Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Heidi Klum Creates Dynamic Collection; Gets Wild on QVC

As I have posted before, I totally dig Heidi Klum.

With Project Runway Season 9 in full swing, I’ve been getting my fill of the Glamazon.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Klum has taken her Project Runway experience and added fashion designer to her own long list of accolades.

Image Courtesy of HK NB
Recently, she partnered with New Balance and created an active wear collection to be sold on Amazon.  Her creations include tunics, knits, woven tops, leggings and outerwear pieces “developed to fit every body type.”

The collection consists of easy, go-to pieces that add a dash of unexpected cool to life’s day-to-day tasks like dropping the kids off at school, running to the market or having coffee with friends.  The pieces – which retail from $32 to $168 – reflect Heidi’s modern and cultivated lifestyle.

The New Balance campaign will begin its national launch in November; but if you don’t want to wait for Klum’s chic active wear, you can snatch up pieces from her jewelry line pronto.

Wildlife by Heidi Klum is the fashion powerhouse’s second jewelry collection for QVC. 
Image Courtesy of Wildlife by HK/QVC

The sophisticated necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets have a vintage vibe, yet contemporary feel.

To buy a piece of Klum’s treasures, visit or call 800-345-1515.

And, as if having the Midas touch isn’t enough, she is married to Seal. I mean, does life get any better than that?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gazing Into the Eyes of Those Bad Ass Raccoons

Most mornings, I wake up early and sit in front of our sliding glass doors which look out toward the ocean and our surrounding neighbors.  Last week, around 6am, I saw a gaze – or group – of raccoons on the roof of a neighboring house. 

Currently, the house is in escrow and it has been empty all summer.  So you can imagine my surprise as I watched all five of those coons scramble into the roof vent.

It brought back memories of a time when I had a run in with some raccoons.

When I was in high school, my mom – Kathy – and I did a lot of car camping.

One time in particular, we got a big group together to go camp out up at High Point – which is where New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania all meet – for my birthday.

My mom, Aunt Trish, her kids -- cousins Jimmy and Jackie, and my girlfriend Michelle prepared for the two plus hour drive for a weekend camping trip.

We set off in my mom's 1975 Toyota Corolla station wagon that was a distinct shade of eggplant. By the time we had the car packed with our gear, the four kids were so squashed in the back seat that, every time we hit a bump, we banged our heads so hard on the roof that we practicaly had concussions.

I do recall that we got on the road quite early in the morning. As the sun was rising, our first excitement of the trip presented itself when a car was coming toward us head first on the Interstate.

With my mom at the wheel and traffic being light, we were able to safely maneuver to the side of the road and let that crazy, confused or just drunk person pass. These were pre-cell phone days, so we weren't even able to call and report this dangerous driver to 911.

But we continued on our way.

About mid-day, we arrived at our campsite. We were lucky enough to find one that was off the beaten path, and we actually had to walk quite a distance from the car to the campsite. From our secluded spot right on the lake, we couldn't even see our car. This was prime real estate.

We quickly put up our tents and organized the site, so we could spend the afternoon exploring and swimming in the lake.

My Aunt Trisha shared an idea to hang all our non-perishable food in a big army duffel bag from a tree. We had a cooler for all our perishable items.

We set out for a fun-filled afternoon. Once we got back to our tents, we fired up the Q to grill some burgers for our dinner and then do some s'morin before the snorin’.

I was so excited because Michelle and I had our very own pup tent to share. We felt so independent and gladly retired early to giggle and gossip like normal teen-agers.

Since it was a beautiful night, my mom – an extreme nature lover –opted to spend the night in her sleeping bag next to the fire and under the stars.

After some time, we all started to wind down and slowly it got very quiet as we all began to drift off the sleep.

Suddenly, my mother screamed.

Looking toward the camp fire, I could see my mom through the tent jumping up and the shadow of some sort of animal running after her. My first thought was bear. As we heard the zip, zip, zip of my mom's tent, she shouted that it had only been a raccoon that had wandered into camp, but it had startled her awake.

The two adults assured all of us paranoid kids that everything was OK and to just go back to sleep. So – even though we were a bit amped up – we settled back into our sleeping bags. But a few minutes later, Michelle and I heard a scratching at the back of our tent – which wasn't that big – so the sound was too close for comfort. Once again, visions of bears danced in my head.

