Sunday, December 26, 2010

Silent Night...

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas.

This year, we had a very simple but fun Christmas.  My husband is visiting his family in South Africa, so I celebrated Christmas with some family and friends.

I just wanted to keep things simple, but beautiful.  My home is decorated mostly with an African theme, which means I have a lot of dark colors around, like deep browns and dark orange.  So as not to clash with the rest of my home, I selected brown and gold textured table decor, with a hint of sparkle.
An English Tradition - A Christmas Cracker! 
I love to have Christmas Crackers on my table.  This is an English tradition, and each cracker contains a paper hat that looks like a crown, a small gift, and a little piece of paper with a joke and some trivia.

Before dining, we pull the cracker with someone at the table.  It tears open with a loud bang (or crack!), and whoever gets the longest piece gets to keep the gift.  You read the jokes and trivia and everyone laughs (usually at the corny jokes!), and that sets the tone for the rest of the meal. Of course, wearing the paper crown hat is mandatory while you are at the table!
My Christmas Table. 
A brown and gold theme is very earthy and warm.
Royal Doulton Caspian China.
Add candles - a table will always seem undressed without them.  I used my Royal Doulton Caspian China (which was a pattern made for Debenhams in the UK) to add some cheery red to the table.
This year I just wanted brown and sparkles!

Glittery foliage adds a touch of whimsy.
So our Christmas lunch was a roast chicken with all of the trimmings.  Afterward we retired to sit in front of the fireplace with coffee, tea and dessert.  Love, fun, laughter, good food, great company, sharing, and giving.  That's what Christmas is all about.

Until next year... Merry Christmas!

- The Sassi Wench

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Eyeshadow Haul - Chanel, MAC, Clinique

I haven't bought Chanel makeup in years.  I went through a Chanel phase, starting when I was living in London 10 years ago, but then I kind of lost interest in it.  

I'm not exactly sure why, but I think I bought a lip gloss or some kind of lip palette, and it smelled so strongly of roses (not my favorite scent) that I couldn't bare to use it.  

In fact, the last Chanel I purchased was a creamy eye-shadow palette where the colors looked like little pearls.  The base of the palette broke after about a week (how? I don't know!), and it squashed all the eyeshadow pearls.  I wasn't that impressed with the product anyway, and so it was au revoir Chanel!

Recently, I went to a Chanel beauty event at my local department store, Lord and Taylor, and I watched in amazement as the resident makeup artiste transformed a rather dowdy (by her own admission) grandmother into an attractive woman!  He used Chanel Quadra Eye Shadow, and I was intrigued!  It took me a while, but finally I gave in and took the plunge, and I purchased the Chanel Quadra Eye Shadow in Dunes.
Chanel Quadra Eye Shadow Dunes.
I couldn't help experiencing a tingle of excitement upon seeing the protective pouch!

The Chanel protective pouch.
I love looking at brand new, untouched makeup!
I have dark brown eyes, so even though I can wear a many different eye-shadow colors, classic neutral shades simply look the best on me.
Chanel 47 Dunes Quad.
I also decided to invest in Chanel's Base Lumiére, because the artiste used this during his demonstration, with stunning results. I caved in and purchased this, but I didn't realize how small the container would be!  For some reason I thought it was double this size.  But a little goes a long way.  I have dry skin, but thanks to the Base Lumiére, it actually makes my skin look dewey again.

So, mission accomplished - I'm using Chanel products again.
Chanel Base Lumiére 
I bought this MAC eyeshadow in Henna, and on reflection, I have decided to give it to my sister.  She has Heterochromia, otherwise known as someone who has two different (completely different, in her case) color eyes!  She has a kind of gray/brown eye, and a deep green eye.  It's completely hereditary (she's not the only one in the family), and on her it looks really striking.  Often people don't even notice it, and yet others can't figure out what is different about her.  

Heterochromia - The Scarlett Wench, sister of The Sassi Wench!
Anyway, she has to stick to more neutral colors, and a deep, rich golden olive green like Henna is just perfect for her!
MAC Henna.
MAC's olive golden green Henna up close.
And finally, I just couldn't resist this - Clinique Fresh Bloom Eye Shadow in 01 Maple Blossom.  It's a silvery taupe color duo that is simply stunning!
Clinique Maple Blossom Eye Shadow.

