Friday, December 23, 2011

Lululemon: Making the World a Better Place One Garment at a Time

A gift card to Lululemon is on the top of my Christmas list again this year. For the past three years – bi-yearly at my birthday and the Saviors' – I have asked for overpriced athletic wear.

According to Wikipedia, Lululemon Athletica is a self-described, yoga-inspired athletic apparel company, which produces a clothing line that is distributed internationally.

This definition is so sterile, but I can tell you that my personal experience with Lulu workout wear is anything but. The quality of my running and yoga clothes are top-notch and the positive and uplifting philosophy of the company is über cool too.

Our local shop offers yoga classes, workshops, organizes weekly runs; it is so much more than just a retail store.

But, what got me hooked is Luon ® -- Lulu’s signature fabric. The 4-way stretch and pre-shrunk fabric, with a super-duper high Lycra count, holds everything in and makes you look like you’ve spent thousands of dollars getting sculpted with liposuction.

Nothing jiggles or wiggles with Luon ® as your second skin and it doesn’t wear thin. There is nothing worse than seeing butt crack through black workout pants.

Also, the running shorts are made of a wicking fabric called Luxtreme ® which makes them dry faster and feels silky and smooth. I’ve had my “Run: Speed Shorts” for more than a year and I can honestly say that they look brand new.

This technology really works, but there are other personal touches that have made me a huge fan.

I love that they offer free tailoring with purchase.

Also, I had an experience with Lululemon that made me hold the store in the highest esteem.
Almost two years ago, I bought a running bra called the Ta Ta Tamer (how great is that name by the way). Earlier this fall, one of the eyelets came out of the clasp, but it was sewn in under the fabric, and impossible to fix. 

Not really being a seamstress, my friend Rachel suggested that I take it in and ask if the Lulu tailor would darn it for me. I wasn’t confident that would happen but I felt that it couldn’t hurt.

When I explained the situation, the women behind the counter – not even the manager – told me to just go ahead and select a new bra. In shock, I told her that I don’t have my receipt and it was over a year ago that I purchased it. She said she understood and that it was no problem.

Even though I had had the bra for a while, she said it shouldn’t have done that so she would damage it out.

I was blown away when I walked out of the store with a brand new $58 running bra.

Finding good customer service is almost non-existent these days so I was impressed.

The garments may be expensive but the quality is great, lasts a long time and, the fact that the company stands behind its products, makes it all worth the high price tag.

So it was no surprise to me when I also read on Wikipedia that “The original intent of Lululemon was to ‘elevate the world from mediocrity to greatness,’ and since then the mission has become to ‘create components for people to live long, healthy and fun lives.’”

Lululemon Athletica has seven core values that educators employed by the company are expected to articulate and embody. They include: quality, product, integrity, balance, entrepreneurship, greatness and fun. It even has a manifesto which acts as a ‘truth check’ (inspiration), composed of its own beliefs that staff, employees, and surrounding communities are encouraged to be inspired by daily.”

I know everyone and their mother is wearing this line and I don’t usually subscribe to mass trends but, in this case, you would be foolish not to buy this line of active wear.

Not to mention environmentally friendly reusable bags that make the best lunch sacks with the most inspirational sayings on them.

“Life is full of setbacks. Success is determined by how you handle setbacks.”

You only need to look to the NASDAQ to know, but I’d say Lululemon has a success on its hands.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Celebrating Jesus at the Happiest Place on Earth

With only three days until Christmas, the question on everyone’s lips is, “What are you doing for the holidays?”

I have some friends that are headed to the slopes for a white Christmas and some to paradise for a tropical Christmas, but we are headed to Disneyland for a Magic Kingdom Christmas.

When I was growing up, my folks were divorced so I logged a lot of miles at Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, my mom would always have our family on her side at our home for dinner and holiday cheer. Then, in the morning, my Nana would head over and we would open presents. By noon, I was dropped off – and as I got older would drive myself – to my Paternal grandparent’s house where I would open presents and eat dinner number one. Typically, my Dad would be at his parent’s house but, as I got older and my half-sister was born, they wanted to be at their own home for the holiday; Meaning I would jump in my car and head to their house either before or after Grandmom and Pops. Lastly, I would end my day driving to my Nana’s house where the whole maternal-side of the family would open presents and I would have Christmas dinner number two including a second round of deserts.

