Monday, February 29, 2016

Melanie Mills Hollywood

Review by Lisa VanWilliams
Melanie Mills is an award-winning makeup artist and Hollywood's leading leading lady to go to when the starlets want to get glammed up. She created her own beauty line called Gleam when she was Makeup Department Head for ABC's television show, "Dancing with the Stars" and she created Gleam Body Radiance cream /body makeup to even out blotchy spray tans or instantly bronze skin without a tan. A few years ago, she also launched her Gleam Lip Radiance line which offers seven gorgeous eye catching long-lasting colors to match any skin tone or mood.

Melanie Mills Hollywood also makes the following products:

GLEAM BODY RADIANCE ($40) - Makeup, moisturizer, and glow all in one. Cover up those imperfections anywhere on your body.
GLEAM LIP RADIANCE ($24 each)- Infused with natural botanicals, this is a highly pigmented, long-lasting glass, that will help to improve lip texture. Conditions your lips while providing great color.
GLEAM RADIANT DUST ($59)- loose shimmering (all-over body) powder that leaves your skin feeling like silk.

These products are all paraben and sulfate free, They are a cruelty-free brand as well. They were kind enough to send me the Gleam Radiant Dust and Lip Radiance to check out for myself and they are awesome. I choose the Rose color Radiant Dust since I am pretty fair skinned. I use it as a finishing dust once I have applied all my makeup and I'm ready to go. I dust this over my face, neck, chest, & arms and it provides a subtle sexy shimmer.

I picked Naked Lip Radiance to use during the day since it's subtle but alluring neutral color and Up Against the Wall for a more dramatic red evening look. The glosses come in a coppery gold case and the gloss applies easily in one or two coats depending on the look you want to achieve. The gloss is smooth and moisturizing as well and the colors are great. I would recommend this brand if you are into quality shimmers & gloss (and I'm a gloss junkie).

They are offering 50% off on all Gleam products (promo code: Love16), so here's your chance to try out some great products at half the price. To find out more about the company, or to order online, please go to:

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

GIVESCENT - Captivating Scents

Review by Lisa VanWiliams
GIVESCENT makes captivating scents inspired by the first sultry summer days in Italy. Elena Brower fell in love with Sicilian almond oil when she lived in Italy for two years. When she came back to NYC, she collaborated with her sister Alexandra to create a scent of her own, and GIVESCENT was born. The perfumes are free of alcohol, formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, & they are cruelty free.

They have 4 scents to pick from:
GIVESCENT Signature - a blend of sun-ripened citrus, and spicy vanilla
GIVESCENT Green - a blend of bergamot, lemon, and mint
GIVESCENT Orange - a blend of bergamot, grapefruit, and musk
GIVESCENT Azure - a tranquil beach scent with notes of amber & musk

Alexandra was kind enough to send me their Signature scent to check out for myself. This is my new favorite and I can't wait for Spring/Summer to wear it more. It reminds me of a LUSH bath bomb that you can wear. The sweet almond oil smells like candy. I keep going back to smell my wrist for more, it's that captivating & alluring. It's refreshing, it's sexy, and it's making me anxious for nice weather! I would recommend this if you are looking for something new. 5 ml Roll-on bottles go for around $49, and if you can't decide which scent to choose from samplers go for $6. To find out more about GIVESCENT or to order online, please go to:

By purchasing a bottle of GIVESCENT, you are helping to support women worldwide. GIVESCENT supports EVERY MOTHER COUNTS ( which is a campaign to end preventable deaths caused by pregnancy and childbirth around the world. They also support WOMEN FOR WOMEN INTERNATIONAL ( and they support female survivors of war with tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty, to stability and self-sufficiency. Way to go GIVESCENT! Cheers to making great products, and supporting some incredible causes on your journey.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Gimmee Jimmy's Cookies

Since 1983, Gimmee Jimmy's Cookies has been making all natural home baked goods. These would make a great treat for co-workers at the office, or show up at any house at Easter time with a delicious tin of Rugelach or Babka and it surely won't disappoint. They also offer cookies, babka crumb cakes, and brownies. If you can't decide which one to get, you can get an assortment box to try a variety (2 pound assortment box starts at $36.95 with two choices). These baked goods are made with the freshest all natural ingredients, no artificial anything, kosher certified, and shipped around the world. The cookies come nicely wrapped in a huge tin that could be kept and reused again for cookies or as a storage tin. They were also fresh. My pick of the batch would be the marble cookies.

