About Renee Blodgett

Renee Blodgett

Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.


Latest Posts by Renee Blodgett

Slik’n Skin Technology For More Youthful Looking Skin!

August 27, 2016 by  

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Every time you have a facial, you might find yourself wishing you had one of those anti-aging machines they use on your skin to get a smoother, less creased look, particularly around your eyes and mouth area.

A void in professional, at-home solutions for hair removal and face care,  prompted Home Skinovations to expand on their product line which resulted in the launch of a Home Pulse Light technology line of products from Silk’n, including the Silk’n Hair Removal Device, the first at-home light based hair removal device approved by the FDA and other energy-based medical beauty and wellness devices for enhancing facial appearance, body aesthetics, wellness and vitality, all in the privacy of your own home.

Since the launch of its first product, Home Skinovations, added innovative light, RF and LED based products, including Silk’n FaceFX, an Anti-Aging device, and Silk’n Blue, a blue light Acne device, both of which we tested out at home.

Face FX

FaceFX is an at-home solution that aims to provide longer term skin rejuvenation results. It has been clinically tested and its goal is to improve crow’s feet, lines under the eyes, cheeks and virtually any other problem area where you see wear and tear, and damaging effects from aging and sun damage.

The main thing I noticed personally from using it was that my skin texture was a little smoother after several uses and its goal over time is to diminsh the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. It also is slated to brighten skin color and reduce pore size although I didn’t see noticeable improvements there although this is only based on three uses so far.
FaceFX uses Home Fractional (HF) technology, which is a marriage of dermal heat and red light energy (Deep Fractional Light) to reach and treat multiple layers of skin. As the light and heat combine, collagen production is stimulated. The FaceFX helps to address fine lines and pores while simultaneously penetrating deeper into the skin to address lager wrinkles and discolored spots.

HF technology is a synergistic combination of deep fractional red light and healing dermal heat to achieve long-term radiant skin and it targets the top layer of your skin to address fine lines and pores, which is what helps with the skin texture improvements.

A process contributing to skin tightening, results when skin temperatures reach 106 °F. Dermal heating delivers uniform energy distribution and targets deep into the skin to heat collagen for anti-aging and dermal regeneration.

A process of using high power red light stimulating fibroblast growth. Red light energy prompts increased circulation and new cells to turn over. Apparently, fractional light is less invasive than non-dispersed light.

Silk’n Revit Diamond Tip Microdermabrasion System

Another cool at-home machine I tested out is ReVit, which is a microdermabrasion tool that combines gentle microdermabrasion exfoliation with vacuum stimulation to reduce the appearance of age spots, fine lines and acne scars and I have a boat load of the latter.

The ReVit uses gentle tip exfoliation to remove dead skin cells which helps to improve your overall skin tone, texture and elasticity. They use a 100% crystal-free microdermabrasion, vacuum stimulation to remove the old, damaged, and dull topmost layer of the skin and it comes with three different tip sizes (fine, precision and coarse), so you can customize treatments depending on your needs.

They tout that visible results in as little as one week — so far, we’ve tried it twice and I love the results. My goal is to use for the next few months to see the effects of longer term use.
The other great thing about the ReVit is its convenient size, making it easy to carry with you on the road as well.
As the skin is being exfoliated, it is important to clear the surface of any debris. This is why vacuum stimulation is important. The ReVit uses gentle vacuum stimulation to remove exfoliated skin cells and trap them in their patented filtration system. After each treatment, you can look at the filter for the ultimate proof that the treatment worked.

They say that diamond tip microdermabrasion is one of the best forms of microdermabrasion. When the Silk’n ReVit is turned on the vacuum suction will activate and when pressed to the skin the exfoliating diamond tip will remove the surface layers of the skin revealing fresh smooth skin without blemish.

The different tip sizes are super useful because everyone’s skin is different. The coarse tip is for a heavier duty exfoliation, a fine for more gentle exfoliation and the precision is for those smaller areas around the nose and eyes for example.

Revit tips e3298d2884c07b24a8c58ce4364dd849c53f833ca6390c8ea33c3f153a52f184

 

Vacuum stimulation helps improve skin tone, texture and elasticity as well as reduce the appearance of age spots and the appearance of fine lines around the eyes.

The other nice thing about it is how quick it is to do. Silk’n ReVit treats your skin in a matter of minutes. It removes dead skin cells, drawing them into the device by means of vacuum. The dead skin cells are collected in a replaceable filter. When you change the filter you will see the quantity of dead particles previously attached to your skin. Not so pretty perhaps but you can feel good knowing that they’re gone which helps to restore balance to your skin.

