Entries from September 30th, 2011

September 30, 2011

ask the aesthetician | sarah wallace | revive day spa | fayetteville, arkansas

Though I consider myself a beauty buff, it’s always good to reach out to those who have the privilege of working in the beauty industry to either reinforce your knowledge or enlighten you about the best way to take care of your skin.

I’m privileged enough to be able to call upon my sister-in-law for expert skin-care advice every now and then and to talk about the latest beauty trends and product innovations.

Sarah Wallace is the co-owner and aesthetician for Revive Day Spa in Fayetteville, Arkansas. After saying goodbye to the corporate world (she used to be an accountant!), she obtained her aesthetician license in February 2007. Sarah is skilled in microdermabrasion using DiamondTome technology and has also consulted on injectable procedures such as Botox and Radiesse.

sarah white wallace, revive day spa

{Who wouldn’t take skin-care advice from this gorgeous woman? Photo Courtesy Revive Day Spa}

Sarah also has extensive experience with many types of chemical peels and has attended several Rhonda Allison Advanced Peel training courses.

Today, Sarah answers five popular skin-care questions and offers product advice.

1. How do I figure out my skin type?

There are four types: Normal, Oily, Dry and Combination. To determine your skin type, I first cleanse your skin and then examine it under a magnifying lamp.

  1. Normal skin is determined when there is no oil or flakiness. Skin is typically clear.
  2. Oily skin typically has larger pores and is thick and coarse. Oily skin tends to be problematic and prone to breakouts.
  3. Dry skin appears flaky and tight and typically has small, fine pores.
  4. Combination skin is the most-common skin type. It is oily in the “T zone” (forehead, nose and chin) and dry to normal elsewhere.

2. What products should be in every person’s skin-care arsenal?

Every person, male or female, should have a great daily sunscreen with a minimum SPF (sun protection factor) of 30.

I carry Rhonda Allison in my spa. I highly recommend Rhonda Allison’s Daytime Defense SPF 30. It’s a broad-spectrum sunscreen for all skin types. It uses zinc oxide, an all-natural sun barrier.

I also highly recommend Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral Powder SPF 30. It’s an easily portable brush-applicator SPF that is translucent, absorbs oil and serves as the perfect way to reapply your sunscreen throughout the day.

I also recommend a good exfoliating scrub. You should use a scrub once or twice a week to rid your skin of dead, dull skin cells. For men, a good scrub can also help prevent ingrown hairs caused by shaving. I recommend Rhonda Allison’s Brightening Scrub.

3. What’s the biggest skin care misconception?

I am always shocked by how many people do not use a daily sunscreen. I hear excuses such as “It’s in my makeup” or “I wear it when I am swimming.”

You should apply sunscreen every single morning, just like brushing your teeth. It is the number one thing you can do to prevent aging of the skin — let alone skin cancer.

Sun damage causes wrinkling, sagging and discoloration — so easily preventable! It is never too late to start.

4. What should people in their 20s, 30s and 40s be thinking about when it comes to skin care?

People in their 20s should be focusing on building a skin-care regimen targeted to their skin type. And I can’t repeat it enough: Sunscreen.

When we reach our 30s, our skin cell turnover slows down considerably, and we start to notice the first signs of aging. I recommend adding a retinol product and a hydrating eye moisturizer in your skin-care regimen.

Retinol is an amazing ingredient; it works deep into the skin for maximum skin regeneration support. Retinol smooths the skin’s texture and minimizes fine lines. It also stimulates collagen growth.

I love Rhonda Allison’s Retinol Supreme. Some people can be sensitive to products containing retinol, so I recommend easing into it by using it every other night for about two weeks before using it nightly.

People in their 40s and beyond will want to add products to their routine that stimulate collagen, so if you aren’t already using a retinol product, now is the time to start.

I also recommend having a licensed aesthetician perform a glycolic acid peel or a microdermabrasion. Glycolic acid sloughs off dead skin cells, brings new cells to the surface and stimulates collagen growth.

Microdermabrasion is a fantastic anti-aging treatment and one of my most sought-after services. Microdermabrasion removes dead skin cells, stimulates collagen and elastin production and reduces the look of fine lines. You get an instant glow and can both see and feel immediate results.

