Wednesday: Local Remedy

Have you heard of Farmaesthetics?  If not, here are three reasons why you should check them out:

1. This relatively new skincare line, which is entirely comprised of natural, organic, US grown ingredients, has garnered numerous awards and recognition from national news sources. ¬†Time magazine placed Farmaesthetics among its list, ¬†“Green Style & Design 100: The People & Ideas Behind Today’s Most Influential Design.”

2.  Everything smells amazing, is beautifully packaged, and will make you feel wonderful and refreshed.

3. It’s practically made in your backyard! ¬†Farmaesthetics was started and continues to be based in Portsmouth, RI. ¬†Check out its flagship store on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, which also offers spa services.

Farmaesthetic Products are used in spas around the world, are carried in most Whole Foods, and have been featured in publications as lofty as Greek Vogue. ¬†The great thing about the store on Bellevue is that you can buy small bottles of each product, like the one above, for $10. ¬†To call it a sample would be misleading- more like a travel size that will last you a good while! ¬†It’s a great way to become familiar with the products.

About the product featured in this cheesy photo vignette, the Rosehip and Clay Mint Mask is the answer to those pesky things we all get (still), so let’s just refer to them as ‘spots’. ¬†Harsh benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid treatments are too much for my skin at this time of year. ¬†This is a way to treat and help prevent breakouts, gently, and with the rejuvenating smell of peppermint.

Farmaesthetics Rosehip and Clay Mint Mask, 4 oz bottle, $25.50.  Trial size, $10. and select Whole Foods

Tuesday: Dew Agents

Cold, moisture-less winter air will dry out your skin and give it a dull appearance. ¬†To reclaim hydrated, ‘dewy’ looking skin, these products are my picks. ¬†(NOTE: drinking lots of water is a more-or-less free and highly effective skin boost, too).

REN’s Glycolactic Skin Renewal Peel mask gently sloughs off dead cells, decongests pores and smooths out the complexion using natural fruit acids. ¬†This is a chemical free alternative to all those crazy glycolic peels that people go to spas for, and one that even my super sensitive skin will tolerate. ¬†It’s an investment, but one tube will last you all winter with a once a week application, and the result is radiant, supple skin that will seem positively other-worldy amidst cold winter winds and central heating. ¬†I was first introduced to REN when I worked at a store that carried the line, and I have to say, I saw far more results at the same price point from Dr. Hauschka’s daily skin regimen. ¬†But where REN excels is in their special treatment masks, like this one, their serums, and their Moroccan Rose Otto bath oil! ¬†Ah, I miss that employee discount.

Dr. Hauschka has long had me as a devotee, but I hadn’t tried his Quince Day Cream until this winter, when my summer-weight lotion just wasn’t cutting muster and my skin was starting to feel like sandpaper. ¬†This stuff brought me back from the brink! ¬†Quince seed extract’s natural anti-inflammatory properties soothe stressed skin, while also providing moisture and protection. ¬†Dr. H recommends Quince Day Cream for normal, dry, or sensitive skin. ¬†Go to to find out which products are right for your skin type, or do what I did: drive to Littleton, NH, which is a place well worth the trip (see previous post), and visit my skin guru, Kate, at her gallery/salon, Art to Go. ¬†She’ll tell you exactly what you need and help you prioritize your product investments based on your current routine, your budget and your skin issues.

REN Glycolactic Skin Renewal Peel, $55,

Dr. Haushka$35.95,, also available locally at A Market, Newport and at Whole Foods

Banish Winter Skin, Naturally: 3 days of Chemical-free Products that will make you feel closer to summer

MONDAY: I received the world’s tiniest sample of this Japanese cult moisturizer, Yu-Be, with a purchase from Sephora, and now I am hooked. ¬†Invented in the 1950’s, Yu-be is the number one selling medicated lotion in Japan, and has only recently become available in the US. ¬†All their products are petrochemical free, although for some reason the hand cream appears to contain parabens, while the rest of the line does without. ¬†However, this is the only non-steroidal cream that has been able to soothe the eczema on my hands, and those prescription creams are packed with parabens, petrochemicals and goodness knows what else, not to mention how addicted your skin gets to them, so Yu-Be is a welcome substitute for me!

Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream, $24 and Lip Therapy, $5.

Getting back on that ole horse

I haven’t pursued drawing or painting in almost a year now. ¬†Getting back in the art-making groove is incredibly daunting. ¬†So to push myself a little bit, I’m taking a watercolor class at the Newport Art Museum this month. ¬†Here are my sketches from the first class; it’s my first time putting up my artwork on HopeState. ¬†It feels a little bit like being naked on a city street (I imagine). ¬†But I would really appreciate constructive criticism, and I’ll keep posting my work. ¬†(let’s hope it improves with practice).

PS, go to to see what classes you might like to take. ¬†Their spring sessions start in early april. ¬†I’m determined to take a wheel-throwing class. ¬†Another saddle to climb back into….have’t done ceramics since my sophomore year of highschool!

The New Working Wardrobe

Well folks, gone are my days of wearing a tee shirt and jean shorts to work. ¬†When I was farming at SVF Foundation, and later gardening for private clients, my uniform didn’t much matter because it would be splattered with mud and manure by coffee break anyway. ¬†And goodbye refrigerated office, which is essentially what the workplace was like when I did wedding flowers. ¬†Fleece jackets in july? ¬†No more. ¬† My book is almost done, which means I can’t work from home in my pajamas anymore, either. ¬†Sigh.

Its time for me to get a ‘real’ job (whatever that means), and I am suddenly confronted with the great conundrum that is THE WORK WARDROBE. ¬†I dread the idea of a drab, impersonal business suit. ¬†I dread heels in winter, and blazers in summer. ¬†I dread the inability to express my personality through dress because I am trying to conform to what might be considered ‘appropriate’ in a 9-5 business environment. ¬†And I haven’t even gotten a job yet! ¬†I’m in the interview phase, which is even MORE intimidating. ¬†I’m a creative person- I wasn’t built to conform. ¬†How can I look respectable at an interview, and still communicate my creativity (which is the very skill I am trying to sell to employers!) through my personal style???

In times like these, I turn to the women in my family for help.  And who could understand the parable of the artist-who-would-wilt-if-forced-to-wear-a-business-suit better than my aunt Katie, who has worked extremely hard to become a successful landscape architect with her own firm?

I popped my head into her office over the period of one very cold wintery week to see what she was wearing and to snap a few photos. ¬†What I got from this experience was a tremendous sense of relief. ¬†I realized that I won’t have to dress like this to be taken seriously at work:

Image from Glamour Magazine

No offense, Hillary, but the idea that women have to dress like men to make it in male dominated environments is pretty archaic. ¬†Sure, it made sense in 1970, but now, business women are learning that expressing themselves as individuals and creative thinkers who don’t hide their femininity gives them more of a leg up in the work environment than merely blending into a sea of herringbone suiting. ¬†It’s an attitude that says, “women deserve to be here as women, not as women trying to act like men.”

Here’s my fabulous aunt, and this is what I love about her office style: she finds a way to be comfortable, and she dresses sensibly (no sky-rocketing heels, no bare legs) while still looking ‘dressed up’. ¬†It was darn cold that week! ¬†Legging pants, flat boots, and big chunky knits in neutral shades served as a warm base layer that was sort of under-the-radar casual (black pieces always seem fancier than they are, as long as you have a good lint brush!). ¬†Then she injected her own personality and a little bit of chic by adding bold accessories: hip glasses, statement jewelry, a scarf or a fur stole. ¬†I think I would describe the overall attitude of her looks as quietly stylish, which is, I imagine, the way one should be at work. ¬†You don’t want your outfit to be so over the top stylish (See: Anna Dello Russo) that it upstages what you are really in that office for: ¬†your brain, your work ethic and your skills! ¬†But I’m not saying you should wear a grey sack, either…

So, what do you wear to work?  Feel free to describe your office style in the comment section (hint, hint).