Posts Written On February 2014

Anything but Boring Nielsen-Massey Vanillas #nielsenmassey

Vanilla is a classic and amazing flavor used in sweets, cooking and baking everyday. Even real estate professionals use the scent of vanilla for their open house.  I recently tried Neilsen Massy Madagascar Bourbon Vanillas and they have made a world of difference in my weekend French Toast!  I can’t wait to use it in all my favorite recipes…. Panna Cotta!


Nielsen-Massey are vanilla experts,  crafting vanilla products for over a century. They know everything from where the bean is from, to the best use and pairing for its natural essence to shine. They use proprietary cold extraction process instead of heat extraction.

Biscotti - Products

This process gently extracts vanilla’s essential oils, preserving the more than 300 distinctive flavor compounds present in the beans. By protecting our vanilla from heat, even its subtlest flavors survive extraction. Cold extraction is a more delicate, longer process that takes weeks instead of days, to produce the finest flavor and risk losing any of the complexity and robustness of the original bean.

All vanilla is inspected carefully –bundle by bundle, bean by bean–to ensure each bean meets the Nielsen Massey high standards.

The vanilla beans used are from the finest growing regions: Madagascar, Mexico and Tahiti. And to showcase the unique flavor profiles of vanillas grown in different regions, we offer origin specific vanilla extracts from Madagascar, Mexico and Tahiti.

All Nielsen Massey products are Gluten-Free, Allergen-Free, GMO-Free and Kosher, and also have a line of Organic vanillas.

Some really fun Vanilla facts:

Culinary Pleasures
A teaspoon or so of vanilla in Italian tomato sauces or Mexican chili helps cut the acidity of the tomatoes.

For best results when using our extracts, add them at the end of the cooking process or cream them with butter for baking.

To taste for yourself the difference between Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, Mexican Vanilla and Tahitian Vanilla, whip up some whip cream. Just substitute in the different extracts for each batch. Ice cream and custards would also show off the delicious subtleties of each vanilla (though it would be a bigger undertaking).
Outside The Kitchen
A few drops of vanilla in a can of paint will help eliminate the unpleasant odor.

A vanilla bean under your car seat gives a fresh aroma and helps eliminate musty odors.

Vanilla extract is used by veteran fishermen to mask the smell of their hands so the fish won’t detect them.
Vanilla beans are hand-pollinated on family farms.

The curing process, which involves drying the beans in the sun by day and allowing them to sweat in a box at night, can take three to six months. The beans get hot enough in the sun to actually burn your hand.

Each vanilla flower opens for only one part of one day during the season. If it’s not pollinated on that day, no pod will be produced.

The entire vanilla-cultivation process, from planting to market, can take from five to six years.

In Mexico, vanilla was originally pollinated by a tiny native bee called the Melipone.
Montezuma, Emperor of the Aztecs, greeted Cortez the conqueror in his banquet hall with a chocolate drink, Chocolatl (or Xocolatl), made of ground corn, cacao beans, honey and vanilla pods. While Cortex greatly enjoyed the drink, Montezuma was nonetheless executed shortly after.

The Spaniards called the plant “vanilla” which means “little scabbard”.

Thomas Jefferson is credited with introducing vanilla to the United States in the late 1700s. While serving as Ambassador to King Louis XVI of France, he became familiar with vanilla beans and brought 200 vanilla beans back with him when he returned to the United States.

George Washington liked vanilla ice cream and kept two pewter ice-cream pots at Mount Vernon during his presidency from 1789-1797.

Dolley Madison created a sensation when she served vanilla ice cream as a dessert in the White House at the second inaugural ball in 1812.

Find out about the best vanilla in the world


@NexxusHair Color Assure

Happy Friday beauties!

This morning, I got to join a slew of beauty bloggers and model/actor Molly Sims on the unveiling of the Nexxus Color Assure line and her brand new strawberry blonde hair color! Molly explained how women love a little transformation in the form of a new hair style or a new hair color. She debated chopping her locks to a long bob but opted for this fresh new color instead.  Using the Nexxus Color Assure will prolong her red hue.



