Wednesday, September 30, 2020

September Self Care Awareness Month

September is Self Care Awareness Month and I have been making a conscious effort to take care of myself this month! I think it is so important, especially now, after spending so much time in quarantine, to take care of yourself and your mental health. So, I wanted to share with you a few of the ways I have been taking care of myself.

If you follow me on instagram, you know how much I truly enjoy exercising and taking time out of my day for working out. I use Tone It Up's App for work out videos and toning moves. I have been using these girls' work outs for years. I love how they keep the moves and routines different, so you never get bored. My friend Alyssa Cerrachio, is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, and she does IG Live Work Outs, which I also really enjoying doing and sometimes even partake in. I met her when I took her classes at Athleta's Studio in NYC and I just fell in love with her energy and how she challenges you and strengthens you during her work outs.

I also really enjoy taking baths. I have been using these bath bombs for the last few months. Their aromas are so relaxing and bath bombs are always a fun to use!

The biggest change for my self care for September is that I have started using Nira's Skincare Laser. I created this YouTube video to show you how it works and what I have noticed from using it once a day for a week. I'm really excited to continue using my Nira, to see how my fine lines and wrinkles fade away. This is definitely a product you have to keep up with and continue to use. You can get 10% off your Nira by using code "ALLYSON."

I'm also obsessed with doing my nails and keeping them healthy and well-manicured. I find it so relaxing to paint my nails. I usually do them at least twice a week, depending on how quickly they chip. I swear by using Duri's Rejuvacote Nail Growth & Strengthener and Seche Vite's Quick Dry Top Coat. Once those two are in the formula, you are guaranteed a great looking manicure!

Lastly, just in time for this post to be published, I received a care package from Zaaina Skincare that included their lavender bath bomb, lip balm, face & body soap bar and lavender soy candle. Anything lavender scented, immediately relaxes me and it was incredible how I could smell the lavender before I even opened the package! I used the candle immediately and I loved how the aroma of the candle filled up the room. The lavender lip balm was incredible as well, I loved the smell. It wasn't super long lasting but it was moisturizing.  

Most of these items, I mentioned are listed in my Amazon Shop for easy shopping! What are some of the ways you focus on self-care and YOU!? Let me know in the comments below! 


Saturday, September 12, 2020

Apple Picking Season Is Here! 🍎

Labor Day has passed and the cooler temperatures are slowly approaching, which means Fall is almost here and it is time for APPLE PICKING!

Many farms, at least the ones that I found in Central New Jersey, are still allowing people to access their farms for PYO (pick your own) apples, however they all have different precautions and procedures; some have timed admission slots, or are only allowing apple picking on certain days of the week, etc. So I would highly recommend checking their websites and calling the farms directly, (even if you go to the same one every year) to find out what their current procedures are. 

The big difference I noticed this year, when it came to visiting a farm for apple picking, was that a lot of them were charging fees for apple picking. I'm not sure if this "fee" is covid-related, but the idea of paying to access a farm and then additionally paying for the apples you pick, was not something I wanted to do, so the goal was to find a farm that did not charge an access fee, and I found it! 

I spent the afternoon visiting Solebury Orchards in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Solebury is about 30 minutes from where I am in Central New Jersey, so it was a quick and enjoyable ride in the country. They only have one apple variety to pick at a time, so if you're looking for a specific kind of apple, be sure to check their website prior to going. When I went, they had honeycrisp apples, which are perfect for all the baking and cooking I was looking to do with my freshly picked apples. (See below for recipe ideas!)


This was my first time apple picking with only one variety of apples to choose from, which made the experience a little different. I mean, how much time can you spend picking the same type of apple? But it was enjoyable walking up and down the orchards. Besides apple picking, Solebury also has some tomatoes for you to pick, as well as a cutting garden to cut your own flowers from. They also have a market where you can buy some of their cider, delicious home-made cider donuts and plenty of other items!  

So now, what to do with all of these apples?! Of course, eat them! 

For breakfast, I made an egg-white omelette with apples and brie, which was a delicious way to start the day. 

For dinner, I made a pork dish. Inspired by this One Pan Pork Chops with Apples and Onions Recipe, but I used sweet onions instead of red onions, and instead of Chicken Broth, I used Jamaican Rum, which made it very tasty!

For dessert, I baked an apple pie

Now, if only the saying was, an apple a day will keep Covid away! 😉 




  Happy 🍎 Picking, my friends! 