Who doesn’t need a little help with healthier more glowing skin from time-to-time, regardless of your age, skin type and condition?

Silk’n Blue

I’m one of those women who not only has aging spots from long time sun exposure but adult acne. Their Silk’n Blue product is focused on destroying acne-causing bacteria and works on clearing up skin in three to seven weeks, depending on the use case and individual.

Blue kills acne-causing bacteria while simultaneously dehydrating oil-producing glands, which aims to prevent future breakouts. They don’t use harsh chemicals and the technology is meant to be non-invasive and gentle. By pressing the device down on problem areas, the blue light works to penetrate and destroy acne-causing bacteria that is found deep within the skin. Meanwhile, mild heat works to dry oil-producing glands. Each treatment lasts 3-4 minutes for each affected area, so again, not a huge time consumer to use it on a regular basis.

Infrared initiates deep tissue heat, and offers a drying effect on the sebaceous glands. Below is an interesting (albeit more scientific) diagram of untreated acne.
Acne reduction1 1aac53144f7e5a6caea06786d125b5913c863e9ad159beb487062353a532ae92

The Healing Effects of Heat & Blue Light

The Silk’n Blue combines heat and blue light for healing and prevention of acne. And yes, we love the fact that this device like others in the Silk’n skincare line, is portable and compact for easy mobility, making it a great choice for avid travelers.

Blue and red wavelength 845c675ad84b3f3819f337c044f02d89e7284a5c40198902c753a6e0cd9d17d8

One thing they warn and I found this to be the case also is a slight reddening of the skin after each Blue session (mild erythema) over the treated area. They say that this is normal and should fade within an hour or two. Their recommended best result scenario is after 3-7 weeks of continued use.

Please note that I am not a skin care specialist or health practitioner so am not in any way recommending these products will be a godsend for you. I am merely speaking from my own personal experience with them — please check with your dermatologist and/or doctor before seeing whether any of the Silk’n face treatments or machines are a fit for you.

The Vestry @ the Chapel in San Francisco, for Elegant Simple Fare & A+ Music

August 25, 2016 by  

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While it appears that all my music friends know of The Vestry and the adjoining Chapel in San Francisco’s Mission District, I had never been. The Vestry is on the left and is a casual eatery that serves simple but fun dishes and on the right is The Chapel which has interesting performers and live bands throughout the week.

Mains are simple and there’s not an extensive choice, but with good reason – they aim to be a pre-show option. Because of that, people tend to order from the salads, veggies and small plate menu the most. They offered four main course choices the night we were there: a Flat Iron Steak with blistered cherry tomatoes, padron peppers and roasted oyster mushrooms, Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes, brentwood corn and snap pea succotash and pan gravy, a Grilled Swordfish (pictured below) with toasted almond haricot verts, piquillo pepper piperade and charred corn beurre blanc, which I had and the Moules Frites, aka mussels with pommes frites and aioli, which Anthony ordered.

The mussels below:

Lighter options include an Arugula-Grape salad with roasted grapes, pickled red onions, lemon-dijon dressing and toasted almonds, a wedge salad with little gem wedges with ranch dressing, crisp bacon, radish, tomato and chives, Avocado toast with house made pumpkin seed bread, pumpkin seed butter and pink peppercorns and a Hamachi Crudo with chioggia beet chips, popped amaranth, mango, cilantro, fresno chiles and passion fruit vinaigrette.

The restaurant’s seasonal menu is influenced by cuisine from regions of France, Italy  and the Mediterranean.  The bar incorporates a range of spirits, house-made syrups and fresh ingredients to create exceptional handcrafted cocktails, while the carefully selected food-friendly wine list includes California, European and new world wines.

The Vestry has private dining areas for larger parties and a fun outdoor patio with sun in the daytime and warm heaters at night.  I love the fact that there’s a female chef too — bravo to Executive Chef Elaine Osuna!

A little more heavier but glorious is their Poutine with fries, short rib gravy and beecher’s cheese curds or their Gnocchi Alla Romana with grilled broccoli romanesco and jimmy nardello peppers.

Also yummy on the list is Garlic-parsley spaghetti made from heirloom summer squash, heirloom eggplant caponata and bellwether farms ricotta, Crispy Greek lamb meatballs with lemon greens and tzatziki (pictured below), Prosciutto Di Parma and Balakian Farms Nectarine Pizzetta with beilwether farms crescenza, mozzarella and chives, cheeseburger slides or french fries served with aioli.

