Black Friday

I never understood the hype of Black Friday shopping...until I moved to the states. Just google Black Friday and thousands of articles pop up informing the public about the best deals, the places to be, the items to buy...
I personally will not be frequenting any shopping mall or store on Friday. However, online shopping- another story!

Below were a few of my favorite purchases from pre- Black Friday sales.

TJ Maxx: Fervour Sweetheart Top Gown $29 $109.99
Michael Kors: Saffiano Leather Pocket Smartphone Case $26.25 $50
Michael Kors: Chandler Large Shoulder Tote $182.70 $348 Merlot is currently unavailable but this style comes in a variety of colors. 
Kate Spade: Crown Point Garcia $299 $1295

Where will you be shopping?  Would love to hear from you! 



Avoid a Skin Scare

The Truth: Thick makeup clogs pores, dries and irritates skin. Paired with the cold weather -- your skin will look far from great. 

We love these products because these prevent skin damage, and repair the damage that has been done.

Key West Aloe Aloethera Facial Scrub
Refresh skin and exfoliate away leftover makeup, extra oil and dead skin cells with this deep cleansing facial scrub. Natural exfoliates of apricot seed andalmond meal buff skin while 100% pure Aloe Vera soothes irritation caused by late nights and cakey makeup.
Key West Aloe Products are very affordable, and leave you with great results! We love how their products are not overly scented. 
Kensington Apothecary Saké Skin Detox Tonic

Excessive sugar intake and an active social/work life can leave skin looking bloated and overworked with dark circles, sallowness and sagging caused by glycation, which causes accelerated aging. The SakéSkin Detox Tonic removes and dries out excess oil left from the night before. Formulated with brown rice vinegar and chamomile hydrosol infused with mimosa bark and olive leaf extracts, to leave skin vibrant once again.
Leaves your skin looking brighter and more vibrant!

Trophy Skin Labelle Ultrasonic Skin Scrubber
Pamper those pores by deeply exfoliating and extracting dirt and oil with this this pulsating skin spatula. Pore-clogging makeup and oils are gently removed to create a clean surface.  Following cleansing, use the scrubber to infuse serums into skin for maximum absorption and a glowing complexion.

Le Mieux Derma Relief Serum

This lipid replacement serum provides instant relief for extremely dry, stressed skin. Featuring powerful ceramides, a superior form of Vitamin E and 13 exotic oils including argan oil and kukui nut oil to soothe skin, minimize inflammation, and restore suppleness and resiliency. Helps repair damage caused by environmental aggressors and brighten tired skin.
Argan oil also does wonders for the hair! We love putting argan oil in our hair, and then rinsing it out for a luxurious, silky feel.

Topganic Shampoo and Conditioner with Obliphica Oil from Russia
For thin, brittle and color-treated hair
With costume staples like temporary dye and glitter hairspray, hair needs a detox from Halloween. Restore your hair with shampoo and conditioner enriched with dead sea mineralsobliphica oil, and vitamin Eto nourish and bring tresses from scary to silky.
www.topganic.com - $9-$11

Questions? Comments? We'd love to hear from you! letters@sarahvelasco.com

Workout Essentials

Sports Bra Courtesy of Lululemon Yoga Pants Courtesy of Bench
Work hard, look gorgeous! Whether it’s pumping iron or power yoga, working out doesn’t have to leave you feeling like a dirty gym sock. Hit the showers with essentials from Mia Beauty, Pura Naturals, BioRepublic and Key West Aloe that keep you effortlessly beautiful after the toughest of workouts.
Pura Naturals Active Charcoal Purifying Soap-Infused Facial Cleansing Sponge

Reveal soft skin even after the hardest training sessions. This 3-in-1 soap, washcloth and facial loofah, is formulated with charcoal to combat skin toxins that cause breakouts and clears away dead skin and oils that clog pores post sweat.

Price: $5.99; available online viawww.puranaturalsproducts.com

Mia Tony Ties

These hair ties won’t leave a trace once they’re removed. The soft elastic doesn’t pull or crease hair and can be worn as a bracelet post-workout.

Price: $8.00; available online via www.miabeauty.com

BioRepublic Sheet Masks

Restore moisture post-workout with ultra-hydrating portable sheet masks. Packed with all natural ingredients, skin is left refreshed and radiant. 