Sunday, August 30, 2020

PRODUCT REVIEW: Leopara, Make Up Lighting System

When I first found out about Leopara, I immediately thought, this looks amazing and I can not wait to get it in the mail to try it out. Then it finally arrived, and it surpassed all of my expectations!

Leopara, is an at home or on-the-go lighting system that can be placed on any clean, flat surface to enhance the lighting in a space, specifically to do your make up. Leopara comes in a compact case that contains 4 wireless & rechargeable LED lights, and let me tell you, they are bright. The change that just one of these lights can make, is incredible. Each LED light has a reusable and re-stickable mounting adhesive on the back, which makes them able to stick onto a mirror or any flat surface. They are also wireless, which I love, and it comes with a 4-in-1 USB Charging Cord, so all the lights can charge at once. 

The first time I actually used Leopara, was for something other than doing my make up. I actually used it to help me film an audition from my laptop! I placed it right along side the camera on my laptop and the difference was remarkable. I only needed to use one light, to enhance my video audition and it did just the trick. It was easy to take off my laptop and did not leave any marks or residue. 

A few days later, I finally used it on my mirror to do my make up. The idea is to place all 4 in a square so that each angle of your face is lit up, and again it made a huge difference and it made it so much easier to do my make up. However, this was the first time I noticed, it left a small amount of residue when I took the lights off my mirror. No damage though, and using Windex easily removed it. 

See the difference for yourself: 

         

How many times have you changed rooms while doing your make up to make sure you were doing it in the best lighting? I know I have, and I'm so glad I can now use Leopara to avoid switching rooms and can stay in one place until my make up is complete! So with that said, I highly recommend Leopara for use at home or on-the-go and I love how it has multiple purposes beyond just doing your make up!

Click here to shop Leopara! 

Monday, August 17, 2020

FOUND THE MOST PERFECT HIDDEN GEM, The Madison Beach Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton

Keep Reading, Video at the end of article


A short drive away from New York City, is one of the best hidden gems I have ever come across, The Madison Beach Hotel in Madison, Connecticut. I never even knew of Madison to be a beach town, but it just so happens that it is and it holds the only hotel to be on a beach, in the entire state of Connecticut. 

This place is everything but ordinary, there is charm and history at every corner. The Madison Beach Hotel is the perfect place for a getaway all year round. The obvious answer would be that the summer, is the best time to visit, but there is something romantic about visiting a beach town in the winter, spring or fall too.

The Madison Beach Hotel has been around since the early 1800s which makes it one of the oldest continuously run businesses on the shoreline. In 1982, the hotel was renovated so that each room now has a waterfront view along with its own private balcony, which I think is phenomenal and so important when staying at a hotel that is on a shoreline. 

Throughout the property, you can see and read about the history and the transformations the hotel has gone through over the years, which definitely keeps the traditional New England ambience alive. You can see this charm and ambience, as soon as you pull up in the driveway of the hotel to check in. It is just absolutely stunning.

I arrived late in the afternoon on a Tuesday, and not a second went by, where I did not feel safe due to current conditions we are living in. All staff members were wearing masks and the front desk attendant was standing behind plexi-glass. The Madison Beach Hotel is a part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, which means they are following Hilton's Clean Stay Procedures due to Covid, which is similar to what I experienced at the Hilton Mystic
 
I headed up to my room where the clean stay sticker was in-tact, which means no one had been in my room, in at least 24 hours, and everything was just so immaculate, beautiful and spotless! It is a beautiful room, filled with all the amenities you could ever need. I ran immediately out to the balcony to take in the view of the shoreline and Long Island Sound, where I catch the tail end of their outdoor live music happy hour, which happens on certain evenings.  

And before I knew it, it was time to head down to their restaurant, The Wharf, for dinner and to enjoy the sunset. I had the option of eating inside or out, but since it was such a lovely evening, I of course, chose to eat outside. Each dish was so flavorful and delicious. It was really a wonderful evening and meal. 

Falling asleep and then waking up to the waves crashing along the shoreline was so peaceful. For breakfast, the hotel staff leaves a complimentary breakfast basket outside your door every morning around 6 am for you to wake up to and enjoy. It is filled with everything you could want, to go along with your coffee, which you can make from the Keurig machine in your room. 

Once breakfast was complete, it was time to start the day, and the first thing to do was rent the hotel's bicycles for a ride around Madison. This was so much fun! I'm usually not a bike-riding type of person but I enjoyed this so much! It was such a fun way to see the rest of the shoreline and the gorgeous homes that are in Madison. We even rode into the town of Madison, which is so quaint with plenty of shops and restaurants. 

