Monthly Archives: December 2010

Beauty - "The Lovely" - Gift Guide

Gift Guide: Zapi UV Toothbrush Sanitizer

December 24, 2010

By Melissa Stephans

Violight Zapi

The “Zapi” is one of those products that’s so unusual, you can guarantee no one else will give the same gift. It’s an ingenious little invention that kills bacteria and viruses with a UV light. Violight’s Zapi comes in a ton of different styles, so you have a lot to choose from. It’s the perfect gift for any germaphobe; which is why I love mine.

Beauty - "The Lovely" - Hair - Tips and How-To's

How to: Taylor Swift-inspired curly updo

Taylor Swift - inspiration for this How-To

If you’ve been following the recaps here on holiday hairstyles from Folica’s Hair-To class, w’ve already covered Wavy Side Bun with Braid, and Fancy Bun with Headband hairstyles. As promised, here’s the last hairstyle, a Taylor Swift-inspired curly updo. Stylist Jay Santiago from La Bottega Salon took the lead in showing us this style. I loved it so much, I wore my hair like this for my friends birthday a few days later :) Yes, with a little practice and the right tools, any of these styles can actually be done on your own (which is major coming from me…normally I’m totally clueless when it comes to hair!).

1. Dry hair using a hair dryer and a paddle brush
2. Decide which side to part your hair on. Part hair in 4 sections and hold with clips for control.

Part hair

3. Taking one section at the time, remove clip and curl in 1″ pieces until entire head is done. Jay called these ‘banana curls,’ which are more spiral than regular curls.

Curling hair

4. With a smoothing balm or gloss, break up and separate the curls with fingers
5. Using your fingers separate the top crown from the rest of the hair and clip. You will work this section
into the style at the end.

Separating the top crown from the rest of the hair

6. SOFTLY, bring pieces of hair back and twist into the position you desire (either low bun or side bun). Use bobby pins to hold hair back and to start creating a bun.

Using bobby pins to pin hair to the side

7. Once the back is done, start by taking the hair from each side and spray with a hold spray to keep hair
in place.
8. Remove the clip from the top section of hair. To add some height, tease this section first and spray the roots with hairspray. Then, softly place and direct the curls where you want them, creating a soft look and with a natural fall.

After teasing and applying hair spray to the top half of the hair

Pinning curls softly to the side

9. Start pulling some curls toward face and sides. This will help to create that messy but cute look.
10. Lastly, secure the messy bun with extra bobbie pins. Add hair accessories if desired and spray with a
hold spray for the final touch.

Adding hair spray at the end to hold the style

Finished style!

Anyone else going to be trying this one??


Dessert - FOOD - "The Delicious" - Gift Guide - Recipes

Gift Guide: Spice Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

December 23, 2010

By Melissa Stephans

Spice cupcake with salted caramel buttercream

If you are particularly strapped for cash this season or simply want to give something that warms the heart (and tummy), I suggest firing up your oven and start baking!  Presentation is key, as is flavor.  My choice was to make (Non-Pumpkin) Spice Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream for loved ones this year.  I took a recipe from my favorite database,, and tweaked it to my liking. (Basically, I dumped the pumpkin part of this recipe because using it in baked goods grosses me out).

I baked these for two different parties and everyone raved about them!

Pumpkin Cupcakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add dry ingredients, and mix on low until smooth. Fold in pumpkin puree.

Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Makes ~ 18 cupcakes.

Source: Adapted from

Salted Caramel Buttercream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick salted butter
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups powdered sugar

In a saucepan, stir together granulated sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cook without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color. Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring until very smooth. Let caramel cool for about 20 minutes, until it is just barely warm and still pourable.

In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and salt together until lightened and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel. Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2 minutes). Mixture should be ready to use without refrigeration. If your caramel was too hot when added, it will cause your icing to be runny. If this happens refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.