We paired our dishes with all whites despite the fact that we could have varied it a little given our meatball starter. Anthony went for the 2013 Gardener Dry Riesling and I opted for the 2010 Feuillat-Juillot Chardonnay (oh so Burgundian) and 2013 Les Caves Roties de Pente “Rhone-Style,” which had a bit more balance and was a tad smoother than either the Chard or the Riesling.

They are known for great cocktails as well, whether it’s a seasonal margarita, a Gin-Gin mule, a delicious sour, a Knickerbocker with golden rum, raspberry, curacao and lime, an East India Cocktail, which they serve with cognac, raspberry, curacao, maraschino and angostura bitters (my grandmother would have loved this one) or a la Louisiane with rye, sweet vermouth, benedictine, Peychuad’s and absinthe. Yum!!

The Chapel occupies an historic 1914 building that was originally built as a mortuary and has now been stunningly renovated by veteran Bay Area commercial real estate developer and restaurateur Jack Knowles.  The beautiful chapel with its 40-foot high arched ceiling has been converted to a music room with mezzanine, while the rest of the building has been remodeled to hold a restaurant, neighborhood bar, and an outdoor dining patio.

Below is the performance we saw at The Chapel — the ambiance was lively and plenty of people were clapping their hands, tapping their feet and dancing. Two thumbs up!

 DETAILS:

The Vestry

777 Valencia Street

San Francisco, CA 94110

 

 

Anti-Aging Technology For Youthful Looking Skin With Osmotics Cosmeceuticals

August 24, 2016 by  

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I discovered a great new skincare line that is great for anti-aging from Osmotics Cosmeceuticals. We tested out a few of their products, my favorite one being their Blue Copper 5 Prime Instant Exfoliating Facial.

Blue Copper 5 Prime Instant Exfoliating Facial

Blue Copper treatments combine the anti-aging benefits of copper with a powerful “5″ chain peptide which works on reducing the signs of aging. Almost immediately, I felt an extra firmness, elasticity and radiance following the exfoliating process. They tout a 2 in 1 ultra-gentle exfoliator which also has ingredients for hydrating the skin, which is so important as we age.

Gentle mannan particles speed cell turnover and remove embedded impurities, eliminating dry, dead skin cells, minimizing pores and improving texture without irritation. If you have particularly sensitive skin, this is meant to really help.

 

 

Anti-Wrinkle Vitamin C Patches

LOVE THESE! Who doesn’t want reduced puffiness and lines around their eyes? Patented overnight treatments reduce discoloration and collagen breakdown, and they say, improve facial wrinkles up to 50%.

The patches help to saturate expression lines and deeper facial wrinkles with skin-smoothing, bioavailable Vitamin C. Those who have used anti-aging products before know the value of Vitamin C and because they’re patches that soak into the skin, they help eliminate free radicals and collagen breakdown in the skin. The patches go deep around your eyes and can also be used on your upper lip or any target area on the face for up to ten hours while you sleep.

I tested these out on three different occasions and noticed an improvement particularly around my eye area. The main benefit I saw? The wrinkles seemed to be less severe and were a little smoother, after two uses in my case.

Crease-Less Line Smoothing Filler

This filler uses patented peptides and wrinkle filling spheres to relax and prevent expression lines/creases without needles.

They say that this product includes their strongest combination of anti-wrinkle peptides and a unique micro-algae to enhance topical absorption and their hyaluronic acid wrinkle filling spheres instantly smooth, plump and firm—to visibly improve lined, aged skin. This combination of three cutting edge, anti-wrinkle technologies in one formula is a compelling solution for those who are averse to needle filling at the dermatologist. They recommend Crease-Less as a great companion to Lipofill.

They use anti-wrinkle octapeptide for faster, longer-lasting results and their wrinkle filling spheres smooth and firm the area of the skin where applied. If you have deep expression lines, creases and furrows, then this is a good alternative and a whole lot less painful.

Age Prevention Sheer Facial Tint SPF 45

It’s hard to find a tinted sunscreen that has a high SPF factor, so we love the discovery of their SPF 45 that comes in three shades of color, to erase imperfections while enhancing your natural skin tone.

The included Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB sheer, oil-free tints are a great tinted option for daily UV protection. The SPF 45 cream has antioxidant vitamins and Sodium Hyaluronate which also helps smooth and soften your skin as well.