Michelle and I screamed and unzipped our tent as quickly as our shaking fingers would allow; then we scrambled into the big tent with the rest of my family.

We tried to ignore the sounds of those masked bandits and, when Mom and Trish, looked outside the tent, there was a gaze of raccoons around our campsite.

Mom and Trish came to the conclusion that maybe the food hanging from the tree wasn’t such a brilliant idea after all and it was actually attracting the rascals. We decided that we would lock the duffel bag in the car for the night. Those vermin were so aggressive that, as Trisha got the bag down from the tree, I had a big stick that I was banging on the ground to keep them at bay.

The remoteness of the site was suddenly a hindrance as we made our way through the woods while fighting off throngs of coons through the woods and over a small bridge to the car. But we made it and got everything secured.

That was when Trisha, who was carrying the flashlight, heard her 6-year-old daughter Jackie start screaming. She bolted down the path, with the torch, only to leave me in the dust and alone on the path with some bad ass raccoons.

Blindly using my big stick to wack the tall grass around me, I ran as fast as I could without falling. I finally caught up to Trish and my Mom; Jackie had awoken to find Trisha gone and raccoons fighting outside our tent. She had been terrified hence the scream.

We all climbed back in the tent and barely slept a wink with those raccoons terrifying us for the entire night.

Sometime before the sun came up, the rascals disappeared and something much larger and meaner rolled into camp. I was too scared to get official confirmation but, I'm pretty sure we had a visit from Smokey the Bear too. Obviously, being much bigger than the coons on the food chain, they bolted. Little did we know at the time, Michelle had packed her overnight bag – which was in our pup tent – with candy bars, potato chips, and cookies.

The one rule my mom had was no food in the tents. Michelle had even hidden it from me, but she didn't get it by the raccoons. In a weird way, we were lucky because I think our masked friends had eaten all the sweet treats so there was nothing left for the bear.

Thank goodness!

The next morning, it looked like a bomb had exploded. The raccoons had desiccated mine and Michelle's tent. Wrappers, clothes and bits of rubbish (they broke into the trash can too) littered the ground of our site.

Not to mention that we awoke to a dreary and rainy day. Our prime real estate suddenly looked like the slums.

We cleaned it up and cleared out for the day – heading to my favorite theme park ever, Action Park.

When we returned later in the evening, it was too damp to start a fire, so we opted to just make some sandwiches and chips for dinner.

As we just sat down at our picnic table to eat, my eight-year-old cousin asked us what a skunk looked like. My aunt asked why, and Jimmy just pointed behind us.  As if in slow motion, we all turned around at the same time and sure enough Pepè LePew was on his way to have some dinner with us.

Unfortunately for my mom, Michelle decided to physically climb up her body to avoid getting sprayed. My mom finally extracted Michelle and we shooed Pepè away and everyone avoided a tomato juice bath.

Well, that night was quite uneventful and we all got a great night's sleep because we were so exhausted.

The next morning, we packed it up and left Mother Nature behind but – to this day – I have never looked at a raccoon in quite the same way again. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Crushing Hard

Good News from J Crew

Every once in a while, I see something that I must have at all costs.  (Sorry Jason!)

Last weekend, I glimpsed a pair of pants in Glamour Magazine and thought, “I would be a better fashionista if these were hanging in my closet.”  However, the pants were logged into my memory bank along with about a dozen other shoes, purses, jackets that I was crushing on…so buh-bye!

Image Credit: J Crew
So you can imagine my surprise when I found those exact pants pasted on one of my favorite blogs  This helped to bring those bad boys back to the fore-front of my mind and now I really had to have J Crew’s Café Capri in Bright Dahlia – the neon berry color.

I love the color as much as the tailored “City fit,” which according to J Crew, is the lowest rise that sits just above the hip.  These skinny trousers are fitted through the hip and thigh, with a cropped leg and cuff.

Last Sunday, I decided to go online to check them out; but they were gone.  On Friday, I was chatting online with a J Crew representative who told me they were sold out.  But I just couldn’t take no for an answer.  I decided to start phoning my local J Crew stores just to test my luck.

I struck out in El Segundo but, when I phoned The Grove location, I was connected to an online concierge service who found the last pair – in the WORLD (OK, I’m being a bit dramatic) – in my size.