To find out more about Gimmee Jimmy's Cookies, or to order some, please go to:

  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
  • Rainbow Cookies
  • White Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Oatmeal & Raisin Cookies
  • Sugar Cookies
  • Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • M&M Chocolate Chip Coookies
  • Marble Cookies
  • Black & White

  • Vanilla Rugelach
  • Cinnamon Rugelach
  • Chocolate Rugelach

  • Chocolate Strudel Rugelach
  • Raspberry Cream Cheese Rugelach
  • Chocolate Cream Cheese Rugelach
  • Fresh Cream Cheese Rugelach
  • Chocolate Babka Crumb Cake
  • Baked Vanilla Babka Crumb Cake
  • Special French Round Babka Cake
  • Specialty Chocolate Babka Cake

Monday, February 15, 2016

Deep Steep - Natural Bath, Body & Haircare

Review by Lisa VanWilliams
Deep Steep has natural bath, body, and hair care products that emphasis organic, all-natural ingredients. This family run business out of Johns Island, South Carolina has been producing naturally made cosmetics since 1983. The Lieber Family makes everything in hand made, small batches, and they take pride in saying they are 100% "made from scratch". The Deep Steep line has no phthalates, no parabens, no GMO's, no chemical preservatives, gluten-free, and they are 100% vegan and cruelty free.

To find out more about Deep Steep, and order online, please go to:
We found Deep Steep at our local Whole Foods in Connecticut.

Products they offer:
  • Bubble Bath
  • Body Wash
  • Sugar Scrub
  • Body Mist
  • Body Lotion
  • Body Butter
  • Body Oil
  • Moisture Stick
  • Shampoo & Conditioner
  • Liquid Hand Wash
  • Foaming Hand Wash
  • Hand Cream
  • Hand Scrub
  • Candy Mint Collection Foot Care
  • Argan Oil Line (handwash, lotion, body butter, sugar scrub, hand wash, & hair care)

The top scents are Grapefruit Bergamot & Lavender Chamomile. Deep Steep sent me a few of few of their products over to check out for myself. The Argan line smells sensuous and I am really enjoying the Fig & Apricot body lotion. Argan Oil is a plant oil extracted from the argan tree from Morocco. Argan oil is said to be great at treating skin diseases, dry skin, and nourishing hair.

I have been bathing my kids in the Lavender Vanilla Bubble Bath at bedtime. It has a nice calming scent and makes just enough bubbles for the kids to be content.

The Passion Fruit - Guava Body Mist is a light, refreshing tropical breeze that's great to freshen up before you walk out the door or make an entrance anywhere.

Lastly, the Sugar Scrub in Lilac Blossom smells delicious. A little goes a long way with the sugar scrub and it sticks to your skin. Once you wipe off the excess, your skin feels super soft and moisturized with a glowing sheen.

The reviews of the products on Amazon get mostly 4 to 5 stars on all of their products, and I can see why and say I agree. The products feel like a luxury line, yet they are affordably priced for everyday use.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Red Apple Lipstick

Review by Lisa VanWilliams
This company was started in 2007 by a veteran named Jay Adam and he creates all the colors himself. He says, "I've looked at women my whole life, I think I have a pretty good grasp on what looks good :)". The company prides themselves on making products that are safe, non-toxic, paraben free, cruelty-free, vegan, gluten-free, and GMO free. All their products are proudly handmade in the USA in small batches out of Texas. RAL has over 40 shades of lipsticks to pick from, and 20 shades of lip glosses. They also offer lip pencils, balm, exfoliating sticks, eyeshadows, mascara, & eyeliner. The lipsticks go for $23.50 each, and the glosses go for $18.50 each.

