Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Crushing Hard: Edina Kiss

There is definitely something to be said about Six Degrees of Separation.

Before the holidays, I was visiting my friend Robyn in Santa Barbara.  We were engrossed in idle chit chat when it somehow came up in conversation that a friend of hers – Lori – was hosting a jewelry event in Hermosa Beach. 

This happens to be where I live, which is more than 100 miles away from where Robyn, who previously lived in Hermosa, lives now.

Coincidentally, my son Shane is a classmate of Lori’s son.  Neither of us had any idea there was a connection.
Nothing too earth shattering at that point, but then Robyn started showing me her jewelry created by designer Edina Kiss and it blew me away.

Edina Kiss Designs creates modest jewelry – necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings – that are simple yet out of this world with style.
According to the Edina Kiss website (http://www.edinakiss.com), “Her pieces are designed with beautiful and natural stones such as Amethyst, Lemon Quartz and Citrine.  She also used Fresh Water Cultured Pearls and Swarovski Crystals cocooned in fine strands of gold and sterling silver which serve to distinguish her collections from other jewelry lines on the market.”

I was so happy when I received an invitation from Lori to attend her Edina Kiss event; however, I was disappointed when I realized that it conflicted with long-standing commitment that I had.

So, as the holiday approached, I was so busy and put my Edina Kiss obsession on the back-burner until I got an email from another close friend Natalie.
Both Natalie and I were invited to a Girl’s Only Holiday Gift Exchange.  This is an annual event hosted by our friend Tracy and there aren’t any white elephant or gag gifts involved in this one ladies.  Each participant is expected to bring a gift valued at $100: The catch is that all of these gifts are super nice and I would actually use the word exchange loosely to describe this event – steal is probably a better word to define the shenanigans that go on – yet it is a blast.

So, on this occasion, Natalie sent me an email with a picture of Edina Kiss’ alexandra collection gold horseshoe necklace, which was going to be her gift for the exchange.
Edina Kiss’ alexandra collection gold horseshoe necklace
I became fixated with this necklace and decided right then and there that I would do anything to win this design. However, it was stolen from me mere moments after I unwrapped the gift, and savored the experience of holding the glistening gold up to my neck.  Although I did leave with a wonderful gift, I was sad that the gold horseshoe necklace eluded me.

Although I know that one day it will be mine.
Yet that is not the end of my tale of Six Degrees and it gets even better.

A few weeks ago while at a basketball game, Lori actually introduced me to jewelry designer Edina Kiss – live and in-person.  She was super sweet and I let her know that the gold horseshoe necklace had been a huge hit at the Girls Gift Exchange.
I truly love to support local artists in my community – especially talented women – who work hard to create something so beautiful and do what they love. 

But, I am not uncovering some rare gem,  Edina Kiss Designs has been mentioned in top fashion magazines such as Marie Claire, Elle, InStyle, Life & Style, and Page 6 just to name a few.
She also has a Philanthropic side. According to the Edina Kiss website, her Cure Collection was designed exclusively for the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance (TS Alliance). “Twenty percent of all proceeds from the Cure Collection are donated to the TS Alliance to support its quest to find a cure the devastating genetic disorder that causes tumors to form in various vital organs, often leading to the development of epilepsy, autism and learning and behavioral problems.”

The jewelry alone had me hooked but, once I factored in all the positive attributes of the designer, I realized that I had happenstanced upon a small world – Kiss Degrees of Separation.

Edina Kiss Designs are available to purchase at http://www.edinakiss.com

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Little Summer Smack-dab in the Middle of Winter

Saturday's sunset from our deck

For those of you who don't live in Southern California, we had one of those glorious January weekends that don't come very often -- even in the summer.  Sort of like "Indian Summer" back East; but this is summer summer right smack in the middle of winter.

The temperatures were in the 80s and the sun just dazzled, so I spent the majority of the weekend outside with Shane and Jason.

We rode bikes by the beach, excercised and played sports outside, swam in the outdoor pool at our sports club, cooked lots of great food, and watched two of the most fantastic sunsets from our deck.  What more could a girl ask for?

On the downside, I just could not bring myself to sit down in my home office and write.  There will be plenty of rainy, winter days ahead of us but I just didn't want to miss one second of this glorious one.

So, I am reposting today's Daily Om for your reading pleasure.  Somehow, it seemed poignant and tied into my decision to be carefree and enjoy my family this weekend. 

I'd love hear what you have to say.

January 30, 2012

Waiting for Someday
Why Not Now?

