Montana in November: Wonderland

Three days of straight road tripping is tiring, but for this girl, three days on the road from Texas to Montana means one thing: Montana. Glee ensues, and it stays! The most amazing place to be in the world. The people, the beauty, the mountain, the climate, the everything. Closing in on Montana in winter, by the way, looks a lot like this:IMG_3781.JPG









Wyoming Skies


One of the reasons I love road trips (besides an excuse to drink tons of coffee) is that due to the fact that I am a sky lover; road trips give you a moving sky backdrop that can be amazing at times. Take Wyoming, for example. The land of open skies and sudden weather has a new skyscape every few minutes it seems, and it’s beautiful, and gorgeous, and a very happy place to drive for hours and hours. These photos were all taken November 3 in the great state of Wyoming.











Artful Makeup by Violette: French Masters on Makeup

This is the perfect makeup tutorial. Violette, the Dior magante makeup artist, displays her artistic expertise and inspires us to look at makeup in totally different light. Which is what great makeup both understands and commands. Her deep soothing voice and soft French accent elevates this video to art itself.

I’ll Take Iceland

Isafjordur_1If my last name seems, well, a wee bit Scandinavian, it’s not technically. It’s Icelandic. This Carolina girl (raised in the peaceful Carolina Blue Ridge foothills) married a first generation Icelandic guy – raised half in California and half in Georgia. So while he is thoroughly American, the rest of his family is thoroughly Icelandic. All of his family, except his siblings and parents, are nestled in on the the cozy little island of Island. Island = Iceland in Iceland. Say “EES-land.” Ok. So suffice to say, we have fallen in love with the unstoppably gorgeous and untouched landscapes, and the amazing people of Iceland. Obviously Iceland will be a firm topic in this space. I hope I can introduce readers to this warm, worlds-away destination. By the way, if you have not ever been, go! In the words of Robert’s ever traveling Icelandic uncle (who always talks us into longer Iceland road trips than we thought we could bear) “You will not regret it.” Said in thick Icelandic accent. By the way, Iceland is definitely seen best by road trip.

On one of those long road trips, and trippy indeed, is the dizzying drive through the winding, cliffy, colorful and ethereal West Fjords (Vestfjordur). When we took this trip, we landed in a tiny and obscure little fishing town called Isafjordur. Our uncle took us to what he described, to our doubting heads, as the best fish restaurant in the country. Tjoruhusid turned out to be arguably the best fish restaurant in the world. Not exaggerating. Until you have tasted right off the boat North Atlantic fish prepared by an award winning chef, you have not tasted fish. In the summer you can eat outdoors by the water and the service is also amazing. We still swoon and reminisce about the meals we had there. Creamy sauces and soups and fresh vegetables sautéed and grilled and served in cast iron pans, absolutely mouth-watering food. Even the kids slurped up every last nibble. I will never forget the place, and I certainly will not regret it.

Isafjorfur 3TjoruhusidIsafjordur 4
Vestfjordur 1

Mastiff Diaries

It’s time to get to know Cecily (if you have seen The Importance of Being Earnest, you will instantly know the qualities of a young girl named Cecily). And this Cecily could not be more aptly named. She is highly emotional, sometimes flighty, but totally lovable. She is a little over one year old, and already the family companion of the century!

DV8T6547 DV8T6557flashback…the day we brought her home:


Meet Montana.

Familiarize yourself with me or my family for about all of thirty seconds, and you will also familiarize yourself with the passion we all share – passion for a lovely last best place better known as Montana. You would be surprised to know how many Houstonians hardly can find Montana on a map. It’s low profile. It’s a secret gem. It’s the other half of me – actually, it’s nearly the whole of me. I really don’t have words that would begin to describe it. I don’t have adequate descriptions. I have the way my heart thumps when I think about it, the one-breath-away memory of the glacier air hitting my face from pastel skies on winter days, the quiet acoustics of a snow cloaked forest, and the warm touch only a small town offers. I have the color of the snow: multi-faceted, prismatic color kaleidoscopes falling onto a white bed that moves the light around in that way only a pristine snowfall can. And that’s winter alone. When the valley sheds its coat in the spring, it’s an entirely different place, a place the people that live there or visit frequently grin in a knowing way about – because they know they have found the proverbial ‘it’ that so very few know about. I have something there that remains there waiting for me each time I leave, until I return, and I wish with everything in me I could describe it you, but I can’t. All I can do is pass that on to you in hopes that one day you will make the unrivaled journey there yourself. Meet Montana.


