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My Iredale Cosmetics spa vacation….

April 11, 2013

lobby area...2013-04-06 06.22.52view from my balconythe spaafter our make up!such comfortable beds!2013-04-05 22.46.52waldorfwaldorf astoria, naples

Jane Iredale vacation

A while back online, Jane Iredale cosmetics posted a contest on their sites, with the question, “What makes you glow?” The top prize included a spa vacation at the Waldorf Astoria in Naples, Florida, and also $500 dollars worth of Jane Iredale make up…since I have used their products for a few years, and love their company for how they are helping out their local community, I decided to enter. Being a Berkshiregirl, I naturally included my children, healthy eating and fresh air in my reply.

Now, I have never considered myself very lucky in the past, but lately it seems as if I am on some kind of winning streak. I had entered the contest in early fall and it  ended in November, so after that date came and went, I didn’t give it any further thought. Then in December, a few days before Christmas, I received an email stating that I was, in fact, the grand prize winner!

2013-04-05 22.30.43

.The win couldn’t have come at a better time, as I was running low on funds because of the holidays and I was also running low on my Jane Iredale pure pressed powder, which is my only daily make up. As I sat in the bank parking lot, reading the email on my phone, I literally wept with joy. I felt a great sense of pressure being swept away from me already, and I hadn’t even been to the spa yet. The vacation was for two, and as fate would have it the person that I most wanted to take with me(she normally lives in Florida)happened to be in town for the holidays and was able to sign the necessary documents that go along with winning the contest.

When I say that every detail of the entire adventure was impeccably taken care of by the Jane Iredale team, I am not even exaggerating a tiny bit. My itinerary looked like something meant for the rich and famous. From the complimentary pure pressed powder that I received before my trip to the limo service to the amazing meals(all of which were covered), every single thing was outstanding.

my bliss room!waldorf astoria, naples

The stay at the the Waldorf AstoriaWaldorf was such an indulgence. The place itself is gorgeous with its modern design and beautiful grounds. The Golden Door Spa was serene and luxurious, like an escape to another world, even though it was attached to the resort. My friend and I were treated to two days of wonderful spa treatments,including massages,pedi/manicures, facials and more…By the time it was all over, I think almost every inch of my body had been pampered. The prize also included makeovers with the Jane Iredale line for both of us. Not one to normally wear much make up, I was eager to learn tips on how to apply things like eye shadow and foundations. I have myositis, which leaves me with a skin fever that looks like a rash and they were able to make it disappear even better than it does with just the pure pressed powder that I normally wear. I am also vegan and use only vegan friendly products, so I was apprehensive as to how they would go about that in the make up application. I shouldn’t have worried. Though I was their first vegan client, they were very professional, and had pulled up the vegan information from Jane’s site…Later that night, my family raved about how flawless my skin looked and how bright my eyes were with the new make up.

Now that I am back at home, I find myself dreamily drifting back to the whole experience, always trying to decide which was my favorite part of the journey. Although the resort and spa experience were exquisite in every way, I have to say that I am most grateful for my new found knowledge at applying make up and the fact that I now get to choose all new make up from the Iredale Cosmetics line. I cannot wait to choose from all of their great products, and because I will be wearing it and looking great, I will benefit from this prize for a long time still coming. I was glowing before the trip, and now I am definitely glowing even brighter…waldorf astoria, naples

brunch at the old mill, in south egremont, ma…..

February 15, 2013

 