All the joy and passion you can envision can be yours right now, rather than in a future point in time.

The time we are blessed with is limited and tends to be used up all too quickly. How we utilize that time is consequently one of the most important decisions we make. Yet it is far too easy to put off until tomorrow what we are dreaming of today. The hectic pace of modern existence affords us an easy out; we shelve our aspirations so we can cope more effectively with the challenges of the present, ostensibly to have more time and leisure to realize our purpose in the future. Or we tell ourselves that we will chase our dreams someday once we have accomplished other lesser goals. In truth, it is our fear that keeps us from seeking fulfillment in the here and now—because we view failure as a possibility, our reasons for delaying our inevitable success seem sound and rational. If we ask ourselves what we are really waiting for, however, we discover that there is no truly compelling reason why we should put off the pursuit of the dreams that sustain us.

All the joy, passion, and contentment you can envision can be yours right now, rather than in some far-flung point in time. You need only remind yourself that there is nothing standing between you and fulfillment. If you decide that today is the day you will take your destiny into your hands, you will soon discover that you hold the keys of fate.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Thelma and Louise Spring Break in South Beach

When I was in college, I suffered my first – and only – broken heart; but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Five years after we started dating, my high school sweetheart and I called it quits.
With both of us being young and immature, it was a roller coaster of a relationship and, it was not the first time that I had declared that we were over – we broke up often.  However, this time, I realized that we were done for good.

With Spring Break fast approaching, my mom wanted to try and cheer me up. She suggested spending a few weeks down in Miami, specifically in South Beach, to get a head start on our tan and soak up the sun.

As our trip approached, I started to get excited and spent a lot of time at the tanning salon.  Who knew it was so bad for you in the early 90s, but my dermatologist loves me for it today.

Since we were going for two weeks, the plan was to drive my pseudo-new Hyundai Excel from the Jersey Shore down to Florida over the course of two days. 
We loaded up my car with our suitcases, bathing suits, pillows, hats and GORP – a mixture of granola, raisins, carob chips, shredded coconut and nuts – it is my mom’s favorite road trip snack.  It was mine too until all the carob chips melted onto the seat of my car as we got closer to Florida. But I couldn’t even get mad because it was a sure sign that we weren’t in Kansas anymore and about to land in Oz.

After our 20 hour drive, with a one night stay not in the Emerald City but at a Knights Inn in one of the Carolinas, we found ourselves singing along with Basia as we crossed the Miami-Dade County line. 
Just like a mother-daughter Thelma and Louise (sans the Brad Pitt…damn!), we checked into the Colony Hotel, a 1930s-style boutique hotel located on Ocean Drive, in the Art Deco district.  This strip – lined with hotels and restaurants – was filled to the brim with beautiful people, tourists, and fashion models on shoots, people running, rollerblading, and biking.  This was before I had ever been to Los Angeles as an adult so I was not prepared for this scene…but I loved it.

My mom and I spent the next few days exploring Miami.  We sunbathed (with our tops on) on the white sandy beach; went rollerblading on the strand; drank strong Cuban coffee with the locals; spent time shopping on Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue; we did nothing but relax and have a great time.
Our favorite spot was the Clevelander Hotel.  We had breakfast and lunch there most days; and a pre-dinner cocktail most evenings.  It was there that I ran into a friend of mine – Eric Nies -- whom I grew up with in New Jersey who had gained (a small amount of) fame staring on the first reality show, The Real World New York, on MTV.

He invited me out with a group of Jersey Boys that I knew from around town.  They took me to some raging night club and I danced the night away.

I loved the Miami club scene and, to me, it seemed like it was just an extension of the New York club scene just that everyone was down in Miami to ride out the cold winter.
I was getting hooked bad: I loved South Beach.

The next night, the Jersey Boys called me to join them at a house party at some mansion but my mom and I were about to begin phase II of our Spring Break.  We packed it in and headed further down the peninsula toward Key West, a series of Islands on the southernmost tip of Florida. 
On our first night, we checked into our hotel, which was located right on the beach.  Mom treated us to mani and pedis before we had dinner overlooking the water.

The next day, we traveled to the Key West historic district, Old Town.  It was a complete tourist trap, but fun none-the-less.  We walked along the pier and watched really bizarre street performers, had a drink at Sloppy Joe’s Bar on famous Duval Street; however, it was in Old Town that I had one of the best seafood dinners…ever… in my life.

