NYC Spa Day!

NYC Spa Day!

If you’re living in the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, spa days are essential to peace of mind and body — especially during the craziness of the holiday season. Whether it’s for a one-hour facial or a full day of treatments, here are a few of my NYC faves: Bliss Spa I’ve been a regular at the SoHo location for a long time. The “fabulous facial” really is fabulous. And your aesthetician will be glad to discuss products, to ensure you’re only using cruelty-free. Word to the wise: book well in advance, especially if you’re hoping for an appointment this time of year. It was here that a woman gave me the advice that I still follow today: “Honey, you have to plan and book your year.” Other New York locations on West 57th and at the W Hotel on 49th Street. La Casa Day Spa This spa on East 20th Street focuses on Ayurvedic principles of detoxification, which speaks to the yogini in me. I’m also a huge fan of the body wraps here. But my favorite service, which I’ve always added to whatever else I have going on: floatation, where you practically levitate in a a tub of water filled with mineralized salts. Besides the detoxification and relaxation it provides, a session of such quiet and stillness can be a wonderful meditative experience. Sweet Lily Natural Nail Spa & Boutique This nail salon in TriBeCa uses all-natural, animal-friendly products such as Zoya nail polishes. Holiday Shopping  Idea! Gift certificates for a manicure or massage where they use cruelty-free products make terrific gifts and stocking...
The Social & Sexy Vegan: Condoms!

The Social & Sexy Vegan: Condoms!

Since I’ve been focusing on the social life this week, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include a bit on vegan condoms. The mention of vegan condoms usually prompts some puzzled looks. Aren’t all condoms vegan?  So, here’s the scoop: although latex does indeed come from rubber trees, most condoms also are made with an animal by-product called casein, which is derived from milk. Here are some options for the sexy vegan: Glyde Condoms These condoms have been around for quite some time, and they still seem to be the most readily available here and abroad. In addition to regular condoms, Glyde offers a variety of flavors such as Strawberry and Licorice. You can purchase these on Glyde’s web site or from other online stores catering to the vegan crowd, such as  The Sensual Vegan and Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe. Sir Richard’s Condom Company This brand is my recent find. The company is based in Boulder, Colorado, and the condoms are available for purchase online and in select stores. I picked up a 3-condom variety pack at Food Fight vegan grocery in Portland. Styles available: classic ribbed, ultra-thin, extra-large, and “pleasure dots.” What’s super-cool about this company: it has established a “buy-one, give one” program: for every condom someone purchases, Sir Richard’s donates a condom to a developing country. Bonus tip! To spice things up, The Sensual Vegan and Babeland (search “vegan”) offer fun “sexccessories” — everything from vegan lubricants to faux-fur...
Personal Care Products by J/A/S/O/N

Personal Care Products by J/A/S/O/N

A few weeks ago, I was running low on toothpaste and wasn’t going to make it to Trader Joe’s until the weekend (my usual toothpaste brand). So there I was in Whole Foods checking out some other options, and I chose the Fennel toothpaste made by J/A/S/O/N Natural Products. I liked it so much that I decided to try some other J/A/S/O/N products, hoping I’d discover some new favorites to share with you. J/A/S/O/N offers a range of natural products for personal care that are blends of plants, herbs, and minerals. All the products are free of animal by-products, and J/A/S/O/N does not use animal testing. Another nice thing about this line: all of the products are moderately priced, so choosing cruelty-free will more easily fit the budget! My personal picks: Fennel Premium Toothpaste Sea Fresh Mouthwash (spearminty!) Naturally Fresh Fragrance-Free Deodorant Stick Kids Natural Sunblock SPF 45 (for my sweetie-pie nephew!) Other products by J/A/S/O/N include body and haircare products, shaving lotion, and hand sanitizers. You can find local shops that carry J/A/S/O/N products on the company’s web site, or purchase by using the online...
One Lucky Duck

