A couple weeks ago, right before my trip to LA, I was perusing my new favorite travel app, Porter & Sail. It's the coolest app I've used in a while and make me feel super VIP...it's your very own insider concierge. First it lets you book a room in some of the coolest hotels in London, LA, New York, Miami, and Singapore. Then, once you're actually a guest, it gives you access to some of the best restaurant reservations and events in town. (They actually helped me get a rezzy at Gjelina... which is usually almost IMPOSSIBLE to get in to.) So. My. Speed. While perusing, I came across this gem of a hotel, The Farmer's Daughter.Read More
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Music history and nostalgia is almost as important to me as the music itself. Fortunately, Austin has such a rich and diverse music history, the city pulsates with it. One of my tasks to accomplish over my stay, given to me by Time Out New York Magazine and Booking.com, was to find a spot where something notable in music history occurred. After doing some research, I discovered there was no better place for me to experience than Arlyn Studios.
Here's a small list of some of my favorite musicians who have recorded at Arlyn...Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Bonnie Raitt, Jennifer Nettles, The Toadies, Snoop Dogg, Ray Charles, Phish, and Sublime. Some other biggies include: Wilco, Eli Young Band, Lorde, Merle Haggard, Les Paul, Gary Clark Jr., Coldplay, and Buddy Guy. Not a shabby line up.
Arlyn Studios also boasts a one-of-a-kind vintage Neve console. If you've ever seen Dave Grohl's documentary, Sound City, you would know that the Neve console is the holy grail of all mixing/recording consoles. They are rare and have been out of production for decades. Records from some of the world's most acclaimed artists such as, Nirvana (Nevermind), Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac (Rumors), and Tom Petty, were recorded on a similar console. Arlyn's is actually a Neve and API hybrid... the only one like it in the world.
I was fortunate enough to get a tour from the current owner, Lisa Fletcher, whose husband/co-owner is also Willie Nelson's nephew. Her graciousness was only exceeded by her music knowledge. After she poured me a Sunday-Funday cocktail, we began our tour. First stop was the control room... and the Neve console.
Seeing this board was surreal; as I was looking at a piece of equipment that some of my favorite artists of all time, recorded their masterpieces on. Sublime's entire 1996 self titled album was recorded on this board. Unreal. Not to mention some of Waylon's later works, Willie's current works, and dozens of others, many of whom are mentioned above.
I got a full history of the studio, as it has been transformed over the years from an opera house, to a recording studio, to a restaurant (part of it was), and finally was re-launched in 2012 to get back to its authentic heart and soul. I absolutely cannot wait to come back and visit and see Arlyn Studios in action... see some tracks being laid down. Hmmmm Austin City Limits is right around the corner... time to plan my next trip!!
I had never been anywhere warm for New Year's Eve...ever. 34 NYEs have been spent in insufferable arctic temperatures. Fortunately for me, my better half made sure my 35th NYE was spent in the warm Caribbean sun. It can be very hard for me to stay out of the planning phase of a trip, but I let Jay and his buddies take the reigns on this one... and wow, did they pull off one hell of a trip. Note to self: Always leave trip planning to adventuresome men who love to party.
I had never been to, nor really heard of Anguilla (pronounced: An-gwhil-uh). Apparently it was in the British West Indies...and that was good enough for me. Let me cut to the chase. The island is perfection. It's only 13 miles long and 3 miles wide (you fly into St. Maarten/Martin and take a 20 min boat ride over). It is encircled by the most glorious talcum powder beaches and pristine turquoise water. It is not heavily developed and the islanders are gracious and welcoming. They are very proud of their island paradise, and rightfully so. Very few resorts occupy Anguilla, and the ones that do are quite exclusive. We stayed at Ce Blue Villas, a gorgeous resort made of only 8 villas overlooking a quaint, yacht speckled bay. The terrain and waters seemed more reminiscent of Hawaii than the Caribbean. All in all, a sight for sore (and frozen) eyes.
Our first day there we went Scuba Diving. There was a great little dive shop on the beach and we were able to charter a private dive boat for the 6 of us. The diving was not the best i've experienced (that actually would be Hawaii) but it was solid. The shallow dives were a bit murky but the deeper (80ft) wreck dive was fantastic. Clear warm water and an abundance of sea life was visible, including several sea turtles. Overall, definitely worth it.
Day 2 was an experience of a lifetime. Being all "eat travel rock" as I am, many would be surprised to find out that I'd never been in a little plane. They've always made me nervous, so I've avoided them at all costs. Well I was outvoted when it came to deciding how we were getting to St. Barths. It's an 1:15 boat ride, or a 9 minute plane ride. The plane won. We chartered a small 8-seater, and low an behold, 10 minutes later (landing on Earth's shortest airstrip, and one of the world's most extreme airports) we were in the South of France.