Whew! By then I would feel almost manic from running around all day, not to mention the fact that I would need to unbutton my pants from all that turkey, ham and pie that I had consumed.

So when I moved to California, I was pleasantly surprised at how calm the holidays were for Jason and me. In the beginning, I would head over to Jason’s parents’ home for Christmas dinner but it was usually later in the day so I had all morning to just relax. To be honest, I didn’t really know what to do with myself and it actually caused the holiday to feel anti-climactic.

So almost 20 years ago, Jason (of course) came up with the brilliant idea to go to Disneyland on Christmas Day and it has been our family tradition ever since.

In the beginning, we would head over to Jason’s folks early in the day and exchange our gifts with them. At that time, in the mid-90s, Disneyland actually offered discounted prices for tickets purchased after 4pm.

Then Jason’s parents purchased their cabin on Lake Mary in Mammoth and would head up there for Christmas, so we began going to Disneyland all day on Christmas Day.

A few revelations:

Yes, it is usually crowded, especially if Christmas falls on a weekend. A lot of Christians – who live out of state – plan their family vacations at that time since the kids are out of school. Not to mention that those of the Jewish – as well as many other non-Christian faiths – feel that it would be a good time to visit “the happiest place on earth.”

Before Sept. 11, it was not unusual to see Islamic people praying toward Mecca in the parking lot.

Side note: I would also like to point out that the urban legend that Disneyland is not crowded on Super Bowl Sunday is a fallacy that I experienced first-hand. I really don’t know if there is ever a holiday in which Disneyland in not crowded. Don’t believe the hype.

In those days, Disneyland was a dry state. However, Jason and I nipped that little problem in the bud by bringing a flask of Captain Morgan rum with us. It goes great with not just coke but lemonade and hot chocolate as well. During those years, when it was a bit nippy outside, a hot toddy went a long way.

One year, before I had a child, and the skin on my heels had been ripped off by about a half-dozen strollers, I actually proclaimed aloud, after a few swigs off the flasks I might add, that children should be banned from Disneyland.

Sad, but true, that we needed alcohol at the happiest place on earth; but we certainly weren’t the only ones subscribing to that belief.

Today, anyone’s cup can runneth over as Disney’s California Adventure and Downtown Disney both serve alcohol.

Jason and I were absolutely consistent with our tradition until I was pregnant with Shane and, it poured rain on that Christmas day, so we didn’t miss much. The following year, it was Shane’s first Christmas and he was only 9 months old. He was still dependent on two naps a day, so we decided to forgo the tradition once again. When Shane was 18 months old, we still felt that he was too young for the whole experience and for us to enjoy the tradition, so we just took him to Rainforest Café and walked around Downtown Disney.

However, the year he was two (and could still get in free), we finally reinstated the tradition. And when he was three, we actually booked a hotel and went for two whole days. No wonder that kid travels well.
Mickey & Shane Christmas 2006
The last two years, we did not go because we did destination Christmas trips instead; however, the last time we did go on Christmas was another rainy day – although the down pours were intermittent – we were prepared and unfazed.

While entering Frontierland, I inadvertently hit a woman with my umbrella. However, because I was under my umbrella, I did not realize this at first. When I did, I apologized profusely. I was surprised when I was met with a bunch of expletives and the threat of getting my ass kicked.

While standing there, frozen in shock, the beast of a woman came after me but slipped on the wet ground and went flying – feet first into the air. By the time she made it up with her husband’s help – she was seeing red and feeling foolish – so she really wanted to kill me.

Sadly, with her family and mine on the side-lines, I called her out. I said, “Just because you feel stupid that you fell, you have no right to assault me. I hit you with my umbrella and I said I was sorry, it was an accident. You are a loser and Merry Christmas.”

With that, I walked away and prayed she wouldn’t attack me from behind. Her husband was restraining her; Jason grabbed Shane and we fled to the safety of New Orleans Square.
I was shaking and glad I didn’t have to go Jersey on her. However, I did the next best thing and reported to her Magic Kingdom security. I was secretly hoping they would force her ride Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride 500 times. Yet, after a few minutes, we forgot all about the incident and continued on with our fun.

Over the years, we have deviated from our Disneyland tradition a bit. We have visited on alternate days with family members or invited close friends to join us. Us Maussers have even traveled all the way to Europe to visit Disneyland Paris and sweated our way through Disneyworld, Epcot and Animal Kingdom.