One Lucky Duck

Some of my NYC friends already may be familiar with the raw vegan restaurant Pure Food & Wine. If you haven’t been there yet, now is the perfect time of year to enjoy a meal at Pure, with its backyard-garden dining — great food and a great vibe!  Among the dishes to try: King Oyster Mushroom Scallops in Lemongrass Coconut Broth,  Sweet Corn & Cashew Tamales with Chili Spiced Portabella, and — dessert! — the Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart: pecan caramel, dark chocolate ganache, sea salt, and vanilla cream. And Pure, staying true to its full name, has a fantastic wine list, all vegan-friendly. But the fabulousness of Pure  is not limited to Irving Place, thanks to their One Lucky Duck Juice & Takeaway locations in Gramercy Park and Chelsea. Also, for those of us not in New York at the moment, there’s a whole host of treats available via the One Lucky Duck online store. Offering so much more than just gastronomical delights, other shopping categories are Glow (cosmetics, bath & body),Wear (hemp hoodies and bamboo baby socks!), Nest (books, kitchen appliances, and… an infrared sauna for $3,395), and Pet (see my purchases below). My recent little online splurge: One Lucky Duck Blonde Macaroons One Lucky Duck Buckwheat & Hemp Granola SkinnySkinny’s “Fetching” Dog Shampoo Biodegradable “Business Bags” by Spike Simply Fido Organic Pup Toy Since I’m in Tucson and it soon will be nearing the usual summertime 100 degrees again, I decided to pass on the sauna for...

Alba Botanica Skincare, Body, & Bath

When it comes to cosmetics and skin care products, trying out new things can be a sensitive subject. Literally. I cannot tell you how many terrific products I discovered when I was making the conscious switch to cruelty-free that went the wayside (translation: I gave them to my mother) because my sensitive skin decided to rebel like the skin of an adolescent. So, although I try new products from time to time, I’m hesitant to rock the boat, and I have to try things out one at a time. Mostly, at this point,I stick with what I’ve found works. Admittedly, many of the products are not what one might call thrifty. However, I really like the products I’ve used by Alba Botanica, and I continue to try new products by this line from time to time. It’s easy enough to do because the products are not expensive and they’re available at the local stores, like Walgreens. Some of my faves by Alba Botanica: Pineapple Enzyme Facial Wash Coconut Milk Facial Wash Deep Sea Facial Mask Natural Acne-dote, Deep Pore Wash Papaya Mango Body Cream Aloe Mint Foam Shave All the above products range in price from $6.95 to $12.95. Alba does not test their products on animals or ingredients on animals… and they don’t have any other companies doing it for them (always a sneaky maneuver to watch out for, especially in cosmetics and household products). Alba Botanica also makes hair care, sun care, body care, and lip care...

Santa Barbara favorites, old and new

Sometimes I feel like I live a charmed life because I get to spend time in such charming places. Santa Barbara is one of those places. My first visit was back in 2005 and, since then, it’s become something of a second yoga home for me: Santa Barbara Yoga Center offers advanced studies and yoga teacher training, and it’s where I’ve chosen to do some of my specialized trainings — Prenatal Yoga, Kids Yoga, Yin Yoga and, this weekend, a meditation training. Each time I visit, I can count on a weekend of rejuvenation, whether I’m puddle-jumping like this past Friday night or walking along State Street in the sunshine (Sunday morning). When I’m not in the yoga room, I love exploring the shops and restaurants and, of course, taking some time to walk along the beach and smell the salt in the air. I have quite a few little favorite spots in this town, and I’m always finding someplace new when I visit to add to my list of favorites. Here’s a few to check out if you’re lucky enough to visit SB yourself anytime soon! Spiritland Bistro Of all the fantastic restaurants, this is the one I make sure I visit at least once anytime I’m in town. The intimate atmosphere, which always features works by local artists, is the perfect setting for a wonderful, all-organic meal. The very first time I visited in 2005, I was curious to try my first “raw” dish ever: I went with the Raw Spinach Mushroom Lasagna, and it was a marvelous gastronomical awakening! Rather than layers of pasta noodles, the lasagna is comprised of...