feb12oldmill 036today, we were finally able to use a gift card that i had won in a fall raffle that i had entered by way of southern berkshire chamber of commerce……it was a fun raffle that i had entered, with one entry giving you a chance at different prizes every day throughout that month…each day, i eagerly awaited the announced winners, because every day was also a different prize….about two thirds of the way through the month, i got a phone call, just as i was boarding a bus for my son’s school field trip, telling me i had won a wine and cheese basket from local purveyor, garahm and norton, also a $100 gift card to the old mill restaurant, in south egremont, and two tickets to the triplex movie theatre in great barrington….
well, the wine went quickly, delicious as it was, and the movie tickets found their way to an afternoon outing of mine, but i was having a hard time using the gift card to the old mill….knowing it was more of an upscale restaurant, i didn’t plan on making it a family outing, but finding a babysitter to come out my way(i live a half hour in the opposite direction of everyone else)also  proved to be more of a barrier than i thought…today, being the day after the (supposed)superstorm, nemo, i figured would be a low key day to introduce the kids to a new experience….
after convincing my ten year old that his dressing up was definitely not worth the tears it was producing, we were on our way….the fresh snow and blue skies, made me be happy to be alive in such a beautiful setting. the old mill is in egremont, just enough out of the way to make it a quaint drive….
arriving at the mill, it seemed to be very suited to its name. its a rustic, old building which used to house a grist mill back in the 1700’s…entering the place, i felt as though i were stepping back in time…the decor holds true to the period, with its wide plank floors and dark stained wood throughout.  we were greeted by a very friendly woman, and were seated at a table in front of the fire. the fire place itself looked as though it used to be the forge, and though freshly painted in a bright red, you could tell it had seen centuries of use.
we were there for brunch on a sunday, and the menu offered both breakfast items, as well as things for a lunch. my kids ordered hot chocolates, and i some fresh squeezed orange juice. there were many items that looked delicious, and it was hard to choose just one. after ordering, the server brought out a plate of fresh croissants with butter and marmalade. i know from experience that croissants are difficult to make, so i was impressed to find them delicate and flaky.
for our main meals, my daughter and i both ordered off of the ‘specials of the day’ menu, and got the pecan banana french toast with salted caramel syrup.  my son ordered the fresh waffle  with berries and maple syrup.  our guest decided on a leek and gruyere tart, and we also ordered a couple of plates of home fries for the table.
the food was delicious. the french toast was tasty without being overly sweet…and anything with salted caramel is usually a hit in my book, and this did not disappoint. my son devoured his waffle, and seemed to enjoy it as it made its way hastily into his belly…it wasnt a belgian waffle, which is the size he is used to, so i wasnt surprised to see him clean his plate so quickly. the gruyere tart was especially nice, without being overly ‘quiche’ tasting(a taste that i am not fond of), and the hashbrowns were simply cooked, but very tasty.
you would think that after all of that scrumptious food, that we would be satiated,but no, we went on to dessert next.  well, the kids did anyways…my daughter opted for an upside down pineapple cake, and my son chose ciao bella chocolate sorbet. both proved to be very delicious, but i honestly dont know how they ate it.  i kept trying to take tastes, but my belly,being so full, kept me from overindulging.
all told, it was a very nice restaurant. i especially liked that we were in a piece of berkshire county history, and that they had kept it true to its time, with period furnishings and decor… i do wish that they used more local products(such as chocolate springs hot chocolate, instead of ghiradelli). i feel that being such a part of our community, that they would be better suited if they supported a bit more  the community that supports them….i think that going there for a dinner would be an especially nice way to enjoy the old mill, and i am looking forward to trying that some night.
~~~old mill restaurant(www.oldmillberkshires.com/)~~~

a good mexican(ish) meal, finally…..

January 30, 2013

~the berkshires are somewhat removed from the rest of the civilized world, and though, for the most part, thats a very good thing, it can also be a detriment to your desires if they cant be found here…..for me, one of the only downfalls of living in berkshire county, is the lack of good mexican food……yes, there are the run of the mill places, and fast food chains, but i am speaking about real, authentic tasting mexican food….there is Desperado’s and Coyote Flaco up in williamstown, and i have heard great things about both of them…but, it is at the other side of the county, and i really dont get up there as much as i should….there have been some really great ones throughout the years, but until a few months ago, there was nothing for me. until i found out about Baja Charlies in Lee…….another chef/restaurant owner friend of mine gave it great reviews, so i knew i had to try it…..
