Monday, October 20, 2014

Kevin Gatto, Verde Salon, Fall Hair Trends & Blowdry Bootcamp

#500DaysOfBeauty! Day 29!

I recently sat down with Kevin Gatto,  Stylist and Owner of Verde Salon in Collingswood, New Jersey, to discuss fall and winter hair trends and discuss his upcoming Blowdry Bootcamp on October 21.


Q: What inspired you to begin your own hair care line?

A: As a salon owner, it was becoming increasingly frustrating to see the same brands we were selling in the salon in big box stores. We wanted something special and unique for our guests that helped solve some of the hair challenges we were hearing from them.

I work with a fantastic lab in Australia and created the K. Gatto Signature Hair Care Collection. It's packaged with 100% recycled materials and bio-degradable labels and free from sulfates, parabens, ethoxylates, paragons, propylene glycol, petrochemical cleansers, silicones, phthalates, DEA and artificial colors.

Q:What is the best part / ingredient of the shampoo/ conditioner?

 A: We use Palm Kernel Oil (Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate). This ingredient demonstrates outstanding performance in cleansing, foaming, wetting, viscosity building and emulsification. 

It is an excellent surfactant for any water hardness and is biodegradable - making it a versatile ingredient in our formulation. It was specifically developed to be mild to all skin types including infants. This sulfate-free surfactant is derived naturally from palm kernel oil, which is then condensed with a mild form of naturally occurring vinegar. (Not to be confused with a sulfate).

Q: What is the Blowdry boot camp about? 

A: Many of our guests ask us how to make their hair look the way we do it in the salon. 

The Blowdry Boot Camp gives us the opportunity to teach easy, at-home techniques our guests can use to style their own hair that will be more effective, last longer and keep their hair healthy. We ask that each guest who attends the event bring their products and tools (dryer, brushes, irons, etc.) from home so we can evaluate what they are using and determine if what they are using is the best for their hair texture, type and desired look. We will be adding other boot camps to our calendar in 2015 including braiding, updo and makeup classes.  


Q: What are the trending fall and winter hairstyles and looks?

A: The LOB (Long Bob) is the hot haircut of the season. To add some glamour to the look, we are doing old-fashioned glamour, roller sets to give that old Hollywood vintage feel to it. Hair color is rich and vibrant through the winter season. 

We are seeing a trend of violet and purple tones. From all over purple blondes to mahogany brunettes, there is a hue that works for just about anyone. Balayage highlights are increasingly in demand as clients want a softer look.  

Q: What can a person do to keep his/her style fresh thru the cold snowy season?

A: Using the right at-home maintenance products such as shampoo, conditioner and styling products will keep your hair healthy. 

There is a difference between true healthy hair and hair that has a coating of silicone in it to feel healthy. Hair can also feel drier during the winter months so using a moisture-based shampoo and conditioner that is balanced  with hydration and protein will keep hair from getting static or flyaway.

I also recommend skipping a day or two between shampoos. It helps your color last longer, and you can use dry shampoo to freshen up in between washing. Regular haircuts are also important. Every 6 to 8 weeks your ends should be trimmed to keep them from splitting and making your hair susceptible to the damaging elements of winter weather. A good keratin treatment will help as well, they are not just for the summer.

Q: What's your favorite part about fall?

A: Personally, I love the cooler weather and the change in fashion and beauty trends. Fashion becomes all about the accessories and layering of different looks, and to me, hair is the ultimate accessory to change up for the season.

Thank you Kevin! 

Sign up for the BlowdryBootcamp or contact Verde for an appointment today! 


Friday, October 17, 2014

Phoenixville's PumpkinFest October 18

This has been one of the busiest Octobers on record, and with it, great fall produce and abundant sunshine.

Along with that, I love living in a small town. I feel Phoenixville is a bit like the Gilmore Girls fictional town ofStars Hollow, with the local fun and town festivals, like the Autumn Festival. We have our own version here in Phoenixville, Chester County, it’s PumpkinFest!


Pumpkin painting and carving contests, pumpkin derby, local farms and vendors, food, lives music, and games & prizes await the downtown area of Bridge and Main streets on October 18, but there’s another reason it is so excited- for the winner of the Best Pumpkin Dish will be named!


