Monday, January 28, 2013

We All Need To Relax Sometimes...

We all need to relax sometimes. Last night, I enjoyed an evening of relaxation, and it was exactly what I needed...
  • First, a thirty minute yoga routine...nothing strenuous...just some breathing exercises and mild, stretching asanas to relax the neck, shoulders, and back, followed by fifteen minutes of meditation to relax the mind, and a cup of peppermint tea with organic raw honey to relax the tummy.
  • Next, a steamy bubble-bath, complete with scented candles, Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe, a moisturizing facial mask, and a slathering of my favorite body butter.
  • Then, a light dinner of homemade vegetable soup with shaved parmesan, sesame rice crackers and a perfectly ripened pear.
And finally, I was off to bed with a good book. I'm reading David Lebovitz's Living The Sweet Life In Paris. Stress level = Zero. Doux!


Sunday, January 27, 2013

But I Don't Want To Clean The Kitchen! Snacks For Dinner...

One of the great things about being a grown up is that I can eat whatever I want for dinner without an adult telling me, “that’s not dinner!” You know what I’m talking about…chips and salsa…popcorn…hummus and pita chips…finished off with a hefty serving of caramel praline ice cream.

I’m aware that snacks are not substantial meals, but I only eat them occasionally. And the reason is not necessarily that I’m craving snack food. It’s because I’m just too tired to prepare dinner, and I REALLY don’t want to clean up the kitchen afterwards!

There’s nothing more intimidating than a sink full of dirty dishes staring me in the face, when all I want to do is relax, read a book, or watch TV. And since I don’t have kids with nutritional needs in the house anymore, why not snack?

Of course, I have nutritional needs too, so I’m not talking about snacking for dinner every night. Maybe just once a week, on my favorite HGTV night. And I’ve figured out a few ways to add a little substance to my snack food dinner repertoire that require minimal preparation, without destroying the kitchen…
  1. Heat up a Lean Cuisine pizza in the microwave. (cook it on the box and then throw the box away…no dirty dishes) Enjoy it with a small bowl of raw veggies. I keep air-tight containers of raw veggies and fruits in my fridge at all times, so they’re ready to go.
  2. A wedge of brie cheese with some peppered water crackers, a sliced apple, a handful of grapes, and a small piece of dark chocolate. Yummy!
  3. When in season, wrap chunks of cantaloupe or melon with thin slices of Proscuitto. Have it with slices of fresh baguette drizzled with a little olive oil.
  4. When in season, put tomato slices on slices of baguette, with slices of soft mozzarella cheese, topped off with a drizzle of olive oil, and a few twists of cracked black pepper and a dash of sea salt.
  5. Scramble eggs with grated cheese, and spread peanut butter or Nutella on a toaster waffle. One dirty skillet…it’s an easy clean up.
  6. Cereal. I love Rice Chex and Special K, jazzed up with nuts, seeds, berries, and dried fruit, with almond milk. 
  7. A smoothie, made with a cup of frozen berries, half of a frozen banana, a cup of orange/mango juice,  a blob of plain yogurt, and enough almond milk to make it drinkable through a straw. Yes, it does dirty up a measuring cup and the blender, but I just rinse them out and put them in the dishwasher immediately. Easy-peasy…
  8. When I have hummus and pita chips, I like to drizzle the hummus with a little olive oil, and add a handful of Kalamata olives and a big glass of low-sodium V-8 juice.
And then sometimes, I just want to eat salsa and chips, popcorn, and ice cream…and since I’m a grown up, who’s gonna to stop me?


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Nine Things That Can Improve Your Quality Of Life...Really!

