don’t always do us any favors (however, if you DO like the products provided by the hotel, grab them when you go. Hotels have to trash them after each guest). Check my AWESOME rep for Perfectly Posh, The Pampered Mom – Kristen Matzke, for sample packs for hair, skin and more! She’s amazing and with a quick survey, can nail your skin and hair care needs! Personally, MOISTURIZE 911 is the best (possibly the best thing of all time!)!

Also, check Sally Beauty, drug and big box stores for travel size products and/or containers for your fave products. 
14. Minimize your makeup! Invest in a BB or CC cream, a good mascara and a fabulous red lipstick (I love Femme Coture’s ‘Shanghai Red’ – an easy to wear red on all skin tones – check eBay since it’s been discontinued). Loreal has some flattering reds or try one of LipsMak – Independent SeneGence/LipSense Distributor gorgeous shades. A blush and bronzer pallet is a nice addition as well. NARS Cosmetics Orgasm is also flattering to all skin tones and they do a blush/bronzer combo in one slim, sleek compact. Remember, especially if you’re on vacation, a 27 step contouring routine is unnecessary and, well…stupid. 
15. Keep hydrated! Travel, especially during hot summer months, takes a toll. Find a good bottled water in case your destination doesn’t have palatable drinking water. A small (remember, under 3oz I believe for air travel) spray bottle with water, especially rose or lavender water, can be a refreshing boost for parched skin, too. Tuck it in a purse or carry on. 

16. Make a list of medications and dosage, health issues and allergies and tuck it in your wallet. You can also download apps for your phone, but if you lock your phone (as you should) and are traveling alone, emergency responders will go for your wallet. Keep prescription medications in their original bottles, with the original label, especially if you take anything that’s federally regulated (like narcotics or even anxiety medication). 
17. Think small! Grab a travel sewing kit and pack it in case you need to fix a hem, reattach a button or conceal a low cut blouse temporarily. Also handy if you have little ones and Mr. Bear loses an eye or suffers an unfortunate tear. Tuck a couple extra earring backs (Walmart has them in gazillion packs), safety pins and a small tube of nail/super glue in it, too (basically the same thing and can be useful for more than just a broken/lifting nail).
18. Be smart! Especially traveling alone. Trust your gut – if you feel you’re being followed, assume you are. Don’t stop at isolated rest areas at night. Keep your doors locked (and a spare set of keys with you). And, by NO MEANS are you obligated to give personal or any other information, even small talk, to the person sharing your arm rest. You don’t have to be rude! But, you don’t have to be overly polite, either. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and that includes not over indulging in adult beverages or over medicating; both of which can put you in a dangerous position. 
19. Four things you should have at all times – 

  1. Your phone

  2. Keys (car/hotel)

  3. Identification 

  4. Cash

Remember, a hotel key or credit card can be “erased” if it comes in contact with your phone. Don’t “flash” cash or carry large amounts. Keep cash in a safe spot (look online – you can find ankle wallets and other nifty stuff if you’re not blessed with boobs to hide cash in), keep smaller bills “on top”, keep cash on the front of your body (men tend to keep their wallet in a back pocket – move it up front, especially if you’re traveling in an area you’re unfamiliar with and/or with lots of people/large crowds) and a “Mugger’s $20” is always a handy idea. 
  ~~MUGGER’S $20 ~~

Keep roughly $20, in small bills in your front, non dominant pocket (if your wallet is in the right, then put your Mugger’s $20 in the left) or purse (avoid large purses with long, thin straps – invest in a cool, new clutch or smaller handbag that can be worn cross-body). In the unfortunate event you’re mugged, or threatened, throw the Mugger’s $20 as far from you as possible, in the opposite direction and run. Most muggers will be interested in the cash and focused on finding and collecting it, allowing you time to flee the situation. 
20. Have a great playlist ahead of time. In the car, you may find yourself out of range of radio stations (or music you like). And, on a plane, it’s a great way to avoid unwanted conversations. Just make sure you keep the volume at a level that allows you to remain alert to emergency notifications or undesirable situations around you.

Bon Voyage! 

*Photos: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, personal 
**Links to individual product representatives are Facebook specific. 

Shop Small to Make a BIG Difference!

Each year, GF likes to encourage others to “shop small”, and support small businesses who are often struggling to stay afloat with so many bigger, often cheaper, options available. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016 is “Shop Small Saturday,” an annual, nationwide event, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, that encourages others to seek out small businesses to support who are also likely trying to provide an amazing holiday experience for their families! Not only are you helping contribute to your community (or theirs, as the case may be, since several of our shop small businesses on this list are online only or perhaps out of state from you), but you can find unique treasures for nearly anyone on your list – even the person who “has it all”. 

If you’re out and about, you can look for this symbol (or similar) to denote a small business. Go in and give them a “looksee”! Never know what hidden gem you may find! A lot of restaurants and bars will also display this symbol, so stop for a bite there instead of a fast food chain.


This list will be re-shared on GF’s Facebook and other social media, throughout the holiday season. It may grow, as we stumble upon more fabulous places, worthy of note, and simply because without the support of consumers, local and small artisans, shops, business owners, etc., may not have the support (financial and otherwise) to continue providing amazing, custom and creative visions for the rest of us to enjoy. 
Also know as “Small Business Saturday”, you can read more about it here. We strongly encourage you to shop small, as much as you can this holiday season – whether it be on Shop Small Saturday or not (let’s face it – some of us just aren’t quite ready for it to be Christmas yet) – and throughout the year! Here’s some of our favorite small businesses, to get you started! Please do share this list, feel free to contact us if you know a small business that deserves to be on the list and we also strongly encourage small businesses to patronize other small businesses, and allow that spirit to cycle! 

Please remember: 

  1. As noted, several times, custom work takes time. If you’re so much as remotely interested in a custom piece from any of these vendors, please contact them directly, ASAP, for more information, including creation time and shipping. Don’t discount a custom piece if it simply can’t be done before your holiday of choice! Wrap a picture/handwritten note/card or accessory (say, a pretty pair of earrings to go in the custom jewelry box you ordered) and explain the situation. When your custom piece does arrive, it allows the season of giving, to continue! 
  2. Check back as we repost the list (it won’t be a full blog, so make sure you follow us on FB and Instagram) to refresh your memory and see any potential new additions. 
  3. This was a success last year and we heard from several fans and business that they found the perfect gift/designed or shipped orders, as a result of GF’s list! How exciting! However, please remember the spirit of this season is kindness. If something isn’t for you, or anyone on your list, simply move on. Different folks means different strokes – negativity towards an artisan or their craft(s) is not well tolerated here. 
  4. Most of these businesses have FB pages too! Give them a like to stay updated on new creations and special events they may be hosting or participating in!!!

RAINBOW GODDESS DESIGNS

rainbowgoddessdesigns.com. 

Handmade crowns to beautiful, handmade jewelry creations. Flowers, feathers, mermaid, Native American, Dia de los Meurtos, even unicorn horns! She does custom work, too…just beware custom work takes time (since every piece is handmade) and so does shipping. Unique gifts for that person who has everything! Super affordable, too! 

Von’s Pick – I love the unicorn horns and matching tails because what little girl wouldn’t want to be a unicorn for Christmas?!? The peacock feathers and swords in exotic colors really set them apart. I also love the beautiful mermaid crowns, because y’all know I’m a mermaid by day! 

MY LIP STUFF

Mylipstuff.com

The most AMAZING lip balms you can get your pucker on! 700+ flavors, earth and animal friendly, custom flavors and labels, all made with love and the perfect amount of shine and “glide” to give you a perfect pout. Don’t forget to check out the other products as well, because the Healing Body Butter stick is a miracle in a tube. You will never use Neosporin again. 

Von’s pick – Pink Cake and Nighttime are my favorite balms, but the Healing Body Butter stick is something I never leave home without! It’s healed everything from minor cuts and scrapes, to deep wounds and even bruises, faster than any product I’ve ever used. 

PERFECTLY POSH

Thepamperedmom.po.sh

Perfectly Posh is a relatively new skin care venture but one I’m glad was made. Vegan and paraben free, they’ve got you covered from head to toe – literally. Amazing scents and only the finest in essential oils and ingredients, it’s a difference you can see and feel. Best part? Everything in their huge catalog is under $25! 

Von’s Pick – Moisturize 911

If you stuff one stocking with PP this season, stuff it with this amazing crème, full of brightening, toning and complexion perfecting ingredients to make your holidays truly glow. If you do order, and want to “treat” your hostess with the mostess (I get points) you can use my link here:

https://www.perfectlyposh.com/p/?pref=5181648

PINK ZEBRA

The most amazing wax warmers and scents to fill your home with holiday cheer. Forget those little cubes! Pink Zebra uses what they call “sprinkles”, which make for easy mixing and matching scents and you control how much scent you want! I’ve also not had any problems with this product doing what those little cubes did; melting plastic combs that are designed to withstand 500° temperatures, simply by placing a new cube on top of them and forgetting over night. They will work in any standard/electric wax warmer, but at PZ prices, check out some of the super cute ones they offer. Plus, they offer “soaks”, to make your own car air fresheners, scented toys, etc.! Have a warmer under the tree and a jar of sprinkles in the stocking! Or, make it a semi-handmade gift by creating uniquely scented car fresheners for friends and family (subtle hint to the teen who leaves half a pizza in his car until it’s unrecognizable or a sachet for Aunt Mary’s quilt closet). 