5. How can you improve your complexion if you have large pores, acne or sun spots and brown spots?

You can improve the appearance of large pores by keeping them free of oil and debris.

I love the Clarisonic Pro. I use it twice a day with Rhonda Allison’s Pumpkin Cleanser. The Clarionic Pro vibrates 300 time a second and has a built-in timer, effectively removing pore-clogging debris.

You can improve acne by using products that contain salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that causes cellular turnover, unclogs pores and neutralizes the bacteria within the pores. It is a great exfoliant for acne-prone skin. Rhonda Allison’s Blemish Serum is a great corrective product that contains salicylic acid.

The best way to treat hyperpigmentation (discoloration of the skin caused by healing blemishes or the sun) is by getting a series of microdermabrasion treatments or a series of chemical peels suited to your skin type. These treatments must be administered by a licensed professional.

For home care, I recommend using products that contain kojic acid, lactic acid and/or azelaic acid.

If you’re in the Northwest Arkansas area, be sure to stop in and see Sarah at the spa — and if you check in on Facebook with your mobile device, you can get 5 percent off your service! Also, today’s the last day to get a free Shellac upgrade on your mani/pedi appointment.

Be sure to take advantage of all the deals Sarah’s spa posts on Facebook by becoming a fan!

Do you visit an aesthetician at a spa? What skin-care advice do you have to share, and what products do you love? Tell me in the comments section!

September 29, 2011

oenophile files | 2007 signaterra three blocks | benziger family winery

As mentioned in my previous post, a few months ago, the sweet Benziger family of Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen, California, sent me a beautiful care package of recently released wine, estate olive oil and wildflower seeds to celebrate and enjoy the riches of the Demeter-certified Biodynamic winery from the comfort of my Kansas home.

(I was also able to enjoy some wine from the comfort of the Benzigers’ guest home at the end of the summer!)

benziger family winery sauvignon blanc estate olive oil three blocks

{I was so excited to see the estate olive oil and wildflowers along with a couple bottles of beautiful wine.}

I made the teacher man wait for a special dinner night to open the $49 bottle of Signaterra Three Blocks, a Sonoma Valley Bordeaux blend. What’s funny is, months later, I don’t even remember what we made for dinner, but I can still smell the aromas of dark chocolate and taste the bold flavorings of currant, plum and coffee in this rich red. Signaterra Three Blocks has soft tannins and a nice, long finish that leaves you satisfied — but able, and wanting to, take another sip.

benziger family winery signaterra three blocks

{Photo Courtesy Benziger Family Winery}

I can understand why Signaterra Three Blocks is one of Benziger’s signature Biodynamic wines. It captures the sights, smells and tastes of the sustainably farmed vineyard in its blend of 76 percent cabernet sauvignon and 24 percent merlot. Benziger Family Winery founder and winemaker Mike Benziger explains a little more about what goes into a bottle of Signaterra Three Blocks.

mike benziger

{Benziger Family Winery founder and winemaker Mike Benziger is dedicated to making Biodynamic wines in Sonoma County.}

1. How does this wine capture the sights, sounds and tastes of the Sonoma Mountain area?

One of the things that makes Three Blocks unique is that it is situated behind Sonoma Mountain. Sonoma Mountain acts as a windbreak and so in the area where Three Blocks is grown, there is an oven-like effect that allows the vineyard to get really nice warm temperatures that ripen the cabernet perfectly. Sonoma County is a collection of little valleys and it is very difficult, because each valley is so small, for each to hold heat and get temps warm enough. Sonoma County has a reputation of having rustic, rough cabernets because the valleys can’t get hot enough. Napa has a much better design for being able to hold heat and high temperatures, and so they do a stellar job with cabernet.

Where we are located, at the eastern most part of Sonoma County closest to Napa, we have a large mountain that blocks sea breezes and creates Napa-like heat where Three Blocks is grown. Three unique geologies make up the soils where Three Blocks is grown.

Sunny Slope, which is volcanic rock, contributes to the smooth tannins in finish of the wine.

Stone Farm’s soil is alluvial river rock, which means there is a lot of minerals in the soil. This minerality is concentrated in the middle palate of the wine.