Red Apple Lipstick was kind enough to send me a few of their top sellers for review. The first one was Berried Treasure lip gloss. This is a highly pigmented , super natural berry colored gloss with a touch of spearmint so your lips tingle. It's a great day wear color. We also tried the lipstick in the color Vogue. Vogue is a berry toned neutral with a hint of sparkle and a ton of shine. They both go on smoothly and you can feel the quality of ingredients.

To find out more about the line and see the other makeup products they carry, please go to:

You can try a sample of any lipstick color for $3.50. Some people really like this option because they can try out several colors at a small price before committing to a whole tube. They also have a generous 100% money back guarantee and you can return any lipstick or gloss up to 6 months after purchase if you are dissatisfied for any reason.

Monday, February 8, 2016

ColorProof Hair Care

Review by Lisa VanWilliams
Do you color or highlight your hair? ColorProof Evolved Color Care is a complete line of professional luxury products designed exclusively for color-treated hair. They did Julia Louis-Dreyfus' hair for the Golden Globes last month using a number of the products. We tried some out and they really do tame the wild mane,  plus they make your color last longer. The products smell good, and my hair did not move once I sprayed it with the Anti-Frizz Weatherproof Spray.

All products are sulfate-free, salt-free, gluten-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free, PABA-free, carcinogen-free, MEA&DEA-free,  biodegradable formulas, 100% vegan, and never tested on animals.

Line of products include:

  • Baobab Heal & Repair
  • Crazysmooth
  • Trucurl
  • Volume 
  • Moisture
  • SignatureBlonde
  • Style 
  • Finish

To find out more about ColorProof and their extensive line, please go to:
You can find ColorProof at numerous salons & spas Nationwide and in Connecticut, and you can use the salon locator to find the nearest location to you:

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Flank Steak with Sweet Potatoes, Black Beans, & Corn

Recipe By Lisa VanWilliams
It's not often I get to sit down and have dinner with my own family. I have been cooking as a Personal Chef for 3 families in Connecticut, so I am constantly on the run 3-4 nights a week. Last night I made this dish for my family and it was really good. I am going to add this recipe into our repertoire on a regular basis. It's a medley of flavors that all go excellently together and if your looking for something super tasty & healthy, try it out.

Ingredients (makes 2 servings)
For Sweet Potatoes
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked & mashed
dash of cinnamon
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Steak Marinade
1 Flank Steak
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 garlic cloves
some chopped parsley (fresh or dried will work)
garlic powder

Black Beans & Corn
1 can black beans drained/rinsed
½ bag of frozen corn
½ lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon cumin
fresh cilantro

Cooking Directions:
Marinate the steak for a half hour at least (overnight if you can). Flip it over half way, so each side gets some love. Throw it on the grill when you are ready to cook it up to your preference. Let it cool and thinly slice it up.

Start by making the sweet potatoes. Once they are cooked add the cinnamon, maple syrup, salt&pepper and mash it together.

Then in a small pan on stove, mix together the black bean and corn with other items. I plated it by putting down the sweet potatoes first, then the black beans and corns, top it off  with the sliced flank steak. Enjoy!

Faerie Organic Artisan Cosmetics

Review by Lisa VanWilliams
Faerie Organic makes hand crafted organic skincare and mineral makeup. It was started by makeup artist Erin Mincks because she believes that cancer and modern diseases are caused by a build up of toxicity in the body. Having lost both her parents to cancer, she chooses to create healing & holistic products that are safer for skin than using harmful chemicals. The motto at Faerie Organic is "health before beauty", and that by treating your internal issues, your external beauty will come naturally. "We cannot load our bodies with toxic chemicals found in processed foods and topical body care and expect to have healthy glowing skin."

They use organic ingredients, they do not use any synthetic ingredients, no fragrances, no petroleum-based products, no GMO's, no parabens, vegan, and no animal testing.

Some items they offer include: scrubs, cleansers, toner, moisturizers, serums, masks, bath salts, sun products, foundations, blushes, eye shadows, concealers, eyeliner/brow color, lip products, mascaras, brushes, and mineral kits. They also offer sample kits at a reasonable price if you want to check some items out first.

