Monthly Archives: November 2011

Beauty - "The Lovely" - Hair

Choosing a hair color personality with Aloxxi

November 19, 2011

By Nicci Jordan Hubert

Aloxxi hair models

Upon entering the Stephen Knoll Salon, I was greeted by the lovely (and adorably pregnant) Aloxxi rep Jessica, who had some introductory questions for me. When I go get my nails done, which brand do I use? My answer: probably OPI or Essie. Then came her next question: when you get your hair colored at the salon, which brand do you use? My answer: Uhhhh….

That “uhhh” is precisely why Aloxxi was created, Jessica said. Founder of OPI and now Aloxxi, George W. Schaffer, has a vision for a “renaissance” in hair color, just as he revolutionized nail color with OPI. He wants hair clients to be informed. He wants them to take more ownership of their salon experience. He wants more accountability in terms of the quality of hair dyes, in terms of a focus on rich pigments, chemical responsibility (no sulfates, parabens, etc), and the overall health of color-treated hair. And beyond that, he wants clients to establish a “color personality.”

Aloxxi catalogue of color

I spoke with Mr. Schaffer himself, which was a treat. As we were chatting—well, not really chatting, we weren’t shooting the breeze or anything; rather, he was giving me his pitch—he stopped mid-sentence to intercept a model who was walking past us. “Look at you,” he said. “Look at her,” he said to me, parental pride in his eyes. “Gorgeous.” It was clear that he had no idea what the model’s name was, but neither of them cared. Her hair did, in fact, look gorgeous.

Aloxxi founder George W. Schaffer

The color personality concept is very similar to the nail color concept. Along with the standard color number, which colorists use when mixing your individual formula, Aloxxi has provided a color personality… Are you Peach Bellini? Or Ciao Bella? Or Espresso Yourself? As it is with nail color, you’re likelier to recall the name of your hair color if it’s whimsical and flattering, rather than, say, a formula.

Aloxxi Light Natural Brown

How would you answer those questions? Do you know your hair color?

Aloxxi products are available exclusively at salons. For more info, visit their website at www.aloxxi.com.

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BATF Giveaways - Beauty - "The Lovely"

Zinn giveaway winner!

November 18, 2011

Congrats Naila Arain Malik for winning our latest giveaway with Zinn! You will receive the entire line of the argan-infused beauty products, compliments of Zinn. Thanks to everyone who entered (we had almost 100 entries via Twitter and FB so it was some stiff competition!).

Remember, if you didn’t win and still want to try out out their line, go to zinnbeauty.com and use coupon code ZINNBATF at checkout for 20% off your purchase!

Stay tuned for my next giveaway!!

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Beauty - "The Lovely" - Fashion

A chance encounter with jewelry designer Alexis Bittar

November 17, 2011

By Safia Khalid

Shy's Alexis Bittar necklace

Talk about destiny. One week after I excitedly noticed Shy wearing a gorgeous Alexis Bittar necklace (and she was equally excited that I recognized his craftsmanship), I found myself face-to-face with the creative genius himself. On a weekend trip to Chicago, I ventured out to Nordstrom on Michigan Avenue in search of a hat, and wound up at massive trunk show of Bittar’s (thank you, Serendipity). As a fan of his work, I’ve never been able to pass up a display case or a chance to check out his pieces online whenever I go shopping, and let me tell you, this trunk show was amazing. The first table I approached was loaded with his signature bangles and these gorgeous serpent pins (I love snake themed jewelry — and he does them damn well).

A necklace from his trunk show

I was so wrapped up in that display that it took me a minute to notice the crowd of people bustling in front of me. They were circling showcases that were covered and filled with necklaces, earrings, pins, rings and even those much sought-after (and typically elusive) editorial pieces. I managed to get my hands on a pair of stunning (wait, let me emphasize…stunning) earrings. And, as always, I wound up with an internal struggle debating the cost of beauty and my increasing need to own these earrings.

I need.