I am not a doctor, so I’m not qualified to hand out medical advice. But there are a few things that I think can improve anyone’s quality of life, regardless of his or her age or gender...
  1. Drink more water. Seems obvious, since the average adult body is made up of 50-60% water. However, for years I almost never drank water. Tea, yes. Coffee, yes. But rarely did I down a glass of water. Now that I drink six to eight glasses a day, it makes all the difference. My skin, clarity of mind, digestion, and regularity have all improved dramatically as a result of adding pure, fresh drinking water to my daily routine.
  2. Practice yoga and meditation every day. I can’t explain it, other than to say it’s about everything that we are…physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
  3. Spend time outdoors every day observing nature. It makes you realize that you’re a small but integral part of something vast and amazing.
  4. Have a dog as your best friend. Because if you have a dog, it WILL be your best friend… no judgment, no questions, no conditions. BFF...
  5. Appreciate fine art, music, and literature. Go to art museums and concerts regularly, and read the classics again. It’s all so much better when you’re grown up and you don’t have to do it for a grade.
  6. Keep a vase of fresh flowers on your table or desk. Daisies are my favorite. Watch the flower scene from the classic, cult film, Harold and Maude (click for link) and you’ll know why I love daisies, and why Maude is one of my favorite role models for growing up, but never, ever, growing old.
  7. This one you might find odd, but here goes. Discover the nuances of fine tea. Read The Book of Tea, by Okakura Kakuzo. (click for link) Learn to prepare and savor a proper cup of opposed to dunking a poor quality tea bag in a cup of tepid water and slamming it down on the way out the door. Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world. (water is number one) Tea is an art, and the ritual of drinking tea is incredibly rewarding. It really is a form of meditation. Check out this link to my favorite go-to website for fabulous teas.
  8. Learn something about all cultures...their beliefs, rituals, philosophies, religions, etc. You don’t have to agree with, approve of, or accept what you discover. All you have to do is make the effort to open your mind just enough to comprehend their way of thinking, regardless of how ill-conceived you think that is. Fear and hate hurt the fearful and the hateful, as much as they hurt the feared and the hated.
  9. And last, but not least, smile :-)...and always eat the best quality chocolate you can afford. My favorite is right here in Dallas. (click for link) Don't live in Dallas? You can still smile, because they ship!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Hung On U...It's In The Bag!


Speaking of supermodel Patti Hansen, have you seen her line of bags, called Hung On U? (click for link) 

The Hung On U shape is based on an original black suede version made for her by a friend in the 80's. It's a collection of slouchy, sack shape bags that sling around and across the body for hands free wear, and come in a variety of materials.

The name Hung On U was her husband, Keith Richard's idea. One of the perks of being married to a songwriter...they're always clever with words!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Actresses and Models Need Down-Time Too...

Actresses and models don't wear evening gowns ALL the time. Occasionally, they ditch the sequins and feathers and enjoy some down time, just like you and me. And they still look fabulous...just like you and me! Here are a few of my favorite actresses and models in some great casual looks...






PATTI HANSEN (w/husband, Keith Richards, who also looks pretty snappy)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

See Your Beauty! Love Your Beauty! And Pass It On!

There’s an article going around on FB now called, I Am Beautiful: How To Raise Girls With Self Esteem. (click for link)  I think everyone with a daughter (or son) should read it. And I think everyone else should read it too. Why? Because in our beauty and youth obsessed culture, it’s so hard to look at ourselves with LOVE, and so easy to pass that on to the younger generation…

I’m not talking about saying, “I’ve got these wrinkles, or this gigantic nose, or this big, fat butt, but I’m going to ACCEPT it because I know there’s little or nothing I can do about it.” I’m talking about loving yourself SO much…just the way you are RIGHT NOW…that you wouldn’t change anything if you could! Like, if someone asked you the question, “If you could change only one thing about your appearance, what would it be?” You could honestly and emphatically answer, “Not a damned thing!”

Some people say, “embrace your flaws.” I say, we DON’T HAVE flaws. Embrace YOURSELF! Embrace your UNIQUE-NESS! LOVE that which is you, and only YOU!

I’m not a big fan of “beauty contests.” I know…they give money, scholarships, and such to the winners, and I know…they SAY “it’s not just about physical beauty. bla, bla…” But really, have you ever seen a girl who weighs 150 lbs. win Miss America? Have you ever seen a girl with a nose like Barbara Streisand win Miss Universe? Have you ever seen a 50 year old woman become Miss America, or Miss Universe? No. There are contests specifically for “plus” size women, and contests for women over 40...but you will NEVER see them compete with the Barbie doll beauties in Miss America or Miss Universe…who, by the way, are beautiful.

My question is, why are we divided up into categories in the first place? I mean, why can’t I be Miss America? I’m not married. Why can’t you? Does the idea of competing with those girls in a beauty contest seem laughable to you? It does to me because I know that, even though I’m happy with the way I look, there is no way in hell I will ever be Miss America, if I’m to be judged by the prevalent standards of beauty that dominate our society. I couldn’t even compete when I was twenty. And don’t think for a minute that young, impressionable girls don’t watch these things, and compare themselves to the contestants.