Von’s Pick – Pumpkin Amber is my go-to scent whenever I need a little pick-me-up! Less PSL, a touch more warmth from the amber and a splash of citrus make this scent relaxing and refreshing. Store bought pie? No problem! The Warm Apple Pie scent will have family and friends fooled in no time! 

POPPEDIFY

The. Best. Gourmet popcorn, second to none! Hand popped, in small batches, one bag to 100! And, sooooo many delicious flavors to choose from! Just the perfect amount of light, crispy, crunchy, “candy” coating (like kettle korn), this would be perfect in a Christmas Eve box, as a stocking stuffer or for co-worker gifts and holiday parties. Make sure you order extra because it goes fast and you’re definitely going to want your own! 

Von’s Pick – The Pumpkin Spice is decadent, but I adore mixing the Cherry and Cinnamon together (it’s like Cherry Sours and Cinnamon Bears candy, both which I love). Even not being an eggnog person, their Eggnog popcorn is divine! 

TWISTED SEAS

https://poshmark.com/closet/twisted

Beautiful and eclectic jewelry and handmade creations. Think classic pieces like cameos, meets Steampunk, Gothic and more. Every piece is handmade with amazing attention to detail and custom orders are accepted. Contact them directly to see if they can help create your ideal piece, as well as for pricing and times to create and ship. 

Von’s Pick – I love the twisted classics, like the gothic cameos (mentioned above). I also like quite a bit of Steampunk fashion, and these aren’t the same Steampunk you can find all over the net. Delicate, feminine and classy; it doesn’t scream “Steampunk”, rather just “unique”.  

THE MITER BOX

http://www.themiterbox.org/

Beautiful wooden creations, by a husband and wife team, many with Celtic knot work or more Renaissance themes. The shop is online only and as mentioned, custom work takes time. Please contact them directly (not us at GF), to ask how long an order make take. They are an SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism, if memory serves) household – so if you have any SCA fans/members on your list, I’m sure they’d treasure a gift from one SCA household, to theirs! 

Von’s Pick – Reagan (the wife part of this duo) has been a friend of mine for many years. Some of the beautiful, exotic woods she uses – in naturally rich, gemstone colors – are my favorite to see! She works with a deep plum one called “Purple Heart”, and I’ve been hinting to my husband that I can never have too many jewelry boxes! 

CATA VINOS

http://www.catavinoswines.com/

If you’re in, around or passing through Tucson, Cata Vinos is a wine lovers dream, tucked away off the street and hidden so well, if you blink, you’ll miss it. Most every wine is under $15 a bottle and they do offer tastings with palette cleansers (snacks), as well as wine by the glass or bottle and cater to special events. They often have a food truck onsite for special tastings and offer tapas style, small plates of meats, cheeses and olives for an additional fee, during tasting. Indoor and outdoor seating, a nice way to unwind after a long day of work or shopping, and maybe even find a gift for the wine lover on your list, while you’re there. 

Von’s Pick – Craig and I have never had a bad wine here, however the one we adore (and celebrated with for our local wedding reception when we returned from California), is a sparkling moscato and the name has completely escaped me. Owner, Yvonne, always remembers, so if you tell her Craig and Evonne, the two blondes sent you, that would likely tip her off! 

ELISA’S SOUL KISSES

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Elisasoulkisses

Handmade metaphysical tools, gems, oils, jewelry and more. Some very unusual finds, she also does auctions and flash sales on Facebook. 

Von’s Pick – The Hitman Protection Oil is the best! Infused with stone chips and herbs to help add a layer of protection against negativity and attacks, both psychic and physical, the clean, lightly citrusy scent is relaxing, refreshing and I wear it often for its anti-negativity benefits. Especially when out in public. The scent alone makes it perfect for anyone who likes a light, springy, slightly floral perfume oil. 

VIBES UP

http://shop.vibesup.com/

Products produced with ground crystals and other healing elements; range from bracelets to nail polish to their famous Earth Energy Mats, and are said to do everything from ease back pain to keep drinks colder, longer, based on this technology. They have a ton of products to chose from, so there’s bound to be something for everyone on your list! 

Von’s Pick – Not going to lie. I have quite the wish list here for Santa! But, after trying a very small piece of one of their original mats, I’d strongly suggest these! I’ve had a lot of migraines lately (tis the season, right?) and I can place one of these small pieces on my head, where the headache seems to center, and within minutes it’s gone or near gone. Make sure you read about the technology itself and some of the over 100 ways loyal fans suggest using it! 
Some of these businesses may look familiar from last year’s list – simply because they are so extraordinary! Some, have craftspeople who were on last year’s list, but have elected to showcase different talents. Some, are entirely new!  We strongly encourage you to support these and all small businesses, the community and the artisans behind this work – whether it be the little Ma&Pa diner who always makes your favorite dish just right or the amazing talents who sew, craft, create and astound everyone with their work! 

As mentioned, please let us know if you know a small business who needs some holiday love and we’ll check it out for the reposts. Yes, shopping small may cost a bit more, but you’re helping someone like you buy their kids gifts and put food on their table, as opposed to supporting some faceless CEO getting his/her 5th vacation home. 

  • Other ideas:
  • Visit a flea mall/antique mall/ garage sales/swap meet or check out one online for your area. Also consider “gently used” games/CDs/movies/books from a local small business that deals in such (Zia, Hansen’s, Bookmans). 
  • Offer to “trade” services with friends and family, instead of buying a gift (i.e., as a hairdresser, say coworkers all exchange services – I give the nail tech a hair cut and style, (s)he gives me a pedicure). Or, I offer my tattoo artist a cut and color in exchange for a small tattoo. 
  • If you’re giving a pet as a gift (always make sure the animal is wanted and the recipient able to care for the animal), adopt and don’t shop. Shelters need that donation, especially this time of year!  
  • Host company holiday parties at small restaurants/bars as opposed to big, multimillion dollar hotels and resorts. Smaller spaces encourage mingling and if the establishment doesn’t provide food, find a local caterer to do so! 
  • Shop farmers markets for in season ingredients for holiday meals. Or, ingredients like fresh honey for DIY gifts. 
  • Check out local vineyards, breweries and distilleries for the booze lover in your list. 
  • Here, we have what’s called the 4th Ave Street Fair, before the holidays. It’s in the artsy area of town and while it used to be far more local vendors, it still encourages shopping from smaller businesses – both those set up for the event and those who line the streets year ’round. Look for events like that by checking social media and local circulars and newspapers. 
  • Think charitable donations in lieu of traditional gifts. But! Wait for it! GF will be doing a blog soon on some legit ones and the etiquette behind gifting charity instead of goods. 

Think twice this holiday season! And shop small! 

Shop Small to Make a BIG Difference!

Each year, GF likes to encourage others to “shop small”, and support small businesses who are often struggling to stay afloat with so many bigger, often cheaper, options available. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016 is “Shop Small Saturday,” an annual, nationwide event, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, that encourages others to seek out small businesses to support who are also likely trying to provide an amazing holiday experience for their families! Not only are you helping contribute to your community (or theirs, as the case may be, since several of our shop small businesses on this list are online only or perhaps out of state from you), but you can find unique treasures for nearly anyone on your list – even the person who “has it all”. 

If you’re out and about, you can look for this symbol (or similar) to denote a small business. Go in and give them a “looksee”! Never know what hidden gem you may find! A lot of restaurants and bars will also display this symbol, so stop for a bite there instead of a fast food chain.


This list will be re-shared on GF’s Facebook and other social media, throughout the holiday season. It may grow, as we stumble upon more fabulous places, worthy of note, and simply because without the support of consumers, local and small artisans, shops, business owners, etc., may not have the support (financial and otherwise) to continue providing amazing, custom and creative visions for the rest of us to enjoy. 
Also know as “Small Business Saturday”, you can read more about it here. We strongly encourage you to shop small, as much as you can this holiday season – whether it be on Shop Small Saturday or not (let’s face it – some of us just aren’t quite ready for it to be Christmas yet) – and throughout the year! Here’s some of our favorite small businesses, to get you started! Please do share this list, feel free to contact us if you know a small business that deserves to be on the list and we also strongly encourage small businesses to patronize other small businesses, and allow that spirit to cycle! 

