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Don’t let the petite purse-sized Fiona Dome fool you — she can pack a full face! I use this bag for days I need to carry everything and sometimes just to carry around 10 lipsticks (life of a beauty girl). Right now, I’ve got the sleek and sparkly Madison Ave pattern filled with my favorite complexion brightening beauty products. With the colder air creeping in, Jouer’s Anti-Aging Moisture Primer is always a first step before I buff on Kjaer Weis Foundation. It’s like a drink of water for the face! For any dark spots or redness, I tap on MAC Matchmaster Concealer which adapts precisely to your skin tone. A sweep of Bobbi Brown mauvey ‘Telluride’ bronzer on cheeks and La Bella Figura Lisette La Coquette lip tint gives me some much needed color. I have blue eyes and the rosy brown NARS Dolomites eyeshadow duo makes them pop. A swipe of Benefit They’re Real eyeliner and few coats of L’Oreal Butterfly Mascara and I’m ready to take on the day.
Laurie Leopold is the founder of 312Beauty.com, a guide to Chicago by way of beauty. Laurie is also the Chicago Beauty Editor for PrettyQuick and a contributor at Clementine Daily. She’s been featured in Refinery29, The Glitter Guide and appeared on Fox 32 Chicago. In addition to sharing her passion for beauty online, Laurie works for Chicago’s Olson Engage, where she specializes in corporate affairs and developing strategic brand initiatives.
I’ve written about HK before (here and here), but each time I go I manage to discover something new. Sorry, but I won’t stay anywhere other than the Upper House, so you will have to be satisfied knowing that it still is simply the best hotel experience ever. This time I arrived after a 16 hour flight feeling a bit queasy and maybe a bit blue (feeling far away from my daughter). When I arrived at the hotel they told me they heard I was not feeling well (my driver had called ahead) and even though my upgraded room wasn’t ready yet, they wanted to get me into a room immediately so I could rest. Rather than the extra large room I usually take overlooking the Harbour, they temporarily housed me in a large room overlooking the velvet green mountains of the peak. I felt so cozy and happy that I recovered rapidly and decided not to change rooms. Arriving at the Upper House is like arriving home to a family that has missed you. Hand written notes and gifts wrapped in ribbon from the staff are a special touch. Bliss!
It’s hard not to return to favorite restaurants but Hong Kong always has something new and delicious to try so I make sure to include the best recommendations. On my first night I didn’t want to travel far from the hotel as I was easing my way back into life at ground level, so I tried The Continental in Admiralty. Loved the atmosphere and my perfect sirloin. My favorite meal was a toss up between Chom Chom and Chachawan. I loved the relaxed local street vibe of both and had seriously delicious and inventive food at both. The owner at Chom Chom recommended several dishes that were all perfect, including Vietnamese fried chicken and grilled corn. At Chachawan, I watched the 26 year old chef prepare their specialty Som Dtum Goong right in front of me. It is a papaya salad dish with tomatoes, chili, prawns or pork and it was five alarm spicy and crazy good.
Hard to believe I have never walked the ‘women’s market’ or the ‘goldfish market’ before. Expect copies of handbags from Chanel, Mulberry and Issey Miyake, as well as hundreds of iPhone cases (including a copy of the Moschino Golden Arches red and gold case), miniature wind up toys, silk dresses, backpacks, hair barrettes, and games like Mahjong. I loved walking the goldfish market and was maybe a little freaked out to see a giant box of very loud crickets as food for some of the fish. I would tell you which fish but my Chinese is limited (AKA nonexistent) and I would show you photos of some of the most unusual fish and sea creatures I’ve ever seen but alas no pics allowed. You will have to go and see for yourself.
No trip to Hong Kong is complete for me without a trip on the Star Ferry. I love the wood benches and old school vibe as much as the breeze on my face. It’s a relaxed way to visit the other side or see the Harbour lights at night. The Hong Kong Observation Wheel, a giant ferris wheel with individual enclosed gondolas, seems to have just opened offering sweeping views of Central and Kowloon, but I missed it. And I’m afraid of heights, so someone will have to report back on their experience in the comments.
Still searching for that last minute gift? Here are some of my favorite things to give (and get) this holiday season:
1. Rimowa suitcases: For the traveler on your list! I’m partial to the Salsa Deluxe series, their light weight hard shell and eight wheels (!) mean that you can navigate this bag at full capacity with merely a singer finger. Love the carry-on styles too as they allow you to push the bag down the airplane aisle sideways thereby not knocking every seat along the way! Don’t be fooled by the hard case construction either. These bags pack way more than you’d expect!
2. S’well reusable bottle: I’m a yogi who packs a water bottle with me for my daily morning practice. This non-toxic, insulated bottle keeps cold water cold for up to 24 hours (for real) and hot for twelve. I like the stone collection and love that they don’t sweat, look fab, and that they give back to WaterAid with every purchase.
3. I have a Vitamix blender on my wish list this year, the only question is which one? The fact that this powerful blender can turn your fresh fruits and veggies into oh-so-good-for-you juice and combine a soup and serve it hot or a frosty cold ice-cream, well, who needs any other appliance?
4. My six year old daughter will be unwrapping Planet Earth:The Complete Series this holiday. If she’s going to have screen time this high-definition backstage pass to the animal kingdom is it.
5. OK, maybe not for Grandma, but everyone else on my list is getting a copy of Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck. A longtime fan of their blog, they have finally pulled together their budget conscious real food healthy recipes into one awesome volume keeping me laughing while nourishing and detoxifying my bod. F*ck yeah.
6. How about gifting a subscription to Birchbox and giving your favorite beauty a sampling of five high-end beauty brands monthly? Yes please!
7. The gift that keeps on giving, a weekly subscription to Blue Apron sends pre-portioned fresh ingredients and simple cooking instructions direct to their door. No more TV dinners or popcorn for dinner because they don’t have the time to assemble a meal. (Mom, this means you!)
8. Books might be my favorite thing to gift any time of year and this season I will be gifting Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand just in time for its movie debut, and Anjelica Huston’s new memoir, Watch Me: A Memoir, should keep them up all night with stories of her rise to fame and her long term relationship with Jack Nicholson. I can hardly wait.
9. My brother asked me recently why I wasn’t a movie producer considering how much I love the cinema. Before children I would sometimes go to the theater 4 times a week, and I prefer the experience to watching at home, especially with today’s stadium assigned seating and gourmet goodies. I’d love an AMC or Landmark gift card in my stocking on December 25.
10. And for any New York-bound friends this holiday, why not tickets to Broadway? Some lucky girl on my list will have an evening at Beautiful, the Carole King musical. Saw it, loved it, cried through it all and left feeling inspired. What better gift is there than an experience with friends that connects and inspires.