But, it is always back here in Southern California at Disneyland, that we have the most magical time; and this Christmas will be no exception.

“I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they are at Disneyland. I want to feel they’re in another world.
All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

                                                                                 -- Walt Disney                                           

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Raising the Bar to Get to the Core of the Problem

Due to my love of running, I have logged almost 250 miles since the beginning of the summer. A majority of these stem from my half marathon training and the rest just to get my body moving.

For the past six months, I think it is safe to say that I haven’t been a couch potato, but I haven’t really done any other exercise.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I caught a glimpse of myself in the full-length mirror of my boudoir and saw that I now have a little pot belly. Visions of those malnourished  UNICEF kids popped into my mind and, the only difference, was that there were no flies buzzing around.

Obviously, the world’s hunger crises is no laughing matter but that was honestly what I thought when I saw my reflection. Although I never go hungry, I haven’t really changed my eating habits so I was perplexed by what I saw. 

A few days later, I was crouched over my keyboard at work – like an outsourced worker from New Delhi – and I realized that I have no core strength right now.

For fear of injury while training, I had cut back on my yoga and – due to the loss of my favorite cardio and core teacher – I had pretty much given up my core strength training; And, after 6 months, it has become a problem.

Now, I know that I am being a tad dramatic, but I truly did have to take action fast. I struggle with minor scoliosis so a strong core keeps my back issues at bay. 

So, two weeks ago, I started back at yoga. Poses that used to be easy now found me shaking like we were having an earthquake. Even though I have been doing my P90X abs routine (don’t ask) every other morning (OK, so I lie…like every third morning), I needed something more.

On Sunday, I decided to try a class at my gym called Bar Blast. The class, which borrows from the bar-style workout, blending elements of ballet, Pilates and body sculpting, boasts the ability to improve posture and flexibility in addition to creating a lean, firm and sculpted body.

I was a bit nervous and skeptical since I am so not coordinated – just the word ballet made me flash back to Mrs. Jeffries Ballet School and my inability to learn the Little Ducky dance; hey but I’m a grown up now, so I was willing to give it a try.

It had been a long time since I had tried a new class at the gym and it is always daunting.  My first thought had been how will we do these fancy ballet moves at the bar…hmmm? There is no bar attached to the wall at our gym. Then when I walked in I realized that they were talking about weighted fitness bars.

Ahhhh, I guess I have to live up to the blond hair at times.

Also, I showed up in running shoes and without a yoga mat. I quickly realized my faux pas; the pliés required bare feet unless I donned toe shoes and a lot of Pilates moves required the mat. I borrowed one of the small mats that just barely comforted the back of my head and butt. And it was sliding all over the place, but that was the only minor travesty.

The class went amazingly well.

It started off with some basic warm up moves and then transitioned to working with light free weights with so many reps that I thought my arms would fall off and then moved on to working with the bar and finally tapering off with some major floor work.

I was impressed and, although I am sore today, I did not get injured.

The class was hard enough that I was sweating and felt challenged but in a low impact way.  It certainly raised the bar on my normal core workouts.

I never realized the true meaning of core strength until I had a baby because, after giving birth, I didn't have any stomach muscles that worked.  With a lot of hard work, tears and sweat, I was able to get my abs back after being pregnant.  My days of a six pack may be long gone, but I plan to get my core strong again to stave off any back injuries due to my curved spine and, of course, to look fit.

Bar Blast may be my new favorite class and it will be no holds barred.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

Hello family, friends,, uh, crickets.
By now, I'm not really sure if anyone is still out there.  Unfortunately, I got bogged down with the holidays and posting to my blog fell way down on the list of my priorities.  The good news is that I should be able to climb back into the saddle again and begin posting with some sort of normal frequency.

While I was gone, I attended a social media conference and was able to get some great feedback and ideas about how to improve All Things Fashionating. 

So, during this time of reflection and optimism, I am hoping that ATF will start the new year off with a bang with plans to grow it even more in 2012.

Please join me for another crazy ride into All Things Fashionating.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Crushing Hard: Pucci Prints

Ever since my time at Betsey Johnson, I have been dreaming of the day when an original Emilio Pucci print was mine.  Betsey did a collection of Pucci-inspired clothing when I worked in her New York boutique.  I loved the hip, bohemian feel of the mini-skirts, dresses, cat suits and cigarette pants.  It was so cool man, but it just wasn't the real deal.