I was giddy with the prospect of these pants actually being mine and embarrassed the representative with my good karma philosophy to ad nauseam.

This morning, I saw the email in my inbox letting me know that my new pants are on their way. I can barely contain my excitement and am secretly praying that they fit.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Two In-Vince-able Collections

I committed a fashion faux pas.

At first, I wasn’t even aware of my transgression but, after doing a little research, I realized that I have confused two fashion brands: VINCE and Vince Camuto.

Now, this is not surprising and, on occasion, I must live up to my blond hair.  Such as the Louboutin debacle:  I own two pair of the iconic red-soled shoes yet it took me three fashion seasons to be able to say the brand name without stuttering or second guessing myself. 

So, with all the different designers and brands out there, I simply can’t assume all the responsibility to know everything about everything, but I certainly try. 

So, in this case, I realized that I had to educate myself and figure out the difference between VINCE and Vince Camuto.

VINCE, a contemporary clothing line for women and men, was founded in 2002 by Rea Laccone and Christopher LaPolice on the principals of iconic design and superior quality, according to Wikipedia. Sold to the Kellwood Company in September 2006, the organization is continuing to grow its brand in retail shops throughout the U.S. and online.

VINCE Fall 2011
Now, the VINCE Fall 2011 collection was what originally piqued my interest. Its comfortable silhouettes, archetypal tailoring all wrapped up with some cutting-edge quality, spoke to me.  Although, in my opinion, the layered knits, maxi skirts, sparkle dresses and basic tees are just too pricey for basic closet staples. 

With the exception of the shearling jackets, fur vests and wraps – which are fabulous -- however, I am confident that less expensive options are available.

But once I visited the Vince Camuto website, I was suddenly much more optimistic. 

Camuto, a co-founder of the Nine West Group, Inc., is now CEO/CCO of the fashion company Camuto Group, which provides design, sourcing, marketing and production services to over 5,400 department and independent retailers throughout the world, according to Wikipedia. 

Wikipedia also states that the namesake line, Vince Camuto, started as a footwear collection, but in the last six years, he had partnered and expanded the brand to include clothing and accessories as well.

One look at the Fall 2011 Ad Campaign and I knew I had to have several pieces for my own.

Vince Camuto Fall 2011
The inspiration, American actress and model Carolyn Murphy, the face and body of the newest line has adorned the pages of every fashion rag out.  Being able to see the clothing styled with the accessories and footwear offers a visual stimulation that agreed with my senses.

The Fall collection, which like VINCE, includes many basic staples but it exudes a seductive quality that has a much more wallet-friendly price point.

Also, the Vince Camuto line also offers some faux fur options with prices starting around $200 as opposed to the VINCE real fur pieces which range from $475 for a fur collar to $2,000 for a fur jacket.

VINCE is certainly the brand which offers a higher-end quality but along with that comes a more expensive price tag.  But there is no doubt in my mind, that you can’t go wrong with either brand.

They are in-vince-able.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Shane Loyal!

Shane and Mom
Seven years ago today, the joy of my life – Shane Loyal Mausser – came into this world at 6pm on a Tuesday evening.

I can honestly say that it was and still is the happiest day of my life.

I know he is my son, but I believe him to be one of the sweetest and most endearing individuals I have ever met in my life. He was born with a good disposition and it remains with him even today.

I was almost 30 when Jason and I tied the knot. We both had agreed that we didn't want to rush into starting a family. We wanted to take the time to experience our married lives together.

The reality is that we were scared.

I speak for myself when I say that the prospect of actually being someone's mom frightened me. At thirty years old, I felt like a kid myself. Jason was happy to spend the next five years honeymooning, traveling and just enjoying life.

And we were not alone.

At the time, a lot of our friends were just getting married themselves and not very many had begun to start their families.

On our five year wedding anniversary, Jason whisked me up to San Francisco for a romantic get-away. While there, we finally put it all out on the table. I had just turned 34 and was definitely beginning to feel as though the old biological time-bomb was ticking away loud and clear as though it could detonate at any moment.

Shane Loyal
I was surprised when Jason told me he was ready too.

It was an exciting decision that made us both a bit apprehensive. There were so many “what ifs.” But we wouldn't know unless we got out there and – had fun – while trying.

At the end of November 2003, we were in Hawaii for a wedding. As I have posted before, on the flight home, I just knew I was pregnant. Even though a pregnancy test confirmed negative – and after a mechanical bull-ride and a night of dancing on the bar – I was indeed preggers.