Please remember: 

  1. As noted, several times, custom work takes time. If you’re so much as remotely interested in a custom piece from any of these vendors, please contact them directly, ASAP, for more information, including creation time and shipping. Don’t discount a custom piece if it simply can’t be done before your holiday of choice! Wrap a picture/handwritten note/card or accessory (say, a pretty pair of earrings to go in the custom jewelry box you ordered) and explain the situation. When your custom piece does arrive, it allows the season of giving, to continue! 
  2. Check back as we repost the list (it won’t be a full blog, so make sure you follow us on FB and Instagram) to refresh your memory and see any potential new additions. 
  3. This was a success last year and we heard from several fans and business that they found the perfect gift/designed or shipped orders, as a result of GF’s list! How exciting! However, please remember the spirit of this season is kindness. If something isn’t for you, or anyone on your list, simply move on. Different folks means different strokes – negativity towards an artisan or their craft(s) is not well tolerated here. 
  4. Most of these businesses have FB pages too! Give them a like to stay updated on new creations and special events they may be hosting or participating in!!!

RAINBOW GODDESS DESIGNS

rainbowgoddessdesigns.com. 

Handmade crowns to beautiful, handmade jewelry creations. Flowers, feathers, mermaid, Native American, Dia de los Meurtos, even unicorn horns! She does custom work, too…just beware custom work takes time (since every piece is handmade) and so does shipping. Unique gifts for that person who has everything! Super affordable, too! 

Von’s Pick – I love the unicorn horns and matching tails because what little girl wouldn’t want to be a unicorn for Christmas?!? The peacock feathers and swords in exotic colors really set them apart. I also love the beautiful mermaid crowns, because y’all know I’m a mermaid by day! 

MY LIP STUFF

Mylipstuff.com

The most AMAZING lip balms you can get your pucker on! 700+ flavors, earth and animal friendly, custom flavors and labels, all made with love and the perfect amount of shine and “glide” to give you a perfect pout. Don’t forget to check out the other products as well, because the Healing Body Butter stick is a miracle in a tube. You will never use Neosporin again. 

Von’s pick – Pink Cake and Nighttime are my favorite balms, but the Healing Body Butter stick is something I never leave home without! It’s healed everything from minor cuts and scrapes, to deep wounds and even bruises, faster than any product I’ve ever used. 

PERFECTLY POSH

Thepamperedmom.po.sh

Perfectly Posh is a relatively new skin care venture but one I’m glad was made. Vegan and paraben free, they’ve got you covered from head to toe – literally. Amazing scents and only the finest in essential oils and ingredients, it’s a difference you can see and feel. Best part? Everything in their huge catalog is under $25! 

Von’s Pick – Moisturize 911

If you stuff one stocking with PP this season, stuff it with this amazing crème, full of brightening, toning and complexion perfecting ingredients to make your holidays truly glow. If you do order, and want to “treat” your hostess with the mostess (I get points) you can use my link here:

https://www.perfectlyposh.com/p/?pref=5181648

PINK ZEBRA

The most amazing wax warmers and scents to fill your home with holiday cheer. Forget those little cubes! Pink Zebra uses what they call “sprinkles”, which make for easy mixing and matching scents and you control how much scent you want! I’ve also not had any problems with this product doing what those little cubes did; melting plastic combs that are designed to withstand 500° temperatures, simply by placing a new cube on top of them and forgetting over night. They will work in any standard/electric wax warmer, but at PZ prices, check out some of the super cute ones they offer. Plus, they offer “soaks”, to make your own car air fresheners, scented toys, etc.! Have a warmer under the tree and a jar of sprinkles in the stocking! Or, make it a semi-handmade gift by creating uniquely scented car fresheners for friends and family (subtle hint to the teen who leaves half a pizza in his car until it’s unrecognizable or a sachet for Aunt Mary’s quilt closet). 

Von’s Pick – Pumpkin Amber is my go-to scent whenever I need a little pick-me-up! Less PSL, a touch more warmth from the amber and a splash of citrus make this scent relaxing and refreshing. Store bought pie? No problem! The Warm Apple Pie scent will have family and friends fooled in no time! 

POPPEDIFY

The. Best. Gourmet popcorn, second to none! Hand popped, in small batches, one bag to 100! And, sooooo many delicious flavors to choose from! Just the perfect amount of light, crispy, crunchy, “candy” coating (like kettle korn), this would be perfect in a Christmas Eve box, as a stocking stuffer or for co-worker gifts and holiday parties. Make sure you order extra because it goes fast and you’re definitely going to want your own! 

Von’s Pick – The Pumpkin Spice is decadent, but I adore mixing the Cherry and Cinnamon together (it’s like Cherry Sours and Cinnamon Bears candy, both which I love). Even not being an eggnog person, their Eggnog popcorn is divine! 

TWISTED SEAS

https://poshmark.com/closet/twisted

Beautiful and eclectic jewelry and handmade creations. Think classic pieces like cameos, meets Steampunk, Gothic and more. Every piece is handmade with amazing attention to detail and custom orders are accepted. Contact them directly to see if they can help create your ideal piece, as well as for pricing and times to create and ship. 

Von’s Pick – I love the twisted classics, like the gothic cameos (mentioned above). I also like quite a bit of Steampunk fashion, and these aren’t the same Steampunk you can find all over the net. Delicate, feminine and classy; it doesn’t scream “Steampunk”, rather just “unique”.  

THE MITER BOX

http://www.themiterbox.org/

Beautiful wooden creations, by a husband and wife team, many with Celtic knot work or more Renaissance themes. The shop is online only and as mentioned, custom work takes time. Please contact them directly (not us at GF), to ask how long an order may take. They are an SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism, if memory serves) household – so if you have any SCA fans/members on your list, I’m sure they’d treasure a gift from one SCA household, to theirs! 

Von’s Pick – Reagan (the wife part of this duo) has been a friend of mine for many years. Some of the beautiful, exotic woods she uses – in naturally rich, gemstone colors – are my favorite to see! She works with a deep plum one called “Purple Heart”, and I’ve been hinting to my husband that I can never have too many jewelry boxes! 

CATA VINOS

http://www.catavinoswines.com/

If you’re in, around or passing through Tucson, Cata Vinos is a wine lovers dream, tucked away off the street and hidden so well, if you blink, you’ll miss it. Most every wine is under $15 a bottle and they do offer tastings with palette cleansers (snacks), as well as wine by the glass or bottle and cater to special events. They often have a food truck onsite for special tastings and offer tapas style, small plates of meats, cheeses and olives for an additional fee, during tasting. Indoor and outdoor seating, a nice way to unwind after a long day of work or shopping, and maybe even find a gift for the wine lover on your list, while you’re there. 

Von’s Pick – Craig and I have never had a bad wine here, however the one we adore (and celebrated with for our local wedding reception when we returned from California), is a sparkling moscato and the name has completely escaped me. Owner, Yvonne, always remembers, so if you tell her Craig and Evonne, the two blondes sent you, that would likely tip her off! 

ELISA’S SOUL KISSES

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Elisasoulkisses

Handmade metaphysical tools, gems, oils, jewelry and more. Some very unusual finds, she also does auctions and flash sales on Facebook. 

Von’s Pick – The Hitman Protection Oil is the best! Infused with stone chips and herbs to help add a layer of protection against negativity and attacks, both psychic and physical, the clean, lightly citrusy scent is relaxing, refreshing and I wear it often for its anti-negativity benefits. Especially when out in public. The scent alone makes it perfect for anyone who likes a light, springy, slightly floral perfume oil. 

VIBES UP

http://shop.vibesup.com/

Products produced with ground crystals and other healing elements; range from bracelets to nail polish to their famous Earth Energy Mats, and are said to do everything from ease back pain to keep drinks colder, longer, based on this technology. They have a ton of products to chose from, so there’s bound to be something for everyone on your list! 

Von’s Pick – Not going to lie. I have quite the wish list here for Santa! But, after trying a very small piece of one of their original mats, I’d strongly suggest these! I’ve had a lot of migraines lately (tis the season, right?) and I can place one of these small pieces on my head, where the headache seems to center, and within minutes it’s gone or near gone. Make sure you read about the technology itself and some of the over 100 ways loyal fans suggest using it! 
Some of these businesses may look familiar from last year’s list – simply because they are so extraordinary! Some, have craftspeople who were on last year’s list, but have elected to showcase different talents. Some, are entirely new!  We strongly encourage you to support these and all small businesses, the community and the artisans behind this work – whether it be the little Ma&Pa diner who always makes your favorite dish just right or the amazing talents who sew, craft, create and astound everyone with their work! 

As mentioned, please let us know if you know a small business who needs some holiday love and we’ll check it out for the reposts. Yes, shopping small may cost a bit more, but you’re helping someone like you buy their kids gifts and put food on their table, as opposed to supporting some faceless CEO getting his/her 5th vacation home. 