But that was all there was to Key West.  Since I was on my “college” Spring Break, and I was addicted to the excitement of Miami, I begged my mom to cut our trip to the Keys short and return to South Beach.  She finally relented, but she wasn’t happy about it.
Now, as an adult, I totally get it.  But back then in my early 20s, I didn’t want anything to do with R&R. 

Upon returning to the Colony, I was stoked to be back in South Beach. 

We spent our last week on the beach, exploring Coral Gables, running, roller blading – just living the good life – and even finding a little Brad Pitt substitution in our Thelma and Louise trip.
While having drinks at our hotel the day before our departure home, my mom and I met a young man named Michael, who hailed from Sweden.  Since my mother and I are both of Swedish heritage, we found Michael interesting and spent the evening chatting with him.

I had to hit the loo and, when I returned to the table, my mom dropped the bomb that she had invited Michael to return to New Jersey with us.  He was just traveling through the states and had carte blanche.  Michael said he really wanted to see New York City, so my mom invited him to return with us. 

Most people go to Florida and return with a T-shirt but, not my mom and I, we came home with a Swedish boy as a souvenir.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

drybar (TM) Launches Manhattan Location This Week; Manhattan Beach in the Spring

At one point in my life, I thought getting a manicure was one of the greatest -- as well as
cost-effective -- luxuries a girl could have without a lot of fan fare;  Today, it is the blow out.

Jason -- my hubby -- actually turned me onto the drybar (TM), a blow dry bar, about a year ago.  The chain's first location, in Brentwood on San Vincente, boasts a wash but no cuts. No color.  Just $35 blowouts.  The concept has blown it out and they have expanded into the South and to the East Coast.

For the standard cost, the salon offers various types of blowout styles named after sophisticated drinks like the Manhattan, Cosmopolitan, Mai Tai and Shirley Temple. 

For a wee bit extra,  the dry bar offers UpTinis (Updos) for $70, Dry on the Fly (In Home Blowouts) for $73 and, most important, the Floater (a 10 minute head massage -- ewww...get yo' mind out of the gutta) at $10 extra.  Nice!

But most excitedly, the dry bar is adding three new locations to the14 salons they have currently.  This week, Le Parker Meridian in NYC is opening and, later this spring in Manhattan Beach (can I get a whoo-whoo) and Westlake Village in the Los Angeles area.

Check out www.thedrybar.com for more information.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Crushing Hard: Nars Illuminator Creates an Orgasmic Crescendo

On Christmas Eve, I was at a dinner party and saw my friend Jessica.  As we stood there talking, I was struck by how her face was just radiating.  I complemented on her dewy glow and she told me that Nars Illuminator takes all the credit.

I almost forgot about her little insider tip until too many holiday parties and not enough sleep started to catch up with me.  My complexion was looking a bit sallow, and I needed to do something about it.

Last Friday, I happened to find myself on Sephora’s doorstep, so I ambled in to, at least, check it out.

I couldn’t find any Nars products at first and thought, perhaps, they didn’t carry it.  I asked a sales associate for some help and I found exactly what I needed.

The Sephora associate confessed that she also uses the Nars Illuminator and that she had it on right then.  I looked at her glowing skin and knew that I was sold.

According to Sephora, the Nars Illuminator is a multifunctional face product that gives skin a refreshed luminosity.  This light-reflecting liquid glides on to refresh and enhance the complexion, creating a shimmering incandescence. (Hallelujah!)

The product description also states that you can wear it alone, or pair it with makeup to transport your skin from ordinary to extraordinary.

The sales associate told me that I could apply it on my face around my eyes and cheekbones.  I’ve also been using it on my eyelids as a shadow primer.  However, while researching this post, I found that the Illuminator can actually be applied all over the face, mixed with foundation or used as a highlighter – over or under make-up.  Basically, the Illuminator can be applied to the face, neck, shoulders and décolleté.

It comes in four colors and I was lost.  The associate suggested Copacabana – a glistening pearl – for my fair skin.  However, it also comes in the following colors: Laguna – a brown with gold shimmer; Orgasm – peachy pink with shimmer; or Super Orgasm – a peachy pink with gold shimmer.

For $29, I said, “Oh yeah, baby!”

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fashionably Fashionating Fridays: Color Blocking

As we gear up for the AFC and NFC play-off games this weekend, I think it is safe to say that we will see plenty of blocking, clutching and probably some tackling; However, I doubt that we will see Tom Brady or Eli Manning taking part in the haute new trend of Color Blocking, with the exception of maybe Brady's baby mama Giselle Bundchen.