Source: Slightly adapted from

Beauty - "The Lovely" - Gift Guide

Gift Guide: Philips Sonicare Healthy White Power Toothbrush

As the year is coming to a close, I have to say, I’m pretty proud of myself for making good on my 2010 New Year’s Resolution. And that, my friends, was to be regular about flossing. Yes, like dental flossing. I know I should have been anyway…but some days I just…didn’t (TMI?). I always complain about how I get cavities just by looking at food, even though I do everything else regularly (brushing, using mouthwash multiple times a day). I guess I feel like I picked up a good habit and now I’m a flossing FIEND…which is funny because as soon as you start investing more time on your oral hygiene, you become obsessive. Well, at least I did. I decided a regular toothbrush just didn’t cut it anymore. So I picked up something that pretty much changed my brushing routine for life: Philips Sonicare HealthyWhite Power Toothbrush.

Philips Sonicare HealthyWhite Toothbrush

(I feel like we got a whole lot closer after sharing a picture of my toothbrush with you all).

This particular Sonicare toothbrush guarantees to whiten your teeth two shades in just two weeks. It also has a few brushing options, the (clean) regular mode, a sensitive mode, and one called “Clean and White” that is two minutes of a power cleaning.

I would suggest starting off on the sensitive if you never had an Sonicare brush before just so you get used to the vibrations (and especially if you have sensitive gums) and work your way up to the thorough Clean and White mode. Needless to say, I love it and don’t think I can be without mine. It also comes with a travel case, and sometimes I don’t even take the charger along because it’s lasted me more than a week without charging.

I thought it would be a perfect fit for our gift guide, especially since I think it’s one of those things that people don’t think they need on the top of their heads, but will definitely make use out of it (and thank you later). Philips Sonicare HealthyWhite Power Toothbrush is available on for $120 (regularly $140).

Hmm. Already starting to think about 2011 resolutions. What’s yours?


Breakfast/Brunch - FOOD - "The Delicious" - Middle Eastern - Moroccan

Best brunch ever at Cafe Mogador

December 22, 2010

Holly Jolly Christmas at Cafe Mogador

In my defense, I’ve known about Cafe Mogador‘s celebrated brunches for years, but just never had the chance to experience myself. Until last weekend. It was every bit as fantastic as I hoped. It’s easily now my favorite brunch spot in the city (definitely up there with Cafe Orlin!).

I’ve been there for dinner few times before, and it was good, but I I realize now that if you haven’t been there for brunch, you really haven’t experienced the best this place has to offer.

Moroccan Benedict

If you do go, get one of the brunch specials, like the Moroccan Benedict (above), which also comes with a glass of fresh orange juice and your choice of coffee, espresso or a cappuccino for only $12. The Moroccan Benedict is amazingly good — poached eggs over spicy tomato and green pepper sauce on an english muffin. It also comes with home fries and a side salad. I savored every morsel.

My other friends got an omelette with goat cheese and spicy sauce inside and also comes with an additional side of sauce, home fries and salad as well. Everyone left full and happy.

If you have space for it, order a chocolate croissant too. It doesn’t come out warm, but the chocolate filling is divine. Even our coffee tasted great.

One thing to keep in mind is there will be a wait, and they MAY tell you it’s 20 minutes when it’s really 45. But it’s worth it. So worth it.

Restaurant Info:
Cafe Mogador

101 St. Marks Place
btw 1st Ave. & Ave. A
East Village


Fashion - Gift Guide

Gift Guide: Jewelry from Anthracite

December 21, 2010

By Melissa Stephans

Jewelry from Anthracite

One of my favorite gift ideas comes from the Italian jewelry line, Anthracite. To create their pieces, Anthracite soaks silver in precious metals, then engraves them with quotes from various writers and luminaries. If Mother Theresa’s words are not yours to live by, then you can create your own inscription. Your personalization becomes part of the design, which is what makes this such a special holiday present. Customization can only be done by ordering via the website and products ship directly out of Italy. Since the holidays are nearly upon us, you might want to shop some of the brand’s pre-designed pieces through Max&Chloe, which offers free shipping on orders over $75.