Breville Juicer: an Important Beauty Tool

After researching on and off for the past few months, I finally ordered my first “big girl” juicer from the respected Breville family! Im constantly posting about skin beautifying smoothies and juices, but up until now, have relied on my blender and the local Juice shop and Framer’s Markets for fresh juice. All that changes in a few days when I receive my new kitchen toy!

Aside from clean water, fresh and raw fruits and veggies are the very best things we can add to our daily diet to improve our skin from the inside out. Some of my favorite smoothie and drink recipes are found here, but I will be adding to this list very soon. For the month of April, I will be juicing daily and will post my favorite blends and recipes (both from my kitchen and some other terrific sites.)

Green Lemonade, a great health and beauty website, makes mention of the best juicers out there, and guess who’s number one? Yep, Breville! This beautiful blogger also has some delicious and nutritious recipes, check them out!

Rainy Day is San Francisco: Redwood Room & Kabuki Springs

Our San Francisco home base, The Clift Hotel, was built in 1934 and in more recent years underwent a $50 million renovation to bring new modern touches to the architectural details of the 30’s era.
Alas, there was no spa added in the renovation, but that gave us the excuse to explore some great spas in the city (more on that in a bit.)

What the hotel did have however, is The Redwood Room. This amazing art deco hotel bar is nothing like others you’ve seen. The stately room is completely covered in paneling from ONE 2000-year-old redwood tree, complete with wood inlays of trees, bears and other wooded scenes. There are huge (I mean it) solid redwood columns all down the center of the room, and ceilings as high as…well, you can imagine. As I mentioned earlier, it was originally built in 1934 and has kept most of the original features. Ive wanted to see this place for a few years now, and had no idea it was located in our hotel until we arrived! The amber glow from this room is remarkable and draws you in and beckons you to order a glass of Brandy on a rainy day like the one we were having…but that would have to wait until after the spa previews.

We’ve visited several San Francisco spas which we still love: Senspa, IO, True, and others. This trip, we wanted to find something a little different this time, and I think we did…

photo credit: Frankie Frankeny

Located in Japantown is a very cool spa called Kabuki Springs. These “bathhouse” inspired spas are all over Europe and Los Angeles, so I was pleased to see San Francisco represent as well.Kabuki Springs is a…say it with me…Japanese Bathhouse where you can enjoy full use of several traditional or more modern baths like soaking tubs, cold plunges, saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools, etc. The common relaxation area is sleek, dimly lit and inviting. Kabuki Springs also provides a wide range of spa treatments. Some are to be expected: facials and massage. Some are a nice surprise to see on the menu: Javanese Lurlur, Ayurvedic Shirodhara, Abhyanga Massage, Matcha Tea Body Wrap, Acupuncture, and energy work! Kabuki Springs is definitely one to add to your list of spas to visit the next time you are in San Francisco – especially if it’s raining outside!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I did go and enjoy my Brandy at The Redwood Room after dinner. Yum!

Manicures and Fresh Lip Treatments in San Francisco

Nail Bar, Coffee Bar, Fragrance Bar…

We hit up all three in our girl’s afternoon. The Misson neighborhood is known as an eclectic and laid back up-and-coming area of San Francisco. It attracts young families, single professionals and artists due, in part to its mix of quiet residential streets, busy locally owned shops and dog friendly parks with hills that overlook the city perfectly! Among the local shops are some great perk-you-up coffee bars, including our favorite: Cafe Que Tal. It’s located right next to a cute  little mani/pedi salon, so….two birds, right?

The coffee was strong yet smooth and delicious. Coffee is a treat (due to it’s high caffeine levels and the fact that it dehydrates the skin.) So when I partake, it needs to be the best organic, high altitude coffee I can get my paws on. Cafe Que Tal is a neighborhood favorite, and also offers a wide variety of teas and treats. However, we couldnt stay and chat because there were nails to be done. Although my favorite nail polish is Spa Ritual for its vegan non-toxic approach, Essie is a close second. The colors are true, brilliant and bound to get your fingers and toes noticed….especially when you choose colors like we did: lime green, aqua and bright raspberry! As an esthetician, my nails are always short…so fun colors are my preference when I can get away with them…like during a reconnasance trip to San Francisco.

After nails were polished and caffeine was coursing through our veins, we headed over to Union Square to the Fresh boutique to test out their new-er sugar lip treatment. As soon as we entered the cute little corner shop, I was distracted by the fragrance bar in the window…lips would have to wait. I loved that you could test all the different scent or even blend your own (if desired) before purchasing your signature fragrance. Pear cassis and tobacco caramel were the front runners, but tobacco ultimately won out. OK, now the lips.

The Fresh brown sugar body scrub is what inspired me to start making scrubs at home years ago, so I wanted to test out their sugar lip scrub and quenching lip balm as soon as I’d heard about how wonderful they were. They call their testing stations “Fresh experiences,” and the lip “experience” was delicious! Brown sugar, molasses, jojoba, Castor oil, and Shea butter are blended to exfoliate dry lips and keep them hydrated. As I’ve mentioned before, sugar is a natural exfoliant and humectant for the skin. Sugar is also a key ingredient in Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment with spf 15 (also available in tinted version – which I love.) The lip treatments also contains black currant oil with ‘plumping’ fatty acids and grapeseed oil for antioxidant protection.