So you could imagine my surprise when I set out for my annual Christmas shopping at the outlets with one of my best gal pals Lynngweeny.  After a long day of successful shopping, we found ourselves at Saks Fifth Avenue Off Fifth in the 11th hour of our pilgrimage.  I hit the jackpot big there, but my biggest score was an original Emilio Pucci print scarf.  Conveniently, I bought one as a gift and one for myself.

The colors of one scarf in particular were maroon, pink, black and gold which only lent oodles of compliment to the mod print.  It was just out of this world; It had to be mine.  And, without too much contemplation, it was.

Merry Christmas to me!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mad About Mad Men

Well, for years, I've heard nothing but great things about the T.V. show Mad Men. Unfortunately, I missed the series premier back in 2007 and I absolutely hate starting a show mid-way through its life. 

So, for the past four years, I have waited patiently for the critically acclaimed, award-winning hit show about Madison Avenue ad execs from the 1960s to make it to Netflix.

As you can guess, it is finally here.  I am still on the first season -- its fifth will premier in March 2012 -- but I am hooked.

The show is about Don Draper, played by the hunky Jon Hamm, the creative director at Sterling Cooper advertising agency, and his escapades in and out of the office.

Since I am sooooo behind, I am assuming that I am preaching to the choir; however, I just want to say a few things:

First, my kitchen is a mirror image of Don and Betty Drapers kitchen -- fashionable and stylish for 1960 but...; Second, men have NOT changed since that era -- women just had to fight hard for our equality; third, I LOVE all the historical authenticity that is so sick and wrong (i.e. smoking AND drinking copious amounts while pregnant, kids with plastic bags over their heads and saccharine is better for you than sugar -- not to mention the constant haze of cigarette smoke that makes my lungs hurt); And lastly I am so glad that bras that make your breasts look like pointy cones are gone for good.

I only have 57 more episodes to watch before March Madmeness starts again.  Makes me want to light up a ciggy and drink a high ball of Scotch. Oh, goody!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nothing But Time to Design Our Mid-Century Modern Dream House

Well, we have been official homeowners for the past four months.  One of the most surprising things about our home, which was built in 1959, is that – according to city documents – nothing has been done to our home since 1959.

One of the reasons that Jason and I totally fell for our house (when it was a rental) was the authentic retro quality.  Us Maussers have always been fans of anything vintage. 

Our kitchen has most of the original appliances and I have to admit, they work better than the cut-rate, newer ones we had in our last rental.  Also, the absolute 1950s pink and yellow tiles in the bathrooms were endearing to us as well.
Mostly, it was the ocean views, four bedrooms and my walk-in closet that really made this dinosaur a gem to us. So, when we were able to buy this home from the estate of the first and only owner when she passed away earlier this summer, we were thrilled.
Now, as first-time home buyers, we are acclimating to a mortgage payment as well as property taxes and all those other miscellaneous charges that come with being a home owner.

When we were just renting, both Jason and I could come up with a multitude of home improvement projects that we wanted to do IF this were our house – to make it our own. Well, you know what they say; it doesn’t cost anything to dream. But now that we are owners, our notions aren’t free.
Many years ago, Jason and I started a book called “Our Dream House.”  Whenever we found ideas, furniture, fixtures that we liked for the house that we knew we would own one day, we put them in our book.  Today, it is jam packed with our ideas from landscaping to chandeliers to façade.

But we have been very hesitant to start implementing too many of these changes.  And now that our home is ours, I look around and am overwhelmed by all of the things that need to be done around the house and it is apparent that nothing has been done since 1959.

The first thing that we felt had to be done pronto was pull out all the gross carpeting and refinish the original hardwood floors.  Since we had to move every single piece of furniture and pack away everything due to the dust, this was a much bigger endeavor than we had anticipated. Yet, it was well worth the hassle and made a huge difference right away.

But then, with the floors gleaming so beautiful, it was apparent that our walls needed to be painted.
We had the painter booked but then, as fate would have it, my car broke down and we had to pay more than $1,000 to get it running again.

Buh-bye paint job.
Jason – being the smart man that he is – suggested that we put any other big projects on the backburner.  He proposed that we accumulate a slush fund for any future renovations so we have a buffer and that is what we are doing right now.