  • Other ideas:
  • Visit a flea mall/antique mall/ garage sales/swap meet or check out one online for your area. Also consider “gently used” games/CDs/movies/books from a local small business that deals in such (Zia, Hansen’s, Bookmans). 
  • Offer to “trade” services with friends and family, instead of buying a gift (i.e., as a hairdresser, say coworkers all exchange services – I give the nail tech a hair cut and style, (s)he gives me a pedicure). Or, I offer my tattoo artist a cut and color in exchange for a small tattoo. 
  • If you’re giving a pet as a gift (always make sure the animal is wanted and the recipient able to care for the animal), adopt and don’t shop. Shelters need that donation, especially this time of year!  
  • Host company holiday parties at small restaurants/bars as opposed to big, multimillion dollar hotels and resorts. Smaller spaces encourage mingling and if the establishment doesn’t provide food, find a local caterer to do so! 
  • Shop farmers markets for in season ingredients for holiday meals. Or, ingredients like fresh honey for DIY gifts. 
  • Check out local vineyards, breweries and distilleries for the booze lover in your list. 
  • Here, we have what’s called the 4th Ave Street Fair, before the holidays. It’s in the artsy area of town and while it used to be far more local vendors, it still encourages shopping from smaller businesses – both those set up for the event and those who line the streets year ’round. Look for events like that by checking social media and local circulars and newspapers. 
  • Think charitable donations in lieu of traditional gifts. But! Wait for it! GF will be doing a blog soon on some legit ones and the etiquette behind gifting charity instead of goods. 

Think twice this holiday season! And shop small! 

POSH Spice! 

Don’t cringe! We’re not going to to discuss the rumored Spice Girls reunion. That’s not really what I want, at least. 

No, I’m talking about Perfectly Posh skin care. Chock-full of yummy smelling, good for your skin ingredients, this line is perfectly decadent.

Perfectly Posh is a US based company, featuring skin and hair care products that are vegan (with the exception of milk, honey and beeswax in some products), does not test on animals, is void of petroleum-based products (a huge deal in our house since Craig’s Toxic Exposure was as a result of petroleum distillates in solvents and inks) and paraben free, utilizing the finest natural ingredients and essential oils for naturally beautiful skin. 

My Posh sample pack included – 

  • Fall Out Girl body soap chunk
  • Boho Soul Fat Yummy hand crème 
  • Olive My Love mild face cleanser
  • Never Grow Up anti-aging face serum
  • Never Grow Up anti-aging face crème
  • Dawn On Me daytime facial oil
  • Moisturize 911 caffeinated tightening face crème 

Good things come in small packages! Cash, jewelry and Perfectly Posh! All those beautifully packaged little pouches of luxurious scents, silky textures and complexion perfection! Plus, I’m a sucker for a handwritten “thank you” note – its a dying art.

I’m also a sucker for beautiful handwriting, since I can’t read my own 90% of the time! I was relaxed before I ever got the pretty pink package open!

All of these samples were hand-picked by my Perfectly Posh consultant, Kristen, based on a short series of questions about my skin concerns and scent preferences. No form to fill out. Just a brief, one-on-one chat about my skin issues and goals. 
Kristen is a stay at home mom, one of the toughest jobs around, and started with Perfectly Posh on the search for natural, affordable skin care products that left her feeling pampered. Being a stay at home mom with young children, pampering is often left by the wayside, and she found Posh gave her that, in whatever few moments she had, leaving her feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day (and probably the kids here and there), making her a better mom and a better “her”. 

“It’s amazing how far a little pampering can go to make women (with or without kids), feel rejuvenated!”, Kristen states. 

And, fewer, truer words have been spoken. 

Now, I’m 35 but typically guessed in my mid to late 20’s. As a teen, I had horrible cystic acne that left pocking and scarring, which took me years to repair. Even into my early 20’s, I was still battling horrible acne along both jaws, to the point I appeared to have some futuristic, alien disease. Nope. Just horrible acne. Dermablend was my everyday foundation and I refused to leave the house without it because I was simply so embarrassed and self conscious about my skin. And, I wouldn’t be caught dead letting someone photograph me or taking a selfie without a Kylie Jenner style, 200 step makeup application. 

I then discovered the miracle of good skin care, which not only helped me repair the damage done, but also shlepped years off my appearance. In fact, I’m now regularly asked what my secret is and rarely believed when I state simply, “good skin care and a good skin care routine”. One day a week isn’t going to get that glow back or soften the signs of aging. You have to be diligent (but, that’s another blog). In fact, I was complimented three times last week alone, by complete strangers, wanting to know what foundation I used. I may wear a light BB cream for special events (and that’s mostly for the SPF), but even that’s rare these days. 

Halloween decorating with Craig about a month ago – not a drop of makeup. Hell…don’t even think I brushed my hair before pulling it up/back!

Clean and fresh skin for bed. I know its a pain folks, but ALWAYS take all that makeup off before bed! Leaving it on can clog pores, break/make eyelashes brittle and over time, the residual build up will dull your complexion, especially if you don’t exfoliate regularly!

Go karting with hubby for a Saturday date day! We played 18 holes of mini golf, before this picture was taken, too. Nothing but my BB cream (mascara, waterline liner and lipstick), in Arizona heat of 100°+ for Labor Day! Another perk to a great skin care product and routine is using less makeup (should you choose to wear any), because your skin isn’t “drinking it up”, and easier application! I’m done in five minutes and ready to go, with makeup that’s going to stay put and not slide off an hour later! I’m not constantly fussing and checking it, either. Skin care is the true foundation of gorgeous skin, whether you decide to enhance it with makeup or not.

I’ve tried a lot of skin care, too. Drug store to department store, $5.00 to $500.00. Especially since GF came into existence. I won’t lie – I definitely have my favorites! However, with everything in the catalog being under $25.00 a pop, Perfectly Posh just moved up my list! 

Not only do these products smell amazing, they’re gentle, rich without being heavy and in the week I’ve been using them, I’ve seen results (especially with my favorite amongst the products I tried, but we’ll get to that in a minute). With something for every skin type, including products with charcoal and volcanic ash to combat dull skin, Black Sea salt and honey to exfoliate and turmeric and Shea butter to give skin, what they call, “the Midas touch”, let’s start with my experience and get you familiar with some of the products before you go blowing up Kristen’s inbox wanting to know what she recommends for you. 

Main skin complaints for me, personally: 

Dull skin, dry skin (I live in a desert and my NY skin does not approve), unevenness, tightening/firming and reducing pore size. 

My scent preferences are irrelevant for the most part. That’s definitely an individual thing. Not that skin concerns aren’t, but far easier to narrow complexion offenders than scent – and they have a lot! That mostly applies to their body soaps (Chunks) and hand creams, in my opinion, anyway. 

Fall Out Girl body soap chunk – I liked this glycerin based body soap quite a bit! It removed the grime and grossness of the daily grind, never felt greasy or heavy, left my skin soft and I used far less lotion! In fact, Craig asked if I’d switched body lotions because my skin didn’t feel as dry and look as ashy. A little goes a long way, because it lathered so nicely. Never mind the name; the scent is pomegranate and blackberry which smells wonderfully fresh and fruity. It’s not for the faint of heart! The scent is a bit strong (if you’ve followed GF very long, you know my husband is very sensitive to scent, and while he liked it, he just simply uttered, “too strong” when I shoved it under his nose. After bath he didn’t mind it though). Cocoa butter and pomegranate seed oil are the package selling points, as far as ingredients go. After this fabulous “chunk”, I’ve got my eye on some of the ocean scented ones – because y’all know by now, I’m a mermaid at heart! Kristen also recommends these, especially the citrus and fruity scented ones. In fact, this is her absolute favorite product by Posh! When your hostess and her rep say it’s good, you should trust us! 

I was so excited, I couldn’t even wait to snap a shot before I ripped into that Boho Soul hand crème! While the chunks are decedent, they are glycerine based (at least Fall Out Girl is), which means they will “melt” faster if you just leave them on the side of the tub or in a shower caddy. Invest in a covered soap dish (look in the travel section at your local dollar or big box store), to keep glycerine soaps fresher, longer. Its also going to reduce the messy soap puddle it will inevitably leave in it’s wake, and who wants to spend an hour scraping half your delicious soap off the tub or caddy? Plus, once it melts down IN the dish, you can simply dip your fingers in and make sure you get every last, precious drop!

 

Boho Soul Fat Yummy hand crème – Again, loved this lightweight, non-greasy hand crème that didn’t gunk up my rings! I find I often skip using lotion, especially hand lotions, because it’s not worth the effort to clean my bazillion rings (most of which have pavé accents, A.K.A., little diamonds of endless frustration when it comes to cleaning them – and it’s both hands) afterwards. Spiced fruits, Amber and Oud wood make up the scent, which turned a lovely, musky sandalwood scent after mingling with my body chemistry. Coconut and Apricot kernel oil, again, a little dab did hands to elbows without a second thought. The difference was noticeable immediately too. Another of Kristen’s picks; she says the Big Fat Yummy Hand Crèmes can even withstand dishwashing after use! I’d test that theory, but then I’d have to fess up to the hubby that I’m really not allergic to it. 

