They Came Together

This movie received a not-so-spectacular 69% on Rotten Tomatoes, but I adored it. To get a sense of what it’s like, definitely skip the trailer and just watch sample scenes like the one above.

And there is a silver lining to these poor reviews: You can rent it on Amazon for only 99 cents! Do it.

Josie Maran & Argan Oil

Josie Maran (picture from Redbook magazine)

Picture from Redbook magazine.

It’s no secret I’m a fan of Into the Gloss… whether by tackling at-home manicures or Muppet coats, they hit just the right amount of substance for a beauty website. Their recent interview with model Josie Maran (who owns her own skincare line, and used to be the face of Maybelline), though, full-on impressed and delighted me. As you’ll read below, Josie brought some refreshing wisdom to the table.

1. On her house in Pennsylvania:

I used to fly out here from LA, but when I was pregnant and I couldn’t fly anymore we decided to get a place. We found this—it’s 300 acres—and I had my baby under one of the trees. It was awesome. I had my Jambox and good music going. My neighbors, my whole family, and some good friends just came and sat around—we listened to yoga music and had a baby for four hours.

2. On aging:

We don’t ever saying ‘anti-aging,’ because why would you be ‘anti’ anything that’s a natural part of life? And metaphysically, being ‘anti’ something actually creates that thing that you don’t want. Tip number one—stay positive.

3. Oils are magic:

The only thing that’ll hydrate my skin is argan oil. I love oils—they make the skin so juicy and dewy. Add oil and confidence and you’re like the hottest girl in the world. I discovered it when I was in France for a job—there was this woman who was 70 but she looked 40, so I asked her what her secret was. All she used was argan oil, so I had to try.

4. The minimalist’s approach to hair care:

Less is more, so I wash it once a week. Sometimes I clean my hair in the pond, but I always feel like that makes it too clean and like I need more dragon fly dust back in my hair.

Hallstatt, Austria

Hallstatt, Austria

Hallstatt is best known for being home to the world’s first (known) salt mine.

In addition to its castles and cake, Austria endeared itself to me still more when I discovered the tiny lakeside village of Hallstatt. Set in Austria’s lake district (Salzkammergut), Hallstatt is one of the tamer UNESCO World Heritage sites I’ve visited, offering stunning views of the Alps and a general sense of serenity.

When planning out the trip’s itinerary, it took me a while to decide what order to visit all these places (Fly into Vienna, or leave it as a grand finale?). But by the end, I was relieved to have visited the grandeur of Vienna first, and left the last few days of my trip for soaking up these more natural wonders.

Owing to its millennia of salt mining, Hallstatt is an archaeologist’s dream–people have lived here for 7,000+ years, and it serves as namesake for the Celtic Hallstatt culture (approx. 800-400 BC). Hefty cultural significance aside, it’s still just a fun place to walk around. (Taking a Bob’s Tour, which I’d highly recommend, my fellow tourists and I had a couple hours to take in the town and its lake.)

Believe it or not, there’s a full recreation of Hallstatt in China, built by the Chinese company Minmetals for $960 million. Something makes me doubt the Sachertorte and Apfelstrudel can quite be replicated, though.


Evangelical Church of Hallstatt and ferry

Hallstatt’s Evangelical church (built in 1785) and the ferry we took across the lake.

Hallstatt mountains

For those with a few hours, take the salt-mine funicular up to the Hallstatt upper valley, offering panoramic views of the area.

Hallstatt Cemetery

Hallstatt’s well-known cemetery, where a grave can be re-occupied every 10 years.

 Hallstätter See

Hallstätter See, taken from the ferry that crosses the lake.

Mondsee Abbey

Mondsee Abbey, where the Sound of Music’s wedding scene was filmed. (We stopped here later in the tour.)


Beet kvass

Beet Kvass

My first batch: First, let’s drink to fantastic colors. And then good health.

As a lover of deep, vibrant colors, the second I saw a picture of beet kvass I knew it was my destiny to brew a batch of the red-violet tonic. Fortunately, that turned out to be an easy destiny: All you do is chop up some beets, throw them in a jar, add salt and water, and let them sit for a few days.

The recipe I used came from The Nourishing Gourmet, which has tons of other info about the drink. To quote Nourishing Gourmet, which quotes Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions:

This drink is valuable for its medicinal qualities and as a digestive aid. Beets are just loaded with nutrients. One 4-ounce glass, morning and night, is an excellent blood tonic, promotes regularity, aids digestion, alkalizes the blood, cleanses the liver and is a good treatment for kidney stones and other ailments.”

Most importantly, the kvass is indeed drinkable–no ickiness to report at all.

Bottoms up!