Top 3: Just Be Cosmetics

Top 3, Fashion, Miami, Beauty, Model, James Woodley Photography, jamesWphoto,   I squealed like a sixteen-year-old girl getting asked to prom when a box of goodies from “Just Be Cosmetics” showed up on my desk last week. They sent me samples of some of their best products and asked me to try them. I love the whole concept behind their line: inspiring young women to feel beautiful and confident about themselves without compromising who they truly are – hence, just be.   Truthfully, one of the reasons I’m so fascinated with these products is this: they’re made with natural ingredients (vegan-friendly, talc, paraben and cruelty free.) It’s so hard to find great make-up or amazing bath goodies that not only make you feel good, but are actually good for you, too. Well, look no further. This week’s Top 3 is dedicated to my favorite products by “Just Be Cosmetics.”  

Top 3, Fashion, Miami, Just Be Cosmetics, Lip Gloss  

Lip Gloss in the color: Pink – ing of you!/$10

This goes on so perfect, I can’t even take it. It’s smooth, buttery and unbelievable. What’s more, the color is the prettiest of pinks and so natural. I can wear it just about anywhere: errands, gym, work, television and dinner (talk about a product with versatility.)  Not only is it preservative-free, it’s infused with rich antioxidant botanicals that give my kisser a crazy good shine. Pink – ing of you leaves my lips feeling soft, supple and sexy. At least, that’s what my main squeeze says. 

Top 3, Fashion, Miami, Just Be Cosmetics, Lip Gloss    

16oz Sea Salt Body Scrub/$12

When I first tried this scrub, I did it at my bathroom sink like a proper lady; by the time I passed my elbows and reached my shoulders, I hopped into the tub and scrub-a-dub-dubbed to see the job through. This product does the obvious (schluffs off flaky, dead skin) but it also promotes circulation, flushes toxins and bacteria, unclogs pores and leaves your skin looking radiant and feeling squeaky clean. At least it did for me. I suffer from dry elbows and this did the trick; I can’t wait to see what long-term use can do. There’s nothing like a scaly-free elbow; I’m a new woman!

Top 3, Fashion, Miami, Just Be Cosmetics, Lip Gloss  

Detergent-Free Oatmeal Vanilla Soap/$5

If you thought oatmeal was just for breakfast, think again. Just Be Cosmetics Vanilla with Oatmeal Soap is so clean, fresh and moisturizing, you’ll wonder why you haven’t used it before. It’s great for younger women, too. Mainly because it fights acne and heals dry, itchy skin. I’m not gonna lie, I love a good soap. I have boxes full of different bars, from different countries, all promising me bathroom bliss. So, if I like this, it’s more than just a lathered up kind of compliment, it’s a lather, rinse and repeat kind of love. 

Shop these affordable products at
IG: @justbecosmetics
Twitter: @justbecosmetics
FB: Just Be Cosmetics 

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, or worn. It is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace & gratitude.”  Denis Waitley

Editor: Matthew Auerbach
Writer: Shireen Sandoval
Picture: James Woodley

Shireen’s Spotlight: Essensia Restaurant & Lounge (inside The Palms Hotel & Spa)

Essensia Restaurant & Lounge (inside The Palms Hotel & Spa)

Essensia Restaurant & Lounge (inside The Palms Hotel & Spa)

Essensia Restaurant & Lounge (inside The Palms Hotel & Spa)

What: Essensia, 3025 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, Florida 33140

Why: I love it when I can go out to eat and not be hungover the next day. I’m not talking about liquor, either; I’m talking about food. I don’t do food hangovers and that’s one of the main reasons I love the “Essensia Restaurant & Lounge,” inside the Palms Hotel. The cuisine is “healthy, creative and flavorful”.

Chef Julie Frans not only whips up some of the best “natural gourmet” in the Magic City, she looks pretty good while doing it, too. Julie has a terrific bright, clean energy and it translates into her food. My favorite items on the menu include the Signature Kale Caesar Salad, Grilled Octopus and Thai Lemongrass Soup.

The soup was actually so yummy (made with coconut milk, kaffir lime, tomato, mushroom, bok choy and thai herbs,) it knocked my socks off. That’s not the best kept secret, though: just behind the hotel’s Tiki Bar is Essensia’s Organic Chef’s Garden, maintained by Frans. It’s a green, sprawling delight of herbs and seasonal produce used daily for their delicious recipes. It doesn’t get any fresher than that. The bottom line: they care about what they feed you and how it makes you feel.