There are teenage girls and young women out there who cannot conceive of ever winning a beauty contest; who feel their physical appearance will never measure up, and who, as a result feel “less than.” Beauty contests aside,  I think it’s sad, that every girl (actually, everyone) can’t look in the mirror and see herself just the way she is RIGHT NOW, and think, “I AM BEAUTIFUL!” And really mean it…

We must stop the madness! And we have to begin with ourselves. We can’t preach self-love if we don’t practice self-love. So don‘t say, “I love myself, but I just need to lose twenty pounds…or I’m great, but I need a nip here and a tuck there, or I hate my nose, or my hair, or my belly…but I must accept my flaws.” I’m not talking ACCEPTANCE…I’m talking pure, unadulterated, enthusiastic LOVE! See your beauty! Love your beauty! And PASS IT ON!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Cargo Eye Shadow ~ Fiji ~ The perfect transitional color!

A few weeks ago, I decided to go to Ulta (click for link), to talk to a consultant who knows more about makeup than I do, which is next to nothing. I don't wear a lot of makeup, but I feel that I need a bit, just to give my face a more polished look. Actually, I wear much less makeup now than I did forty years ago, when I didn't really need it at all.

The thing about makeup is, if you take good care of your skin, and you do all the things you're supposed to do to stay healthy...exercise, drink lots of water, eat right, get plenty of rest, don't need to wear a lot to look good. However I enjoy makeup, not necessarily to cover anything or to hide anything. I just think it's creative and fun...especially eye-makeup. After all, I was an art major.:)

I've always worn brown eye shadow. My hair is light to medium brown with golden highlights, and my eyes  are green, so brown was just the best color for my face. But now that my hair has a significant amount of gray, mostly around my face, the brown eye shadow doesn't seen right anymore. But I tried gray eye shadows, and they don't look good with my eyes and the brown part of my hair.

Hence, the consultation with an expert. She suggested Cargo's Fiji, a taupe powdered shadow than leans toward plum. Eureka! Looks good with the gray hair...looks good with the brown hair...looks good with the green eyes. The color is perfect for me, and the texture is soft and easy to apply. Problem solved!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Tales Of A Female Nomad...Rita Golden Gelman

I'm re-reading a book that I read a few years ago, called Tales Of A Female Nomad, by Rita Golden Gelman.  It's an inspiring and fascinating story, worth reading more than once, about a middle-aged woman who leaves an elegant life in L.A. to follow her dream of connecting with people in different cultures. She sells all of her possessions and becomes a nomad, living in exotic places all over the world. So often, we have those wild and crazy ideas about following our hearts and living our dreams, but this woman actually did it. And she's still doing it. Check out her website and blog:


Friday, January 11, 2013

Casual Does NOT Have To = Sloppy!

Deciding what to wear on casual days doesn't have to be a mystery. Being pulled-together doesn't mean being uncomfortable, and casual doesn''t have to be sloppy. I'm NOT talking about laying-around-watching TV-casual, or cleaning-the-house-casual. I'm talking about leaving-the-house-casual...running errands...going to the grocery store...meeting girlfriends for lunch and a matinee. Looking good doesn't have to be a just requires a little planning. Here are some looks for everyday that are casual and comfortable, but still very appealing, coordinated, and stylish.

These first four outfits are all from Eileen Fisher  (click for link)

This basic, but not boring outfit of jeans, white shirt, and jacket is from Chicos (click for link)

These last two great, casual looks are from JJill (click for link)

Casual does NOT have to = Sloppy!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

John Masters Organics

I've found a great line of hair products that I really enjoy using, so I thought I would share it with you. It's not made specifically for silver/gray hair, but I like the way it makes my hair feel.  It's John Masters Organics. (click for link)

Available at Whole Foods and some health food stores, I get mine at The Vitamin Shoppe. It's also available online. (see link above)

This fairly extensive hair-care line addresses all different textures and conditions...dry, normal, oily, damaged, etc. My favorites right now are the Lavender Rosemary Shampoo for Normal Hair, the Rosemary & Peppermint Detangler, and the Shine-On/ Leave-In Treatment for supernatural shine and softness.

Skincare, body care, products specifically for men, and even pet care products are also available.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Some days, you just have to be blue...

Yesterday was my day off, and I woke up sad. It was cold and rainy, I had too much to do that I didn’t feel like doing, and I was missing my mom…

I know what you’re thinking…that I’m going to tell you a fabulous story about how the day was quirky and interesting, that I went out and had an amazing adventure, and that by the time I got home last night, I’d had a warm and fuzzy epiphany and found the silver lining.

