Top Chef, Gregory Gourdet, Spills His Secrets & Plans for 2016

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I was privileged to get the opportunity to meet and chat with one of Portland’s most famous and talented chefs recently — Chef Gregory Gourdet of Departure restaurant — for Forbes Travel Guide. This humble, kind and clearly brilliant man is doing big things this year (to top off an amazing 2015 that included being a semi-finalist on Bravo’s Top Chef). Hopefully he’ll get to fit in some personal travel and downtime to savor his success.

Read my full article here!

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What’s your fave mascara?

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I love my long lashes and I know I’m lucky I was born with them. As a kid, I never appreciated when my mom told me to appreciate them. But, as an adult, I love them and know that mascara is my friend! I feel like I’ve tried them all and know what works and doesn’t work for my lashes and my face. And, I’m happy to report that I have a new favorite: the Marc Jacobs Beauty Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara.

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Photo Courtesy: Sephora

The wand is shaped a little wider at the ends and slightly more narrow in the middle and that unique shape not only prevents too much mascara from clumping on the wand, but adds the right amount of mascara to your lashes. So the days of trying to even out the mascara you’ve applied, or remove places where there’s too much, or it’s clumping too much, are over! And… if you’re like me, you expect your mascara to stay put. I want to be able to drop the kiddos off at school, go to Barre class, grab coffee with my new WedBrilliant intern and then go to dinner with my besties and not have to worry about mascara sneaking off my lashes and onto my face. No. thank. you.

FullSizeRender-1You already know that Marc Jacobs is a luxury brand and “quality” is a key to their success. So expect no less with this mascara. From the smooth application that I mentioned to the ease with which you can remove it at the end of your day, this is a very high quality product. Check it out at Sephora or Sephora.com! And thanks to Influenster for the sample to try out for you all. This one is staying put (on my lashes, and in my makeup bag!).

 

 

 

Intoxicated by Black Opium

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Don’t worry, I’m not into anything illegal, but Yves Saint Laurent’s newest fragrance, Black OpiumBlack Opium truly is divine and addictive. I’m not a hugely “showy” fragrance wearer. I like a subtle scent that’s feminine, but understated. And I traditionally veer more towards sweeter scents (like Prada’s Candy!). But trying the new YSL Black Opium thanks to a complimentary sample from Influenster, has reminded me that I’m also drawn to these slightly darker scents.

It’s an energetic fragrance. One that once I put it on, I feel ready to tackle anything. Empowering, maybe. With notes of coffee and jasmine and a subtle vanilla scent, it’s an intoxicating mix. It’s my new go-to for date nights and even girls’ nights out. Plus, the bottle is so chic and really expresses the chic luxury of the YSL brand. Bravo, YSL!

I {heart} NYC!

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IMG_3064I went to high school north of San Diego and it’s where my family lives, but I justNYC skyline realized that after spending 5 days back in New York City, I feel more “at home” there than San Diego, or most places in the US.

The energy the city exudes, the diversity, the thousands of dining options, the masses of people… yes, I love it all. I managed to sneak in some great meetings about WedBrilliant with editors at Brides magazine and Martha Stewart Weddings, so there was a little work mixed in with play, but it was truly a phenomenal time. Our stay at the Trump SoHo was nothing short of perfect. Great attention to detail and IMG_3073really, the view from our bathtub left me speechless! We saw a Broadway show, dined at the famous Gramercy Tavern (a must-go next time you’re in the city!), had drinks atop the Peninsula New York hotel at Salon de Ning, walked the Brooklyn Bridge and so much more. My favorite was just strolling through neighborhoods. That’s where I think I felt like, “I could truly see myself living here!”

It won’t be 10 years until the next time we visit, that’s for sure. Until then, New York City… xoxo

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Why yes, YSL.

IMG_2107As I get from time to time, an Influenster box arrived at my door with a fabulous dual surprise of the new Yves Saint Laurent Beauty products: YSL Touche Eclat Blur Perfector and Blur Primer. Of course I would expect the luxury brand YSL to have not only beautiful packaging, but also functional and superior products. I’m not disappointed.

