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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Loving the Ritual of (Good!) Karma from Rituals Cosmetics!

"Ritual of Karma" TryaBox

As a member of Tryazon:, the really excellent sampling program, I have been privileged to enjoy several "TryaBoxes" of Rituals Cosmetics bath products, and I think this one – the “Relaxation at Home” Ritual of Karma set- is my favorite! I actually learned about Rituals through Tryazon, and was first able to enjoy testing their Ritual of Sakura, with its delightful light cherry blossom scent that really brought back our Honeymoon days in Kyoto, Japan for me, and then their Ritual of Dao set, and I thoroughly enjoyed them both- and reviewed them on this blog: Ritual of Dao:  Ritual of Sakura: 

This time I had the opportunity to try the Ritual of Karma, and I was seriously quite excited, as heaven knows we could all use some Good Karma right now, right?!  But I Was wondering: what does Karma (the good kind, naturally) smell like?! Spoiler Alert: Good Karma smells GREAT! Scented with Holy Lotus and White Tea, the Ritual of Karma fragrance is in the floral category, but way more interesting than “just” a floral scent. All the products truly smell delicious, and I truly look forward to getting into the bath with them!  The philosophy behind the “Ritual of Karma” products is that, “according to ancient Hindu belief, living with good intent attracts good karma. Say good words, think good thoughts, do good deeds, and keep the circle positive, because ultimately, you reap what you sow!” Sounds like just what we all need right about now, yes?! The Ritual of Karma collection aims to help you immerse yourself in the positive vibes of summer all year round, instantly enhancing your mood, and making you radiate "positive vibes", as well as a great scent!

There's a delightful little video on You Tube that shows how the Ritual of Karma can make you feel:

Ritual of Karma Sugar Scrub
I have especially grown to love Rituals' Sugar Scrubs and Foaming Bath Gels, so I was delighted to be able try the Ritual of Karma Sugar Scrub:, and Foaming Bath Gel: well as the Body Cream: the three products really make for a delightful “spa” experience at home! It is “relaxation in a box”! Add a bath tub pillow, a scented candle (and yes, there is a Karma Candle...), and a glass of wine, and you are All Set!
This would be a GREAT gift for a good friend, too- I can't imagine anyone not loving this- and as Rituals products are not overly expensive, you can afford to treat friends, as well as yourself! 
The Ritual of Karma Sugar Scrub, which is enriched with holy lotus, almond oil, and jojoba, is an absolute delight! I not only use it on my body- especially feet and knees and elbows- but as an exfoliator on my face and neck- it's that good! I MUCH prefer sugar scrubs to salt scrubs, as they never burn the way salt can, and so I truly enjoy Rituals' sugar scrubs. The scrub is made with fine sugar that has just enough exfoliating power to be effective without being rough, and it dissolves into your skin quickly and leaves it feeling silky smooth.
Ritual of Karma Foaming Bath Gel
The Ritual of Karma Foaming Bath Gel is super creamy and deliciously sensual! I have used a lot of bath gels in my time, and I have to say that Rituals makes the ones I like best! Their gel-to-foam technology is truly unique, and their foaming bath gels are the creamiest, and most luxurious ones I've ever used!
The Ritual of Karma Body Cream is rich and luxurious, but not greasy, and it absorbs super-fast. I use it all over, immediately on getting out of the tub (I'm a Total Tub Soak Gal...), and I especially like to use it on my feet, and then put on comfy socks to help it absorb...

Ritual of Karma Body Cream

I love to layer scented products, to make the fragrances last as long as possible, and so I am planning to treat myself to more products in this line: I especially want to get the Karma CandleHair And Body Mist, and the golden Body Shimmer Oil, which looks amazing!

Rituals products just launched on Sephora in September:, but if you want to see ALL the products they have, and ALL the different Rituals (and there are lots!), go to the Rituals website:, which also has an Outlet page with discounted products from lines that they no longer have on the regular site:

Another great thing to note is that Rituals products are happily free of the bad stuff, such as sulfates SLS and SLES, parabens, formaldehydes, formaldehyde-releasing agents, phthalates, mineral oil, retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, coal tar, hydroquinone, triclosan, and triclocarban, and they contain less than one percent of synthetic fragrances. And their products are also cruelty-free!

I can honestly and highly recommend Rituals products, as well as Tryazon- its a Lot of fun being a member, and getting discover and try great new products like these- and share them!

Have you tried any Rituals products or given them as gifts? 