But, even if we had carte blanche to do whatever we wanted right now, I honestly don’t even really know where I would want to start.  I personally feel so overwhelmed with the prospect of actually redesigning our home.
I think what seems the most overwhelming to me is to keep the authentic feel of the late 1950s and early 1960s but being able to incorporate some modern design aesthetics.

My mom – who is a huge fan of Mid-Century Modern – literally bought us every book that was out there about MCM.  These books are amazing and, in addition to “Our Dream House” resources, we have been provided with a plethora of ideas; But, to me, almost too many.
When I start actually thinking about every little thing that we need to do, I start having a panic attack.  I am not a very patient person and I always want everything to be done as soon as possible. My head truly starts to spin when I think of everything that we need to do to make our home perfect.
Just last week, I picked up a new spiral notebook and listed each page as a room in our house.  I went through and just brain-stormed everything I would do in each room if I had the clearance to go full speed ahead.

When it was all said and done, I didn’t have too many things listed on each page. 

The big money projects: new kitchen, new deck and revitalized façade our going to take place a bit down the road.

But mostly, I realized that with just a few aesthetic changes, we can make the upstairs/living area complete, and that would make all the difference in the world.
So now, I’m just looking at our house in a smaller compartmentalized view:  I know that we won’t be using a designer, so my little notebook helps me look at the smaller picture and brainstorm ideas without getting completely overwhelmed.

I have come to realize that, now we own our house, so we’ve got nothing but time.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

An Open-handed Ode of Thanks!

There are so many days in which I take everything in my life for granted.  I am absolutely guilty of whining for naught and crying over spilt milk. I mean, I am a chick you know.
However, I truly realize that I am blessed in every sense.  It is a pity that it takes a (gasp) holiday to make me pause and smell the roses, but such is life.

Today, I want to take a moment to reflect and give my thanks. 
I am – of course – thankful for my boy Shane and hubby Jason.  The two of them provide me with my core happiness.  When Jason and I had been dating for a while, I just knew that he was the “one.”  I would wake up in the middle of the night and knowing that he was sleeping by my side and my partner in life, I would be overcome by this warm enveloping blanket of happiness and contentment.  It was a feeling that our love was bigger than anything I had ever known until Shane was born.

I look at my little guy and see all the sunshine of positivity and optimism that exudes from his little body.  He and I are absolutely connected too.  Call it mother’s intuition, but I am always in tune with him.
I am thankful for my mother and father because without them I would not be me; all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, sister-in-laws, niece, nephew and my half-sister.  To me, family is the backbone of my foundation

I could not get through my life without all of my best gal pals who are always there for me.

Of course there are so many friends and acquaintances in my life with whom I am beholden…what can I say except that I am rich with them.
I am thankful for my job and the team that I work with at Maxum.

But, most importantly, I am happy for my health.  I try to never take for granted my ability to jump up out of bed each morning and run to my heart’s content; Or the ability to dance and move my body each and every day.

I am thankful for a good glass of wine and a beautiful sunset.  I always appreciate a warm summer’s day, the sound of the ocean and the feel of sand between my toes.  I love that I am able to enjoy the feel of a cold night when the air is crisp and the stars are bright (but only if I have my warmest jacket on).

Mostly, I am just thankful for this wonderful gift of life that I have been given and I plan to enjoy today – and my existence – to the fullest.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How I Lost My Golf Virginity

The Women's Foursome at Pelican Hill

A few weeks ago, my boss popped into my office and asked if I had ever gotten into golf.

REWIND:  Back in June, some girlfriends had asked me to join them for nine holes of golf for a birthday celebration.  I was super excited to take up golf despite my husband’s nay-saying.  But, after taking a few lessons, I threw my back out and that was the end of that until the boss man approached me to play on one of Southern California’s premier golf courses.

A female client from the energy industry was trying to put together a foursome of women for a tournament at Pelican Hill Golf Course in Newport and was desperately seeking a fourth.  Without any hint of ego, my reply was that I have never played golf and I suck.

 Boss man said, “You’ll do just fine.”

 However, my golf experience did not particularly start out that way.

Two days before my first “real” golf tournament in which I was to be part of a foursome of complete strangers, I begged my husband to give me some pointers.

With only two hours to spare before a football game, we decided to forgo any of the decent 9-hole courses in our Southern California neighborhood for the sake of expense and time. 

It was a blustery morning with intermittent rain showers, so the parking lot at the Manhattan Beach Marriott was completely deserted.