The Blur Primer goes on very smoothly (a little dab is sufficient) and blends in easily, without leaving a sticky, heavy feel on your face. I felt instantly brighter – probably the gold flecks in the primer helped!

IMG_2226The Blur Perfector is something I’ve taken to now carrying in my purse with me because it’s great for putting on in the morning under my makeup and then pulling it out when I need a quick fix to reduce shine or freshen up without reapplying my makeup. A light pink hue adds a little glow without overdoing anything! And the cute pink case has a great mirror, too. The applicator that it came with doesn’t fit into the case, so I immediately ditched that and use my fingers to apply – it works well!IMG_2143

All in all, I really like these products and while I received them complimentary from Influenster to test, I will definitely be purchasing my own in the near future. The YSL Beauty brand continues to be one of my favorites and the price tag is justified by the quality.

[Read more reviews and buy them at Sephora.com]

Doing Good for Nature, My Skin, and Our Water Resources

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Did you know that we waste up to five gallons of water a day when washing our faces? 5 gallons! That’s shocking, and especially for drought-stricken states, unsustainable.

So, when Neutrogena NaturalsInfluenster sent me a complimentary sample of Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes to review and invited me to join the #WipeForWater challenge to use the towelettes instead of traditional water and face wash to wash my face for one week straight, I agreed!

Like the spokesperson Kristen Bell, I used the towelettes to first take off eye makeup and then remove the rest. Full disclosure: I don’t exactly cake it on every day, but I consistently wear sunscreen, moisturizer and loose powder, along with eye liner and mascara, so it was still a challenge for these wipes. The verdict… they were great! Literally removed every last bit of eye makeup so easily. I’ve had wipes before that I’ve really had to rub on my eyes to remove makeup, but these were gentle and effective. Easy! And, since I had so much towelette left to use, I was able to clean the rest of my face and my neck.

In addition to the obvious benefits of having a nice, clean face, the Neutrogena Naturals towelettes don’t leave a greasy feeling! And, my skin was noticeably softer after using… likely a result of all the Vitamin C, B and complex sugars in there, in addition to Peruvian Tara Seed. And, I felt OK throwing them away once I used them as each wipe is made from naturally-derived fibers that come from sustainably-managed forests. Doing good for nature, my skin, and our water supply – thanks Neutrogena and Influenster!

[I received this product complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.]

Sweet success

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WedBrilliant is growing quickly and I’m tasting the sweet, sweet taste of success. We’re up to about 700 fabulous vendors who are bidding on the wedding needs of couples throughout the nation and we haven’t even been around for a year yet. That kind of success and forward movement keeps me energized as an entrepreneur and I’m excited to see what the coming year brings!

Thanksgiving has come and gone and despite my wish for things to slow down this time of the year, we’re into the full swing of holiday season. Our Thanksgiving was the perfect mix this year. We invited my best friend and her boyfriend to come join us, so it was fun to have guests, but totally low-key at the same time.

Chocolate layer

Chocolate layer complete!

I decided to try a new take on an autumn dessert and not use pumpkin. {Now, don’t get me wrong, I love pumpkin and it’s been tastifying our waffles, breads and cookies for weeks now!} But, really, the Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Pots de Creme that I made a couple days ago for Thanksgiving dessert have made me forget that pumpkin ever existed. We loved the combination of sweet and salty, creamy delicious taste and I loved the relative ease in making them! Thanks to The Kitchen McCabe for the original recipe and inspiration! Here’s my very slightly adjusted take on the delicious Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Pots de Creme:

Ingredients

  • 1 C. Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 C. Good quality Dark Chocolate (I used chocolate chips!)
  • 2 T. Sugar
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 1/2 t. Vanilla
  • 1/2 C. Sugar
  • 2 T. Water
  • 1 1/4 C. Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 t. Coarse Salt
  • 3 Egg Yolks
  • 1 C. Heavy Cream, whipped to stiff peaks
  • Cocoa Powder or Cinnamon for dusting