What I loved most about this sun protector cream is its sheer, natural tints which leave your skin feeling moisturized while adding a nice glow to it. So many of the creams I’ve tried leave my skin feeling chalky and oily — this one can be used alone, under or mixed with foundation as well. I also love the fact that it’s oil-free and comes in three different shades (light/medium and dark) and if one isn’t perfect, you can get two shades and mix them.
Unlike most sunscreens, you don’t have that unpleasant film that you often get on your skin. Two thumbs up!
Note: these are my opinions only based on my experience with the products — please refer to your dermatologist and/or doctor to see if they’re a good fit for your skincare needs and skin type.
More information can be found at http://www.osmotics.com/.

Blue Horizon, an Ideal Remote Vacation Rental in the Turks & Caicos

August 16, 2016 by  

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If you want silence, then head to Middle Caicos, a remote part of the Turks and Caicos Islands with prestine beaches and glorious star gazing at night. A wonderful secluded vacation rental option is the Blue Horizon Resort, where we spent some time in August. Located on Middle Caicos, on fifty acres of privately owned land with over 2,200 feet of beach front, it is on the largest but the least commercially developed of the eight inhabited islands with only 168 residents.  Small and remote makes this an ideal location for a romantic getaway as well as a solo retreat if you happen to be a writer or artist looking for inspiration. In addition to Mudjin Harbor and Dragon Cay Cove at Blue Horizon Resort, Middle Caicos is home to reef protected Bambarra Beach and secluded Wild Cow Run on the far east end of the island.

It’s not just the glorious beaches and remoteness that makes this place special, but by night, there’s stunning star gazing that will blow your mind — be sure to bring a tripod. As a vacation rental, you will have access to basic dinette facilities which are more equipped in the larger cottages that can sleep around six opposed to the smaller ones which are ideal for one or two. Blue Horizon offers five Caribbean style cottages and three villas which are seamlessly set into the landscape with ocean views. You can take take it all in from one of the villa porches, cook for yourself or head to the onsite restaurant, Mudjin Bar and Grill. They have an onsite manager who knows the landscape fairly well, from nature-based activities like fishing, kayaking, hiking, caving, snorkeling and biking to more logistical things like transportation, other restaurant options in the area (there are very few btw) and history of the area, including the nearby Mudjin Harbor.

Each cottage and villa is surrounded by nature and only a short walk to the beach on paved paths. With bright Caribbean-colored decor, air conditioning, queen beds and satellite TV (cottages only), wifi and fully equipped kitchens, you have all that you need if daily “activities” are not your thing. This is a haven for those who truly want to escape the hustle and bustle and want some alone time or to connect with nature. There is wifi as noted, however I’d note that if you want reliable wifi, it’s much better in the restaurant area, which is just a short walk from any of the cottages or villas. Let’s take a look at a few of them so you can get an idea of what would best serve your needs visually and otherwise.

First up is Whale Watch, which is a two bedroom, two bath villa set high on a ridge. There is exceptional 360 degree degree views of Middle Caicos from the large open air front porch. There’s a twin guest room with two single beds and en suite bath and air conditioning in bedrooms as well as a washer and dryer.

Star Gazer is a spacious, secluded three bedroom, three bath villa at the far east end of the site. It boasts a large open living space with porches at the front and back. There’s private beach access with spectacular views and both guest rooms are equipped with queen beds and en suite bath — it’s ideal for up to six people.

The Tropico Studio cottage is perfect for couples and has full eat-in kitchen for two with serviceware, love seat, club chair and a large screened-in porch with sliding glass doors that open to the living space. I love this one as it is brightly decorated and “happy.” Nestled in lush tropical settings, the cottage offers privacy and views of the Blue Horizon Resort landscape looking toward the north shore. The Dragon View Cottage, Ridgetop Cottage and Tropico Cottages are all of similar size and layout and are approximately 650 square feet.

Seawings Villa is  two bedroom, two bath villa set on a ridge offering sweeping views of Mudjin Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean with en suite baths. It has a large open living area, which is great for groups and families and the screened in porch and open air sun deck are perfect spots to relax and take in the views.

Dragon View Studio cottage is another great option for couples — there’s a love seat, club chair and large screened-in porch with sliding glass doors that open to the living space. I love the view from the front screened in porch here. Also worth noting is just how spectacular the sky is at night here; as astronomer lover’s paradise.

Birds are a special attraction on Middle Caicos and osprey pairs nest along the shore and egret flocks take to the sky at sunrise, to feed. The rare West Indian Whistling Duck raises its young here and you can often see Pelicans and Flamingos feeding in ponds, close to the resort.

Beyond the beaches, the views are spectacular in every direction. Below are additional shots of walks you can take on the property.