St. Barths was surreal. I literally felt as if we were magically transported to Europe. EVERYTHING is in French, EVERYONE speaks French, they use the Euro, and the streets and buildings look much more European that Caribbean. We had reserved a table at the world famous, Nikki Beach, and had the time of our lives. Fresh sushi, delicious grilled chicken and steak, and magnum bottles of Domaine Ott Rosè for days. The crowd was international... we may have been the only Americans, which was such a relief. Live music, dancing on tables, endless food and wine, while playing on the St. Tropez-esqe beach was otherworldly. We then WALKED to the airport and hopped aboard our little flight back home... touchdown... 9 minutes later.
When people ask how my trip was, my first comment is: The food was amazing!! It's true. EVERYTHING we ate was delicious. The service is friendly, but timing...well everyone is on island time. So don't go to a restaurant starving (hard for me) because you won't eat for about 30-60 min. But soooo well worth the wait. Each meal we had was perfection. From beach shacks (Blanchard's Beach Shack), to fine dining (DaVida), everything was on point. Of course each menu was seafood heavy, which was expected and welcomed. Yet they do great BBQ, and have other great ethnic food such as Italian. The meal that took the cake, however, was Scilly Cay. This restaurant encompasses one entire tiny island. Our instructions were to: "go to the end of the dock, wave like an idiot, and a little boat will come pick you up." I was the one who volunteered to wave like an idiot, and sure enough, 1 min later, a little boat scooped us up. The island was a 2 minute boat ride away and it was untouched, authentic, and gorgeous. The food: Grilled lobsters or grilled chicken...that's it. Oh and some earth shattering rum punch. That. Is. It. I went with grilled lobby, and smarter people went with a combo... I missed out because the chicken was some of the best i'd ever had. Both were coated in a sweet coconut curry sauce that was sublime. After my big meal, I went over to a little lawn chair on the beach, had a spiritual moment, and just let it all sink in...
And New Year's Eve! This is all I will say. When the clock struck midnight, I was on the beach with my feet in the water, glass of champagne in my hand, watching fireworks, kissing my guy, and hanging with great friends. Best. EVER.
Anguilla is an island destination I would absolutely return to. I've been to Jamaica twice, and Dominican Republic twice and I'm not a huge fan because you can't leave the resort or really explore the indigenous food, people, and beauty of the island. Anguilla is different, it's safe and easy to find hidden gems and mingle with the locals. The food, the people, the beaches, and the scenery make this my favorite Caribbean destination, and overall my favorite trip I've taken. If you need more activity or restaurant recommendations, let me know by commenting below! Viva Anguilla!!
Why is Kelly writing a beauty blog you ask? Simple. A comprehensive skin care routine is a quintessential part of life and getting older. However, with my non-stop travel schedule coupled with being on-camera a lot, I've really had to step my game up. I've been fortunate enough to always look a few (several) years younger than my actual age, but now it's time to REALLY start taking care of my skin. So I wanted to share my go-to beauty and skin care routine... not only for every day, but for TRAVEL and for those who aren't camera-shy :)
First is the daily cleansing and moisturizing routine. About 9 months ago I was introduced to Rodan + Fields. They are the dermatologists who created Proactiv and based on the massive success of that line, they wanted to create a skin care line for maturing or problematic skin. Fortunately, I don't have acne prone, problematic, or sensitive skin, but I do want a great anti-aging skin care line. I've been using their REDEFINE line consistently for 9 months and I notice a huge difference in the quality of my skin. The products actually feel so nourishing and visibly reduce fine lines. I use the entire line religiously and have had nothing but great results. The line includes a creamy exfoliating cleanser, toner, and AM (with SPF) and PM moisturizers. In addition I have been using their Microdermabrasion Paste. This stuff is INSANE. It's, by far, the best exfoliant i've ever used. It can be pretty intense (you can adjust the strength) but it gets the job done. Every time I'm done using it my face literally feels like a baby's tushie...it scrubs away age and sun damage yet is still moisturizing. Da Bomb. I actually have my own personal consultant, Amy Wolff, who's an expert with all their products and lines (something for EVERY skin type). Here's the link to their "Solution Tool" that will help you find what's right for you.
This product is a bit indulgent but this entire line of skin care is glorious. Shisheido Future Solution LX Eye and Lip Contour Regenerating Cream. It's pricey but you can feel the quality. It's so thick and nourishing but has never given me a break out. I use it on my eyes and laugh lines at night.