Jason popped into the pro-shop and for $30 my seven-year-old son and I had carte blanche at the junior’s rate on the links.  Jason came out with a Foster’s (oil can) beer in hand.  Hmm, what was he anticipating?

First, my son has been a regular on the golf course since he was three-years-old.  Needless to say, he actually won the game that day but we weren’t really there to keep score.  It was all about me actually (attempting) to hit the ball and on a few occasions making contact.

After the first three holes, I did start to get the hang of it but, ultimately, there were more bad swings than good.  We only got through about 7 holes before we had to leave for Shane’s football game.

On Sunday evening, I started to get very nervous about the golf tournament the following morning.  I slept very poorly and had stress dreams all night long.  I awoke early so I could head into work for a few hours before heading out to the links.

While driving to Pelican Hill, I started to break out into a cold sweat and was truly more nervous than I could remember being in quite some time.

I actually arrived a bit early and took my time settling into the locker room and meandering around the breakfast/starting area.

The organizer of my foursome – a client of ours – showed up and wrangled all of us together.  She was having a very busy morning working off her Blackberry, so asked me to drive the golf cart.  I begrudgingly agreed with heavy dread.

We made it to our first hole in one piece and I retrieved my hybrid from my rented clubs.  I kept repeating my mantra: I’m going to do great; I’m going to do great.

So, I got up there and, after a few practice swings and deep breaths, I gave it all I had while trying to keep all Jason’s advice in the forefront of my mind.  I was mortified when the ball rolled only about two inches.

Two things happened at that moment:  One – the giant hole that I was willing to appear and swallow me up did not; two – I found out some things that were a total deal changer for me that day – we were not keeping score and we were playing best ball. (Best ball is when you play the ball closest to the hole.)

It truly was if a giant weight was lifted off my shoulders and, when the drink cart came by and everyone agreed to imbibe, I nearly wept with gratitude.

I can honestly say that after a Bloody Mary and an Amstel Light, miraculously, I did start to play a bit better.

By the time we reached the 11th hole, which wasn’t the hardest, but certainly was challenging as desert landscaping, which was made to look oh, so real, put a great distance between the tee and the green. Right then and there, I had that one shot that will certainly bring me back to golf again.

The God’s were smiling on me when I hit that ball and it went soaring over the sand dunes and cat tails, only to land on the green.  My comrades cheered unceremoniously for me and I was obviously the best ball on that hole (and a few others I may add).

By the time we hit the 13th hole, we finally started catching up with some of the other teams who were all men.

Our female foursome was the first in more than 10 years for this event and the photographer pretty much followed us around all day.  We were getting a lot of positive attention but, once we started to bottleneck, it sort of started to unravel.

Since we were starting off on the ladies tees, the guys’ teams weren’t aware that it was our turn and we were completely dissed three times over.  Finally, our photographer drove his cart up to where the men were teeing off to let them know it was our turn.  (He was also looking for another great photo op so it was actually a self-serving gesture.)

We prepared to tee off and found another team not too far ahead of us on the fairway.  One of the gals said we should wait as we don’t want to injure anyone.  Innocently and without any malice at all, I said, “You really think one of us could actually hit the ball that far.”

My comrades started to laugh hysterically and claimed me the most honest women they had ever met.

By this time, it was 3pm and a very cold wind was coming off the ocean.  The next hole was backed up three or four teams deep.  We decided to call it a game and hit the club house for a late lunch.

At the end of the day, I was an expert golf cart driver and only almost toppled the cart once while going up a big hill; but my partner shouted for me to go up the hill at an angle and we escaped any injury.

When we turned in our carts and clubs, I felt absolutely light as a feather. Do I think I am any good at golf?  Absolutely not! Did I have fun and will I do it again? Absolutely!

I felt relieved that I had finally gotten that first daunting 18-holes under my belt and lost my golf virginity.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Crushing Hard: Sephora's Blockbuster Make-up Palette

Dear Santa (hint, hint Jason),
All I want for Christmas is Sephora's Make-up Studio Blockbuster palette. 

This palette contains:
- 96 eye shadow shades
- 84 shiny lip glosses
- 6 cream eyeliners
- 2 eyeliner pencils
- 3 blushes
- 1 bronzer
- 1 mascara
- 4 applicators

According to Sephora's website, the palette -- designed in gay Paris -- by Sephora's beauty team is an array of colors to inspire the make-up artist in each of us.  From subdued natural tones to trendy hues, you will have all the colors you need to create a face that is tres chic.