Price: $4.99; $14.95/Set of 3, available online viawww.biorepublic.com  

Key West Aloe Frangipani Salt Scrub

Polish and renew skin with the sweet floral fragrance of Frangipani Salt Scrub containing Dead Sea Salt and Essential oils to replenish hydration and nourish skin.

Price: $25.00; available online viawww.keywestaloe.com


Rain Boots

We always love a great rain boot, not just when it rains, but when it's not quite cold enough to sport a winter boot. 

1. Burberry Check Panel Rain Boots $350
Though Burberry is most famous for their luxurious trench coats, they always have such chic and classic rain boots that we adore.

2. Givenchy Eva Rain Boot $450
We've gotta add some Givenchy to the mix, of course. We love a minimalist look, with the little details.  A slightly gothic buckle will give your outfit a little edge. 

3. Hunter Women's Original Refined Back Strap Rain Boots $195
Though we have to say we're not a fan of that one style EVERYBODY owns, we love a hunter boot in a fun or classic color. May just be picking these up sometime soon ;).  P.S. They have some really cute rain boots with a chunky wedge. 

4. J.Crew Chelsea Leopard Rain Boot $68
Heavy boots not your thing? We love these J.Crew Rain boots. They've been so popular that J.Crew has had them for a few seasons.

5. Kate Spade Sedgewick Short Rainboots $150

Unfortunately, these are currently sold out! But perhaps you could find these somewhere else online.

Other labels that we think make great rain boots are Ilse Jacobsen, Coach, Michael Kors, Chooka, Tory Burch, Jeffery Campbell, UGG, Sperry, Steve Madden... There's also a brand called Posh Wellies. They're super affordable and look luxurious. You may want to check them out!

Questions? Comments? We'd love to hear from you! letters@sarahvelasco.com


Phantom Glass + Giveaway

"Phantom Glass™ is a tempered glass screen protector designed for smartphones, tablets, and cameras. With superior protection in mind, Phantom Glass is the last screen protector you'll ever need.™
Phantom Glass™ is made using the latest Corning® Gorilla® Glass technology to resist most impacts and scratches
Our proprietary and patent-pending silicone nano-adhesion layer ensures that Phantom Glass™ installs itself in under 30 seconds
Phantom Glass™ is treated with a specially engineered oleophobic nano-coating to ensure that fingerprints and residues wipe off with ease
Phantom Glass™ offers a smoother touch that is 100% clear, with zero image distortion as if nothing is on your phone at all
The silicone nano-adhesion layer works to fill most minor surface scratches on older and/or previously unprotected devices
The ability to remove and re-apply Phantom Glass™ numerous times, making it reusable
In the event of breakage, Phantom Glass™ does so in a way that is 100% safe to touch – there are no hazardous shards of glass or sharp edges
Our no-hassle Lifetime Warranty program, keeps your device protected at all times!" www.phantom.glass

For quite some time, glass screen protectors have gained popularity. Toronto- based Phantom Glass says they are "the last screen protector you'll ever need."
Phantom Glass' current line of tempered- glass protectors are made from Corning Gorilla Glass, which is used on many of the top of the line phones from 2014. It has been said that this newer glass has twice the toughness and durability on older models. 
Richard Waters founded this company in 2013 at the age of 20. He believes in using high quality glass as the foundation and using special techniques- like anodizing the glass opposed to using a spray, and adding an oleophobic coating- which is a longer process, but lasts longer and is more durable. 
With this material, in the event that it breaks, it will still be safe to touch. There will be no sharp edges, or shards of glass. 
We love how this company's protectors are edge-to-edge, and cover the whole face. We can use the home button, ear piece speaker, front-facing camera, and sensor without any hindrances. 
Installation is easy. An oleophobic nano coating means that fingerprints are easier to wipe off. The glass comes with a wet wipe to clean the phone's display and a small microfiber cloth to wipe it dry and ensure no dust or smears are there. There is a clear plastic shell that acts as the alignment and application. Peel away the inside, push the applicator into the phone, peel the top layer, and then remove the applicator.  We like the lack of bubbles with this phone protector. 
IPhone 6(s) and 6(s) Plus come in the following colors: White, Black, Gold, Silver, and Space Grey. 
Tempered-glass protectors may eventually overtake plastic films. 


  • Made of Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Tough and durable
  • Easy application
  • Can be removed and reapplied
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Comes in a variety of colours

  • Phantom Glass' classic clear for iPhone 6 is not edge to edge, and it retails for $34.99, their Privacy Glass for iPhone 6 is $49.99, and their edge to edge for iPhone 6 is $39.99. We highly recommend you give them a try!

Guess what?

Phantom Glass has offered to gift one of you an Iphone 6(s) /6s(Plus) screen protector!  Plus, we'll be throwing in a JCrew Leather IPhone 6/6s (value of $38). 
 How to win:

*Write 'Phantom Glass Giveway' on the Subject line and let us know what color you'd like to win!

*Contest is open to US or Canadian addresses
This contest will be closed on November 15th at 12am and winner will be chosen at random.

Questions? Comments? We'd love to hear from you! letters@sarahvelasco.com
Thank you for all your entries! The winner has been notified. 


Surprise Topganic Giveaway!

Halloween can be quite a fright – especially with all that hair styling and frying to complete the perfect costume.

To celebrate the holiday, Topganic would like to offer one of you the chance to win a design cream, design and sculpting liquid lotion or a moisturizing cream. These hair styling essentials are the perfect addition to any hair care routine, proving a boost of moisture and healthy shine. They retail for $11 and will leave your hair silky smooth!

 How to win:

*Write 'Topganic Giveaway' on the Subject Line

*Contest is open to US addresses only
This contest will be closed on October 30th at 12am and winner will be chosen at random.

Congratulations! The winner has been notified.
Questions? Comments? We'd love to hear from you! letters@sarahvelasco.com


Interview with Barry Johnson: President & COO at Black Jewell Popcorn

Barry Johnson
Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us about yourself? How did you get started?
Barry Johnson: I work with a group that acquired Black Jewell Popcorn in April, 2013.  While we did not come from the food industry and this is our first venture into the space, we saw great value in the unique and compelling attributes of Black Jewell and had a belief that through a variety of focused initiatives, we could grow the brand.  My background specifically has been in leading numerous consumer product brands but in different industries.  Many of the fundamentals to developing and sustaining successful products in highly competitive markets are applicable to different industries.  The real challenge has been in developing a detailed understanding about the grocery and natural food channel retailers and then implementing successful “go to market” strategies to gain and grow our shelf presence and sales. Thankfully, we are having tremendous success in gaining more and more retail chains that now carry our popcorn.

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell our readers about Black Jewell?
Barry Johnson: Black Jewell Popcorn has been around for over 50 years.  It started as a local popcorn Company in SE Illinois selling predominantly to local food stores and farmer’s markets.  The basis for the establishment of the Company in 1963 was a proprietary, heirloom seed that is our cornerstone today.  This is the small black kernel, the Original Black Jewell seed.  In the 1980’s, the Company was sold to a married couple who expanded distribution for the Company beyond the Midwest to other regions.  They also expanded the product lines to include other specialty kernels including and a Crimson colored one and also added microwave products to the line-up.  Since the transition in 2013, we have gone through a complete re-branding of the Company, updated all of the product packaging and added additional items to the product line-up.  We also engaged very early into the process of gaining Non-GMO verification and were the first to offer microwave products in the market with this logo.  We have also undertaken several additional initiatives including an update to the Company website and more active social media efforts to more directly connect with our customers.  Through all of the evolution of the Company over the years, the basics of being family owned and operated have remained.  We also take great pride in our close relationships with the family farms that grow our specialty popcorns for us.  All of our popcorns are grown and harvested in the Midwest, predominantly in Indiana and Illinois where Black Jewell’s operations are located.

Sarah Velasco: Why is popcorn great to snack on? 
Barry Johnson: We like to say that our popcorn provides “Happy & Healthy Snacking”.  Virtually everyone loves popcorn and popcorn provides a very healthy and natural snacking option to many other snacks.  Black Jewell takes a very strong approach to ensuring our products are natural and healthy.  The popcorn is gluten free, cholesterol free and has no trans fats.  With our microwave popcorn, all of the ingredients are 100% natural (nothing artificial) and as mentioned, all of our popcorn and ingredients have been verified Non-GMO.  So we offer a very “clean” snacking product.

Sarah Velasco: What makes Black Jewell popcorn different from other popcorn on the market?
Barry Johnson: Black Jewell is the leading grower and producer of specialty, color kernel popcorns.  All of our colored popcorns pop up pure white with less hull than typical yellow and white popcorns.  We also have a unique and tasty flavor profile that can be described as a more “nutty” taste.  Additionally, the color kernel popcorns contain more protective antioxidants than other popcorns.

Sarah Velasco: What is/are the difference between the different types of Gourmet Popping Kernels?
Bary Johnson: Our gourmet varieties offer variations in the kernel size which then can lead to smaller or fewer hulls when popped.  In fact, our Original Black kernel variety is virtually hulless.  We even have some consumers who have digestive issues and are able to eat this variety of popcorn.  All of Black Jewell’s gourmet kernels are typically smaller than standard yellow and white varieties which are bred for size and expansion.  But with the size comes more hull and more of a “chewy” texture.  Black Jewell’s popcorns tend to be more crunchy in texture.  Additionally, the various color varieties have unique taste profiles and with all of our popcorns, the consumer will get more of a “nutty” flavor to the popcorn than with standard yellow and white popcorns.

Sarah Velasco: What are some of the most common misconceptions about popcorn?
Barry Johnson: Popcorn doesn’t always have the reputation for being a truly “healthy” snack when you consider movie theater buttered popcorns and caramel corns.  But when seasoned with natural & healthy ingredients, popcorn is one of the healthier snacking options available.  It really does come down to what you add to the popcorn.  That’s why we focus on natural & healthy ingredients for our microwave products.  For example, our sweetener for the Kettle flavor microwave we offer is stevia leaf extract which is natural and doesn’t add the sugars that others do.  One other misconception about microwave popcorn is that the microwave bags contain unhealthy chemicals.  The common question is regarding the use of PFOA’s.  But we can assure our customers that Black Jewell microwave popcorns do not contain these chemicals.
Sarah Velasco: Are there some popping tips you could give us?
Barry Johnson: We typically tell our consumers that because our kernels are small and light, if they are using an air-popper, they should find some way to cover the opening until the popcorn starts popping (or risk some kernels flying out of the popper).  We often suggest using something like an oven mitt.  But most of our consumers pop our loose kernels on the stovetop and there really are numerous ways that they do this so it becomes a personal preference.  We know many stay very healthy with the oil they use, sometimes using something like coconut oil.  We have lots of consumers who really enjoy the process and make it a family affair.  The nice thing with popping on the stovetop is that once the popcorn is popped, each family member can season the popcorn to their own liking whether that be with a little sea salt, some salt & pepper, some cheese, some butter or any variety of other creative things that create an enjoyable snack.

Sarah Velasco: Where can readers find Black Jewell products?
Barry Johnson: Black Jewell Popcorn is distributed all across the US and in many large grocery chains.  We are also available through Amazon and our online store.  If someone is looking for us locally and can’t find us, we suggest calling our office and we’ll be happy to try to find the nearest retailer for them.


Breast Cancer Awareness Month

It doesn’t have to be Wednesday to show your pink prideThis color represents the fight against a mean girl (and guy) disease. With the products below from 2XU,HairMaxMad HippieLe Mieux and Karin Herzog, these brands are doing their part to eradicate and find a cure for breast cancer. Now, that’s fetch
5% of purchase donated to the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation
A collection of 2XU’s best-selling compression pieces for athletes in need of post-exercise recovery and muscle stabilization, proceeds from these limited edition styles will be donated to the local cancer awareness organization.

HairMax Laser Devices
Donating to BreastCancer.org during the month of October
While HairMax laser devices are indicated for the treatment of hereditary hair loss, many women (and men)  who have completed chemotherapy for their disease, have chosen to use HairMax laser devices, to help return their lost hair to a healthy and vibrant state and have reported excellent results.

Le Mieux Age-Defying Beauty Essentials Kit
25% of proceeds donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation
An anti-aging set that visibly minimizes the look of fine lines and wrinkles, improves the appearance of sagging and restores a vibrant, healthy glow. Peptide-enriched, hydrating formulas include powerful antioxidants for a refreshed, revitalized complexion.

Mad Hippie Collection
$1 for every website sale to Breast Cancer Research Foundation
Completely organic and natural, this skincare line includes a Cream Cleanser, Face and Eye Cream, Vitamin C Serum, Exfoliating Serum, Antioxidant Facial Oil and new Vitamin A Serum.

Karin Herzog Skin Renewal Kit
50% of proceeds donated to the Breast Cancer Research Fund
Jump into fall with the perfect daily regime to help banish dry summer skin and reveal a more radiant, fresh and youthful looking you.