Check this out! Boho Soul on the initial application. I ONLY applied to my hands, to make sure the scent wasn’t going to overpower my husband. Notice the very subtle line of demarcation (the color change), right where my hand meets wrist? That difference was from a single use! You can see the softer, more even tone to the texture of the skin on my hand, as well.



Olive My Love mild face cleanser – This was my least favorite of the lot. Olive and Avocado oil, it claims 6-8 drops will develop a nice lather on dry or damp skin. I must be doing something wrong, because I cannot get this to lather. Not even a bit of bubble. My cosmetology instincts tell me the oils are a bit heavy and preventing that, especially since it also contains sunflower and lavender oils. It doesn’t feel heavy on the skin and it did cut through my mascara with little to no effort. My skin felt clean and looked great. I think, personally though, another of their cleansers might be a better fit for me. In fact, I think the BFF exfoliating daily face wash might be one catching my eye. That, or one with the volcanic ash, that may be a bit more aggressive. Kristen swears by the Pore-fect Deep facial cleansing bar, which offers a deep clean and tightening benefits. Lasting her an average of four months (and retailing for only $9 bucks! Let me tell you…the one I currently use retails for $60) so I may be adding this to my list for Santa as well! I’m not typically a fan of bar cleansers for the face, but at that price, I can get over it (unlike my dishwashing allergy *cough, cough*). 

Never Grow Up anti-aging face serum – Designed to be used in conjunction with the crème, this semi-viscous liquid is designed to tone skin before bed by patting into wrinkle-prone areas. Includes caffeine, lots of lavender and even watermelon seed oil, so it has a light, relaxing scent, perfect for before bed. 

Never Grow Up anti-aging face crème – Follow up the serum, by applying this a bit more generously to entire face and neck. Again, all the products are light-weight and non-greasy, so I’m going to assume we’ve established that. Coffee, olive and avocado oils, rose extract and exactly 3/4 of the fruit section of the grocery store, I did feel it was relaxing and easy to wear and a big peeve of mine…absorbed immediately so it didn’t stain or rub off on bedclothes. 

Dawn On Me daytime facial oil – “Lime, Ginger & Other Essential Oils”, I applied this before Moisturize 911. Very citrusy smelling (I commented to a friend after the first use, I smelled as fresh as an orange grove in spring), it suggests applying under makeup and is certainly light enough to do so. 

But, the winner (they’re all winners, so let’s say the “gold”) goes to…

And, the gold medal goes to…Moisturize 911! So special, in fact, it received the moment of glory; posing atop my beloved mermaid pillow! This AM pot of coffee for the skin, deserved it!


Moisturize 911 caffeinated tightening face crème THIS was by far my favorite! Vitamin C, glycerin, orange and an extra caffeine “kick”, this is your morning pot of coffee for your skin! It states it can be used 2-3 times daily, but honestly, once was all I needed for a beautiful glow and a definite difference in tightening, brightening, evenness and firming. I totally understand why this is one of the company’s top 10 sellers! If you only try one Perfectly Posh product, I’d highly recommend this one!  Even my husband noticed after I applied this, saying my skin looks, “softer, brighter and prettier. It always looks healthy but it looks even healthier.” My husband isn’t one to not notice a new haircut or that I’ve lost weight – Craig is quite observant to even the most subtle changes I make. He’s also always flattering, but every bit as honest as I am (just typically a lot more tactful about it). If he doesn’t like something, or he thinks something isn’t flattering, he will say so (which is why I now avoid neon green nail polish). Today, though, after five days of Perfectly Posh pampering, he immediately commented when he got home about how nice my skin looked and inquired what I was doing differently because it looked, “even prettier than normal”. I’m sold! 

Day 1 – Fresh out of the bath, after using Fall Out Girl, Olive My Love, Never Grow Up serum and Never Grow Up crème. Forgive my crooked smile – I had my forward helix (very hard cartilage ear piercing) re-pierced the day prior, and smiling hurt.

Day 5 – After an application of Moisturize 911, and having used all the Perfectly Posh products, noticeably tighter, brighter, more radiant skin! No makeup, no filters, not even a digital pimple popper (concealer).

“Oh my Posh!” Not the most flattering shot, but I wanted to show the eye area and how much my pore size shrank and became more consistent. And, forget crow’s feet! There’s not even a feather around these eyes!


Now, I mentioned before that the key to gorgeous, glowing, youthful skin, in my opinion, is a good skin care product and routine, which would be another blog. Very true. There’s a lot of stuff to know about getting the most out of your skin. If you’re going to invest in a great skin care line like Perfectly Posh, let’s take a quick, “crash course”, so you can make the most of your pampering and truly reap the rewards every single day – when you’re sleeping in an extra half hour before work because you don’t need that time to do your makeup, every single night, when you’re not hunched over the sink with a putty knife, trying to scrape it all back off and especially every single time a stranger asks you your secret to such great skin. 

Day 6 – Craig and I attended a Koi festival, which was held outside, and then a wine and food tasting. What better way to see how Perfectly Posh reflects than under three, different light sources, at multiple times of day? I am wearing my standard BB cream, a touch of blush, eye makeup and lip gloss. The only thing I touched all day was to reapply lip gloss, once! This was, of course, after using Dawn on Me and Moisturize 911. My makeup practically applied itself! I was sad to wash my face with Olive My Love about 9:00PM, before bed, but my skin felt amazing! Clean, soft and my Never Grow Up serum and crème absorbed right in. Talk about compliments on my skin! “Oh my Posh”! And, poor Craig! I kept yelling, “Look at it! LOOK. AT. IT!”, at random intervals.I ADORE the way my skin looks and feels! It honestly looks airbrushed!!!


Laying the foundation 

There’s a metric shit-ton (yes, that is an actual unit of measurement) of products to choose from for skin. Everyone is different, and much like wine, why  there are so many brands and varietals to pick and choose from; something for everyone. 

However, like in cooking, there is a “holy trinity”. Skin care products aren’t cheap, especially when you get into all the “extras” which we will in a moment. The best way to start, especially if you’re new to a skin care regimen, is with what I consider to be “the holy trinity”. 

1. Cleanser 

This should go without saying. Like you clean your body, you need to clean your face. Consider creamy, milky, non-foaming cleansers for dry and delicate skin and more effervescent ones for oily and acne prone. An almond sized amount should be plenty to do face and neck. 

2. Toner 

After cleansing, toning is a great way to stabilize skin’s pH balance and allow all the lotions and potions to fully absorb and work to their best ability. It also helps to remove any traces of soap residue left behind. A great, inexpensive one is Witch Hazel (commonly found near the rubbing alcohol and peroxide at your drug or big box store). Natural and gentle, it’s great for cuts and bug bites as well. To use, simply dampen a cotton ball or pad with tepid water and then apply a bit of the Witch Hazel. The water soaks in first, allowing you to save a bit of product and cash by not using quite as much, leaving the Witch Hazel right on top so you’re really getting every last bit on your skin. The cotton ball/pad is already soft and clean coming out of the bag and doesn’t need any help. 

3. Moisturizers 

Both day and night. Day creams should be light enough to wear under makeup (should you choose) and contain SPF. Make sure you’re using a portion about the size of a dried banana chip to get plenty of SPF coverage. Night creams will be a bit heavier; more dense and saturated, to help undo and prevent environmental damages as well as good ol’ genetics. Because they’re more concentrated, you’ll only really need a M&M sized amount. Even oily skin needs to be moisturized! Look for ones that contain salacylic acid, alpha and beta hydroxy acids or even tea tree oils to combat shine and acne flare-ups. Dry skin benefits from extra moisturizing goodies like honey, avocado oil, coconut oil and ingredients to help firm and tone like collagen and elastin, or some of the PP ingredients we’ll get to in a second. 

Kristen agrees! Her number one tip for healthy, glowing skin is moisturizing. 

“Hot water is drying, as it strips oils and moisture from your skin. It’s so important to moisturize to keep skin youthful and radiant.”

Hence, this being one of the steps in the trinity; especially in dry climates or as skin ages, moisture levels in skin deplete, which is a huge factor in premature aging, fine lines, wrinkles, sagging and uneven skin tone. The best method is prevention, and you’re never too young, or too old, to start reaping the benefits of what daily moisturizing can do for your skin. 

*Please note: Perfectly Posh’s day creams DO NOT contain a SPF! They do, however, sell a separate product called My Hero, that has a SPF of 30 via zinc oxide (honestly, all you need. A 50 or 70 has not been proven to provide any added protection). Whether you opt to go this route, or use a SPF bearing BB cream or foundation, just make sure you’re getting it on, somehow. UVA and UVB protection is a huge factor in preventing skin cancer and premature aging! 