What are your favorites? Tell me in the comments!

And if you're not yet a member of Tryazon, you can sign up here:

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Foodie Fun with the Vasta Vegetable & Fruit Sheet Slicer- and RECIPES!

Thanks to being a member of Tryazon, the great sampling program, I was selected to do a Facebook Live Party for the Vasta Vegetable and Fruit Sheet & Noodle Slicer! The Vasta is an inexpensive, fun, and easy-to-use kitchen tool that enables you to make “sheets” from both fruits and vegetables, as well as “Fettuccine”-style noodles, and Chef Dan and I have been having a lot of fun making some delicious dishes with it for dinner guests at the Elkhorn Inn, as well as ourselves! 

Here is a link to my Facebook Live Vasta Cuisine Party, where you can see me demonstrating the Vasta, and showing some of the things we made with it, including Cucumber “Maki” rolls filled with Tuna Ceviche, Apple and Potato Puff Pastry Roses, and Zucchini "Fettuccine" Agli Olio! At the end of my presentation I did a giveaway, and raffled off a Vasta to one lucky attendee!

The Vasta is different from a Mandoline or a Spiralizer, in that it makes thin sheets of your fruits and veggies, not slices, and it makes flat “fettuccine” style veggie noodles, rather than spirals. So if you're on a Keto or Vegan or Vegetarian diet, and looking for new foodie ideas, or just trying to get your kids or grandkids to eat more veggies, the Vasta gives you lots of new ways to enjoy your fruits and veggies! 
With the Vasta you can make fruit and vegetable crepes, burritos, lasagna, noodles- all sorts of things! So far, we've used it with cucumbers, zucchini, apples, and potatoes, but you can use it with pears, squash, and lots of other things, too! I love to make Apple Roses for Rosh Hashonna (Jewish New Year) which is coming up shortly, and the Vasta makes it fun and easy to do!

As you can see in my Facebook Party Video, the Vasta is really easy to use, and SAFE, too, as the blade is protected. If I can demonstrate it live while watching Facebook at the same time, you know it's REALLY easy and a safe to use!


There are lots of recipes on the Vasta website:

Vasta also has tutorials on YouTube: How to make Veggie Noodles with the Vasta Veggie Slicer: 

How to make veggie sheet noodles using the Vasta Veggie Slicer:

My step-by-step on making Cucumber Roll Appetizers with the Vasta:


First you cut the cucumber to size, using the guide notch on the skewer. TIP: You want cucumbers or zucchini that are as straight and even as possible, so you get even sheets. Then you place the cucumber on the Vasta, insert the skewer in the top, and push it down through the cucumber until it locks into place. 


Then you turn the Vasta on its side and snap in the handle. Then you start turning the handle...
And out comes your thin sheet of cucumber!!  You can then used the smaller pieces of cucumber you cut to make additional strips. 
 Here you see the two sheets of cucumber I was able to get from one cucumber. I then cut the sheets into 1" strips, approx. 5" long, and rolled them around circles of Mozzarella cheese and secured them with toothpicks. I then topped each one with a dab of Basil Pesto and a small roll of Prosciutto. I used this same technique to make the cucumber rolls I filled with Tuna Ceviche - recipe below.

My Vasta Recipes:

Vasta Cucumber Rolls filled with Tuna Ceviche, served with a spicy Asian-Style Dipping Sauce  (Adapted from Chef Ruth Van Waerebeek, Mapuyampay Gastronomic Hotel, Chile)


6 cucumbers, as straight as possible

Kosher Salt

Paper towels

¼ cup red union, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated

½ lb. sushi-quality fresh tuna

½ cup pink grapefruit juice (approx. one grapefruit, squeezed)

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely minced

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


Dipping Sauce:

2 tablespoons hot chili sauce (Chinese chili sauce, Sriracha, or similar)

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons dark sesame Oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted

¼ cup red, green and yellow bell peppers, very finely diced

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped


Slice the cucumbers into sheets using the Vasta.

Lay the cucumber strips on paper towels and sprinkle with Kosher Salt, and let sit for a max. of 30 minutes.

Prepare the Ceviche: Dice the tuna into ¼ inch cubes and place in a non reactive bowl (glass or ceramic). Add all the other ingredients. Mix to combine, and place the bowl in the refrigerator to marinate. (The lime juice "cooks" the tuna, so it has the taste and texture of cooked tuna!)

Make the Dipping Sauce: Mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.

Rinse the salt off the cucumber sheets and dry them with paper towels.

