Category Archives: Scent

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Belli Offers Terrific Skincare Products for Women of all Ages


If you have any skin issues (and who doesn’t?), you’ll be happy to learn about Belli Skincare. Belli’s extensive product line is safe and effective for women during various life stages, from adolescence and pre-pregnancy through busy motherhood and beyond. With lovely scents and textures, the products manage to combine affordability, luxury, gentleness and effectiveness. Belli even offers routines to help you create your own at-home spa.

Belli’s founders created their products after being discouraged by the lack of safe and effective skincare during their own pregnancies. As a result, each product is allergy tested, and free of paraben preservatives, phthalates, and artificial dyes or fragrances. They’re also made in the USA. Learn more about Belli Skincare’s ingredient safety and testing.


My family was fortunate to receive Belli Skincare’s Healthy Glow Facial Hydrator (1.5 oz., $39), Eye Brightening Cream (.5 oz., $39) and Anti-Blemish Facial Wash (6.5 oz., $22) to try out. We love them! I’m especially enthusiastic about the Healthy Glow Facial Hydrator. It goes on very smoothly and moisturizes throughout the day without being remotely greasy, which is a concern I have with many moisturizers. I love the sunny citrus scent, which owes largely to mandarin orange peel oil, flower extracts and other therapeutic ingredients. Since I’ve been using the Healthy Glow Facial Hydrator, my skin looks and feels especially fresh.


The Eye Brightening Cream is very helpful and gentle for the tender skin around the eyes. It seems to minimize fine lines and help with undereye circles. I appreciate the Eye Brightening Cream’s ingredient list, which boasts Vitamins K and B3, olive oil, arnica flower extract, ginseng root extract and green tea leaf extract, among other items. Both the moisturizer and the eye brightening cream work very well under makeup, and help foundation apply easily and last a long time.

belli-anti-blemish-facial-wash-tube-792734300265Belli’s Anti-Blemish Facial Wash has earned raves from our local young person. It’s sufficiently gentle to use daily, yet is also effective at cleaning and clearing skin. She also liked the cucumber and green tea scent. Because of Belli’s care and testing, this wash is especially safe to use during pregnancy, something that’s noted in the testimony on Belli’s site.

As mentioned, these are really nice products in generous packages for the price, something I appreciate as a beauty product enthusiast. I also appreciate Belli’s obvious care in its product formulations, which include numerous tested and therapeutic ingredients. Clearly, my daughter appreciates these things as well. Both the Anti-Blemish Facial Wash and the Healthy Glow Facial Hydrator went back with her to college. :)

Would you like to sample Belli Skincare? Use code BELLI749884646 and receive 20% off the entire Belli line through November 30, 2016. In addition to the products mentioned, I’m eager to try Belli’s Pure Radiance Facial Sunscreen and Fresh Start Pre-Treatment Scrub. The Stretchmark Minimizing Cream appears to be a post-pregnancy must, as well.

My family received Belli Skincare products in exchange for an honest review. The views expressed are my own.


Photos: Public Domain, Belli Skincare

10 Fun and Unusual Holiday Gifts for Kids

I’m always on the lookout for cool and unusual kids’ holiday gifts, the kind that convey a fondness for and knowledge of the recipient, as well as a desire to give them something truly unique and worthwhile. Looking for something with a lot of play value that won’t already be under the tree? Check out these choices.

Pssst. Know a spy in training? They’d enjoy 4M’s  Spy Science Secret Messages kit. Future cryptologists can learn how to send top-secret messages by writing on X-ray paper, using invisible markers, utilizing a cipher wheel, and more.

Insect Lore’s Giant Butterfly Garden lets kids (and adults) witness the wonder of the butterfly life cycle, from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. See-through mesh with zippered entry allows easy access for care and feeding, and keeps butterflies inside until you set them free.

The Perfumery Science Kit, from Scientific Explorer, allows kids to create, design and mix their own perfume, enjoying a science and art that dates back to 2000 B.C. The kit comes with instructions, vials of various scents, and ideas for experimentation, so that kids can become their own mini olfactory factories.