As I stood there deliberating with myself among the dazzling pieces of jewelry (and women clamoring to buy them), I noticed a man casually chatting with customers. Needless to say, I had a moment when I realized it was the Alexis Bittar. After gaining my composure, I approached him – I mean, really, how many times do you get to run into one of your favorite designers?

Not only was Bittar one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, he was completely relaxed and genuinely interested in what his many fans had to say. What’s more, he didn’t appear the least bit bothered when I went back to talk to him two more times and he was totally game for my questions.

Me with Alexis Bittar!

He told me his other favorite jewelry collections right now are Christian Dior’s and JAR. Among his favorite place for inspiration in New York are The Met and the Neue Galerie (particularly the works of the Wiener Werkstätte which really inspired his line). Of course, I had to ask him about his favorite place to eat in the city, and I think at this point I started to get a little nervous because I could have sworn he said Morrino’s (relying all too heavily in Google’s abilities to confirm). What I did find though was Bittar was already a step ahead of me and listed his favorite NYC restaurants on his blog here.

Finally, when talking about designing a jewelry line he made two amazing points: (1) Always know what your vision is, where it’s going, and what exactly you hope to accomplish with your line; and (2) Be original. It’s still possible to be unique if you have a vision that’s truly yours.

There really is something stoicly cool about Bittar’s jewelry. Every piece somehow manages to look simultaneously raw and polished in one effortless breath. Just standing on their own, his pieces will completely charm you without even trying too hard. Of course, the craft is reflective of the artist. As a writer, I have to take a moment to admire his use of language in naming his pieces. The Swarovski crystals that adorn many of his lucite pieces are elegantly referred to as “dust,” and even more deliciously specified as of the “sugar” or “licorice” variety. The edgier necklaces from the Miss Havisham collection evoke a more gothic yet luxurious feel with “liquid gold” and “molten” pendants. As if the imagery he creates isn’t enough to pique your interest, take a look at some of his work. And if you haven’t seen anything from his Miss Havisham collection before, let me preface this by saying, You’re Welcome.

And those earrings? I now consider them a souvenir from my chance encounter…a nod to serendipity, if you will.

I'm keeping this pouch forever


My new earrings!

Website: www.alexisbittar.com

[Editor’s Note: Check Alexis Bittar’s blog – I was psyched to see a shot of the Nicki Minaj Cosmo issue that BATF is also featured in! I wonder what destiny has in store for us next…perhaps an Alexis Bittar/BATF collaboration?? Hey, we can dream.]

Breakfast/Brunch - FOOD - "The Delicious" - Mediterranean

Brunch at Balaboosta in Nolita

November 16, 2011

I believe in second chances (ok, maybe that applies mostly to restaurants). The chef has an off day. The waiters are not in the best of moods. Maybe it’s just not the right dish or meal time that exemplifies the restaurant at its best. On that last point, let me just say the first time I went to Balaboosta was for dessert and tea, and it was pretty disappointing. But I did say, and I quote, “the rest of the menu sounded good, so I’m not writing it off just yet. I’ll definitely go back for another meal — just not for the dessert this time.” And that I did.

Brown sugar cubes

So when my friend Samar was in town and we were looking for place near SoHo, I remembered this Mediterranean spot again. The vibe is just as buzzy in the morning and looking over the menu, it was hard to decide between the breakfast pizzas, or something more sweet like the coconut brioche french toast. I wanted something with a little bit of spice to it, so I went with the Shakshuka, Moroccan baked eggs in spicy tomato cazuela, spinach, grilled country bread and added a side of merguez. Samar went with the lamb-egg special of which the name totally escapes me.

Shakshuka


Lamb and eggs

Our food was satisfying and I’m glad I gave it a second chance. It’s probably pretty normal price-wise for the area, but for a meal and coffee here totaled about $50 — a little more than I think what you get portion-wise makes sense. If I’m looking in the area, I’d definitely go back though. We didn’t have to wait long for a seat and the service was great. But if you’re willing to sacrifice a short-wait time, and looking for the same genre of food for brunch at half the price, I’d visit Cafe Mogador in the East Village instead for their brunch specials.