The Sassi Wench

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Get Lush all over your Body!

It's been a while.  I don't live near a Lush store, so I only get to stock up on some goodies about twice a year! During a business trip to Atlantic City, I stopped by Lush to get a peek at everything and treat myself.

If you are unfamiliar with Lush, it's a company that creates bath products and fragrances, using only vegetarian ingredients - fresh and organic fruits and vegetables, and essential oils.  However, some of their products do contain synthetics - Lush considers them to be "safe".  Whatever that means...

Lush does not test on animals or commission animal testing, nor do they purchase ingredients from companies that test on animals.  The products are handmade using little to no preservatives.

Now, on to the show...

First up, the Twilight Bath Ballistic. It's been out a while, but as I mentioned, I don't get to visit Lush very often. The SA demonstrated this in the store, and I was mesmerized as it swirled, turning blue and started frothing up, filling the air with a sweet vanilla fragrance. I had to have it!
Lush Twilight Ballistic
Twilight for a sweet, creamy vanilla scent. 
This is my all time favorite, it's the Honey Bee Bath Bomb!
Lush Honey Bee Bath Bomb!
This is my favorite of all Lush products - with a sweet, caramel scent.
MMM, the rough texture of this Lush Bath Melt sucked me right in!  It does look like a big Marshmellow - good enough to eat!

Apparently there is a Marshmallow Herb?!  Who knew?
I love the combination of marshmallow and cocoa butter!
MMM Melting Marshmallow Moment.
I might just regret this next purchase, but I simply couldn't resist the slightly citrus scent and dazzling glitter! The downside is, after my bath I'm going to look like a disco ball from 1977, and so is my bathtub!
Lush Sunnyside Bubble Bar.
Sunnyside Bubble Bar, a'la tangerine and mandarin oil.
Some soapy samples!
I love their catalog - it's like a newspaper, but that makes for uneasy reading in the bathtub!
Lush Times, Winter 2010
Inside the Lush catalog.
Lush, Winter 2010.
I would never advise anyone to purchase Lush unless you have had a chance to sniff each melt, bomb, soap, etc. in person.  Some of the scents can be overwhelming, and some of the most popular Lush products as seen on YouTube just didn't do it for me.

I haven't used any of these products yet, because at the time of this posting, I have only been back home one day!  So, I'll update this and post some reviews as I use up everything.

Check them out online - Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics

- The Sassi Wench

Monday, December 13, 2010

My visit to The Alps Bistro in Historic Allentown, New Jersey

The Alps Bistro, Allentown, New Jersey
Casual European Fare in New Jersey!

During a bleak, rainy Sunday afternoon, I paid a visit to the Historic Village of Allentown, New Jersey.  I had no intention of staying there for lunch, but as soon as I encountered The Alps Bistro on Main Street, I knew I had to try it!  I had visited this town several years ago and this particular location used to be a Tea Room.  Apparently, the Tea Room closed down last year, and it's now been replaced by The Alps Bistro.

New Jersey is now seriously lacking in restaurants that serve good German food.  Many of the old staples, such as the delectable Fritzy's German American Restaurant in Howell, are now sadly a thing of the past.

Upon entering we were greeted by friendly staff, and seated immediately.

Soon, hot tea, soda, and steaming hot salty pretzels were placed before us, accompanied by some lovely hot mustard.
Soda is served in a jar style mug!
Hot, salty pretzels with hot mustard!

I ordered the Schnitzel of the Day, which happened to be Chicken Schnitzel.  It was served with Rotkohl (Red Cabbage), and Deutsche Kartoffel Salat (German Potato Salad).  I ordered an extra side of spaetzle and sauerkraut too, not because I was that hungry, but because I wanted to taste them, as they are pretty much what you would expect to eat at an establishment like this.

The schnitzel was moist and flavorful, although I am used to a very thin schnitzel, and this was a tad thicker than I expected it to be.  The accompanying cranberry mustard relish was a perfect accompaniment to this chicken schnitzel.  