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This line, like all Nexxus products smells divine!  The fresh scent and iridescent packaging is fitting for a super high performance product like Color Assure.  The primer creates a barrier shield from water penetration to eliminate frizz and protect and prolong the life of hair color. It is in a easy to use pump and you apply it before your shower/shampoo.


The Nexxus creative director and head of R&D explained the process of developing this line and Molly Sims and her stylist talked about general hair trends and their experience with Molly’s color makeover.

The beautiful Glasshouse in Chelsea is the perfect setting for this breakfast presentation. We had fresh juice, pomegranate yogurt parfaits and mini fruit skewers.  They also served vanilla french toast and frittatas. Along with getting the full range of products to take home to try, Nexxus also gifted us with a sparkly gem cuff bracelet!  Nice touch.

After the presentation, the Nexxus was available to demo how the primer worked. By creating a barrier from water penetration (simulating virgin, pre dyed hair), we used markers to write our names on the paper before dipping it into water. So when you put the primer on your dyed hair, it still has the same protection as pre-dyed hair.

See the difference?

Next time you are at your local drug store, make sure to pick up the new Nexxus Color Assure line and test out the products featured here!

Nexxus Color Assure Shampoo, $9.99, Conditioner, $13.99, Tonic, $17.99, Primer, $17.99,


@Clayspray for Your Winter Skincare Routine

I’d love believe that with over half of February behind us, Old Man Winter is making his retreat… but these weekly (and sometimes twice weekly) snowstorms and cold weather tell a different story. So until I can start thinking about packing away the the heavy coat and switching to something light and springy, my winter skincare routine is in full effect.

Here are my top 5 winter skincare quick tips:

  1. Go easy on the heat.
    Hot water dries out your skin, so suds up with lukewarm water instead.
  2. Time the moisturizer.
    Apply moisturizer immediately after washing your face while it’s still damp; it will absorb moisture better.
  3. Don’t ditch the sunscreen.
    There are less hours of sunlight each day, but winter sun combined with snow glare can still damage skin.
  4. Switch to a heavier moisturizer.
    The same light moisturizer that gets you through the summer might not cut it in the winter. Switch to a heavier cream to combat winter dryness.
  5. Let your skin glow.
    Shed that layer of dull, dead skin by using an exfoliating mask to smooth and add a natural glow.

Keeping those tips in  mind, I recently tried out Clayspray, a clay mask in a spray. The Clayspray line consists of five different masks, each addressing a specific skin care concern: Pore Refining, Skin Brightening, Glow, Toning and Mattifying.


I considered the different options and decided on Glow because wheres my skin is oily in the summer, it tends to be dry during the winter.


It comes out like a gel shaving cream. I like that I didn’t have to fumble with a tube–it’s very convenient to apply.

After I sat with the mask on for a few minutes while it dried, I was able to easily rinse it off — and the results? My skin felt softer, refreshed and had a noticeable glow. Most clay masks have a drying effect because they work to draw out impurities and environmental toxins from deep within your pores. But Clayspray also deposits moisture and nutrients to your skin, which makes it different from regular clay masks. It’s awesome because that means I don’t have to follow up my clay mask with a moisturizing mask like I normally do in the winter.

The clay is sourced from the Irene Mine in Spain’s Iberian Peninsula where it has been protected from pollution and contamination for thousands of years.

To find Clayspray, visit:


It’s All Fun and Games @ToyFairNY 2014

The New York Toy Fair was so much fun!  A ton of new games and toys and a whole bunch of invention were unveiled at the Toy Fair this year.

Some of my favorites below!

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Putty that matches my nails! Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty


Think Grumpy!




Kid Robot Yummmyyyy




Fou Fou Baby


Cool Invention for new moms! Cup Catcher

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The first 3D printer pen


Locker Decorations IMG_5680 IMG_5679

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