With this collection of make-up which retails for only $49.50, I will be sitting pretty while ringing in the New Year.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Versace for H&M Causing International Fracases

Donatella & Nicki Minaj at the Versace for H&M launch party.

I don’t think this will be another Missoni moment for me but, for some, the highly anticipated launch of Versace for H&M tomorrow Saturday Nov. 19 is going to rock some worlds.

Starting at 8 a.m., shoppers will be able to get their hands on the mens- and womens-wear line – created by the Italian designer at a fraction of the typical Versace cost – at selected H&M stores through the U.S.

Donatella Versace, designer and VP of the Versace Group, said the 43-piece collection took about nine months to come to conception – just like a baby – 43 to be exact.

With a Versace signature that is literally to the point, the H&M collection shows chain-mail mini-dresses, black leather sheaths embossed with gold studs, fluorescent purses with a lot of hardware; and highlights from recent Versace collections such as fitted eyelet dresses with asymmetric necklines and military-influenced long strapless numbers. 

The fashion house’s trademark Greek key insignia is everywhere.
Jessica Alba
The collection – which includes a range of bright statement pieces: neon animal prints, palm tree-covered pants and imitation leather accents – screams early 90s.

Many of the pieces combined a little bit of everything, like an emerald green sequin dress with alligators on the front and a palm tree panorama on the back, dresses adorned with hearts and, overall, just psychedelic patterns and colors everywhere.

The men’s wear line includes hot pink suits and zebra stripes.

Earlier in the week, Donatella hosted a star-studded fashion show, shopping extravaganza and top-notch party in New York City.

With Prince and Nicki Minaj as the entertainment, Hollywood's hottest and fashions who's who showed up to help Donatella celebrate the launch of the new Versace line.

But the collection was available in Europe and Asia starting on Thursday Nov. 17 and reports of fracases breaking out in Shanghai can only indicate the absolute fabulousness of this line.

The vision of polite Chinese women throwing blows for a chain mail dress is priceless and completely understandable.

In response to the mayhem, H&M has announced that strict guidelines for customers looking to buy the Versace collection are now being implemented in the U.K. and U.S. Shoppers will have to line-up and acquire wristbands; they will also have only 15 minutes to browse and may only purchase two of each item.

These severe shopping measures are in place to encourage peaceful shopping but, most importantly, prevent items from showing up on eBay as with other H&M alliances.

H&M has previously collaborated with fashion houses including Stella McCartney, Viktor & Rolf, Comme des Garҫons, Jimmy Choo, Sonia Rykeil and most recently Lanvin.
Blake Lively and Helena Christensen

The high fashion/low cost concept is brilliant in that it brings designer duds to the masses. It levels the playing fields and as we have seen with past partnerships and almost every launch has been wildly successful.

I don’t think the Versace for H&M line will be an exception.

According to Donatella, the collection resembles the design house’s aesthetic from two decades ago and is tribute to Donatella’s brother – Gianni Versace – who was murdered in 1997.

As far as I’m concerned, Gianni was the real mastermind behind the Versace brand; but kudos to Donatella for carrying on the legacy.

Fare attenzione Missoni!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Crushing Hard: cityslips

For me, I love wearing fabulous shoes because there is nothing more feminine than a woman in stylish heels; however, after a long day at the office, just the thought of going the extra step in those sky high heels is like torture.

So, when my friend from work, Jet, told me about cityslips, I was intrigued.  I had heard about them before but wasn't really sure where to find them and thought that my boring old Target flats would continue to do the trick.
cityslips are foldable ballet flats which come in a little carry case.  And, even though the concept of carrying an alternative shoes to swap heels is not new -- especially from my NYC days -- but back then it was those horrible white Reeboks with long dresses.  Ewwwww! 

But -- fast forward -- while at Marshall's yesterday, I found a pair of cityslips in size 9 just waiting for me to take them home.  The faux patent leather flats are pretty simple but look good quality and the carrying case is just adorable and very petite so it will fit right into my purse.  Not to mention, they were mine for $7.99 plus tax.  I just couldn't resist.