However yesterday, that was not the case. I had a doctors appointment that took much longer than I’d planned. Afterwards, I went to the Barnes and Noble ten miles away…the only one left in Dallas it seems, as they recently closed the two that were close to my house…and they didn’t have the book I was looking for.  Then I went to the mall to pick up a few things at Sephora.

I wandered aimlessly through the mall, searching for something that might inspire me…that could make me smile…that would take away the empty feeling. But as we all know, there’s really nothing “out there” that can fill a void. Anything from the outside world is just a distraction…a band-aid.

So I left the mall empty-handed and drove back to Irving, in the relentless rain, on the impossibly gray day. I stopped at a busy intersection, and while I waited for the light to turn green, I noticed a cardboard box on the sidewalk that held some flowers, a cross, a photo of a child…and a little stuffed teddy bear.  Everything was soaked with rain, and one of the vases had turned over. The lump in my throat began to throb, and my chest felt heavy. I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. I just wanted my mother to be there…to put her hand on my head and tell me that everything was going to be ok…

Why am I telling you this? Because we think there’s always a solution…that if we’re feeling sad and down, we should be able to quickly sweep it under the carpet…that we should be able to instantly overcome whatever it is that’s making us sad by simply finding something to take our minds off of it…or that we should shake it off and be grateful for what we have. And then, we feel guilty because we can't snap out of it. But some days, you just have to be blue…


Monday, January 7, 2013

Bust Out Of The Comfort Zone...

I read somewhere that we tend to be more cautious, and as a result, less adventurous as we grow up. Like when I was ten years old, I would ride every crazy, spinning contraption at the Mid-South Fair, over and over, the rougher the  ride, the better.

But now, I look at those same rides and think, “you know, that doesn’t really look like it’s put together that well…it’s not very stable…and aren’t some of the screws missing off of that rusty support beam...?”

Or I’ll worry that the giant turkey leg, cotton candy, and funnel cake that I should not have eaten might not stay put after being tossed around relentlessly for three solid minutes.

The truth is, we develop discretionary behavior for a reason...that reason being that we want to live longer.  But occasionally we become a bit too cautious, and life gets dull and predictable. We lose our sense of adventure and our zest for new experiences, and boredom sets in.

So this month, I want to do something adventurous. Not stupid or life-threatening…just interesting and out of the ordinary. Like what? Well, I could go back and ride that rickety roller coaster. (Those screws probably weren’t really holding anything together anyway) Or I could go horseback riding…or ride a bike, or a motor scooter.

I could take a day trip to one of the historic small towns nearby that I’ve never been to, but have always meant to go. I could stroll around, check out all of the cute shops I‘ve never seen, have lunch on the square, and then sit on a bench afterwards and enjoy a flavor of ice cream that I’ve never had before.

Or, I could go to a casino with fifty bucks and try to parlay it into a small fortune. I don’t really know how to play roulette or poker,  but I can play the slots.  I won’t take more than fifty dollars, though…the odds are not in my favor. And, I’ll try to hang onto enough money for dinner, because most casinos have awesome buffets. I’ll call you if I win…

I think I’d rather go to a museum. But I’ll go to one that I wouldn’t ordinarily go to. For instance, I usually gravitate to art museums, but maybe this time I’ll go to the new Ross Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

Don’t you ever just want to do something out-of-the-box? Like take an art class if you think you have no artistic ability, or a writing class if you feel your communication skills aren’t the greatest? (I’ve signed up for a Cheese 101 class. I like cheese, but I want to know more) Learning a new language might be fun. (Going to a new country after you've learned the language would be even MORE fun) If you’re not already a stripper, you could take a pole dancing class. Or, if you’re feeling really fearless, you could jump out of an airplane…after you’ve completed the proper training, of course.

I think we all should do something occasionally (or regularly) that we’ve never done before! Something fun…something adventurous. The point is to expand the boundaries of our comfort zone without putting ourselves in danger. Good luck, and May The Force Be With You!


Sunday, January 6, 2013

UGG Boots...Warm, comfortable, and stylish too!

A couple of months ago, when  temperatures dipped below freezing for the first time, I was preparing to go on a lengthy road trip. I HATE cold feet, so I bought a pair of UGG Bailey Button Boots for the drive. I ended up wearing them every day for the whole trip. In fact, I've been wearing them a lot ever since, even on slightly warmer days. They're so house-slippers...and they aren't too tight on my calves, even when I tuck my jeans into them. Of course, mine are black...