DETAILS:

Blue Horizon Villas and Cottages 

Mudjin Harbor TKCA 1ZZ
Turks & Caicos Islands

Khombu Waterproof & All Terrain Footwear Make a Great Choice For Travelers

August 8, 2016 by  

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As avid travelers and readers of WBTW, you’ll likely be the kind of traveler who appreciates comfort but doesn’t want to give up style. After all, we bring you unusual and creative styles and fashion through our curation process and try to find brands who do a great job at both. After all, who wants to look like a geek while you’re on the road? You want to feel chic but be comfortable too.

Meet Khombu, a new shoe brand we discovered who also doesn’t believe in sacrificing style for warmth and reliability. Their shoes are really great at dealing with all-terrain and all weather. Their mantra is innovative footwear with unique features and benefits that deliver waterproof and water-friendly protection, exceptional performance and comfort. They offer choices for men, women, and for kids as well, making them a great family travel brand choice for footwear. My favorite for women? The Khombu Molineo which I opted to test out because of it’s combination of functionality, and fun vibrant color.

The first thing I noticed about the Khombu Molineo was its fun factor. Sure, tons of brands have running shoes and trainers in wild vibrant and even neon colors, but what I loved was the richness of the purple combined with high quality material that was obvious even before I put them on. The other thing to note about this shoe is its durability and grip, making it a great shoe for hiking trails and hills.  It is crafted from black and purple scuba knit, which cuts back on the weight of the shoe. I love the adjustable bungee toggle which makes it easy to tighten as you go.   My foot is very narrow so even with medium width shoes, my foot can get a little lost. The Khombu shoes tend to run a little wide, which isn’t a problem for those of us with narrow feet as long as you wear a thicker than average sock or add an inner sole which I do when I wear them.

Want to test them out? Head on over to Amazon to order this vibrantly colored and comfortable gem.

For men, we went with the what they refer to as the Reef Shark 2.0 which comes in a couple of color options. Echoing with what we experienced with the woman’s Molineo shoe, the Reef Shark combines high quality material with comfort. Since they don’t come in half sizes, I’d suggest ordering a half size up from your regular size. We wanted to put these to the test together, so Anthony and I went on a hike up a moderate hill near our house, one which has a combination of grass and dry dirt as we don’t get a lot of wet terrain in the San Francisco Bay Area, at least not recently. The traction was definitely above average (two thumbs up!!) and unlike some of the other outdoor walking shoes in this category, they are very light, which is a nice feature for avid travelers.

This trail walking shoe will also work in less than ideal weather conditions, including water rapids. While the upper is leather, it’s a waterproof leather with a mesh upper for breathability. There’s a perforated cushioned removable insole, a water drainage bottom and like the Molineo, there’s an adjustable bungee lace strap. We love the quick dry materials, one of the features we were thrilled about since it makes for a great buy for adventure travel gurus.  You can order the Reef Shark on Amazon and the price is oh so reasonable!

They have something they refer to as All Season’s Technology and K-Guard is part of that all season’s technology, to help protect your shoes when you’re out in the rain. Their shoes feature memory foam insoles so make it oh so comfy for those longer walks, whether it be on rocks, climbing a hill or while sightseeing in a city. Because they focus on being so crafted for all weather outdoor environments, they have included slip resistant outsoles to really deal with those more complex and wet terrains.

Athletes will love their shoe’s breathability and ventilation, which means that you’ll feel good in them for long periods of time, which is especially useful for travelers who can’t bring tons of shoes with them on a trip. Often a few pairs have to serve multiple purposes, which we believe Khombu does very well, especially if you have an adventure trip planned.

 While we didn’t test out the see Khombu Roost, we thought we’d mention it, as their hybrid sandal training shoe is incredibly breathable. Leather and textile upper feature quick-drying capabilities for a more comfortable foot environment and they have a bungee lace with lock feature for easy adjustability. Additionally, there’s an adjustable back hook-and-loop closure for a more secure fit. Check out the Women’s Roost River Sandals – we love this brand’s comfort for long walks and hikes, so take note nature enthusiasts!
Bravo — more information about their product line can be found at http://www.khombu.com.

Refuge’s Thermal Cycle Spa in Relaxing Carmel-by-the-Sea

August 4, 2016 by  

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Refuge is no ordinary spa. Located in the ever so relaxing town of Carmel, California, a lovely relaxing getaway option around an hour and a half from San Francisco, it is focused on what they refer to as Thermal Cycle: a hot and cold water process mixed with relaxation in between. While they do offer massages, don’t expect pedicures, facials or other traditional spa treatments at this fabulous discovery, a must visit for anyone interested in wellness and mindfulness. First of all, it’s a quiet sanctuary, which means no cell phones or talking – YAY! Secondly, it’s co-ed, so you can experience it with your significant other if you wish.  While it’s all about relaxation and shutting your mind down for awhile, there are apparently significant health benefits to the process. The Refuge experience helps to eliminate toxins from the body and improve your circulation, something I definitely need. (I’m always cold!). If you have high blood pressure, a heart condition, are pregnant or are under the care of a physician for any condition, they suggest checking with your physician first before going to Refuge.

