Miami Travels, Tacos and Tattoos

Next week, my friend is traveling to Miami. He is flying in and out of the Miami International airport on a Wednesday. The layover is for about 12 hours. He asked for some tips and tricks for what he should do. Naturally, I searched my favorite resources: Airbnb, Yelp, and Tripadvisor. We found some great excursions for the tour.

Miami is a metropolitan with too much to do in 12 hours. However, even one hour in the city will give you a good taste if planned ahead. One of the best parts about Miami is the year-long agreeable weather. Summertime demands lots, lots, lots of water. Breaking into the fall for the later months of the year is a leisurely time to travel. From up north? Use the winter to take advantage of sand over snow. “Snowbirds” is a term for those who retreat to the tropics per season.

Food, fun, flight: these are a few of the activities which make up a thrilling layover. Food was brought to you by Yelp! Rated in the Top 10 of Miami restaurants, Tacos and Tattoos seems like the kind of of place that every traveler dreams about. It is ranked high and reviewed with nearly 5-stars online. High, non-paid reviews practically guarantees quality. Yelp is the PR for foodies–unpaid, word-of-mouth…by-tech.

Check out our Miami: Layover Guide below

Tacos and Tattoos

Mexican street food with flair

https://www.yelp.com/biz/tacos-and-tattoos-miami-2?osq=Restaurants

11790 SW 104th St

Miami, FL 33186

open until 11pm

Little Havana Walking Tour

as seen in National Geographic

10am-1pm. $56/person, group of 8

https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/226515?source=pdpother

Ecuadorian Aviation Tour

1.5 hours, approx 5-6:30pm

$140/person, 15-miles North of Miami airport, travel by Uber.

Little Havana with Native Latin Expert

City walk and food tour with cigar tasting

2 hours, up to 10 people

$39/person

https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/398708?source=p2

Food and Art Deco tour

Macedonian host of Lincoln Road / South Beach

12 – 3pm or 5-8pm (leave a little early for a 10pm flight)

$58/person

Street Art tour with a historian guide

10-11am or 12-1pm

$27/person

Tati’s Favorite Blush Brush

Sonia Kashuk Essential Collection Blush Brush Number 163, available at Target
Sonia Kashuk Essential Collection Blush Brush Number 163, available at Target

Tati is one of my favorite makeup YouTubers. When she endorses something, it makes me curious! In one of her recent videos about highlighter, she waved a brush back and forth to the camera naming it as her favorite.

The Sonia Kashuk Essential Collection Blush Brush Number 163 is a light, flexible synthetic bristle brush. Synthetic bristles are not derived from animals: Cruelty free! Also? It is less than $10.

The brush is available at Target in the makeup aisle, under Sonia Kashuk’s header. If your local Target has a limited selection, you can also look for it online. Both will bring the brush to $9 plus tax. Seems like Tati isn’t the only one favoriting this item–it has over 21 five-star ratings on Target.com!

My first impression of this brush is that it is soft and luxurious, while still being useful. I like the neutral color scheme of gold and brown. It doesn’t feel cheap at all, and can compete with those more expensive ones found at Sephora. Synthetic is synthetic.

It can be easy to get carried away with brushes as it seems there is one for every flick of your wrist: fan brushes, crease brushes, liner brushes, contour, highlight, BeautyBlender….This brush can be paired with any blush (ovb) or bronzer. Or, swirl it through a highlighter if you’re feeling a finishing touch.

Glow on! Makeup is finger-painting for adults.

Dr. Morse’s Herbal Health Club

Dr. Morse's Herbal Health Club
Dr. Morse’s Herbal Health Club

Herbs are a hot topic. Florida legislation is deciding whether or not to allow public access to herbs from China that have not been FDA-approved. One drawback to allowing the herbs could be ingredient transparency. Foreign herbs might not always disclose every ingredient, like potato starch being used on the crops. This could be to a difference in language or common practices. However, if there is no access to other herbs then we give more power (due to fewer substitutes) to pharmaceuticals.