Organic coffee? Check! Bright new nails? Check! New signature fragrance and softer, plump lips? Check! What’s next on the itinerary? Stay tuned to find out..

Tea Time in China Town: San Francisco

We recently discovered that a San Francisco sunset by sailboat is a wonderful way to see the city! Golden Gate, Alcatraz, Ferry Building, Giants Stadium and the Bay bridge…as well as some playful sea lions showing off their latest tricks for us near Pier 39. We are thankful to our captain and first mate (who doubled as the sommelier for our jaunt) for an amazing sailing experience. It was a wee bit chilly, and this made us look forward to our China Town tea tasting the following afternoon. We needed to warm up!

China town is a close walk from Union Square and as we walked under the ornate tiled gateway we were instantly transported to a very different part of the city. Yes, the streets are lined with cheesy Chinese souvenir shops, but dotted in between were markets where you can find barrels filled with 20 different kinds of ginseng and mushrooms, carts covered in bright red and yellow flowers, Colorful Chinese lanterns and flags strewn across the streets and, of course, tea houses! You really cant go wrong with any of them, but our favorite was stop was the Red Blossom Tea Company.

I’ve mentioned my love for tea before, and was really excited to learn from the pros here. We were set loose to explore the shop, lifting the metal lids of numerous tea bins to smell oils from green and white tea leaves blended with everything from lychee to peony. Red Blossom is known for its quality and attention to detail. All the teas are loose, no bags to be found. While its not as practical for me to offer loose tea in the spa, I love enjoying it at home!

One of their tea masters provided a tea tasting with traditional cast iron tea pots and ceramic cups while educating us in the process of making and brewing tea. For example, we learned that decaffeinated tea is not tea – it’s simply an herbal or floral blend minus any actual tea leaves. I also learned that by using the second or third steep from a batch of tea, the level of caffeine is low enough to be considered “de-caffeinated” in many blends. Our favorite was the Black Rose Tea. You can order in several quantities and even add extra “toppings” from their flower bar, like rose buds or lavender. Hmmm…I may need to research a way to provide loose tea at the spa from now on. Maybe I can convince our tea master to come home with us!

San Francisco Treats – Healthy Foodie Heaven

photo credit: Blair Sneddon Photography

Ah…San Francisco…how I love this city! I’ve been here many times in my days as a National Skincare Educator, yet every time I visit I find new spas, markets, and local businesses to add to my list of favorites!

This trip was a whirlwind…four days (two of them sunny!!) and I was able to cover ground from the Mission and Embarcaderro, to Union Square and China Town. San Francisco is a city of foodies and wine conniseurs, so its no surprise that I was able to find local, organic, sustainable food at every corner. As you know from reading this blog, organic and local fruits and veggies are key in nourishing your skin from the inside out. Lowering intake of pesticides in foods is even more important than looking for organic skin care products.

Some of my absolute favorite meals included a seven course Chef’s tasting menu in Masa’s private redwood wine cellar, local wild nettle ravioli at Blue Plate, authentic (and gluten-free) French macaroons from Paulette Macaroons, organic lemon vanilla cupcakes from Moonbaby Cakes, and amazing colorful produce at Bi Rite market and the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market! Whew…that’s a lot of yumminess for four days…but then, that’s part of the San Francisco experience.

These great meals gave me the energy I needed to scout out new spas, tea rooms and skincare boutiques – all of which I will be posting about soon!

I highly recommend you experience some or all of these local favorites the next time you’re in San Fran:

Masa’s – One of the fanciest and best meals I’ve had in years. As a vegetarian, I was well fed with spring vegetable and roasted beet salads, asparagus soup, grilled mushrooms and potatoes, handmade goat cheese ravioli and an impressive organic chocolate opera cake. Oh, and all this was paired with an incredible bottle of Châteauneuf du Pape.

Moonbaby Cakes – Priscilla hand makes each cupcake with love, using organic (even vegan if requested) ingredients and delivers them right to your door anywhere in San Francisco!

BiRite Market – find locally grown, organic produce (and actually hear all about the farms each fruit and veggie comes from!) There are also amazing cheeses, grass fed meats, and delicate pastries lining glass cases and tightly packed shelves. A GREAT place to visit to get ready for a picnic or a special home cooked meal.

Ferry Building Market – The markets here remind me of those in Europe, where you have a separate shop for cheese, meats, olive oil, bread…even mushrooms!

Paulette Macaroons – My love for these delicate cookies started in Paris, and Paulette knows how the Parisians make them!

Axis Cafe – Famous for their artist atmosphere and their weekend Brunch menu with almond french toast, eggs Benedict with butternut squash and full range of organic teas and coffees.

Blue Plate – Local, Fresh, Ever-changing Menu, Sustainable…what else could you ask for in a meal…oh yes…Delicious!

One thing I didn’t have time to do, but will definitely schedule for my next trip, is a wine infused cooking lesson from the Wine Chef via PopUpEdu (Home Ec for Grown Ups)… Love it! I had a chance to meet Melissa Lavrinc Smith and hear all about her business, books and classes. You can find out more about her underground cooking classes, as well as tips and chef reviews on her blog, Wine Chef SF.

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