Since September 20th, when Phoenixville hosts its Restaurant Week, customers could try a dish and text their vote of their favorite pumpkin dish to the festival directors. Who will win?!


Thai L’ Elephant – Thai Pumpkin Curry with Chicken & Shrimp - a creamy spicy curry with flavorful chicken, shrimp, and vegetables and a sweet heat at the finish. 


Marly’s BYO -Pumpkin Braised Beef Lettuce Wrap with Caramelized Pumpkin & Sirachai Pumpkin Mayo - this tender, flavorful braised beef melts in your mouth, while the sirachai pumpkin mayo heats things up. The red cabbage added a nice sweet crunch. 

Pepperoncini – Bacon and Sage Pumpkin Soup- a creamy meld of pumpkin and sage, with toasted pumpkin seeds atop. 


Bistro On Bridge – Pumpkin Ribs & Apple Slaw-Delish slow-cooked ribs with pumpkin and spices, and vinegary apple slaw with some spice. 

Molly Maguire’s – Pumpkin & Sweet Potato Hash – diced pancetta over baked pumpkin and sweet potato with a fried egg on top- an interesting mixture of fall flavors, with squash chipotle soup and pumpkiny candied walnuts. 


There are two ways for the participating restaurants to win, through the best pumpkin dish by chosen as one of the judges (me and my fellow foodies) and then the people’s choice during the October 18 festival.

See you there


Special thanks to all the amazing restaurants who participated in Pumpkin fest’s Best Pumpkin Dish 2014 contest!

Nikolas at Logan Inn, New Hope, Bucks County

I’m bummed when summer is over, but I do love Fall. I have especially loved this year so far; lots of sun-drenched weekends and crisp morning with warm days.


One of my favorite places to soak up the Fall ambiance is in New Hope, PA, Bucks County. 

New Hope is a gorgeous little village on the banks of the Delaware River, across from Lambertville and full of elegance and charm. Come for the day, but try to stay the entire weekend! Bed & Breakfasts, boutique hotels, farm-to-table restaurants and shopping abound, in addition to the culture- music, shows, bands, and sightseeing.


One such place to stop and enjoy yourself while taking in the passers-by on River Road (the main drag) isLogan Inn. Situated at Ferry Street and River Road, you can stay overnight at the Logan Inn, or you can sit outside at the bar, Logan Terrace and relax, or if you are looking for more upscale dining, sit inside in the wraparound covered porch to dine at the Mediterranean-inspired Nikolas. Sample dishes from Spain, Greece, Italy, and Turkey, dining on prime meats and fresh seafood.


My fiancé and I sat indoor one such day when a storm was rolling in over the river, and then we were treated to a delightful rainbow. We relaxed immediately as our server put us at ease, and ordered glasses of white wine. We decided on the Prix Fixe four course dinner, with any appetizer or soup, and a salad, an plus the entree and that also included our dessert with coffee.


I went for the seafood soup, as I can never pass up seafood, which was light and silky with plenty of seafood to satisfy me. Stephen enjoyed the baked brie, with imported brie wrapped in phyllo dough, resting atop raspberry sauce with fruit. This was richly delicious.


We then both enjoyed the beet salad, which I can never get enough of! This inspired take on beets included candied walnuts, red and golden beets over greens with a crisp vinaigrette and goat cheese was fresh and appealing.


Our main course arrived in due time, as we were enjoying the calming ambiance and the passers-by and the rainbow over the river. I dined on Surf & Turf, and Stephen enjoyed the fish dish- a whole fish with lemon and olive oil over Swiss chard, fava puree, and spinach/rice pilaf. My lobster was sweet and juicy, and the filet mignon was cooked to perfection with mushrooms and veggies.


Dessert was a happy confection of chocolate and coffee. We had a wonderful time just relaxing over the remainder of our meal and enjoying the ambiance of the older building and watching the people go by and the river as the evening sky turned dark.