UGG's can look a little cumbersome, so I like to create a long, lean, look, by wearing them with charcoal gray skinny jeans, a long, fitted charcoal gray turtleneck and a black reversible vest that I bought recently...faux fur on one side, and quilted nylon on the other. Warm and comfortable feet...and stylish too! What more can a girl ask for?


Saturday, January 5, 2013

The White Shirt

White shirts are a must-have wardrobe staple. I like to have an array of styles, ranging from dressy to more casual. This one, from Eileen Fisher is an excellent casual choice. Made of lightweight, 100% Irish handkerchief linen, it has mother-of-pearl buttons with fabric loops and a back yoke. The rumpled, laundered finish is perfect for those of us who hate to iron. Great with jeans, and long enough to wear over leggings...


Friday, January 4, 2013

Wardrobe Work Horse...The Black Jacket

My black jacket is by far the most versatile pieces of clothing in my wardrobe . I pair it with a black pencil skirt and pumps,and it's all business. I drape it over my shoulders with a little black dress, strappy satin stilettos, and a little bling, and it becomes an elegant evening wrap. Or I throw it over a pair of skinny jeans, tee shirt, suede booties, and top it all off with a chic scarf, and it pulls everything together beautifully.

I ALWAYS have a lightweight, lined, black jacket. The one above is very similar to the one I own now. It's the Burberry London Satin Tuxedo Jacket from Nordstroms. I know, Burberry is pricey, but when you consider the amount of wear-time you can get from this little work horse, it's worth every penny!


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What To Wear?

I used to love dressing in the sixties and seventies. Of course, the clothes then were fabulous, and I had the kind of social life that required a lot of fabulous clothes.  And I was a size four... 

But at some point, I just got too busy to care anymore. And I didn’t like the way I looked in anything.  I yo-yo’d between sizes ten and fourteen, depending on my stress level, and finding something I wanted  to wear was just a chore. So I started wearing my variation of a uniform, which consisted of black pants or jeans, a black tee shirt or sweater, and a black fitted jacket (if needed.)

My low point, or wake-up call, depending on how you want to look at it, came three years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was one of the lucky ones. The cancer was found early and I recovered quickly with breast intact, after a lumpectomy and six weeks of radiation.

But there is something to be said for being given a second chance at life. Let’s just say I came away from the experience with a more humble and grateful attitude for what I have. Suddenly, my frumpy, size fourteen body was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I appreciated it, and I wanted to take care of it.

Over the past three years, I’ve slowly regained my confidence, and my sanity. I eat healthier, exercise regularly, and relax and enjoy life a lot more. As a result, my weight has stabilized at size ten. I feel better and look better. And, as an extra added bonus, I’m beginning to love clothes again.

However, my lifestyle doesn’t require many sequined party dresses these days, so I’m inclined to think of my wardrobe from a more practical standpoint.  I buy fewer things, but of better quality. Oh, occasionally I’ll get something kind of nutty, like the Betsey Johnson bag with flowers and skulls on it, but for the most part, I still stick to black mixed with other neutrals and pops of color from accessories.

What works for me? If I could have only fourteen articles of clothing (not counting shoes, underwear, and accessories) this is what they would be…
  1. little black dress, sleeveless, fitted, mid knee
  2. pair of black Capri pants - the kind that have just a little stretch, a flat front with a side zipper, and that hit just at the ankle bone.
  3. pair of light tan Capri pants - just like above.
  4. pair of black jeans. (jeans require PERFECT fit)
  5. pair of dark blue jeans.
  6. black pencil skirt - mid knee length, fitted but not overly tight.
  7. black fitted jacket, lined, not too boxy, not too heavy weight, so it can be worn indoors.
  8. long-sleeved white cotton shirt
  9. denim shirt
  10. black tee shirt, short sleeved, with a little stretch
  11. Black sleeveless tank top, not too revealing, with a little stretch
  12. Black sweater, not too heavy. I have a really nice one from Eileen Fisher that’s a little longer in the back.
  13. great all-weather trench coat. I like a trench in tan or taupe.
  14. black leather jacket

These are, of course, just the basics…the pieces I build from. But I find that, if I have these fourteen things, and they’re in good condition, and they fit really well, I can always find something to wear. Yes, it’s a lot of black. But as I said, I can get color from accessories…tee shirts, scarves, bags, shoes, jewelry, etc.

The key is to have things that fits perfectly, in styles that are classic but current. I can justify spending more for core wardrobe pieces because I wear them a lot. I fill in with less expensive tops and fun accessories from Target, and cute, more trendy things from Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters.

Anyway, that’s what works for me now in the wardrobe department. What works for you?