The Process

Here’s what they recommend to take full advantage of the benefits that thermal cycle can provide. First, they suggest you heat up for about 6-10 minutes — there’s a cedar sauna overlooking the waterfalls and a spacious Eucalyptus steam room with a soothing light show (both are co-ed). Next is cool down for only 10-60 seconds — I oped for the 10 second cycle. There’s two cold plunge pools which are about as cold as the ocean (forewarning) and two Nordic cold plunge pools with waterfalls and yup, that’s pretty icy as well….roughly the temperature of a cold river. All the pools are identified by suns and snowflakes, a quirky fun fact worth noting.

One sun means that it’s a warm pool, two suns a hot pool, one snowflake is a cool pool and of course, two snowflakes symbolize a cold pool. Brrrr! My favorite of course was the warm pool and frankly, I felt like I could stay in it all day.   Next up is relaxation time for around 10-15 minutes. There are a bunch of options here on the premises, from a silent relaxation area with Adirondack chairs and fire pits that overlook the Santa Lucia Preserve to three indoor relaxation sanctuaries with zero gravity recliners and serene music. In between cycles, they suggest taking in some of the other options available: 3 sparkling UV cleansed, warm pools with thermal (YES) waterfalls, and 3 sparkling UV cleansed hot pools with thermal waterfalls. Skipping any one of these steps apparently lessens the overall experience and the benefits. Relaxation time can be either outside or in btw — your preference. I would recommend doing both!!

Benefits

Refuge says that there are many health benefits to the process. It is meant to improve cardiovascular performance by opening the body’s vascular system, flush the body of toxins, relax your muscles and enhance muscle recuperation, soothe aches and pains, release endorphines which allow your mind and body to settle into a euphorically relaxed state, regulate body temperature and relieves sinus congestion. The process can also help to burn more calories and increase your metabolism. And, overall, it is designed to boost your immune system and reinforce your natural defenses, helping you to better ward off illness and disease in your body.

They suggest repeating these steps 3-5 times and allocating a few hours for a visit. We spent the better part of an entire afternoon here and I wished we had more time. The steam room was one of the better steam rooms I’ve experienced in years — if you have a cold, allergies or suffer from seasonal sinus issues, a strong steam room with Eucalyptus is the way to go and this one was top notch!  So many steam rooms just don’t use Eucalyptus and it’s such a great remedy for so many ailments. Steam inhalation is helpful to ease symptoms such as nasal congestion in people with upper respiratory tract infections. Besides clearing congestion and mucus, the heat supposedly helps to kill off the cold virus an d Eucalyptus oil is thought to help loosen mucus.

A Summary of the Process

DETAILS:

Refuge

27300 Rancho San Carlos Road

Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923

831-620-7360

3 Off-the-Beaten Path Theater Acts in San Francisco

August 3, 2016 by  

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If you’er a music lover, you’ll want to take note of three theaters doing some creative work in San Francisco. I’m a huge fan of Broadway, jazzy tunes and Cabaret and while New York might “own” that world, it doesn’t mean you can’t find some compelling performances elsewhere in the country. Recently, I took in three different acts all of which has great talent behind the productions. Let’s start with Cabaret vocalist Sandra McKnight who has an act she calls Get Happy Now, which is centered around happiness.

She sang at Society Cabaret, an organization that is churning out some great performances in the heart of San Francisco. On piano was David Austin who is also Musical Director. An uninhibited celebration of Happiness, Love and Joy! Sandra brought her warmth, spirit and humor from Santa Fe, NM to perform her musical adventure of Broadway songs, Standards and Light-hearted Anecdotes. Tunes by Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Kander & Ebb, Carole King, James Taylor, Sophie Tucker.  All things Cabaret, she chooses very sensitive and emotional ballads on love, joy, relationships, including with yourself, and happiness. As part of her act, she also does a sexy red-hot tribute to Sophie Tucker.  

Inside, it’s intimate and yet traditional, where you sit around very small tables to watch the performance; the venue is so small that there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. There offer small plates, cocktails, wine and beer so you have dinner on-site if you wish.