Not too different than each coach’s approach to get his team to the Superbowl, Color Blocking is a trend that calls for the strategic placement of contrasting – yet complimentary – bold and bright colors paired together to create a successful play...I mean look.  Sorry, I got distracted.

We have seen Color Blocking everywhere from head to toe, but I am really loving the wow factor of it on clutch purses right now.

It is a hot, hot trend giving us all a reprieve from our boring monochromatic lives.

I may not get tackled this weekend, but I definitely plan to block some color.

Touch Down!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Fashionating Creed to Wear My Life By

Nicole Richie got me thinking about my own sense of style. 

I completely respected her risk-taking at the Golden Globes by foregoing Prada, Gucci or Lanvin and wearing designer Julien MacDonald.  http://julienmacdonald.com/ MacDonald -- whose fashion roots run deep at Chanel, Lagerfield and as Alexander McQueen's successor at Givency -- has been concentrating on his own label that has grown strong since 2004.  However, he is no fashion power house yet; although, I have no doubt that he will be one day soon.

But, it was Richie's daring to carry her own line, a House of Harlow clutch, and promote her disheveled pony (a big hit for the night) courtesy of Suave Professionals hair products, that made me take notice...and she looked fantastic.

Suddenly, and I know this sounds corny as hell, but my "fashion" mission statement suddenly popped into my mind.  I had this burning urge to have a creed to live by and it was important for me to give it a voice.

To me, fashion is about putting pieces together to create a look or style that makes people stop and take notice because, for some reason, it just works and makes me stand out. The key is not necessarily how much something costs, but using pieces that each have a distinct role to play in creating an appealing ensemble. The garments that cause this reaction can be hand-made, vintage, inexpensive and even expensive designer pieces. 

The purpose of my style is to construct cutting-edge outfits by using my own vision and intuition; It is not just about buying ready-made outfits off the mannequin. On occasion, I succumb to mass trends, but only if they are inspiring to me.
I live for fashion and sometimes find it overwhelming and exhausting to stay on-trend because you are only as stylish as your last extraordinary outfit; however, without it, my life would not be worth wearing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Who Wore What to the 2012 Golden Globes?

Charlize Theron

On Sunday, Tinseltown got all dolled up for the 2012 Golden Globes. 

Hollywood’s hottest stars – and the world – waited in nail-biting anticipation to see which big and small screen actors had paid enough money to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to take home a Globe.  Did I actually write that down?  I mean…we all watched as the most talented Thespians were lauded for their acting acumen.

Sadly, I was not invited this year; so I had to watch the event from home.  I was so happy to see that Ricky Gervais was asked back again to host the event and he did not disappoint.  I think that guy is truly hilarious and I love watching him, in all his UN-PC glory, make Hollywood royalty squirm.

Unfortunately, I am way behind on all my cinematic responsibilities and, the only movie that got a nod which I saw this year, was Owen Wilson’s “Midnight in Paris.” Wha-wha!

But as you know, it wasn’t the acting as much as the fashion that had me hooked.

My absolute most favorite actor and outfit of the evening was Charlize Theron, who was nominated as Leading Actress in “Young Adult.”  Her blush-colored chiffon Dior couture gown with its perky bow and thigh high slit embodied a classical fairy-tale look with a little bit of sassy. 

She has come a long way since "Monster."

Theron also donned a 1920s Cartier head-band, along with Michelle Williams, who took home the Globe for Best Actress in Comedy or Musical for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe in the movie, “My Week With Marilyn,” who wore a Fred Leighton hair band.  Keep an eye out on Fashionably Fashionating Fridays for more on that hot new trend.

I also thought Angelina Jolie looked beautiful in her ivory satin Atelier Versace gown that fit her like a glove and boasted a vivid lipstick red collar that offered the perfect POC.  http://allthingsfashionating.blogspot.com/#!/2012/01/fashionably-fashionating-fridays-poc.html Not to mention, her to-die-for red lips, simple chignon, and red clutch also made the look complete.

My other favorites were: “Modern Family’s” Sophia Vergara and her va-va-voom Vera Wang gown that left nothing to the imagination; Claire Danes in a black and white J. Mendel dress that was reminiscent of the Art Deco-era with a modern geometric back that made her stand-out; the lovely Latina Salma Hayek stunned in a gorgeous bedazzled Gucci gown and what I love best about Ms. Hayek is her au natural look; and lastly, I thought Nicole Richie held her own wearing a silvery gown made by less known designer Julien MacDonald and her own House of Harlow clutch. 