After that long bike ride under the summer sun, it was time to cool off at the hotel's private beach along Long Island Sound. The water and breeze were delightful, and the margarita under the umbrella didn't hurt either! All the lounge chairs were socially distant from one another. It was just so relaxing and enjoyable! I even made sure to walk out onto the dunes, which gave a stunning view of the entire property and shoreline. 

After a few hours on the beach, it was time to pack up, clean up and head back down to The Wharf, for one final meal before hitting the road to go home. It was then, that I had the most tasty lobster roll, I have ever had! 

I only stayed a night and a day away, but it was just what I needed to reset and recharge for the rest of the week. I can't wait to go back to the Madison Beach Hotel and experience all that it has to offer again, but for a longer time frame. 

Take a look at all that I did and experienced in this video: 




Friday, July 17, 2020

Quarantine Night time Skin Care Routine

Throughout this time in quarantine, I really have made a conscious effort to take care of my skin. I think this is the best it has looked in a really long time, partly because of how I've been keeping up with this nightly routine. 

So here is the quick video version of it and then I'm going to go into detail of what exactly I am doing...



If I'm wearing make-up, I first use Biore's Charcoal Cleansing Micellar Water to take off my make-up, or at least the majority of it. Now even though, it says on the bottle you can use this without rinsing it off, I feel like it still leaves a film which is why I go to wash my face with soap afterwards. 

To wash my face, I vary between different gentle cleansers but for this video I used Lancome's Miel-en-Mousse Foaming Face Wash, which smells incredible! Washing my face after removing my make up, helps make sure there is no remaining residue of make up on my skin before I continue with my routine.

After washing my face, I pat it dry. Next step is using Murad's Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum. I have used this on-off for countless years now and this really helps with the acne scars I get from zits. What I've learned by mistake, is that it is really important to use a lightening serum like this all over your face, not just in a spot where you need the lightening to happen. I did this once, hoping to remove a specific acne scar I had, and instead it ended up lightening up my skin in that one part lighter than the rest of my face. Hydroquinone is quite the powerful ingredient, which also means it is so important to wear SPF on your face when you are using a product that includes hydroquinone. 

I let that soak into my skin before I put on my moisturizer, which right now is Cetaphil's Moisturizing Lotion, super simple and moisturizing. I learned this early on that when you put on any skin product is so important to push up, against gravity (if you know what I'm saying 😉 ), we don't want our skin to sag, so up, up, up, the moisturizer goes. 

Again, I let that soak into my skin before the final step of eye cream! I am obsessed with Lancome's Renergie Lift Multi-Action Eye. First of all it smells so good! This is definitely a splurge of a purchase but I think it is worth it, but because of the price tag, I only use it at night to really make it last. So with my ring finger, I put the eye cream from under my eyes, all the way around to my brow bone. I also put a small amount in between my eyebrows, where I get wrinkles at times and this eye cream has definitely minimized that. The last spot I put it on my face, is the nasolabial fold; be sure to watch the video at 1:13 to know exactly which area of the face I am referring to, because it's very important to include! 

And that's the whole routine! Simple yet beneficial!

You can shop some of these products here!

And ICYMI, here is the video routine of my morning skin care routine, another mix of high to low end products:


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

FINALLY TRAVELING AGAIN

Keep Reading, Video at the end of article


It's been a long four months, with nowhere new to go, explore or adventure to. For someone who is used to traveling on a semi-regular basis, this quarantine time frame has been very difficult in more ways than one.

So, when the opportunity arose to spend a weekend away in Mystic, Connecticut, I jumped at it. Was I a little bit nervous? Yes, of course but the idea of staying in a hotel, a different set of walls, sounded absolutely amazing. I was a child the last time I visited Mystic, so it was also going to be nice to get a refresher on the town and area.

From where I've been in quarantine, in New Jersey, it was about a 3 hour drive to Mystic. Arriving at the Hilton Mystic, which is across the street from the famous, Mystic Aquarium, I was shocked to see the parking lot of the hotel, pretty packed. Did other people get the memo that it was safe to travel before I did? As I approached the doors of the hotel, I was immediately reminded to wear my mask and to keep a social distance, but once in the hotel, there was a sign that said according to CT's policies, you must wear a mask only if you cannot social distance. Unsure of what really to do, I kept my mask on.

There were people in the hotel! Probably the most amount of people I have seen in months! Even a line to check in! I was so happy to see the hotel doing so well, being that the tourism industry got hit so hard this year.