Meet Montana in Pictures >

Lip Clinic [+]

I believe it’s best to start beauty blogging at absolute zero, or the whole “if I could only have one product, it would be…” bit. That question is so very easy for me, no doubt in my mind, it’s lip balm. It works multi-tasking wonders on everything from cuticles to eyelashes in a pinch, but the main reason is that nothing, I mean, nothing annoys me more than dry, flaky, cracked or chapped lips. And lucky for you; I have spent an indecent amount of time and money buying and trying literally everything I can find when it comes to this simple remedy that turns out to be rather complex when it comes to finding the perfect formula. Thousands of tubes and jars later, I have narrowed the lineup to a small but impenetrable little army I call the lip clinic. Even one or two of these little soldiers is all you will ever need (bearing mind you stay reasonably hydrated – drink water!) to forever retain the perfect lip moisture levels… promise.

Lip Clinic

1. Sisley Confort Extreme Levres Nutritive Lip Balm : Don’t let the long French name confuse you one bit. At $74 a jar, this is both the priciest lip concoction I can imagine. However, it is, by far, the most effective formula of all, bar none. This is the one & only formula that offers lasting effects – it has no equal. For the price, I ration myself to one tiny q-tip dip every night before bed, and since I started the routine, I hardly use other balms throughout the day following – it’s that good. And anytime my lips just freak out and start peeling, get sunburned, over sensitized, or any kind of issue really, this gets swiped on for instant healing, and it just works. Later I am going to have to launch a chemical investigation into exactly why this works like it does – stay tuned.

2. Nuxe Reve De Miel Baume Levres : By now you get it, levres = lips, not so hard, right? This balm distinguishes itself by its naturally light and delicious taste (miel=honey) and its beautifully matte finish which is a perfect base for days or nights when rich lipstick in order. In all its perfection, there is still a slight amount of slide to the Sisley formula, and especially if you want a matte or semi-matte lip, while you must (!) have lip balm underneath or else the lipstick will go dry and cakey – that extra bit of slide, while still remarkably less than average pot of balm, will definitely shorten the wear of your lipstick and thin it out, affecting the richness of the color. Reve De Miel however, will not. It is much tackier in texture so it’s a little (very little) bit more work to work it into the lips, but once it’s on, you will have perfectly primed and prepped lips for any color to adhere to, and stay hydrated at the same time. If you like lipstick, this should be in your bag. At $19, it’s a straight bargain compared to the Sisley brand, and it will last longer than any other balm so you can be generous with it!

3. Laura Mercier Lip Silk : One thing you will not find among my plethora of tubes, jars, palettes, sprays, creams and the like is a lip exfoliator. I know they probably do the job, but I just think they are messy and way too harsh for my delicate lip skin! Ouch, is all I have to say. A heavy slick of balm and a warm washcloth does the job just the same, if not better. So I see no need. That said, one superstar product that I have depended on pre-red lip (notorious for revealing every little flakey spot on my lips) for something around ten years – is Lip Silk. It it super thick, and uses a chemical exfoliant that is oh-so-gentle and faithfully preps lips for any color rich look. Just give it about 15 min, then remove. Presto change-o, new mouth. It does have a bit of a very faint chemical smell so I keep its use to a minimum. I’m not sure if it’s bad for you – but I prefer a more natural product for the lips for everyday use. Lip Silk = big guns.

4. Clinique Repairwear Intensive Lip Treatment :  Because there’s airports, buses, subways, taxis, grocery stores, soccer fields, post offices, and every other germ-ridden place when the last thing you want to do is stick your ‘well-socialized’ finger (gag!) in your precious pot of $74 lip balm then smear it on your (holy cow, I can’t hardly believe how many times I must have done this in 7th grade with my Body Shop Kiwi Lip Balm…cringe) mouth! Enough said, sometimes you just need a lip bullet! Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene. This one blows away every other lip balm in tube form you may encounter. Tried just about all of them. Get this.

5. One final brave and versatile soldier: Rodin Olio Lusso Lip Balm. I have to add it to the list because it feels, smells, and makes your lips all around beautiful. And it’s only $34, which I know, is still quite a lot for a lip balm. If you can’t stomach the Sisley price (and I understand), pick up Rodin & you will not be disappointed. It’s faithful and consistent in performance with the most imperceptible amount of sheer gleam, I can’t say sparkle, or you’ll thin glitter. It’s just a really pretty light reflecting touch which pull a lot of weight in the lip department. A stunner, and I love it. Later to be discussed: Rodin Olio Lusso Facial Oil. Can’t wait.

Rodin Lip









Bonpoint Elegance

Bonpoint: I’m not sure if it is designed for children’s use but it is certainly not limited to them! It smells clean and delicately orange – floral with textures and cremes that feel precious but pampering and gentle. The staples are on my shelf everyday, and a very favorite travel companion. It’s utter luxury to detox with the light fragrance and oils in the travel kit. The body cream is indulgent but not the teeniest bit greasy, a dream.