Personally, I am loving that Richie – or her stylist – created a look for such a star-studded event without pulling from the major fashion houses.

These were my best dressed choices that represented so many trends that are current right now; such as: nude colors; bold colors; long trains and glittery gowns.

I did have a few on my worst dressed list:  My number one is Sarah Michelle Gellar. I do think that it is super cute that her 2-year-old picked out here blue-and-white ink splotch Monique Lhuillier ball gown but, it looked too much like she was a child dressed up in grown-up clothes.  And I thought the color was ghastly and reminded me of tie dye.
Madonna's Mistep
Now I must print this disclaimer for the next one:  I love Jessica Biel.  I think she has a classical beauty that no matter what she is wearing – workout clothes after yoga, jeans at a Laker’s game or dressed up for a premier – she looks divine.  So, I truly think she should fire her stylist.

I know, I know…lace is big right now.  However, lace that creates a third boob in the middle of your chest is not attractive and, at one point, Madonna stepped on poor Jessica's train and she almost fell over on the red carpet.  I am a fan and hope she had a wonderful evening, but her look just didn’t impress me.

Lastly, I have conflicting thoughts on Reese Witherspoon:  First, I loved how she radiated and glowed that night – it is obvious that marriage agrees with her; second, her hair looked fabulous; and lastly, try as I might, I just could not find love in my heart for her Zac Posen fishtail hem gown; the color was pretty but the bodice did her a great disservice. 

Aside from my obsession with the fashion of the Globes, I found myself fixated on how many “older” actors – and I say that loosely – are looking younger than well, when they were young.

I am convinced that Rob Lowe is a true life vampire.  I just can’t believe that even copious amounts of Botox ®, Restylane ® and Juvederm® could preserve Rob.  I was trying to figure out if he’s had his eyes done.  If so, I’d love to know who his surgeon is because he doesn’t just look “done,” he looks very "Vampire Diaries" done as in undead.  (Which you all know I love!)

Elle Macphereson, Laura Dern, Jodi Foster and Madonna all oozed a youthful exuberance.  Honestly, these 40- and 50-something year old women were femme fatales. Was I jealous? Hell yeah! 
Jane Fonda
Until the Grande Dame herself – who may or may not have sold her soul to the Devil – made her appearance.  Then I was just blown away.  Even the hubby remarked, damn! I know that Jane Fonda has subscribed to a healthful lifestyle but holy cannolis, the 74-year-old Renaissance woman rocked the stage in a black fitted Jack Guisso dress with see through side panels.  She looked amazing.

Seriously, I am sure she has had some work done as this is Hollywood – the land of smoke and mirrors; but I truly believe that Fonda’s healthful eating and exercise regimen for most of her life certainly has something to do with it. 

If not, she drinks from the fountain of youth; and I’d like to get me some of that Kool-Aid.

Only six more weeks until Oscar comes to town and I can hardly wait.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Crushing Hard: These Boots Are Made For Walking

Now, I haven’t been totally forthcoming with you all. 

Back in September, when I was crushing hard on a pair of Vince Camuto boots for the fall http://allthingsfashionating.blogspot.com/2011/09/to-be-brown-or-not-to-be-that-is.html, I was lucky to get great feedback from some followers – via a survey – that brown boots were the way to go.  Excitedly, I hit the purchase button online and those buttery boots were at my doorstep in no time.

Unfortunately, they were like melted butter and a bit too slouchy for my taste.  I truly wanted to make them work but, after weeks of deliberation, I finally returned them.  (I love you Bloomingdales for your generous return policy.)

Since then, I had tirelessly continued my quest to find the right brown boot for this season; however, my luck changed last Monday when my newest infatuation arrived.

While perusing the last month's edition of Lucky Magazine, I saw an editorial that stopped me in my tracks.  A model was donning a bumble bee striped pencil skirt, tribal print coat, eternity scarf (from a little boutique I like to call Forever 21), tights and, what caught my eye…a super cute pair of brown ankle boots.

I loved the vibe of the entire outfit but, to me, it was the contrasting trim on the platform booties that caught my eye.  Unfortunately, the price tag of $139 was a bit hefty to me for a pair of Nine West shoes after Christmas, so I let it go.

But, it must have been shopping karma, because the next day, I got an email from Nine West notifying me of a 60% sale.  I am being totally honest when I say that, although I have purchased Nine West shoes in the past, I have not in a long time and I have no idea where the email came from.  (Thank you higher power! I know my girl is looking OUT for me!)