Cut the cucumber sheets into strips approx. 1” wide and 5 inches long, and roll them, securing each one with a toothpick.

Set the rolls on a serving plate. Fill each roll with the Tuna Ceviche.

Spoon the dipping sauce on top & drizzle it around the rolls, or serve it in a bowl on the side.

Appetizer: Cucumber Rolls with Mozzarella, Basil Pesto, & Prosciutto


Cucumber - as straight as possible

Mozzarella Cheese - the good stuff! 

Basil Pesto

Prosciutto, cut into small pieces and rolled, as in the photo



Use the Vasta to make cucumber sheets. Cut into strips into pieces approx 1” wide and 5” long.

Cut the mozzarella into 2” circles.

Roll the cucumber strips around the mozzarella circles and secure each with a toothpick.

Top each one with a dab of pesto, and then a small roll of prosciutto.

Vasta Apple (or Potato) Roses in Puff Pastry - 12

I love to make Apple Roses for Rosh Hashonna (Jewish New Year) which is coming up shortly, and the Vasta makes it fun and easy to do!


One package of Frozen Puff Pastry (Pepperidge Farm)

3 Apples or 3 Potatoes (I used Adirondack Blue Potatoes, and they came out great!)

Apricot or other fruit preserves if you are making Apple Roses

Pesto or other savory spread if you are making Potato Roses (or you don't have use anything)

2 tablespoons of lemon juice if you are making Apple Roses

Melted butter or vegetable oil and a brush, or vegetable oil spray

Cinnamon-Nutmeg Sugar for Apple Roses

Chopped herbs of your choice for Potato Roses


Preheat oven to 375 F.

Butter 12 porcelain baking ramekins or a muffin pan. (Or spray them with vegetable oil spray).

Remove Puff Pastry from the freezer and thaw according to package directions. It should be cold.

Use the Vasta to slice the apples or the potatoes into long strips:


If you are using apples, put the apple sheets into a bowl of water with the lemon juice, so they don't turn brown.

I then used the Vasta to slice an Adirondack Blue Potato into long sheets for potato roses.

Place one sheet of puff pastry dough on a floured surface and roll it out a little thinner with a floured rolling pin.

Cut the dough into 6 even strips.

Spoon the apricot preserves or pesto onto the bottom half of each dough strip.

If you are making apple roses, remove the apples from the lemon-water and bot them dry with paper towels.



Place the apple (or potato) strips on the dough, sticking up above the edge of the dough:


You can fold the bottom over the edge of the apple or potato strip if you like. I didn't here, and they turned out fine. Then roll each strip up into a “rose” and place into the buttered ramekins or muffin pan.

Do the same with the other sheet of puff pastry dough.

Brush each one with melted butter or vegetable oil spray. You can sprinkle the apple roses with cinnamon-nutmeg sugar if you like. 

Place a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven so the bottom of the pastries don't burn.

Bake for 40-50 minutes at 375 F until the pastry is golden brown.

Sprinkle the apple roses with cinnamon-nutmeg sugar, and the potato roses with chopped herbs, and serve!

Zucchini Fettuccine Agli Olio (with Garlic and Oil)

Make “fettuccine” noodles from zucchini using the Vasta!

Heat olive oil in a pan with chopped fresh garlic.

Saute the zucchini “noodles” in the oil for a max. of 2 minutes and serve!

These “zoodles” are delicious served with shrimp scampi, or with Asian sauces as pictured above- or 100 other things!! I tossed them with tomato sauce, sausage, and minced, fresh herbs, and they were delicious! Pasta without the carbs!

Have you tried the Vasta yet?

 Have any great recipe ideas for the Vasta? 

Please share them in the comments!

Friday, July 24, 2020

West Virginia Road Trip! Part 5: Summersville & Fayetteville: wine & food with a view!

Summersville Lake
West Virginia is open for business and #vacation #travel fun! Come on down!
NOTE: Due to possible COVID-19 restrictions, which seem to be changing daily, before you travel or book Anything, CALL every place you want to go and make SURE they are open and operating! I have included phone numbers for almost every place we went to and enjoyed in this post. Although I have also included website hotlinks, do NOT rely on websites and online reservation sites- they are often not kept up to date! Every place we stayed at was spotlessly clean, and we had NO negative issues whatsoever! Dan and I are not kids- he is 73, and I am 61- and we had a fabulous West Virginia getaway!