Instructions

FOR THE CHOCOLATE LAYER:

  1. Heat the 1 C. heavy cream, chocolate, and 2 T. sugar in a saucepan over medium/high heat, whisking until the chocolate is completely melted.
  2. In a small bowl, beat the 2 egg yolks lightly with the whisk. Pour about 1/4 C. of the chocolate mixture in a slow, steady stream, into the egg yolks while whisking constantly to temper.
  3. Add the egg yolk mixture into the chocolate mixture and combine.
  4. Heat the saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture just thickens and bubbles. (It just takes a minute or two, so stay close!) Do not cook too long or eggs will curdle.
  5. Remove from heat, whisk in the vanilla, and divide the chocolate pudding between 6 small dishes (I used my china tea cups!). Tap the dishes gently on the counter to settle the pudding and help the top even out.
  6. Refrigerate the dishes while you make the caramel pudding.

FOR THE CARAMEL LAYER:

  1. Place the 1/2 C. Sugar and 2 T. water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Brush the sides of the pan down with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming.
  2. The sugar will begin to caramelize after a few minutes. Do not stir, but swirl to help evenly caramelize.
  3. Heat the 1 1/4 C. cream in the microwave until hot.
  4. As soon as the caramel is golden brown, pour about half of the heavy cream in. The mixture will bubble quite furiously; make sure to not let it bubble up and out of your saucepan. When the bubbling starts to die down, add in the rest of the cream and salt, and whisk until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Remove from heatYum!.
  6. In a small bowl, lightly beat the 3 egg yolks with the whisk. In a slow, steady stream, pour or spoon in about 1/2 C. of the caramel cream, whisking constantly.
  7. Whisk the tempered egg mixture back in the the saucepan with the caramel cream and bring back to a boil slowly, whisking constantly.
  8. As soon as the mixture begins to bubble and thicken, remove from heat.
  9. Divide between the 6 dishes and tap to settle the pudding.
  10. Refrigerate for a few hours, or until cold and set.
  11. Top each pudding with a dollop of whipped cream, a dusting of cocoa powder, or another appropriate garnish!
  12. Enjoy!

I’m Set for Winter

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InfluensterOne of the perks of being an Influenster is that I get a complimentary chance to try some new products that have just hit the market, and review them here. When the Moda Vox Box arrived a few weeks ago, I was thrilled to find some of my favorite things, and discover some new items that are now on my “must haves.”

Highlights include the incredibly rich and chocolatey Swiss Miss Simply Cocoa packet. Two things to own up to:cocoa

  • I am a huge fan of chocolate, and love a good mug of hot cocoa! I don’t care what season it is, I’m always up for a hot cocoa.
  • I will admit that I had previously been a hot-cocoa-in-the-packet snob. Not anymore!

When mixed with milk and heated to the perfect drinking temperature, this hot cocoa is simply divine. I love how chocolatey it tastes, how smooth it is, and best of all, how easy it is to prepare! {And drinking it with marshmallows out of my Paris mug is icing on the cake.}

Hair FoodLet’s talk hair. Hair Food, that is. This new line of hair care products are miracle workers. It’s like sending your hair to the spa for a week. It comes back refreshed, with extra bounce, and feeling good. To top it off, the nourishing Hair Food Hair Mask I’ve been using makes your hair more shiny and gives it an overall healthy luster. The smell is terrific too. Kind of wish they made body wash…

Having a best friend who is in medical school is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is obvious: hello, every medical concern I have gets a quick answer via call or text! Love that. The curse? She’s incredibly busy and I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like. We had a really interesting conversation recently though about workouts and the necessity to hydrate before and after. And, she told me about the absolute importance in replenishing the body with electrolytes that are lost during workouts. I had no idea. So, I was thrilled to see the resource Natural Spring Water in my Vox Box because not only does it hydrate, but it also adds back those electrolytes! So, I am feeling extra healthy (and being good to the environment) these days now that I’m refreshing and replenishing with resource!