Lastly, Gordenker, which is made up of silt and clay, creates richness and sweetness in the wine. Gordenker is responsible for the nice sweet entry of wine. Three Blocks is beautiful all the way through.

2. Describe the 2007 harvest. How does it compare to other years? What are the differences and similarities in the Three Blocks Red from year to year?

Basically all the even vintages for the last several years — 2004, 2006 and 2008 — were warm vintages, whereas 2005, 2007 and 2009 have been cooler vintages. 2007 was a remarkable vintage because it was a vintage where there was little stress for the grapes as the weather was perfect. There was very few heat spikes, very few cold days and the temperature stayed nice and even. The grapes were able to ripen perfectly, and we had a beautiful Indian summer during harvest. It was a “no excuses whatsoever” vintage, and it all came together into exceptional wines, not only for flavor and complexity, but for age-ability. The wines are complex and very elegant. The wines from 2008, a much warmer vintage, were more powerful, with bigger tannins. 2009 was cooler with wines with lower alcohol and lots of complexity and beautiful texture.

3. How does Biodynamic agriculture influence the harvest from year to year? Can you describe the rituals and any attachments to the land as you go through the cycle year after year?

The whole purpose of a Biodynamic wine is not to be perfect, but to be completely true and honest and authentic to the location and the vintage. The object is to produce a liquid portrait of that particular year. In biodynamics what we try to do is to identify and work with as many patterns in nature as we can understand and the better we are at doing this the more authentic to place the wines are.

4. What food would you pair Signaterra Three Blocks Red with for lunch and dinner?

For lunch, Three Blocks would go perfectly with a zesty pesto and tomato burger. The acidity of the tomato is cut easily with the bulky tannins in the cab. For dinner, Three Blocks and steak are a match made in heaven. Try pairing the wine with a Tuscan-style New York Strip with arugula-artichoke salad.

5. What type of person would enjoy Three Blocks Red?

Novice wine drinkers can appreciate Three Blocks because the wine is so smooth and silky, but it of course is also appreciated by knowledegable drinkers because the wine is so complex.

September 27, 2011

oenophile files | 2010 sonoma county sauvignon blanc | benziger family winery

This past summer, the good people at Benziger Family Winery in Glen Ellen, California, sent me a sweet care package of recently released wine, estate olive oil and wildflower seeds to celebrate and enjoy the riches of the Demeter-certified Biodynamic winery from the comfort of my Kansas home.

(I was also able to enjoy some wine from the comfort of the Benzigers’ guest home at the end of the summer!)

benziger family winery three blocks red olive oil and sauvignon blanc

{My care package from Benziger Family Winery arrived in a subtle yet chic sturdy, recycled cardboard container with minimal packaging.}

The teacher man and I popped open the bottle of 2010 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc first. I’ll admit that, after a few less-than-stellar experiences with overly tart sauvignon blancs, I was a little worried going into our taste test. However, I was pleasantly surprised: This sauvignon blanc had light citrus (mangoes and peaches), herb and grass flavors. Its balanced acidity kept my formerly sauvignon blanc-zapped palate refreshed.

Another great thing that was pleasantly surprising about this beautiful, sustainable wine: its price, $13.

benziger family winery 2010 sonoma county sauvignon blanc

{Photo Courtesy Benziger Family Winery}

If you want to delve a little deeper into this wine before you head to your local liquor store to pick up Benziger’s Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, check out my quick Q&A with Benziger’s founder and winemaker, Mike Benziger.

mike benziger

{Mike Benziger is a leader in the American Biodynamic and sustainable wine movement. Photo Courtesy Benziger Family Winery}

1. How does this wine capture the sights, sounds and tastes of Sonoma County?

The Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown in the Sonoma County program are grown in vineyards perfect for the varietal. The vineyards allow for a cool and even ripening process and have rich soils. The vines are able to support canopies that give the grapes shade so that we can emphasize the more beautiful fruit and preserve the fresh acidity that is associated with the grape. We farm our sauvignon blanc in a way that protects freshness and aromatics. Our vineyards are located in the Russian River Valley, in Alexander Valley and in Sonoma Valley, all vineyards that are able to produce grassy citrusy flavors with balanced, clean acidity. The whole purpose of our sauvignon blanc is to wake up your senses and to stimulate your appetite so that you want to enjoy good food and enjoy another glass of Benziger.