Now, Logan Inn is prepping for winter by introducing their drain the kegs card! The beer kegs ned to be emptied by winter, and they need help. They have 16 gourmet beers on tap- like, Tucher Helles, Chimay, Ommegang, Allagash,and more. Stop by the Logan Terrace bar and buy a Keg Card for just $10.  With your purchase, you'll get two drafts of your choice for free.  Then show your Keg Card whenever you stop by the Logan Terrace bar and get half off these gourmet beers. Great for Fall!



Thank you to Sharon Fast and her team at Logan Inn and Nikolas.





Address: 10 W Ferry St, New Hope, PA 18938

Phone:(215) 862-2300

Monday, October 13, 2014

Warmth and Charm in a Cup of Tea: The Talking Teacup

Steve and I were on our way to New Hope to enjoy one of our favorite places- the Inn at Bowman’s Hill. So on the way there, we stopped in Chalfont for our favorite beverage- tea!

The Talking Teacup is the cutest teashop I have ever been in. When we arrived, we walked under a flowering arbor to the entryway, full of tea ware and tea gifts, tea and books, and then into the dining room. A quiet unassuming place where we knew we could relax. In the dining room, we were seated in a cozy nook next to the fireplace. The décor is beautiful and homey, and felt quite relaxing. The Talking Teacup is housed in a 250 year-old farmhouse and has a country ambiance.

Our server was a total sweetie, explaining all the teas and munchies and brought everything out with speed and efficiency especially after I asked for more Devonshire cream!
Stephen and I each had giant chocolate chip scones with some finger sandwiches of chicken salad, egg salad, herbs and cucumber and a Waldorf spread. We also enjoyed a hearty teacup of soup. 

To drink, I had a robust English breakfast blend, while he enjoyed a fine oolong and I enjoyed a gunpowder green tea. The Harney and Sons assortment of The Talking Teacup teas is impressive, so try as many as you can! They are also available for purchase, as well as available seasonal blends.

The best part about our afternoon as speaking with Kathy, the owner of The Talking Teacup. A brilliant and charming woman, she knows business and knows her tea. More than that- she knows her customers. A smile and good food for everyone is truly a treat. Kathy told us about the history of the building and how she came to run this glorious little tea gem in Bucks County.

Kathy, along with her business partner Roberta Adam, renovated the house and property, and opened their business, The Talking Teacup, Ltd in the 250+ year old Farm House on November 1st, 2003. They turned this stately old farmhouse to a full service tea room and gift shop and are intent on serving up relaxation,  smiles and delicious cups of tea!

The Talking Teacup is a finalist on the 2014 Food & Drink: Best Kept Secret Bucks Happening List.
The Talking Teacup Tea Room and Gift Shoppe is located at 301 West Butler Ave., Chalfont PA 18914 (Old Rt 202). They accept reservations for private parties, meeting, events, parties, showers. Check website for full times and reservations.

 Photographs by Stephen Trimble. 

Special Thanks to Kathy at The Talking Teacup and Jessica Lawlor at the Bucks County Visitors Bureau.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Taste of Britain, Indeed: A Tearoom Review

Mmm tea. In scones, in my cup, in my blender, in my iced mug. I love tea all ways but none other than within afternoon tea. When I found out about A Taste of Britain in Wayne, PA, my fiancé Stephen and I took a gorgeous Saturday drive to Wayne, and to enjoy a lazy, relaxing, delicious afternoon!

Owner Debbie Heth knows tea, and with delicious fresh loose leaf teas from prime tea regions, I knew that our lunch was going to be special. We arrived at this gorgeous restful place off Route 30, tucked among other cute shops and headed in.
When we first stepped in, the entrance was set up as an English country store, with delicacies and sweets not normally found in the US, only in Britain. Cadbury Milk Trays, Spotted Dick, shortbreads, digestives, treacle, pasties, clotted cream and specialty teas are all available for purchase, along with a special selection of tea ware and Royal Family items.
After being seated in a cozy table in a patch of sunshine, Steve and I viewed the menu. We both chose our teas, him with a hot pot of rich Assam, and me with the sweet and powerful white and green tea blended with pomegranate. The Assam is a full-bodied tea with hints of malt and when cream and sugar is added, is a delightfully smooth cup of tea. My tea exploded on my tongue with fresh, sweet, flavors. I didn’t even need to add anything to my tea! We each drank about three pots of our tea with our meals.
We both decided on the pasties for lunch. I chose the savory cheese and onion within a tender pastry and a salad, while Stephen enjoyed the rich ground beef and potato pasty with baked beans. This lunch was truly a savory, delicious experience.
For dessert, we enjoyed lemon scones, and an assortment of treats: sweet petit fours, mini vanilla cupcakes with sweet icing, fudgy brownie bites and tart lemon and raspberry bars.
The entire lunchtime experience was relaxing and delicious. One of my favorite places for sure!
A Taste of Britain also hosts many events per year- Mother’s Day Tea, Valentine’s Day Tea, Winter Tea, private parties such an birthdays or showers, and also does catering for an event within the shoppe or within your home.
You can find A Taste of Britain within the Eagle Village Shops, 503 West Lancaster Avenue, Wayne, PA.
Call for reservations at 610-971-0390