For the next eight and a half months, absolutely not to be confused with Kim Basinger's sexy drama “Eight and a Half Weeks,” I was with child.

I have always been a pretty average-sized woman. Not too tall nor too short; not too skinny or too fat; however, by the end of my term, I looked like I was going to give birth to twins. How do I know? Well, people kept asking me if I was pregnant with twins. But alas, it was just one healthy baby boy growing in my belly.

I did a lot of things throughout my pregnancy, such as reading to the baby, playing all kinds of music, talking to my belly; all in anticipation of stimulating an extreme amount of intelligence and knowing into that little guy.

Being sort of new-agey, I went totally off the wall while pregnant. I took pre-natal and kundalini yoga and was doing head stands during my second trimester. I mean, I can't even do a head stand in yoga today.

Also, I convinced Jason that I wanted our birthing method – like Lamaze – to be Hypnobirthing. What pretel is hypnobirthing you ask?

Have you ever sat with your hand, arm, foot or leg turned in an awkward position only to realize it after a long period of time. Suddenly, when you realize that your foot is twisted like a pretzel it starts to hurt.

That is the premise of hypnobirthing. The concept uses hypnotherapy – in the form of meditation – to lessen the pain; in this case, giving birth.

I was hoping to have a natural childbirth – aka drug free – but I did have a safe word in case I changed my mind during labor.

I was trying to take a more healthful and alternative approach so that my baby would be safer and healthier.

So, on Tuesday August 24, I awoke about 2 am with bad cramps. Even though I was two weeks early, I just knew this was it. I woke up Jason who, in all his practicality and not being a morning person, asked how far apart my contractions were. I reported more than 20 minutes. He told me to wake him up when they were 5 minutes apart and then he went back to sleep.

Unlike myself, I was too amped up with anticipation and excitement to go back to sleep so I got up and continued to nest. I finished up some work that I had left to do, straightened up our home, and packed my bag for the hospital.

At about 6am, I forced Jason to wake up even though my contractions were still far apart.

At 8 am, I phoned my doctor and they said to head to the hospital when my contractions were two to five minutes apart. The contractions, which felt like really bad stomach cramps, were intensifying but not too bad.

I told Jason that I wanted to stop and pick up some bagels and cream cheese for the nurses. A few friends told me this was a way to win some brownie points.

So we drove out of our way to the bagel shop. By the time Jason got back in the car, the cramps had turned into excruciatingly painful contractions.

The less than one mile ride to the hospital seemed to take a lifetime; somewhere between Redondo Beach and Torrance, I had decided to forgo hypnobirthing for a crack in the head with a cinder block.

We got up to triage and the nurse on duty checked me out. She said I was not ready to have the baby and I should walk around the hospital to get things moving along.

Well, throughout my walk, I was having contractions about every minute or so.  I was convinced that Shane would be arriving any minute now.

Upon another check-up, I was told no sign of the little guy; if I didn't start showing signs soon, they would send me home.

I grabbed Jason by the arm, so tight that I'm sure he was bruised, and said, “If they send me home that is where I will have this baby. Like Prissy from “Gone With The Wind,” We “don't know nothin' ‘bout birthin' no babies.”

Actually, I did not say that and, due to the large number of expletives that I actually did say, I won’t repeat it.  But I did grab Jason and started to cry.

The nurse said that, if I wasn't using hypnobirthing as my birthing method, she could call my doctor and ask if they could give me a little something, something to relax me.

Suddenly, “watermelon” came out of my mouth. The safe word had been said and the drugs began.

OK, so yes, I admit that I wanted a natural childbirth and ended up having a sedative before the epidural. What part of uptight don't you understand? Well, I believe that all went down at about 3pm.

Shane May 2011
After my next check-up, I was officially admitted to the hospital and it was confirmed that I hadn't just gained 40 pounds for naught; I was going to have a baby.

By the time they wheeled me into my room, the anesthesiologist met us there and it was smooth sailing from that point on.

I started active labor at 4pm and two hours later on the dot my precious boy was born.

When I looked down on him, I had tears in my eyes. He was absolutely beautiful. But Shane's beauty is not just skin deep. He is a beautiful person inside out.

