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Travel Lust: Wellness Suites at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit

Spa suite

As a beauty writer, I can’t see writing about beauty without writing about travel, especially spas. I’m a spa junkie, especially on vacation. I believe it adds to the experience. Traveling is hard. It’s fun, but it’s hard. The long lines, the waiting, the delays can wreak havoc on your psyche when you travel so a spa allows you to regroup and get back to the center. You.

I am glad to see hotels embracing the wellness movement because it is not going away. I want my fitness, wellness, beach, and fun all at the same place. That is why I’m drooling over the Wellness suites at the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit. The suites have Alchimia Aromatherapy Kits in various scent to help you relax and reenergize. There are only twelve suites, but I know one has my name on it.

Shopbop Go Big Sale


I’m home recovering from my surgery, but I wanted to let you know about Shopbop’s current sale that starts today. This is not a “holiday shopping” for you. It’s a “treat yo’self” post. In my family, we don’t go crazy buying gifts. We believe in treating yourself all year long. Also my birthday is next month and I’m treating myself. For the past few years Shopbop has been one of my go-to shopping destinations. Not just for clothes, but candles, paper, books, and a few home decor items.

Since I’m cooped up I need my surroundings to smell divine. I have an insane love for Jonathan Adler candles, Tom Dixon candles, and Garance Doré paper.

Le Weekend

Want to Be Happy

If you read yesterday’s post then you know I’m in the hospital recovering from surgery. There were a few things I found interesting that I thought you would enjoy too so I scheduled a few of my favorite stories from online.

This is the last Le Weekend post for a few weeks while I recover from my surgery. I can’t give you an exact date when it will return, but it will be back.

  1. I’m super jealous of David Lebovitz’s Parisian kitchen and workspace. It’s airy, has tons of light, and it’s in Paris.
  2. I can’t get enough of Missy Elliott’s new song. It’s on repeat and I will be pre-ordering this album.
  3. My fitness level is better now than it was in my 20s. I can’t wait to get back to working out and feeling better and not being in constant pain. I haven’t figured out a plan to get back just yet. I know it’s going to be easy yoga, walks outside, and then on the bike at SoulCycle. I’m taking my time and pacing myself, but this story inspires me.
  4. I am obsessed with Linda Rodin and brought her Olio Russo Oil with me to the hospital. I have to recover in style darlings.
  5. I want to be like Shonda Rhimes when I grow up and embrace a year of yes. I can only imagine how hard it is. I pre-ordered her book and can’t wait to read it.

All About the Pretty is Taking a Break


I’m ready to say bye-bye to 2015. This year started off rough. On January 8, my brother Jamie passed. It was such a brutal time, but what I didn’t say is he passed the same day I was told I needed a hysterectomy sooner than later. Now, don’t worry. I’m not worried about the surgery. I’m in good hands at Sibley Hospital or Club Sib as the locals call it. I know I’m not meant to be a full-time parent. That’s not the life I want. I love being married, have an amazing husband, and being Aunt Ju-Ju. I’m good.

For the past 18 months I have been in pain from uterine fibroids most of the time and they’ve gotten worse. There would be times I’m talking or walking and a pain would hit me so bad it brought me to my knees. Watching my husband look at me and be helpless has been hard. One day he had had enough and was like “Get this stuff out of you. Now.” I put off the surgery as long as I could because I was still processing Jamie’s death, didn’t want to give up my summer and decided to wait until the end of the year to be cooped up in the house when it’s cold. I know, really, Julia. Yep. 

With that being said, I wanted to let you know why I am taking a break. I’m having a hysterectomy today. While you are reading this. Yes, it’s a major surgery. My husband and mother are here to take care of me, but taking a break means I am helping myself. I will have a few blog posts up during the time, but don’t look for much. I’m not quitting blogging. I still love it too much.

After much discussion with my doctor last week, she’s encouraging total rest for a full three weeks before I even attempt to sit up and write. The recovery is 8-10 weeks with a full internal recovery between 9-12 months. I have a podcasts to listen to, books, and magazines to read. (Please send any and all book recommendations or friend me on Goodreads.) I have more TV shows to binge on than I can count. I won’t be bored. Plus, it gives me time to organize some things I want to work on in 2016. (more…)

About Face with Silk Therapeutics Skincare

I was contacted by the lovely people at Silk Therapeutics to try a few of their products for a few blog posts reviews. One of the reasons I decided to try the line is that it has so few ingredients. In the past, green beauty products looked crappy. I call it like I see it. I’m just gonna say it. I want luxury, functionality, and better ingredients.

In this round, I tried the Silk Renewing Peel and the Ultrasensitive Silk Smoothing Complex. I paired these two together because when I hear the word peel I want to climb under a rock. As a Black woman, peels have not always been good to me. As much as I love them, my face doesn’t. Although I don’t have sensitive skin, peels can be harsh.