Actually, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many on-trend styles when I went to Nine Wests site.  Once there, well, the rest is history.  I found my Anka ankle boots and they only had one pair of 8.5 left for $55.  It was an impulsive buy that I won’t ever regret. 

As soon as the shoes arrived, I just had to try them on and these shoes did feel like butta’.  Even Jason who is still supporting my clothes (and everything that goes with) hiatus, loved them.

I was born to wear these boots.  First and most importantly, they are comfortable.  Second, the contrasting yellow and turquoise piping is fantastic especially the fact that the yellow is actually suede so the heel of the shoe – except on the platforms – is butter cream suede. The brown matches my Gucci bag perfectly and I swear, I can wear these shoes with 83.6% of garments in my closet.

 Ahhh, the perfect shoe.

These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they'll do 
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.

 Currently, Nine West is having a 70% sale. Happy Shopping!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fashionably Fashionating Fridays: POC

Today, I am going to launch a new segment call Fashionably Fashionating Fridays in which I plan to cover trends, looks for less and, well, anything Fashionating about fashion that I come across.

My first post is about color and, I must confess, I “borrowed” the concept Pop of Color – or POC – from the new Bravo show “It’s a Brad, Brad World.” 

POC, the use of accessories to add a pop of color to an outfit in a more mainstream way, was coined by stylist Brad Goreski, the star of his own new reality show.  Brad was the right-hand man for celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe and, surprisingly, left the successful Team Zoe when the network offered him his own program.  Zoe’s camp certainly didn’t seem thrilled about this sequence of events – as mentioned last season on her own show, The Rachel Zoe Project – which interestingly airs on the same network.

But fashion is about trends, and sort of deriving from others, so I am going to use this impressive acronym to reveal some of my favorite POCs that are out there right now.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Coal Miner’s Granddaughter

Even for Southern California standards, we have had a relatively mild winter so far.  Our daytime temperatures have been in the high 70s to low 80s over the past few weeks.

Despite the warm days, we do tend to have desert-like temperatures at night.  Meaning that – even if it does get to be 80 degrees during the day – it can go as low as the 30s or 40s during the night.

Last Thursday, it had been so warm that I put Shane to bed in some sleep shorts and a
t-shirt.  Unfortunately, Jason and I forgot to set our heat at a low temperature in case it got cold – which it did – so our little man woke up in the wee hours frozen like an ice cube.

He climbed into bed with us and I nearly shouted as his frozen toes burrowed into mine.  Within a few minutes, he was toasty warm and back to sleep; however, it made me remember some cold days of my youth.

When I was little, the country was suffering from the energy crisis.  The Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) proclaimed an oil embargo and the U.S. suffered drastically. Do you remember when you could only get gas on alternate days and the lines at the gas stations were blocks and blocks long?

It was during this time that my Nana decided to send a big FU to the man!  She tried to reduce her consumption of gasoline by purchasing a diesel Mercedes Benz and having a coal stove installed in the house. 

Read between the lines OAPEC!

Yet, those Arabs, who lived in the extreme heat, had the last laugh as they didn’t know what it was like to be a coal miner’s granddaughter.

My grandmother’s house, which was built in Ocean Grove, New Jersey in 1920, was a prime example of early 20th century architecture. 

The house, which was 1,060 square feet, had your usual living and dining rooms and small kitchen with a breakfast nook on the bottom floor; and it had three small bedrooms with a teeny-tiny bathroom on the second floor. You could actually lay your head on the sink while sitting on the john – perfect for midnight restroom visits.

Back when the house was built, folks were quite simple.  They had their work and school clothes, and their Sunday best.  The closets in the house where I grew up reflected this minimalism.  Most modern day hangers were too big to hang inside with the door closed.  As you can imagine, I had a bitch of a time once I became fashion conscience in high school.  Those closets weren’t anything like my closet of today, which is actually bigger than the bathroom of my youth.

But those were simpler times. My Nana bought the house at the end of the 1960s.  To me, her house was a living thing which had its own personality.  Not necessarily one that I liked very much but, it was familiar and I grew accustomed to it.  I mean, I spent a  good portion of my youth on Lawrence Avenue.

I remember that the house was always hot in the summer and really cold in the winter.  It was so drafty that the wind would just blow right through the windows, which was why my Nana would put plastic up over those windows every winter. 

I am certain that I had Seasonal Affective Disorder because my daily dose of Vitamin D came filtered through those windows like murky milk of magnesium.  Despite that we couldn’t see anything outside our windows from November to April, the sound the wind would make rustling those plastic window coverings – especially if one started to come off prematurely – was much worse. 