Even at this young age, he is so filled with compassion and love. Don't get me wrong, he is a seven year old boy so the “Frogs and snails and puppy dog tails” stuff definitely holds true as well. He loves rocks, insects and lizards.

Shane’s favorite sport last year was basketball, but we will be throwing football into the mix this year, so that might change.

He is my inspiration and I live vicariously through his wonderment of the world.

So today, I send all my happy birthday wishes to my sweet, sweet boy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Realizing That I Am Just A Mere Mortal

"It Was A Very Good Year"
by Frank Sinatra

But now the days are short, I'm in the autumn of the year
And now I think of my life as vintage wine
From fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs
It poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year

I find myself facing my own mortality these days.

I'm not sure when it started to happen. Perhaps, it has to do with turning 42 last month or celebrating my 13 year wedding anniversary last week. But it seems like just yesterday that I was graduating from college, moving to Los Angeles, getting married, and having a kid. Today, I feel like I'm closer to 50 than 30. Uh, well...I guess that part is true.

The funny thing is that I still feel like I am 30-something. This is not a new topic for me and I have blogged about it recently. [See "Can 40 Be The New 30" from May 6, 2011.] This post, however, is not so much about my physical state of being, but more about my mental state.

Now that I am older, I have finally realized that I have a lot to lose. I am at a pinnacle where I truly understand all the wonderful and amazing things with which I have been blessed. And, I feel that I am in the perfect state to enjoy them, but I still find myself worrying.

When I was younger, I was known to be carefree and a daredevil. Although Jason will argue that I have always been a “Nervous Nelly,” but this wasn't always the case. If someone asked me to jump off the Manhattan Beach Pier naked (Jason?), I might just do it.

Oh yeah, I've already done that.

But to support Jason's nay saying, I've never been one to feel at ease with animals that are larger than me and I do have an irrational fear of the Pacific Ocean. So, even though I have been forced to horseback ride a gazillion times with my mom and ocean kayak, I was certainly out of my comfort zone.

Give me a big roller coaster with G force any day of the week and I will not quake with fear.

Example: I always used to love to fly, and never even gave it a second thought. Today, I am just a hair shy of being one of those people who “hates” to fly. (Although, it could be partially due to the time our plane almost went down in the Atlantic off Miami but, we lived to tell the tale, so it doesn't really count.)

Mostly my paranoia prevails during the plane's take-off. As we gain altitude, I hold my breath listening to all those rattles and bangs. If I am at a window seat, I look out the window and wonder what it would be like to free-fall to the earth. Would I pass out on the way down or would I be awake for the impact?

Yet, once we are up in the air, I'm okey dokey until the landing. But I always feel comforted knowing that if we do crash on touch down, at least we are near the airport and rescue crews can get to us right away if it was necessary.

Truthfully, my fear isn't all that outrageous. If you follow my blog, you know that I lost my Nana and Pop Pop this year. I have experienced the loss of loved ones before, but these really hit me hard.

As time goes by, the pain – like a knife in the gut – is getting a little bit less; but it has made me realize that I need to appreciate each day.

Life is short and, the older you get, it's just not as easy to enjoy all of life's experiences.

Just to clarify, I don't have any grand disillusions that I should create my bucket list. This is more of a pep talk to help me realize that I need to look at the bucket half full and not half empty.

Here is where all those wonderful Buddhist philosophies come into play. Yes, it is extremely cliché to say, “Live in the moment;” But I can't think of any better advice to give myself.

I have to squash all those silly fears and remind myself that I can not control my fate.

It is not so much about facing my mortality as realizing that it is time enjoy every moment. To push aside fears and to simply be aware of the incredible gift that I have been given.

I choose to be happy, positive, and not worry about the things in my life that I have no control over.

Yes, not only is this summer coming to an end, but the summer of my life seems to quickly be fading to Autumn, but I am prepared to enjoy every sweet second of it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Crushing Hard

I am loving this Jemma Kidd's Backstage Kit from Target.  For $35, this make-up palette dishes up lots of pinks, browns, reds, beiges and yellows for lips, eyes and cheeks. It includes eye and lip primer, bronzer, cream eye shadows and blushers and much, much more.

It is sold out online, but you can still find it in Target stores.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Daily Tune Up by Yehuda Berg

I’ll Rise Again

Life is filled with obstacles and tests that sometimes knock us off our feet. When we do lose our balance and fall flat on our faces, it’s important to stand up again rather than to sink into doubt and depression...and dust ourselves off.