 

DETAILS:

Society Cabaret

636 Jackson Street

(Between Powell & Mason)

San Francisco, CA 

Performing at the Firescape Theater is a production called Emmitt & Ava, which was written and directed by Dominic Hoffman and produced by Robert Zimmerman. it’s a small cast, with Thomas Cokenias playing Wyatt Cooke, Norman Gee playing Eban Carter, Eric Reid playing Evan Carter and Danielle Thys playing Emma Cooke.

It is a contemporary tale of misunderstanding between two families who, prompted by tragedy. A humorous and yet tragic tale, Wyatt and Emma Cooke return home only to receive a visit from a stranger. But what’s even more startling is their realization that this surprise guest will impact their lives forever. Now two families find themselves highly motivated to communicate with each other in the wake of tragedy.

The play deals with race relations and tensions between a white family whose daughter was dating the son of a black family, only that the white family never knew it until a tragic car accident happens and both are killed. Both families grasp at hope, try to deal with sorrow and grief, while coming together to make sense of it all. Conflict erupts between races in a beautifully authentic but raw way that all of us, whether black or white, can resonate with, especially if you’re over 40. The timing of this theme is fitting with growing tensions in America and is sure to pull on your heartstrings. Emmitt & Ava weaves some humor into its tale of woe, providing perspective on life and how we cope with hardship. It shows each side’s world and perspective, and in their sorrow, you grieve with them for the loss of their children and for the blatant reality check that race relations in this country still has a long way to go.

For more information, visit http://www.bhpsanfrancisco.com/. 

DETAILS:

Firescape Theater

414 Mason Street

San Francisco, CA 94102

If you’re an entertainment fan, especially of unusually interesting and creative performances, you’ll love the alternative Cabaret mash-ups that Misfit Cabaret puts together in San Francisco. We recently went to their latest show, which is held at Great Star Theater. Located on Jackson Street in the heart of China Town, there are 14 local Chinese and Asian restaurants on the same block, making it easy and fun to grab a bite to eat before or after the show.

Misfit Cabaret is a splendiferous variety show centered around magical music with a rotating cast of eccentric performers. Each show is completely different– with changing themes such as the cult filmed Cinepheilia and the naughty nautical WhimseaFrom burlesque to drag to circus to magic, you never know what you’re going to see.  I love the concept and we had a boat loada fun. Some people get dressed up to match the theme and later, a couple of dozen people get dragged up onto the stage to dance to the last song with the rest of the crew and performers. For each new Misfit Cabaret, emcee Kat Robichaud writes two original songs keeping with the theme of the evening and plays them with her Darling Misfit band, as well as a special medley to kick off the evening and welcome in the spirits of San Francisco’s saucy past. There’s comedy, romance, and bawdiness around every corner. We loved her tribute to David Bowie song which she sang at the performance last week.

There’s Prosecco, beer and wine on-site as well as popcorn to add to the evening’s festivities and later, beach balls were thrown into the audience just to mix things up a bit and add to the fun. Another fun factoid to note is that the very old and very authentic Great Star Theater, a local underground miscreant, is meant to be haunted. For more info, go to http://www.katrobichaud.com/ and click on Misfit Cabaret or simply google Misfit Cabaret. They’re having a “bloody” themed one in October so be on the look out (venues changed however) but more info on the Great Star Theater and performances there can be found at http://www.greatstartheater.org. 

DETAILS:

Great Star Theater

636 Jackson Street

San Francisco, CA 94133

 

Eat Creative & Organic Fare at Carmel-by-the-Sea’s Basil

August 1, 2016 by  

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If you read us regularly, you know we’re huge fans of farm-to-table dining, organic food, restaurants who source from local farms and chefs and establishment owners who pay attention to where food comes from. We care and applaud restaurants who take the time to think through their menus, buy high quality organic ingredients and support nearby communities and farmers.

Meet one of our new favorite chefs: Soerke Peters, who’s the co-owner and main chef at Basil Seasonal Dining just off the main drag in Carmel-by-the-Sea California. Nestled in the middle of an alley off the main shopping street (get there early to view for creative window shopping and cafes), this cute and casual, but authentic and local gem features locally grown produce and organic ingredients. A certified Green European style restaurant, Basil boasts a seasonally rotating menu, which also features gluten-free and vegan alternatives. They also have an elegantly curated list of local wines to complement their fresh, wild and sustainable seafood and grass-fed beef, which have been raised on family-owned ranches.

“It’s never wrong to to do the right thing…..go green.” — Chef Soerke Peters

The place has a whole lotta charm, first and foremost because it’s tiny and has warm inviting paintings on the wall, including a large photo of Chef Soerke Peters himself. They compensate for their small space by having a large outside dining area in a quaint courtyard and they have heat lamps for those who get cold easily.