 Our 9-night Road Trip loop thru West Virginia first took us from the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre in the southern mountains of Landgraff, in McDowell County, up to Romney, in Hampshire County, to ride the Potomac Eagle Dinner Train (see this post: Then we drove a little farther north to Berkeley Springs, in Morgan County, to "take the waters" at America's First Spa: We next drove south to Shinnston, in Harrison County,
to stay at Gillum House Bed-and-Breakfast, meet Punjab the Camel, and sip some great whiskey: We then drove south to Cass, in Pocahontas County, to take the Cass Scenic Railroad, enjoy a Kissing Bridge, and see the Ice Age Forest
West Virginia Road Trip! Part 5: Summersville & Fayetteville for wine & food with a view!
Our final stops on this trip before heading home were Summersville and Fayetteville,  specifically to go to the Kirkwood Winery and Isaiah Morgan Distillery:  Tel: 1-888-4WV-WINE right outside Summersville, the first winery and distillery we visited in West Virginia, back in 2002! At that time Dan was deployed to West Virginia by FEMA, following the floods that had devastated southern West Virginia, and we were staying in Beaver, WV. On Dan's days off we went and did all the fun, "touristy" things one does in West Virginia, including white water rafting, ATVing, taking train excursions, camping, fishing, and horseback riding, and although Dan was no lover of wine back then, I convinced him to "humor" me and go to the nearby Kirkwood Winery. Kirkwood is famous for their fruit and uniquely West Virginian vegetable wines, and we both fell in love with them the first time we visited, when we met the late Rodney Facemire who founded it. Among their truly unique West Virginia wines are Ramp Wine, which Chef Dan uses to marinate meat and to make reduction sauces, Ginseng, Dandelion, and Rhubarb Wines! They also have a large variety of grape and fruit wines made from the bounty of their vines and orchards. In creating the Isaiah Morgan Distillery, Rodney Facemire brought the "naughty" Appalachian tradition of the illegal moonshine still into the legal daylight, obtaining the license for the nation's smallest still in 2002. He conceived the vision of mini-distilleries, formed a team of government and business leaders, and created what has truly become a fabulous industry for the state of West Virginia, now nationally famous for our legal 'shine! Isaiah Morgan makes Moonshine, Rye Whiskey, Grappa, and now a fine, aged Bourbon, and after indulging in another yummy tasting, we bought a selection of their wines, as well as their Bourbon, and a bottle of Grappa for our Italian Inn-Sitter! We had Kirkwood wines at our wedding at the Elkhorn Inn, and our guests all loved them, and a few years ago we went to one of their fun, fall Grape Stomping Festivals, where we got in the vat and stomped grapes with our bare feet like Lucy and Ethel did on I Love Lucy! (Unfortunately the Grape Stomping Festival has been canceled for this fall, but we are trusting it will be back next year- it's truly another West Virginia "Must-Do"!)
Whine and Whiskey Tasting at Kirkwood Winery
Kirkwood Winery
Tooling around Summersville and Fayetteville, we drove across the famed New River Gorge Bridge several times:, and at one point finally stopped to get a look at it from afar!
New River Gorge Bridge, peeking thru the trees!
The Bridge has spectacular views of the river on both sides, but it's impossible to get a good photo while driving across it, as all you can see from a car window is the darn barricade!
The Bridge is on Route 19, just north of Fayetteville, and when it was completed, in 1977, it turned a harrowing, 40-minute drive down narrow mountain roads and across one of North America's oldest rivers into a one minute drive! The Bridge is famed for being both the longest steel span in the western hemisphere, and the third highest in the United States, and it even has a day of its own: Bridge Day- the 3rd Sat. in October! On Bridge Day, the bridge is open to pedestrians and hosts a wide variety of activities, including BASE jumping, rappelling, music, and more, but unfortunately it has been cancelled this year:  You CAN, however, take a Bridge Walk, which is a guided tour of the New River Gorge Bridge from the catwalk 25’ beneath the Bridge:  Tel: (304) 574-1300 - something we intend to go back and do!
We stayed in Fayetteville for two nights at The Historic Morris Harvey House:   Tel: (304) 250-7090, a very pretty, 3-story Queen Anne-style house dating from 1902 that is on the National Register of Historic Places. We stayed in their Harvey Room, one flight up, which has a half-bath within the room, and a full bath with an antique claw-foot tub next door.
The Historic Morris Harvey House
The Harvey Room
Our first evening in Fayetteville we popped into Southside Junction Tap House for a beer:  Tel: (304) 574-2222: 
Southside Junction Tap House
and then had dinner at Smokey's on the Gorge at Adventures on the Gorge:  We remembered Smokey's from years ago when we went ziplining at TreeTops:  (totally awesome and wonderful, and an Absolute "Must-do"!), and it was still a relatively small operation; Smokey's was rather elegant, with fine dining... It's now a huge operation, and the new Smokey's is a humongous, family-style restaurant... Dan had their ribs, and I had their Brisket, with two tasty sauces, including a novel White Alabama BBQ Sauce, and we ate outside on their deck and enjoyed the beautiful sunset view over our plastic cups of wine, and it was very nice... but it wasn't as we remembered... Is anything, ever? ;-) 
Dinner at Smokey's on the Gorge
The next day we went sightseeing, driving to see beautiful Summersville Lake, and the Dam that created it, dedicated by President Lyndon Johnson in 1966:  
Summersville Lake
Summersville Lake
Above Summersville Lake