One of my other favorite finds in the Vox Box has been the incredible Jergens Ultra Healing Extra Dry Skin Moisturizer. Winter hits and my skin looks and feels horrible. Especially my hands. All of a sudden they go from nice 30-ish hands to those of a 60 year-old. (No offense, Mom!) So, I was thrilled to get to try the Jergens challenge by using the Ultra Healing Extra Dry Skin Moisturizer as part of my daily routine. And, I love it. Not only does it immediately solve my dry skin problems, but it improves the appearance of my skin right away. Without any greasiness or the feeling that I can’t do anything for 5 minutes while my moisturizer dries. Nope, none of that. The light, pleasant scent is great, too!

And my eyes have received a special surprise, too. Thanks to Rimmel London, I’ve been rocking my new Scandaleyes Rockin’ Curves Mascara. It makes me look like my lashes are fake. No joke. They’re super full and luscious looking. Maybe it helps that I have long lashes to begin with, but this mascara is terrific! To top it off, I get to pair my pretty eyes with the Rimmel London Moisture Renew Lipstick and Lip Liner. I have to admit that I’m not a big lipstick wearer, but when I got this lipstick, I wanted to try wearing a more bold color (red, I loved it!) and I was curious to see how my lips would feel 15 minutes after applying. They still felt soft and moisturized, so it really does as it promises! Yay for protected lips in winter weather.

And last but not least, the Puffs SoftPack I got to try out is a new favorite in my house. The soft and thick tissues are not in a box, but in a plastic “container,” so moldable to any location. They’ve lived on my desk for a bit, but I did stuff them in my purse (I know, I need to buy the little packs next time!) in a pinch. Another way to keep me and mine pampered this winter!

There’s a First Time for Everything

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I’ve been asked by my esteemed alma mater, Willamette University, to speak at an event tonight titled “Careerapalooza.” It’s an opportunity for current students to hear from alumni who have spread out and are successful in a variety of fields ranging from health care to art to (yes) startups. I’m nervous and excited because I’ve been asked to speak as the token entrepreneur – the first time I’ve officially gone out there in this capacity. But, you know, I think this is making my new-ish title of “founder/CEO” that much more real to me, and also making me realize, “this is it, I’m really, truly an entrepreneur.” The recognition by others as such confirms it all to me.

I’ve found that being a sole founder, one who has boot-strapped her way to launch and to success, is like living in a vacuum. You move forward on your own plan, your own timetable and with your own checklist of things to accomplish, without much feedback from the outside world. When I stop to take a breath tonight and to articulate to Willamette students the path I took to get where I am with WedBrilliant, and suggest advice for anyone interested in striking out on their own and turning that idea into reality, that’s when it’s going to hit me how I’ve truly made my own dreams come true. And fittingly, that’s one terrific definition of “entrepreneur.”

Time for a Facelift

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But not for me, sillies. It wasn’t long ago that my sporadic musings on my blog were fueled by a guilt-ridden determination to sit down a write. It was hard to make time to do so, though. That’s because when I’m not running my public relations consultancy, I’m raising two young boys, and also apparently decided that wasn’t enough, so launched my first startup, WedBrilliant, in the spring of this year. But, it occurred to me that if I’m spending all my time on those things, why not merge them together here on my blog. So, it’s a facelift for my blog, see?

bannerI’m really excited about this new direction and focus for me here. I am so passionate about being a mom, and working hard for my PR clients, and growing WedBrilliant into a fantastically successful business – basically trying to “do it all” on a daily basis.

I’d love to engage with other startup founders/CEOs who do double or triple duty, like me. That’s what inspires me and keeps me pushing forward. At the end of the day, I’m fueled by the saying that “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” I would have far more regrets and wondering “what if” the rest of my life if I hadn’t gone out and made my dreams come true for myself. And I think that quality of mine is what I have in common with other creative startup founders, and it’s a quality my husband and I are working hard to develop in our sons!

Until next time..