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April 14, 2011

Week's Best: Nudes and Neutrals Edition

{EAV_BLOG_VER:61d3d6eb72e7ebd9} Nudes and the neutrals have *it* this spring and incorporating these sassy staples into everyday can be a snap. This "Week's Best" is skewed towards the ladies (guys, you will get your turn), because we deserve a bit o' simple spoils every now and then, right?! Here are four champagne, beige and camel-colored wearables (mostly under $50) and one indulgenceall of which will have you rockin' it.

Strappy Bootie
Be bold and go nude this spring and summer. Simply add strappy nude sandals to your wardrobe to get that catwalk flair without the fuss. It just so happens that Sole Society makes it super easy. The fashionistas will select the trendy soles that fit your personality based on your style preferences. Each month, you'll receive a closet of six affordable designer shoes to choose from. One of my closet faves is the incredibly versatile Kyte Strappy Bootieperfect with jeans or cocktail dress. Go strut your stuff! (Price $49.95 at Sole Society)

Tulip-skirt Dress
A classic. Feast your eyes on the tulip dress, which has to be one of the best shapes to ever grace the fashion world. This one from Zara screams 'feminine' with its sleek lines, crewneck and pleated waist. A great look for the office when paired with a colorful trench or add sparkle with jewelry and accessories for that special occasion. Show those trendsetters that you have amazing taste! (Price: $90 at Zara.com)

Taupe Lacquer
Taupe on your fingers is a trend that will fast become your favorite. Don't judge this one by its cover. You Don't Know Jacques!, by OPI, looks lackluster in the bottle, but this gray-brown hue with plum undertones makes quite the statement once on your nails. A super chic and modern option that coordinates well with nearly any outfit. If you are stuck on a desert island and can only take one thing with you, this polish is it! (Price: $8 at Amazon.com or Ulta)

Captivating Pucker
It may be one of the most elusive lip colors out therethe perfect nude. This caramel-colored hue happens to complement medium skin best: Tzigane from NARS 'Spring 2011 Collection' (Limited Edition). Careful, because once you try this captivating shade you'll be hooked. It goes on sheer and appears as a natural tintplus it lasts and lasts and lasts. Mwah! (Price $24 at Nordstrom)
Custom Chocolate 
Admittedly this one's a stretch, but this chocolaty 'neutral' definitely deserves a spot in the line-up. The 'personalize it' trend has even hit candyland. Allow me to introduce you to the Chocomize Creation Station where you can build your own chocolate bars. First, select your fave Belgian Chocolate (dark, milk or white), then choose up to five toppings from nuts and seeds, fruits, herbs and spices, and candy. Word on the street is the combo of milk chocolate, cayenne, coffee, Pop Rocks and mini pretzels is outta sight. (Price: Varies, but approx. $7 per bar)

What are your favorite neutral finds? If you were to create your own chocolate bar using three ingredients, which would you choose? Leave your thoughts in the box below. Thanks!

Cost: $7 to $90
Time: Can be done in a snap
Simplicity Factor (1=Effortless to 5=Elaborate): 2

April 7, 2011

Week's Best: Mood-Altering Edition

This week's fab finds are guaranteed to alter your mood. Are you feeling flirty? Curious? Devious? I've found some simple spoils to appeal to each of these moods. Sometimes all it takes is to look up, rethink an old classic or don a funky pattern on your derriere. Check out this "Week's Best"this time with a mood-altering twist. Here we go!


Make Your Inner Nerd Sexy (Mood: Flirty)
You can create that naughty-school-girl look without much effort with these low rise boyshorts from Honeydew Intimates. This bright multi-colored argyle print is available in multiple color combos and accented with metallic hearts. The comfy fit will leave you feeling like sugar and spice and everything nice. If only everyone could see your uber preppy panties! Yes, these do cost a tad more than your average drawers, but these are way above average. Go ahead and appeal to your inner prepster! (Price: $14 at HoneyDewIntimates.com and Nordstrom)

Let Your Fingers Explore Under the Stars (Mood: Curious)
You are setting the mood under the night sky with Mr. or Ms. Irresistible, and you're looking to impress with your bank of astronomy facts. Trouble is, you didn't exactly ace astronomy 101. Well, there's an app for that! Let your fingers do the exploring via Star Walk, the app that lets you track and discover stars, constellations, planets and satellites in real-time. Simply hold your iPhone (or iPad) to the sky and your screen will serve as your interactive astrology guide. Do you believe in magic? Your date will! (Price: $2.99 for iPhone or $4.99 for iPad)

Discover The Flavors of Elvis (Mood: Blissful)
If you could "drink" Elvis, what would he taste like? Well, the Rooster & Moon Coffee Pub personifies the King using a blend of peanut butter, banana, dark chocolate and skim milk. I have to admit, it's rather addictive and if you ask for extra chocolate, this made-to-order smoothie will have you all shook up! Mm mm oh yeah. Perhaps "Berry White" is more your speed. Tha B-Dub as it's otherwise known, combines fresh strawberries, blueberries, banana and vanilla yogurt to make one tastetastic smoothie. Never, never gonna give this one up. (Price: $4 regular, $4.25 large)

Consider a Hole New Take on a Classic (Mood: Devious)
Bakeries are reinventing the old classics: glazed, maple and chocolate donuts, and kicking things up a notch with new flavors, toppings and shapes. Consider VooDoo Doughnut in Portland. They will dazzle your taste buds with their Bacon Maple Bar (strips of bacon placed atop maple frosting), Old Dirty Bastard (chocolate frosting, Oreo's and peanut butter), the Gay Bar (filled with cream and frosted with the colors of the rainbow), and Dirty Snowballs (marshmallow topping dipped in coconut and a dollop of peanut butter in the center) to name just a few. Voodoo, you will get the chance to cast your spell on me in a few weeks! (Price: About $1 each)

Show Your Yapper a Different Kind of Bark (Mood: Weird)
When a craving for ginger snaps hits, you'll have to first wrestle this particular treat away from Fido. The aroma of Ginger & Parsley biscuits from Barkwheats Dog Biscuits may test your willpower and it will quickly become one of your furchild's faves. These grain-free, wheat-free buckwheat treats are baked with organic and fair-trade ingredients sourced from small-scale family farms. Stock up all flavors: Sea Vegetable & Chamomile, Blueberry & Lavender, and Pumpkin & Sage. It's the dog treat that Jennifer Anniston and Owen Wilson wish they'd had a mouthful of when they lost that bet on German TV. (Price: $8.49 for a 10oz box or $39.50 for four 1lb bags at Barkwheat.com or select Whole Foods stores) 

What simple spoil alters you mood for the better (keep in clean and legal!)? Do you have a fave smoothie flavor or spot? Please share your finds below.

Cost: $1 to $39.50
Time: How long did it take you to read this post? That's your answer.
Simplicity Factor (1=Effortless to 5=Elaborate): 1

March 31, 2011

Week's Best: Mad Libs Edition

What's hot? What are the new must-haves? What should you splurge on? That's the idea behind a new Simple Spoils series: Week's Best. Each week I'll profile cool new finds that no one should dream of denying themselves. This week spotlights a compelling read, dessert for breakfast, a magic elixir, and morethis time with a Mad Libs Twist. Because everything's better as a Mad Lib! Let's get to it.

Spark Silky-Hair Envy From (women you admire)
Those Pantene girls will have nothing on you. You will be the envy of every woman and wanted by every man as soon as you try Kerastase's Elixir Ultime. It will literally change your lifeit changed mine. The leave-in conditioner/serum and finishing gloss can reign in even the wildest locks (and I should know). One pump of the product goes a long way, and you simply work it into the ends of towel-dried hair, then style. Your hair will feel surprisingly nourished; super shiny, soft and smooth; and it won't leave your hair looking greasy. Pair it with a leave-in sunscreen and besides a bit of finishing spray if you choose, that's all you'll need. Enjoy your sleek new look! (Price: $43.95 on Amazon.com or $50 at select salons)

Top Your Waffle With (things you find at a grocery store)
Would you like chocolate chips, banana, chopped walnuts, and caramel (Waffle Sundae)? Or a poached eggs with bacon and cheese? The waffle toppings at Waffle Brothers will seem nearly endless and you really can't go wrong with your choice. It starts with your choice of waffle: Original (super sweet, no syrup necessary), Traditional, Whole Wheat-Banana or Gluten-Free. Then select a combo of toppings from various fruits, spreads, sauces, meats and top with an egg if you'd like. And don't overlook the absolutely delish coffee. This is a breakfast that will leave your taste buds screaming for more. (Price: $3 to $9 per "entree")

Design Your Own (items you find in a home).
Tap your inner Nate Berkus (you know he's in there) and bring throw pillow, bedding, and even ball, egg or bubble chair into your home that YOU design. Inmod's online design studio allows you to select from dozens of pattern themes (e.g. retro, floral, pop culture, geometric, etc.), size, fabric options (cotton, linen or silk dupioni), and fabric base and embroidery colors. The perfect option if you want unique decor or can't seem to find accents to perfectly match your home's motif. Go ahead, get inspired! (Price: Pillows start at $40 and duvets at $126)

Enchant Your (group of people)
If your friends, family and colleagues were to choose the one word that best describes you, would anyone say "enchanting"? It's the new buzzword from author and marketing genius Guy Kawasaki who explains how to influence and motivate people, mainly through technology. His latest book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions, explains when and why enchantment is necessary. If you are a marketer, work for a company that cares about the "experience" it provides or simply want to improve your own rep, it's a great read (once you get through the first few chapters). (Price: $14 on Amazon or $27 at bookstores)


Protect Your Eyes From (things that make you cry)
If you are like me, you sport ski goggles any time you think about getting close to an onion. You can now wage battle against the onion's chemical weaponryand WINwith a more sleek and stylish option: Onion Goggles. Yes, look good while chopping, slicing and dicing onions and their relativesleeks, scallions and chives. These goggles have a foam seal that fits snugly and locks out those unwanted fumes that make you cry. Your mascara and eyeliner will remain perfectly placed! (Price: $20 at Bed Bath & Beyond)

What are your favorite finds? What are the simple spoils that brighten your day? I invite you to share your finds in the comment box below.

Cost: $3-$126
Time: Mere minutes
Simplicity Factor (1=Effortless to 5=Elaborate): 1

January 5, 2011

The *New* Breakfast of Champions

Mom used to say, "You better eat your Wheaties," but this breakfast fuel is so yesterday! Instead, jumpstart your day with a much more exciting (and tasty) alternative: a Silly Monkey. This take on a breakfast burrito is healthy and won't leave you feeling uber stuffed. It's the new breakfast of champions that we look forward to every Tuesday and Thursday morning--and it has yet to wear out its welcome! Here's how to make one:

Ingredients
Whole wheat tortilla
Heaping spoonful of organic peanut butter
Spoonful of non-fat vanilla yogurt
2 T dried cranberries (or dried fruit of your choice)
1/4 cup low-fat granola
Half of a banana, sliced
Drizzle of honey

Preparation
Spread peanut butter evenly down the center of the tortilla, followed by the vanilla yogurt. Sprinkle the cranberries and granola over the peanut butter and yogurt. Top the layers with banana slices and top with a drizzle of honey. Wrap up, grab your favorite coffee, dig in, and let me know what you think!

Serving size: 1

Cost: Under $2
Time: Less then five minutes
Simplicity Factor (1=Effortless to 5=Elaborate): 1

December 9, 2010

Create the Perfect Winter Pout

If the cold, dry winter weather has zapped the life out of your lips, it's easy to restore them to a healthy, rosy glow. Simply add one more step to your beauty routine--in addition to exfoliating your face and your body, add your lips to that list.

Treat yourself an instant lip makeover using an exfoliant, such as Philosophy's Kiss Me Exfoliating Lip Scrub ($15). This a gentle, sugar-based lip exfoliator soothes rough, dehydrated or wrinkled lips with a blend of shea, mango and cocoa butters that are paired with olive, peppermint and almond oils. Your lips will instantly look and feel soft and oh so kissable! Simply apply a bit and work it in a circular motion to exfoliate. After several seconds you will begin to feel a cooling sensation. Then using a damp tissue or cotton pad, gently wipe away the scrub.

Once you have restored a picture-perfect pucker, follow it up with a high-loss lip shine in your favorite hue. A fave is Sephora's Super Shimmer Lip Gloss ($10), which coats lips with a glassy shimmer and plumps your pout. "Candy Apple" adds a pinkish red tint with a gold shimmer that's perfect for holiday parties. Move over, Snoopy. There's a new set of lips in demand at this kissing booth!

Cost: $25 (for lip scrub and gloss)
Time: 15 minutes
Simplicity Factor (1=Effortless to 5=Elaborate):

December 7, 2010

Over the River and Through the Woods to Alberto's We Go!

Should you be headed over the river and through the woods to Winter Park, Colorado, make a culinary pit stop at Alberto's before making it to grandfather's house (better yet bring g-pa along too!). Brought to you by the creators of the over-the-top delish Tabernash Tavern, Alberto's is reminiscent of A Christmas Carol: The eatery's new menu features the best international dishes from Chef Alberto Sapien's past, present and future (The Shed, Untamed Steakhouse and Tabernash Tavern).

Ghost of Christmas Past: Cajun Chimichanga (The Shed)
Be prepared to develop a new craving with this dish. Stuffed with shrimp, crawfish, corn salsa, and black beans, this chimichanga is smothered in a spicy Creole sauce and topped with Mexican cheeses. Warning: You will be hooked after one bite.

Ghost of Christmas Present: Lobster Mac and Cheese (Tabernash Tavern)
Derived from an old Tabernash Tavern favorite, this already scrumptious dish got a mini makeover and is even better than its ancestor (just when I thought it wasn't possible). Pasta is tossed with a rich, house special cheese sauce and topped with grape tomatoes, jalapenos, asparagus and generous chunks of savory lobster. This one is tough to finish in one sitting and makes for incredible leftovers!

Ghost of Christmas Future: Mexican Pizza (Alberto's own)
Just one of nearly two dozen pizza choices, the Mexican Pizza will have you randomly yelling "ole'" between bites. It's easy to get excited about this pizza, which starts with a thin, tall-edged crust that is smothered in refried beans and topped with chorizo, tomato sauce, jalapenos, pepper jack cheese, and pearl onions. Be ready to be smacked by a great combo of bold flavors.

The next time you trek through the white and drifted snow of Winter Park, pay Alberto's a visit--even Ebenezer Scrooge would approve! Right now this hot spot is open for dinner Thursday through Saturday, but starting December 14th the doors will be open seven days a week from 4:30 pm to 9 pm.

Cost: $12-$30 per entree
Time: One hour
Simplicity Factor (1=Effortless to 5=Elaborate): 1

December 1, 2010

Nik's Holiday Gift Picks: For the Foodie

Foodies can certainly have a discriminating palate, so one must choose wisely when selecting a gift to impress. These gifts spell "instant gourmet excellence" that your food aficionado will appreciate... and who knows, you may benefit as well!

Momofuku Milk Bar Goodies
Momofuku recently launched an online Milk Bar that is packed with gourmet goodies. How good can a "Compost Cookie" be, you ask? Similar to oyster bar trash, this cookie has a bit of everything: pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch and chocolate chips. There are plenty of other finds too! Momofuku Milk Bar $10 for 1/2 dozen cookies.

Honey Sampler
Not all honey is created equal, in fact the best honeys are created using nectar from a single type of flower. Choose from specialty or every-day-use honeys. Spoon Winter White Honey onto warm scones, drizzle Black Sage honey over yogurt or drop a spoonful of Acacia Honey into espresso. Three-ounce samplers of each honey start at $4.25.

Coffee for a Year
Help your beloved foodie start every morning with a caffeinated perk! Give a one pound bag of flavored coffee every month for an entire year! Flying Bean has some unusual java selections: Cookiedoodle, Blueberry Crème, Vanilla Crème Brulèe, Peppermint and more. Coffee of the month $16.95/month or $195/year.

Savory Seasonings
Give any dish a gourmet feel with a "Salt'n of the Sea" gift set. These salt variations are packed with flavor and allow for experimentation in the kitchen: Italian Black Truffle Salt, Himalayan Pink Salt, Fleur de Sel French Seal Salt, and Alder Wood-Smoked Sea Salt. Simply divine. Salt'n of the Sea sampler $35.

Smoking Gun
"Smoking Gun" may sound like a seedy Western flick, but it will quickly become a kitchen staple. This brilliant tool infuses foods and drinks with a natural, unforgettable smoky flavor. Mix and match applewood, hickory, cherrywood or mesquite with your favorite vegetables, meats, fish, sauces, cheeses or cocktails. The Smoking Gun $99.95.

Gelato Starter
Turn your crema connoisseur into a gelato-making star with these homemade starters. Simply take the mix--vanilla beans, fine chocolate and all-natural ingredients--add half-and-half and heavy cream, stir, chill and fold in your fave mix-ins (German Chocolate Cake Gelato, anyone?). Get ready to scoop and devour! Gelato starter $19.

Cost: $4.25 to $195
Time: Just pick a gift and click!
Simplicity Factor (1=Effortless to 5=Elaborate): 2