Restaurant Info:
Balaboosta

214 Mulberry St # 1
near Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
212-966-73661
Nolita

REPORT CARD

Meal: Brunch
Occasion: Out of town visitor catch-up session!
Price: $$$
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: ***
Food: **
Service: ***
Would I go back?: Yes (for brunch)…I still need to try that French toast!


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Beauty - "The Lovely"

Lessons on Smoky Eyes and the J. Lo Glow with Urban Girl Squad

November 15, 2011

Fresh makeovers with Urban Girl Squad

Urban Girl Squad

Ever since I met Amanda Hofman, the founder of Urban Girl Squad, at a boudoir event she coordinated that I happened to be covering for lingerie boutique, Sugar Cookies, I have been psyched to attend an UGS event myself. UGS organizes social networking events for women in NYC, but their events are far from any ordinary way to do so. They can range anywhere from African dance classes, to rifle shooting lessons, to cooking with season vegetables, and even cigar smoking tips (just to name a few). Above all, I was dying to try one of their beauty classes. When I was told they were having a makeover session by cosmetic brands Fresh (on how to get that J. Lo glow) and Make Up For Ever (on smoky eyes), I immediately signed up. I realized there are 10,000 ways to do a smoky eye. Here are some tips from Make Up For Ever:

Smoky eye tutorial

– Use a water resistant eye liner pencil and a flat synthetic brush. Start from the lashline to line your eyes with the pencil and use the brush to pull out the color. Since it’s water-resistant, it won’t crease.

– Choose a color that’s warmer than your skin tone (it can be any color, but for the tutorial they used a chocolate brown color). Wipe your brush clean, and use a darker color to pat on to eyelid. Blend like crazy with a smudge brush. It should have a ‘smoked’ out effect so blending is key.

– Use a highlight color (think cream colors) to highlight the brow bone with the same brush.

– Use the pencil now to line the lower waterline. I asked about lining the top eye, but with this method, you use the shadow to smoke out instead of lining the eyes intensely.

Fresh product for a JLo glow

Then we went on to learn how to get the J. Lo glow using Fresh good-for-your-skin products. The two key products they used was their Supernova Radiance Brightening Pen, the Satin Luster Palette, and the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment.

First, use the pen to conceal and dark circles around the eye area. It’s infused with lotus flower which champions de-puffing properties. The bright microspheres help to illuminate the eye area to give it a lift. Then, apply the pink rose pearl color from the palette on your lid. Apply the white pearl color on the inner corners of your eyes to brighten. The makeup artist also used a little of the beige pearl on the brow bone to lift. As they were showing us the volunteer’s face really started to take on that J. Lo glow! They finished her look off with a swipe of Fresh’s Sugar Lip Treatment which I am so obsessed with now that I’m getting all my friends hooked too. Seriously if there’s ONE thing you go out and buy, you MUST try that product!

Me with some lovely ladies I met through UGS!

I really found Urban Girl Squad’s get-together fun, informative, and filled with women from all sorts of professional backgrounds and interests. That night alone, I met a singer, a women who used to work for the NBA (now she works at JetBlue), a dental student exploring the city while taking a year off, and a IT consultant — all with a mutual love for makeup. I am telling you, instead of the usual dinner catch-up session with your girls, spend that cash on an event with UGS. Events can range from $10 up depending on the event and a lot of them are even free! Check out their website for more info: www.urbangirlsquad.com. Trust me, you’re guaranteed and amazing time…you can thank me later ;).