MAC Cosmetics Fast Response Eye Cream. I've been using this for years, ever since my sister used to work for MAC as a makeup artist. She swore by this stuff and said it was the most "stolen" product by runway models before it became available to the public. It contains caffeine and will visibly reduce under eye puffiness. It also just feels SOOOO smooth and gives my eyes the extra help I need in the morning and before I apply makeup. It's also great as a touch-up makeup remover (for all your winged liner fails). Since it's tiny, it's also great for travel.
Finally a drug store option...Since I travel a ton I love products that are portable and save time and space. Pre-moistened (gross! I hate the word moist...) wipes are my go-to. I am obsessed with them as I don't need to bring my entire cleansing regime with me, especially since I hate dealing with the liquids in my carry-on (I rarely check a bag). My fave wipes lately are the L'Oreal Revitalift Radiant Smoothing Wet Towelettes. They are great at taking off makeup and have a built in anti-aging formula, so if you get lazy (as I occasionally do when I travel) you can use this all-in-one item and not feel guilty!
Another inexpensive item that is awesome while traveling, or for when you want to feel fresh and awake is the Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, and Rosewater. It smells fantastic and gives you skin an invigorating boost whenever you want/need it. It can also set your makeup, so you can use it on a bare face, or after you've gotten ready.
Lastly, I've recently learned how important a make up primer is. My new can't-live-without item is The POREfessional by Benefit. It's a smooth satiny feeling balm that immediately and drastically reduces the appearance of pores as well as gives your makeup the perfect base. LOVE this stuff so much and it's so key for when you're on-camera as it helps to give you a flawless makeup application.
I'd love to know some of your favorite skin care routine too, so please share. Hope this list is helpful as I know I've personally noticed a huge difference in my skin from this regimen. Thanks all!
Hell's Kitchen was not a New York neighborhood I was too familiar with. I'm sure I've driven through it from the Upper West Side to downtown, but I never paid too much attention to it. Maybe because I thought it was too close to Times Square, or maybe because the name sounded scary...nevertheless, I finally got to know this little "hood" and I likey.
I'm now partial, mainly because my new favorite hotel is in Hell's Kitchen. Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants has prestigious boutique hotels all over the country, including several right here in Chicago (Palomar, Allegro, etc.) but Ink 48, right in Hell's Kitchen is outstanding. From the second I arrived to the second I departed, the service was on point. My room was GORGEOUS and unique. The jacuzzi tub was in the living area and the enclosed stone shower was tucked away around the corner... very cool layout. I had a great view of the city and other room amenities included a granite vanity (perfect for doing my pre-TV makeup) and a yoga mat (perfect for a very early AM stretch before heading to VH1). They also have one of the city's most killer rooftop bars called The Press Lounge.
The location of Ink 48 and Hell's Kitchen is great. It was an easy walk to Times Square, where I film. But it's also a short cab ride down town or up-town... close to subways too (I usually take subways everywhere in NYC). There are also some great dining options. Ink 48 has their own upscale and trendy dining spot, Print, and you're only two blocks away from the badass Gotham West Market which is the coolest "food court" I've ever seen. It also has a quick serve version of the famous Ivan Ramen.
Cannot WAIT to go back soon and stay with them during my next visit. Never thought I'd say this, but hope to see you all in HELL's Kitchen ;)
Food trends have been quite, well, trendy as of late. There is always something new that is "all the rage" and Chicagoans buy into the trends (literally and figuratively) whole heartedly. Are we jumping on the bandwagon because we are yearning to try new and interesting foods, or are we absorbing all of these calories just because it's what everybody in town is doing? Which brings me to the next point... Are these trends making us fat? Are ANY of these trends healthy? How long can these trends be sustained?
Meat. Ahhh meat. So delicious, so satiating, and so controversial. If you follow my blogs you will know that I have recently become outspoken on trying to be more socially responsible with my meat intake. For now, I'll put this aside. Chicago is a meat city, and these meat trends have been on a steep incline. Is bacon something new? No. Is seeing it in and on everything imaginable new? Yes. A few years ago, you didn't see bacon on your doughnuts, and in your chocolate, and garnishing your martini. Yes this CAN BE delicious. But an immense intake of bacon can't be good for us and our waistlines, correct? What has come along since bacon became so En Vogue? Pork Belly. This fatty splendor can be found everywhere. On burgers (as if that's necessary), in tacos (this I have ZERO qualms with), in eggs, and in/on pasta and pizza. This is where trend separates from indigenous foods. When you see a pork belly taco, that is a regional Latin American specialty. When you see pork belly on a 1/2 lb "Santa Fe" burger at a local "gastro pub" it's a food trend. This all becomes silly and unnecessary when people start throwing bacon and pork belly and foie gras on EVERYTHING just because it's a fad. Maybe I don't want foie gras on my PB&J!!!!
