Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sweet Indulgences in San Juan Capistrano: Part 2

Having taken the time to pamper ourselves (something The Rose and The Peach — and most people, for that matter — rarely do) and feeling especially beautified with our new makeup looks, we departed Brush Salon and headed across Camino Capistrano and down Verdugo Street to our next destination: the Los Rios Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This hidden gem includes more than 30 buildings along both sides of Los Rios Street, between Del Obispo and Mission streets, and makes up one of the oldest continuing neighborhoods in California (including three adobe homes built in the 1790s).

On the way, we spotted the newly opened Vitos Pizza & Italian Ristorante ( at the corner of Camino Capo and Verdugo Street, underneath Ruby’s Diner. The Peach ducked in to pick up a to-go menu (gluten-free menu available upon request) and was pleased to find offerings ranging from chicken parmigiana to homemade meatball sandwiches to thin-crust pizza and more.

Continuing along, we passed the new Frio Frozen Yogurt shop and the Regency Theatre (be sure to check out the VIP section, with full service from the bar, restaurant and concession stand during your entire movie).

We ended up at a dead end (where the Historic Train Depot can be found) and crossed the railroad tracks (watch out for the Amtrak and Metrolink trains that pass through daily) and entered the Historic District.

Once on Los Rios Street, we looked to the left, where we spotted the Hidden House Coffee, and then turned to the right, where we spied The Ramos House Café, The Tea House on Los Rios and several other interesting retail and dining establishments. We decided to venture to the right to see what we could unearth.
Our first stop was up the steps and into the Blue Eyed Girl (which The Rose says is one of her favorites), a small yet filled to the rim women’s boutique offering everything from jeans, T-shirts, sweaters and footwear to candles and lotions. There The Rose had her eye on a pair of pink knee-high boots with open toe and heel, while The Peach came close to owning a gray San Juan Capo sweatshirt with ragged top and the Blue Eyed Girl logo on the back ( But, with both of our billfolds managing to stay shut, we went on our way.
We passed The Ramos House Cafe (a local favorite started in an 1881 structure by chef/owner John Q. Humphreys in 1994), where people were waiting in line to partake in delicacies like scotch quail eggs, peanut butter pain perdu with roasted bananas and caramel, and mac n’ cheese with wild mushrooms and black truffle (

Next up was the Cottage Home and Garden store (, owned by Richelle Rowland and featuring a wealth of treasures for the home and garden. There it seemed as if we would never find an end to the maze of distinctive finds, including a variety of plants, metal garden art, statuary, decorative crosses, wind chimes crafted from glass plates, just to name a few.
Our stomachs beginning to grumble, we decided on one more stop before heading to lunch. Just down the street at the Nest, we both were particularly drawn in by military-style jackets in black and denim ($85).

Now, where to eat? Figuring The Ramos House was a little too crowded for our taste, we chose The Tea House (, where The Rose says visitors like to go when they want a proper English tea. I say it’s the western outpost of Atlanta’s Swan Coach House (, a charming spot for ladies — and sometimes, gents — who like to celebrate special occasions from engagements to new births and to enjoy Southern-inspired dishes like the Swan’s favorite (the restaurant’s signature chicken salad served in hand-made timbales with creamy frozen fruit salad).
After checking out the spot’s small assortment of gifts (The Peach loved the teapot night lights) and saying hello to a group of outgoing girls and gals from a local seniors home, we made our way to our table on the edge of the veranda overlooking the peaceful, shaded tree-lined street where the only noise was the occasional train warming of its approach in the background and a flowing fountain.

Settled in with our menus, I asked The Rose if she was having tea (obviously a silly question, based on the look I received), upon which she promptly ordered a pot of Queen Catharine (a more robust version of English Breakfast), while The Peach was pleased to find her favorite black currant. Both were served in delicate china pots covered with flowered tea cozies and matching china teacups, and were accompanied by heart-shaped savory and currant scones, complete with preserves and cream.
While waiting for our tea, we decided on our lunch entrees: The Peach chose The Mediterranean salad for $13.95 (a mix of wild and gathered greens, fresh tabuli, tomatoes, onion, and a tangy Greek dressing topped with feta cheese and Kalamata olives, and grilled chicken added) and The Rose selected The Los Rios Tea for $18.95, with four different types of finger sandwiches (sans crust), freshly baked currant scone with cream and preserves, and fresh fruit with cream and brown sugar.

Lost in quiet and enjoyable conversation, we were pleasantly interrupted by Melissa Hammer (a 10-year employee, pictured below, who calls herself the “docent of the Tea House,” as she is always at the ready with a history lesson of the area), who tells us how she believes that the Tea House is “a sanctuary from the rat race.” Setting down our meal selections, she said to be sure and try the edible camellia and English lavender grown in the owner’s garden and topping the salad.
Full — and having achieved a Zen state of mind — The Rose and I gathered our belongings and made our way back to the hustle and bustle of the everyday world, all the while anticipating our next adventure.

P.S. Those of you familiar with the area might have noticed that the Mission is inconspicuously missing in this particular post. We had so much on our plate during this visit that we decided it could wait. After all … tomorrow is another day (I threw that in just for you Peaches).

Sweet Indulgences in San Juan Capistrano: Part 1

From treating ourselves to a fresh look at the one of the newest salons in town to a proper English tea on the oldest residential street in California to a bit of window shopping thrown in between, The Rose and The Peach fully enjoyed a well-deserved — albeit, quick — getaway in San Juan Capistrano to draw the week to an end.

First up was a surprise for The Rose at Brush Salon (, owner/stylist Maureen Scafuri’s (pictured below at right) newly opened establishment just a few doors down from Mission San Juan Capistrano at 31770 Camino Capistrano that she operates with her sister, salon manger Ann Marie Morahan (below left).

Little did my British friend know she was in for quite a treat, as was The Rose — our very own special makeup session with the salon’s newest addition (as of Wednesday, Feb. 8), makeup artist Deanna René (below).

Having moved to Orange County recently from Scottsdale, Ariz., Deanna René began perfecting her craft in the cosmetics department of Macys when she was 17 years old, went on to attend hair school, and has been specializing in both makeup and hair ever since — even owning her own bridal stylist business. Now she’s happy to be at Brush, where the 33-year-old mother of two says her goal is to make her clients feel beautiful, whether they’re attending a special event, taking part in a photo shoot, preparing for a prom or another important day, or throwing a wedding at one of the surrounding special-event facilities such as the Mission, Franciscan Gardens or El Adobe de Capistrano.

The Peach takes the chair first, with attention immediately drawn to her eyebrows (which are all but nonexistent). According to Deanna René, so many women are walking around with eyebrows that they don’t know how to accentuate properly. “Eyebrows are the frames to the window of the soul,” she adds. “They are the most important feature to the whole face, and grooming them can make you look like a different person.”

Picking up a wax-based eyebrow pencil in “Spiked” by MAC (her makeup of choice, largely because of its staying power) that matched my dark brown hair, Deanna René suggested using a magnifying mirror at home to get the best results and then started making thick brushstrokes (resembling hair) from the spot on my brow even with the inside of my nose. She continued outward by creating an arch where my brow starts to grow down (making it look like an upside Nike swoosh, she says) and then got thinner in her brushstrokes as she worked toward the outside of the brow. She finished off the look by softening the brows with the light bristle part of a makeup brush. (By the way, she says, if she was forced to live with only two beauty products they would be a MAC eyebrow pencil and lip gloss.)

Staying with the eyes, she used a tapping motion to apply flesh-colored eyeshadow to my lid and a darker shadow in the crease and outer corner of my eye to add a subtle contour (don’t forget to use a primer underneath the eyeshadow, as well as makeup and lipstick, Deanna René adds, to help it all stay on longer). She then used wet-to-dry cake eyeliner on my top and bottom lids, followed by “Very Black” Maybelline Great Lash Mascara (the makeup artist’s mascara of choice, she says, and the only non-MAC product she uses). And, although I wasn’t quite sure about this part of the process, she used tweezers and glue to apply four short individual fake lashes toward the outside of my lash line to create more volume. They come in short, medium and long, depending on the effect you want to create, and are easy to remove by holding a warm washcloth over your eyes for a few minutes.

Deanna René finished off my new look (below) by adding some concealer under my eyes (always use the thicker concealer after you apply the foundation, she says, to maximize your coverage); applying some blush, lipstick and lip gloss (all in the plum family); and setting the look with her preferred translucent powder (to take out oil and give the look longevity).
Now she was ready to take on The Rose, who admitted she has not worn makeup since she her wedding day 22 years ago when she developed a rash that lasted for nearly a month. (Not that she needs to, mind you, with her flawless skin and perfect brows.) Nonetheless, The Rose decided to give it a go again after all this time (below).
Deanna René began by adding a light dose of micronized foundation that she typically uses for applying airbrush makeup, followed by a MAC “Paints” eyeshadow base. Sticking with matte colors that work best with The Rose’s neutral skin color and blue-green eyes, she added a contour color to accentuate and then a more natural color to bring out her eye color, lined her lids with eyeshadow to achieve a subtle, natural look and then topped it off with the “Very Black” Great Lash Mascara. She finished The Rose’s makeup by defining her already-beautiful eyebrows with a pencil that matched her medium brown hair; adding cream blush to her cheeks (rubbing the brush on the top of her hand to warm it up, which Deanna René says enables the makeup go on smoother, like butter); adding lip conditioner (to moisten the lips); and then applying “Scanty” lipstick, a blue-based rose color with a shiny, rather than matte, quality.

Regarding her special look, The Rose learned that airbrush makeup is a professional product that one can only purchase via a professional makeup artist (which she says she will be more than happy to do), and that in the next month or two the salon will be carrying a new line of products just for sensitive skin that are clean, natural and mineral-based.
Ready for an appointment? Deanna René charges $85 for a consultation that includes makeup, with airbrush makeup sessions priced at $125. Makeup’s not your thing? Not to worry. The salon also has plenty of stylists who can do everything from cut, dye and straighten your hair (including The Peach's very own Joanna Dobson), as well as a medical esthetician (AnnRae Novak) specializing in microdermabrasion, brows and skincare.
And, what were The Rose’s thoughts on having makeup on for the first time in more than 20 years, you ask? “I have eyes and eyebrows,” she says with a huge grin.

Friday, February 3, 2012

I Hate to Do It ... But I Need to Do It!

Who likes to go and sort out computer issues? Certainly not me, but The Rose (being the persistent Rose she is) decided that we needed to take a trip to the Apple Store at The Shops at Mission Viejo mall  ( to see if we could learn how to create a logo for our new blog. The Peach figured, “How bad could it be? After all the store is in a mall, so there might be some shopping involved before it’s all said and done.”

With MacBook in tow, we made our way to the store to find an expert to help us with our endeavor. Since it was a weekday and not very crowded, we were able to check in right away and then were led to a table in the back to await one of the store’s experts.

A salesman named Mike (the store has salespeople, technicians and installers to assist with the varying levels of consumer issues) showed up a couple of minutes later and asked how he could help. We told him how we had just started a blog together and really wanted a catchy logo for it, but that neither of us had any idea how to create said logo (or how to use a graphic program, for that matter).

One quick glance at my computer was all it took to ascertain that I didn’t have the proper software (i.e., Photoshop, etc.) to create the type of logo we wanted (something along the lines of an English rose and a Georgia peach, floating inside a map of Orange County). In fact, my operating system is two operating systems behind (who knew?).

Mike (very patient and kind with the computer neophytes) informed me that I needed to at least purchase the next operating system update (Snow Leopard) and then I would have the App Store on my computer and be able to download a design app that we could use to create our logo. I ordered the update (for $29.99) — which only puts me one system further into optimal operate mode (evidently, there is something else out there called a Lion) — and I am awaiting its arrival. Once in hand, I can either install Snow Leopard myself (after I have backed up everything on my computer, Mike stresses) or return to the Apple Store and have an installer there do it all for me (um, guess which one I’ll be doing? … Better yet, anyone out there want to design a logo for 50 bucks?!).

Since we had Mike at our beck and call, we decided to pick his brain a bit more. He told us about Tumblr (another blogging platform that can be very easily personalized) and also walked me through a slight issue I was having with my iPhone. Talk about a one-stop shopping experience… and, might I add, an experience that was altogether more pleasant than we (at least, I) figured it would be at the outset. Stay tuned for Chapter 2 of the computer adventures of The Rose and The Peach!

Now, let’s get to the fun part…shopping! We decided to check out a few of our favorite stores to see just what kind of trouble we could get ourselves into. The Rose (who says she has a difficult time finding shirts and tops that will cover her navel because of her long torso) makes a beeline to Talbots (, where she says she can easily find longer, classic shirts that cover her entire body. She is quite fond of Chico’s (, as well. Meanwhile, The Peach finds just what she likes — and needs, mind you — at Banana Republic (, Gap ( and Old Navy (

That being said, The Rose found two “work” shirts for about $16 a piece (regularly $80 each), while The Peach picked out a pair of stretchy, low-cut black slacks and black, high-heeled sandals to match at Banana Republic. The sandals were not on sale, unfortunately. The Rose, however, did try and convince me that they look amazing and that I will wear them until they “plead for mercy.”
Having satisfied our clothes-shopping fix, we were ready to partake in another of our favorite things — eating! 

We headed to Café Nordstrom (, which offers a full menu including pizza, soup, paninis, pasta and more. The Peach grabbed a tray and headed to the salad section, where a young man behind the counter hand-tossed her Artichoke & Chicken Salad (complete with goat cheese and kalamata olives in a red wine vinaigrette, yum). The Rose chose the Parmesan Crusted Chicken Salad and a blueberry tart (which I think she preferred to the salad, which was entirely too soaked with honey dijon dressing for her taste). The only snafu with our dining experience was a slight problem with a lack of inattention on behalf of the servers. But once The Rose pointed out the situation (in her usual delicate manner), we were good to go.

While dining, we entered into a conversation about how we had such diverse shopping (and clothing) styles and determined that The Rose goes for quality, while The Peach is all about quantity. The Rose says she believes you should have a good cut of clothes to suit your body type, in a classic style that’s not going to go out of fashion. “A black dress, a suit, a pair of jeans that don’t give you a saggy ‘arse’ and a pair of good shoes that fit like a glove are essential to every woman’s wardrobe,” she says, “just like shampoo, a hairbrush and moisturizer.” The Peach, on the other hand, believes that the more the merrier and that she hasn’t done her job if she’s not getting 25 things for $50. (It gives me a sense of value, The Rose says.) I say I love trendy items and want as many as I can get at one time, and I also am typically very cost-conscious (after all, I am a freelance journalist, nuff said).

After lunch, we hit the one place we both can agree on — Macy’s (The Rose loves the store’s home goods, including bedding and bath items, while The Peach is addicted to the INC and Studio M women’s clothing lines). While waiting on The Rose to pick out some new towels, I perused the kitchen shop and will thus leave you with this thought: In what world does this coffee maker’s itty-bitty carafe constitute four cups?

I’m just sayin’ …
Until next week, happy computering and shopping!