Getting up again generates greater spiritual Light in the world than if we had never fallen in the first place. The fact that we fell is not what’s important. True greatness is in the act of rising again.

Friday, August 19, 2011

When Does Reality TV Become Too Real?

I was shocked to see breaking local news that Taylor Armstrong’s husband, Russell Armstrong, had committed suicide on Monday night.
Taylor, a “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” personality, had filed for divorce in July citing her estranged husband with physical and verbal abuse.
Russell’s attorney, Ronald Richards, said the 47-year-old was upset over his wife’s divorce filing, living beyond his financial means, and running out of credit.  “He didn’t want his marriage to end,” Richards said. “They were raising [their daughter] together.  It came as a shock.”
The Los Angeles County Coroner had ruled Russell’s death a suicide by hanging after an autopsy on Wednesday.  He said Russell did not leave a note.
As a huge fan of RHBH, I was stunned that Russell committed suicide but I wasn’t surprised that Taylor, 40, had filed for divorce. 
Throughout Season 1, Russell certainly seemed controlling and demeaning to Taylor.  In one episode when the cast was in Las Vegas, Russell told Taylor they were leaving a party even though she didn’t want to leave; only to repeat the action a few months later, this time leaving Taylor at her co-star Kyle Richard's husband's 40th birthday party.
Other petty issues continued to rear ugly heads during the first season but, compared to Camille Grammar’s split from famous Kelsey, they certainly didn’t seem too prevalent.  Also, as a viewer, I don’t really know how much is editing and how much is reality; however, I can honestly say that I was not astonished when it was reported that the couple had split about a month ago.
What did surprise me were the allegations of physical and verbal abuse.  Taylor – who was very open about growing up in an abusive home – is a big advocate of the 1736 Family Crisis Center, which was located in my own town of Hermosa Beach at one time. 
The center has been responding to the growing needs of victims of domestic violence, runaway and homeless youth, the homeless, and other low-income community members in need of assistance for the last 38 years.
On one episode last season, several RHBH cast members attended a fund-raiser for the 1736 Family Crisis Center where Taylor gave a tearful speech revealing her troubled childhood.  Despite this admission and Taylor’s troubles with Russell, I never thought in a million years that it could have been so bad.
Richards, Russell’s attorney, told ABC News that financial woes could have added to the investment banker and venture capitalists demise.  “He didn’t have any extra assets,” he said.  “He was living month to month to support Taylor’s lifestyle.”
At the time of his death, Russell was $1.5 million in debt.
In an interview with People magazine that took place a few weeks before his death, Russell admitted that “Real Housewives” caused some angst in his actual reality.  “It got really overwhelming,” he told the magazine.  “When you get a TV show involved, and all the pressure – it just takes it to a whole new level…we were pushed to extremes.”
Actually, I get it.  I don’t live in Beverly Hills, but the cost of living in Los Angeles, in general, is pretty high.  Not to mention that the lifestyle my family and I have grown accustomed to certainly comes with a high price tag.
There is a lot of competition and most of the emphasis is put on wearing the “most fashionable” clothes to driving the “right” car to taking the “best” vacations.  Not to mention all the other nuances like private schools, fine dining, and botox.  Even in my non-Beverly Hills life, it is easy to get caught up and try to keep up with the “Jones.”
But I think it is a poor excuse to devastate the life of your family.  Especially when there is a 5-year-old child involved.  Russell made a selfish decision that will negatively affect all of his loved ones.  When times get tough, you just have to get tougher, even if you do lose face.  Who cares?  Look at Theresa and Joe Guidice on the “Real Housewives of New Jersey” as obtuse as they are, they have stood with their chins up and persevered through their tough times.
I believe that Russell took a coward's way out.
While researching this post, I also found reports from RadarOnline that members of Russell’s family are allegedly considering filing a lawsuit against Bravo for contributing to the emotional state that led to his suicide. 
Bravo has not commented on this allegation, which I think is ludicrous.  Taylor and Russell were both adults when they signed on to the reality television show.  If this is true, my opinion is that Russell’s family is just trying to blame someone.  How about Russell? He is the one that took his own life, leaving his wife and child to pick up the pieces. 
Bravo has not yet made a decision on the future of the show’s second season, which was scheduled to air Sept. 5. 
Personally, I think the show should go on, and producers should cut out Taylor and Russell’s personal woes leading up to the tragedy.  Trust me – with Camille, Kyle and Kim – there will be enough drama to keep it real.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Other Side of Paradise

This is a reprint of my commentary first published in the PV News back in September 1998.