Where: The restaurant/bar is tucked away neatly on the first floor of The Palms Hotel & Spa on Miami Beach. I’ve always loved this property because of it’s ridiculously gorgeous grounds. What’s more, it’s a hotel that not only caters to tourists, it celebrates its homegrown crowd, too; with stay-cation and spa specials.

I really like the feel of the hotel, which has this unpretentious regalness to it; reminiscent of an old, well-maintained, tropical Southern mansion, if you will. Parking is a bit tricky, as it’s right on the ever-busy and bustling Collins Avenue. They do have valet, but as usual on the beach, it’s a pretty penny.

When: Essensia is open for Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch & Dinner.

Breakfast: Daily 7am-11am
Lunch: Monday-Saturday 11am-3pm
Brunch: Sundays 11am-3pm
Dinner: Sunday-Thursday 6pm-10pm, Friday-Saturday 6pm -11pm

Make reservations on line or call 305-908-5458
IG: @ChefJulieFrans
Twitter: @ChefJulieFrans
FB: Essensia Restaurant & Lounge

Cuisine does not measure itself in terms of tradition or modernity. One must read in it the tenderness of the chef.Pierre Gagnaire

Editor: Matthew Auerbach
Photo: t4two photography
Producer: Jessie Rosario
Writer: Shireen Sandoval

The Wildly Wonderful Ramona LaRue

The Wildly Wonderful Ramona LaRue

The Wildly Wonderful Ramona LaRue

The Wildly Wonderful Ramona LaRue

The Wildly Wonderful Ramona LaRue

The Wildly Wonderful Ramona LaRue

The Wildly Wonderful Ramona LaRue

I didn’t want to snoop through my college roommate’s personal belongings, but her mother insisted. While I stayed at school to work through the summer, Marni had hightailed it home because of health issues. She didn’t tell me what was wrong, but it seemed serious. As she grew sicker, her mother grew more desperate to help her. Hence, the call that would change my life forever.

She instructed me to go inside Marni’s closet and find a shoebox on the top shelf behind her sweaters, where I would find an old prescription one of the doctors at the school health center had written her. Apparently, whatever it was worked and her mother needed to know the name of the medication. I did what I was asked.

Inside the box, I found Marni’s most treasured keepsakes: pictures, tokens, jewelry and letters. There were a lot of letters. I recognized the handwriting immediately. They were from my boyfriend. The two were close friends, so it didn’t surprise me. I skimmed past them and found the old prescription. I couldn’t pronounce the medication so I spelled it out for Marnie’s mom and we said our goodbyes.

That night, I laid awake in bed thinking about the letters that I had unwittingly discovered. The pull, desire and incessant need to read them was overwhelming. I was one of those people, though, who vehemently believed and respected other people’s privacy, so I held back on the temptation. My boyfriend, “Mark” (I changed his name, but if he reads this, you know who you are,) was home for the summer, too. I called him the next morning.

He seemed normal: loving, attentive, doting even. I adored him so much and knew we would be married someday. I hung up the phone, sighed my troubles away and headed for the student library. The thing is, I couldn’t read, hold a thought or concentrate. My entire focus was on that shoebox in Marni’s closet, behind her sweaters. I packed up my books and headed for my empty apartment.

Read the rest of “The Wildly Wonderful Ramona LaRue” at or shop the look at

Styling: Arianne Brown LaRue
Twitter: @ramonalarue
Instagram: @ramonalarue
Facebook: Ramona LaRue by Arianne

photography by tod p/t4twophotography
Twitter @todp_photo
IG @Tod_p

Hair & Make-up by Odette Hernandez
Twitter @Odetthernandz
IG @Odett_Herndz

Editor: Matthew Auerbach

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 , ,

Top 3: New Fashion Obsessions in Miami

When it comes to fashion blogging, there are no shortages of amazing new trends to write about in Miami. What’s more, the city is growing so quickly, we don’t need to use New York City or Los Angeles as a style compass anymore. The Magic City has more than its own share of designers, boutique stores and unique vintage finds. That’s why this week’s Top 3 is dedicated to my “New Fashion Obsessions in Miami.”



Top 3, Ramona LaRue, Arianne, Fashion, Miami, Koko and Palenki

Ramona LaRue by Arianne & her Simone dress / $293

I first discovered Miami-based Ramona LaRue when Koko & Palenki started dressing me for Deco Drive. At first, it was a piece here and there and then they started styling me in their dresses. I fell crazy in love immediately. I’m obsessed with the boho chic vibe the line oozes and adore the way you can just throw one of their dresses on and look like a million bucks without even trying. My favorite is the Simone; a silk wraparound with sleeves that’s easy to wear, yet elegant. It has a lot of versatility: not only can I wear it on television, it transitions into a dinner/party dress with a quick accessory change. Ramona LaRue is my Shireen’s Favorite Things blog feature this Wednesday. 


Top 3, Bagghy, Fashion, Miami, Lincoln Road, Italian, Purse, Handbag, TodP Photo

The original Bagghy Purse / $399

Although the Bagghy purse line is originally from Italy, designer Nicola Mattiazzo set up shop on Lincoln Road and has made quite the name for himself. I’m obsessed with the line because it’s a window to the world. The purses come in all pretty shapes and sizes, but it’s the beautiful city prints on them that speak to my heart. From London or Paris to New York City, the bags don’t just carry your womanly world (lipstick, lunch, iPhone, iPad,) they’re a representation of it, too. My favorite is what they call “The Original One,” and it’s a catchall of sorts. I use mine a lot for work, I throw all those aforementioned things in it and it carries it all with strength and style. Look for their Shireen’s Favorite Things feature next month on the blog.  


Top 3, Koko and Palenki, Fashion, Miami, Fringe, James Woodley Photography, jamesWphoto,

Koko & Palenki’s Cocobelle Buddha Fringe Necklace / $48.00

There’s no doubt about it, I’m partial to anything Koko sells. Not only do they style me perfectly to co-host Deco Drive, they also keep me updated with the latest and greatest trends and accessories for my blog. The one thing I really like about Koko is they keep it local; supporting clothing and accessory designers that call Miami home. Koko, though known for its shoes and clothing, has really stepped up its accessory game lately. I’m obsessed with all the fringe and tassels the boutique is featuring; especially the Cocobelle Buddha Fringe Necklace. They come in a lot of different colors and add pizzaz to any kind of outfit. I like how fashion and feeling good about life, fuses itself into this dynamic piece of jewelry. 


“Fashions fade, style is eternal.” – Yves Saint Laurent


Editor: Matthew Auerbach
Writer: Shireen Sandoval
Pictures: James Woodley and Tod Philip

Shireen’s Spotlight: Oak Tavern

Oak Tavern
What: Oak Tavern, 35 NE 40th Street, Miami, FL 33137

Why: There’s just something about the Oak Tavern that makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over. It’s intimate, yet spacious; hip, yet doesn’t try too hard. What’s more, it’s the kind of place that makes me wanna get together with my closest friends and eat, drink and laugh the night away. It’s named after the “majestic transplanted giant oak tree” snuggled into its splendid outdoor patio.

The bar is big and welcoming and home to a killer Happy Hour with drink and snack specials. Off to the side, there’s a huge communal table and a-just-the-right-kind-of-size dining room beyond that. Almost everything inside is reclaimed wood; I especially like their whimsical wooden lamps that appear to be trees with lamp shade tops.The food is “Modern American” and easy to share.

When I dined there last week I tried the following: Crab Toast, Grouper Ceviche, Charcuterie Plate, Octopus A La Plancha and Heirloom Tomato Salad (all pictured in the blog.) The tomato salad and octopus were my favorite. Matter of fact, I’m still dreaming about those big, beautiful, juicy tomatoes and may have to go back to the scene of the crime. I’m pretty sure I demolished the plate single-handedly. The highlight was washing it all down with “The Green Mile” (made with gin, cucumber puree, Serrano pepper, cilantro and lime.) I left happy and ready to head back for more.

Where: It’s located in one of my favorite places in Miami: the uber trendy and chic Design District. It’s a sweet little lay-out, too. You walk right under a beautiful brick archway to enter “The Tavern,” which leads into a sprawling garden/patio area that blends right into the restaurant itself.

When you walk in, the vibe immediately engulfs you with warm lighting, a lovely art mural and a kicked-back, hipster energy; you feel like you’ve found a hidden hot spot. There’s a valet in front of the restaurant, but I always manage to find street parking. I like to stretch my legs and walk a few blocks, so I can enjoy the booming business landscape and the always interesting art murals the district has to offer.

When: Oak Tavern is open for lunch, happy hour, brunch & dinner! My kind of place.

Lunch: Monday-Thursday 12pm-4pm
Happy Hour: Everyday 4pm-7pm
Brunch: Saturday 11am-3pm, Sunday 11am-4pm
Dinner: Monday-Thurs 6pm-10:30pm, Friday-Sat 6pm-12am, Sunday 6pm-9:30pm

Reservations: Make reservations on-line or call 786-391-1818.
IG: @oaktavernmiami
Twitter: @OakTavernMiami
FB: Oak Tavern

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” Douglas Adams

Editor: Matthew Auerbach
Photo: t4two photography
Producer: Jessie Rosario
Writer: Shireen Sandoval