finding the place was not so easy, as they only have one small sign as of now, and the building its in is shared with a hair salon….the parking lot is on the hair salon side, and there was no clear direction to the restaurant…we went in the front blue door, but i oddly felt as if i was going to enter someone’s apartment….inside there were three more doors to confuse me a bit more, but i finally found my way in…we were warmly greeted by a fellow named david, and sat at a table near to the kitchen….the place was bright and very clean, with a very nice decor….while we decided what to order, david brought us nacho chips and a salsa that was incredible…we ordered the guacamole to go with it and david went over the menu with us….i was very pleased with how accommodating they were, as i eat vegan and my friend was on a diet and we had a three year old with us….not easy to feed people to say the least….
i decided on the baja burrito, my friend chose the salmon salad, and the little one was prepared an off the menu quesadilla….the first bite i took, i knew i had found one of my new favorite restaurants…the place is chef owned, so i expected it to be good, but it took me to a whole new understanding the word outstanding….it was a veggie burrito with vegan cheese(david’s suggestion), and it was made to perfection…..grilled, chopped veggies and perfect seasonings…..i literally couldn’t stop eating….my friend seemed equally enamored with hers, as she couldn’t seem to put her fork down either….she even shooed them away when they tried to bring her a to-go box for her ‘leftovers’…. :)
there are a few quirks the place has to still work out, such as signage, and cloth napkins, but for the most part, i found it to be a great meal in a nice place, and really friendly service…and the prices were good, too….the best part is that it is literally two miles from my house, so you know i will become a familiar face there!

keeping warm….

December 27, 2012
winter in the berkshires...

winter in the berkshires…

You need to have certain disposition to make it through a new england winter with a smile. it is not always predictable, and it is definitely not very friendly. winter can show up in the middle of october, or it can laze its way into december or january. it can bring monumental amounts of snow, or the flowers can burst forth in confusion in mid january because of the lack of snow. some winters are the picturesque scenes found on postcards and christmas movies, and sometimes the land is a brown, barren ice field, winter winds beating you down if you dare to go out…….despite all of this, winter in the berkshires is a wonderful thing. it gives you a time to slow down and regroup. pull out those projects that have sat for too long, take time to cook warm and loving foods, comforting the soul…..there is much to do in the berkshires in the winter season, some visitors forego our other magical seasons, coming only for their love of the berkshire snow….there is plenty of skiing, and snowshoeing, ice fishing enthusiasts rave about our area…..culturally, there is still a lot happening, especially around the holidays, with events like the rockwell christmas on main st., in stockbridge…playhouses are starting to have winter line ups, as well as in the warmer seasons….on a nice, sunny winter day, i will often go shopping on main st., either in stockbridge or great barrington, or throw on my boots or snowshoes(depending on the snow), and head out onto one of the many trails that surround my area. but, for the most part, i like to observe the berkshire winters from the warmth of inside, looking out through a window…i find winter the perfect time to go back to a simpler time. i make things for people, that i will give as gifts throughout the year. i cook all of the foods that i am too busy to make in all of the days when i am outdoors, putting my heart and soul into the food, taking time to take time…..and i must admit, although i am a berkshiregirl through and through, and would never give up any part of living here, i am a huge chicken of the cold. i run from one place to another if i am forced to venture out into it. i prefer to stay bundled up in thick sweaters, in a 72 degree house, preferably under the scrumptious warmth of one of my many berkshire blankets( http://www.berkshireblanket.com/?gclid=CITO1Oq7u7QCFQ-f4AodBS0ApA )….i can sit with a cup of coffee, cuddled under my blanket, looking out at the beautiful white scenery, birds hopping happily outside, while i count my blessings from inside :)

where did summer go?

September 1, 2012

I know that our summers tend to come and go quickly in these parts, but this one seemed more like the ‘disappearing summer’…. I think that we were too early rustled from our winter slumber, with the month of 90 degree weather in march….. of course, just as we shook off the snow to don our flipflops, the cold weather came back to chastise us…. when the summer weather finally settled in, we were overwhelmed with the summer itinerary that is the berkshires in summer…. trying to squeeze in as many plays, shows, museums and beach days, we had hardly noticed that first hint of autumn blush on the leaves…. it wasn’t until the ‘welcome back’ letters from school showed up in our mailbox, that we realized we were facing the end of our summer fun…. the past week was dizzying as we raced to fit in all of the things we had missed, a trip to six flags, hiking in ice glen, lunch at our favorite outdoor restaurant and a canoe trip down the housatonic river…..and then, just like that, our summer vacation is over and the kids are back in school…. now, I am left to find those late summer treasures on my own, drinking it the magic of the gorgeous weather…. and now I look forward to the weekends, squeezing some more summer magic into those days…. and then, onto apple picking and pumpkin pies : )

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June 7, 2012

doric columns of ashintully overlooking the tyringham valley…

June 7, 2012

“mountains are earth’s undecaying monuments.

a wonderful quote from nathaniel hawthorne(berkhshireboy)

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