Well, the big day finally came and went.

On Aug. 15, I married the love of my life, Jason.  We danced the night away and didn’t retire to our honeymoon suite until 1 a.m., but we did indeed make our 8 a.m. flight to Maui on Sunday morning.

This is somewhat amazing because we were flying on companion passes. Jason’s mother, who had worked for a particular airline for nearly 40 years, gave us the passes that would allow us to basically fly free.

On the morning after our wedding, God must have been on our side because we were ushered on board the plane like we were royalty even receiving a bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne as a gift.

We arrived on Maui and spent six whole days having the grandest time of our new married lives.  But suddenly it was over. Luckily, Jason had the foresight to book our return flight on Saturday morning just in case we got “bumped” and had to take an evening flight.

Little did we know…

For those who have never been to Maui, the first thing you realize is that the airport is definitely not LAX.  There are only three airlines that fly to the mainland and only one that has three daily flights to Los Angeles.

On what was to be our last day, we were bumped off all three flights of the day.  I was discouraged but Jason, who is always optimistic, found us a hotel room.

When we returned to the airport the next day, which was Sunday, we learned that a flight on another airline had been canceled and all of its 200 and some odd passengers were vying for our seats – with cash in hand.

After several hours of waiting, the ticket agent told Jason we had no chance of getting on a flight.  We went back to our hotel and spent the day at the movies.

We tried to stay optimistic, but on day three, we arrived at the airport with grim faces.  The ticket agent told us not to get our hopes up, and we didn’t.  By then it was Monday and we were both missing work and anxious to get home.

With no conviction, we signed up for the first flight and – lo and behold – seven minutes before takeoff our names were called.  Our elation was short-lived because we were asked to leave the plane four minutes before its departure.  It was just too much for me and, once we left the plane and were on the jet way, I began to cry.  My new husband, in my defense, asked the airline employee who removed us from the plane, “How can you psyche us out like this? We’ve been waiting patiently for three days. It’s not fair.”

With more venom than any King Cobra I’ve ever seen, she responded: “Fair?  I’ll rip up your passes.”

Jason tried to explain that we weren’t trying to give her a hard time, we were just frustrated because we had been waiting for three days and wanted to go home.

The ice queen responded, “I’ll rip up your passes and you can buy a full-fare ticket home.”
I was shocked! Never had I heard an employee, in customer service, mind you, speak so harshly to customers.

Jason and I both remained quiet while we registered for the next flight because we were afraid she would rip up our passes.

However, the reporter in me decided to get this employee’s name so that once I returned to L.A., I could write a letter of complaint.  Big mistake.

Once I asked for the rude woman’s name, all hell broke loose.  She locked herself in the jet way so I couldn’t see her name badge and her partner at the ticket counter banned us from flying out of Maui “unless we bought full-fare tickets.”

We were told by a supervisor -- who ended up NOT really being a supervisor but whose name I did get -- that because we were standby we had no right to ask anyone’s name or complain “unless we bought a full-fare ticket.” And, since the ticket agent banned us from flying “unless we bought a full-fare ticket” out of Maui, we would have to make other arrangements.

Yeah, sure!  Like we had the cash to buy two full-fare tickets to L.A. – at the drop of a dime – after the expenses of our wedding.  So we did the next best thing, we bought tickets on an inter-island flight to Oahu for $69 each.

Once we arrived at Honolulu Airport, we registered for the next flight to L.A., which was scheduled to leave eight hours later, and told the ticket agent there what had happened.
She immediately sympathized with us, gave us the names of all those involved, and filed a report for us.  She was horrified that we were treated that way because: A) We are human beings and no one deserves to be treated so poorly; and B) Jason’s mother had been an employee of the airline for almost half a century.

So, although the last leg of our journey had been negative, the Honolulu ticket agent’s kind demeanor had lifted our spirits. We both decided not to let it spoil the memories of our honeymoon in paradise, and the prospect that a letter of complaint would be sent definitely helped us remain positive while we explored Waikiki that day.