After the trinity, I strongly recommend:

  • Exfoliating – By sloughing off the dry, dead layers of skin, you not only have a brighter, healthier looking appearance immediately, but save time and product, since it allows product to get straight to the source. 1-3 times a week is plenty and again, skin type will determine how coarse a “grit” you want and how often you may want to use it. Oily skin should look for coarser grits like sand, coffee grounds, walnut shells and extra coarse salt/sugar scrubs, while sensitive and dry skin may better benefit from baking soda, small seeds and extra fine shells/salts/sugars, microbeads or even just a soft, damp washcloth. Usually a nickel-sized amount is plenty. 
  • Masques – Oily and acne prone skin may find peel off masks work better for them, while dry and sensitive skin typically responds better to mud and clay type masques. Water masques are usually well suited for all skin types, but again, check the ingredients! If you have dry skin, you certainly don’t want a clay masque full of salacylic acid to dry it out even more. Once a week or bi-monthly use, makes investing in a good masque easy to do and affordable! Typically masques should be left for 20-30 minutes, and can cram 3-5 times the amount of skin nourishing goodness into the skin in a half an hour, as a week’s worth of creams and lotions. That is not a “get out of jail free card” to avoid daily moisturizing, though. 
  • Eye Cream – The skin around the eyes and lips is thinner, which is why they’re more prone to showing the signs of aging faster than the rest of the face. A good eye cream, dabbed gently into the outer eye area every night, can help head off or reverse laugh lines and crow’s feet. A sunflower kernel sized dab is plenty and I stress gently patting as opposed to rubbing on such delicate skin. Bonus? Because eye creams are so densely packed with nutrients, they also make a great lip balm for severely chapped lips. Just use a clean cotton swab to avoid cross contamination with the eyes and never “double dip”. 

From there, depending on your skin’s needs and your concerns and goals, you can get into everything from Glycolic Acid peels (any concentration over 10% is illegal in the states, FYI), to zit zappers to light therapy and beyond. As I said, skin care is a vast topic and this is just a way to help you get the most out of, what I consider, the essentials. A nice guide to keep handy if you’re building a gift basket this holiday season, as well!

 

***Always read product directions and follow, especially if you get into acids, like glycolic. You can do more damage than good. These are general recommendations and guidelines, being a cosmetologist and based on the products I’ve worked most with. ***

What are some of these ingredients and what can they do for me? 

I was curious too. I can only retain so much information on any given subject, and that’s primarily the information most likely to be used and some random trivia here and there. Even I was curious about some of the “stuff”, that makes Perfectly Posh naturally fabulous. I’m also including a few I see repeating on the products, just in case you were wondering. 

Rough little grains of natural sea salt, colored in a rich, dramatic black, thanks to activated charcoal.

  • Black Sea salt – This one had me from the get-go. It’s simply sea salt, from several locations around the world (Hawaii is very well known, for what you’ll see as obvious reasons), which has been mixed with activated charcoal. Charcoal is fantastic for getting the skin über clean and detoxifying all the junk that’s built up on it. Same goes for charcoal powder and volcanic ash (all three make amazing exfoliating tools – think salt/powder/ash to oily/normal/sensitive. 
  • Caffeine – Becoming increasingly popular in skin care and beauty products, caffeine helps to tighten and firm the skin. Super effective on cellulite, too. 
  • Tumeric – This may have shown up on your grocery list lately because it’s one of the superfoods of the minute. However, topically, it helps control oil, reverse acne scars (wish I’d know about this 10 years ago!) and even skin tone. One thing to watch – if you’re a bronzed babe, regular use can lighten the skin slightly. 
  • Watermelon Seed Oil – An excellent oil for all skin types,  it can firm and prevent a multitude of skin disorders, such as acne. It gently removes excess sebum (oil) and detoxifies as well. 
  • Kaolin – A natural clay; one of the US’ largest sources is Georgia. A soft clay, it absorbs oil and impurities and has a mildly astringent effect. Also known to control diarrhea, we do not recommend eating your skin care, no matter how good it may smell. 
  • Pomegranate Seed Oil – A “dry oil”, it absorbs quickly and helps to firm and tighten skin. Loaded with all the same, health-boosting antioxidants we’ve come to know and love from the juice and those damn little frustrating seeds, that’s now going straight on your skin and skipping the, ahem, scenic route. 
  • Argan Oil – Another trendy cure all, this super moisturizing oil is derived from a nut (if memory serves), which can be found in only a couple places in the world and is traditionally still hand harvested and pressed. It’s very much like liquid gold for your skin. 
  • Grape Leaf and Grape Seed Oil – Prior to GF, I blogged for another site (who shall remain nameless due to their ethics and horrible business practice), and did a review on some lip products containing wine. Yes, wine! While only one of the three products had a powdered wine in it, they all included Grape Seed Oil and Grape Leaf. What I found in my research was wine  (or, more likely Grape Leaf and Grapeseed Oil) helps to diminish fine lines and wrinkles and firm skin. So, now you can drink your wine and slather it all over your face, too, for a double dose of its healing and nurturing effects. Salut! 

Oud wood slice – that dark, icky center is where the lush scent and highly prized wood is derived from.

  • Oud Wood – Not an ingredient, rather the scent of Boho Soul had me intrigued. Well, sit down for this little nugget of knowledge, especially if you have a weak stomach. This highly prized scent comes from evergreen trees, native to Asia after a particular mold develops in the tree. The trees are odorless and light in color until this fungus takes over, turning the heart of the tree a rich, dark color with this musky, woodsy scent. So, think of it as the mushrooms of the perfume world. 

What’s with all the citrus?!?

Aside from the blood orange, I do believe the Never Grow Up crème contains all of these juicy fruits!


Not only is citrus acidic yet relatively alkaline on the pH scale, it can help balance the skin’s pH to a slightly acidic 5.5 (where you want it – 7 is neutral, if you were curious, with anything under being acidic and anything over, alkaline). Mildly astringent, it helps clean up excess oil, loaded with Vitamin C and those bright colors aren’t just for show (or margaritas)! New studies have found the bright colors of citrus fruits can actually brighten skin with regular use. Remember that episode of the ‘Brady Bunch’, where Jan wanted to “bleach” her freckles? 

(Don’t lie! We’re not here to judge!) 

The friendly neighborhood pharmacist recommended lemon. Citrus can fade dark spots (in a more concentrated form, ala Jan Brady), even skin tone and give it a brighter appearance. It’s naturally slightly antibacterial (how many household cleansers do you own that smell like lemon? Also, with my husband being so scent-sitive, we can’t use bleach or most household cleansers, nor can I use Barbacide to disinfect my tools as a hairdresser. I use a hospital grade, all five levels needed to qualify as hospital grade and it’s-not-getting-any-cleaner-unless-it-goes-in-an-autoclave, disinfectant called Citrus 2, which is loaded with citrus oils), so it’s perfect for gently removing oils and unclogging pores (maybe where you picked at that pimple with dirty hands) to prevent and treat acne. In fact, during my battle with acne, a good friend and naturopathic doctor suggested drinking lime juice every day. Citrus is good stuff! Inside and out! 

Now, gentlemen! You need to be taking care of your skin as well! Lucky as most men are to age gracefully and become more distinguished looking as they get older, the popularity of metrosexuality in the early 2000’s made it much more acceptable for men to use a skin care regimen. To be honest, like hair care products, typically the biggest difference in “men’s products” versus “women’s products”, is in packaging and marketing (often times, scent). My husband (lucky bastard) is almost 54 and still gets carded buying me a pack of cigarettes. He also uses bar soap – grocery store body soap – on his face, which I admit, makes me die a little inside every time I witness the autrocity. If I nag enough, I can get him to exfoliate occasionally and after almost nine years, I don’t have to hog-tie him to slather on a little moisturizer or a spot treatment (bless him! He gets my acne at “that time of the month”! In fact, about six months ago I had a tiny pimple on my chin and he, being the ham he is, after noticing, followed with all the appropriate melodrama and aplomb, even going so far as to fake fainting and pretend to call Guinness). 

Craig and I at our local wedding reception, May 2015. We were married in California, on the beach, and most of our friends and family couldn’t make the trip, so we had our reception at a local wine bar upon returning to Arizona. Gorgeous (and all mine, ladies and gents), he certainly doesn’t look much, if any, older than I do! Lucky &*%#&@!


However, I can see where a lot of men probably wouldn’t want a bunch of pink and white products scattered around their bathroom, especially the bachelors. That’s just asking, begging even, for relentless teasing from friends and the “raised brow” of suspicion from any potential love interests who may stop by. While Perfectly Posh’s packaging is clean, trendy and what I’d consider gender neutral for the most part, it’s also targeted to a younger age range, in my opinion, which, while Craig wouldn’t care (he’d just blame me, plus he’s pretty secure in his masculinity), I see where some guys may be a bit concerned (I can hear my 21 year old son whining, “Really Mom?!? Pink?!?”, even though he does a better smoky eye than I do).Never fear! Posh has got the guys covered, too, with a line dedicated to the dudes! 