2. Describe the 2010 harvest. How does it compare to other years? What are the differences and similarities in the Sonoma County Sauvignon Blancs from year to year?

The 2010 harvest had its challenges. We had variable weather, cold and warm, but the location of the vineyard so close to the ocean moderated and stabilized a lot of the variability. For us, it was basically a cooler vintage, and you can see how that reflected beautifully in the flavor and the aromas of the wine. With the cooler vintage, the wine has a beautiful varietal character with beautiful grassy, citrus blossom and dried herbs aromas. 2010 has slightly more grassy, cut hay and alfalfa aromas, which are true to varietal flavors. The 2010 also has a beautiful textural quality, a creaminess that other vintages don’t have. The grassy alfalfa and the creaminess make 2010 outstanding. In warmer years the sauvignon blancs tend to be more fruit-driven, with an emphasis on apple and pear flavors with a little bit richer body and more subdued acidities. In cooler years, aromatics are grassy and hay-like with beautiful fresh acidity.

3. How does sustainable agriculture influence the harvest from year to year?

Our Sauvignon Blanc is sustainably farmed, and this technique allows us to taste what is unique and different about each location where the grapes are grown. We farm it in a way that enhances that difference while increasing the health of the environment.

4. What food would you pair this sauvignon blanc with for lunch or dinner?

For lunch, this sauvignon blanc could be paired with fish tacos or a fresh summer salad. For dinner, this wine is the perfect pair for shrimp kebobs or a light white fish.

5. What type of person would enjoy this sauvignon blanc?

This wine is for anybody who wants a wake-up call for his or her palate. It’s just like drinking out of a glacier stream or breathing in beautiful mountain air. It’s refreshing. Even people who don’t drink wine could appreciate this wine.

September 26, 2011

recipe of the week | homemade pumpkin spice latte | the kitchn

It’s officially fall and I’ve yet to have a pumpkin spice latte — from Starbucks. Instead of spending $4 for a cup of pumpkin-flavored syrup, milk and espresso, I decided it’d be more fun and frugal to make my own pumpkin spice latte.

After making Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies with a can of organic pumpkin, I had about a cup of leftovers. What do you do with a cup of leftover pumpkin mush? You mix it with milk, coffee, sugar, vanilla and spices and drink it!

I searched for homemade pumpkin spice latte recipes and found one from one of my favorite websites, The Kitchn. It took all of about five minutes to make and yielded about two cups of the best pumpkin drink ever. I substituted “pumpkin pie spice” with my own concoction of ground ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cloves would have rounded out the flavor, but hey, you use what you have on hand!

ingredients for homemade pumpkin spice latte

{Just a few simple ingredients go into a pumpkin spice latte. Notice there is no bottle of syrup!}

stirring pumpkin and milk

{Heat the pumpkin and milk on the stovetop and stir, stir, stir!}


{I'm not cosmopolitan enough to own an espresso machine, so I just made a quick cup of "Dark Magic" Green Mountain Coffee in my Keurig.}

mixing homemade pumpkin spice latte

{While my homemade latte lacked the nice froth of a professional latte, I had fun whipping the coffee, pumpkin, milk and spices together. Bubbles were almost as good as froth!}

pumpkin spice latte

{Sweet success! My organic pumpkin spice latte was a great afternoon pick-me-up.}

What’s your go-to coffee drink?

September 23, 2011

welcoming autumn

Happy first day of fall 2011! The mornings and nights are already getting cooler, and it’s finally the perfect weather to sip hot drinks and warm soups. What are you doing to celebrate the beautiful beginning of autumn this weekend? Here’s a few things I’ll be doing.

coffee and autumn leaves

{I'll be enjoying a hot cup of joe with a kick of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and pumpkin.}

mini pumpkins

{I'm planning a few pumpkin patch trips already — excited to continue a fun pumpkin carving tradition with my teacher man.}

pumpkin butterscotch cookies

{I made pumpkin butterscotch cookies to enjoy all weekend long. They're super simple and make your whole home smell oh-so-sweet.}

boots and autumn leaf

{I can't wait to step on my first crunchy leaf in Kansas. I took this shot during a hike in Northern California; seems like fall arrived there a little bit early this year.}

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