But it’s funny how every time I tell people that we got stuck in Hawaii, they usually respond with a grin on their faces: “Must have been rough being stranding on Maui during your honeymoon, huh?”

I just say, “As a matter of fact, it was.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Vintage Love Affair the First Time Around

As I have posted before, in the early 90s, I began a long love affair with vintage clothing.  And, as I wrote yesterday, one of my biggest attractions to my husband was his love of antiquated duds as well.

This was extremely important to me because back in New Jersey, I had always gotten grief for my eclectic style.  In the beginning, I would style an outfit around a cool vintage piece like a jacket, purse or jewelry; but, I also rocked my Betsey Johnson frocks, Levis and was a huge fan of Contemporary Casuals back then.
Christmas 1994

I was – and still am – an equal opportunity shopper.

As long as it looked good on me and represented my style, I was happy and I could care less what others thought.  However, I was always astonished when I would go on a date and the guy would completely put down my bravura which, to me, represented my individuality.

So you can imagine my surprise and happiness when I met my future husband Jason.  On the night of our first pseudo-date [see my post dated Aug. 15, 2011 for the whole story], he was wearing a vintage Ikat print collared shirt with Levis.  He looked gooood. 

The best part of the Ikat shirt was that it actually had its own name.  Since Jason was also in the habit of buying all his clothes at second hand stores, this particular shirt had the name Martin Ponder hand-written in the label.  Similarly, Jason had a bowling shirt with the name Chuck Brandt embroidered on the back.  I guess you could say he had a lot of aliases.

Once Jason and I had been dating for a while, we realized that one of our favorite past-times was to get out of the bubble and scour Los Angeles for our antique apparel. I even found a mate for Martin Ponder when I scored an Ikat print top named Martina Ponder – that was her given name.
Christmas in SD
Some of our favorite shops were Wasteland and Melrose Trading Post – among many others --on Melrose Avenue; The Way We Wore; Aardvarks; Buffalo Exchange; and our absolute favorite…estate sales.

Some of our treasures have been crazy cool leather and suede jackets, pink palazzo pants with intricate lace cut-outs (for me of course), a tapestry print blazer for Jason, too many polyester shirts to count but Jason’s absolute favorite was dark blue with the view of sailing ships through a smattering of clouds (so Peter Pan), dresses, slacks, hats, handbags and the list goes on and on.

I can honestly say that I think we went a little too far because, two years into our dating – in 1996 – we were wearing almost 100% vintage clothes 24/7. 

Now this was the era of the movie “Swingers;” a time when there was a resurgence of swing dancing and dressing Rockabilly – and 50s-style became all the rage again.

Although Jason and I primarily rolled with clothing from the 60s, 70s and 80s, we fit in nicely as vintage gained more and more popularity.

As the Millennium approached, I decided to take my love of vintage one step further and turn it into a small business called Star 80.

The 'Peter Pan' Shirt
I continued to spend my weekends searching for second-hand clothes; but this time, I could be found at The Goodwill, Salvation Army or Out of the Closet.  I was gathering an inventory of second-hand and vintage designer apparel to sell at my own store located within the Melrose Trading Post.

I started off with pieces from the following collections: Yves Saint Laurent, Donna Karen, Sassoon, DKNY, Chloe, Ralph Lauren, Helmut Lang, Givenchy, Armani, Agnes B. and many, many more.

Unfortunately, I pulled this hobby together right after September 11.  It was a somber time and MTP saw all-time low attendance at the flea market.  In addition, I did not have too much variety as far as sizing for the different apparel.  They were all one of a kind, and I only had sizes 2 to 9.  A lot of people liked my clothing, but they just couldn’t fit in a particular piece.

Needless to say, I ended up with a lot of cool clothes but Star 80 fizzled out.

But from this venture, my love of high fashion started to evolve.  I truly began to appreciate the quality and cutting-edge styles of designer clothing.  Just like my early years, I would still highlight a vintage piece, but I would style it with current trends for a fresher look.

My days of polyester were a thing of the past.  I wish I could have said the same about Jason, but it took him a bit longer to lose the all-vintage, all the time bug. Today, we are both in our forties and just can’t really pull off most second-hand styles anymore unless they are classic vintage. 

Also, with four decades under our belts, we are no longer the acceptation to that rule: If you were old enough to wear it the first time – like the 80s – you are too old to wear it the second time around.