Give “twinkle toes” a whole new meaning!


Head to toe, too, Posh has products to spoil your scalp and treat your feet. After a long day of standing and walking at the Koi festival, the Rubby Scrubby stick for feet, with naturally exfoliating beads and peppermint has my dogs begging for a pedicure! I’m a die-hard fan of that product that comes in the big, green tube, out of a famous, New York apothecary, that uses a couple initials and a last name (they do a minty lip shine, that freshens breath, too – you know the company), but I’d love to see how Posh stands up to my tried-and-true. Kristen recommends Snarky Bar – a Shea butter and sugar bead scrubbing and exfoliating bar – she says it keeps her feet in tip top shape between pedicures, and the rest of her skin glowing too. “Think of it as a soap and loofah all wrapped up in one!”, she tells GF. And, if you weren’t aware folks, those loofah balls hanging in your shower should be replaced at least once a month. They’re a breeding ground for bacteria. Save yourself the cash, and the headache, and grab a Snarky Bar instead. 


While we’re on the subject of lip glosses, Perfectly Posh has your pucker pampering needs as well! That one I have my doubts about, simply because I’ve been a My Lip Stuff junkie for so long, I have doubts any lip balm can hold up to the kissable softness, shine and 700 flavors of MLS. I’ve been an addict since 2006, and view other lip balms with a great deal of suspicion and skepticism. MLS’ Healing Body Butter Balm also has Craig and me hooked, so not sure I could belly-up to try Posh’s The Healer Skin Stick, either. Stranger things have happened; so we may have to just for the sake of skin science. Kristen recommends it! As a stay at home mother of young children, I’m guessing she knows a lot about “uht-ohs” and “boo-boos”, and while I do love my Healing Body Butter Balm, the vanilla and citrus might be a bit more soothing to young noses. 

Another of Kristen’s favorites is the Gender Bender “chunk”, but perhaps not for the reasons you may think. Shea butter, palm oil and activated charcoal offer deep cleansing and detoxing without sacrificing moisture, but Kristen says this the best makeup brush cleaner she’s found! She swears by it; stating cost effectiveness, longevity and ease of use, beats her old $20 a bottle cleaner, bristles down! This is another one folks (and I’m guilty too) – you should be cleaning those makeup brushes at least once a month or anytime they go on any face other than your own. Not only will your makeup look less “muddy” due to all the product build up, but they too can harbor bacteria and contribute to cross contamination on the face. An acne break out could be the least of your problems. Wash until water runs clear, blot excess water then allow to dry flat to retain shape. 
Another “fun fact” about Perfectly Posh is their You Deserve It foundation, which aims to, “share pampering, bringing [sic] their message that everyone deserves to take a minute or two for themselves each and every day”. It’s not selfish – it’s about nurturing oneself, inside and out, to be the best you, you can be

To check out the foundation and some of their projects, visit You Deserve It! 

Also, if you’d like to help out your hostess with the mostess here at GF, you can order these multitudes of skin care miracles in tubs and tubes and jars by clicking on MY personal Perfectly Posh link! Get glowing, glittering skin and help a sistah out! Yes, folks! I’m that hooked. It’s my new addiction (at least this one is healthier than most of my other ones!). Trust me! You’ll be just as hooked, just as fast! Think of it like skin crack!

Perfectly Posh Would also make fabulous gifts for holidays, birthdays and other special occasions for: 

  • Teachers
  • Hair Stylists/Nail Techs
  • The In-laws (or, to stash in their room/bathroom when they visit)
  • Babysitters
  • Team Coaches
  • Team Moms
  • Co-workers
  • Friends
  • Neighbors (especially that nice one who always pulls up your trash cans)
  • Pet Groomers 
  • Doctors and Nurses
  • White Elephant Parties/Secret Santa
  • A Favorite Waitress/Sommelier 
  • Teenage kids’ GF/BF 

And, so much more! Think of the Big Fat Yummy Hand Crèmes alone! Male or female, how many of those folks above constantly have their hands in water or chemicals and could use a little TLC? You don’t have to be all “up” in their business either! 


I’m hooked. No, I’m not a consultant, and as always, have not been paid to provide a positive review. However, I strongly encourage you to give Perfectly Posh a try! I cannot stress that enough! Worst case, you hate it (which you totally won’t), I’ll send you my address and your can pamper your hostess with the mostess here at Glitter Fantasy (who has a birthday coming up, too *cough, nudge, wink*). 

Trust us! You’ll thank me (maybe with some PP) when you’re constantly being asked, “Oh my Posh! Your skin looks amazing! What do you use?!?”. 

Posh gratification. 

Perfectly Posh for the perfect complexion! Being a MUA, I would swear this had been airbrushed! And, yes, my husband and I supported “Safety Pin Saturday” which, if you’re not familiar, is a simple display to designate a person as “safe” to anyone being harassed or threatened. A small gesture to show we’re friendly, will not judge and help assist you out of whatever situation is making you uncomfortable.


*If you have any doubts, please take a moment to refresh yourself with our PR and review policies, by clicking our “pages” link at the top left of the main page. We never accept bribes, or threats, in any form, in exchange for a positive review. Please see our review policy for more information. 

**None of the images (skin/personal) have been edited in any way. No filters, no Photoshopping; they are raw and un-retouched. 

***Images: Personal, candlesupply, Pinterest, AATEA, Rhysa Photography, stocksy, perfectly posh

      Not All Snacks Are Created Equal 

      Face it. We all snack. Especially if there are kids in the house. We’re all guilty of mindlessly chomping away and a bag of Doritos or a couple rows of Oreos later, we’re not even hungry…it just happened, like magic.

      We’ve all done it. Easy. Relatively inexpensive. Tasty. There’s probably something staring at you from your pantry or tucked away in your fridge, right now, and like a moth to a flame, you’re now suddenly interested and thinking about a Netflix and binge marathon.

      No shame. No judgement. It’s “Julia’s Law” – your desire for food is directly proportional to how badly you probably shouldn’t have it.

      Yet, with Thanksgiving just a couple weeks away, and I heard Christmas carols playing today while grocery shopping, we all know weight gain this time of year is likely inevitable, but we all want to look our, sveltest, skinniest best for the family and friends we only see once every 12 months or so (see? Julia’s Law).

      While we could all probably work on portion control, like knowing a standard serving of potato chips is about 150 calories for 14-15 chips or that a standard size candy bar is roughly 220 calories per serving, and there’s two servings, I’m not here to fat shame or talk you out of wiping your orange fingers on the dog and stepping away from the Cheetos. With the next six weeks being a food lovers dream, I’d just like to share some snacking ideas to help you keep off the pounds and take the guilt out of having that second slice of Aunt Betty’s famous pumpkin pie.


      1. The fruit and veggie facts. 

      We know fruits and veggies are good for us. Hell, I have a couple pints of blackberries sitting here giving me the eye right now. But, there’s a couple things that can make a healthy, low-cal snack, not so nutritious in no time.

      Dips and Sauces

      I love broccoli, but you’ll never catch me eating it, especially raw, without something else. Same goes for apples (if you don’t think caramel on an apple is a glorious thing, you’re doing it wrong). But, sauces and dips can be loaded with fat, calories and we tend to “over-dip” because, duh! That’s the best part! The fruit/vegetable is just the vessel so you can avoid the shame of eating your dip with a spoon (again, no judgement. I’ve sat and watched my husband eat an entire jar of marshmallow fluff like a pudding cup). Read the nutrition facts first. Serving sizes are small (measure it out and see how many carrots you get with the standard two tablespoons of ranch, or whatever your flavor, dip). Instead, consider low fat/low calorie options (just because something is labeled “low fat”, does not make it so. Always double check – or, if you must have ranch dip, consider buying Greek yogurt or low calorie sour cream and one of those packages of dip mix and making your own so you control the calories), or healthier options like hummus, nut butters, plain Greek yogurt or even things like mustard, horseradish sauces (including wasabi), fruit butters, hot sauce, vinegar like malt or balsamic, or guacamole. Yeah, theres still some pretty high-cal options on that list, but those are good fat calories, the ones your body can use, and don’t pack quite as much sugar, fillers and preservatives, so you can feel a bit less guilty about double dipping.

      Convenience 

      If it’s prepackaged, it’s going to be less nutritious. Vitamins and minerals are lost in the packaging and preserving process. But, sometimes you just can’t avoid it. I adore pickled vegetables, and I could pickle my own okra or asparagus or cukes, but I just don’t have the time and resources, so a jar it is, especially if said vegetable is out of season. I love olives, but those olive bars in grocery and specialty shops are expensive! Unless they have some reduced or one hell of a sale, those bad boys are coming from the canned/jarred veggie aisle. And, it’s a special breed of insanity that makes anyone want to skin and core a pineapple; if you’re really bored some day, try hacking a coconut (have 911 on speed dial). But, when you can, buy fresh and prepare it yourself (which, fun fact – baby carrots are not a special breed. They originated with a farmer who was losing tons of his carrot crops due to them being undersized or ugly/misshapen. So he peeled them and cut them into what’s in that bag you probably have in your fridge for school lunches. However, after undergoing peeling, they get bathed in chemicals to prevent browning, retain freshness and extend shelf life. Your call.).