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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fun and Elegance at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon Afternoon Tea

In my travels, I always go to Washington DC once or twice a year. The museums, the culture, the food- I love it all!

Recently my fiance' and I spent the weekend in DC, staying at our favorite hotel, the Ritz-Carlton! Impeccable service, gorgeous rooms, close by to the Mall and the downtown and longer stroll to my favorite neighborhood, Georgetown.

My focus of this trip was to see family, drink tea and relax with Stephen. I was on a tea-buying trip and wanted to experience different teas in the DC setting.

Our hotel offered some amazing tea. A special blend was send up for Stephen and I in the afternoon to refresh us, and we got to sample the special cherry blossom blend as well. At night, I still had an extra teabag so room service brought up a fresh hot pot of water so I could make ourselves a cuppa or two before bedtime.

Friday and Saturday we visited the museums and shopped in Georgetown where I bought several teas- oolong and black teas- and saw family in Arlington, then on Sunday before we left we enjoyed another delicious room service breakfast in our gorgeously appointed room.

Note- If you have never stayed at a Ritz, get yourself to the Ritz Carlton Washington DC. It is the ultimate in comfort and luxury! And the people- so professional and accommodating. I never ever stay anywhere else in DC.

So, on Sunday we headed back to Arlington to pick up Stephen’s two cousins and off we went to afternoon tea at the Ritz Carlton Pentagon City, overlooking the Potomac River and next to the Pentagon City Mall.

We were seated in the cool, stylish dining room next to a fireplace with high comfy couches and a square low table. The kids, Anthony and Genevieve were very excited to be out with Aunt Christine and Uncle Stephen!

The tea began with us choosing our beverages- creamy hot chocolate for the kids and a tropical, woody, green Chinese Sencha called L’Oriental for Stephen, and a green tea with lemongrass, lime, ginger and lemon for myself, called The Vert Jasmin. All the loose teas are designed exclusively for the Ritz win collaboration with Damman Freres Premium Tea Makers. Stephen and I also enjoyed a glass of champagne.

Then came a tiered tower of treats for us all- gooey brownies and gingerbread teddy bears for the kids, lemon tarlets and exquisite chocolate rolls for the adults. The chef came out and personally thanked the kids for coming in, giving them each a wrapped tower of specialty cookies in flavors such as mint chocolate chip, white chocolate macadamia, and chewy cinnamon oatmeal raisin.
(I got cookies too. I asked ☺) 

The Pastry Sous Chef Steven Sechoka said he creates everything from scratch, and wants each patron to enjoy their meal in the freshest way possible. For afternoon tea, he works with the tea makers to pair the tea seamlessly with the edible delights he creates daily. This man is a true artist!

We also enjoyed mini scones in lemon and chocolate chips, with savory sandwiches of tuna, cream cheese, cucumber and more. Each sandwich was more delicious than the last!

Alas, tea came to end and we were given more treats and bottles of water for our ride home. 
After dropping off the kids to their parents and hugging everyone goodbye, we began our trek back to PA.

What a gorgeous weekend! We’ll be back, DC!

You can enjoy Afternoon Tea at the Pentagon City Ritz Carlton on Saturday: 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. and
Sunday: 3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. at 1250 South Hayes Street in Arlington, Virginia.

Special thanks to Michele Klarman and Nicholas Hines!!