*All event shots by Beja B.

x
Shy


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Breakfast/Brunch - FOOD - "The Delicious" - Mexican - Spanish/Latin American - Travel Feasts

La Duni Latin Kitchen in Dallas, TX

November 14, 2011

Gah. Sorry about the quiet few days here, but I’ve been in Texas ya’ll! I flew down last weekend for my gorgeous friend Mariam’s wedding (I mean, STUNNING), and haven’t had much time at the comp. It was my very first time down in Texas and besides the wedding festivities, I was excited about the FOOD. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot of time to explore Dallas by way of calories, but a group of us did manage to get away one day for brunch. My friend Masuma who lives down there recommended a few places, and we ended up going to La Duni Latin Kitchen at the Northpark mall location which was near our hotel.

La Duni

La Duni

La Duni

A cupcake tree

There was the prettiest assortment of cupcakes and pastries at the little coffee bar when you enter. There were also the most gorgeous wedding cakes perched on top of random tables and shelves all over the place too. And then I saw this:

Cuatro Leches?!

Cuatro Leches cakes?! Tres leches is one of my favorite desserts ever ever so quatros sounded downright heavenly. I already committed to ordering a slice no matter how full I was after brunch. But more on that in a bit. When we sat down, they handed us a full picture menu of just their coffees. We pored over it and when I couldn’t decide, I asked the waitress which one was their most popular and she said their cafe con leche so I went with it.

Cafe con Leche

They come in monster cup sizes and I loved the heart and star surprises on our coffee, but taste-wise, it was disappointing (and bland). My other followed their first instinct though and went with the vaca blanca which is an espresso with melted Belgium white chocolate and milk. Now THAT was amazing…the chocolate gives it such a delicious flavor that just melts in your mouth. I was a little jealous of their coffee.

Vaca Blanca

They also had a full menu of cold lemonade drinks! We got their limonada con menta (mint, lemon, lime, sugar, soda and crushed ice) and limonada mango (lemon, lime, mango and soda):

Mint and mango lemonades

They were so refreshing and flavorful (I personally loved the mango one a little more– it was light and delicious). That was all just drinks…moving on to food. I guess the best way is to just show you the spread of their huevos rancheros, chilaquiles rancho la lira (crisp tortillas with melted asadero and gruyere cheeses, red and green salsa, and black beans), breakfast tacos, and brunch chile relleno (a stufffed poblano pepper filled with beans, scrambled eggs, cheddar, provolone, gruyere cheese, tortilla chips and topped with queso fresco and salsa):

Brunch is served!


Starter tortilla chips and salsa


Brunch Chile Relleno


Chilaquiles Rancho La Lira


Breakfast tacos


Huevos Rancheros

The portions were generous and pretty much every plate was under $10. Everything from the salsa-doused eggs to the crisp roasted potatoes hit the spot without going overboard on the spice. And even though I couldn’t breathe afterwards, I was not about to deprive myself from trying their cuatro leches cake

Cuatro Leches cake

I was soo excited when it came out dripping in their leches sauce. It’s described as a layered mantecado vanilla sponge cake in cuatro leches sauce and topped with caramelized Swiss meringue and dotted with Arequipe reduction. Maybe I was over-zealous, but after my first bite, I thought it was disappointing! Tres leches cake is usually light but this, I guess being a sponge/pound cake, was dense and just too sweet for me. I know this point of comparison may not be useful for most, but it sort of tasted like the Indian sweet called ras malai which is a cream-soaked dessert as well. I love ras malai, but this wasn’t supposed to be that. I guess I was also comparing it to tres leches cake, thinking it’d be the original on steroids (basically a taste explosion of tres leches), but it was really different. Some of my friends really liked it though — they also never had tres leches before!


Restaurant Info:
La Duni Latin Kitchen & Coffee Studio

NorthPark Center
8687 N. Central Expy #1516
Dallas, TX 75231
214-987-2260

REPORT CARD

Meal: Brunch
Occasion: Exploring Dallas
Price: $$
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: ***
Food: ** (loses a star for their disappointing cafe con leche and over-hyped cuatro leches!)
Service: ***
Would I go back?: Yes. And I want to try every single thing on their coffee menu.


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