That said, I have been a longtime member of Dr. Morse’s Herbal Health Club, a private health club based in Punta Gorda, Florida. I first found out about Dr. Morse’s when I was researching if eyes can change color over time.

The study of the eyes, in particular the iris, is called iridology. Iris comes from mythology of the rainbow. As the eyes interpret the rainbow, the two were linked together.

If Dr. Morse doesn’t sound like most doctors, it is because he isn’t. The Dr. is for doctor of naturopathy. A few schools, such as Bastyr, the Natural University of Natural Medicine (NUNM), and the Canadian College of Natural Medicine (CCNM) offer this program of study.

Naturopathy is different because it combines many healing modalities. Most are from an alternative point of practice. Some naturopathy programs vary according to what can be practiced. Classes can range from homeopathy, Chinese / Oriental medicine, pharmaceuticals, Ayurveda, and spinal manipulations. Herbs are often used by naturopathists, because they encourage the body’s natural tendency toward vibrancy.

From the package above, I use herbs to support wellness. Wellness is the state of good health; while health is the absence of illness or diseases. Which do you want?

Coco-cheers!

Coconut for breakfast, anyone?

I have often said that my favorite fruit is coconut. The water is refreshingly delicious, and the pulp will pump up the volume on any raw vegan dessert. Here, breakfast is enjoyed with an at-home acai crumble.

This meal requires a few tools, and possibly even collaboration between you and your favorite person with a machete. My first choice is the produce attendant–but may the odds be ever in your favor, if you will. Today, let’s focus on the coconut!

Taking a whole, unopened coconut to the produce specialist can go a few different ways. One may look dumbfounded, and be surprised that their store even sells coconuts. OR they can open it for you using their toolbox of produce tools. This is likely. “Please” and “thank you’s” increase your odds.

Some sommeliers recommend that coconut water pairs well with the strawberry. If sommeliers were to recommend unfermented fruit juices…

Preparation time for opening your own coconut is liberal. It can be done in under five minutes at the grocery store. It once took me 15-minutes to jab a straw-sized metal clamp through the skin. That was a long time ago, and I’ve become better faster stronger.

If opening a coconut at home, look for the Thai coconuts that have the hard shell removed. There will be two layers to the fruit before hitting flesh. The cool, coconut water and satisfaction of opening your own tropical vacation will have you coming back for more.

August Birthday by Sephora

Happy birthday to you, gorgeous! One fun thing about that special day is picking out the birthday gift at Sephora. Offered for beauty insiders, you can find your gift online or in stores.

Kat Von D's Sephora BeautyInsider for August
Kat Von D’s Sephora BeautyInsider for August

Each month is set to receive a certain choice of birthday gifts at Sephora. The gift does not cost any Insider points to redeem. I have always purchased something when asking for this gift, but I am unsure if it requires a purchase. Let me know in the comments below!

My birthday is in August, so this year my matched birthday redemption was the Kat Von D beauty box. Oh good! I was excited about trying more (like the lipsticks) from this fan-favorite.

Tattoo Liner (Kat Von D) is your new BFF
Tattoo Liner (Kat Von D) is your new BFF

The beauty box came with the 2018 Allure beauty award’s tattoo liner, 3 samples of Studded Kiss creme lipstick (in Outlaw, Lolita, and Vampira), and a loose setting powder.

Tattoo liner is the first time I opened. My first impression was that it was a nice, dark, true black liner that had an artist’s felt tip. The flexibility made the line both precise and accurate. I’ve been using this every morning for a kitten-eye. Think work-wear appropriate, tame cat eye.

Black + White | Polka Dot pattern makes for Sephora’s signature

Kat Von D cosmetics takes pride in being vegan and cruelty-free. The birthday kit was emblazoned with a cute, red Vegan heart symbol. This is a trusted brand, but always check the website as items or ingredients may vary by product. Sound good?

There were a few other choices for the August birthday gift. All were just as adorably packaged, and came with multiple items to sample some favorites before a full purchase. Given the chance, I would choose the Kat Von D set again. Repurchased & recommended.