The German Potato Salad was lovely and vinegary, as you would expect, but the bacon could have been chopped a little smaller.  As I forked a potato, a nearly two inch strip of bacon would flop about the potato.  It doesn't make for easy eating.  But aside from the size of the bacon, it was a very good potato salad.

Chicken Schnitzel.
No complaints about the sauerkraut or the red cabbage either, but I wasn't a fan of the spaetzle.  I found it to be a little rubbery and lacking in flavor.  Or maybe the other flavors were so strong, they overwhelmed the spaetzle.  In any event, in the future, I will skip the spaetzle and focus on the delicious German Potato Salad, instead.

For dessert, Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel), which is freshly made with golden raisins, walnuts, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and served with Swal's Vanilla Ice Cream!  Absolutely delicious!

If you visit on weekends, they now serve cheese fondue!  Considering the fact that The Melting Pot is one of my all time favorite places to eat, I can't wait to head back to The Alps Bistro to try out their fondue!  

Prices are very affordable, with Entrees ranging from $8.25 to around $11.00, and wursts and sandwiches are around $6.00 - $9.00.  In fact, I didn't see anything on the menu over $11.00!  This is incredibly good value for a meal of this quality. 

I can't say enough good things about the afternoon repast I enjoyed here.  It's such a wonderful departure from the endless number of impersonal restaurant chains we are bombarded with everywhere.  If you want to spend some time in this wonderful little quintessential American town, be sure to stop by this tiny, intimate bistro, where you will feel like you are more like a guest in an old friends home than a paying customer in a restaurant.

The Alps Bistro
4 S Main StAllentownNJ 08501
Phone: 609-223-0335
Lunch Hours: 
Tuesday - Saturday 11:00 A.M. - 3:00 P.M.
Sunday 12:00 P.M. - 4:00 P.M.

This little bistro has wonderful ambiance.
The Alps Bistro is small and intimate.
Probably the most family friendly bistro ever.
A cozy atmosphere.
The Alps Bistro was decked out for Christmas.
A nice surprise! Cheese Fondue on weekends. 
I'll be back!

- The Sassi Wench

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

MAC Makeup and Makeup Brush Mall Mini Haul!

If you read my post "Tis the Season... Not to be Shopping" , you'll know that I had a less than stellar shopping experience at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in New York this past weekend.

It was freezing cold with blustery winds, flurries, and jostling customers!  Not to mention, I just didn't find anything that really wowed me.  So we headed off to a Mall or two.  Of course, the MAC counter, and Sephora were on my hit list.

First up, my continuing quest to get the best makeup brush selection that I can find.  My all time favorite are my Hakuhodo makeup brushes, but other companies do make incredibly good brushes too!  I doubt there are many companies (unless they are exceptional artisans dedicated to that single craft, Hakuhodo) that make a complete range of truly great brushes.  Even MAC, which many people seem to prefer, have produced some awful brushes.

Ever since I saw GossMakeupArtist on YouTube use and rave about the Makeup Forever #55N Powder Brush, I have been dying to get my hands on one.  This particular one is goat hair and nylon.  GossMakeupArtist used it to stipple a liquid foundation on, and the effect was stunning.

I found it at Sephora, and here it is:

Make Up For Ever 55N Brush

The tips of the bristles have wispy ends.
Just a word of warning about this brush, when I opened it up it had an incredibly strong odor!  Like strong glue, or some kind of chemical smell.  I did wash it thoroughly last night and it is drying out now, so I'll update you in a later post on whether I was able to vanquish that strange smell.

Next up, at Nordstroms I purchased the MAC 219 Pencil Brush:

MAC 219 Pencil Brush

The MAC 219 Pencil Brush has a pencil shaped tip for blending.
I have a travel size version of this brush and I like using it, so I went ahead and got the full size brush.  Buying travel size sets allows you to test which brushes you really like to use first.  When you finally buy the full size brush, you have a back-up and a convenient travel size set to take with you.  I am always paranoid about my luggage being stolen, and I'd rather carry around my travel brushes in case my luggage gets lost for all eternity...

MAC Eye Shadow in Quarry.

This shadow might just be the perfect pink matte color!
If you are looking for a dusky matte pink to dust your eyelids with, or to deepen the shadows in your crease, this might just be what you are looking for!  It's just a beautiful, beautiful color.  