I don’t know many kids who wouldn’t want this Expresso Cafe and Playhouse from Serec Entertainment. The cute 7′ x 4′ playhouse easily fits eight kids. It features a front entrance with a swinging door and a roll-out patio for role playing, inside and out.

Seeking a fun, holiday themed gift? Smart Snacks’ Gingerbread House Shape Sorter features a sweet and brightly colored cottage with six holes that match six chunky candy shapes. In addition to being fun, shape sorting toys are great for teaching and enhancing early learning skills.

No need to stop the fun when bath time comes! Construction Squirters, from Alex, allow for fantasy, dramatic and water play. Alex also offers Squirter sets in Pirate, Piggy and Doggy themes, as well as lot of other toys for creative bath play, from toys that let you make music and art, to shapes that stick on the wall for storytelling.

Why be limited to run-of-the-mill superheros when you can make your own? Emce’s Comic Book Hero Action Figure Customizing Kit contains everything you need to create and customize  your own superheros, including three articulated base bodies and various heads, hands, hair, masks, capes, paint and decals.

Since you’ve got to wear a helmet for bike and roller-sport safety, you might as well customize it. Wipeout’s Dry Erase Helmet lets you do just that. Helmets come in a variety of colors and include dry erase markers in assorted neon colors and a stencil kit with eight fun shapes.

The award-winning game SET (Enterprises, Inc.) is one of my family’s long-time favorites. It’s fun, challenging, and different each time you play. In addition to the original card game, SET now offers online daily challenges, as well as an iPad version.



Most kids (and adults) are fascinated by magic. My First Magic Kit lets you perform your own. Watch a picture magically paint itself, make candy magically appear in an empty box, and much more. Have fun and amaze friends with this art that has been performed throughout history.

Enjoy your holidays!


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Fairfax Parade and Ecofest

I recently attended the 32nd annual Fairfax (CA) parade and its newer accompanying Ecofest. Both were extraordinary and really showed off the town and its people. The event featured art, music, dance, food, children’s activities, artisinal products, and demonstrations. Themes of sustainability, social consciousness, friendliness and fun overrode the day. It was a beautiful event.

The Ecofest continued through the weekend. Here are some highlights from the parade, Eco Fashion show, and more:




Many parade entries had themes of Sustainability. This yoke of discarded plastic was particularly effective.








Here’s our own Youth Making a Difference entry. Follow us to the Eco Fashion Show and Ecofest.


The Eco Fashion Show incorporated a group of young women’s many original designs and work, using vintage, recycled, and re-purposed materials. The results were impressive and their enthusiasm was contagious.









At the Ecofest, we learned about worm composting from local vermicomposting expert David Lee Hoffman and from folks from Garden for the Environment, which gives public workshops on organic and sustainable gardening. We found this composter, available at Fairfax Lumber, ideal for our small gardening space.


We also visited with new and old friends among the exhibitors, such as Bay Nature magazine, Environmental Education Center of Marin, Salmon Protection and Watershed Network, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, California Native Plant Society, Bio-Diesel Co-op, the Peace Corps, Tamalpais Natureworks sustainable furniture, and Snow Lotus Essential Oils, which I sampled and which seemed to be of extremely high quality. There were also two bodycare artisans that I highly recommend: Moonflowers Body Care (I like their Jasmine cleanser and Gift of India face cream), and North Rose Botanicals. I bought a little sample bag of North Rose products and can’t wait to replenish the heavenly Rose cleanser, tonic, and moisturizer, which are all wonderfully light in texture and scent.


Bike parking was packed! A terrific sign.


For more about the preparation for the Eco Fashion Show, see:

“Young Crafters Prepare for Eco Fashion Show”

“Eco Fashion Show Part 2: The Screen Printing”

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Perfume Launch: Baroque Pearl

As much as I love scent, I had never been to a perfume launch. So when the invitation came for a perfume launch and art opening at lovely Gump’s in San Francisco to celebrate their new Baroque Pearl perfume — which my friend, scent designer Lisa Wilson, helped create — I had to go.

Gump’s began curating and selling Asian art and pearls soon after the 1906 earthquake, making it one of the first American companies to do so. As the new perfume was inspired by Gump’s pearls, so were the interpretations of the pearl that the artists created in a variety of media. The gallery show, “Pearl: Inspiring Design and Desire”, will be at Gump’s through May 17.