The Best Natural Deodorant

Thai Crystal Deodorant Stone is #1 all year round
Thai Crystal Deodorant Stone is #1 all year round

If there is a place with more humidity than Florida, it’s either Texas or Thailand. Using Thai crystal salt is a beauty secret from Thailand. It stood is used by locals of every gender to stay sweet under the sun. Also, it held up in the heat of Dubai.

Humidity means one thing–sweat! This 100% natural Thai Crystal deodorant stone is the most useful, effective natural deodorant that I’ve come across. From Tom’s, pastes, and plenty of others from the local health food store or Whole Foods, this Thai Crystal Deodorant stone is my favorite. It is leaps and bounds beyond slathering coconut oil, baking soda, or essential oils under the arm. Here’s why.

One bonus is the travel-friendly packaging of this deodorant stone. The cap twists off, and keeps the stone protected against damage. Altogether, it is lightweight enough to add to a travel bag and it doesn’t cause issues through TSA like a liquid fragrance might.

To use Thai Crystal Deodorant Stone, simply brush the stone in water for a second or two. It will not soak up the water enough to change texture. The water will react with the crystal, dissolving some of the salt and leaving it as a barrier on the skin without staining your clothes.

This provides 24-hour protection from sweat, and other summertime side-effects. It can be applied in the morning and last through to dinner. If it is very hot, it is recommended to reapply.

Thai Crystal Deodorant Stone

BONUS! It is under $10, and has lasted 2 years…!!!

On top of that, the deodorant is 100% natural. Generic deodorants have added fragrance, or even aluminum. Since they are applied to the skin, they are absorbed by the body. This is why I am careful to choose natural deodorant.

Effective, natural deodorant is always welcome in Florida – where the change between seasons is as small as a shell in the ocean. Now, summer is sweetly sinking into the sunset and fall is around the corner with all of its pumpkin-spice niceties. Thai Crystal deodorant stone stands the test of time, heat and humidity in my vanity all year long.

Cookie Critique: Sweet Loren’s

Sweet Lauren's Simple Fudgy Cookies delivering taste without waste
Sweet Loren’s Gluten Free Fudgy Brownie place and bake cookie dough basking on a sheet of parchment paper

Gluten free fudgy brownie cookie dough?! Sweet Loren’s Gluten Free Fudgy Brownie cookie dough turns into “12 insanely delicious cookies” in under 12 minutes. These treats pay attention to the details: they are Non-GMO, dairy-free, nut-free, whole grain, gluten-free, and vegan!

It can be challenging to find authentic-tasting chocolate that is also sensitive to allergies. However, Sweet Lauren’s takes the cake, the cookie, and–yes–even the brownie of vegan desserts.

This was purchased in the refrigerated vegan aisle (corner) at Fresh Market. It was near the pre-packaged Carolina-style jackfruit. Some grocery stores, like Target, might have it with the cookies.

Sweet Loren's gluten free, dairy free, non-gmo vegan chocolate cookies
Up close and personal with Sweet Loren’s double-chocolate cookies

For this batch, I followed the directions on the back of the package: 11 minutes in the oven at 325 F. The cookies did not spread out as much as I expected them to, so I gave them one minute more. In the end, they were almost as pictured on the package. The chocolate melted apart leaving a soft center and crispy edges. Exactly how we want.

One cookie is enough to satisfy a sweet tooth’s craving. The nutrition facts are generous, with each cookie at under 150 calories and around 12 grams of sugar. Sugar is something to pay attention to with desserts, because too much can take a toll on wellness.

Overall, these have been a 3x repurchase! The first time I tried them was a few years ago. The second time was over the weekend for my friend’s engagement party. The entire tray disappeared before everyone could get one. The cookies converted into smiles and no one even knew they were…vegan!

Tarte Mascara Sampler

Trying Tarte Mascara from Sephora
After and Before Tarte Mascara
Clean, vegan beauty: Tarte Mascara pack unboxing from Sephora beauty
Unboxing the Tarte Mascara Pack

Tarte Cosmetics is a beauty brand for sensitivities. Many of their products are cruelty-free, vegan, or sulfite-free. The Amazonian Clay line uses natural products, and the Amazonian Clay blushes are a fan-favorite at Sephora. As you may know, Tarte is available from Sephora, or on their website.