      2. Try something new

      I love chickpeas/garbanzo beans (whatever you refer to them as). I love hummus and even eat them on pizza. Roasting them though, gives them a light, satisfying crunch and make an excellent snack, chock-full of protein. With the foodie I am, I’d read about them numerous times but hadn’t gotten around to trying them until last weekend at a monthly wine club my husband and I attend. They serve snacks and pallet cleansers and hors d’oeuvres, which these crunchy, roasted, chipotle seasoned chickpeas were amongst. Delicious! A bag came home with us! Supremely satisfying at taking the edge off my salty cravings, too. Maybe sub them for croutons on a salad or crackers in soup. The bag even recommends adding them to party mix, which you know someone will be serving , so maybe you bring the cereal snack we all know and love and add these (let’s face it…the triple pretzel method leaves a lot to be desired). Edamame “chips” (rather the roasted pods and caviar, which is what the “seeds” or “beans” inside  are actually called), a handful of nuts, and toasted veggie chips and crackers (just because they’re vegetable flavored does not mean they have any suitable source of veggies, so watch that) can all be super delicious and curb your salty, crunchy, savory cravings with tons of protein and other nutrients. Just avoid those puffy looking veggie sticks and snacks found in the chip aisle – yanno, the name brand involves a sailor and his treasure (or backside – however you like to think about it). They have no more nutritional value than a bag of potato chips.

      3. If sweet is your go to treat…

      Next time you’re tempted to grab a pudding cup or bowl of ice cream, grab a Greek yogurt instead. Personally, I prefer Oikos. However, those Chobani flips aren’t bad either. Again, protein. And, tons of it. You can get all your favorite ice cream flavors (even chocolate!), get that same sweet, creamy feel, but much better at nipping hunger pangs and filling you up. Much less guilt, too.

      Why are we so damn hung up on protein? 

      Protein is the building block of the human body, from muscle to hair. The body processes it easier than carbs, facilitating muscle strength and repair, fills you up without the carb crash and provides steady, consistent energy. I’m not saying you need to go on that famous diet that Sharon Osbourne will try and shove down your throat as her testimony to weight loss and health. In fact, you may occasionally see me discuss my weight loss of 150lbs, most of which I dropped in five months, but every body is different. Which is why your BFF may swear by “X” diet but you gained 10lbs on it. I will say the diet I used was a high protein diet. However, I don’t necessarily advocate it to others, nor will you ever see any diet being recommended on GF. If you’re considering a diet, I recommend you speak with your doctor and perhaps a nutritionist. They know you – I don’t. They are much more qualified to recommend what may work best for you. I will say, I tried (and inevitably failed) several before finding the one that worked for me. I’ve drank the disgusting shakes. Ate the gross bars. Soup, salad, more cardio, more weights. You name it. Protein is amazing though, and while it may or may not help with any weight issues you may or may not have, it’s going to build/repair muscle, strengthen hair and nails and help your skin glow. Plus, help kill cravings. Sounds like a good deal to me!

      4. This sounds good, but you can’t live without…

      Doritos? BBQ potato chips? Ice cream? Whatever your snacking pleasure is, don’t completely deny yourself! Like a diet, it’s a set up for failure of you completely deny yourself everything you love. Splurge! But, watch your portions, maybe cut back (or cut back/cut out other, lesser favorites) and ask yourself if you’re really hungry before you dive in. Most studies show that if you can occupy yourself for about 10 minutes when the snacking urge strikes, you’ll find it lessens or quits because it’s often boredom, not hunger, that has us crunching and munching. Read something. Take a walk. Pop in a movie. Take some silly FB personality quizzes. If you’re still hungry, go for it (in moderation!). Try getting your mind off it, first though. And, forget paying twice as much for those “calorie packs” – make your own! Stock up on zip seal bags and portion snacks for yourself. This way, you grab a pre-portioned bag and aren’t as tempted to have “just one or two more…”. Works for the kids, too, especially when they’re being a pain to begin with. You grab little Susie or Johnny a pre-portioned bag, they know their “limit” and there’s no meltdown because they can’t have the whole bag. They wanna scarf ’em down or savor them – choice is theirs! So, you’re helping them learn portion control, limits and other healthy eating habits all at the same time. And, don’t be afraid to tell them no to a second bag, either. Trust me. They won’t die. You may want to at first, but you’re doing us all a favor in the long run.

      5. Avoid drinking your snack

      Studies show drinking calories is much less gratifying than actually chewing them. Pre-made juices, smoothies and shakes are typically more sugar than anything. There’s that crash again, as soon as your body’s processed it. Won’t lie. This is a hard time of year for me, because we have a local grinder and sub chain that produces a fruit slush (what made them famous around here). They have four flavors year ’round and each month have a specialty flavor. Well, October and November are the two months I have to have the FOTM. My husband isn’t a fan of them, but indulges me. They do include actual fruit and probably beat the hell out of a fast food shake. I can’t say I honestly feel full after having one though and I’m sure if I read the nutrition facts and saw the sugar and calorie count, I may have a heart attack. It’s one of my splurges though (re-read #4 if you missed that). Otherwise, consider making your own juice or smoothies to control everything from sugar to calories to flavor. Also, check the alcohol aisle. Seriously. A lot of drink mixers (the ones you just add the booze to) actually have more juice and less sugar than brands you may find in the juice aisle. Seriously! We’re big Bloody Mary folks (as you should know) and we buy Mr&Mrs T or Zing Zang over the tomato juices in the juice aisle. Alcoholic or not. The flavor is better and so is the nutritional value. That famous tomato juice – the one with a letter and number in the name – is typically 5% juice, where the mixers run about 95% juice. Tough call.

      6. Read ingredients and nutrition information religiously 

      Formulas change. Suppliers switch. New and improved often means cheaper ingredients and a heftier price tag. Know what’s going in your mouth before you buy. Some may surprise you – for better or worse. Also, those values can change depending on flavor (chips for example) or how they’re produced (let’s say baked versus fried). Like those chips that “once you pop, you can’t stop”, and those ones that, “you can’t eat just one”? Check them both and opt for the lesser evil. Trust me. Having food allergies and having lost and kept so much weight off, for so long, I am that person you will see in the middle of the aisle reading everything. I’m used to it. My hubby, not so much. He will attest to what a pain in the ass it is. As silly as it sounds, this alone will make you far more conscious about exactly what you’re eating.

      7. Just like dieting…

      Avoid mindlessly eating (again, see #4). Avoid snacking away as you’re watching TV, surfing the web, or engrossed in a good book. Stop those activities and move to the dining room table. You’ll eat less because you’re eager to get back to your movie/FBing/reading, be more conscious about what you’re eating and notice when you’re full, faster and easier since you’re concentrating on the task at hand and not distracted, just going through the motions. It takes on average 20 minutes for your brain to send your stomach the memo that you’re full (for meals at least – since snacking is typically meant to tide one over between meals, that time should be a bit less).

      8. Don’t shop on an empty stomach 

      Everything is libel to look extra delicious when you’re starving! That’s two bags of chips in your cart instead of one. That’s butter pecan ice cream because you haven’t had it in years and now you suddenly must. That’s all those over-processed foods (#1) that you’re buying in a hurry because you want to eat. Keep a healthy treat like a bag of almonds or a granola bar in your purse/car for unexpected shopping trips or snack before you go. A list can help, but not when you’re dying of hunger and there’s a candy bar in the checkout lane that just tempted you. Again, guilty. Craig and I did some of our Thanksgiving shopping today (when name brand butter is under $2.00 a box, you jump!) and while I wasn’t remotely hungry when we left – by the time I smelled bread being baked and ripe apples by the display-full and onions being cooked in the deli area…my list went out the window. I had impulse moments before we were even close to the magazines and chocolate bars. I don’t eat much, but being hungry suddenly led to me grabbing far more carb-a-licious, calorie laden, junk food than I would have grabbed had I not been salivating all over the poor man sampling New York Crunch Rolls (sushi). I was HANGRY at that point. So, now I sit here snacking on soft pretzel bites and over-processed cheese food product, with a side of peppermint and chocolate sandwich cookies, rather than my typical broccoli and hummus and those blackberries I told you about earlier. Could have easily been avoided had a thrown a package of wasabi almonds or some of those chipotle chickpeas in my purse.

      Which is what got me on this whole subject to begin with.

      Just some simple ideas to help your holidays be happier and take the guilt out of indulging a bit this season. They say it takes three weeks to learn a new habit and if you start now, these ideas can easily help you from making a diet one of your New Year’s resolutions (or a heart attack/diabetes one of your holiday gifts).

      From us to you, happy holidays and salut!