Lisa looked radiant in a smart turtleneck and shimmery skirt, holding a bottle of Baroque Pearl and telling us about the collaborative effort between perfumer Olivier Gillotin (of Givaudan, the largest fragrance house in the world), Through Smoke Creative, and Gump’s to arrive at the store’s first fine fragrance.

Here is Lisa with my daughter (and fellow scent fanatic) Anna.


We received spritzes of Baroque Pearl. I found it at once heady and unique; sophisticated, yet accessible. I recognized my favorite citrus notes: I thought I smelled bergamot and grapefruit, and was told it was bergamot, mandarin, and orange blossom. These were complimented by a blend of exotic floral mid-notes and a nice sandalwood base. Later, we noted that Baroque Pearl had a lot of staying power and continued to subtly assert itself. The slightly Oriental florals and the sandalwood deepened and became more prominent. I imagined the wearer of Baroque Pearl to be dressed in a crisp white blouse, with great jewelry, to be classic and sexy in an assured, rather than an overt, way.

Indeed, Gump’s CEO Marta Benson has said of Baroque Pearl, “It is not the sweet scent of a 20-something girl, but that of a worldly beauty”.

Lisa showed us the perfume’s lovely keepsake box, which, when untied from its Asian medallion, opens interestingly to reveal the substantial, feminine bottle.


Courtesy of Gump’s

As we continued our tour, we ran into Marta and her husband Adam Willner. Marta looked fabulous in a black dress and a double strand of pearls. She said she was thrilled with the turnout, and pleased that the event had attracted such a variety of people — from the art and perfume worlds, as well as the arena of kids’ carpools.

Marketing guru Ellen Seebold of Seebold Marketing Communications was also on hand, as was Sarah Oliver, whose whimsical and original hand-made and -adorned wool handbags are available in the store. You can see more on Sarah’s web site.


Through Smoke Creative had previously collaborated with Gump’s on their award-winning home fragrance line. Each of the line’s three scents is available in diffuser, room spray that can actually be worn as a cologne, candle, or scented stone (amber resin) form. Lisa described the process of creating Majestic, the line’s salute to Gump’s Bay Area home: “We wanted to capture the smell and the feeling of walking in the Marin Headlands — the mix of sea air, jasmine, eucalyptus, bay laurel and redwood.” Treasured, she said, plays homage to Gump’s tradition of seeking art and objects in the Far East. Opulent evokes the formal gardens, cut flowers, and grandeur of Europe.


Happily, we also spent time with Gump’s other home fragrances. The Apothia line was also developed with Through Smoke for the L.A.-based company. Each scent evoked a specific L.A.-inspired mood. Lisa described one of the scents, Wave: “It makes you feel as if you’d just woken up at your Malibu beach house, and were now having a glass of grapefruit juice, overlooking the ocean”. We sniffed a diffuser and, sure enough, the fresh, inviting smell transported us to a morning by the beach.


Anthousa also has an attractive line of diffusers in a range of breezy florals, citruses, and fruits.


Heady with scent, we moved to the gallery, which featured an impressive amount of art and more lively mingling in the store’s understatedly grand rotunda.

San Francisco glass artist Orfeo Quagliata captures the translucent qualities of the Tahitian pearl. His often playful, colorful work can be found here.


Anne Goldman’s work is wonderfully elemental, evoking ocean and mountain forms. The East Bay sculptor’s work can be seen here.


I love the simplicity of Sara Paloma’s tidal blue nesting bowls and pearl vase. See more of the Emeryville sculptor’s work here.


Before leaving, we stopped to ogle the store’s signature collection of pearl jewelry and generally bask further in the lovely Asian-influenced atmosphere. We learned that the gallery is the oldest continuously operating gallery in northern California and that the store actually evolved from it.

Sniffing at our Baroque-Pearl-adorned wrists, we were back on the Union Square streets, enjoying a pretty dusk and contemplating heading to Macy’s for their annual Flower Show.

Baroque Pearl is $98 for a 1 3/4 oz. bottle.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman unless noted.

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