What is up with the doughnut and cupcake trends?? I mean, yea they're freakin' delicious, but could we be shoveling our faces full of anything worse for us? The problem is; that because you just HAVE to try Doughnut Vault, or you haven't lived until you've had Sprinkles or Sweet Mandy B's, people flock like lemmings to these places and consume vast amounts unaware of how bad it is for us. The occasional dessert is fine, if not necessary. But to have full venues, restaurants, and shops dedicated to these trends may be too much. I think the public is starting to speak, however, when entire chains like Crumb's Bake Shops are going under. Maybe a 2,000 calorie cupcake isn't on OUR menu anymore. Also, stores like Sprinkles and Glazed and Infused which had lines around the corner or were sold out by 11am, now are much more tame. Is the trend on it's way out? Are we becoming more health conscious, or just sick of certain trends and waiting for the next big one? What are your thoughts friends? Does Chicago have room for a potentially healthy food trend? Why can't omelets or healthy soups be the next big thing? Don't throw "but Kale and Brussels Sprouts are huge right now!" at me... entire restaurants or menus dedicated to these items aren't springing up left and right... they're just side dishes... and half the time they're loaded with bacon and pork belly anyway.
I'd love to know your thoughts! Leave me a comment!
Hey fellow foodies! This last year has truly been an epiphany for me and I have undergone a tremendous paradigm shift.. Even though I haven't yet fully crossed over to the 100% socially, ethically, and health conscious side (and I may never), I have made a small leap. It may not be too apparent in my Instagram food posts, but I assure you, changes are happening behind the scenes. The food we now eat has become incredibly controversial... and for good reason. Not only is obesity the leading epidemic and cause of death in our nation, the overall treatment of animals used to produce the majority of our food borders on sadistic. Herein lies the conundrum. How can we foodies, still live our glorious lives of indulging our culinary desires, without perpetuating rapid heart disease, poisoning our bodies, and the disdainful inhumane slaughter of some of God's most beloved creatures?
I started to make some changes for several reasons. The first was when my sister, Kristin Rizzo, became so impassioned with a feature documentary on animal rights she directed with her best friend, Katie Cleary, who created and produced the film called Give Me Shelter. It's a ground breaking film that opened my eyes to many current issues in the animal world I was previously ignorant to. I then wanted to learn more...I watched, horrified, (over and over) documentaries such as Food Inc. and Earthlings. If you can get through these films and not change your life, at least a little, then.... well.... no comment.
With other documentaries I've watched, and books I've read, I've realized that 90% of the crap I was consuming was poison. Diet soda (or diet anything) for example, is just a huge serving of toxic chemicals. Diet soda actually increases formaldehyde production in your brain. Um, no thanks! I have cut ALL of this out of my diet. It's much better to have the actual sugar along with the calories, than Soylent Green. Processed food is killing America, and even though i'll have my occasional gummy bear (my vice), if it's processed or has any preservatives or is unnatural in any way....I'm doing my best to steer clear.
But how can we foodies eat all the deliciousness that is available to us without eating meat? Well I guess it's possible... but I'm not ready to take that step yet. I cannot go full vegetarian or vegan, nor do I want to. What I AM doing is making smart and deliberate choices in order to be as socially conscious as I can, without giving up all meat, and enjoying my foodie lifestyle.
1. I try hard not to eat meat at fast food places anymore. If I must go to McDonald's or Subway (very rare...I know... a BIG change for me) I'll get the Filet O' Fish (don't knock it until ya tried it) or Tuna Salad. Here and there I will still get food from my cherished Portillo's, come on, I'm only human!!!
2. I try to only get meat (beef, pork, lamb...I no longer order veal) at restaurants where I know they source their meat from local and sustainable farms where the animals are treated as well as possible while alive and slaughtered as humanely as possible (oxymoronic, I'm aware). I filmed an episode of my previous show, Food Junkie: Chicago, at Slagel Family Farm (watch it HERE). I have seen first hand the difference between an old fashioned family farming operation, and the factory/commercial feedlots and slaughterhouses. They are worlds apart. Even though, yes, animals are still being killed for our consumption, this is by far the best way to ensure that at least you aren't contributing to the filth and evil that exists at the large corporate farms.
3. I buy mostly all organic produce and dairy. It's more expensive, but it's worth it. ESPECIALLY the dairy. You want milk and eggs from happy cows and chickens who are being treated well and raised in a healthy environment and without hormones and antibiotics. Don't just go after "free range". That is a bullshit title. Go for "Organic".