Now, if I have to run to the Post Office on my lunch break or even down to the Cafe for lunch, I won't have to strategize and wonder how it will position me for the rest of the day.  I have a feeling that these little slip ons will bring me style and comfort all at the same time.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Running For Camaraderie, Health and Myself

Rachel and Tracy at the finish line

"In running, it doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, 'I have finished.' There is a lot of satisfaction in that."
-Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder
Almost two weeks ago, my good friend Rachel and I ran the Los Angeles Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.  This was our third half marathon – not to mention the many 10K and 5K races – which we have shouldered together. 
For the past five years, we have been running companions – so throughout the year – we lace up our running shoes and pound the pavement together a few mornings a week.
However, over the past month, we had to amp our training schedule into high gear in order to get some major miles under our belt.  So, once the race was done, it was so nice not to feel pressured by our early morning runs.
The half marathon ideal is great because we have a shared goal and it sure as hell is a lot easier to get out of bed in the morning when you know someone is doing it with you.  For me, I love to run and it is my Prozac.  I gear up for these races because I love the results and I get them by doing something I love.
But for many years, I was a solo runner.  I didn’t take to sharing “my running time” and planned many of Christmas cards, speeches, packing lists all while rocking out with my iPod.  To me, running solo is almost like meditating.
Yet, one week off, and I found myself missing my running buddy.  It made me realize that, for me, running is no longer just about me; I have grown accustomed to the camaraderie that Rachel and I have formed.
Over the years, I have run with other friends as well – Barbara, Gabby, Tracie, Eliza – and those have also been fulfilling to me.  Don’t get me wrong, here and there, I get a solo run in and, since I don’t do them very often, it feels good to get out and there and just go Zen with my iPod.  But ultimately, friends don’t let friends run alone.
Last year – Rachel, Barbara and I ran the Los Angeles Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon for the first time.  I thought that it was a great event.  The start line was cordoned off into corrals and the amount of pushing and limited space was slim to none.  The course started in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park and passed through trendy neighborhoods like Silver Lake and Atwater Village with the finish line at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles.  It was really cool to see other L.A. neighborhoods that I don’t usually frequent.

The infamous Bret Michaels
This year, the course was pretty simple: starting in downtown LA and running down to University of Southern California and around the L.A. coliseum; returning back through downtown passing through the warehouse district and Japan town; and ending back at L.A. Live again.

A pseudo-highlight of this year’s race was that Bret Michael’s – reality TV star and formerly of the glam hair band Poison – performed a post-race concert.  We finished the race around 9:30 a.m. so, by the time we got some coffee and had walked around a bit, it was time for the concert.  We ended up a few rows back and had a close-up look at his male cleavage if you know what I mean.  I think we were a bit giddy with exhaustion so,after two songs and many chuckles, Rach and I were on our way.

However, right before we left, they stopped the concert and asked Brett Michael’s to make an urgent announcement.   They called a man’s name and asked him to report to the side of the stage.  The request seemed serious and dire and, only later did we learn tragic.
The next morning, I heard on the news that a 37-year-old runner collapsed close to the finish line and had been pronounced dead upon arrival to the hospital.  Rachel was the one who made the association that the concert announcement could have been in regards to the man.
Morbid curiosity I suppose, but I had to look it up.  The Orange County Register reported that Charles Riske, of Costa Mesa, died of an apparent heart attacked while running the half marathon.  He was only 37 years old and a successful business man.  The absolute saddest part of it all was that he and his wife were expecting their first baby in February.  I felt so affected by this tragedy.
I don’t know if he was an avid runner or not.  It didn’t state that information in any of the articles; however, it made me think about going the distance.
I have been running seriously since I was in high school.  As of today, I have completed one full-marathon, six half-marathons, and many other races of various distances.  I have never considered running dangerous to my health.
Rachel and I both don’t even consider ourselves serious “runners” because we don’t run too fast or too far; but reading about this guy who passed away while running in the same race as us, it made me think that we aren’t giving ourselves enough credit.
A half marathon – is only 13.1 miles – and not 26.2 like a full marathon.  But it truly takes dedication and perseverance to just get out there and go that far.  Not to mention the importance of a training regime to prepare not just your legs and mind for the long run, but your heart as well.
Even though we don’t feel as though we are doing anything significant since we have done it for so long, this situation made me look at our running in a new light.
I think all runners out there should give themselves a pat on the back for just getting off the couch and getting out there.
The phenomenon isn’t that we actually finished the race; it is that we had the audacity to start.