Summersville Dam

Above Summersville Dam
We then Had to go see the amusing Summersville Lighthouse at Summersville Lake Retreat:  Yes, Virginia, there is a real lighthouse in the mountains of West Virginia!
Summersville Lighthouse

A doe and her fawns!
While many of the roads we traveled were devoid of cars, and we often felt like the only people out and about, we did see a Lot of deer on this trip- basically everywhere we went! And they were fearless deer, totally unafraid of people, and several posed for photos, too!
That afternoon we found a fun “private club” bar in Fayetteville: Jaybird and Charlie's Pub:  Tel: (304) 574-0822 and had drinks at their bar and outside on their patio, as well. Jaybird was really nice, and we were made to feel very welcome; his bar has pool tables and foosball, and this is definitely the place that would be our "Cheers" if we lived in Summersville! We'll definitely return if we get back to the area!
G&Ts at Jaybird & Charlie's
Our "foodie find"of this trip was that evening, when we had dinner at Wanderlust Creative Foods (formerly New River Curry):  Tel: (304) 574-3111 in downtown Fayetteville, a charming, informal, friendly, not expensive, chef-driven restaurant serving inventive, international, gourmet-level cuisine! Dan and I shared three yummy appetizers for dinner and left stuffed: their Samosas, served with an excellent Mango Chutney, delicious Sisig, caramelized pork belly sauteed with ginger, garlic and Thai Chilies and topped with a fried egg, and scrumptious seared Gulf Shrimp in a Sherry Reduction Sauce, garnished with seasonal microgreens. I had a unique and delicious Thai fruit drink, as well, that included gelled basil seeds, which I'd never seen in West Virginia before, and it was so good that I got one to take with me! If you get to Fayetteville, THIS is where you want to eat!
Sisig - Carmelized Pork Belly
Shrimp in a Sherry Reduction Sauce
We did a leisurely drive home the next day, taking the “back roads” through the mountains, stopping to see pretty places, historic sites, and fun things along the way...
West Virginia...
The cutest playhouse!

Big Lime
Greenbrier County
Chainsaw Sculpture Adorableness!

Big Beaver Creek
Camp Jones

Napoleon Bonaparte French
Engagement at Falls Mills
...and passing through Oak Hill in Fayette County, whose claim to fame is apparently as the place where Hank Williams was pronounced dead...
Hank Williams Memorial
Hank Williams Memorial

We stopped for lunch at Kimono Japanese Seafood & Steak House in Princeton, WV in Mercer County:  Tel: (304) 487-8008. Kimono is our fave local restaurant, and we ended our WV Road Trip with an epic seaweed salad-sushi-sake feast! We Love this place, still amazed, after 18 years, that our landlocked southern West Virginia mountains boasts a sushi bar that beats every place we've eaten at in the USA, including NYC, where I'm from!
Sushi-Saki feast at Kimono!
We then drove through Bramwell, also in Mercer County: , famed as “Home of the Coal Baron Millionaires” for its many historic mansions, and stopped to photograph the train trestle, and again to photograph a Norfolk Southern train chugging 'round the bend through Keystone... 
Train Trestle in Bramwell
NS Railroad coming thru Keystone
and before we knew it, we were back home in Landgraff, at the Elkhorn Inn:
Tel: 304-862-2031, and unpacking all the wine and booze and foodie treats we'd picked up along the way! :-)  
West Virginia is open for business, and #vacation #travel fun! Come on down!
Our West Virginia Souvenirs!

NS Railroad coming thru Keystone

NS Railroad coming thru Keystone