I mean, this was winter people, my poor Nana was not about to climb up on a ladder to fix something so inconsequential.

I can remember lying in bed with about 8 to 10 blankets on top of me.  It was so heavy that it actually felt like those lead covers they give you when you take an X-ray.  It was so cold – and this is not an exaggeration – that, at times, I could actually see my breath in my bedroom.

At this point, the house was super cold because it depended on radiators for its heat.  Now, for those of you who have never had the luxury – and I do say that with sarcasm – of having a hot water radiator, you don’t even know what you are missing.  Basically, it is cast iron sealed container, which exposes pipes, that allows hot water to flow through the apparatus for the purpose of space heating. If you touch it while it is huffing, puffing and steaming, we are talking third degree burns. 

And, if you have never had to bleed – release pressure or steam – a radiator, you don’t even know what you were missing.  I had to do this on multiple occasion, especially when I had my very own, first apartment.

I can understand why they did away with them.

Now, I know I sound super bitter but really I just want to set the tone.  So these were the winters of my childhood until my Nana got her coal stove, and then everything changed.

The first thing my Nana did was have a giant coal bin built on the back porch.  It was humongous.  Then she had Larson’s Oil Company come and deliver a truck load of coal and it would keep coming back each winter year after year.

Now, when I was growing up, we needed heating oil – aka petroleum – to keep our furnace going in the winter.  It wasn’t unusual for the small tanker truck to pull up to our house and wet hose the fuel into our basement. But, later with the coal stove, it became a dump truck and tons of coal would rain down into the bin.

Every Christmas, I would have kids from school asking me for pieces of coal to put in their younger siblings stockings.

Now, to save money, instead of just switching on the heat, my Nana would wake up and grab her brass coal bucket and head outside – in the cold of course because it was winter, why would you need to burn a coal stove in the summer. I always remember her bundled up in her blue fuzzy robe and elf-like slippers out there shoveling coal in sub-zero temperatures. What the…?

Then she would get her cast iron stove going and it would warm up the entire downstairs. Actually, warm is an understatement.  We would change into our summer clothes to sit around and watch TV.  It would be February during a snow storm and we would have the front door wide open to let in the cool air. It was truly that hot.

The irony is that the upstairs would still be freezing cold. We still had the plastic over the windows and the curtains would be blowing in the wind, but it was as warm as the Arabs’ Sahara downstairs.

Now, I’m sure it did save my Nana some cash during that time period.  But I also think that it brought her back to her youth.  A time during the Depression Era when money was scarce and folks did whatever was necessary to make-do and get by.

I certainly think back to those times with fondness and nostalgia but, I can honestly say, it is because of those winters that I love living in Southern California. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Crushing Hard: RHBH Fashion, Big Blonde Hair, and Michelle Jonas travelwear

Admittedly, I am a sucka for reality television: Especially the Real Housewives franchise.  Right now, I can not get enough of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.   As I have posted before  http://allthingsfashionating.blogspot.com/2011/08/when-does-reality-tv-become-too-real.html, I am a huge fan. 

The drama unfolding on this season of RHBH is almost more than I can take and I find myself wanting so much more at the end of each episode.  (I may find myself in therapy along with Taylor when this season actually concludes.)

Despite the fracas that went on at Kyle's White Party, the fact that Taylor and Russell are headed for "splitsville" and not to mention Russell's inevitable demise, I was excited for the girls' Hawaii trip to celebrate Mauricio's birthday; However, I found myself "Jonas-ing" to find out who Camille and Brandi were wearing on their first night on Lanai.

First, I was a bit disappointed that there was no catty comments on the fact that both women showed up in the same maxi dress -- Camille in tie dye green and Brandi in black.  Perhaps, the faux pas ended up edited on the cutting room floor due to all the other drama which was about to ensue. 
Michelle Jonas Keyhole Maxi

But, I mean, even in my normal Southern California existence, if two of my gal pals showed up in the same outfit, there would be a barrage of snide comments and debate on who wore it better.  But, alas, the highlight of Part I in Hawaii seemed to be what Camille and Brandi wore to  the beach next day, which could be defined as very little, and Taylor's call to Kyle and Lisa letting them tearfully know that her marriage was over. 