We sat inside by the window to do a l’il people watching while we waited for courses to come, starting with a little pure basil with garlic, olive oil, and spinach sampler. Whenever meatballs are on the menu as an appetizer, I have to oblige — it’s just one of my things, a bit like my positive relationship with oysters. Their Lamb Meatballs did not dissappoint, prepared with red onions and fresh goat cheese. Blissful!!

The local Monterey Abalone small plate is scrumptious as well. He prepares this dish with vermouth, parsnip puree, sweet corn and an asparagus-potato hash. Note that they tend to use a lot of potatoes in their dishes here, but done in new, fresh and creative ways. Basil too of course!

While we didn’t try it, the Duck Liver-Pear Pate had me at hello and I would have ordered it if the Grilled Quail wrapped in Bacon and the Grilled Octopus from Spain wasn’t calling our names even louder. The Octopus looks like it was pulled fresh from the boat an hour ago (literally),but if you grew up in an Italian household where your grandmother served Octopus with those crazy white delicious Cannellini beans, then you’ll be all over this dish. He gets his beans from Coke Farms nearby and drizzles it with Quail and Olive basil oil. Couple that with warm cherry tomatoes and you’ll be one happy camper.

Because I love salads and don’t feel a meal is complete without one, we went for the California Fig Salad, which he does with Wild Arugula, Point Reyes blue cheese, a Quail and Olive Ambrosia vinaigrette and toasted walnuts. YUM! Beet lovers will be happy to know that he offers a fresh organic Roasted Beet Salad with Belgian Endive, arugula, goat cheese, walnuts and Quail and Olive raspberry vinaigrette.

Since we tend to keep our carb intake in check, we didn’t opt for the homemade Corn Ravioli, although it sounded oh so lovely — it’s a saffron pasta made with radicchio double smoked bacon and a marjoram-butter sauce. Pasta lovers listen up — he also does a Black Squid Ink Linguine with Monterey Bay squid and a Mendocino sea urchin sauce. WOW! Meat lovers beware — there are Beef Cheeks which have been braised for five hours and house-made Lamb-Black Garlic Sausages with a summer vegetable ragout on the menu, which we watched our neighbors devour with smiles on their faces. Soerke has been experimenting a lot with goat over the past year and gets two goats in a month, no older than 8 months old, which apparently is key to ensuring your goat dishes are fresh and tender.

He whipped up a special Braised Goat Shoulder dish for us with creamy polenta, the polenta so smooth it just melted in our mouths. Add to this scrumptious treat, local Chantelle mushrooms and Broccolini and we are still thinking of this flavorful dish over a week later. We paired it with a delicious Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon, which was oh so perfect. If you go here – and I’d strongly recommend you add it to your Carmel Restaurant Must List – be sure to order whatever Goat Inspiration he has on the menu for the evening. You won’t be disappointed!!

It’s worth noting their Organic Beer Selection, which includes IPA’s, Belgian Blonde Ales and Lagers from Salt Lake City Utah. Their cocktails are apparently memorable as well — don’t miss out on their Signature Cocktail, the Passion Fruit Basil-Tini, which is made with rum, passion fruit and fresh Basil. For dessert, we went with the Olallieberry Cobbler, which they top with homemade Vanilla Gelato. Prior to that, Soerke came out with a bowl of his Vanilla Gelato which he poured some Basil Olive Oil over while we watched, mouths drooling – OMG! This combination was to die for, so much so that I polished it off on my own and left the cobbler for Anthony. It was so so so divine!

Because of Soerke’s German influence, they have Apple Strudel on the menu, which our waitress whose nickname is apparently Ice Cream, strongly recommended – think Fuji Apples, Figs, Pine Nuts, Vanilla Sauce and whipped cream. Also imagine some homemade Gelato with Amaretto cookies and a shot of Danesi Espresso or if you don’t shy away from the carbs like we do, then for the Italian Bread Pudding, which is a warm flan with Brioche Bread Panettone and Port Wine with a poached pear. Alternatively, you could opt for the Limoncello Cheese Cake with fresh Berry Compote or traditional Creme Brulee. They also have a local cheese plate with nuts, honey and dried fruits or if you want to keep it light after a big meal, then go for a simple Olallieberry Rhubarb Sorbet, which is heavenly — two thumbs up!!

DETAILS:

Basil Seasonal Dining

San Carlos Between Ocean & 7th

Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921

831.626.8226

www.basilcarmel.com 

 

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