4. I eat a TON of seafood. This is hardly a sacrifice. A foodie can survive off of oysters, lobster rolls, escargot, hamachi sashimi, tuna poke, blackened catfish, BBQ salmon, and miso glazed chilean sea bass. Pastas are also our indulgent friend. This is where being Italian comes in handy :)
I'm definitely not perfect, nor will I ever be. We all occasionally get hungover and have cheat days. Or we just HAVE to try that new burger at that new hot spot. If you invite me to your house and you grill chicken or hot dogs or make me some Hamburger Helper, I'll gladly and thankfully eat it. I'll never be the pretentious diva in your home to ask "Excuse me where is that meat from? Um noooo thank you then." But I may view it as an opportunity to share some of my findings with you. It's undeniable Americans should agree that we need to make some changes. Fortunately for foodies, these can be attainable, realistic, and delicious changes!
Alright fellow Chicagoans, the polar vortex has subsided... at least for now (hopefully). We all know Chicago has a great patio scene and that drinking ice cold beer in the summer sun is our favorite pastime. But what if you want to REALLY enjoy the weather, our gorgeous city, AND the lakefront, but still be healthy? I've got the answer, folks. I have been paddleboarding for the last 3 years and I swear it changed the way I look at fitness. Granted, we cannot do this all year round in Chicago, but while we can, I definitely take FULL advantage. It's a very useful skill to have, as it's become a popular sport the world over. (One of my best friends was paddleboarding in Cinque Terre, Italy last week). Not only is it fun, relaxing, and an amazing workout (core, arms, legs) but you can get a great tan while doing it!
I go, as often as I can, to Chicago SUP at North Ave Beach. They rent the boards for $30/hr, or you can buy a package that can save you some dough. They also offer private lessons (which I don't feel are very necessary, the 2 min tutorial should be enough). What's even more fun is they offer SUP YO! Classes...(stand up paddleboarding yoga). Click here for class schedule. Can you think of any better way to do yoga? With the backdrop of the most gorgeous city right behind you... and if you get too hot... ya just jump in the water!!
Lately, after I finish my paddle session, I head into the ground floor of Castaways. Now usually, when you think of beach food, you think of hot dogs and burgers and snow cones...so basically shit. Now you can complete your healthy day because the little stand in there makes green smoothies. My favorite is the Kale Ginger- made with Kale, Banana, Orange, Fresh Ginger, and Coconut Water. It's the perfect healthy hydration after your work out.
Go check it out! Trust me, you'll love it. Do NOT be scared to fall in, I guarantee you'll welcome a quick dip. It's the most tropical thing you could possibly do in our fair city, so take advantage of it while you can... then go do it around the world!
It's an honor to emcee and host Dave Bolland's Charity Golf Tournament today.... In case you don't remember (and if you don't, SHAME on you!) Dave was the badass Blackhawk who clinched the Stanley Cup Finals for Chicago with the winning goal in game 6 in 2013. Even though Dave has moved on to the Florida Panthers, he's still very involved with the Remix Project that just opened in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood at the Lacuna Artist Lofts. The Remix project is a program that provides alternative creative classes to underprivileged youth. Bottom line is I get to eat delicious food all day while driving around in a golf cart. Then at night- I'll be mingling with other players who are all committed to helping this great foundation. Eat Travel Golf!!!
For those who know me, you know i'm obsessed with tattoos. Short of having a full sleeve... I have my share. For some of them, I'd love a "do-over" (Black panther on my lower waist...whaaaa???) and others, I wouldn't change for anything (Italian script, and my Pearl Jam tat I got at 16). However, what if you could live out your tattoo dreams, and have it be temporary? Henna is lame... and the one's we got as kids are equally as lame today. (At 14, I put on a vine that encircled my belly button... yuck).
So happy that I came across Flash Tattoos... they are gold and silver awesomeness. They last about 5-7 days and it allows me to live out all of my Egyptian rock goddess fantasies. If they had these in the 80's, The Bangles would be covered in them. Yes, I understand that unlike myself, most people have normal jobs and can't go around covered in these. (I had one on my face the other day and my mom freaked out that it was real...calm down... but Lord help me the day they invent permanent gold tattoo ink...it's ON!) But since you can rub them off with rubbing alcohol, you can party with them all weekend and say goodbye to them Monday morning when you head to work (wahhh wahhh). So until I get sick of these things, you will see me with arm bands and necklaces etc... they are literally like jewelry.... jewelry you can't lose at a music festival or a night out at the club after a few too many cocktails.