At check in, which happened behind plexiglass, they told me how no one has been in my room in over 24 hours since it was cleaned and there is a seal on the door of the room to prove this. I got up to my room, seal in-tack, which of course was great to see, and the room looked normal per usual. The television remote was in a plastic seal, to prove that it had been cleaned and there were some stickers placed around the room with information about how the room had been cleaned, along with a website to visit to find out more information. Everything looked normal and clean.

The NEW thing was that, unlike normal times, where you could have your room cleaned everyday during your stay, with fresh towels, new amenities, and the bed being made, was not going to happen. The whole idea is that no one comes into your room, besides you, during your stay. I can understand this concept, but thank goodness I was only staying for 2 nights because if it was for any longer, I think I would have wanted someone to come in and at least take out the trash in the room. However, the hotel was happy to accommodate, by giving you more towels or amenities, by either hanging them on the door knob or by giving them to you at the front desk.

Next was the food situation. Without realizing it, Connecticut had opened up more than New Jersey, so indoor dining was available. But that didn't matter because it was such a nice day that I wanted to eat outside anyway. Inside the Hilton Mystic, their restaurant, Irons was open for dinner and breakfast, so I ate there in their outdoor patio, that had a fire pit and string lights hanging above, for you to look at, as you look up at the sky. For dinner, I started with an Irontini, their vodka cocktail, and then as per Chef Jamey Hence's recommendation, I ordered the braised short rib and their new shrimp and scallop scampi. Both delicious and filling dishes. 

Not only is the Hilton Mystic across the street from the Mystic Aquarium, but it is also diagonally across from the Olde Mistick Village, which I walked through after dinner. Most of the stores were closed, while I strolled through at that hour, some restaurants were open, but it was just nice to have somewhere to walk around, without getting back in the car, after eating a filling meal.

My first night staying at the Hilton Mystic was perfect. I stayed on the 2nd floor, and it was quiet and peaceful. Just what I needed! I started my day with breakfast, just down the road from the Hilton, at the The Mystic Diner & Restaurant. Had a great breakfast, ate outside, and I felt good about supporting a local business.

Then I drove down to the Mystic Seaport, which was about a 10 minute drive. I drove past the Mystic Seaport Museum, which is more of a historical experience, that apparently I did as a child, but it wasn't in the plan for that day. After finding free parking on the street, I walked around the seaport, past the restaurants and stores, taking notes on how each store had different signs explaining their social distance protocols. But people were out and about, enjoying life and the day. It was so relaxing just to sit by the harbor, watching the boats come and go.

While at breakfast, I scheduled my visit to go to the Mystic Aquarium, later that day, from 4-6pm. That's part of their new protocol during their re-opening, choosing a timed visit. So around 3:45pm, we drove across the street, because lucky for me, it started pouring and I wanted to get there early enough to go through the temperature check. This was really interesting. I walked into this little room, where a man sat in the corner at a desk, protected by plexiglass, and as I stood more than 6 feet away from him, without ever touching me with a thermometer, he took my temperature and this determined whether or not I was able to enter the aquarium. It is wild what technology can do! So with my healthy temperature I entered the aquarium and even in the rain, it was so enjoyable to see the mammals! Although, I was extremely grateful for the indoor exhibits as well. Social distancing was enforced throughout the aquarium along with the requirement to wear your mask the whole time. Even some of the new mammals were quarantined before they were brought out on public display. I'm just so glad the aquarium was open and I was able to go and visit.

For dinner, that night, I went back to the Olde Mystic Village to eat at Go Fish, a local Connecticut restaurant. Without realizing it, it was my first time eating inside at a restaurant in months. They had the tables spread out from one another and all the employees were wearing masks. The food was delicious and flavorful. I have to say though, it is a strange concept, to walk into the restaurant with a mask on, take it off at the table to eat, but then walk through the restaurant with the mask back on after eating to leave, after my breath has already been put out into the air, but whatever it's fine. Wear a mask, stay safe.

After another pleasant night's sleep at the Hilton Mystic, I had breakfast downstairs in their Irons Restaurant. From the rain the night before, their courtyard was still damp so we ate breakfast inside. Stuffed french toast with apple filling and smoked salmon with a bagel was what I had, with of course, plenty of coffee. 

It was a quick little trip away from home, but, boy, did it make a difference in my attitude and whole outlook. It was just SO NICE to go away, having something different to do, all while still feeling safe. 

Will this be the first of many FunSized Frolics post-Covid? Only time will tell!

More of a visual person? Watch this video to see my experience in Mystic: