Sun Protection Standouts

by Kristen at The Red Velvet Life on May 14, 2013 · 2 comments

The first day of summer isn’t for another month–June 21 to be exact–but the heat has arrived and kicked up its flip-flopped feet. Yesterday’s high lingered around 102. I’m constantly on the lookout for shaded walkways, ice water dispensers, and ceiling fans.

Ferris and I are feeling it, and we’re taking precautionary measures to protect ourselves from heat exhaustion and sunburn. We hydrate, we eat well (he now gets an extra meal per day because he’s working so hard–not so for me!), and we both wear sunscreen. Yes, it’s true. Ferris wears sunscreen. Not all over, just on the pink parts of his muzzle. He seems to have accepted his grooming routine as he lowers his head when I apply his Banana Boat for babies (in a pink tube no less). Who knows, maybe by mid-summer he’ll be applying his own sunscreen? Tacking himself up? Pouring me mint juleps?


I wouldn’t count on it. Ferris knows I’ll happily spoil him with extra curry combing, carrots, and cookies. (Maybe go slow on introducing the mint juleps, no?) And while I’ve been known to borrow Ferris’s Banana Boat, I have my own sun protection regimen. Here are a few essentials for making it through spring and summer in one un-toasted piece!

Everyday sun protection


(1) Chantecaille Ultra Sun Protection Sunscreen Primer Broad Spectrum SPF 50 / (2) Chantecaille Just Skin Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15 /(3) Eric Javits Squishee Shade Sun hat / (4) Colorescience Pro Sunforgettable SPF 50 mineral powder/ (5) Mario Badescu Oil Free Moisturizer SPF 30/ (6) Chantecaille Lip Screen / (7) elta MD UV Clear SPF 46 / (8) Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15 / (9) Prada sunglasses / (10) Hat from Goorin Bros. (Mine is a bit different, but this one is cute.)

That’s some serious sun protection factor right there. I’ve broken it down into what I use everyday and what I use for riding and other outdoor activities.

Everyday Use

  • Moisturizer with SPF
    • Mario Badescu Oil Free Moisturizer SPF 30, or
    • DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30 (not shown, but you can find it at Whole Foods or many places online like here–it’s amazing!)
  • Wide-brimmed hat and Sunglasses
    • I recommend wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses during peak hours for sun exposure. There are so many hats out there that you’re bound to find one to suit your taste and price range. I’m a fan of Eric Javits and Goorin Bros.; both can be pricey, but they’ll last summers to come and the Eric Javits hat has UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) 50+.
  • Lip sunscreen
    • Fresh sugar tinted lip treatment is a fantastic option that provides a hint of color and protects your smoocher. It comes in pretty shades like coral, berry, rose, honey, and passion. Muah!
    • Chantecaille Lip Screen is a sheer option for your lips with a moisture boost.
  • Devita Solar Body Block SPF 30 (not shown)
    • This is a great everyday sunscreen and moisturizer for the body. I first found it at Whole Foods, and I have yet to find a better lightweight sunscreen for everyday use.

Sports/Heavy Sun Exposure

  • Again, I start with an SPF-containing moisturizer, even though I always apply heavier ‘screen later.
    • Mario Badescu Oil Free Moisturizer SPF 30, or
    • DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30
  • For face, I use SPF 50 or higher, such as:
    • Chantecaille Ultra Sun Protection Sunscreen Primer Broad Spectrum SPF 50, or
    • elta MD makes a range of fantastic sunscreens. The one shown above is only SPF 46, which is probably best for everyday use. Look for something with a higher SPF.
      • I first learned about elta MD from my former dermatologist in Austin. I’d say dermatologists in Central Texas know a thing or two abot sun protection, no?
  • Lip Sunscreen
    • Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15, or
    • Chantecaille Lip Screen SPF 15
  • Visor or Hat and Sunglasses (not shown)
    • For riding, I wear polarized Maui Jim sunglasses and occasionally my Equi-Visor, which I attach to my helmet on extra hot days.
  • For body, I’ve been experimenting with various drugstore brands, but I have yet to identify one worth raving about. I recommend elta MD sunscreens for body as well–it’s on my wish list!
  • Other
    • Colorscience Sunforgettable mineral powder is fantastic for travel because you can easily reapply, and it’s a sheer powder, so it doesn’t take up any of your coveted liquid carry-on space. I used it religiously on our 2010 anniversary trip to Riviera Maya, and it never led to breakouts.

I’m sure as the summer months arrive (it’s technically still spring!), I’ll identify new favorites. I’ll keep you updated. Please let me know if you have any questions!

I want to know–what are your favorite sunscreens and sun protection essentials?


Little Flower Candy Co. Brie and Mushroom Sandwich

by Kristen at The Red Velvet Life on May 6, 2013 · 1 comment

Ever since meeting a friend for coffee at Little Flower Candy Co., Ian and I have become fans of this charming Pasadena cafe. Ethereal music, friendly people, cozy ambiance, and a Parisian-inspired black and white striped awning–très chic! They sell house-made caramel in flavors like sea salt and lemon, my friends Katie and Sharon’s Simmering Sugar toffee, and chocolates with gorgeous packaging, all of which make lovely gifts. And it’s not ALL sugary–the menu extends well beyond candy! A few of our favorite items include the vegetarian breakfast burrito, Salmon Niçoise salad, and the buttermilk pretzel roll … and yes, there’s definitely sugar in the latter, but bear with me because it’s ah-mazing. And the cappuccino. Because it’s a cafe, and one must order a caffeinated beverage when cafe’ing, oui? It must be written somewhere. Somewhere in Paris.


Another gift idea (Mother’s day, perhaps?)–Little Flower’s recipe book! I got it a few months ago for myself, and I’ve subsequently purchased two additional copies for my mom and mother-in-law for their respective birthdays. [And non, Little Flower isn't paying me to say this!] I’ve already tested a few of the recipes, and Ian has dubbed the coconut macaroon the best cookie he’s ever tasted. Bold claim!


I’ve also added Little Flower’s brie and mushroom sandwich to our dinner rotation. You can have this meal put together in under twenty minutes. If you have no love for slicing and dicing, you can even buy pre-sliced mushrooms at Trader Joe’s. Short cuts abound! Mushrooms, brie, and bread … what’s not to love?


Brie and Mushroom Sandwich

Adapted from Little Flower Candy Company recipe book

Makes 2 servings

  • 1/2 loaf bread loaf of choice sliced in half (I used Trader Joe’s, but you can use any quality baguette/pain rustique. A wide loaf works best.)
  • 1 cup Sauteed cremini mushrooms (I used a bag of Trader Joe’s pre-sliced cremini mushrooms–so easy!)
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
  • 2 ounces brie, cut into slices
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1.5 tsp fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a small saucepan. Add mushrooms and saute for about five minutes. When mushrooms are nearly cooked, add minced garlic and sea salt and cook for a minute or two. Set aside mushrooms. Place bread face-up on a parchment-lined baking pan. Spread mushrooms on bread. Arrange brie slices on top of mushrooms. Bake for five minutes or until brie is melted. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with thyme and lemon zest. Enjoy!


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Finest, loveliest, tenderest, most beautiful

by Kristen at The Red Velvet Life on May 2, 2013 · 0 comments

Let’s have a round of applause for Ian … first blog post in the books! He’s a blogging natural and so sweet and supportive of me and Ferris. Doing my best to hold the gush here, but I feel like the luckiest lady to call him my husband.

Now that we’ve set foot in superlative land (see luckiest), does anyone else notice or take part in the “my husband is the best” and “I have the best husband in the world” game, usually found on Facebook? You go girls–we chose well! (Except, MY husband is the best, and we all know this … ahem!). It’s true–I don’t just sit on the sidelines. I’ve been known to engage in this IPDA (internet public display of affection), because well, I’m in lurve! He’s the coolest (we all know this by now, yes?) … and sometimes I just want to #SHOUTFROMTHEROOFTOPSOHEMGEEILOVETHISGUY! And sometimes I do just that. Sans hashtag abuse and all caps. And then I’ve officially joined the [benign] hubby wars between friends where everyone is like, posting the sweet nothings their husband said the night before, anniversary vacation plans … and other things I’m 100% guilt of broadcasting online.


See? As a social media savvy lady, of course I like to [virtually] shout sweet nothings from the rooftop every now and again … it’s all true! Even so, I keep a lot of our life together close to my heart. Private. This makes for a wee conundrum because I generally don’t delve into anything too personal. I mean what I say, and I don’t blog about everything–it’s just not my style. I don’t mean to represent that our relationship is perfect and sans disagreement. Like any couple, we’ve had our challenges and I know we’ll have more. We’ve overcome challenges together and gained strength as a couple and as individuals. It’s so worth it when you’re overcoming challenges with your favorite person in the world. That’s the heart of why we like to engage in this game of superlatives, isn’t it? It’s a way of celebrating and affirming the ones we love. Let’s celebrate together–we chose some fine men, didn’t we ladies? The finest, loveliest, tenderest, and most beautiful!