I did a patch test first of the Silk Renewing Peel on my forearm and everything was okay. I then tested it on my face following the instructions. I am not usually good about following skincare instructions, but on this peel I did. I did it once a week for two weeks. The first time I tried it I noticed a tightness and glow. The second time it was obvious my skin was glowing…like a nightlight. I’m going to say this. I was a skeptic. A huge skeptic. I didn’t think products that had more natural ingredients could get the results I believed they could especially with a peel. Peels have a tendency to be harsh. Remember that episode from SATC where Samantha looked like a lobster after a peel. Yeah, no way girl.

I normally do my intense skin routine on Sundays. It prep for the week. I followed the peel up with the Ultrasensitive Silk Smoothing Complex because I wanted to stay in the same skincare family to hydrate my skin especially after a peel. My first thought was “why is it so light?” I’m heavy handed and love heavy moisturizers and wondered if this lightweight beauty could stand up to my standards. The next morning my skin looked better. It was due to getting a full 8 hours of sleep and this complex. I know it. Do I think this will work this winter? I’m hoping.

Here’s the kicker. I plan to buy this product. Again. I’m going through a crazy hormonal shift and I need all the help I can get. I’m interested in seeing how my next round of Silk Therapeutics products work on my skin. I’m curious and elated at the same time.

Feasting Pretty: Taberna de Alabardero (Washington, DC) Fall Menu


Travel opens your eyes to many things. It could be getting out of your comfort zone, getting to know yourself better, and understanding another culture. For me, the best way I learn about another culture is through their food. Food tells a story. It also tells history through a dish. Spain is a country that is close to my heart. It’s the first place I traveled with my husband and where if I admit now, I fell hard for him. As we discovered Spain, its history, and culture, it was the food where the lessons of traveling hit home.

As I attended the fall tasting menu at Taberna de Alabardero it took me back to Spain and falling in love and feasting. Taberna de Alabardero is a 26-year old Spanish fine dining restaurant in DC. Walking into the restaurant, I was taken back to Madrid, Barcelona, Jerez, and Seville. All that was missing was the sound of flamenco. Chef Romero is from Madrid, but his dishes are influenced from all over Spain. I remember tasting the Monkfish and thinking this has a hint of sherry. In Jerez, we went sherry tasting and I can still taste the luscious liquor. I grew up with a very adventurous food father. I was the only kid that would eat the “weird” stuff. As an adult, I think the curiosity has helped expand my palette. I’m willing to be adventurous and explore. In life and on the plate.

The fall menu at Taberna de Alabardero was as exceptional and delicious as any dish I had in Spain. I plan to go back with my husband so he can reminisce about Spain a little closer to home. All I ask is when are you making your reservation?


taberna 2

{Cod Carpaccio with Wild Salmon with pistachios, capers, olives, and tomatoes.}

taberna 3

{Yellowfin Tuna Tartare with Almond Garlic Pistachio Sauce}

taberna 4

{Scallop with Bacon in a Cuttlefish Reduction}

taberna 5

{Hen Noodle Soup with Poached Quail Egg}

taberna 7

{Monkfish with Crab Cream}


{Yellowfin Tuna Tataki with Potatoes and Bell Peppers}

taberna 2

{Lobster paella}

taberna 3

{Veal Sweetbread with Chanterelles}

taberna 4

{Coulant of Red Berries}

taberna 5

Le Weekend

Gray Malin

November is flying by which means Christmas is around the corner. I love the Christmas season, but I’m grateful that my family doesn’t go crazy for Christmas. It’s about family and not the gift. This week has been tiring. I know I gained an hour of sleep, but I still don’t feel like I’m adjusting well. Plus, the sun is setting before 5pm and I’m not feeling that at all.

  1. Most people know I love to travel, but hate to fly. Then I read an article like this and guess what? It makes me hate flying more. Will that stop me? Nope but the hate is intensified.
  2. My friend Andrea wrote a great story on cornrows and cultural appropriation.
  3. I really want to try relaxing with an adult coloring book, but I don’t want to add another hobby to my already never-ending hobby list.
  4. I went kind of nuts when I discovered these Beekman soaps. Natural, moisturizing, and good.
  5. I can’t wait to make this dish. It’s perfect for the chilly and rainy weather we’ve been having.

Photo: Gray Malin


Evan Healy French Rose Clay Mask


I discovered Evan Healy products at the National Products Expo a few months ago. The expo all types of natural products, but my thing is the beauty. The lovely people at Evan Healy gave me a flew samples and I blew through them fast, but I had to give them a real “try.” I went to Whole Foods with a friend to pick up the signature item I wanted – the French Rose Clay Mask.

I am slowly incorporating natural products into my skincare and beauty routines. I’m glad that more green beauty products are actually pretty to look at. I remember when they were hideously ugly and lacked the prettiness I need in my products.

Evan Healy gives me pretty packaging and they actually work. I have been using this mask every week for a month and I am still in love with it. It’s different than lots of masks because you have to mix it with water. I like to think it makes the application feel more like a spa. And I always use a brush now because I’ve ruined many a manicure with remnants of a goopy mask under my nails.

My next Evan Healy purchase will be the Rose Day Moisturizer. I plan to use it in the spring because it’s not heavy enough for my skin in winter.

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