Next up, fragrance!  I bought duo his and hers set of Prada Infusion D'Iris for only $10 at Sephora!  This is a great stocking stuffer!  One for him, one for me...

And last but not least...

The Original TURBIE TWIST!
I got my eager little hands on a Turbie Twist!  If you watch my November Haul video on YouTube you'll know that I love to use hair treatments, and this is perfect (when warm and damp) to wrap around your head, while you have a hair treatment going on!  And of course, you can use it to help dry your hair too (Turbie Twists original purpose). So it has a dual purpose for me, and I can't wait to try it out this weekend!

The Sassi Wench.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tis the Season... not to be Shopping?

To say that I am a little behind on my Christmas shopping this year is an understatement!  So yesterday we decided to head out to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley, New York.

Woodbury Common Premium Outlets
We realized our mistake as soon as we arrived! Even though the photos look pretty, it was a frigid and blustery 31°F!!  There were even flurries!  This meant that waiting in line for 30 minutes outside the Coach Factory Outlet was pure torture!

Even as early as 10:45 A.M., the line outside Coach was long!
To make your shopping experience even more enticing, Coach was offering an additional 30% off coupon on already discounted prices inside the store!
30% Off Coach Coupon
Needless to say, the store was a complete wreck!  So many people had been in there that some of the leather on the bags and wallets had been scratched!  People were grabbing items then discarding them around the store.
Low Prices at the Coach Factory Outlet
The wallets were tossed into a heap and not neatly stacked as they usually are!
This was crazy!  I didn't see as many people in any other store there!
It was so crazy here that we left.
After wrestling through the crowds for about 20 minutes, we decided to give up.  I couldn't really find anything I liked.  A lot of the latest arrivals at the Coach outlets are made-for-outlet bags and honestly, they don't look good at all.  I would have bought a wallet as a gift, but the only one I found that I liked was scratched.

In fact, the only exciting find was the Julia Small Leather Bag in purple that Britney Spears has been carrying around for months, on sale for around $98.  
Coach Julia Small Leather Purse
In the end, I was not going to stand in line for another 30 minutes waiting to pay for a scratched wallet, so we decided to make a hasty exit.

Our next stop, was Longchamp.  And what a pleasure - what a difference!  The store was busy and bustling but not nearly as chaotic as Coach.

Longchamp Outlet at Woodbury Common
I spotted some gorgeous overnight bags for around $1,000 each, although that is way over my budget!  Maybe one day, sigh...

Longchamp Leather Bags
They had a cute selection of Longchamp makeup bags and coin purses, but I didn't find these in the colors I like.
Longchamp makeup bag and coin purse
The Longchamp Pliage bags are so popular that even the outlet store was selling them at full price!
Longchamp Pliage Bags

 I fell in love with this little lovely, on sale for $225!  But once again, it was not budget friendly.

Longchamp Planetes

Next stop Balenciaga!  Balenciaga is my Holy Grail designer of bags!  I am completely obsessed!  Regretfully, even I have to admit that this store is rather underwhelming.  It is immaculate (the polar opposite of the hot mess that Coach is), but it is very uninspiring, as is their scant purse selection.

Balenciaga Outlet Store
Unfortunately, the staff in this store are less than friendly (maybe because I wasn't carrying one of my Balenciaga's this day?), and they followed me around, hovering annoyingly at every turn, so I was only able to snap one little photo when someone came into the store and started to ask a few questions.  Although, they did have two of their infamous motorcycle bags there with Giant Silver Hardware.  One was a 2008 Vert Gazon & Pink Floral SGH City for around $970.
Balenciaga had an additional 20% off select handbags
I wasn't able to snap any photos at the Prada store, but they have recently revamped it and there was a decent selection there.  It's much better than it used to be.

After more looking around, we decided to head out to one of the malls instead, because the selection at Woodbury Common seemed very limited this year.  In the end, we only ended up purchasing some baking tins from William Sonoma, at 40% off at Woodbury Common.  I don't think I've ever been to these outlets and bought so little!

I did buy a few little things at the Mall, but more about that in my next post.

Until next time,
- The Sassi Wench!