They sent me a Pure Mineral Foundation sample pack to check out along with a Juicy Pout Lip Gloss in Sugared Peach. The foundations are really nice and they have a soft sheen/sparkle to them. The gloss provides a nice shine with a slight tint of color. The gloss is suppose to naturally heal the lips because they use castor oil, cocao, and shea butters in them.

You can only order these items online. To find out more about the company, or to order some products, please go to:

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Sumo Oranges

These are soooo gooooood!! They are huge. I bought a couple of these because people were surrounding them in the store, plus they looked oddly peculiar and I was curious. They are called Sumo Oranges because of their size and they have a huge odd looking "top-knot" on them. These are a cross between a mandarin and a California navel orange. Sumo oranges are a hybrid originated out of Japan (they are known as Dekopon there), and they are now grown in California. They are easy to peel, they are super sweet, no seeds, and they have a great texture. But $8 for two oranges is something you won't want to wrestle with often. We found them at Whole Foods in Milford,CT.

To find out what stores you can find these in, please go to:

Arianna Skincare for Men

Review by Lisa VanWilliams
Pamper your man Valentine's Day or on his Birthday with this incredible skincare line by Arianna Skincare. All items are currently on sale at 20% off. They offer Nutritive Shampoo Therapy for Hair & Scalp, Invigorating Mineral Shower Gel, Hydrating Mineral Facial Cream, Aftershave Recovery Balm, or you can try them all with the Men's Spa Collection Kit that comes in a beautiful travel shaving bag. 

Arianna Skincare offers super high-end luxury products, which are made with Dead Sea minerals. The incredible healing properties of the Dead Sea are World renowned and have been for many centuries. The Dead Sea contains 26 essential  minerals, twelve of the Dead Sea minerals do not exist in any other ocean in the World.

The products are great for treating skin problems as well. I have seen the hand cream clear up Eczema issues within a day. It's also great for treating psoriasis, acne, and diabetes. It's proven to increase blood circulation, and it will take years of skin's appearance (their eye serum is said to be noticeable within 10-14 days of products use). 

I love my Arianna Skincare line and I would highly recommend this brand to anyone. Treat yourself just once and you will not be disappointed. The people that use these products swear by them. The items are higher end, so they do cost a bit more, but you will feel the quality. I feel like a million bucks when I put on any of their lotions/creams. They smell INCREDIBLE as well. I use their face creams, and I love love love the Ultra Rich Mineral Body Butter (on sale right now at 20% off). I look forward to using it daily. It's extra whipped, creamy, & delicious. They are packaged in really nice bottles as well.  

Ultra Rich Mineral Body Butter
If you can't make it to one of their exclusive shops in the Northeast, you can order online here and find out more about the company:

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Chocolate Expo - Maritime Aquarium

Sunday was a beautiful day to head to the Maritime Aquarium, grab some treats and go watch the seals swim. The aroma of chocolate fanned it's way through the aquarium as droves of people gathered to sample from loads of vendors offering baked goods, specialty foods, gelato, cheese, wines and more.

My kids had a great time exploring the aquarium. They checked out all the fish & lizards and they even got to pet some stingrays and small sharks. There was something for everyone at the Maritime Aquarium.

We were invited to check out the event and here are some pictures from the day, and a few of the vendors that were there. If you need a gift for anyone on Valentines, here are a few great gift ideas and ways to support local small businesses.

They said their best seller is the Death by Peanut Butter....

The Pretzel Princess - Hudson Valley, New York
People were going nuts for these pretzels, the line was long, and people were raving about them...

Crazy Crepe - New York locations
Crepes any way you can imagine. These were calling my name, but I was able to resist...

PIKA'S FARM TABLE - Hudson Valley, New York
Belgian specialties like waffles, quiches, soups...

Chocolate Rain Shop - Norwalk, Connecticut
Artisan handmade chocolates, truffles, toffee, caramel, & chocolate almond bark....

Dutch Dessert - Hudson Valley, New York
We tried a sampler of the Pecan/Chocolate was soooo goood..two thumbs up...
Individually wrapped tarts.

Other photo's from the day: