behind the scenes

Look Good, Feel Better

Beauty editing can be all kind of things: an eye feast, a funfest—a crazy education (true story: when a friend was studying for his medical boards, I did better on the dermatology practice tests than he did). But one thing the gig is not, typically: a big soul stirrer.

 

Last week, however, I lucked into an exception: a Look Good Feel Better workshop. This free program—which I’d been invited to observe by the underwriting foundation—exists solely to help cancer patients handle the side effects they see in the mirror.

The point, of course, is not to feel runway-ready (forgive me: I’m getting a thousand New York Fashion Week press releases per minute as I write). The point is simply to feel like oneself—an often elusive state for anyone who doesn’t think she looks like herself.

 

And while the women at the session I sat in on were remarkably beautiful, they’d all seen their share of change: Most had lost their hair; some had lost their brows—everyone had newfound skin care concerns. Speaking of, I should note that each participant gets a cosmetics kit, and the contents are always screened for toxicity.

 

The workshop was led by a volunteer veteran of the beauty industry who’s versed in everything from blush blending to wig washing—and wise-cracking, when a group clearly needs a good laugh.

 

She kept the intros intentionally brief—a detail that might have been lost on me had I not been struck by something a friend said several months ago, mid-chemo: Feeling obliged to talk about your cancer, even among people who can relate, gets old fast.

Then again, there’s perhaps no better ice breaker than group grooming. It feels like such a throwback—seriously, when did you last primp en masse? at a slumber party? bunk night?—the sheer girliness seems to take women out of themselves. Yes, even if they’re learning how to keep scarves from slipping off their newly exposed scalps.

 

As I followed the participants through their two-hour session, I kept trying to figure out what accounted for the amazing transformation I was witnessing: That escapist element? The makeup itself (which, for the record, was fabulous by any standards)? The expert tutelage? Or simply being pampered?

In the end, I suspected the answer was all of the above, with a heavy emphasis on options A and D. And according to one graduate of the program, I wasn’t too far off:  “It was the beautiful women, both inside and out, who gave me an opportunity to think about something other than cancer. I instantly felt brighter. It was just such a nice contrast—and that in itself was inspiring.”

 

Indeed, however face-brightening the blush—or natural-looking the penciled-on brows—there’s no cosmetic that can hold a candle to the gorgeous glow of kindness.

 

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To find a workshop near you, click here. And many thanks again to the workshop participants—as well as to the Personal Care Products Council Foundation and NYU Langone’s Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center—for allowing me to observe.

What We’re Drinking: the Beers Knees

There’s never a bad day to be part of our magazine’s food team, but it’s a particularly good day when you can kick back, relax and have one of the country’s best bartenders make you a cocktail. A few weeks ago, Ryan Magarian — the Portland, Oregon-based cocktail guru and co-founder of Aviation American Gin, — visited the Every Day with Rachael Ray test kitchen and whipped up some of his favorite warm-weather cocktails. We loved all the drinks, but the Beers Knees, a gin and wheat beer concoction, is the one we’ll be sipping all summer. Lucky for us, Ryan shared the recipe, so you can make this bubbly, citrusy drink for your next backyard cookout, concert in the park, beach barbecue– or wherever summer takes you.

 

 

 

Beers Knees

1 1/2 oz Aviation American Gin
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz Honey syrup*
3 oz Hefeweizen (Ryan is partial to Widmer Hefeweizen, a local brew)

 

Pour gin, lemon juice and honey syrup in a pint glass, fill with ice & shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled Collins glass (with or without ice). Top with Hefeweizen. Garnish with a lemon wedge

 

*To make honey syrup; stir equal parts honey and heated water and stir until the honey dissolves; let cool

 

 

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Behind the Scenes: Making Mezcal Cocktails

In our May issue, we explore tequila’s rival sibling, mezcal, a smoky, slow-roasted, double-distilled liquor also made from the agave plant. We tasted tons of mezcal cocktails from the country’s best bartenders and adapted two favorites–plus created one of our own! Go behind the scenes and explore our mezcal cocktail-making process. Then, get our fabulous cocktail recipe that was the result of one tasty testing session. ¡Salud!

Test Kitchen Associate, Charles Grayauskie and Test Kitchen Director, Janet McCracken doing some delicious research.

 

Lots of different ingredients go into making the perfect cocktail! The green Vida bottle (left) is actually many bartenders’ go-to mezcal: easy to find across the country and very easy to drink.

 

 Pouring up Old Major’s La Rosa Bonita

 

From our test kitchen, The Smokin’ Dog–our own riff on the Greyhound!

 

6 oz. fresh grapefruit juice (pink or yellow)

1 oz. mezcal

Splash of club soda

1 grapefruit twist

Fill a rocks glass with ice, then add grapefruit juice and mezcal. Stir to blend; top with a splash of club soda. Garnish with the grapefruit twist. Makes 1.

 

Flashback Friday: Rach’s Wedding!

To start off our weekly “Flashback Friday” series, why not share the most important day in Rachael’s life? Her wedding! Take a peek at some of the best shots, then see more here.

Rachael Ray's Wedding

Rach in her beautiful flowing wedding dress on top of the Tuscan castle, Castello di Velona, where the wedding was held.

Rachael Ray's Wedding

A cozy, peaceful place, Castello di Velona has beautiful 360-degree views. From every location you look out over cultivated, manicured land, dotted with grapevines.

Rachael Ray's Wedding

Rach and John embrace at the altar after they’ve recited their vows.

Rachael Ray's WeddingRachael with her mom Elsa and sister Maria, moments after the ceremony. See the kiss, the cake, the first dance and more beautiful moments.