But, it wasn't the beach outfits that I was obsessing over, it was the keyhole maxi dresses.  I did search after search -- even going directly to Bloomies, Saks and Barneys website to see if I could get score the details -- but with  no luck until I found the Big Blond Hair Blog http://bigblondehair.com

The site focuses on the style of the Real Housewives franchise -- as well as other Reality Television stars -- and reveals which designer brands these style icons are wearing.  But the best part is that the Big Blond Hair Blog tells how you can score the real deal or less expensive version.  Brilliant.

I found that the dress in question was designed by Michelle Jonas travelwear http://www.michellejonas.com
(check out the dress in the promo) right here in sunny Los Angeles.  With a realistic price point and a Caribbean trip just around the corner, I had hopes that this sassy frock could be mine.

Sadly, the green tie dye version is out of stock, but it is completely understandable as that number was hot.  But, as I mentioned, the Big Blond Hair Blog gave me other Michelle Jonas options as well as one super cute number on sale at Vicoria's Secret. http://bigblondehair.com/style/brandi-glanville-camille-grammers-hawaii-keyhole-maxi-dress.

All in all, I was disappointed to know that the maxi dress would not be mine but I was ecstatic to know that I had found a great fashion resource.

I can't wait to see what the RHBH will be wearing next week and will surely be checking back in with the Big Blond Hair Blog.  I may not have a 90210 zip code, but I can sure as hell dress like I do.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Auld Lang Syne and Happy Year of the Dragon

It is with great pleasure that I say good-bye to 2011.  It is not that this year was all that bad: We bought our amazing house; traveled to some beautiful destinations; experienced good health; took part in many fun times with our family and friends; and just realized living the good life.

For those of you who follow my blog -- on a personal note -- I lost two individuals who were very dear to me; but it doesn't hurt quite as bad and I'm ready to move on.

To me, 2012 represents a fresh start.

I'm not really about making resolutions.  I truly believe that it is my personal duty to strive to be the best that I can be in my day-to-day life.  BUT, if I were the type to set a new goal or two each year, I would certainly resolve to be nicer to my hubby. (Love you, babe!)

This year, we spent New Year's Eve having brunch with our family and then we watched the ball drop with some very old and dear friends.  It was so fun to share such a special evening with our extended families -- The San Diego Garretts and Carlsbad Coneleys -- ringing in the New Year with our old compadres and surrounded by the new generation of our off springs was so fun...until the next morning when all the kids were up by 7am.

However, January 1 also represents another very special time in our family and gears us up to celebrate another New Year -- The Chinese Lunar New Year -- and our turtles.

Two years ago, we adopted Fasty and Slowy (aka Edward and Bella...I was going through my whole Twilight addiction) from Chinatown in Los Angeles.  Each year, we try and head down to partake in the festivities because...well, why not.  

Our niece and nephew -- Danielle and Stephen -- were in town visiting us and Danielle had suggested the outing.  It was great fun until Jason and Shane started pleading with me to adopt two baby slider turtles.  I said a big fat resounding NO!

So as we were driving home and I was holding the little aquarium (I have no voice in this family), I looked at these tiny creatures that basically still had egg shell on them, and I figured I saved them from being someones dinner that night.

Like every other faux pet we've had so far -- goldfish, frogs, roly polys and plants as opposed to dog, cats or ferrets -- I assumed these guys wouldn't last two weeks.  However, born in the Year of the Tiger, these two turtles have a ferocity that has helped them survive and they just celebrated their two year birthday on January 1.

The tiny little turtles that we acquired are now as big -- or bigger -- than my outstretched hand.  They are healthy and just keep growing.  They are in their third aquarium which basically caused us to down-size our Christmas tree this year because they take up so much space!

Unlike other faux pets, Edward and Bella have these little personalities.  When I wake up in the morning -- even though it is because I feed them the majority of the time -- they get very excited and splash around.  Eagerly, they stretch out their long necks trying to get my to feed them by hand.  Ewwww!  I haven't warmed up to them that much and the threat of salmonella poisoning is enough to keep me at bay.  I mean, have you ever cuddled a turtle?

Despite the fact that they are humongous and can live up to 40 years, they are great pets.  Yet, Jason and I vacillate between breaking into the Wilderness Park and leaving them at the pond to donating them to a turtle rescue.  But knowing how sad this would make Shane and his requests for a puppy might possibly become more like demands, we are making it work.

As we begin 2012, we look upon our slider turtles as members of our family and, as we celebrate the Year of the Dragon, we know it represents the start of another year to honor our ancestors (miss you Nana, Grandmom, Pop Pop, Dan and Judith); to celebrate family and; and just enjoy the good life.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.