This was my first time purchasing a Tarte mascara. My usual products from this brand include their liquid eye-liner, and recently their liquid lipsticks! New mascaras can be difficult, because hard ingredients, like sulfates, can irritate the eye and leave you with discoloration looking like you have been crying.

Having good results with their liquid lipsticks and eye-liners, I decided to give the mascara multi-pack a try. With four products, odds are that one would work for me. It included an eye-lash primer (in white) and three noir mascaras. The four products came for a total of $25 online.

So far, I have tried the lash primer and two of the mascaras. In the photo above, I am using one coat of the “gifted Amazonian clay smart mascara”. I wanted to see the mascara without a primer to see how it held up. The volume was amplified without clumps or drying down. Next time, I would put the lash primer underneath!

My overall impression is that I would use this again. I liked how this product is vegan, and safe for contact-lens wearers (accordingly). The mascara feels soft on my lashes and not cakey. I am looking forward to trying Lights Camera Lashes next. How cute is that name?

Heart-Healthy Vegan Quinoa

 

vegan quinoa dinner
This vegan quinoa dinner is easy and delicious!

Balancing responsibilities might leave you tired by the time it comes to dinner. When “where do you want to go?” becomes a dreaded question, let the answer be “home!”

Cooking at home does a few good things. First, it allows for portion control. You choose your own bowl or plate, and how much food goes in it. It’s been shown that we eat what is in front of us–no matter the serving size. To make this trick work for you, choose a moderately sized bowl or plate for your food. The goal is to feel 75% full so that your body can digest food without feeling like an episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive!

Here is one of my favorite go-to meals. It is vegan, which means no animal products were used. Plus, it is filled with heart-healthy walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes. According to Chinese Medicine food therapy principles, foods that are red bring good qi (life-energy) to your heart. This is coupled with the red quinoa. For an added bonus, green broccolini was added. Greens and reds work synergistically–says the color wheel! Since we eat first with our eyes, let’s add a little art theory to our food. Isn’t that fun?

 

Recipe

1 cup of red quinoa

4 walnut halves (calcium-rich almonds also used here)

4 stems of broccolini

3 sun-dried tomatoes

Time: 20-minutes

First, bring a pot of water to a boil over low-medium heat. Add in the cup of quinoa to the water. Sprouted quinoa is easier to digest because it has a slightly dissolved outer covering, so look for sprouted if it is available at your grocery store.

After twelve minutes, add the broccolini to the pot along with the nuts and cover. This will gently steam the additions without over-cooking. Different foods have different preparation times. You can still use one pot to make clean-up easy.

The quinoa is done when it has become slightly brighter in color and all of the sprouts have blossomed. The broccolini is steamed when it has brightened in color, and bends slightly to the touch. It may be eaten raw, but see what you prefer. When the nuts are steamed, the skins will begin to separate from the “meat”.

Cooking at home gives you an easy answer to what to do for dinner. Congratulations on completing an easy, heart-healthy meal!  Enjoy

Clean Beauty Haul

 

Clean beauty is more than just a trend! As seen in Sephora, brands are paying attention and giving us safe, clean beauty products. Look for products that are free from harsh chemicals, carcinogens, or animal products to ensure that you’re getting the highest quality possible.

When looking for beauty products, remember that we absorb what we eat, drink, breathe, and put on our skin. It is important to optimize your clean beauty routine if you want to optimize your wellness. Some products include dangerous ingredients, dyes, sulfates or additives which can impact your endocrine system.

All of the color and fun–with a clean edge. Bite Beauty is made in Toronto with food-quality ingredients; Julep Beauty is 7-free; and Acure is vegan! Mac Cosmetics products can be reviewed individually at ewg.org.

“Know your environment. Protect your health,” https://www.ewg.org/

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