Guest Post: The Power of Persistence

by Kristen at The Red Velvet Life on April 30, 2013 · 5 comments

So I am Kristen’s husband, Ian, and this is my first guest blog post. Today I’ll be writing about Kristen’s accomplishment this past weekend that, in my opinion, shows the power of persistence. Kristen began to develop her passion for riding when we arrived in Pasadena in the summer of 2011. I remember very clearly the first day we rode together. Kristen was a natural–she had great posture, and she was confident on the horse.  Me, on the other hand, not so much. Kristen’s trainer, Suzie, referred to my riding style as “bohemian.” Not a good adjective to describe the “Sport of Kings!” I decided not to continue with horseback riding (I’ve gone the golf route instead), but Kristen did–and she is exceptional!  But it wasn’t easy for her to get to this level.


First, Kristen had to deal with riding several horses over an extended period until she found the apple of her eye who she is currently riding today–Ferris, aka Fairgrounds. Each horse has its own idiosyncrasies, so learning to ride on multiple horses is quite difficult. But Kristen persevered, and I think her experience riding several different horses has made her a versatile rider in retrospect. The most impressive part of Kristen’s riding is her development of an amazing relationship with her newest horse, Ferris. You see, Ferris had been injured jumping and had gone through a difficult few months before Kristen leased him, and the start of their relationship was a bit rocky. He would spook easily and he bolted more than once on her. But Kristen was undaunted. She kept riding Ferris regularly, always believing in him. Kristen and Ferris engaged in intensive therapy using the prozac of the horse world–carrots and paddock cakes! She loved on him no matter what. In the process, Kristen and Ferris developed an amazing relationship–so much so that I’m wondering if she might become a horse whisperer in her spare time!




All of Kristen’s hard work was vividly on display at the 92nd Annual Flintridge Horse Show at our home stable, Flintridge riding club. Kristen–and Ferris–performed with aplomb and panache, winning 3rd out of 9 in their best event. Kristen was able to accomplish this incredible feat despite the fact that she was competing against riders with many more years of experience and six-figure horses that regularly compete in a variety of shows. This is a sport where money definitely gives riders an advantage, and Kristen was able to level the playing field with the power of persistence. I am so proud of her, and I love Ferris too!



Coco-Nutty Granola

April 26, 2013

My spurs are shiny, my boots are polished, and my helmet is without a speck. Yep, it’s time to get snazzy for a horse show! (Never you mind that Ian and I spent about an hour scrubbing Meltonian from our fingers, which is to say, we’ll wear gloves next time!) Isn’t that an ironic feature […]

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Whole Milk vs. Skim Milk?

April 23, 2013

Hello, lovelies! We just returned to Los Angeles from a quick jaunt to Texas to celebrate Ian’s birthday with family and friends! After some long-overdue catchup time and meeting our adorable niece for the first time, we’re home and settling back into our SoCal routine. Speaking of which, my routine has recently included a piping […]

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Chickpea Curry

April 17, 2013

It is so deeply satisfying to connect with family over a healthy homemade meal. I love the process–flipping through recipes, making my list, hunting down ingredients, cooking, and then sharing the result with Ian. It’s all in keeping with how I want to live my life–I want to slow down, love well, and appreciate every […]

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Flappers and Philosophers

April 15, 2013

It’s settled. 1920s-themed events take the cake. The ladies floated about in fringe, feathers, and fascinators. The guys brought out their bow ties and white dinner jackets. Whether vintage-inspired or true to the era, everyone played along. All the boas and bowler hats made for a lively, fanciful evening for a good cause. Embracing a […]

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La Dolce Vita: No sugar required?

April 12, 2013

I’m going on about two weeks of being relatively sugar-free, save a sweet potato and a few other low-sugar foods. You heard me right. Sugar. Free. This girl. Shocking, I know. It all started when my sister asked which natural sweeteners I recommend. With so many sweeteners out there, I wasn’t sure how to answer […]

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Hotsy-totsy vintage-inspired looks

April 10, 2013

Today marks one month till The Great Gatsby opens in theaters! Doesn’t it give you chills … old sport? The Lana Del Rey and Florence and the Machine songs are magic. Partially in anticipation of the movie, perhaps, 1920s-themed soirees seem to be popping up all around. Our Junior League annual benefit this Saturday has […]

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